Featured

Water

Perhaps it’s because we’re born from water that we are drawn to it in nature, or maybe we are fascinated because its power can destroy as well as sustain life. In our travels we choose to cautiously enjoy the beauty of water while never daring to take it for granted. Today we are sharing some our favorite photographs of water. Dive in and enjoy.

“A calm water is like a still soul.” – Lailah Gifty Akita
Mirrored greens of spring. Hamilton Pool, Texas.
“Water is the most perfect traveler because when it travels it becomes the path itself!” – Mehmet Murat ildan
The milky Virgin River becomes The Narrows Trail. Zion National Park, Utah.
“Grace is finding a waterfall when you were only looking for a stream.” – Vanessa Hunt
We had no idea of what we might find when we set off on the trail, but we were thrilled to find ourselves alone with a stream and these beautiful waterfalls. Sabbaday Falls, New Hampshire. (Shot from an iPhone 10.)
“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” – Loren Eisley
Magical Caribbean blues with sparkles and steam. Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park.
“The power of nature can make fun of the power of man at any time!” – Mehmet Murat ildan
The muddy Ruidoso River surges angrily past the bridge its floodwaters destroyed. Ruidoso, New Mexico, 2008. See our post on Ruidoso here.
“Water is life’s matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.” – Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
Sunrise reflections. Lake Mackenzie, Texas.
“Be like water. Flow, crash, fly!” – Md. Ziaul Haque
The sapphire hued Atlantic plays happily among the rocks. York, Maine.
“The fall of dropping water wears away the stone.” – Lucretius
The water-worn stone creates a perfect pour off for this little fall. Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire. See our Franconia Notch State Park post here.
“A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.” – Laura Gilpin
Early morning at John Dunn Bridge. Rio Grande River, New Mexico.
“An iceberg is water striving to be land.” – Salman Rushdie
Brilliant blue bergy bit. Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska
“The earth, the air, the land, and the water are not an inheritance from our forefathers but on loan from our children. So we have to handover to them at least as it was handed over to us.” –  Gandhi
Solitude and reflection. Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
“Water is the driving force of all nature.” – Leonardo Da Vinci
Wildfire smoke created a filter for this hazy evening shot on the Colorado River. Moab, Utah.

We are certainly not professional photographers although we do enjoy photography. Our method is to aim and shoot, and we rarely ever use filters or enhancements for the shots we post. We might crop a few, but we don’t know how to do any other editing. So, what you see is what we saw when we clicked. And once in a while we get lucky! It is a pleasure to share our photos and road trips, and we hope you enjoy seeing them. Let us know which one is your favorite. We would love to hear from you.

Need some road trip inspiration? Click on these great national park sites:

Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park
10 Amazing Things to See and Do at Big Bend National Park
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

 

Thank you for joining us!

Mike & 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

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site

Where is it?

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site lies along the banks of the Washita River in southwestern Oklahoma. The site is also part of the Black Kettle National Grassland which is managed by the National Forest Service. Twelve miles north of the park is the Black Kettle Recreation Area featuring: 

  • Tent camping sites (no reservations/no fee)
  • Hiking and interpretive trails
  • Picnic Area
  • Lake with boat ramp
  • Fishing
  • Wildlife viewing

Cheyenne, Oklahoma is the nearest town and is located 23 miles north of I-40 and Sayre, Oklahoma via US Highway 283. 

For additional information, here is a link to the park’s website: Washita Battlefield

The park’s pretty landscape

We visited this park in early March, and while the temperatures were in the mid-60s, so were the winds. At least it felt that way. The gusts were so high, we couldn’t hold the camera still. We had to keep reminding ourselves that we were in Oklahoma where the “wind comes sweepin’ down the plain”. Despite the blustery gusts, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit surrounded by the peaceful setting and gorgeous landscape. Our photos don’t do justice to the park’s golden and red tinged grasses, russet bluffs, and gently rolling hills. 

This battlefield photo is a victim of the wind, but we included it because it reminded us of an old painting of the pristine landscape

Significance of the Site

Southern Cheyenne leader Chief Black Kettle and approximately 250 of his tribespeople were encamped for the winter in a village here on the banks of the Washita River. More than 5,000 other Cheyenne, Arapaho and Kiowa were also peacefully encamped in villages farther down the river. Following hostile attacks by bands of Cheyenne on white settlers in Kansas, renowned Civil War general, Philip Sheridan, ordered a retaliatory attack, and his (likely unwarranted) target was Black Kettle’s village. On November 27, 1868, Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer led 800 soldiers of the 7th Cavalry in the surprise early morning raid, killing scores of village’s occupants including women and children. The assault would become known as the Battle of the Washita. 

This monument, located near the encampment site, tells the story of the Battle of the Washita. Offerings of remembrance and prayer line the top of the monument.

Casualties of the Battle

Upon hearing of the attack, warriors from the larger villages downstream had rushed to aid Black Kettle and his people. Their help was probably too little and too late, and sadly, both Black Kettle and his wife, Medicine Woman Later were killed in the battle. The death toll remains sketchy, but approximately 103 Cheyenne and 22 US Army personnel perished, along with the Cheyenne’s herd of ponies. Survivors of the battle included fifty-three Cheyenne women and children who were captured and taken to Fort Hays in Kansas. Custer’s soldiers were instructed to destroy all evidence of the village, therefore all fifty-one of the Cheyenne’s lodges were burned and most of their ponies were slaughtered. When all was said and done, nothing remained of the village except the bones of 800 ponies, which were finally removed from the site in 1935.

George Armstrong Custer – photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Custer’s Destiny                                            

In an ironic twist of fate, Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer met his demise almost eight years later in June 1876 during the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana. The US Army (7th Cavalry) suffered defeat against a band of thousands of Native American warriors composed mostly of Northern Cheyenne and Lakota Sioux. Little Bighorn is considered the most significant battle of the Great Sioux War, which was a series of conflicts and unkept agreements between Native American tribes and the US government. Perhaps most famously, the Battle of the Little Bighorn is remembered as Custer’s Last Stand.

Identifying exactly where the lodges stood is difficult because everything was burned. However, some archaeological evidence points to this area along the southern bank of the Washita.

Why Visit This National Park Site?

Washita Battlefield tells just one story of the many adversities the native peoples suffered, especially as our country expanded westward into their homelands. Though we tend to turn our sympathies more toward Black Kettle and his people, the park does an excellent job of explaining what happened from each side’s point of view. Besides, we’re never too old or too young to learn, and where better to learn something than at a free national park. Plan to spend at least an hour in the visitor center because there is a film and a museum that are interesting as well as educational. From the visitor center, drive about a quarter mile to the village site and then walk the 1.5-mile interpretive trail to learn more about what took place on that fateful day in 1868. 

Looks like another painting. Isn’t it pretty? Not a telephone pole, billboard, cell tower, or wind turbine in sight.

Thank you so much for joining us on our quick trip to Washita Battlefield National Historic Site. 

Looking for more history? Check out these historic sites:
Fort Union National Monument
Eisenhower National Historic Site
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Site

 

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 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

Ruidoso Road Trip: Things to Do

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Sierra Blanca Peak, Ruidoso, New Mexico

Looking for a road trip adventure with things to do for the whole family? Ruidoso, New Mexico is a great bet! Tucked snugly beneath towering mountain peaks and fragrant whispering pines, the quaint alpine village is a perfect getaway destination. We started going there as kids with our parents and grandparents, and we’ve been going back ever since!

Fall aspens near Ruidoso

The area offers skiing and other snow sports in the winter, along with the smoky-sweet aroma of pinion pine woodfires. Summer brings the thrill of horse racing as well as outdoor adventures such as hiking, fishing, horseback riding and golfing. While visiting Ruidoso, be on the lookout for the band of beautiful wild horses that roam around town. We love Ruidoso any time of year, but if we had to choose our favorite month to visit, we would choose October. We’re anxious to share this road trip with you, so let’s get going!

Ruidoso is approximately:

140 miles from El Paso, Texas180 miles from Albuquerque, NM250 miles from Lubbock, Texas

This airport to destination road trip is going to start in El Paso since it is the closest city with a major airport. Drive time between El Paso and Ruidoso: 2.5 hours.

City view of El Paso, Texas

Things to do in El Paso:

  • Chamizal National Memorial
  • Franklin Mountains State Park
  • Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site
  • Museum of History
  • Zoo and Botanical Gardens
  • Museum of Art
  • Mission Trail
  • Water Parks
  • Children’s Museum

Getting There

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From El Paso, take US Highway 54 north toward Tularosa via Alamogordo, then take US Highway 70 northeast to Ruidoso.

⇒Alternate (recommended) Route: from El Paso, take I-10 north to Las Cruces, New Mexico. Drive time between El Paso and Las Cruces: 49 minutes

Bonus stop: Las Cruces

Stop for an hour or two to visit Old Mesilla Village. Walk the plaza which is a National Historic Landmark. Mesilla offers shopping venues as well as dining with a serving of history on the side. If a hike sounds appealing, check out the Dripping Springs Natural Area at Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument for scenic trials. While in Las Cruces, look for the mural-painted water tanks and the giant roadrunner sculpture made from an array of recycled junk such as old sneakers and computer components.

Organ Mountains near Las Cruces – photo by Jason Pofahl

From Las Cruces take US Highway 70 north to White Sands National Park. Drive time between Las Cruces and White Sands: 52 minutes.

Bonus stop: White Sands National Park

Currently $25.00 per vehicle to enter the park. The gift shop at the visitor center sells sand discs for sledding on the dunes. Even if sledding isn’t your thing, the scenery is out of this world. There are plenty of places to park along Dunes Drive, so get out of the car and climb the gypsum dunes for spectacular views and photo ops with the mountains as the backdrop. Here’s the link: White Sands National Park

Travel tip: before you go, check the website for temporary park and highway closures due to testing at White Sands Missile Range. Closures typically last three hours or less.

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White Sands National Park

From White Sands, take US Highway 70 to Alamogordo. Drive time between White Sands and Alamogordo: 17 minutes

Bonus stop:  Alamogordo

Plan to spend a couple of hours at the New Mexico Museum of Space History/International Space Hall of Fame, as it is a fantastic museum that both kids and adults will love. Alamogordo offers many hotel and restaurant choices, as well as a state park, wineries, and a zoo. While you’re in town, be on the lookout for the world’s largest pistachio! 

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International Space Hall of Fame, Alamogordo, New Mexico

From Alamogordo, take US Highway 54 north to Tularosa (13 miles), then take US Highway 70 northeast to Ruidoso. Drive time between Alamogordo and Ruidoso: 1 hour

⇒Alternate (recommended) Route: from Alamogordo, take US Highway 82 east to Cloudcroft. (19 miles of steep two-lane road.) This route through the Lincoln National Forest is very scenic. Drive time between Alamogordo and Ruidoso via this route: 1.5 hours without stops

Travel tip: when approaching the “Tunnel Ahead” sign, slow down for a pull out. The view of White Sands from the viewpoint is pictured below.

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Continue east on US Highway 82. Right before you reach the village of Cloudcroft, there is another pull out. Stop and get out of the car, stretch your legs, and breathe in the fresh mountain air. (The elevation is about 8650 feet.) Learn about the historic Cloudcroft Railroad/Mexican Canyon Trestle pictured below. This only remaining portion of the old rail line is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Bonus stop: Cloudcroft.

Stop and have a look around the village that is home to Ski Cloudcroft. The village also has shopping, restaurants, history, and a totally laid-back atmosphere. *Recommended restaurant in Cloudcroft: Dave’s Cafe – 300 Burro Ave. Good food and good service.

Bonus Road Trip: Sunspot Solar Observatory

Head south from Cloudcroft on Highway 130 toward Sunspot via the Sunspot Highway (aka Highway 6563). It is an extremely scenic drive (a total of 19 miles in the Lincoln National Forest) that ends at the observatory.  Along the road, be sure to stop at the scenic viewpoint pull out for fabulous views of White Sands and the Tularosa Basin. At the observatory, stop in at the visitor center then take a self-guided tour of the telescopes. The elevation at Sunspot is about 9200 feet.

Travel tip: Google Maps for directions to Sunspot are not reliable.

From Cloudcroft, take Highway 244 north to US Highway 70 to Ruidoso. Highway 244 is also a scenic route through the Lincoln National Forest. Drive time from Cloudcroft to Ruidoso: 1 hour.

Travel tip: watch for deer and elk along this road.

Did we mention why we like this area in October?

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Fall colors just outside of Ruidoso in Lincoln National Forest

Destination: Ruidoso, New Mexico

As for places to stay in Ruidoso, Inn of the Mountain Gods is our first choice. The resort has everything visitors want, including a gorgeous yet challenging golf course, restaurants, a casino, and an RV campground. Here’s a link: Inn of the Mountain Gods

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We also recommend:

  • Hampton Inn – preferred chain hotel in Ruidoso
  • Casa Blanca – preferred Mexican Food – 501 Mechem Dr.
  • Ranchers Steak and Seafood Restaurant – preferred splurge restaurant- 2823 Sudderth Dr. – make a reservation for dinner
  • Wendell’s Steak and Seafood at Inn of the Mountain Gods – preferred splurge restaurant – make a reservation for dinner
  • Anaheim Jacks – preferred lunch stop – 1097 Mechem Dr.

Things to do in Ruidoso:

  • Bet! Enjoy the excitement of summer horse racing at Ruidoso Downs. The adjoining Billy the Kid Casino is open year-round.
  • Gamble! Play the slots or try your hand at one the gaming tables at Inn of the Mountain Gods Casino.
  • Shop! Ruidoso’s walkable downtown offers a variety of great shops and art galleries. There is bound to be something for every heart’s desire.
  • Play! There are public golf courses, a public swimming pool, tennis courts, public parks, a bowling alley, miniature golf, bumper boats, go-carts, Wibit Water Park, and horseback riding stables, just to name a few.IMG_4710
  • Ski! Head to Ski Apache for wintertime fun in the snow. There is also a site for sledding and tubing near the ski area.
  • Learn! Check out the Hubbard Museum of the American West, located just east of Ruidoso Downs racetrack.
  •  Hike or Bike! There are many hiking and biking trails in the area. Here’s a link for trail information: Ruidoso Trails
  • Enjoy the Water! Area lakes provide the perfect setting for canoeing, kayaking, or fishing.
  • Drive the Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway. Stop in at the Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway Visitor Center in Ruidoso Downs (next to the Hubbard Museum of the American West) before traveling to the following sites. Here’s a link: Billy the Kid Scenic Byway.

Things to do on the Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway

First stop:

For nostalgia buffs, head northeast on Highway 48 from Ruidoso to Capitan for a visit to Smokey Bear Historical Park. Spend an hour touring the museum and nature area and see Smokey’s final resting place. Tickets are $2.00 per adult and $1.00 for kids between the ages of seven and twelve. Six and under are free. Cash only.

Second stop:

Head east on US Highway 380 to Fort Stanton Historic Site. Take a tour of the grounds and learn the importance of this historic fort. Allow 1-2 hours to visit the site. Here’s a link: Fort Stanton.

Third stop:

Lincoln, New Mexico is a great stop for some Old West history. (East on US Highway 380 from Fort Stanton.) Learn about the Lincoln County War, Sheriff Pat Garrett, and Billy the Kid, while touring the historic buildings in town. Tickets for entrance into the museum and designated buildings are $7.00 per adult at the visitor center. There is also a nice hiking/nature trail along the Rio Bonito. Allow 1-2 hours to visit Lincoln.

Old Lincoln County Courthouse

Fourth Stop: 

Head southeast on 380 from Lincoln to Hondo. At Hondo turn right on to US Highway 70 to San Patricio, home of artists Peter Hurd, Henriette Wyeth-Hurd, and Michael Hurd. The family’s ranch features guest homes, a winery and tasting room, and The Hurd la Rinconada Gallery. Open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 9:00 to 5:00 – 105 La Rinconada in San Patricio, New Mexico, 25 miles east of Ruidoso.

Sedona 2007 158

We’re going to end this post with one last road trip idea. See it all, do it all, right?

Just a one-hour drive east from Ruidoso is the city of Roswell, New Mexico. Remember the 1947 Roswell incident? Well, whether or not you believe a flying saucer crashed there, a trip to the International UFO Museum and Research Center might be a fun stop to add to your itinerary.

Hopefully we have inspired your wanderlust, and if a trip to New Mexico is on your radar, we sincerely hope that you will make plans to visit Ruidoso and surrounding areas in the future. Until the next trip…

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

Mike and Kellye

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(This is an updated and enhanced version of a prior post published on October 27, 2018.)

Need more inspiration? Click the links to view these other great road trip destinations:

Amarillo, Texas

Albuquerque to Taos Road Trip: Things to Do

Palo Duro Canyon State 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

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

Eisenhower National Historic Site

Welcome to the home of Dwight D. “Ike” and Mamie Eisenhower. How befitting that a distinguished military leader and the 34th president of the United States, would make his home next to some of our nation’s most sacred grounds at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

We had made reservations to tour the house but were notified shortly thereafter by e-mail that the house had been closed due to Covid – very disappointing. Since the grounds are open to visitors, we decided to stop by and see the property anyway. Fortunately, we arrived in time to join a ranger talk which was extremely interesting and took the sting out of not getting to tour the house. The farm, which was visited by several world leaders and other dignitaries, is only 10 minutes from Camp David and 30 minutes from Washington by helicopter. This would have been an extreme convenience to the president.

This is the only house that Ike and Mamie ever owned. Due to many military appointments at home and abroad, Ike becoming president of Columbia University, and living in the White House, the Eisenhowers only used the property as a retreat. They lived here full time after the end of his presidency.
This is a view of the back of the home
Ike’s backyard putting green, installed as a gift from the PGA. It cannot be seen in this shot, but the flag reflects the five stars of his General of the Army rank.

The property immediately surrounding the house includes a barn, a guest house, a tea house, greenhouses and gardens. Interestingly, there is also a helicopter landing pad just beyond the road in front of the house, but it’s simply a mowed-short patch of grass on the lawn.

Barn adjacent to the house and attached garage that still holds some of their personal vehicles. A secret service office was located on the opposite end of the barn. Ike was the first president to have lifetime secret service protection for himself and his wife after leaving office.
Guest House
This is the second farm where Ike’s champion Angus cattle were bred and raised.

We saw many farms that looked like this one in Pennsylvania, particularly the Amish and Mennonite farms in and around Lancaster County. We fell in love with the white barns, silos, and pastoral settings, all reflective of a simpler life that is probably anything but simple.

Beautiful soybean crop and view from the house. The National Park Service leases the land to a local farmer who also tends to the cattle that live on the farm today.

For additional information about the Eisenhower National Historic Site, click here: https://www.nps.gov/eise/index.htm

To view the Eisenhower National Historic Site collections, click here: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/eisenhower-national-historic-site

Virtual tours of the house are found here: https://www.nps.gov/eise/learn/photosmultimedia/videos.htm

That’s going to be all for this trip. Thank you for joining us on our journeys. Please join us again for another great destination. 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

Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park

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  • Website link: Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park
  • Where is it: Cornish, New Hampshire
  • What is it: the home and studios of sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907)
  • Hours: 9:00 – 4:30 from the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend to October 31
  • Much of the park is closed from November to May, however, the visitor center may be open. Check the website for additional information

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Seen on approach to the visitor center, a replica of Saint-Gaudens Standing Lincoln (1887). The original sculpture is in Lincoln Park in Chicago, Illinois. A replica of the sculpture was also placed at Lincoln’s tomb.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who had shown an interest in art at an early age, was only thirteen-years-old when he landed an apprenticeship cutting cameos. During this time, the Saint-Gaudens family lived in New York City where Augustus attended school. When his six-year apprenticeship was complete, Augustus went to Europe to study art in Paris and then Rome.

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Cameos. (We apologize for the glare on the glass.)

Saint-Gaudens arrived in Cornish, New Hampshire, near the bank of the Connecticut River, in 1885 where he rented an old inn from a friend. He quickly adapted the buildings to suit his needs and then purchased the property in 1892, naming it Aspet after his father’s hometown in France. The family used Aspet as their summer home until 1900 when Augustus was diagnosed with cancer and the estate became their year-round residence.

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Aspet

This is the back of the home and the cutting garden. It is said that Saint-Gaudens had a hand in planning and planting the gardens and other landscaped areas on the estate.

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The Little Studio, built in 1904. Saint Gaudens worked alone in this studio, while his assistants and students worked in other studios on the property.

We were able to tour the first floor of the house, where all of the original furnishings and decorative pieces can be seen. Unfortunately, the home contains no original Saint-Gaudens artworks. The studios and several other buildings on the grounds are also open for visitors to enjoy.

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Civil War Admiral, David G. Faragut Monument (1881). Saint-Gaudens’ first commissioned work, which was won while Saint-Gaudens was still in Paris. The original of this monument is located in Madison Square in New York City.

After the Faragut piece was made public, Saint-Gaudens became a sought-after American sculptor. With business booming, so to speak, Saint-Gaudens hired assistants and began tutoring aspiring artists at Aspet.

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The Shaw Memorial (1884-1897) . Another replica, which stands on the lawn bowling green of the estate. The original of this relief sculpture is in the Boston Common, Boston, Massachusetts. Interestingly, Saint-Gaudens worked on this piece for 14 years, and continued making subtle improvements to the cast even though the original had already been unveiled.

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Victory. She appears in Saint-Gauden’s General William Tecumseh Sherman Monument, which stands in Manhattan. She may look familiar because she also appears on the Saint-Gaudens designed Double Eagle Gold Coin (minted until 1933) as Liberty with a few minor changes. For example, the coin depicts Liberty holding an olive branch in her left hand and a torch in her right.

President Theodore Roosevelt, who was a friend of Saint-Gaudens, asked the US Treasury to engage the sculptor to redesign four gold coins and the one cent piece. This was the first time ever that a coin was designed by someone other than an employee of the US Mint.

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Saint-Gaudens was married to Augusta Homer in 1877. Her father, who gave consent for the marriage only after Saint-Gaudens won the Faragut commission, had been worried that the young sculptor wouldn’t be able to take care of his daughter until he was an established artist. (We think that Augustus proved himself very well!) Augusta Homer was a distant cousin of the artist, Winslow Homer. Augustus and Augusta had one child, a son named Homer. Augustus’, Augusta’s, and Homer’s ashes are interred on the grounds of Aspet.

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Thank you for visiting Saint-Gaudens National Historic Park with us. For more interesting information about Augustus Saint-Gaudens, click on the website link at the top of the page. We are going to end this post here, but come back to our site often for more great destinations, parks, campsites, and quick stops. We love having you along on our travels.

We are going to close this post with a shot of the Windsor-Cornish bridge. This bridge, which spans the Connecticut River and connects Windsor, Vermont with Cornish, New Hampshire, was constructed in 1866. It is the longest covered bridge in the US.

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Okay, we can’t resist. Everyone should see the pretty Connecticut River, which creates the boundary between New Hampshire and Vermont, so below is our real parting shot. Quite beautiful, isn’t it? We think that any artist would be inspired by living here.

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Until the next trip…

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.

©2020

 

 

Featured

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park

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Tiffany Glass Window – passing the torch to future generations

  • Website link: Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park
  • What is it: it was the home of three families who were passionate about preserving and protecting our lands and resources for future generations to enjoy
  • Where is it: Woodstock, Vermont near the bank of the Ottauquechee River
  • We recommend purchasing combination tickets for the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller estate and the also-must-see Billings Farm & Museum, which is across the street.
  • Accommodations and restaurants in Woodstock, Vermont
  • When to go? June through October. The visitor center is open and guided tours of the mansion are available 10:00 – 5:00 from Memorial Day Weekend to October 31.

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Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Mansion

What a beautiful property! Full of history and the stories of the three families that called this place home.

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Exquisite gardens

Charles Marsh (1765-1849), a Woodstock, Vermont lawyer and later a US Representative, built the original house in 1805. His son, George Perkins Marsh (1801-1882), was also a lawyer and member of the US House of Representatives. George was appointed as a US Minister to the Ottoman Empire and then to the Kingdom of Italy, where he died in 1882.

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One of the carriage roads on the property. Can’t you imagine hitching a horse to a buggy and taking a ride through these beautiful grounds and woods?

George Perkins Marsh was concerned with conservationism and land stewardship. He advocated passionately for preservation of the natural environment, and in 1864, published a book, Man and Nature, which spoke of the importance of minimizing man’s impact on our natural resources.

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Pool, Belvedere, and Greenhouse

In 1869, the estate was purchased by another lawyer, Frederick H. Billings, who had gained his wealth by handling land claims during the California Gold Rush. Billings was also a founding partner of the Northern Pacific Railroad. The Billings family enlarged the home and transformed the previously boxy, Federal-style home into the trend-of-the-era Queen Anne Victorian that remains today.  The Tiffany Glass Company designed several stained glass windows for the home as well as some of the wallpapers and fabrics that remain in the home today.

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The belvedere: a summer house or cottage, usually with a view. We loved this tiny treasure.

Billings, also a passionate conservationist, reforested the surrounding woodlands that had been stripped of their trees, and established the dairy farm that lies across the road from the mansion. While not part of the national park (although, they partner with each other in many ways), the Billings Farm and Museum is owned by the Woodstock Foundation, Inc., which was formed by Laurance and Mary Rockefeller.

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Looking out from the porch. At one time, there were very few trees in this view due to deforestation. Thankfully, Frederick Billings was good steward of the land.

 Mary French Billings Rockefeller, the granddaughter of Frederick Billings, inherited the estate in 1951. She and her husband, Laurance, another passionate conservationist who was an advisor on preservation and conservationism to several presidents, were the last owners of the property. They donated the house and surrounding land to the National Park Service in 1992. Mary died in 1996, and Laurance died in 1997.

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Outstanding gardens and plantings at every turn

Trivia: Laurance’s father, John D. Rockefeller donated the land that would become Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Laurance donated the land, an 1,100 acre ranch that he and his father acquired over the course of several years, that is now the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve, which also lies within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park.

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Another view of the beautiful grounds

Now for a few shots inside the mansion. General tours cover the first and second floors. Special tours, such as the “art tour”, are given during certain times on select days. Check the website link above for details of these additional tours.

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Another Tiffany Glass window as seen in the parlor/music room. Note the fabulous Tiffany wallpaper. This textured wallpaper has been on the walls of this room since the Billings’ renovation in 1869!

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The Dining Room. The woodwork in this home is outstanding. The parquet floors are works of art in themselves, and all of the other woodwork is breathtaking.

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One of the bookcases in the library.

The home remains as the Rockefellers left it when they donated the property to the National Park Service, even down to the family pictures sitting on the mantel in the library and Laurance’s pipe sitting in a tray in the bedroom.

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Master bedroom sitting area. (We’re pretty sure that fan is not orginal to the house)

The mansion is home to an extensive art collection. The collection contains paintings by renowned artists, such as Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Cole, who were associated with the Hudson River School art movement, which, through art and advocacy, promoted conservationism and also led to the establishment of the national park system.

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Albert Bierstadt’s The Matterhorn (date unknown)

Many other paintings, sculptures, and photography are also part of the extensive collection of art in the home. We were disappointed that the “art tour” wasn’t offered on the day that we were there. Perhaps another trip to Vermont is in order.

We’re going to wrap up here. Thank you so very much for touring the Marsh – Billings – Rockefeller National Historical Park with us. We love having you join us on all of our travels! Please stop by our site again for more exciting destinations, parks, or maybe just a Quick Stop. We appreciate your “likes” and comments.

We will close this post with a look at the Ottauquechee River as it flows through Quechee Gorge about five miles from the park.

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Quechee Gorge

Until the next trip…

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.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Acadia National Park

ree shuttles are available to take visitors through the park

  • When to go? Anytime

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Acadia coastline

Cadillac Mountain Summit – a very popular place to watch the sun come up. On our first afternoon at Acadia, the skies were partly cloudy, but, luckily, we could see the views of the surrounding islands and the Atlantic as we walked the summit trail. Remember, reservations are now required for Cadillac Summit Road during certain months.

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Bar Harbor and Frenchman Bay from Cadillac Mountain summit

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Wild Gardens of Acadia. This feature of the park enabled us to take a peaceful stroll through the gardens where we familiarized ourselves with some of the plants that grow on Mount Desert Island. Next to the gardens is Sieur de Monts Spring, which some believe is the birthplace of Acadia National Park. George Dorr, who was instrumental in the establishment of Acadia as a national park, built the spring house over the spring in 1909.

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Bridge leading to the path to Sieur de Monts spring house pictured in the upper left

Sand Beach. The only beach in Acadia. This is a very popular place during warmer weather, though, the water is cold!

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Sand Beach under sunny skies

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Rocky coast at Sand Beach

Thunder Hole. During high tide, the waves crash into a hole in the rocks and it makes a loud sound like thunder.

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Wave crashing in Thunder Hole

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Jordan Pond Path. This is a 3.5 mile trail around Jordan Pond. Part of the path is on raised boards, part of the path is on flat ground, and part is over rocks. Most of the trail is easy, however, and the scenery is beautiful. We took off early in the morning, and saw no other people for at least the first 90 minutes. What a great hike! We had intended to have brunch at Jordan Pond House, but we finished before they opened.

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Jordan Pond and The Bubbles, which are two small granite mountains

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Boardwalk on Jordan Pond Path

Other Acadia Highlights…

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Beaver Dam Pond, Acadia

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Eagle Lake, Acadia

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Rock bridge over one of the carriage roads in the park

Bass Harbor Head Light. First built in 1858, the light station has gone through several improvements and changes over the years. The light, operated by the US Coast Guard, is now automated, and the keepers house is no longer used.

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Bass Harbor Head Light, Acadia

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Bass Harbor Head Light up close. The red beacon is bright, even in the daylight.

Wonderland Trail. Not far from Bass Harbor Head Light, this is a relaxing, family friendly hike through the woods to the Mount Desert Island coastline and tide pools. 1.5 miles round trip.

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Wonderland Trail

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At the end of Wonderland Trail

We loved our time in Acadia National Park. But as happens with every park we visit, we wish we could have spent more time there. Acadia has mountains, shorelines, crashing waves, a beach, lakes, lighthouses, forests, and the list goes on… What more could anyone want from a national park?

We will close this post with one more shot of beautiful Jordan Pond.

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Until the next trip…

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

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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.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Petrified Forest National Park

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  • Website link: Petrified Forest National Park
  • Cost: $20.00 per car (one week pass)
  • Hiking, biking (on paved roads), backpacking, horseback riding, backcountry camping with permit
  • Scenic drive
  • Historic Landmarks
  • Museums
  • Picnic areas
  • Restaurant in the park
  • Accommodations and restaurants in Holbrook, Arizona (30 miles west on I-40 or US Highway 180). Check out the Wigwam Motel for some Route 66 nostalgia. Here’s a link: Wigwam Motel. RV campgrounds also available in Holbrook.
  • When to go: anytime, but note that summer temperatures can be very high.

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The Teepees

Petrified Forest National Park is 208 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico, which has a major airport. This is our starting point, so gas up the car, drop the top, and turn on some golden oldies. We’re going to get some kicks on Route 66!

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From Albuquerque, take I-40 west toward Gallup, New Mexico via Grants. Cross the Arizona state line and continue on I-40 to Petrified Forest National Park. Drive time between Albuquerque and Petrified Forest: 3 hours.

*Recommended hotels in Albuquerque: Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express

Campgrounds and RV parks are also available in Albuquerque.

Bonus stop: El Malpais National Monument. Website link: El Malpais. Stop by the visitor center in Grants, New Mexico then head south on Highway 53 to the monument. Entrance is free. Drive time between Albuquerque and Grants: 1 hour. Drive time between Grants and El Malpais: 30 minutes.

Bonus stop: El Morro National Monument. Only 15 minutes from El Malpais on Highway 53. Entrance is free. Website link: El Morro.

*Recommended hotel in Grants: Holiday Inn Express

RV parks are also available in Grants.

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From El Morrow National Monument take Highway 53 west to Highway 602 north to Gallup, New Mexico. Drive time: 1 hour.

Continue west on I-40 to Petrified Forest National Park. Drive time between Gallup and Petrified Forest: 1 hour.

⇒Side Trip: Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Located 86 miles north of Grants via Highway 509. Cost: $25.00 per vehicle for a one week pass. Camping available, but no RV hook-ups. Closest hotels and restaurants are approximately 1.5 hours north of the park. Here’s the website link: Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Backtrack to Grants to resume your journey to Petrified Forest National Park. Drive time between Chaco Culure and Grants: 2 hours.

Destination: Petrified Forest National Park

This is a big park! The park road is 28 miles long and includes many pull outs and stops. Come for the scenery and the learning experience. (We also like the nostalgia of Route 66.) There are photo ops around every turn, and as you will see, the sights in the park are spectacular. Be sure to stop at the visitor centers, the Painted Desert Inn Museum, and the Rainbow Forest Museum. The park also features archaeological sites, including Puerco Pueblo, Newspaper Rock, and Agate House. Theodore Roosevelt did us all a favor when he made Petrified Forest a national monument in 1906. It became a national park 56 years later in 1962.

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Petrified Tree Trunk

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Wood turned to stone

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These logs appear to have been cut and purposely placed here by an ancient lumberjack.

Below are some up-close views of the beauty of the petrified wood. Just look at those colors!

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Where else can you see this?

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Or this?

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Painted Desert Vista

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Another view of Painted Desert

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Oh, the colors!

Much of the park can be seen from the car, but we highly recommend getting out, taking a hike on or off the trails (see website), and absorbing the sights, sounds, and smells this amazing place has to offer.

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⇒Side trip: Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Entrance is free. Website link: Canyon de Chelly.

Take I-40 east to Chambers, Arizona. At Chambers, take Highway 191 north toward Ganado, Arizona.

Bonus stopHubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. Website link: Hubbell Trading Post. Cost: $5.00 per person to tour the Hubbell Home. Kids 15 and under are admitted free.

Continue north to Chinle, Arizona and Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Drive time between Petrified Forest and Canyon de Chelly: 1.5 hours.

This concludes our trip to Petrified Forest National Park. Thank you for joining us, and we hope you enjoyed the journey. We would love to hear from you, so leave us a comment and tell us about your road trips. In closing, we are leaving you with one last photo because it reminds us of a vintage postcard that might have been found in a Route 66 curio shop back in the day!

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Hoodoos

Until the next trip…

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

Fort Union National Monument

Where is Fort Union National Monument Located?

Fort Union is located approximately 30 miles north of Las Vegas, New Mexico.

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  • Website link: Fort Union
  • Cost: free
  • Hours vary seasonally
  • Short film in the visitor center about the history of the fort
  • Self-guided or ranger-led tours of the grounds
  • Night sky programs
  • When to go? Anytime

Fort Union National Monument is 150 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and since Albuquerque has a major airport, we will start our adventure from there.

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Prairie near Fort Union. Imagine a wagon train ambling along the Santa Fe Trail here. Aside from the barbed wire fences, this scene probably hasn’t changed much in the last 150 years.

Getting There

From Albuquerque take I-25 north toward Santa Fe. At Santa Fe continue on I-25/US 84 east toward Glorietta and Pecos, New Mexico.

Bonus stop: Pecos National Historical Park. We love this park so much that we have recommended it on our site before. Plan to spend a couple of hours taking the self-guided tour to see the remains of a pueblo that was built around 800 AD. The visitor center museum is also very interesting and definitely worth a visit. Here’s a link to the park’s website: Pecos National Historical Park.

Pecos Mission Church – built in 1717. Pecos National Historical Park, New Mexico

Continue northeast on I-25/US 84 toward Las Vegas, New Mexico, then continue north to the town of Watrous. Follow the signs from Watrous to Fort Union. Drive time between Albuquerque and Fort Union: 2.25 hours.

Hotels, restaurants, and RV/tent camping are available 30 minutes away in Las Vegas, New Mexico

Destination: Fort Union National Monument

Fort Union’s Officer’s Row

Establishment of the Fort

The “first” Fort Union was established in 1851 to be a supply depot and living quarters for soldiers serving to protect travelers and traders on the Santa Fe Trail. With the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, better living conditions were needed, and the fort’s original wooden buildings were refurbished or rebuilt with adobe and brick. Larger supply warehouses were added at that time, and Fort Union began providing supplies to all the forts in the region. This version, the remains of which we see today, is referred to as the “third” Fort Union.

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Mechanic’s Corral. This is where they stored and worked on the vehicles of the day and took care of the horses that pulled them.

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Outside view of the Mechanic’s Corral

Fort Union’s hospital was once the largest and finest medical facility between Kansas and California, serving soldiers and civilians alike. After the Civil War, the post continued to operate with soldiers in place to protect the Santa Fe Trail. The hospital continued to operate during this time too. However, with the advent of the railroad, the Santa Fe Trail became less traveled, and the fort was abandoned in 1891. Some wheel ruts on the trail can still be seen at Fort Union.

Fort Union’s Post Commander’s Quarters

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Visiting the Park

The visitor center is the first stop, along with the new museum that opened in August 2022. The trailway through the fort is approximately a mile long, the walking paths are level, and benches can be found along the way. We recommend bringing plenty of water. There is little to no shade, so if you’re visiting during the hot summer months plan to visit early in the day. Pack a lunch to enjoy at one of the picnic tables outside of the visitor center.

During certain times of the year visitors may find living historians reenacting life at the fort. Check the website’s events calendar for dates. While there, look for the pronghorns and other wildlife that live in and around the park.

For those wanting a little more history, visit the town of Watrous, New Mexico which is just 12 minutes from Fort Union. Watrous (La Junta) is a national historic landmark district located on the Santa Fe Trail. Here is a link to the national park service’s webpage: Watrous (La Junta) National Historic Landmark.

Information about the Santa Fe Trail can be found here: Santa Fe National Historic Trail.

Old aerial photo of Fort Union taken from a wayside sign in the park. Shown prominently in this photo is the “second” Fort Union designed in a traditional star shape of dirt and ditches as an effort to keep the Confederates at bay during the Civil War.

Thank you for joining us on our Fort Union National Monument road trip! Have you been to Fort Union or other historic forts? If so, we would love to hear about your visit. Comments can be left below.

Would you like to visit more national monuments? Click to view these interesting sites:

Scotts Bluff National Monument
Colorado National Monument
Fort McHenry National Monument and Shrine

 

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