Over this past weekend I was telling our oldest son Scott about our plans for an upcoming road trip. He asked “why?” Meanwhile, our youngest son Kevin is at the beach for two weeks.
If you don’t experience or understand the desire to travel, you just don’t have the travel bug. Scott is a homebody and father, and chooses to stay home. Kevin is an avid traveler and cruise fan like me & Kathy. Nobody is cruising these days, so Kevin followed our lead and went to the beach for a change of scenery. In his job he has a bunch of vacation time that he needs to use by the end of the year, and the clock was ticking!
Our plans are to head to the Pacific Northwest shortly, although in addition to all the Covid stuff we are now looking at the spread of wildfires all over the west. Fortunately our plans are very flexible, and once our Subie is loaded up with a full tank of gas we can go just about anywhere!
The travel bug doesn’t wait – the clock is still ticking and we have 18 states to go to get to 50. With a little luck and a lot of driving we’ll pick up another 5.
From Wikipedia: “Tilting at windmills is an English idiom that means attacking imaginary enemies. The expression is derived from Don Quixote, and the word “tilt” in this context comes from jousting.
The phrase is sometimes used to describe either confrontations where adversaries are incorrectly perceived, or courses of action that are based on misinterpreted or misapplied heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications. It may also connote an importune, unfounded, and vain effort against adversaries real or imagined.”
Here in the east we don’t have many, if any, opportunities to see wind turbines in the huge farms like they have out west. There are a few in eastern North Carolina and I’m sure more in other locations, but I haven’t come across them in the numbers that we encountered out west. I had seen photos of wind farms in the west, but seeing them in person made an even greater impression.
Wind turbines are not without controversy, certainly, but I find them to have a graceful beauty, spinning like a dancer in slow motion. I don’t profess to be an expert on wind turbines or any other methods of producing electricity. But as someone living within 20 miles (technically 20.5 miles) of two nuclear plants, two coal plants and a few other types, I think I would rather see a few dozen (or hundred) wind mills on my horizon than the steam plumes from the cooling towers of nuclear plants. They may not work here or make sense for an area as densely populated as Charlotte, but I see turbines as a viable alternative for producing electricity, particularly in rural areas such as Nebraska, the Dakotas and Wyoming where constant wind is a fact of life.
We were fortunate enough to come across a few sites at times when it was conducive to making photographs, and I hope I’ve done a reasonable job of presenting them.
Our original plan was to stop at the visitor center at for a stamp in Kathy’s Passport book, take a few photos and move on. But even though the weather was iffy when we got there, the scenery was so captivating that we decided to stick around until dark. And we’re glad we did!
The visitor center is situated at a rest stop along I-94 and is one of the few interstate rest areas where you can actually see bison. We didn’t see any at the rest stop, but did see a lot of them in the park, both up close and from a distance. The best way to see the park is to drive the loop road, which is what we ended up doing.
A portion of the loop road through the park was closed due to some aerial spraying being done, but the road was open enough to get some good views from within the park. “Prairie Dog Town” was a lot of fun, with hundreds of the cute little critters popping their heads out of their holes to peek at us. We got a little “up close and personal” to some bison that wandered through a parking area right behind our car. I was very glad to be in the car and not out wandering around with my camera!
Our visit could have been longer had we gotten there earlier or if the weather had been better, but it was longer than we intended, and that is a testament to being open to change and flexible in our plans. It was a worthwhile detour, for sure!
I’ll be the first to admit that we didn’t come anywhere close to doing Montana justice. We basically cut enough of the corner between Wyoming and North Dakota to count it as a “visit” (even still, it was 300 miles!) but purposely decided ahead of time that it was a state we would revisit later to explore in more detail.
Our visit was essentially limited to a stop at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. It was a cold, wet day with the precipitation fluctuating between rain and snow, and my photos reflect that. While I’m sure that sunny weather like we saw for most of our trip would have made it more beautiful, the gloomy weather made for appropriate conditions at a place that has such a dark role in American history.
As I sat at my computer working on photos from Wyoming, my mind was reflecting on how I feel about the state and our limited time there. We did drive the entire length from south to north, but saw only a fraction of what Wyoming is all about.
I suppose Wyoming, like any other state, elicits the gamut of opinions, from something like “miles and miles of nuthin’ but miles and miles of nuthin’” to “one of the most beautiful, pristine places in the world.” I found it to be closer to the latter end of that spectrum.
The voice I heard playing in my head said something like this: Wyoming exudes a quiet confidence, as if to say “Welcome. We’re glad you came. If you decide to stay, we’d love to have you. If not, we understand.”
Looking at my photos I was impressed by the lack of litter. Evidently the people who live there respect the land and keep it clean. The land is truly one of-wide open spaces. Even the parking spaces are bigger in Wyoming, probably because there are lots of trucks. The people we met were friendly, the food was good, and the scenery was beautiful. Would I live there? Probably not, especially in winter. But it was a nice place to visit, and I can’t wait for an excuse to go back.
One of the things that really struck me about the midwest was how far you could see without seeing anything but grass, snow fences and (sometimes) wind farms. This is just one of the many roads we traveled and happens to be in Wyoming. I could have taken many photos like this but it would be hard to tell them apart. 😉
One our stops in Kansas was at the Oz Museum in Wamego. Kansas=Oz, right? It was a very well-done museum, with lots of movie and book memorabilia as well as displays documenting various scenes and characters in the movie. While I knew that the movie was based on a book by L. Frank Baum, I didn’t realize that the tale was actually comprised of a series of 14 books. Now I’m going to need to read them all!
Kathy & I visited the Dream Car Museum in Evansville, Indiana on our recent jaunt through the Midwest. Here are a few photos from that visit. For anyone who wants to see even more car photos, I’ve added a gallery in Adobe Portfolio with an expanded selection.
This morning, Kathy & I spent time walking around the grounds of the historic Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. It’s a beautiful old building but unfortunately is closed to the public. We chatted with the caretaker there who told us that a group is negotiating with the University of Chicago to take over management of the facility as an educational center. The telescopes are being used as part of the Skynet Robotic Telescope Network.
The observatory evidently became less relevant to the university due to declining interest in astronomy as a college subject and increasing competition from other observatories. The university has been attempting to sell the property for many years with no success, and it is hoped that a non-profit organization will be able to take over management of the facility in the near future. It’s an interesting story if one wants to learn more.