Posted in Campgrounds, History, Parks, Travels

Clarksville, TN

We left Gun Creek Campground and Illinois, crossed through Kentucky (with a pit stop at a customer’s plant), and spent 2 nights in Clarksville at Clarksville Campground.  This gave us a weekend to relax and sight-see nearby at Fort Donelson National Battlefield.

This battlefield sits on a hilly overlook on the Cumberland River  in Tennessee, just east of Clarksville.

The site has been well preserved, is very quiet and informative.  There are beautiful river outlooks, a national cemetery, and the preserved Dover Hotel which was the site of the battle’s surrender.

A typical log hut built to house garrisoned soldiers. Built by soldiers and slaves for 6-8 men.
More than 400 log huts were built for winter quarters. After the battle, the Union Army burned them all down following a measles outbreak.

Lots of waterfowl are all around the National Battlefield grounds

On Sunday, we picked up and headed for Nashville and Grand Ole RV Park and Thanksgiving with the family!

Posted in History, Travels, Wildlife

Virginia City, Nevada

On Drew’s day off, he and I left Tahoe and drove East over the mountains toward Carson City. The hailstorm earlier in the week had damaged our 10 year old A/C covers on the roof and I was going to buy a new one at an RV parts store. It was a tiny little quonset hut with “stuff” all over outside, including where ever they stored their parts. We loaded it into the car and headed out toward our real destination: Virginia City, Nevada!

Historical markers downtown Virginia City
These Virginia City markers embedded in ore from every county in Nevada

 

Virginia City is the site of the discovery of gold and silver in 1859 at the Comstock Lode and Brunswick Ledge.   They have retained the “Old West / Wild West”  feel of the area by retaining the old storefronts and wooden sidewalks while making it a popular tourist destination.

Every western city of any size puts the city’s initial on a nearby hill!
Old wooden sidewalks contribute to the Old West feel!

Gambling continues to be a major source of income in Nevada and Virginia City is no different.  Gaming houses and saloons line the streets with current opportunities to gamble and historical references also.

This full-sized artwork is made of nothing but silver dollars from the gambling tables!
What an interesting story!!
Virginia City is also famous for its prominence in the old TV show, “Ponderosa”
Virginia City circa 1935

Virginia City is set in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, has a tough uphill climb in and out, and is hot, dry and dusty most of the time.  Of course, I found the local cemetery and made Drew walk up and down and all around it.  It is unlike any other cemetery I have seen with little fenced plots barely under the soil and clinging tightly to the side of the hill.  Gravel, sagebrush, and knurled trees were the only vegetation in the cemetery and horse droppings were everywhere.  Most of the grave sites are organized by social/fraternal/civic groups: Masons, Jewish, Catholic, firemen, etc..  Many of the gravestones note the state or country of origin of the deceased, very few of the deceased were actually born in Virginia City.

Silver Terrace Cemetery

While we were at the cemetery, Drew pointed to a rather new house below us.  A small herd of wild horses were wandering around the end of the street there!  We returned to the car and headed in that direction, and, right at the end of a street, there they were!

Wild horses!!!!

We got back in the car to head back to Carson City and came by this herd just hanging out by St. Mary’s Art Center!

Just enjoying some good green grass!

Check out this video on one of the wild horses!  Looks like he is saluting us!

 

Heading back down the windy road, we passed through the town of Gold Hill with skeletons of old mining equipment along the way.  We passed an active mine, Comstock Mining Company, tucked back into the hills.

History of the Comstock Lode
Mining past and present ..
History and horses!!

We had such a very good day on the dry side of Lake Tahoe!

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Posted in Parks, Travels

John Jarvie Ranch

When my parents volunteered at Dinosaur National Monument, we came out for a long visit.  Our boys were younger then and we relished our first ever visit to the High Desert area of our country.  We loved exploring and learning about the dinosaurs and the archeological digs in the area, watching beaver across the Green River, and exploring all the canyons and meadows.  One of our favorite trips then was to Brown’s Park and the John Jarvie Ranch site north of Dinosaur NM on the Green River.

Since we were so close to it today, Barry agreed to drive the 20 (or maybe 45) miles to revisit the site.  Thankfully most of the road was paved, but there were several teeth-grinding unpaved miles that made him question my motives!

Rough riding!
Yes we drove down into the valley and then over a couple more miles of unpaved road to get to the ranch at the arrow point!
Replica Store / Post Office the original was built in 1881 and later destroyed by fire. Contains the original safe that was robbed the night of Jarvie’s murder.

John Jarvie was a Scotsman who built this ranch property in 1880 to serve as a store and post office for the local travelers and residents in this remote area.  He chose it for the natural river crossing here that had been used by Native Americans and fur-trappers for years.  He was the first postmaster for this area and later operated a ferry over the Green River, he was also a rancher and miner.

The original dugout home for John & his wife Nellie facing the river
The stone house measures 18′ x 20′, one room only. Built by outlaw Jack Bennet using masonry he learned in prison!

The history of the Brown’s Park area is filled with names of the famous and infamous; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid of the Wild Bunch, outlaws such as Isom Dart and Matt Warner, and “Queen” Ann and Josie Bassett…….if you like Wild West history, just look them up online!  The Wild Bunch spent quite some time in this part of Utah; there are so many canyons to hide away!

Water was a valuable resource here, they used it in the home, irrigating, and mining
Blacksmith Shop c. 1880’s, Walls of cottonwood, roof of juniper covered with dirt
Graves of 4 men who died in Brown’s Park: 2 drowned, one was stabbed and the other was shot

This corral and several other buildings were built from hand-hewn railroad ties that floated down from Green River, Wyoming. Chinese laborers were used to cut and hew timber for the new transcontinental train lines.

Old wagon wheels and antler art!

I hope you enjoyed this historic memory detour as much as I did!

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Posted in Campgrounds, LIfestyle, RV Living, Travels

Around Pine Grove RV Park

After we left Lee’s Summit, Missouri, we headed north, past St. Joseph and the Iowa border, then turned west and wound our way to Greenwood, Nebraska.  Pine Grove RV Campground is a decent park, with gravelly old paved roads, lots of steep speed bumps, and gravel parking sites but no patio space, just grass and an old picnic table.  The grass was a bit hairy and tracked inside every time we took the dogs out.  The WiFi was weak, but they had an AT&T tower nearby to boost that signal.  We had full hook ups, but low water pressure, and a great view across a huge soybean field facing west.  This park has a small pool, shuffleboard and tennis courts, playground for kids, and, more importantly, fenced dog parks!  The corgis had a great time running free, barking just to bark, and getting much need exercise.  After the eclipse, we were happy to enjoy the evening sunsets out the front of the coach.


Barry had appointments east in Omaha on Tuesday and west in York on Wednesday…..so we really were working here!

I did enjoy the old cemetery at Trinity Lutheran Church during the eclipse on Monday.  My grandma used to like to walk around the cemetery in our town, checking all the graves to see if anyone had died that she had missed, looking to make sure Grandpa’s grave had fresh flowers, etc.  and I, also, like to walk around cemeteries.  This one is an old German cemetery with graves dating in the mid-to-late-1800’s.

I am related to the Schmidt family on my father’s side; my great-grandparents immigrated to the USA before my grandparents were born.  I like to check old cemeteries for any of the names in any of my family trees, and I found these graves, just not people in my tree!


We ran into Omaha and across the Missouri River to Council Bluffs, Iowa on Tuesday evening to the Bass Pro Shop there.  It is in a big casino complex at the intersection of I-80 and I-29 and had some public outcry and controversy when they built the overpass into the complex.


These pieces of “art” grace both sides of the overpass (2 on the North and 2 on the South), weigh 70,000 pounds, shoot 60′ into the sky, and cost an estimated $3,000,000 dollars.  They are titled “Odyssey” and were designed by renowned metal sculpture artist, Albert Paley.  We are familiar with his work from a piece at the entrance to the St. Louis Zoo; titled “Animals Always”, it is perfect for that site!  https://www.stlzoo.org/about/blog/2015/09/02/public-art-contributes-our-zoos-charm   These pieces, however, tower over the overpass and the highway in a crazy, Edward Scissorhands-like presence that is almost overwhelming.

The next day, Barry & I drove west to York, Nebraska to make a business call and I had such a wonderful day!  We stopped after the call in Lincoln to see the University of Nebraska stadium.

Memorial Stadium
Husker Nation!

After that stop, I dropped Barry off at the coach for a little exploring time on my own.  Now I had time to visit the Holy Family Shrine overlooking the Platte River valley.  It was modeled after Fay Jones’ Cooper Chapel in Arkansas as a place of meditation, reflection and prayer just off I-80, and stands as a welcoming refuge from the hustle and bustle of travel.

Visitors Center Entryway planted with so many wildflowers
Water is one of the major elements here and flows from the Visitor’s Center along a pathway and into the Chapel
Leaving the Visitor’s Center toward the Chapel
The Shrine is cool, quiet and reverent inside; the only sound is the water that runs under the stone floor up to the altar. The Holy Family is etched in the glass here.

Leaving the Shrine I took a different road back to the coach and found this funny lighthouse on the bank of the Platte River.

Combination of Lincoln & Omaha?

All in all, this is an interesting place to visit; big cities nearby, yet a rural setting for the campground.  We would probably stay here again when working in eastern Nebraska!

 

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Posted in Campgrounds, RV Living

Heading West (sort of)

We spent a working week in St. Louis.  Mom and I had doctor’s appointments, Barry had office appointments and a couple of guys in from Athens, Georgia, and I had work to do at the house.  I took the last load of things to be donated to the D.A.V. (At least I hope those were the last loads!).  Barry & I moved all the packed boxes of things we are keeping into the garage to get them out of the house.  I vacuumed the entire house.  We got a bid to trim the front yard trees hanging over the house…..$900……and they could not schedule that for a month……so, we got our very big ladder out and I got on the roof and cut the most egregious ones myself.  Lots of scratches, bruises and sore muscles later, I was down on the ground and cleaning up the mess.  I so wish our house would sell.  

At the end of the week, we headed north to Keokuk, Iowa.  We won’t be back in St. Louis until mid-October after traveling around Iowa and Kansas for a month then heading west to Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas!  Until then, it was a weekend in Keokuk at a little RV campground, Hickory Haven.  It is a small park with gravel sites, no WiFi, bad phone service and some standing dead trees, but had full hook-ups.  It was a good chance to wash the dust and dirt off the lower portion of the coach accumulated from Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois and Missouri rains.  

Keokuk is a small/medium sized river town with many interesting things to see.  There is a very interesting National Cemetery here.  I just imagine they chose the location as it was not really farm-able; very hilly and uneven with large trees scattered throughout.  It was established in 1862 and is one of the 12 original Federal Cemeteries.  It is divided into 2 sections, one with the very oldest graves that borders Oakland Cemetery (est. 1851), and the more recent era graves further back.  Oakland Cemetery has beautiful grave sites hanging precariously off the steep slopes.  (By the way, I have a deep love and respect for old cemeteries!). 

Keokuk has an older section of town with lovely large homes overlooking the might Mississippi River.  Many have interesting architectural elements……..I am not sure what to call this style of cut rocks, but both of these homes are majestic and beautiful.


Rand Park eagle

There is a beautiful old power plant on the Mississippi River here…… the actual name is U.S. Lock and Dam #19.  It was built between 1910-13 and, when completed, was the largest electricity generating plant in the world!  There are great views of it if you drive across the river bridge near downtown or from Rand Park.

The Mighty Mississippi
Keokuk Power House on the US Lock and Dam #19

We found a nice restaurant downtown, Angelina’s, that earned two visits from us…..otherwise, unless you love to look at corn and soybean fields, there is not too much to do here………but relax!   Our next direction is North West toward Des Moines…..we really will head West soon!!