Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Cuyahoga National Park

Our last stop before heading home was Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  Cuyahoga is the youngest National Park (it got NP status in 2000) and it is considered an urban park.  We were fortunate that we were here on the National Park Service's 100th birthday!  The park service even had a special wooden badge to earn!

We were only here for one full day but we managed to fit in a hike, a train ride and a bike ride!  We started with a hike through the Ledges.  The Ledges were formed from a large sand deposit left by receding glaciers which, through time, turned into sandstone. Erosion then worked its magic and left these formations!

After lunch at the Spotted Lizard, we rented bikes to ride along the tow path by the canal.  The canal runs alongside the Cuyahoga River and, riding the path, one can see historic points along the river such as the many locks and historic buildings.

The gentleman we rented the bikes from suggested that we ride the Cuyahoga train upriver (and up the towpath) and ride the bikes back down.  It turned out to be a great suggestion as it allowed us to both ride and bike.

As a side note, I had one of the best burgers I have ever had in Hudson, Ohio at Flip Side.  I highly recommend!

Next stop... HOME!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Airstream Factory

On our way through Ohio we stopped in Jackson Center at the Airstream Factory (aka, the "Mother Ship")!  It's here that ALL new Airstreams are built.  This trip has only made our love for our own Airstream even stronger so it was a treat to see where - and how - they are made.

In a lot on the property they have several old Airstreams, including this gold one that was specially made for Wally Byam, the inventor/founder of Airstream.  I also love the shiny ones (today's Airstreams aren't shiny like that due to a protective clear coat on the aluminum skin).

We were able to take a tour of the factory and see other Airstreams being built.  It was really interesting to see how many hands touch each Airstream and how they come together.  It was also neat to imagine that some of those same hands touched our beloved Airstream!  Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures inside the factory, other than this one below.

Next stop... Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Friday, August 26, 2016

Iowa Family

After we left North Dakota, we spent time visiting Bryce's family in Iowa.  Once again, I did a terrible job of taking photos!  My only excuse is that I was enjoying everyone and it felt awkward to whip out the camera.

(Lana and Russ in their classic cars)

We spent two nights (in the Airstream) on Lana and Russ' farm.  We always love spending time here. They were kind enough to host a lunch and we were able to visit with Joyce's family, Bryce's cousin, Brian, Gina and Eldred.  And of course, the children's 2nd cousins!  That evening we went with Brian to Keystone and had delicious BBQ.

We also visited Jeff and Matt, Bryce's cousins, and Matt's children.  After Matt and Jeff's, we went to Joyce's farm where I got to tour the chicken coop and gardens!  We also played a rousing game of Peanuts with Jennel and Mary.  Harris and Grace won, which might just go down in the history books.

It was during this time in Iowa that Harris cemented his love for four wheelers.  He has kept up a monologue about getting one for Frog's Hollow ever since.

Our last stop in Iowa was to see Bryce's sister and family.  Our entire trip, we were so excited to meet Leah's new baby girl, but baby Eloise had different ideas!  Three hours after we left, we got a text that she was checking into the hospital and several hours after that, Eloise was born!  I still can't believe we missed it!

Grace and Harris had a lot of fun playing with their darling cousins, and we had so enjoyed visiting with Ben, Leah and Aaron!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

New Salem, North Dakota

After Theodore Roosevelt NP we entered the “visit family” stage of our trip!  From the park, we made the short drive to New Salem, North Dakota.  Here we met up with Al’s brother and sisters!  I’m sad to report that we did a terrible job of getting photos of family.  We got so involved with visiting that we didn’t take pictures at all.  The only photo I got was the one above of Bryce’s Grandpa with Bryce and the children.  We got two really wonderful visits in with him and at 94 years old this man is sharp as a whip!  

Kathy, Al’s sister, and Pat took the children in the combine while he was harvested Spring Wheat (what flour is made from).  I was thrilled for the children to get such a hands on view and education about where our food is coming from.  

Duane (Al’s brother) and Karen were kind enough to host us and Jessie's (Bryce's cousin) family for dinner that evening and we adults got to visit while the children ran around.  The next day, Duane took us to visit Grandpa’s wind tower.  These things are huge!

Duane also took us to the coal mine where Jessie, his son, took us on a wonderful tour of the coal mine.  I’d never seen anything like this and it was quite an education.  The scale of everything is what I found so astounding.  The sizes of these machines are unbelievable.  Grace commented that it was like seeing toys they played with when they were little in a sandbox but a million times bigger!

We were able to get in several of the machines and ride with the operators as they moved earth and transported coal.  Again, wonderful to see where much of our energy is coming from.

Bryce was also thrilled to get to visit with his cousins Chad and Chase.  Kathy, their Mom and Al’s sister, hosted a gathering but, again, I got no pictures!  We made a trip to see Salem Sue, the world’s largest Holstein cow!  

And a trip to New Salem wouldn’t be complete without going to visit the old farm homestead.  

Next stop…Iowa

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park surprised me in many ways.  It was beautiful, lush and full of wildlife!  

Many credit Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th President, with being the biggest influencer of land conservation in our country.  In all, Roosevelt placed approximately 230 million acres of the US under protection.  It was here, in the Badlands of North Dakota, that Roosevelt escaped to after the loss of his wife and Mother (on the same day).  He spent years living the life of a ranger and saw how humans were affecting both land and wildlife.  We were able to tour his one of his cabins that he lived in during this time.

It was here that we saw more wildlife than at any other park!  We saw wild horses, a coyote, bison, mule deer, a badger, and lots and lots of prairie dogs!

 the prairie dogs were so fun to watch

 not a great picture but this is the badger

We were only able to visit the South Unit on this trip, but I would definitely like to come back to visit the North Unit and Elkhorn Unit.  We drove along the Scenic Loop Drive and stopped and hiked the various trails along the way.

Next Stop... Family

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Devils Tower

The next day, after a great lunch in Spearfish with some of Bryce's family there, we decided to take a side trip to see Devil’s Tower.  This is one of the most bizarre things we’ve seen on our trip!  It’s a volcanic formation that rises 867 feet above its base and, while there are three working theories on to how it got there, we do know that it is an igneous intrusion.

The Shawnee have a legend of the vertical fissures being made from a giant bear trying to get a girl on the top.  

While we walked the trail around the base of Devil’s Tower, we got to see a number of people climbing the formation!

Beautiful Native American prayer flags were also around the trail.

Next stop... Theodore Roosevelt National Park
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