Featured

Yellowstone National Park

We covered Yellowstone National Park in a seven-part series several years ago. This is an enhanced and updated single post highlighting the sections of the magnificent park which is also UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Getting There

Our journey began by flying to Salt Lake City, Utah and renting a car for the road trip. The distance between Salt Lake City and West Yellowstone, Montana, which was our home base, is 320 miles/4.5 hours via I-15. We chose to break up the trip by spending our first night in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

From Salt Lake City, take I-15 north toward Ogden, Utah. Continue north toward Pocatello, Idaho. Stay on I-15 to Idaho Falls.

Drive time between Salt Lake City and Idaho Falls is 3 hours through gorgeous scenery.

20150910_171047 (1)
Falls on the Snake River, Idaho Falls, Idaho

From Idaho Falls, take US Highway 20 north toward Rexburg, Idaho. Continue north to West Yellowstone, Montana, which is the west entrance into the park. Drive time between Idaho Falls and West Yellowstone: 1.75 hours.

Must-do stops in West Yellowstone include the Museum of the Yellowstone and the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

Destination – Yellowstone National Park

The scenic Grand Loop Road through Yellowstone is laid out in a figure eight as shown on the map below. The highest speed limit we saw was 45 miles per hour, but that doesn’t mean much. When there are animal sightings, traffic stops. Bison jams are common, and visitors are at a standstill until the big beasts decide to move out of the way. Heavy traffic also slows travel, especially in the summer months.

File:Map Yellowstone National Park.jpg

Madison Area

The Madison River meanders lazily past Mount Haynes

Trivia: the Madison is one of the three rivers that converge near Three Forks, Montana to form the headwaters of the Missouri River. The other two rivers are the Gallatin and the Jefferson.

Gibbon Falls
Steamy water and brilliant colors from the runoff of Blood Geyser in the Artists’ Paint Pots area of the park

Other points of interest in the Madison area of the park include:

  • Terrace Springs
  • Fountain Paint Pots
  • Midway Geyser Basin
  • Fairy Falls
  • Firehole River
  • Madison Information Station

Norris Area

The Norris Geyser Basin is the hottest area of Yellowstone National Park, in volcanic terms that is. Visitors will find geysers, hot springs, mud pots, steam vents, pools, and lakes at Norris. Steamboat Geyser, the largest geyser in the world, is also located here, though its eruptions are irregular and unpredictable. Hiking and walking trails are the best way to see everything this area has to offer.

Porcelain Basin, Norris Geyser Basin
Green and yellow thermophiles (hot water loving bacteria) create a spilled paint effect

Other points of interest at the Norris area of the park include:

  • Norris Geyser Basin Museum
  • Norris Bookstore
  • Norris Campground
  • Museum of the National Park Ranger

Canyon Village Area

The canyon village area is home to the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. These are some of the most popular sights in the park.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Lower Falls

Trivia: Lower Falls is 308 feet tall, which is twice as high as Niagara Falls, and it is the highest waterfall in the park.

Points of interest in the Canyon Village Area include:

  • Overlooks on North Rim Drive and South Rim Drive
  • Uncle Tom’s Trail – 328 stairs to a Lower Falls viewpoint
  • Canyon Lodge and restaurant
  • Campground

Driving south from Canyon Village toward Lake Village and West Thumb Geyser Basin, visitors will pass through Hayden Valley. This area of the park is a great place to see wildlife and early mornings and evenings are best for sightings.

The Yellowstone River meanders through Hayden Valley

Just past Hayden Valley is Mud Volcano and Dragon’s Mouth Spring. The area is super interesting and super sulphur-y! Take it from us, the intriguing sights will make you forget all about the smell.

Mud Volcano’s pit of boiling mud of is difficult to see in this shot because of the steam

Some of the sights on the Mud Volcano Trail include Mud Cauldron, Mud Geyser, Sizzling Basin, Cooking Hillside, Black Dragon’s Cauldron, Grizzly Fumarole, and Sour Lake. All are aptly named, but don’t be afraid of the smells. This where Yellowstone shows off some of its best volcanic features.

Dragon’s Mouth Spring. This spring not only spews steam and emits boiling water, but it also roars!

Six miles south of Mud Volcano is the Lake Village area which includes the Fishing Bridge, Visitor Center, Lake Yellowstone Hotel, and marina.

West Thumb Geyser Basin Area

The West Thumb Geyser Basin and Grant Village areas of the park are located approximately 28 miles/30 minutes southwest of the Lake Village area. Located on the banks of Yellowstone Lake, West Thumb, which is a small caldera, has some of the most colorful pool features of the park.

Lots of shades of blue, and not a cloud in the sky – Yellowstone Lake

West Thumb features hiking/walking trails (boardwalk), a bookstore and information station, as well as a campground. Grant Village includes a hotel and visitor center.

Bluebell Pool
Black Pool
Abyss Pool

Upper Geyser Basin Area and Old Faithful

This area of the park sits halfway between West Thumb and Madison and is the most popular section of the park.

Old Faithful Geyser

While it is not the biggest or most frequently erupting geyser in Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful is certainly the most popular. Visitors flock to the grandstand viewing area to watch it erupt, which it does about every 90 minutes.

Built in 1904, the Old Faithful Inn is a National Historic Landmark

Things to do in the Upper Geyser Basin:

  • Hiking/walking (boardwalk) trails
  • Old Faithful Visitor Education Center
  • Gift Shop
  • Eat – there are five restaurants and/or grills in the area
  • Biscuit Basin
  • Black Sand Basin
  • Morning Glory Pool
The Upper Geyser Basin has over 150 hydrothermal features and approximately half of the geysers in the world!

Trivia: the chalky white substance around the geysers in Yellowstone is called geyserite.

Midway Geyser Basin Area

Grand Prismatic Spring, which is the third-largest hot spring in the world, is the star of the Midway Geyser Basin.

Nature’s art. Up close view of the thermophiles – Grand Prismatic Spring
Excelsior Geyser

Excelsior Geyser once spewed hot water hundreds of feet into the air, but it hasn’t erupted since the mid-1980s. Today 4,000 gallons of boiling water per minute pour from its crater into the Firehole River.

Turquoise Pool can also be found in the Midway Geyser Basin

We are including Fountain Paint Pots as a sub-area of the park because we thought the area had some interesting sights, especially the geysers. The area is located between Midway Geyser Basin and Madison.

Silex Spring
Clepsydra Geyser erupts almost constantly

Trivia: a clepsydra is a water clock, and the name in the Greek language means water thief.

Mammoth Hot Springs Area

The springs in this area have created a series of travertine terraces. A boardwalk trail takes visitors through this amazing wonderland of minerals, water, and thermophiles.

Minerva Terrace
Palette Spring
Rustic Falls can be seen from an overlook near Mammoth Hot Springs

Other highlights in the Mammoth Hot Springs area include:

  • Historic Fort Yellowstone
  • Albright Visitor Center – museum
  •  Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
  • Gardiner, Montana
  • Heritage and Research Center (in Gardiner)
  • Historic Roosevelt Arch at the North entrance to the park

Roosevelt-Tower Area

Note: parts of the north and northeast sections and entrances to the park may be closed due to flood damage. Check the website for information about road and trail closures.

The northern part of the park has rolling hills, meadows, and wildlife – what a thrill!

Bison jam!

Trivia: Yellowstone’s bison were once on the verge of extinction due to unenforced hunting in the early years of the park. The current genetically pure (haven’t been bred with cattle) herd, which now numbers in the thousands, are descendants of the original twenty-four that were diligently preserved and carefully bred by the park.

Calcite Springs and the Yellowstone River
Columnar basalt decorates the cliffs overlooking the Yellowstone River.
Tower Fall, 132 feet tall

The Roosevelt area of the park features Roosevelt Lodge and Cabins, a campground, and restaurant. A general store with fast food and a gas station can be found at Tower. The Tower Fall trailhead is next to the store.

Lamar Area

Unfortunately, we were unable to visit this section of the park. The Lamar Valley is reportedly one of the best viewing areas for wolves and other wildlife at Yellowstone. Located in the Northeast corner of the park near the Cooke City entrance, the scenic drive features mountains, the Lamar River, and trailheads for several trails. The drive from the northeast entrance to the Roosevelt-Tower area is 28 miles/1 hour.

Thank you for staying with us through this long post. Yellowstone is the one U.S. National Park that everyone should get to see at least once in their lifetime. And it’s the only one we want to revisit because once wasn’t enough for us! We are going to close the post with an up-close shot of one of the formations at Palette Spring.

Travertine icicles drip from a ledge while tiny water droplets create dangling strings of pearls. The icy-looking landscape is enhanced by the cascading colors of the thermophiles.

Looking for more national park adventures? Click on these:

Death Valley National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

 

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

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

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 products, 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. Photo copyright infringement is not intended. Our written content and photos are copyrighted and may not be published without our permission.

©2022

 

 

Featured

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Getting There

Carlsbad Caverns is: 150 miles from El Paso, Texas, 200 miles from Lubbock, Texas, and 300 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico

El Paso is the closest city with a major airport so our road trip will start from there.

From El Paso, take US Highway 62/180 east toward Carlsbad, New Mexico. Distance between El Paso and Carlsbad Caverns: 150 miles/2.25 hours.

Travel tip: fill up with gas, use the restroom, and grab a few drinks and snacks before leaving El Paso. Services are very minimal along this desert highway. Watch for the salt flats and beautiful mountain peaks of Guadalupe Mountains National Park along the way.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park – view from the highway at Guadalupe Pass

Carlsbad Caverns Visitor Information

  • Timed entry reservations are now required to enter the park. The free passes can be obtained by calling 877-444-6777 or online at recreation.gov. Timed passes are only for reserving a time to enter the park and cannot be obtained at the park. Entry fees are paid upon arrival at the park’s visitor center.
  • Basic Entrance Fee: $15.00 per person for a 3-day pass. Kids 15 and under are admitted free, and baby strollers are not allowed in the cavern.
  • Parts of the Big Room Trail are wheelchair accessible.
  • Ranger guided tours to other sections of the cave (or other caves) may be available for additional fees. Advance reservations and proper footwear are required for guided tours.
  • Hours vary depending on the season. Check the website for information.
  • A cafeteria is available in the visitor center, and a snack bar is located in the cavern near the elevators and restrooms.
  • Hotels and restaurants are available in the city of Carlsbad, New Mexico.
  • RV/tent camping is available in White’s City, the city of Carlsbad, and on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands near the park. Backcountry camping requires a permit. Check the website for additional information.
  • When to go? Anytime.
  • Website Link: Carlsbad Caverns

Learn Before You Go

Do you know the difference between stalagmites and stalactites? A stalagmite grows on a cave’s floor, so watch where you’re walking, or you might (mite) trip over it. Stalactites grow from a cave’s ceiling, so if they don’t hang on tight (tite) they could fall. A park ranger at Carlsbad Caverns told us this years ago, and we haven’t forgotten his wise words!

Travel tip: the temperature in the cave is a constant 56 degrees, so a light jacket is recommended, along with sturdy, closed toe walking shoes with non-slip soles.

The Dolls Theater is a perfect example of columns and soda straws

Carlsbad Caverns

Prepare to descend seventy-five stories beneath the earth into a dark and magical place like no other in the world. Stalagmites, stalactites, domes, totems, mirror-like pools, and even chandeliers make for breathtaking sights (as well as exceptional photo ops) on your journey through Carlsbad Caverns. Walk into the caverns via the natural entrance if you are up for the challenge or take the speedy elevator to the entrance of the Big Room. The Big Room Trail is a little over a mile long, and it is definitely worth every step. Plan to spend at least two hours in the cavern.

Huge drippy “fountains” of calcite grow from the floor of the cave
Interesting drapery formations seem to cascade out of the cavern’s walls
This gorgeous dome started out as a tiny stalagmite on the cavern’s floor

The Park is More Than a Cave

Most people visit Carlsbad Caverns to see the caves, but the park has much more to offer such as:

  • An amphitheater from which to watch up to 500,000 bats come out at night during the months of May through October
  • Walnut Canyon Scenic Drive – 9.5 miles on an unpaved road
  • Ranger led night sky programs
  • Picnic areas
  • Hiking trails
  • Shopping, exhibits, and a nature walk at the visitor center
A stalagmite “Christmas tree” inside the cavern’s wall is framed by calcite popcorn and soda straw “icicles”

Carlsbad Caverns National Park and neighboring Guadalupe Mountains National Park are part of an ancient reef that was created by an inland sea about 250 million years ago. Approximately 300 known caves have been found in the areas surrounding the parks with 119 of them in Carlsbad Caverns National Park alone. The parks lie in the Chihuahuan Desert which covers 250,000 miles and reaches into parts of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, although ninety percent of the desert lies in north-central Mexico.

Chihuahuan Desert heat and haze as far as the eye can see

Discovery of the Caverns

Indigenous people are said to have known about the caves long before modern exploration, however, cowboy Jim White is credited with the discovery of the caverns. In 1898, sixteen-year-old White was searching for stray cows when he saw smoke rising up from the ground. Upon approach he quickly realized the smoke was actually thousands of bats emerging from a large hole. Jim fashioned a rickety ladder from fence wire and sticks, and a few days later he climbed down into the hole carrying nothing but a lantern and an axe. How terrifying it must have been to take those first steps into the unknown! Jim continued to explore and map the caverns throughout the years and even assisted with building the improvements to make the cave accessible to visitors. White also served as Chief Ranger of Carlsbad Cave National Monument from 1926-1929.

Jim White’s ladder can still be seen in the cavern today

Creation and Sustainability of the Park

  • President Calvin Coolidge signed a proclamation designating Carlsbad Cave National Monument in October of 1923.
  • Congress formally established Carlsbad Caverns National Park in May of 1930.
  • Citing its caves’ natural beauty, unique features and formations, and ongoing geologic processes, UNESCO proclaimed the park a World Heritage Site in 1995.

The park averages almost half a million visitors per year which may be detrimental to the cave. Visitors are instructed not to touch the formations because the build-up of bodily oils causes them to die. Carbon dioxide from our breath can even damage the delicate ecosystem of the caverns. During our visit we saw park volunteers using small paintbrushes to painstakingly remove lint, yes lint, left behind from visitors’ clothing and skin. Lint builds up in nooks and crannies along the trail and also attracts unwanted insects, so the park has it removed – about 44 pounds of it per year in the Big Room alone!

These draperies remind us of bacon
Rock of Ages
Dagger-like stalactites and soda straws dangle from the Big Room’s ceilings.

Lechuguilla

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is also home to another one of the deepest and most beautiful caves in the world – Lechuguilla. The cave’s name (pronounced letch-uh-ghee-a) comes from a type of agave plant that grows only in the Chihuahuan Desert. Bat guano was mined from the cave’s entrance through the early 1900s, but after mining operations ceased the area was basically forgotten. A Colorado exploration company, suspecting another large cave lay hidden beneath the park, got permission to begin digging in 1984. In 1986, they broke through to discover a virtual fairyland. So far, explorers have found huge draperies, delicate chandeliers, cave pearls, and colorful pools, though their explorations continue. Lechuguilla is not open to the public and is only accessible to scientific researchers and authorized exploration teams. Click here for a National Park Service photo gallery: Lechuguilla Cave Gallery. Click here for a YouTube video: Lechuguilla Cave Video.

The lechuguilla plant, also called shin dagger, looks like it could cause some pain! The plant flowers once in its life then dies.

Nearby Attractions:

  • Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park – located in the city of Carlsbad
  • Brantley Lake State Park. Water sports, RV and tent camping – located 20 miles/30 minutes north of the city of Carlsbad via US Highway 285
  • Lake Carlsbad Beach Park. Water sports, playground, swimming, fishing, and miles of walker-friendly sidewalks – located at 708 Park Drive, Carlsbad, New Mexico.
  • Guadalupe Mountains National Park – 56 miles/1 hour south of the city of Carlsbad, and 25 miles/30 minutes south of Carlsbad Caverns National Park via National Park Highway.
  • Sitting Bull Falls – 57 miles/1 hour southwest of Carlsbad in the Lincoln National Forest via US Highway 285 and State Highway 137.

Also check out our Quick Stop post that features Carlsbad’s famous flume. The “It’s a Fact, Jack” section is interesting too. Here’s the link: Quick Stop – The Flume

Chinese Theater

Want to lean about other national parks sites? Click on these exciting destinations:

10 Amazing Things to See and Do at Big Bend National Park
Gettysburg National Military Park
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
Grand Canyon National Park
Last look: draperies, like clusters of jellyfish, appear to spill from a hole in the ceiling of the cave. It’s hard to believe that slow dripping water created these amazing formations!

We sincerely hope our road trip to Carlsbad Caverns National Park inspires you to grab your camera, hop in the car, and head that way.

Mike and Kellye

 

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!) Our opinions are our own.

©2022

 

Featured

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park

Our road trip begins in Johnson City, Texas where the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park Visitor Center is located. Johnson City is:

  • 48 miles/1 hour west of Austin, Texas – Website link: Visit Austin
  • 64 miles/1.25 hours north of San Antonio, Texas – Website link: Visit San Antonio

The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park is divided into three sections: the Johnson City section, the state park section, and the LBJ Ranch section. The state park and ranch sections are 14 miles west of Johnson City in Stonewall, Texas via U.S. Highway 290. We recommend visiting all three of the park sites to get a complete overview of Johnson’s life and legacy as the 36th president of the United States. 

Website link: Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park

Bridge on the path between Johnson Settlement and Lyndon Johnson’s boyhood home

Johnson City

The park’s visitor center museum in Johnson City features a timeline of the president’s life, photos, and other historical information. Artifacts from Lyndon Johnson’s presidency as well as some items that belonged to his wife, Lady Bird, are also on display. Johnson’s boyhood home sits across the street from the visitor center, and down the street is Johnson Settlement where his grandparents settled after the Civil War. Easy trails, sidewalks, and wayside information boards make an interesting and pleasant walk between the sites. 

Johnson’s Boyhood Home 
Lyndon B. Johnson’s boyhood home

Lyndon Baines Johnson was born on what is now the LBJ Ranch near Stonewall, Texas in 1908, and the family moved to Johnson City when he was five years old. The Johnsons lived in the home for 24 years while raising their five children, including three girls and two boys. In the early 1970s, the modest family home was restored to its 1920’s style by the National Park Service with help from the former president. The property also features a shed, a windmill and cistern, and a small barn surrounded by gorgeous old oak trees. Check the park’s website for tour information.

Windmill behind Lyndon Johnson’s boyhood home

Lyndon’s father, Sam Ealy Johnson, Jr., was a Texas legislator for 12 years, and his mother, Rebekah Baines Johnson, was an educator. LBJ attended Texas State Teacher’s College. For a short time, he worked as a teacher and principal to earn money to continue his college education. After graduation from college, he attended one semester of law school at Georgetown University before dropping out. 

Shed behind Lyndon Johnson’s boyhood home
LBJ the Politician

In 1937, Johnson announced his bid for the U.S. House of Representatives for the 10th District of the State of Texas from the east porch of his boyhood home. He won the election and later went on to serve in other capacities primarily as a U.S. Senator and Senate Majority Leader. LBJ ran for president in 1960 but lost the Democratic nomination to John F. Kennedy. Johnson was asked by Kennedy to be his running mate due to LBJ’s popularity with the southern Democrats who weren’t especially fond of JFK. The duo won the election, and the rest, they say, is history. On November 22, 1963, while standing aboard Air Force One at Dallas’s Love Field airport, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president two hours after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The east porch of LBJ’s boyhood home
Johnson Settlement

A block west of Lyndon Johnson’s boyhood home is Johnson Settlement, which is the site of his grandparents’ original home. In the mid-1800s, Sam Ealy Johnson, Sr. and his brother Tom settled on 320 acres in what is now Johnson City and began a successful cattle driving business. Sam returned to Texas after serving the Confederacy in the Civil War and married Eliza Bunton in 1867.

LBJ’s grandparents, Sam and Eliza Johnson, lived in this cabin from 1867-1872
This barn was added to the property by James Polk Johnson for whom Johnson City is named and who was a nephew of Sam Ealy Johnson, Sr.
This cooler house, windmill, and cistern were also added to the site by James Polk Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site

The next stop on our road trip is in Stonewall, Texas at the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site. The park is located 14 miles/15 minutes west of Johnson City on U.S. Highway 290. 

State Park
The Lyndon B. Johnson State Park Visitor Center

The state park site is adjacent to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park/LBJ Ranch along the banks of the Pedernales River. This park features:

  • Visitor center and gift shop plus memorabilia from LBJ’s presidency 
  • Olympic-sized swimming pool – open in the summer
  • Historic cabin tours
  • Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm
  • Hiking trails
  • Tennis courts
  • Fishing (no license required if fishing in the state park) 
  • Longhorn herd
  • Bison herd

Website link: Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site

Bison at the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site
Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm

Located within the state park is the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm. Here rangers and park volunteers dress in period clothing and take on the chores of managing an early 20th century home and farm. Volunteers give tours of the buildings, grow gardens and cotton from heirloom seeds and take care of the animals that live on the farm. 

Barn and blacksmith shop
Sheep and other animals live at the historic farm

It’s about a 10-minute walk from the visitor center to the farm. The farmhouse, which was later added on to, was built in the late 1800s by the Sauer family. Interestingly, one of the Sauer’s older daughters was the midwife who attended Lyndon Johnson’s birth in 1908. The Beckmann family bought the farm in 1900, and they remained neighbors of the Johnsons until the property was sold to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1966.

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park

Stop number three on our road trip is the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park/LBJ Ranch. The drive from the state park visitor center to the ranch entrance takes about ten minutes, and the auto tour through the ranch takes about 1 to 1.5 hours depending on stops.

Lyndon and Lady Bird

After his short stint at Georgetown Law, Lyndon met University of Texas graduate, Claudia Alta Taylor. As an infant, Claudia had been called Lady Bird by her nanny, and the nickname followed her throughout her life. LBJ asked Lady Bird to marry him on their first date, and she promptly declined. More proposals and refusals were made over the next ten weeks until Lady Bird finally said yes. The couple were married in November of 1934. LBJ liked being known by his initials, and he also like having them attached to everything he owned, including his ranch and cattle! Having a wife with his initials must have been quite a boost to LBJ’s reportedly huge ego. They named their children Lynda Bird Johnson and Luci Baines Johnson. Even the family’s dog, Little Beagle Johnson, had the same initials. 

LBJ Ranch 

Upon approach to the park visitors will see Trinity Lutheran Church which sits just across the river from the LBJ Ranch entrance. The church was registered as a Texas Historic Landmark in 1989.

Trinity Lutheran Church, built in 1904
The final resting places of Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson in the family cemetery on the ranch

As a kid, Lyndon spent summers on what is now the LBJ Ranch helping his aunt and uncle work cattle and doing odd jobs. After her husband died, LBJ’s aunt asked if he wanted to buy her floundering property, and he jumped at the opportunity. He quickly began purchasing registered Hereford cattle. Over the years, Lyndon and Lady Bird expanded the ranch by purchasing additional land, growing the ranch to over 2,700 acres. When the historical park was being established, the Johnsons opted to donate a portion of the ranch to the National Park Service. Their only condition was that it would continue as a working cattle operation. The park service agreed, and descendants of LBJ’s original prizewinning Herefords still thrive on the ranch today. 

Some of the descendants of LBJ’s prizewinning Hereford cattle
LBJ’s Texas White House
LBJ’s Jetstar, nicknamed Air Force One-Half. This smaller jet was used to carry the president home from a nearby airport where Air Force One had landed because the runway at the ranch couldn’t accommodate a large jet.

The buildings surrounding the airplane hangar (now a visitor center) pictured below are garages, offices, and a secret service command post. These buildings sit behind and to the side of the ranch house. The runway is now the visitor center parking lot. 

Airplane hangar, now visitor center, on the LBJ Ranch

The media began referring to his home as the Texas White House because Johnson spent so much time at the ranch during his presidency. The president held meetings on the lawn under a large live oak tree where members of the cabinet conducted government business from lawn chairs. Foreign ministers, former presidents, and other dignitaries spent time at the LBJ Ranch, and the president even held press conferences from the porch. 

The Texas White House/LBJ Ranch house
The pool and pool house sit in the side yard next to the house
Final view of the Texas White House

Nearby Points of Interest

Click the links below for information on these points of interest in the Texas Hill Country beginning from Johnson City:

Thank you for joining us on our Texas Hill Country road trip! We hope you enjoyed the visit to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park.

Want to learn more? Click to see these other exciting historical sites: 

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

Eisenhower National Historic Site

Antietam National Battlefield

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

 

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

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

 

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!) Our opinions are our own.

©2022

 

Featured

Quick Stops – New England

IMG_7630 (1)
Sunflower getting ready to unfurl her petals

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First stop: Windsor, Vermont

Where in the world is it?

Windsor, Vermont lies along the banks of the Connecticut River on the eastern border of the state. The quaint town is about 68 miles south and east of Montpelier.

IMG_7855
Steeple of the Old South Church in Windsor (Congregational – 1768)

IMG_7856
Old South Church Cemetery

Windsor is the birthplace of Vermont. In 1777, the Constitution of Vermont was adopted here, making the Vermont Republic a sovereign state. Vermont joined the United States in 1791. Windsor was also the capital of Vermont until 1805 when Montpelier became the capital.

IMG_7923
We saw these wonderful old barns in Windsor and found ourselves wishing we knew their story.

Second stop: Carroll Homestead

IMG_7514

Where in the world is it?

The Carroll Homestead is in Acadia National Park.

The 45 acre Carroll farm was settled by the John Carroll family in 1825. Here the family grew hay, maintained gardens, and also raised animals. The last members of the Carroll family vacated the house in 1917, but they continued to farm the land. The property was acquired for Acadia National Park in 1982. We wouldn’t call it a major attraction of the park, but the house itself is architecturally interesting. Besides, we wanted to see as much of the park as possible so we made a quick stop. Unfortunately, the house wasn’t open when we visited, but we’re sure that the seeing the inside would add a lot to a visit here.

IMG_7512

It’s a fact, Jack!

Many of the New England churches with the tall white steeples are/were Congregational Christian churches. Although Congregational churches can be found in many countries around the world, the roots of American Congregationalism grew from the religious beliefs (and most likely the political beliefs) of the Puritans of colonial New England. Some view Congregationalism as a movement rather than a denomination. Congregational churches are governed independently by each church’s own congregation. Today, the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, the United Church of Christ, and the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches carry on some of the traditional Congregational beliefs and practices. Harvard College and Yale College (originally, the Collegiate School) were established for the purpose of educating and training Congregational clergymen. And, now you know…

Until the next trip…

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

Mike and Kellye

IMG_0254

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

IMG_2120

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: Random Places

Today we’re taking a random places road trip, and we are so happy to have you along for the ride. Enjoy!

Pike Place Market, Seattle. Established in 1907, it is the oldest running farmer’s market in the U.S. The original Starbucks opened here in 1971.

The Green Monster left field wall at Fenway Park, Boston. The reason the wall is there? To keep people from watching the game for free. In 2003, 269 barstool seats and 100 standing room only spaces were added to the deck on the wall, however tickets for those seats are hard to come by. By the way, the scoreboard on the Green Monster is still updated by hand. Fenway Park has been the home of the Boston Red Sox since 1912.

Smokey Bear’s gravesite, Capitan, New Mexico. The idea of a fire prevention mascot was conceived in 1944 when the National Forest Service came up with a character called Smokey Bear. In 1950, a black bear cub was found badly burned after a forest fire in the Capitan Mountains of the Lincoln National Forest. The firefighters who found him named him Smokey. A popular living symbol of fire prevention, Smokey made his home at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. until he died in 1976. He was returned to Capitan where he was buried in what is now Smokey Bear Historical Park.

Ernest Tubb Record Shop, Nashville. Home of the Midnite Jamboree, which started right after the Grand Ole Opry show was over on Saturday nights. Ernest helped many artists get their start right there in that store until 1974 when the show was moved to another venue. The Midnite Jamboree was moved back to the store in 2021. Tubb was born in Texas, 35 miles south of Dallas. He performed and wrote songs up until his health required him to quit in 1982. He died in 1984. In March 2022, it was announced that the store is being sold and the Midnite Jamboree would be ending.

Geographic Center of the U.S. The actual survey marker is 22 miles north of town, but Belle Fourche, South Dakota does a great job of letting people know it’s close by.

UFO Museum and Research Center, Roswell, New Mexico. Occupying a 1930s era movie theater, the museum was opened in 1991. In addition to the exhibits, mostly about the so-called Roswell incident, they also have a gift shop that carries things like bumper stickers that say, “I Like Aliens, They Taste Just Like Chicken”, and other gotta-take-one-of-these-home souvenirs.

Granary Burying Ground, Boston. Established in 1660, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock are all buried here, along with some of Ben Franklin’s family members and victims of the Boston Massacre, among others. It is estimated that more than 5,000 people are buried in this small cemetery, though there are just over 2,300 markers.

Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park, Nebraska. Site of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Scout’s Rest Ranch, which was his home from 1886 to 1913. This beautiful barn was built in 1887 to house his purebred stallions and other livestock that lived on the 4,000-acre ranch. His mansion is shown below.

Buffalo Bill Cody’s home at Scout’s Rest Ranch

Reflections on the Colorado River, Moab, Utah. Did you know that the Colorado River Basin is part of eleven national parks? The Colorado River also flows through seven states, two Mexican states, and it forms a partial border between Arizona and Mexico.

Provincetown, Massachusetts. Fleeing religious persecution in England, the Pilgrims on the Mayflower landed first at Provincetown in 1620 where the men on the ship signed the Mayflower Compact. The compact was a document whereby they agreed to self-rule the colony they were set to establish in the New World. After finding no fresh water in the area, they sailed across the bay to Plymouth, and the rest, they say, is history.

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado. Freelan O. Stanley, inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile, opened the hotel in 1909. In the 1970s Stephen King visited the hotel and was inspired to write his novel The Shining. Today, the Stanley Hotel claims to be one of the most haunted hotels in the country with none other than Freelan and his wife, Flora (among other spirits) roaming the hallways. We toured this stunning hotel, and even went in the basement, but we didn’t see any paranormal activity – or Jack Nicholson!

That’s going to do it for today. Thanks so much for joining us on our random places road trip. We hope you will return to our site again for more sights, scenery, trips, tricks, and tips. Be sure to sign up to be an e-mail follower so you never miss a post, and follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Tell your friends! We want to be friends with them, too.

Happy hump day, everybody!

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.

©2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Wish We Were There Wednesday: Churches

Intricate details on the historic Trinity Church, Boston.

If you have followed our posts, you’ve probably noticed that we love churches – especially historic ones. Today we’re sharing a few of our favorites, and we hope you love them too. Enjoy!

Another detail of the Trinity Church in Boston – love the gargoyles!

Trinity Church, Boston. Built 1872 – 1877.

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

Old North Church, Boston. Built 1723.

Quechee Church, Quechee, Vermont. Built in 1873.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, Arizona. Built 1954 – 1956.

Ruins of the San Jeronimo Mission Church at Taos Pueblo. Dates to approximately 1706.

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Built 1907.

The Cathedral of Saint Helena, Helena, Montana. Built 1908.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Built 1869 – 1887.

The First Church of Christ, Scientist (also known as The Mother Church), Boston. Built 1894 – 1906 with later additions.

Chapel at Mount Saint Mary’s Cemetery, Maryland. Cemetery established around 1808.

San Jose de Gracia in Las Trampas, New Mexico, built in 1760.

Grace Methodist Church, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Built 1873 – 1878.

Thank you for visiting our site! We hope you will come back again for more great road trip destinations, Quick Stops, WWWTWs, and some tips and tricks. Become a follower so you never miss a post – just hit that SUBSCRIBE button on the right-side of the page. We will not share your information with anyone!

Happy hump day, everyone!

Mike and Kellye

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

Quick Stop: Zion Episcopal Church

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Where in the world is it?

Zion Episcopal Church is in Charles Town, West Virginia. The town was settled by Charles Washington, the youngest full brother of George Washington, around 1780. At the time, Charles Town was in Virginia, as West Virginia did not become a state until 1863. Charles Town is the county seat of Jefferson County, West Virginia, and lies in the Shenandoah Valley.

About Zion Episcopal Church

The original building was constructed around 1815, but another larger church was built on the site and was completed in 1848. Tragically, the second church building burned. The third church building was dedicated in 1851 and is the building that exists today, though the steeple wasn’t added until the 1890s. Perhaps most significant is the church cemetery. Approximately 70 of George Washington’s relatives are buried here, many of whom were born at Mount Vernon. Resting beside the Washington family members are other prominent historic figures and townspeople. According to the church history, approximately 85 to 90 Confederate soldiers and two Revolutionary War officers are also buried here.

 

We were able to walk through the cemetery and read many of the grave markers. Some of them are so old, however, that the words on them have been erased by time.

We identified the markers of quite a few members of the Washington family, and we were surprised by how many were named George

During the Civil War, the church was seized by Union soldiers for use as a barracks and later as a hospital. The soldiers did so much damage to the interior that it had to be completely renovated after the war.

One last view of Zion Episcopal Church surrounded by its cemetery

And now you know.

Until the next trip…

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

Mike and Kellye

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 Wednesdays: Vehicles

Today we’re sharing some interesting vehicles that we have come across during our travels. We hope you enjoy seeing them!

USS Cairo gunboat. One of the first ironclad warships built during the civil war, she was sunk by a torpedo (or mine) in the Yazoo River while helping other ships sweep for mines in 1862. Luckily there were no casualties. Having been raised in the 1960s after lying in the silty bottom of the river for over 100 years, she now resides at Vicksburg National Military Park.

Tour bus in Yellowstone National Park. Beginning in the 1920s, these “National Park Buses” carried visitors on various excursions through the park, with some of the buses still running in the 1960s. Eventually all of these classics were all sold. Several of them have now been relocated and refurbished so that today’s visitors to the park can experience what it was like back in the early days – with modern amenities and roads, of course.

USS Constitution. Nicknamed Old Ironsides, she was initially launched in 1797. She is the world’s oldest ship that is still afloat, and she is the oldest commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy, which means she is still served by U. S. Navy officers and crew. Her home is the Charlestown Navy Yard in Charlestown, Massachusetts.

This truck is called a Peacekeeper. They were once used by security officers who patrolled near minuteman missile silos. These armored Dodge trucks were usually outfitted with a machine gun turret on the roof. This one is at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota.

This is a rail truck at the World Museum of Mining in Butte, Montana. The unusual vehicle was an important part of the Butte, Anaconda & Pacific Railway (BAP) which was the first railroad to convert from steam to electricity. Built in the early 1900s, this truck was used to maintain the overhead wires of the railroad.

These huge ships are docked in Baltimore and are Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships used to preposition or move supplies, vehicles, and other cargo needed by the military. Interestingly, MSC ships are served by civil service workers who are employed by the Navy and are not active military personnel. We captured this shot in the rain thus the monochromatic image.

Old snow blower train in Skagway, Alaska with a rotary snowplow on the front.

This is President Lyndon Johnson’s Jetstar, nicknamed Air Force 1/2. The runway at his Texas ranch couldn’t accommodate Air Force One, so this smaller plane would carry him from a larger airport (usually in San Antonio or Austin) to the ranch. The plane is on display at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park (LBJ Ranch) at Stonewall, Texas.

Here is a shot of the Goodyear blimp which we captured on a gorgeous fall afternoon in our own city. Did you know that up until 2005 (with a couple of deviations) Goodyear named its blimps after the American winners of the America’s Cup yacht race? Now the public gets to submit suggestions for naming the blimps.

We’re going to close the post with a shot inside a hot air balloon while it’s deflating – just because we think it’s a cool pic.

We hope you enjoyed our post and will come back again for more exciting road trip destinations, a Quick Stop, some tips and tricks, or another Wish We Were There Wednesday. Better yet, come back for all of our posts, and join our family of followers so you never miss one! We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy hump day, everyone!

Mike and Kellye

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