Friday, July 21, 2023

Picture Rocks National Lakeshore


We went to Munising, Michigan on Wednesday, July 19.   This area is about 45 minutes East of Marquette.   We stopped at Alger waterfall, and I walked the trail.   My sisters swore I was going to slip, and I was about to agree with them, but the mud was only about 1/4" deep, and a young man decided I needed help.   Small falls, but beautiful.

A staple of the upper penninsula is pasties, pronounced with a short "a" like apple.   This is a ball of meat, potato and vegies, baked into a ball of bread.   It was eaten by the miners and is noted for it's not-spicy taste.   Very filling!

We went into Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and took a 600 foot trail to Munising Falls.   A good view was possible from an accessible paved trail, or you could climb quite a few wooden steps for another excellent view.

We boarded a 75 foot tourist boat for a two hour cruise along the Superior coast, to see how nature has colored the cliffs above the lake.   I took a lot of pictures, but I am losing an argument with both my iPhone, and my laptop, so here is what I could download.  Spring-fed water over the years has flowed over the limestone cliffs, leaving some interesting colors and patterns

The Michigan Upper Peninsula, or UP, is home to fun-loving people who call themselves "Yoopers"  Their dialect reminds me of the Mackenzie brothers from TV!   This is beautiful country, and the temperature is about 68 today. 


Thursday, July 20, 2023

Presidential Libraries

 One of the goals on this trip is to experience Presidential Libraries.    There are many museums and "libraries" dedicated to our nation's presidents, but 13 of them are associated with the National Archives, meaning the former president, and his supporters raised millions $$$ to build the library/museum, and then turned it over to the National Archives, who own and maintain the documents and artifacts.   I think building upkeep and much of the operations is still the responsibility of the former presidents' foundation.

There are other museums/libraries devoted to presidents, and I will explore that topic another time.

Some facilities differentiate between "library", the place where the documents are housed, and "museum" where artifacts and displays detailing the life and works can be found.   For the most part, researchers visit the library, and we tourists hit the museum.

I visited the Johnson and Bush (43) libraries prior to this trip.   Johnson's library is in Austin at UT,   My connection to this place is that I got thrown out of the LBJ Library by the Secret Service when the place was brand new!   Seems Lady Bird was filming her special in the library, so the TV trucks were out front, and the place was locked down tight.    Well, maybe not that tight, as I was able to go next door and into the basement, and came up the elevator in the middle of the LBJ Library, inside the security perimeter!   The agent was not amused, but I went quietly, after I got to see Mrs Johnson being filmed.   So, when I tell you I have been thrown out of better places, I am seriouis!

My first library on this trip was George W. Bush, on the campus of SMU in Dallas.   A notable feature here is that most displays were backed by enormous photos of the president, the family, or the White House.   The central hall is airy and runs a technical video show along the upper walls.   Very captivating.  Imposing structure, have to go through security,  There are interactive stations where you get to try to second-guess presidential decisions.

I did not travel alone, Flat Stanley was with me.   We emailed his Preschool every couple of days.

The Eisenhower Library has separate buildings for museum and library.   This is in the little town of Abilene, Kansas, right next to Ike's boyhood home!    The home has not moved, but apparently a swath of the town was moved to make room for the museum, library, and a very restful chapel where Mr and Mrs Eisenhower are buried.    This museum is rather low key, but showcases his military career, the war, and his presidential days.   The displays showcase the many postings and mentors that Eisenhower had, so that by the time World War II broke out, Ike was the perfect choice to take over operation of the European Theater.

The Harry S. Truman Library, in Independence, Missouri, is just East of Kansas City.    The library is located less than 1/2 mile from Truman's Victorian home.   President Truman kept an office in the back of the center, and worked there and welcomed visitors there, until his passing.    There is a very nice courtyard that includes the graves of the former president, and his wife.    The library shows how Truman came to local fame as commander of a national guard artillery battery.   He was known as strict but was an excellent leader.    A notable fact is that his battery, made up of Missourians,  never lost a man.   A local political boss gave Truman his start in politics, made remarkable because there was never any evidence of corruption on the part of Harry Truman.   There is a very good section on the dropping of the atomic bombs, with viewpoints covering several sides of what is still very controversial. 

The Herbert Hoover Library is in West Branch, Iowa and I'll bet you can't find that on a map!  I stayed in Iowa City.   A cool feature of the displays is the use of terra cotta figures throughout the library.    Hoover, as well as Eisenhower and Truman, did not grow up wealthy, but Hoover quickly became rich as an international mining engineer.   He rapidly became world renowned for leading relief efforts in Europe and the rest of the world.   A map in the floor as you leave shows over 50 countries where Hoover made a big difference with disaster relief.   He did not hold elected office until he ran for president.   I believe he was the only Secretary of Commerce to become president.     

Local resident of the Hoover Native Prairie.

I do not have a favorite library.   I thought they are all very well laid out and presented.  The Hoover Library does lay out programs he could not get through congress, some of which came to fruition long after he left office (like the Saint Lawrence Seaway).

I have a "Presidential Passport" with short descriptions and a a place to get my passport stamped at each library.   I have limited myself to a coffee mug and a refrigerator magnet  from each place.   My granddaughter and I agreed that there would be NO Christmas ornaments as the tree is already packed!  (there are some beautiful brass ornaments!)  As it is, any new magnets will require that some of the lesser magnets (usually on the bottom) be retired.

I will cover more libraries on the way back South.

I am at about the halfway mark of my vacation.   My 2023 Kia Niro is less than a month old and has 2213 miles on the odometer.   This trip has taken me 1988 miles, so far, and I have to get back to Texas from Marquette, Michigan.    Stay tuned to this station for further news.

Monday on the Upper Penninsula

Sunday night, July 16, we were driving up from Wisconsin into the Upper Penninsula, known to locals as the UP.   I was doing fine as long as I was behind another car, who I let set the pace, which was withing legal tolerance, but when he turned off after awhile, my brand new car started "speed creep" and it wasn't five miles before I had company in my rear view mirror.   He had more flashing lights than a Meadows Place cop!   67 in a 55, he had me, by all rights, but after a few minutes, he let me go.   So, I crept the last 1 1/2 hours at 58 miles an hour!   It was quite late before we got to Marquette. 

 I guess the main purpose of this trip is to visit my sister Kristen, and husband Mark, at their new vacation home in Marquette, Michigan, on Lake Superior.  Sister Lauren is also visiting for the week.   We made Monday a down day, and took it easy.   I did laundry.  I'm afraid I did not pack right, as I only brought two pair of slacks, and yesterday it was maybe 65 degrees!   

We took a drive along the shore of Lake Superior and saw the massive ore dock.   Iron ore is mined from a nearby open pit mine, and is carried by train to the ore dock, where the ore is dumped into a ship that will then transport the ore over four of the Great Lakes, to wherever.

We drove along the lake in the afternoon.   The water was a bit choppy.  As far as the eye can see, you see Lake Superior.   In fact, the guides tell us that 25 miles out, in a boat, all you can see for 360 degrees, is water!  Most of the homes in this neighborhood were built early 20th century, and are in various states of restoration.   The pace is rather relaxed.   The picture below is of the homes across the street.   Kristen's place is not very photogenic at the moment, but wait a month!

Kristen and Mark bought a house that had been home to about 5 college students.   They hauled a lot of junk away, and are starting to re-work the outside.   They have painted swatches of various shades of blue on the shingles so they could select their exact color. 

Our restaurant last night is in an old foundry, overlooking the lake.   The fish and chips featured Lake Superior whitefish that had come from the boat just that morning!  Delicious and fresh!

I'm starting to think I could live here, except it snows here for long parts of the year.

Monday, July 17, 2023



Friday, July 14, I crossed the Mississippi River at Dubuque, Iowa, into Wisconsin.   I drove to Madison to spend two nights with my cousin Victor, and his wife Kathy.   We had a very nice visit.

Saturday, I rode my bike on the Lake Loop, around Lake Monona.   I wasn't always right on the lake, but I could usually see the lake.  Much of the ride was on city streets.

After my ride, Victor took me downtown and to the University of Wisconsin.   The two are right next to each other.  The Student Union is close to downtown and fronts the other Madison Lake.   Everybody and his mother was there, apparently on weekends, the Union is a popular food court for families, who then wander along the lakeshore.

Next morning, I rode a bit south of town on the Capital City trail and continued on to a trail with a long boardwalk over a lake.   Very nice ride.   An interesting thing about Capital City Trail, is there is essentially a toll station on the trail.   They want you to pay $5.00 per day, or $25.00 a year.   Don't know how, or if, they can enforce this, but I don't carry credit cards while I ride, so someone come arrest me!

As I headed for Milwaukee, I saw a billboard for "Doyle's Dogs".   Best dressed dogs in town!   So, I had to stop.   Lake Mills is a delightful little town.   Doyle's Dogs was incredible.   I had the Chicago style dog, which means the two teenagers working the little stand packed my bun with tomatoes, peppers and a pickle wedge.   Excellent!   I noticed a young girl eating an ice cream bar - Dad informed me it was called the Big Bar.   Of course, I had to have one.

Doyle's Dogs has the outdoor location a few blocks from downtown.   During the winter, I'm told they open a store front and offer inside seating.  

Drove to, and around Milwaukee, a city on Lake Michigan.   You cannot see all the way across the lake, it is so big.    Flat Stanley got a picture in front of an old lighthouse.

I then drove through Marianette, a city, over a thousand miles from the ocean, where a defense contractor is building naval warships!   Go figure!

I promise to get caught up this week.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Lunch and other insanity


So I'm driving up I-35 on Monday, giving some thought to lunch.   I start seeing billboards for Robertson's Ham Sandwich, and since I have never seen a big billboard for such food, I hit the exit.   An earnest young man offered me white, wheat, or Hawaiian bun, and four choices of cheese.   I saw lots of workmen, maybe from all the road construction.   The sandwich was good, but really not worth  whole post, but, whatever!    Their walk-in cooler had nothing but meats, and a large picture window.   Back on the road.

OK, I am jumping around in time.   It's Thursday and the Niro and I have had several discussions related to who is driving.    I finally figured out Cruise Control.   Nice.   But I can't always figure it out.   At one point today, I thought I was setting it for 70, suddenly the Niro took off like a rocket!   Seems I had set it for 100 mph, and this little baby was determined to do it!    It also will not let me creep up on another car.   It drops the speed until we either match the car I'm following, or I change lanes.  That's another thing.   If you violate any rules, like try to change lanes while that lane is already occupied, or try to drift out of your lane, not only do the little tones chime in, but it kills the radio until you fix your dumbness!.    The new cars have lane following:   Niro will keep station between the lines, with or without hands, but if you keep your hands off the wheel for more than a few seconds, message shows up on the speedometer telling me to keep my hands on the wheel!    So, I'm married again!

Oh, and I mounted my bike rack over the hatchback.   works fine, except when I try to back up, the back up system loses it's mind because it swears I am about to hit the bike!    Sigh!   Loud tone!

I'm pushing my luck with filling up.   Twice, I have waited until the guage shows empty.   Someone is wrong, twice I have put over 10 gallons in a 9.9 gallon tank!    But I'm getting over 32 mpg!    I should get better in town, because I will spend a lot of time on the battery power.   Smooth Ride.

I got all ready tonight for a ride in Iowa City, but it occurred to me that the wind was really picking up and the sky was getting very dark.    I wheeled the bike into the lobby just as the ever-loving bottom dropped out of the sky!

I have adopted a philosophy, and yesterday I found a wall hanging that said it:   Not all who wander, are Lost!    

I'm not lost, I just don't know where I am.   Heck, I don't really know when I am!

Rails-to-Trails in Dallas

 This is from Monday morning, July 10.   Dallas   I got up at six, had breakfast, did the trails, and was on the road to Oklahoma City by 10:00!   

I took the Katy Trail from roughly SMU, all the way to downtown.   There's a beautiful tree-lined trail.  At 7:30 in the morning it was full of runners and walkers and lots of dog walkers.  I saw one young man on a bike in office clothes and wearing his company ID.  This is a former railroad right-of-way.   Very well marked and in most places there is a walking trail with a special running surface.  The area is residential and upper priced apartments offer access.   Even a pub.   

I then transitioned to the University Connector Trail (SMU to a sports complex), that took me across the freeway and over the Mockingbird DART station.   Last time I took a DART through that station, the area was pretty open,  now there are low-rise commercial businesses and upscale apartments.   At some point I found myself on another rails-to-trails trail that then took me to the Southern Pacific Trail.   From there I could have (but I was out of time) gone to White Rock Lake.

At one point, the easement is used by DART, the trail, power lines, and even grassy area for dog walking!.   

The La Quinta south of Mockingbird is an older motel, but they are updating it.   My room was quite nice and the free breakfast included Texas-shaped waffles!  

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Hillsboro, Kansas

 I'm falling behind, so I'm going to go out of sequence.

Tuesday, I drove from Oklahoma City to Abilene, Kansas.   I got rained out of my bike ride in the morning.  North of Wichita, I left the Interstate and headed North on little State Hwy 15, which showed me lots of corn and soybeans.  At one point I should have taken a left, but I really wanted to see if there was food up ahead and to the right.   Hillsboro doesn't even have a full traffic light, but they do have a small Sonic on the highway.   Pass.   I went into "downtown".   I saw the pictured storefront, and thought, why not?    I was transported into some magical world of ecclectic, and electric decor, along with every teenager in the area.  In a little town, not really on the map, you  can get a double frap with all sorts of stuff.   There were small alcoves and rooms with young, and not so young, people on laptops, just like in the big city.    Except here, everyone was smiling and the wholesomeness was almost strange.

I spent more time there than I should have, and food is not their main thing, but they did sell me a very good ham sandwich on home baked bread, and a house-made granola bar that was so gooey, it was just wonderful.

I moved on to Abilene where I visited the Eisenhower Library, built right next to his boyhood home, which I toured as well.   My mug and fridge magnet collections are growing.   I have avoided the Christmas ornaments (they are cute, but Vee and I discussed this before I left!)!  

My mantra is becoming:  "Not all who wander are lost".    Today I found it as a wall hanging.  I really am rubbing the numbers off the Master Card!

My allergies still bother me in the eyes, and it is still in the 90s, but the humidity is not so bad.

Next, I need to remember how to get the text and the images to co-exist!