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George Washington Carver National Monument

George Washington Carver National Monument turned out to be a delightful diversion from our Route 66 journey through Missouri. We thought our visit would be short because we arrived with few expectations and very little knowledge about the site or the man. However, this turned out to be one of the best stops of our road trip, and while we spent more than two hours at the park, we could have stayed much longer.

Beautiful drive into the extremely well-maintained national park site

Where is it?

The monument is located at 5646 Carver Road in Diamond, Missouri.

Features of the site include:

  • Visitor center and gift shop
  • Introductory film
  • Three levels of museum exhibits with a special area for kids
  • Guided and self-guided tours of the one-mile Carver Trail
  • Junior Ranger programs
  • Picnic area

Link to the monument’s website here.

The gorgeous gardens and grounds at George Washington Carver National Monument were worth the stop alone.

Why is this national monument significant?

The monument preserves the birthplace and honors the extraordinary life of George Washington Carver. It was on the site that George was born to an enslaved woman named Mary in 1864. No records exist to show his exact birthdate, and very little is known about Mary except that she was about thirteen years old when she was purchased by Moses Carver. What is known, however, is that George Washington Carver faced a great deal of adversity throughout his younger life. Though despite the odds, he became one of the most respected environmental agriculturalists and teachers the country has ever known. Furthermore, George Washington Carver National Monument is the first national monument to an African American.

This structure represents the approximate location of Mary’s one room log cabin and the birthplace of George Washington Carver.

George’s Early Years

George’s parents, Giles and Mary, were purchased in 1855 by Moses Carver, a German American immigrant who farmed in southwestern Missouri. Giles, who by some accounts was actually owned by a neighbor, died in an accident before George was born. When George was only a few weeks old, Arkansas night riders, who were known to terrorize blacks, kidnapped him, his mother, and his sister. George’s brother, James, somehow escaped the kidnapping, but the other three were taken to Kentucky and sold. Moses Carver hired a man to find them, but he was only able to find George, and Carver had to “buy” the baby back by rewarding the man with a $300.00 horse. The Carvers raised George and James as their own children and gave them their name. No one knows what happened to Mary or her daughter.

“Boy Carver Statue” by Robert Amendola, 1961

George’s Boyhood Years

As a boy, George enjoyed a daily trek into the woods where he would pray and absorb the beauty of his surroundings. With an innate sense of curiosity, he became interested in the plants that grew near his home. Moses Carver and his wife Susan had taught George and James the basics of reading and writing. However, young George yearned for more – he wanted to go to school. Black children could not attend the public school in Diamond, so at about age twelve George left home and walked eleven miles to Neosho, Missouri where he knew there was a school that would accept him. Information about James is unclear, but he left the Carver’s farm and went to Fayetteville, Arkansas around the time George went to Neosho. Later, he may have worked as a house painter or plasterer in Missouri. James died of Smallpox in 1883 at the age of 23.

The Carver Homestead

This is a restored version of the Carver’s second home built in 1881. George likely visited the Carvers here, but he never lived in the house.

Excerpt from a park information board:

“In the 1860s and 1870s Moses Carver grew hundreds of bushels of oats, corn, hay, and Irish potatoes in these fields. The farm where young George played and worked also produced fruit, wool, beeswax, honey, molasses, and livestock. When he left, G. W. Carver carried with him the conviction that farmers should be self-sufficient and good stewards of what had been entrusted to them…ideas he learned living here.”

The Carver family cemetery where Moses and Susan Carver, along with other members of the family as well as neighbors are buried. The last burial here was in 1919.

A Thirst for Knowledge

After spending two years in Neosho under the care of a woman named Mariah Watkins, George left to travel to Kansas with a group of people who were traveling west. Over the next few years, he traveled around the Midwest attending secondary school and working, usually as a domestic. He graduated from Minneapolis High School in Minneapolis, Kansas. In the late 1880s, George found himself in Winterset, Iowa where he enrolled in nearby Simpson College to study the fine arts of painting and music. One year later, he enrolled in the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm in Ames, Iowa, now Iowa State University. It was there that he earned a bachelor’s degree in in 1894 and a graduate degree two years later. After graduation, he became the first black faculty member of the university.

Black and white image on George Washington Carver as a teenager.
George as a teenager – National Park Service image

Tuskegee Institute

In 1896 Booker T. Washington asked George to head the agriculture department at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. George accepted and spent the next 47 years educating students as well as farmers. Although he was sometimes referred to as Dr. Carver, he never earned a doctorate degree. However, Selma University and Simpson College each awarded him with honorary doctorates of science. In 1994 Iowa State University issued a doctorate of humane letters posthumously.

The national monument has recreated Carver’s Tuskegee Institute classroom in its museum.

The Peanut Man

In addition to teaching, Carver did extensive plant research, especially with peanuts. He established an agricultural extension service, later issuing a bulletin entitled “How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption” and encouraged cotton and tobacco farmers to rotate their crops with peanuts in order to restore nitrogen to their soil. With the invasion of boll weevils, many southern cotton farmers followed Carver’s advice by turning to peanuts. As a result, former cotton mills retooled to become peanut oil mills. Some say George Washington Carver saved the south’s farm economy due to his crop rotation and soil enrichment methods. His tireless research resulted in over 300 uses for peanuts and hundreds of uses for other food plants such as soybeans and sweet potatoes.

An exhibit from the museum at the national monument

Some of Carver’s uses for peanuts included:

  • foodstuffs such as mayonnaise, carmel, chili sauce, and coffee
  • cosmetics such as shampoo, face powder, and hand lotion
  • industrial items such as rubber, plastic, insecticides, and paint
George Washington Carver (center front) and staff, 1902 – Library of Congress image

There is no doubt the man was a brilliant biologist. However, in addition to his teaching and research career, Carver was a promoter of racial equality and traveled throughout the South spreading his message. He never married, and he spent his life living in a dormitory on the Tuskegee Institute campus. When George got older, his good friend and automotive manufacturer Henry Ford had an elevator installed in the dormitory so that George would be able to access his lab without having to use the stairs. Sadly, George died on January 5, 1943, after falling down the stairs in his home. He is buried next to Booker T. Washington on the campus of Tuskegee University.

The National Monument

The national monument is interesting on the inside and beautiful on the outside. Below are some additional photographs of the site.

A perfect reflection of nature, this creek would have piqued the interest of a curious little boy. It certainly piqued ours!
While it isn’t a peanut plant, this stunning zinnia would have undoubtedly been of interest to George.
Turtles sunning themselves on a log during an algae bloom in their pond.
Beautyberry
Trail through the woods. Perhaps we walked in George’s footsteps here.
White clematis

Thank you so much for joining us on our visit to George Washington Carver National Monument!

Want to visit more national monuments? Click on these interesting destinations:

Scotts Bluff National Monument

Craters of the Moon National Monument

Colorado National Monument

Travel safely, and we will see you on the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Devils Tower Road Trip: Things to Do

Black Hills, South Dakota

This airport to destination road trip to Devils Tower begins in Rapid City, South Dakota. Distance between Rapid City and Devils Tower: 107 miles/1.75 hours. In this post we will be highlighting four bonus stops along the way and listing things to do at each stop. We’re even including a bonus road trip! Let’s check out Rapid City before we hit the road.

Badlands National Park

Lying just east of the Black Hills National Forest in western South Dakota, Rapid City was settled by prospectors during the Black Hills Gold Rush days of the late 1800s. From its humble beginnings on the banks of Rapid Creek, Rapid City has grown into a flourishing metropolitan area. Nicknamed the City of Presidents because bronze statues of every U.S. president can be found on downtown streets and because of the city’s proximity to Mount Rushmore. As a vacation hotspot, Rapid City has practically anything a visitor could want in the way of accommodations, dining, shopping, and entertainment.

Custer State Park, South Dakota

Things to do in Rapid City

Click the venue name for information about these family favorites:

When to go? Anytime, but we recommend May, June, July and September. Note that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally takes place during the first two weeks of August. Visiting during this time is not recommended unless you plan to participate in the rally.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Things to Do near Rapid City

Rapid City is also a perfect road trip “home base” due to its proximity to several state and national parks. (Click the park name for information.)

Now, let’s begin our road trip to Devils Tower…

Getting There

Take I-90 west toward Sturgis via Black Hawk. Distance between Rapid City and Sturgis: 29 miles/30 minutes.

Bonus Stop: Sturgis, South Dakota. Home of the world’s largest motorcycle rally. The city has some interesting stops whether you are interested in motorcycles or just a little history.

Things to do in Sturgis

  • Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame – 999 Main St, Sturgis
  • Saab Heritage Car Museum USA – 940 Dickson Dr, Sturgis
  • Black Hills National Cemetery – 20901 Pleasant Valley Dr (3 miles east of Sturgis)
  • Old Fort Meade Museum – 50 Sheridan St, Fort Meade, SD (1.5 miles east of Sturgis via Highways 34 and 79)

No road trip to Sturgis would be complete without a visit to the world’s largest biker bar. Full Throttle Saloon (19942 Hwy 79, Vale, SD) is the real deal. While you’re there, grab a bite to eat, an ice-cold beverage, and a souvenir or two. Most of the time the bar is open from 8:00 am to around 8:30 pm. If in doubt about the hours, give them a call – (605) 423-4584. Distance between Sturgis and Full Throttle Saloon: 20 miles/20 minutes.

Continue west on I-90 toward Spearfish. Distance between Sturgis and Spearfish: 21.7 miles/22 minutes.

Bridal Veil Falls, Spearfish Canyon

Bonus Stop: Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway via Exit 10 or Exit 14 off of I-90. US Highway 14A is the 19-mile-long Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. Without stops, the drive takes approximately 30 minutes, but we recommend allowing 1-1.5 hours for sightseeing along this beautiful byway. The canyon features three waterfalls, wildlife, and hiking trails as well as steep cliff walls and a variety of trees and other plant life. Free to visit.

Roughlock Falls, Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota

Things to do in Spearfish

  • High Plains Western Heritage Center (museum) – 825 Heritage Dr, Spearfish
  • D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery – 423 Hatchery Cir, Spearfish
  • Spearfish Rec & Aquatics Center (water park) – 122 Recreation Ln, Spearfish

Bonus Road Trip: Deadwood, South Dakota. Back during the gold rush Deadwood was a rambunctious Old West town that catered to the likes of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Their gravesites in the Mount Moriah Cemetery are a popular stop for tourists. Today, this National Historic Landmark town features a lively Main Street with gun fight reenactments and plenty of shopping and dining.

Things to do in Deadwood

  • Gambling resorts and gaming halls
  • Museums
  • Gold mine tour
  • Tatanka, Story of the Bison – exhibit featuring bronze sculptures depicting a bison hunt
  • Northern Plains Peoples Interpretive Center

Distance between Spearfish and Deadwood: 15 miles/18 minutes – via US Highway 85 south.

Continue west from Spearfish on I-90 toward Beulah, Wyoming. Distance between Spearfish and Beulah: 15 miles/15 minutes.

Welcome to Wyoming

Wyoming’s welcome centers are definitely worth a stop. The Northeast Wyoming Welcome Center at Beulah includes museum-type exhibits, free maps and other tourist information, clean restrooms, and extremely helpful employees. Travelers can also enjoy a paved walking trail and wayside information boards that detail interesting historical facts about the area.

Bonus Stop: Vore Buffalo Jump. This active archaeological site is located approximately 3 miles west of Beulah on the US Highway 14 access road. See archaeologists at work recovering bison bones and other artifacts left by the Plains Indians in a trap/sink hole dating to 1500-1800 AD. The site is open daily June 1 through Labor Day, but tours may be able to be arranged during other times of the year by calling (888) 945-7676.

Continue west on US Highway 14 toward Sundance, Wyoming. Distance between Beulah and Sundance: 18 miles/20 minutes

Statue of the Sundance Kid in Sundance, Wyoming

Bonus Stop: Sundance, Wyoming. Sundance is the county seat of Crook County, Wyoming. Harry A. Longabaugh was an outlaw who served time in the Crook County Jail for theft. He joined Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch Gang after being released from prison around 1896 and became known as the Sundance Kid. It is widely believed that Butch and Sundance both died in Bolivia in 1908 during a shootout with the Bolivian army. Crook County Museum – 120 North 4th Street – holds an array of historic relics from the area, including some exhibits about Longabaugh, and also features an art gallery. Admission is free and the museum is well worth the stop. Allow 1-1.5 hours.

Continue west on US Highway 14, then take Highway 24 north to Devils Tower. Distance between Sundance and Devils Tower: 27 miles/31 minutes.

Destination: Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower as seen on approach to the park

What is it? The result of ancient volcanic activity, Devils Tower is a rock butte rising 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. The National Park Service explains:

“We know that the Tower is formed of a rare igneous rock, phonolite porphyry, and is the largest example of columnar jointing in the world.”

Devils Tower is sacred to Northern Plains Indian tribes who traditionally refer to the butte as Bear Lodge. The tower has been called by other names, but Bear Lodge or Bear Lodge Butte is what appears most commonly in early explorers’ notes and maps. Somehow through explorers’ translations of Lakota Indian words, the probable misinterpretation of “bad gods tower” evolved into Devil’s Tower. The government entity that manages place names officially proclaimed the monument Devils Tower and dropped the apostrophe due to their policy against possessive names. President Theodore Roosevelt designated Devils Tower as our country’s first national monument in 1906.

View of Devils Tower from Tower Trail
  • Website link: Devils Tower National Monument
  • The park is open 24 hours every day
  • Cost: $25.00 per car for a 7-day pass – credit card only or purchase pass online

Note that parking at the visitor center is limited and can be difficult for maneuvering long RVs and travel trailers. Check the website for information regarding RV parking.

Another trail view of Devils Tower

Things to do at Devils Tower

  • Stop at Devils Tower Trading Post just before entering the park to pick up snacks or souvenirs and then take some postcard worthy shots of the tower
  • Camp – RV and tent camping available at the Belle Fourche River Campground – first come only, no reservations
  • Picnic – large picnic area with tables
  • Hike – several trails available
  • Join a ranger program or night sky program
  • Visit the park’s resident prairie dogs at Prairie Dog Town
  • Climb. Climbing is permitted with registration of climbers. Note: during the month of June when Native American rituals and religious services take place, climbers are asked not to climb due to the sanctity of the site.
One last Devils Tower shot

Thank you so much for joining us on our road trip to Devils Tower!

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road or at a national park.

Mike and Kellye

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Need more US road trip inspiration? Click on these other exciting destinations:

Abilene, Texas Road Trip: Things to Do

Albuquerque to Taos Road Trip: Things to Do

 

 

 

 

 

10 Amazing Things to See and Do at Big Bend National Park

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Albuquerque to Taos Road Trip: Things to Do

Taos Pueblo

Northern New Mexico is a breath of fresh air – literally. The air is clean, the skies are bright, and the mountains are majestic! While visiting Taos you will be able to learn about its historic past, see world class art, and enjoy great food, all in a casual, laid-back atmosphere! Taos is also a year-round hub for a multitude of outdoor sports, and opportunities for sightseeing abound.

Taos is:

  • The perfect road trip destination for a long weekend.
  • A great get away for couples.
  • Best visited: anytime. We like September and October. Snow sports enthusiasts will love Taos in the winter months.
Rio Grande and Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque -Photo by Stephanie Klepacki

This airport-to-destination road trip is going to start from the closest major airport which is in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Miles between Albuquerque and Taos: 133 via Santa Fe.

Things to do in Albuquerque:

  • Old Town
  • Sandia Peak Tramway
  • Albuquerque BioPark – zoo and aquarium
  • Petroglyph National Monument
  • New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
  • Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum
  • Breaking Bad RV tour
  • Casinos
Albuquerque’s Sandia Peak Tramway – Photo by Federated Art

*Recommended hotels in Albuquerque: Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express. Both hotel chains have several locations to choose from.

*Recommended restaurant in Albuquerque: Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, 5011 Pan American Freeway NE

Travel tip: We highly recommend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta which takes place every October. Here’s a link: Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Photo by Lad Fury

Getting There

From Albuquerque, there are two options for driving to Santa Fe. The I-25 route is the fastest. Highway 14 aka The Turquoise Trail is much more scenic but requires a longer drive.

From Albuquerque, take I-25 north to Santa Fe. Drive time between Albuquerque and Santa Fe: 1 hour

Recommended route: via the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway. From Albuquerque, take I-40 east to Highway 14 north toward Madrid.

Bonus stop: Madrid.  Once a mining town turned ghost town, Madrid (pronounced mad´-rid)  is now a thriving artist community. Drive time between Albuquerque and Madrid: 1 hour.

Continue on to Santa Fe via Highway 14. Drive time between Madrid and Santa Fe: 40 minutes.

Bonus Stop: Santa Fe.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe, New Mexico

 Travel tip: If you can’t spend a few days in Santa Fe, try to stop for a few hours to explore the plaza. Plan a trip back when you can spend some time enjoying everything the historic city has to offer.

Things to do in Santa Fe:

  • Santa Fe Plaza
  • Palace of the Governors
  • Loretto Chapel
  • San Miguel Chapel
  • Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
  • Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
  • Santa Fe Railyard
  • Meow Woof

*Recommended hotel in Santa Fe: Inn on the Alameda. Within walking distance of the plaza and Canyon Road galleries. Free breakfast. Click this link for Inn on the Alameda

*Recommended restaurants in Santa Fe: The Shed – 113 E Palace Avenue, on the plaza, and The Pink Adobe – 406 Old Santa Fe Trail, off the plaza.

Side trip: Pecos National Historical Park. From Santa Fe, take I-25 toward Glorietta, then Highway 50 east to Pecos, and follow the signs to the park. View the ruins of a pueblo that was built around 800 AD. Allow at least two hours to see the site via a self-guided walking tour. The visitor center museum is extremely interesting. Drive time between Santa Fe and Pecos National Historical Park: 40 minutes. We highly recommend a visit to this park! Here is a link for more information:  Pecos National Historical Park

From Santa Fe there are two options for driving to Taos: the High Road to Taos Scenic Byway, which we recommend, and the Low Road to Taos, which is faster. Timing will determine which road to choose.

High Road to Taos – longer but most scenic

From Santa Fe take Highway 84/285 north toward Pojoaque, then take Highway 503 east via Highway 98 to Chimayo.

 Bonus stop: historic Santuario de Chimayo. Learn about El Posito, a hole in the floor of the church that is believed to have healing powers in its dirt.

Bonus stop:

The Church of San Jose de la Gracia

Low Road to Taos – not as scenic but faster

At Santa Fe, take US 84 West, then 285 North toward Espanola, then take Highway 68 to Taos. Drive time between Santa Fe and Taos: 1.5 hours.

Destination: Taos, New Mexico

Ruins of the San Geronimo Mission church and cemetery at Taos Pueblo

*Recommended hotel in Taos: El Pueblo Lodge, 412 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Here is a link: El Pueblo Lodge. There is also a Hampton Inn.

There are too many good restaurants in Taos to list, but our advice is to ask the front desk at the hotel for their recommendations. Locals always know the best places to eat.

Things to do in Taos:

Stroll the plaza. Walk the square, check out the unique shops and boutiques, pick up a box of chocolates at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and stop in at one of the plaza’s restaurants for drinks and a meal. We recommend The Gorge Bar & Grill. Try the tequila-lime chicken street tacos along with the fried green beans and sip a margarita while people watching from the second-story patio.

Travel tip: there are some great shops and restaurants outside of the plaza too.

Visit Taos Pueblo. Take a guided walking tour of the pueblo. Learn the history of the site and the people who have called this sacred ground home for over one thousand years. Taos Pueblo is one of only 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the U.S. A visit is very well worth the price of the tour and a tip for the tour guide. Plan to spend two hours. Check the site for Covid-19 restrictions and availability here: Taos Pueblo

Get up Early for a Hot Air Balloon Ride. For the thrill of a lifetime, take an early morning hot air balloon flight. Dip into the Rio Grande Gorge, touch down on the river, then float high above the plateaus for spectacular views of the gorge and the mountains with volcano cone vistas of the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument. There are a few hot air balloon companies to choose from, and we recommend booking ahead for this popular activity.

Walk across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Take US Highway 64 West from Taos. Park on the west side, and walk across the bridge, which sits 650 feet above the river! Look for desert big horn sheep on the rocks along the gorge. Located at the edge of Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, the scenery is spectacular. Adjoining the national monument is Rio Grande Gorge State Park – we thought it was more of a rest area – where there are places to picnic while enjoying the scenery. There are great photo ops, and it is just a few miles east of the Earthships Biotecture Visitor Center. For anyone who has not seen the Taos Earthships, they are definitely worth a visit or an overnight stay. Some of the earthships are now Airbnb vacation rentals. Here is a link: Taos Earthships  

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Spend an afternoon fishing. Or spend the day enjoying most any other outdoor sport. Outfitters in Taos can arrange whitewater rafting or a float trip on the Rio Grande. Stop by Taos Fly Shop for some great fishing gear, a license, or tips on where the fish are biting. Head for the Taos Ski Valley for great hiking and mountain biking trails, and of course skiing and snowboarding in the winter.

Fly fishing on the Rio Pueblo

•Step into the past. There are no less than 10 museums in Taos, featuring the personal homes of past Taos residents, Native American history, Northern New Mexico history, and of course, art. As art lovers, we recommend learning about the Taos Society of Artists which made Taos the art colony it still is today. Be sure to check the museums’ websites for operating days and times as well as Covid-19 restrictions.

Browse or buy world class art. With approximately 20 galleries in town, Taos is an art lover’s paradise. From Native American art, pottery and jewelry to modern art and funky sculptures, there is a gallery collection to suit every taste.

Kick back. Grab a good book and find a cozy spot in the sun or curl up in front of a fireplace with a warm drink and that box of chocolates you bought at the plaza. Take a leisurely stroll then stop in at Parcht (on the plaza) for a glass of wine and a bite. Or get back on the road for a drive through the mountains and Carson National Forest. The possibilities for rest and relaxation in the Taos area are endless.

Looking for more ideas? Click on the links below to find out about these other exciting weekend road trip destinations:

El Paso to Ruidoso Road Trip: Things to Do

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

Abilene, Texas Road Trip: Things to Do

Thank you for joining us! Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

Featured

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Sitting right on Baltimore’s inner harbor near an industrial area on the edge of downtown is Fort McHenry, the birthplace of the “The Star-Spangled Banner”. It was during the War of 1812 that a young lawyer named Francis Scott Key penned the now famous words. He had been aboard a US truce ship on the river while witnessing the battle between the Americans defending Baltimore at Fort McHenry and the British navy. The British had sailed up the Chesapeake Bay after burning Washington and filled the river with its ships aiming to capture Baltimore. After the battle in September of 1814, Key was inspired to write the poem when he saw that the garrison flag “yet waved” by the dawn’s early light over Fort McHenry. The poem was set to an adapted tune of an 18th Century European song called “To Anacreon in Heaven”, and in 1931 “The Star-Spangled Banner” was officially adopted as the National Anthem of the United States. Did you know that the original title of Key’s poem was “The Defense of Fort McHenry”?

A smaller replica of the original garrison flag, which bore fifteen stars and fifteen stripes and measured 30′ x 42′, flies over Fort McHenry today. The original flag, made by Mary Pickersgill of Baltimore at the request of the fort’s commander, Major George Armistead, now resides in the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

Fort McHenry was built between 1798 and 1803 and is named for James McHenry who hailed from Baltimore and was George Washington’s Secretary of War. During the Civil War, the fort was used to hold prisoners of war, but it was primarily used as a prison for pro-succession Maryland residents. During World War I, the grounds around Fort McHenry were home to 100 buildings composing a 3,000 bed hospital. Called General Hospital 2, which was one of the largest in the US at the time, it was used to treat wounded from the battlefields of France. Fort McHenry is the only national park site that has been designated as a shrine.

Prison cells at Fort McHenry
These cannons swivel on a round track so they can be aimed in different directions
These cannons are aimed toward the harbor. Baltimore’s harbor is actually the Patapsco River which flows into the Chesapeake Bay.
Inside the fort
Outside the fort
Sallyport (entrance) to the fort

We’re going to call this trip done, but in closing the post we want to leave you with a couple of cool shots at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. This is where the Baltimore Orioles baseball team plays, and the stadium is next to M&T Bank Stadium where the Baltimore Ravens football team plays. Both fields are in downtown Baltimore.

Eutaw Street Entrance
The great Babe Ruth was a Baltimorian who was born just a few blocks from Oriole Park at Camden Yards. In fact, his father once owned and ran a bar that sat about where the ballpark’s second base is located today.

Thanks so much for stopping by! Until the next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2021

 

Featured

Antietam National Battlefield

Located just outside of Sharpsburg, Maryland, Antietam National Battlefield was one of our favorite destinations on our Mid-Atlantic road trip. During the battle that took place on September 17, 1862 and lasted only about 12 hours, 23,000 men’s lives were changed forever. Ending in a Union victory, it was the bloodiest one day battle of the Civil War.

Maryland Monument
Dunker Church so named because their parishioners were baptized by dunking
Miller Farmhouse

The men who lost their lives here did not in any way die in vain, but when one steps foot on these consecrated grounds it is hard not to think that any war has its own senselessness. We felt something spiritual here that resembled the way we felt at the Oklahoma City Memorial – both being places that were once violently disrupted by turmoil but are now utterly serene. Perhaps the spirits of those who fought and died here walked along with us and somehow soothed our souls.

Mumma Farm, the only structure deliberately destroyed during the battle. Confederate soldiers burned the house and outbuildings so Union troops could not use them. Luckily, the Mumma family had left the house before the battle. They rebuilt the house in 1863. Before this trip, we never knew that families whose properties were damaged or destroyed during the Civil War were compensated by the government in order to rebuild.
Hallowed Ground

Another thing we learned on the trip was that the National Park Service leases some of its land to local farmers for growing crops. We never had seen so many soybeans, and certainly never knew that so many acres of soybeans were grown in the US.

Sunken Road aka Bloody Lane looking north
Bloody Lane looking south

This is the site where the Confederates held off 10,000 Union soldiers during a three hour battle. The casualties were high and the road was lined with bodies. Click here for some additional information and photographs of the aftermath of this battle thanks to the History Channel: https://www.history.com/news/battle-antietam-photography-civil-war . Warning – the photographs are graphic!

Burnside Bridge – probably the most photographed landmark at Antietam. General Burnside’s men captured the bridge from about 500 Confederate soldiers who had held the area for more than three hours. Burnside’s troops crossed Antietam Creek, which drove the Confederates back toward Sharpsburg.

The Antietam National Cemetery is located in Sharpsburg, Maryland, just a few miles from the battlefield. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go in, but according the the park brochure 4,776 Union soldiers are buried here, along with veterans of other wars. This cemetery did not exist at the time of the Civil War so the dead were buried where they died on the battlefield. Later their remains were reinterred at this cemetery. Confederate soldiers were buried in Hagerstown, MD, Frederick, MD, and Shepherdstown, VA, now WV. Interestingly, in 2009 remains of an unidentified soldier were found in a cornfield, most likely buried where he fell on the battlefield almost 150 years before.

Cemetery Lodge (sometimes called Keepers House) on the grounds of the Antietam National Cemetery

That’s going to do it for our overview of the Antietam National Battlefield. We hope you enjoyed the visit and that you will come back often to see us as we post more trips and tips. Thank you for joining us on the road. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2021

Featured

Wish We Were There Wednesday: Pretty Pictures

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Agave blooms

We don’t pretend to be professional photographers, however we do love to aim and shoot. No fancy filters or special effects for us, but sometimes we get a lucky shot. You will see what we see through our lenses or on our cell phone screens! We decided to show you some of our favorite pretty pictures from our travels, most of which we have never posted before. Enjoy.

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Paintbrush

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Morning

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Bloom

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Serenity

Study in Pink

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Texas

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Next to grandma’s porch, perhaps

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Where the desert meets the sky – White Sands National Park

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National Grassland, South Dakota

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Waterfall

Dahlia

Thank you for visiting our site. We hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as we enjoyed sharing them with you. Please visit us again for new road trips, exciting cities, and more pretty pictures. Become a follower so you never miss a post, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. We love having you along for the ride.

Happy hump day, everybody!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Annapolis, Maryland and The United States Naval Academy

The Maryland State House in Annapolis

We strolled a few streets of Annapolis, and went to the City Dock which was great – we ate some good barbecue there – but parking came at a premium and there were lots and lots of people. Being Covid-conscious, although we’ve been vaccinated, we weren’t real keen on big crowds. It was fun, though, and we would go back in a heartbeat to see more of the city.

A shot from City Dock. Luckily, we were able to park after feeding a meter our credit card, and we were just steps from the pedestrian entrance to the Academy and visitor center.

We went to Annapolis because it is the capital of Maryland, but our primary goal was to see the US Naval Academy. Now we wish we would have allowed more time to visit there. Honestly, we could’ve spent days touring the Academy.

Prestigious homes on Porter Road, sometimes called Captain’s Row. These beautiful houses, built in 1905, are for higher ranked essential personnel to live in while stationed at the Academy.
The Chapel, dedicated in 1908. John Paul Jones’ remains were entombed here in 1913. His remains had been returned to the US in 1905 after being found buried in a cemetery in France where he had lain for 113 years. Seeing the Chapel was the highlight of our visit.
Mahan Hall Clock Tower framed by stunning crepe myrtles
Bancroft Hall, the largest dormitory in the US, is home away from home to some 4,000 midshipmen. The building has 1700 rooms, 33 acres of floor space, and almost five miles of hallways/corridors. Noon meal formations are held in front of this building during the academic year.
Tamanend, Chief of the Delaware Indians. Chief Tamanend, now called Tecumseh sits in Tecumseh Court (T-Court to the midshipmen) in front of Bancroft Hall where the noon meal formations take place. The original of this sculpture was the figurehead of the USS Delaware which was burned during the Civil War. The figurehead was saved, however, and ended up at the Academy in 1866. This bronze, cast from the original wooden carving, was completed in 1930.

If you plan to visit the Academy, be prepared to go through a security process similar to ones at airports, and you will be asked to show a valid photo ID. No weapons of any kind are allowed to be carried onto the campus. Self-guided and guided tours are available.

As we said, we could have spent days here, and maybe someday we will return, as the Academy was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. For more information about the United States Naval Academy and its history, click here: https://www.usna.edu/homepage.php then click on the “About” tab.

And for some interesting tidbits about the navy, click here: https://www.history.com/news/7-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-u-s-navy

We’re going to leave you with the navy mascot, Bill the Goat:

Thanks so much for joining us on our journey! Please join us again soon. We really appreciate comments, likes, and follows. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road (or at a national park!) 

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2021

 

Featured

Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg has a lot to see and do, and honestly we should have stayed for more than a day. We spent two hours viewing the introductory film, seeing the cyclorama, and seeing the museum. All three are covered in a $15.00 fee at the visitor center. Otherwise, the park is free to visit. The auto tour took another three hours. We hiked one trail near Little Round Top and then walked the entire National Cemetery Trail. In all, we probably spent six to seven hours in the park. If you have never been to Gettysburg, you need to know that the park is surrounded by the town where traffic is heavy and parking is almost non-existent. Downtown Gettysburg is fun and has lots of shops and restaurants, but be prepared to feed a parking meter if you go.

Restaurant recommendations:

Tommy’s Pizza – great for lunch.

The Gettysburger was worth the hour-long wait for a table for dinner. The food was great and the service was excellent. They even have a dog menu if you want to have your fur baby join you on their patio! We highly recommend making a reservation.

The Auto Tour

The auto tour is 24 miles long and can be self-guided or many types of guided tours are available. We chose to do the self guided tour which is easy using the information provided in the park brochure. The tour is well marked with signs so it is easy to follow. We did not stop at every memorial or monument, however, we did stop at all sixteen points of interest described in the brochure.

Eternal Light Peace Memorial – “Peace Eternal in a Nation United”
The Virginia Memorial
State of Pennsylvania Monument
Church at the Lutheran Theological Seminary – Seminary Ridge

The Gettysburg National Cemetery

The National Cemetery is a a somber and extremely beautiful place. While driving through the battlefields, you can’t help but think about what took place there and the lives that were ended or changed forever on those hallowed grounds, but walking through the cemetery really brings it home.

The Soldiers National Memorial at Gettysburg National Cemetery sits on the site of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

The Gettysburg Cyclorama

The Gettysburg Cyclorama, which is 377 feet long and 42 feet high, is a stunning depiction of the final Confederate assault on July 3, 1863. The painting, one of the largest in the world, was done by Paul Philippoteaux in the 1880s. The building that houses the cyclorama provides special lighting and sound effects that seemingly place the viewer in the midst of the battle. The narrator does an excellent job of pointing out the landmarks and explaining how the battle took place. Seeing this before we took the auto tour really helped us to know what we were looking at. Some of our photos are below, and here is a link to the National Park Service website which has the history of the cyclorama, videos, and additional photos: https://www.nps.gov/gett/planyourvisit/cyclorama.htm

This is a close-up of the photo above. Look closely at the man being carried. It’s a little Easter egg that Philippoteaux added to his masterpiece. Do you see that the man is Abraham Lincoln? They also said that Philippoteaux portrayed himself somewhere in the painting too, but we didn’t find him.

The Gettysburg Museum

So much to see and learn in this museum! It is a definite must-do prior to taking the auto tour. We were particularly interested in the many flags that are on display. Below are a couple of the exhibits.

We’re going to close this post with one last picture from the auto tour. Please come back often to see more of our latest trip. Better yet, become an e-mail follower so you will be notified every time we post. We will not sell to or share your information with anyone.

The beautiful State of Vermont Monument

Thanks so much for riding along with us. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

Badwater Basin

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2021

Featured

Catoctin Mountain Park and National Shrine Grotto

Covid threw us (and everyone else) for a loop, but after a too-long hiatus, a lot of research, and many hours of soul searching, we decided to mask up, pack our hand sanitizer, and get back to business. We are thrilled to share our 1200 mile, five state Mid-Atlantic road trip with you over the next weeks and months, so buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Our trip began and ended in Baltimore, MD because…well, Southwest flies there. We try to always fly Southwest if possible – gotta love those points! Plus, Baltimore was a perfect central location for everything we wanted to do and see. What we didn’t expect was the heavy traffic. (Wilmington and Baltimore, we’re looking at you!) For a couple of folks from the wide open spaces of West Texas, we weren’t used to taking two and a half hours to go 68 miles. That said, the trip was great and the bumper to bumper traffic in some areas just added to the adventure.

Here’s our cute Kia Sorrento rental car.

Catoctin Mountain Park (Thurmont, Maryland)

Our very first stop on the trip was at Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland. It is a free entrance national park site that includes a scenic drive, hiking trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, streams, fishing, rock climbing, and cross country skiing in the winter, and it abuts Cunningham Falls State Park, which is the site of the highest waterfall in Maryland. You may not have heard of Catoctin Mountain Park, but we bet you’ve heard of Camp David. The presidential retreat established by Dwight D. Eisenhower and named after his grandson is located in Catoctin Mountain Park. Camp David is not accessible to the public and its location is apparently kept very secretive. We happened to see what we believed to be the entrance because it had official looking gates with signs that prohibited parking, standing, and picture taking.

 

Oh, the beauty, the delightful bird calls and the earthy smells of the forest. We love a good trail, and this one didn’t disappoint.
Pastoral Catoctin Mountains farm scene from the overlook at the end of the trail

Here’s a handy link to Catoctin Mountain Park for more information: Catoctin Mountain Park

National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes

We didn’t have this stop on our itinerary, but it was on the way to Gettysburg so we took a chance. What a great place to see! The National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes is on the campus of Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The grounds, walking paths, and gardens are beautiful. We got to witness a pilgrimage to the Grotto while we were there, which was an exciting first for us. That is why there are no pictures of the actual Grotto, but below are some shots from in and around the area. While viewing the pictures, imagine walking through a serene garden setting on a mountain top while a carillon rings out “How Great Thou Art”.

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Reflecting Pool
Beautiful Jesus
Saint Anthony Shrine (dedicated in 1859) near the National Shrine Grotto in Emmitsburg

Here is the link to The National Shrine Grotto if you would like additional information: Saint Anthony Shrine

The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

Also in Emmitsburg, MD, is the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. Born in 1774, she was the first American to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.

Shrine and Basillica

Also of interest in Emmitsburg is the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial which is located just down the street from the Seton Shrine.

Here is the link to The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton: Seton Shrine

Here is the link to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial: Fallen Firefighters

That is all we have for this post. You won’t want to miss our next exciting destination, Gettysburg. We appreciate you for visiting our site and riding along with us on our adventures. We would love to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road. 

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2021

Featured

Virtual Road Tripping Ideas

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Wyoming Capitol Building

Bored? Stuck at home? Rather be on the road or camping? We are right there with you. To fill the void at our house, we’ve been using our spare time to take different kinds of virtual road trips. In this post, we’ve put together a list of ideas to help end the boredom. We hope some of these resources will “get you out of the house” and help you start planning your next big adventure.

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Bridge at Acadia National Park

YouTube

Some of our favorite folks to virtually travel with are full-time RVers. These folks travel all over the country giving tips on where to go and what to do and see. They also give reviews on great camping spots, and we promise that you’re going to see some amazing scenery and points of interest along the way, too. In random order, our top six picks:

  • Changing Lanes – best for higher end camping and motorcycle rides.
  • Embracing Detours – best for free camping spots and traveling with pets.
  • Grand Adventure – best for boondocking in very scenic places.
  • Traveling Robert – best all around for travel, RV camping, hiking, and scenery.
  • Less Junk, More Journey – best for traveling the country with small kids.
  • Long Long Honeymoon – best for tips and tricks along with great destinations.

Texas

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Texas

We love for others to see what adventures await in our great home state of Texas. Some of our favorites:

  • The Daytripper – Chet Garner and crew travel to a new Texas city or town every week – PBS – check listings for times.
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife – travel to state parks and recreation areas and view our state’s amazing wildlife – PBS – check listings for times.
  • Texas Country Reporter – ride along with Bob Phillips for amazing places in Texas – various channels – check their website for more information. Here’s a link: Texas Country Reporter
  • The Texas Bucket List – learn about the people, places, food, and fun that Texas has to offer with host Shane McAuliffe – various channels and times – check their website for more information. Here’s a link: Texas Bucket List

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Good Ol’ Buoys

Netflix

We thoroughly enjoyed the two shows listed below. The only problem: they weren’t long enough!

  • Expedition Happiness – join Salima and Felix as they travel North America in a school bus turned RV – movie – 1.5 hours.
  • National Parks Adventure – documentary narrated by Robert Redford – 42 minutes.

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Water Diamonds

Prime Video

While some Prime Video selections have to be rented, the following are included with an Amazon Prime membership.

  • The National Parks – America’s Best Idea – 12 part documentary by Ken Burns
  • America’s 58 National Parks – documentary series with 57 episodes
  • America’s National Parks – 8 part documentary series
  • Best Parks Ever – America’s National Parks – 10 part documentary series
  • America’s Treasures – 8 part documentary series
  • RV – hilarious 2006 movie starring Robin Williams – 1.5 hours
  • National Lampoon’s Vacation – 1983 movie starring Chevy Chase – the ultimate guide for what you don’t want a road trip to be – definitely worth another watch

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West Texas Sunrise

Books

There’s nothing like a good book. Pick up the hard copies or download a couple of our favorites listed below.

  • Dear Bob and Sue – three book series covering Matt and Karen Smith’s adventures while visiting all of the national parks. These are a great read for any national park or travel enthusiast – couldn’t put them down! They have written a couple of other travel-related books, too, so check those out as well.
  • 50 States 5000 Ideas – National Geographic publication which also includes the 10 Canadian Provinces – where to go, what to see, what to do. This is a fun book!
  • On the Road – classic Jack Kerouac novel published in 1959. If you have never read it, now is a great time.
  • Any road atlas – yep, we mean that old fashioned paper map book. Atlas trips are a favorite pastime of ours. Pick a state and see what all it has to offer by “traveling” its highways and backroads via map.

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Fat Prairie Dog

Around the Web

The possibilities are endless for navigating travel related sites on the web. Here are some of our favorite stops:

  • RoadsideAmerica.com – pick any city and state to see what quirky attractions await.
  • AtlasObscura.com – enter a destination in their search box to see what interesting sights can be found there.
  • Explore.org – a collection of live webcams and webcam videos from around the world. Kids will love this!
  • OnlyinYourState.com – enter a state in the search box to find out about people, places, and things in the state of your choosing.
  • TripAdvisor.com we like to search “things to do” in a particular city and state to see what Trip Advisor comes up with.
  • DearBobandSue.com – check out their website for podcasts, photos of their adventures, and more.
  • One for the Money Two for the Road Blog – you’re already here, so look through our archives and revisit some great road trip ideas, itineraries, and photos!

 

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Reflections of Boston

We hope our ideas will help you escape for a few minutes or a few hours. Remember to count your blessings, wash your hands, and turn off the news. Stay safe and well, and we will see you when we can get back on the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2020