A to Z Challenge: The V Towns #atozchallenge

During the month of April I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge has each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays. My blog is number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts will take you across the back roads of America to many unique towns. To see what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

VThe V Towns

Vulcan, Alberta

Welcome to Vulcan Plaque
Welcome to Vulcan Plaque
Welcome to Vulcan in Klingon
Welcome to Vulcan in Klingon
At the Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta 2007
At the Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta 2007
Vulcan Public Library Sign
Vulcan Public Library Sign
Enterprise Family Restaurant - Vulcan, Alberta
Enterprise Family Restaurant – Vulcan, Alberta
Vulcan Visitor Center
Vulcan Visitor Center
Star Trek Wall Mural in Vulcan, Alberta
Star Trek Wall Mural in Vulcan, Alberta

Back in 2007 I had occasion to visit a friend of mine in Alberta, Canada.  One of the side trips we tool was to the town of Vulcan, which has taken full advantage of its name and the association with the TV show Star Trek.  Vulcan is a town located midway between the cities of Calgary and Lethbridge inthe prairies of Southern Alberta, Canada.  The population of the town was 1,940 in 2006, and the population of the county, which is also named Vulcan. See more about my Vulcan visit HERE. Live long and prosper!!

Valier, Montana

Welcome to Valier, Montana
Welcome to Valier, Montana
Rock City Rd. and Dean Rd., north of Valier, MT
Rock City Rd. and Dean Rd., north of Valier, MT
Sumoflam at Rock City north of Valier, Montana
Sumoflam at Rock City north of Valier, Montana
Rock City near Valier, Montana
Rock City near Valier, Montana
Two Medicine River north of Valier, Montana
Two Medicine River north of Valier, Montana

Last week I posted about a place near Sweet Grass, Montana called Jerusalem Rocks.  About 70 south of there is a town called Valier.  It is a small town of about 700 and really does not have a whole lot there. But, just outside of town is another outcropping of hoodoos and formations in a place called Rock City.  I wrote about this and other similar places in a post HERE.  But, you may also want to check out my complete post on my Montana US Highway 89 adventure HERE.

Vernal, Utah

Welcome to Vernal, UT
Welcome to Vernal, UT
Dinosaur National Monument, Vernal, UT
Dinosaur National Monument, Vernal, UT
DinoHead
Dinosaur Head Fossil at Dinosaur National Monument
DinNatMon1
Dinosaur bones embedded at Dinosaur National Monument
DaveDinLeg
Sumoflam with a dinosaur Leg Bone Fossil at Dinosaur National Monument
Flaming Gorge, near Vernal, UT (photo from utah.com)
Flaming Gorge, near Vernal, UT (photo from utah.com)

In 1975 I made weekly trips from Salt Lake City to Vernal, Utah for work as a record/tape distributor.  I loved the drive and Vernal was actually a nice place to visit every week.  In the early 2000s I once again visited with my family as we ventured to the Dinosaur National Monument.  Along with my trips, I would drive the switchbacks form Vernal and over the area known as Flaming Gorge.  This is beautiful country and well worth the visit.  It has been many years since I have been there, and I hope to get there again soon!

Vandalia, Illinois

Vandalia Water Tower with Lincoln on it
Vandalia Water Tower with Lincoln on it
Vandalia State House in Vandalia, IL
Vandalia State House in Vandalia, IL
Breathing Fire in Vandalia
Breathing Fire in Vandalia
Sumoflam and the Fire Breathing Dragon of Kaskaskia in Vandalia, IL
Sumoflam and the Fire Breathing Dragon of Kaskaskia in Vandalia, IL

On a family trip in 2014, we drove through the town of Vandalia, Illinois as part of our return trip home.  Our main reason for coming here was to see a fire breathing dragon…made from metal. But, Vandalia is so much more.  This is where Abraham Lincoln kicked off his career as a politician.  It was the western terminus of the National Road, one of America’s first highways.  The Kaskaskia Dragon was a load of fun for the grandkids too!! Check out my full trip report with lots of photos HERE.

Vicksburg, Mississippi

Sumoflam and Cannons at Vicksburg National Military Park
Sumoflam and Cannons at Vicksburg National Military Park
Entry arch at Vicksburg
Entry arch at Vicksburg
Cannon line the grounds of Vicksburg National Military park in Vicksburg, MS
Cannon line the grounds of Vicksburg National Military park in Vicksburg, MS
Sculpture at Vicksburg
Sculpture at Vicksburg
Sculpture at Vicksburg
Sculpture at Vicksburg

In the summer of 2014 I cruised down the Blues Highway and ended up spending the night in Vicksburg, Mississippi. I woke up early the next day to visit the Vicksburg National Military Park before heading further south on Highway 61. The park preserves the site of the American Civil War Battle of Vicksburg, waged from May 18 to July 4, 1863 and also commemorates the greater Vicksburg Campaign, which preceded the battle. The expansive park includes 1,340 historic monuments and markers, 20 miles of historic trenches and earthworks, a 16-mile tour road, 144 emplaced cannons, a restored gunboat, and more. A must see for Civil War enthusiasts, but also a great place to learn about a facet of American history.  Besides the park, the town has a great Coca Cola memorabilia museum and a number of murals along the river wall.  You can see many more photos and a more detailed writeup about my visit in 2014 HERE.

Versailles, Kentucky (Honorable Mention)

A mural on a water tower in Versailles, Kentucky
A mural on a water tower in Versailles, Kentucky
Scrap Metal Horse at Woodford Reserve near Versailles, Kentucky
Scrap Metal Horse at Woodford Reserve near Versailles, Kentucky
Horses graze in the fall on a Woodford County farm near Versailles.
Horses graze in the fall on a Woodford County farm near Versailles.
One of many amazing Horse Farm barns that can be seen in the Versailles area
One of many amazing Horse Farm barns that can be seen in the Versailles area
Versailles is in the heart of the Horse Capital of the World
Versailles is in the heart of the Horse Capital of the World

Living in Lexington, Kentucky offers many wonderful opportunities for “Staycations.”  One great place to visit nearby is the lovely and historic town of Versailles (pronounced Ver-sales) which is on US Highway 62 west of Lexington. Versailles is well-known for its quaint, small-town beauty, beautiful horse farms and Kentucky’s famed bourbon distilleries, including the famed Woodford Reserve.  Many of the famed Bluegrass Horse Farms are in Woodford County and near Versailles.   I have never written a blog post about Versailles, but I would highly recommend a visit there if you come to Kentucky.  Plan the trip in April and go to the races at nearby Keeneland Racetrack then take the Bourbon Trail.  Check out my 2013 blog post about Horse Farm Country with many photos about horses, horse farms and the Horse Capital of the World — right HERE.

Vincennes, Indiana (Honorable Mention)

Family at the George Rogers Clark National Historic Park in Vincennes, Indiana Summer 2001
Family at the George Rogers Clark National Historic Park in Vincennes, Indiana Summer 2001
Family inside the Clark Memorial with George Rogers Clark and the seven murals, Summer 2001
Family inside the Clark Memorial with George Rogers Clark and the seven murals, Summer 2001

In the summer of 2001 my family took a trip westward to Utah (including the trip to Vernal noted above).  Early in the trip we went through Vincennes, Indiana to visit the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park. Founded in 1732 by French fur traders, Vincennes is the oldest continually inhabited European settlement in Indiana and one of the oldest settlements west of the Appalachians. It sits at the intersection of US Highway 41 and US Highway 50. George Rogers Clark (November 19, 1752 – February 13, 1818) was a surveyor, soldier, and militia officer from Virginia and the highest ranking American military officer on the northwestern frontier during the American Revolutionary War. He served as leader of the Kentucky (then part of Virginia) militia throughout much of the war. Clark is best known for his celebrated captures of Kaskaskia (1778) (Way before the fiery dragon noted above!!) and Vincennes (1779) during the Illinois Campaign, which greatly weakened British influence in the Northwest Territory. Because the British ceded the entire Northwest Territory to the United States in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, Clark has often been hailed as the “Conqueror of the Old Northwest”.  his younger brother William was the “Clark” in the Lewis and Clark expeditions.  This trip was well before my travel blogging days, but the Memorial was definitely one of our more memorable experiences on a trip across the country to see history.

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Creating the Wanderlust – 30 Years of Back Roads Travel with Family – Pt 2

Akela Flats near Deming, New Mexico, December 1999
Akela Flats near Deming, New Mexico, December 1999

This is Part 2 of a Three Part series on “Creating the Wanderlust” – how I have shared travel experiences with my children and grandchildren over the last 30+ years and how this has opened their eyes to the world around them.  You can see Part 1 here.

During 1996 and 1997 we didn’t travel much though we did visit a couple of Kentucky sites including the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln near Hodgenville, KY and Cumberland Gap.

Chelsea and Seth at the Lincoln Birthplace monument in Hodgenville, Kentucky 1996
Chelsea and Seth at the Lincoln Birthplace monument in Hodgenville, Kentucky July 4, 1997
Kid s with Grandpa Kravetz at Cumberland Gap in 1996
Kids with Grandpa Kravetz at Cumberland Gap in 1997

The big highlight of 1997 was when our 1995 French exchange student Barbara Grandvoinet came back to see us and we ventured off to St. Louis for a visit to the big St. Louis Art Museum, the Science Museum and the Gateway Arch and more.  This was a BLAST of a trip for all of us, though fairly short. (Barbara has since become quite an accomplished short film director and has traveled the world.  She too got the wanderlust!! — see more about her here and her personal Website at Babs Productions)

St. Louis Art Museum Sept. 1997
St. Louis Art Museum Sept. 1997
St. Louis Science Museum, Sept. 1997
St. Louis Science Museum, Sept. 1997
Marissa, Barbara, Amaree, Seth, Solomon under the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Sept. 1997
Marissa, Barbara, Amaree, Seth, Solomon under the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Sept. 1997

The visit to the Gateway Arch was the first for all of us and we took the opportunity to take the ride to the top and get a view like no other.  It was scary up there knowing that nothing was below our feet but a bit of steel and lots of air.

View of downtown St. Louis form the top of the Gateway Arch in Sept. 1997
View of downtown St. Louis from the top of the Gateway Arch in Sept. 1997
View of Capital Building from top of St. Louis Arch, taken Sept. 1997
View of Capital Building from the Gateway Arch, taken Sept. 1997

Our next big adventures took place in the summer of 1998.  This was a really exciting year for my two oldest daughters, who both got to make trips from little Nicholasville, KY to the excitement of Europe.  Amaree was accepted into an All-American Choir who toured a number of countries in Europe and performed.  At the about the same time, Marissa was invited to visit Barbara in France.  Amaree had the opportunity to join Marissa in Paris.  Both got to meet Barbara’s family and both had amazing experiences. (Dad is still jealous as he still has not had the opportunity to visit Europe — but he will!!)

Hershey's Chocolate World in Hershey, PA June 1998
Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, PA June 1998
Amaree, Seth and Marissa at Hersey Chocolate World
Amaree, Seth and Marissa at Hersey’s Chocolate World, June 1998

We took three trips to the east during 1998.  The first trip was to take Amaree to Pennsylvania where she would meet up with the touring choir and have orientation prior to heading to Europe. Along the way we visited Hershey and toured the Chocolate World facility.  While there Seth dragged his arm down the stair rail and got it stuck in the rail.  Security had to help him out and it took quite a “scary” while for all of us.  In the long run all was OK and were even given a bunch of chocolate for the inconvenience.

Seth and Amaree play with GIANT Crayons at the Crayola Museum in Eaton, PA
Seth and Amaree play with GIANT Crayons at the Crayola Museum in Easton, PA

From Hershey we also visited Easton, PA, home of the Crayola Museum (and at the time also had a Pez Museum which was closed in 2009 after a lawsuit).  It was fun to go through the museum and watch how Crayola Crayons were made.

Amaree and Seth at the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA
Amaree and Seth at the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA

So, we had to return to Pennsylvania a week later to drop Amaree off for the actual trip and on the way there Amaree, Seth, Solomon and I headed to Gettysburg, where there was a gigantic Civil War reenactment taking place to commemorate the 135th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg (see some interesting photos someone else took of the actual encampments, etc.).  This actually came as a surprise to us as we had just planned to visit after dropping Amaree off.  But when we got there we saw thousands of white tents.  It was pretty “in-tents”!!

Solomon got a big bang out of the cannons in Gettysburg in July 1998
Solomon got a big bang out of the cannons in Gettysburg in July 1998
Seth and Solomon at the Gettysburg Museum, July 4 1998
Seth and Solomon at the Gettysburg Museum, July 4 1998

We searched around town for a Gettysburg Address and found out that almost every house in Gettysburg had one.  However, we did find a sign that had Gettysburg Address written on it.

Gettysburg Address Commemorative Sign, July 1998
Gettysburg Address Commemorative Sign, July 1998

We also found the “Dead Center of Town”……

National Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA, July 1998
National Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA, July 1998

Ultimately, it was a quick two day round trip.  But, it was not the last trip east.  A few weeks later I made my way to New York to pick up both Amaree and Marissa.  Chelsea, Seth and Solomon joined me on this trip and we met my sister Sherry there as well. We visited some family, but perhaps the most memorable photo I have is the one below with the World Trade Center in the background.  Little did we know that a mere 37 months later both of these buildings would be gone…destroyed by terrorists.

Sister Sherry, Chelsea and Solomon with WTC in background, August 1998
Sister Sherry, Chelsea and Solomon with WTC in background, August 1998

Unfortunately, this too was a quick trip and we didn’t have time to get many photos of the kids and New York, but the one above is priceless!!

Solomon, Julianne, Marissa and Seth in Lexington, VA Summer 1998
Solomon, Julianne, Marissa and Seth in Lexington, VA Summer 1998

In 1998 we were also looking at schools for Marissa and took a quick trip to Buena Vista, VA to look at Southern Virginia University.  While on this trip we also took a visit to historic Lexington, Virginia.  We finally decided on BYU for her and in 1999 took Marissa out there with Seth and Solomon. In 1999 we also headed West  as a family (except for Marissa who came down from Utah) for Christmas with my wife’s family in Mesa, Arizona and then a visit on New Year’s Day 2000 with my Aunt Maxine in Albuquerque on the way home. It was a fun year…

Abe Lincoln Monument near Laramie, Wyoming 1999
Abe Lincoln Monument at Summit Rest Area on I-80 near Laramie, Wyoming Summer 1999
Seth, Solomon, Marissa and Julianne at Winter Quarters monument at Mormon Trail Center in Omaha, Nebraska, Summer 1999
Seth, Solomon, Marissa and Julianne at Winter Quarters monument at Mormon Trail Center in Omaha, Nebraska, Summer 1999
Seth and Sol Practice their handcart skills. These came in handy when they did an actual three day adventure in the early 2000s.  Taken at Mormon Trail Center, Omaha in Summer 1999
Seth and Sol Practice their handcart skills. These came in handy when they did an actual three day adventure in the early 2000s. Taken at Mormon Trail Center, Omaha in Summer 1999
Visiting Montezuma Castle National Monument, near Cottonwood, AZ  in late 1999
Visiting Montezuma Castle National Monument, near Cottonwood, AZ Dec. 30, 1999

A little side note: Montezuma Castle was one of the first four National Monuments dedicated in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Akela Flats, NM near Deming - Dec. 22, 1999
Akela Flats, NM near Deming – Dec. 22, 1999

Akela Flats is one of 10 Bowlin Travel Centers in the Southwest, most of them along Interstate 10 from Tucson, AZ to Las Cruces, NM. These are the ultimate “Tourist Traps” with lots of fun stuff.  In 2011 we visited “The Thing” on a trip from Arizona to Kentucky.  I’ll have a Flashback post about that trip in the near future.

Amaree, Solomon and Seth at Longaberger Basket HQ in Newark, OH Fall 1999
Amaree, Solomon and Seth at Longaberger Basket HQ in Newark, OH Fall 1999

During the fall of 1999 some of us also made a quick trip to Cleveland to visit the Laurienzo arm of my family up there. Along the way we stopped at the Longaberger Basket HQ in Newark, Ohio.  Giant picnic basket!

Solomon, Julianne, Amaree and Seth at LDS Nashville Temple Dedication, May 2000
Solomon, Julianne, Amaree and Seth at LDS Nashville Temple Dedication, May 2000

The new millennium ushered in another year of travel for us.  Not only did we drive home the first two days of the year 2000, but we made a few other interesting trips.  We took a trip to Nashville for the Dedication of the LDS (Mormon) Nashville Temple in May 2000.

On another adventure in May, we took a two day swing up to Chicago for the grand opening of the “Sue” T-Rex exhibit at the Field Museum.  We had heard about this event and since Chicago is really only a 6 hour drive, we took the opportunity to attend the event as a family. “Sue” is the largest, most complete, and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered.

Family visits "Sue" the T-Rex exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago in May 2000
Family visits “Sue” the T-Rex exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago in May 2000
Solomon, Julianne, Amaree and Seth on one of the huge pillars at the Field Museum in Chicago
Solomon, Julianne, Amaree and Seth on one of the huge pillars at the Field Museum in Chicago
Solomon about to get chomped by Sue at the Field Museum.
Solomon about to get chomped by Sue at the Field Museum

Early in 2001 my boys and I joined a number of friends from Kentucky and even Utah in Memphis, Tennessee for the Liberty Bowl game between BYU and Louisville. It was a miserably cold day and miserable for BYU fans in general. But, we made sure to enjoy the “blues” and sought a little Graceland before digging into some Memphis BBQ!

Seth and Solomon with friends from Murray, UT visiting Beale Street in Memphis, January 2001
Seth and Solomon with friends from Murray, UT visiting Beale Street in Memphis, January 2001
Going to Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee January 2001
Going to Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee January 2001

Travel continued that year with a couple more trips.  Over the summer we took the family to Nauvoo, Illinois to see the new LDS Temple being built there and also visit some of the church historical sites.  Along the way we also visited some museums and historical sites.


View Larger Map – Map of our 2001 trip to Nauvoo

Family at the George Rogers Clark National Historic Park in Vincennes, Indiana Summer 2001
Family at the George Rogers Clark National Historic Park in Vincennes, Indiana Summer 2001
Family inside the Clark Memorial with George Rogers Clark and the seven murals, Summer 2001
Family inside the Clark Memorial with George Rogers Clark and the seven murals, Summer 2001
The kids learn about an Old Printing Press in Vincennes, Indiana. Summer 2001
The kids learn about an Old Printing Press in Vincennes, Indiana. Summer 2001

In 1779 George Rogers Clark led a group of 170 foot soldiers on a n 18 day trek to keep the British from laying claim to Fort Sackville, which was, at that time, on the outskirts of the western frontier in present day Indiana.  This helped America gain possession of the northwest territory.  The beautiful building and the statue and seven murals inside of the Clark National Monument, tell the story of this great Revolutionary War battle.

Family at the Lincoln Home in Springfield, Illinois, Summer 2001
Family at the Lincoln Home in Springfield, Illinois, Summer 2001
Seth and Marissa walking with Lincoln at Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois in the Summer of 2001
Seth and Marissa walking with Lincoln at Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois in the Summer of 2001

From Vincennes, we continued west to Springfield, Illinois to visit another Abraham Lincoln Monument.  This was the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, where we were able to tour the home, see the furnishings and learn more about the Illinois era of Abraham Lincoln’s prolific life.

Traveling in the van, Summer 2001
Traveling in the van, Summer 2001

Along the way, we made a stop in Hannibal, Missouri and visited some Mark Twain historic sites.  Seth and Solomon got to learn all about painting fences, while my wife and daughters looked at some of the shops.

Seth and Solomon at Tom Sawyer's Fence in Hannibal, Missouri., Summer 2001
Seth and Solomon at Tom Sawyer’s Fence in Hannibal, Missouri., Summer 2001

From Hannibal we headed north to Nauvoo and Carthage with a brief stop in Quincy.  Some of my step mother’s ancestors were buried here…namely, Hanks family members (yes, related to Abraham Lincoln).  We tracked down the grave markers and took etchings of them.

Amaree taking an etching of the grave marker of her great-great-great-great grandfather Joseph Hanks in Quincy, Illinois.
Amaree taking an etching of the grave marker of her great-great-great-great grandfather Joseph Hanks in Quincy, Illinois

There is a great deal of family history on my wife’s side in Nauvoo so it was a great opportunity to see both LDS Church Historical Sites while also learning how this related to the family’s heritage.

The family at Carthage, location where the LDS Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred. Taken in the summer of 2001.
The family at Carthage, location where the LDS Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred. Taken in the summer of 2001
Family at the Nauvoo Temple under construction in Nauvoo, Illinois. Summer 2001
Family at the Nauvoo Temple under construction in Nauvoo, Illinois. Summer 2001
Solomon at the memorial to Joseph and Hyrum Smith in Carthage, IL
Solomon at the memorial to Joseph and Hyrum Smith in Carthage, IL
Amaree at the Joseph and Hyrum Smith statue in Carthage, IL
Amaree at the Joseph and Hyrum Smith statue in Carthage, IL

On our way home we stopped in Indianapolis to visit the wonderful Indianapolis Children’s Museum.  This was our fist time there and I have visited a couple of times since 2001, including a visit with the grandchildren in 2013 (see post about that here).

Family climbs aboard a dino at the Indianapolis Children's Museum, Summer 2000
Family climbs aboard a dino at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, Summer 2001
The Family Pulling Together at the Indianapolis Children's Museum, Summer 2001
The Family Pulling Together at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, Summer 2001

On our 2013 visit two of my grandchildren posed in front of the same statue, which had been moved to a different location on the museum grounds.  When I took that photo, I had forgotten all about the one I took in 2001…funny…

My grandchildren at Indianapolis Children's Museum in 2013
My grandchildren at Indianapolis Children’s Museum in 2013

The big news for 2001 was that our daughter Amaree departed for a year and a half long LDS Mission to Japan.  Her travel experiences would take her back to a country she knew and loved.  Ironically, she was sent to the same area where served back in 1976 to 1978.

Seth with a dinosaur fossil at Dinosaur National Monument in Dinosaur, Utah
Seth with a dinosaur fossil at Dinosaur National Monument in Dinosaur, CO, summer 2002

In the summer of 2002 we headed to Utah to visit my wife’s parents.  It was a fast trip with few stops, but we did make a stop in Dinosaur, Colorado (near Vernal, Utah) to see the amazing Dinosaur National Monument. Once again, there was always an effort to go to places where the children could learn about the world and its history.

Solomon, Marissa and Sumoflam at Dinosaur National Monument, Dinosaur, Colorado, summer 2002
Solomon, Marissa and Sumoflam at Dinosaur National Monument, Dinosaur, Colorado, summer 2002

With the growth of children and their attending college and serving missions, coupled with busy jobs, much of our family travel seemed to dwindle. Marissa was soon off to Thailand to serve an LDS mission and the other kids were involved in other things.  Julianne and I did get to go on a cruise to Alaska with her parents and siblings in June 2004, but the kids didn’t come along.

Amaree eventually got a teaching in job in Montana, so she and Seth headed west on a “Sumoflam adventure” of their own (with much advice and travel guidance from their Dad of course).

Traveling Siblings - Amaree and Seth on their way to Montana in July 2004
Traveling Siblings – Amaree and Seth on their way to Montana in August 2004
Seth ponders what life would be like as a Pink Elephant in DeForest, WI summer 2004
Seth ponders what life would be like as a Pink Elephant in DeForest, WI summer 2004
Amaree with the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota, summer 2004
Amaree with the Jolly Green Giant (HO HO HO) in Blue Earth, Minnesota, August 2004
Seth at the SPAM Museum in Austin, MN July 2004
Seth at the SPAM Museum in Austin, MN August 2004
Seth at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD August 2004
Seth at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD August 2004
Amaree and Seth at Mt. Rushmore National Monument, August 2004
Amaree and Seth at Mt. Rushmore National Monument, August 2004
A BADMAN in the Badlands! Seth in the expanses of South Dakota, August 2004
A BADMAN in the Badlands! Seth in the expanses of South Dakota, August 2004

We didn’t really have any more big trips until the wild year of 2005.  I had spent about six weeks in Cebu, Philippines early that year for work only to come home to THREE engaged daughters.  By May, the entire family was traipsing all over the country for weddings.  In May we went to Gatlinburg for our youngest daughter Chelsea’s wedding and then a few weeks later we were off to Montana and Cardston, Alberta for our oldest child Amaree’s wedding. Less than 10 days later we were back in Kentucky for Marissa’s wedding and a TRIPLE reception.

Seth and Solomon crashed at a cabin in Gatlinburg, TN May 2005
Seth and Solomon crashed at a cabin in Gatlinburg, TN May 2005
Seth outside the Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg, TN May 2005
Seth outside the Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg, TN May 2005

After a brief recovery, the whole family (except for Chelsea) was off to Montana.  This was the prime opportunity for me to make a full-fledged road trip plan with lots of stops along the way.  Thanks to a kind friend at work, we were loaned a conversion van, so Seth, Solomon, Marissa and I loaded up and headed west for one of my epic offbeat trips!!  We left on June 15, about 4 weeks after getting back from Gatlinburg. (see the entire trip report on my old website – with dozens of photos, some of which will be shown below)

June 2005 "Montana Wedding" Roadtrip
June 2005 HUGE “Montana Wedding” Roadtrip

Thanks to the internet and Roadside America, among other sites, I planned this trip meticulously.  It was probably my biggest adventure ever with my children, at least with some of them.

Roadside guidance provided by……

Ultimately, this trip covered 4500 miles in six days.  We ventured through (or into) ten states and one Canadian Province.  We saw dozens of unique sites along the way as well.  We actually retraced some of Amaree and Seth’s route from 2004 as well.  But, more than education this time, we set out to make this a fun and quirky offbeat trip to relieve from stress of weddings and to just have fun.  Here are a few of the better shots.  So many more are on my old journal post at sumoflam.biz. The ultimate vacation!!  Many memories were made…

Millenium Park, Chicago
The kids at Anish Kappor’s “Cloud Gate in Millenium Park in Chicago. June 2005
Say Cheese
Say Cheese – We were in Wisconsin after all – June 2005
Pink Elephant, DeForest, WI
Marissa outdoing Seth (who visited in 2004) at the Pink Elephant in DeForest, WI – June 2005 (By the way, Marissa’s favorite animal has always been the elephant)
Solomon in Minnesota
Solomon in Minnesota – June 2005
Space Aliens Bar and Grill
Seth and Solomon finish off a pile of ribs at Space Aliens Bar and Grill near St. Cloud, MN

Our first day took us from Lexington through Indy, Chicago, Minneapolis and finally St. Cloud, MN.  The second day was another doozy….

Largest Pile of Cans - Casselton, ND
Marissa at World’s Largest Pile of Cans in Casselton, ND. This has since been taken down. June 2005

Along with visits to some of the “World’s Biggest” things (the giant Prairie Chicken in Rothsay, MN, the giant Sand Crane in Steele, ND and the giant Buffalo in Jamestown, ND), we also visited the world’s largest Holstein Cow “Salem Sue” in New Salem, North Dakota.  This was utterly fun!

Salem Sue in North Dakota
Milkin’ it for all its worth at “Salem Sue” statue in New Salem, North Dakota – June 2005

We finally got into my old stomping grounds of Great Falls, Montana late on the 17th and really needed some rest.  The next day would be Amaree’s wedding in Cardston, Alberta and we would then return home via Glacier National Park…

Glacier National Park
Seth, Julianne (who flew out) and Marissa enjoy the expansive views at Glacier National Park in Montana. June 2005
Solomon, Marissa and Seth at Glacier National Park, June 2005
Solomon, Marissa and Seth at Glacier National Park, June 2005
Chiptymonk
Solomon tries to feed a “chiptymonk” in Glacier National Park in Montana – June 2005

The four of us headed out of Great Falls on June 19th in two cars (Seth and Solomon returned in the car he drove out to Montana with Amaree in 2004).  We headed southeast for more adventures on the way home….

Marissa and Seth's Last Stand at the location whereGeorge Custer is buried at Little Big Horn National Monument, Montana June 2005
Marissa and Seth’s Last Stand at the location where George Custer is buried at Little Bighorn National Battlefield, Montana June 2005
Solomon, Marissa and Seth at the Stoneville Saloon in Alzada, Montana.  A biker bar literally in the middle of nowhere. June 2005
Solomon, Marissa and Seth at the Stoneville Saloon in Alzada, Montana. A biker bar literally in the middle of nowhere. June 2005
Stoneville Saloon
Stoneville Saloon – Cheap Drinks, Lousy Food, Conveniently located in the Middle of Nowhere….
Mt. Rushmore, SD
Marissa shows off Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota – June 2005

After an overnight stay near Mt. Rushmore, we had one more day of travel…a really long trip home in two cars with very little time as Marissa had to get back home to prepare for her wedding…just three days away.

Jackalope at Wall Drug, SD
Solomon rides a Jackalope at Wall Drug in Wall, SD
Wall Drug, SD
Mt. Sethmore at Wall Drug in South Dakota – June 2005
Marissa and Solomon enjoy Badlands National Park in South Dakota - June 2005
Marissa and Solomon enjoy Badlands National Park in South Dakota – June 2005
Cactus Flats, SD
Marissa feeds the prairie dogs at Cactus Flats, SD
The "Soulman" withe the Blues Brothers outside a shop in Mitchell, SD - June 2005
The “Soulman” withe the Blues Brothers outside a shop in Mitchell, SD – June 2005
Corn Palace, MItchell, SD
Marissa at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD – June 2005

After hitting Mitchell, SD, we “splurged” on a cheap meal at Taco Bell and began the long trek home on the highways.  We stopped in Blue Earth, MN at dusk in hopes of seeing the Green Giant but were hit by a massive rain storm, so we slept it out in a rest area.  After a couple of hours we were back on the road with a couple more stops along the way to rest.  We finally got home early in the morning…tired, hungry and weary, but enthralled from the amazing trip…  then Marissa’s wedding in Louisville and the reception.

Three Weddings and a Tired Happy Dad
Three Weddings and a Tired Happy Dad – June 24, 2005

And thus ends Part 2 of my “Creating the Wanderlust” series. Part 3 begins the “Grandchildren Era” and includes more cross country trips with kidz and grandkidz.  The years 2005 to 2013 have been a completely thrilling joyride!

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A 5 Day Midwest Adventure: Day 5 – Columbia, St. Louis, Ra66it Ranch and a Fire Breathing Dragon

University of Missouri - Columbia, Missouri
University of Missouri – Columbia, Missouri

The final day of our five day whirlwind trip to Nebraska and back began in Columbia, Missouri and took us through St. Louis and then some interesting spots in Illinois along old Route 66 and then eventually home to Lexington.  Following is our final day route:


View Larger Map – Columbia, MO to Lexington, KY

Columbia was a pleasant surprise.  A beautiful college town with lots of murals and color and historical buildings, like the administration building for the University of Missouri (shown above).  Before we headed down the road towards St. Louis, we took a brief drive around Columbia.  Here are a few shots:

Colorful Phone Booth in downtown Columbia, MO
Colorful Phone Booth in downtown Columbia, MO
Sunrise in Columbia, MO
Sunrise in Columbia, MO

We drove by Shakespeare’s Pizza and they have a very unique long painted wall of art on the outside of the shop.  Here are a few close-ups of bits of the wall. This wall was painted by Columbia artist Ned Vail and members of some of his art classes.

Politician and School Leader - portion of Shakespeare's wall mural - Columbia, MO
Politician and School Leader – portion of Shakespeare’s wall mural – Columbia, MO
Drawing of Inside of the Pizza Shop
Drawing of Inside of the Pizza Shop – Ned Vail, 2003
Shakespeare Pizza Wall At by Ned Vail
Shakespeare Pizza Wall At by Ned Vail

Besides Shakespeare’s Pizza there were a few other colorful items in town:

Wall Mural - Columbia, MO
Wall Mural – Columbia, MO
Keys to the City by Howard Meehan
Keys to the City by Howard Meehan

New Mexico artist Howard Meehan built Keys to the City in 2010 for the city of Columbia. The 19-foot-tall, 16-foot-wide sculpture, one of 11 Columbia Percent for Art projects, is made of structural steel and placed atop concrete bases holding color-changing LEDs.

People by Don Bartlett
People by Don Bartlett
Mosaic Art - Columbia, MO
Mosaic Art – Columbia, MO
Lit Pillars at Courthouse in Columbia, MO
Lit Pillars at Courthouse in Columbia, MO

From Columbia it was time to head eastward towards St. Louis.  I have driven this stretch of Interstate 70 well over a dozen times, so we pressed forward to our next destination – The Butterfly House at the Missouri Botanical Garden in Chesterfield, Missouri’s Faust Park.

Butterfly House Gate - Faust Park, Chesterfield, MO
Butterfly House Gate – Faust Park, Chesterfield, MO
Butterfly House at Faust Park in Chesterfield, MO
Butterfly House at Faust Park in Chesterfield, MO

In the front seasonal gardens is a giant butterfly sculpture called the Mysterious Monarch, which is a 28-foot tall butterfly created by St. Louis sculptor Bob Cassilly in 1997 and given to the Butterfly House by Rosemary and Joe Shaughnessy in honor of their grandchildren.

Sumoflam and Giant Butterfly at the Butterfly House
Sumoflam and Giant Butterfly at the Butterfly House

The Butterfly House is GREAT and absolutely fascinating. It is well worth a visit, especially if you are with kids.  The museum section has a number of kid-friendly exhibits and an extraordinary video presentation about butterflies.  But the best part is the tropical conservatory.  It has a controlled environment that houses nearly 2,000 tropical butterflies in free flight and a number of unique tropical plants not seen in most locales in the U.S.  As many as 80 butterfly species and 150 tropical plant species can be seen. Following are a number of shots we got of butterflies and plants while in the conservatory.

Colorful Butterfly statue in front of the Butterfly House
Colorful Butterfly statue in front of the Butterfly House
Grandkids play on the 30 foot long "Lopatapillar", a creation by artist Bob Cassilly
Grandkids play on the 30 foot long “Lopatapillar”, a creation by artist Bob Cassilly
Flower at Butterfly House
Flower at Butterfly House
Flowers at Butterfly House
Flowers at Butterfly House
Tropical Flowers at the Butterfly House
Tropical Flowers at the Butterfly House
Blue Morpho Butterfly (morpho peleides) at the Butterfly House
Blue Morpho Butterfly (morpho peleides) at the Butterfly House
Granddaughter holding Blue Morphos
Granddaughter holding Blue Morphos

The Blue Morphos is common to South and Central America. The blue only shows when they fly; the underside of their wings is brown with several eyespots.

Postman Butterfly (Heliconius erato)
Postman Butterfly (Heliconius erato)
Striking Blue Butterfly on pink flowers
Striking Blue Butterfly on pink flowers
Lovely Tropical Flowers at Butterfly House
Lovely Tropical Flowers at Butterfly House
Paper Kite Butterfly (Idea leuconoe) from Southeast Asia
Paper Kite Butterfly (Idea leuconoe) from Southeast Asia
Great Mormon Butterfly (Papilio memnon) from Southeast Asia
Great Mormon Butterfly (Papilio memnon) from South Asia
White Swallowtail Butterfly
White Swallowtail Butterfly
Giant Owl Butterfly
Giant Owl Butterfly
Monarch Butterfly seen n outdoor garden at Butterfly House
Monarch Butterfly seen in outdoor garden at Butterfly House
Butterfly and Red Flowers
Butterfly and Red Flowers
Black Butterfly
Black Butterfly
Butterfly landing
Butterfly landing
Beautiful Purple Flower
Beautiful Purple Orchid at Butterfly House

Just a short walk from the Butterfly House is the St. Louis Carousel, an original carousel created by the Dentzel Company of Philadelphia in the 1920s. The Carousel was installed in 1929 at the Forest Park Highlands. When the Highlands burned to the ground in 1963, the carousel was the only thing left standing. Howard C. Ohlendorf purchased the carousel to prevent it from being dismantled and donated it to St. Louis County Parks in 1965.  It is a throwback to the olden days….my grandkids got to enjoy the ride on this old fashioned wonder.

St. Louis Carousel Building in Faust Park, Chesterfield, MO
St. Louis Carousel Building in Faust Park, Chesterfield, MO
The 1920s St. Louis Carousel at Faust Park
The 1920s St. Louis Carousel at Faust Park
Riding the Carousel at Faust Park
Riding the Carousel at Faust Park

After a few rides on the Carousel, it was back on the road.  We headed into St. Louis for a stop at the Brown Shoe Company. This company is the home company for a number of shoe brands (inclduing Famous Footwear, Dr. Scholl’s, Naturalizer, Life Stride and more) , but we were only going to visit to see ONE shoe…..

Giant Shoe at Brown Shoe Company in St. Louis
Giant Shoe made of shoes at Brown Shoe Company in St. Louis
Shoes in the Giant Shoe
Shoes in the Giant Shoe
Sumoflam and the Big Shoe
Sumoflam and the Big Shoe

From the Big Shoe it was on to Downtown St. Louis.  All of us were excited to visit the Gateway Arch (no link since the US Government is still shut down as I write this).  On the way we made one more stop at a unique, quirky place…The Christman Studio and Sculpture Park and Joe’s Cafe in the Skinker Neighborhood of St. Louis. This is like the birthplace of quirky art and other kitsch.

Joe's Cafe - a performance venue attached to the Christman Gallery in St. Louis
Joe’s Cafe – a performance venue attached to the Christman Gallery in St. Louis

Bill Christman was trained as an artist, has taught and made art, and has worked for years in the design and production of signs, murals, billboards, exhibits, sculptures, assemblages and theatrical scenery. He’s the Proprietor of Beatnik Bob’s, and the Director of the Museum of Mirth, Mystery, & Mayhem at St. Louis’ Ultra Quirky and Offbeat City Museum (I wish we had gone there on this trip!!!!!!  See more here). He is also the owner of Christman Studios and the Impresario of Thursday Nite Music at Joe’s Café in the Skinker/DeBaliviere Neighborhood.

Big Pants at the entrance to Christman Gallery in St. Louis
Big Pants at the entrance to Christman Gallery in St. Louis
Giant Rooster greets you at Joe's Cafe entrance
Giant Rooster greets you at Joe’s Cafe entrance
A Thing-a-ma-jigger at Christman Studio in St. Louis
A Thing-a-ma-jigger at Christman Studio in St. Louis

The studio is apparently closed except on Thursday evenings, but you can at least take a peak through the gates of the back yard.  What a menagerie awaits as you gander at all of the goodies behind the fence and around the fence.

Backyard view of Christman's gallery - including a giant head
Backyard view of Christman’s gallery – including a giant Muffler Man head (probably the upper half of the legs in the front yard)
Hydrant Collection at back yard gate
Hydrant Collection at back yard gate
Another view of the back yard with a Big Boy Head
Another view of the back yard with a Big Boy Head
A HandBurger (probably from the Big Boy)
A HandBurger (probably from the Big Boy)
Rusty Cans line the top of the fence.  Who need's barbed wire?
Rusty Cans line the top of the fence. Who need’s barbed wire?
This must be his guest house.  "It Ain't Home 'til You Take the Wheels Off"
This must be his guest house. “It Ain’t Home ’til You Take the Wheels Off”
A White Buffalo Guards the Gate at Christman's Studio
A White Buffalo Guards the Gate at Christman’s Studio
Buddha Head adorns the top of the Front Door to the Gallery
Buddha Head adorns the top of the Front Door to the Gallery
A Skink on a Sign
A Skink on a Sign for the Skinker neighborhood

Finally, on to downtown St. Louis and the Gateway Arch….

Arch as seen from Downtown
Arch as seen from Downtown
Arch Reflection on a mirrored Building
Arch Reflection on a mirrored Building

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is a 630-foot tall (and 630 foot wide) monument and is the tallest man-made monument in the United States. It is also the world’s tallest arch. The Gateway Arch was designed by architect Eero Saarinen and structural engineer Hannskarl Bandel in 1947. Construction began on February 12, 1963, and ended on October 28, 1965,costing US $13 million at the time. The monument opened to the public on June 10, 1967. Currently, the Gateway Arch is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world with over four million visitors annually,of which around one million travel to the top.  I had the opportunity to go to the top in 1997 and what an adventure that was.  Here is what I saw back then…

View of Capital Building from top of St. Louis Arch, taken Sept. 1997
View of Capital Building from top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, taken Sept. 1997
View of downtown St. Louis form the top of the Gateway Arch in Sept. 1997
View of downtown St. Louis from the top of the Gateway Arch in Sept. 1997

Much of St. Louis has changed over the last 16 years.  It is interesting that the photos above were taken on Sept 14, 1997.  Our visit this time was on Sept 13, 2013, almost exactly 16 years later.

My children under the Arch on Sept. 14, 1997
My children under the Gateway Arch on Sept. 14, 1997 (L-R Marissa -16, Barbara G – French Exchange Student -17, Amaree -17, Seth-10, Solomon-8)

Our visit this time was on a beautiful sunny day with a few clouds. I got a few shots of the arch closeup and then we were on our way across the Mississippi River.

Gateway Arch in the clouds
Gateway Arch in the clouds
Gateway Arch - St. Louis
Gateway Arch – St. Louis
Side shot of Gateway Arch in St. Louis
Side shot of Gateway Arch in St. Louis

From the Arch parking we lot we headed down the river and took a drive around the arch to get us back on to Memorial Drive heading north.  We then took the Eads Bridge across the river.

Lewis and Clark wave to us from the River as we passed by
Lewis and Clark wave to us from the River as we passed by
Martin Luther King Bridge in St. Louis
Martin Luther King Bridge in St. Louis

We figured there has to be a park on the other side of the river that would give us a view.  So, after crossing the Eads Bridge it put us onto Riverpark Dr. in East St. Louis, Illinois. We followed Riverpark Dr. to S. Main St. and took a right. We followed Main to W. Trendley Avenue and took a right.  This took us right into Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park, which offered us a spectacular view of the Gateway Arch and St. Louis.  Though we got to see the Arch, we were not there at the right time to see the Gateway Geyser which explodes 8000 gallons of water per minute to a height of 630 feet (the height of the Gateway Arch), which makes it the tallest water fountain in the United States.

Gateway Arch as seen from Malcolm W. Marin Memorial Park in E. St. Louis, IL
Gateway Arch as seen from Malcolm W. Marin Memorial Park in E. St. Louis, IL
Gateway Geyser (photo from illinoisbeautiful.com)
Gateway Geyser (photo from illinoisbeautiful.com)

After a nice visit to the big city to see the big arch, we veered eastward toward Staunton, Illinois to the famous Henry’s Ra66it Ranch on Old Highway 66.

Historic Route 66 in Illinois
Historic Route 66 in Illinois

Henry’s Ra66it Ranch (the 66 is intentional) celebrates Route 66 and the people along the highway with its emporium of highway and trucking memorabilia that includes a collection of Campbell’s Trucklines “Humpin’ to Please” trailers next to a replica of a vintage gas station.

Henry's Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, IL
Henry’s Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, IL
Reminiscent of Cadillac Ranch, Ra66it Ranch has their own buried cars
Reminiscent of Cadillac Ranch, Ra66it Ranch has their own buried cars

I have created a separate post about this here as it is deserving of its own post!  Please check it out. From Staunton we headed east towards Vandalia, Illinois to see the famed “Kaskaskia Fire Breathing Dragon

Corn Fields on Old Route 66 near Staunton, IL
Corn Fields on Old Route 66 near Staunton, IL
Slow Down - Its Pokey Road - near Pochahontas, IL
Slow Down – Its Pokey Road – near Pocahontas, IL
Pochahontas, IL - "Pokey" - Home of Country Singer Gretchen Wilson (Gimme a Hell Ya!)
Pocahontas, IL – “Pokey” – Home of Country Singer Gretchen Wilson (Gimme a Hell Ya!)
Giant Golden Grapes at a Winery in Pocahontas, IL
Giant Copper Grapes at a Copper Dock Winery in Pocahontas, IL

Copper Dock Winery is on Pokey Road and has a 15 foot tall Giant bunch of Copper Grapes, ripe for the picking!!  From Pokey we headed NE on I-70 (along the old National Road) towards Vandalia, about a 30 minute drive.

Vandalia Water Tower with Lincoln on it
Vandalia Water Tower with Lincoln on it

Vandalia is a historical Illinois town.  From 1819 to 1839 it served as the state capital of Illinois. And, early on, it was the terminus for the legendary National Road. The road, also known as the “Road That Built the Nation”, was created in 1806 by legislation signed by President Thomas Jefferson. Sometimes called “The Cumberland Road” and “The Old Pike”, it was the only road completely built with federal funds. Originally winding from Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois, the National Road opened Illinois to settlement. Today, the Illinois National Road stretches 164 miles from Marshall to East St. Louis and is mirrored by U.S. Route 40 and Interstate 70.  Today the National Road stretches 824 miles.

Vandalia State House in Vandalia, IL
Vandalia State House in Vandalia, IL

The Vandalia State House was the fourth Illinois state house (The first (1818-1820) was at Kaskaskia, the state’s first capital. The second (1820-1823), third (1824-1836), and fourth (1836-1839) were at Vandalia.). The present one is the oldest surviving capital building in Illinois.  It is significant because of its association with Abraham Lincoln, who served in the House of Representatives at the time.

Madonna of the Trail Statue in Vandalia, IL
Madonna of the Trail Statue in Vandalia, IL

The “Madonna of the Trail” statues are a series of 12 statues that can be found along the original National Road and now all the way into California.  I have only visited one, but they are now on my “To Do” list as I travel to different destinations. They honor the pioneer heritage of the mothers that traveled across the country.  The following is from Wikipedia’s article on these monuments.

There is one monument in each of the 12 states along the National Old Trails Highway The monuments in order of dedication are:

  1. Springfield, Ohio—July 4, 1928
  2. Wheeling, West Virginia—July 7, 1928
  3. Council Grove, Kansas—September 7, 1928
  4. Lexington, Missouri—September 17, 1928
  5. Lamar, Colorado—September 24, 1928
  6. Albuquerque, New Mexico—September 27, 1928
  7. Springerville, Arizona—September 29, 1928
  8. Vandalia, Illinois—October 26, 1928
  9. Richmond, Indiana—October 28, 1928
  10. Beallsville, Pennsylvania—December 8, 1928
  11. Upland, California—February 1, 1929
  12. Bethesda, Maryland—April 19, 1929

As of 2005, all 12 monuments are still available for public viewing, although several have been relocated short distances due to highway improvements, etc.

Old Liberty Theater in Vandalia
Old Liberty Theater in Vandalia

From downtown we made our way to the…..

Kaskaskia Fire Breathing Dragon
….Kaskaskia Fire Breathing Dragon

One of our trip highlights and, significantly, the last stop on our long 5 day trip, is the huge Kaskaskia Fire Breathing Dragon in Vandalia.  This monster was the brainchild of Kaskaskia Supply owner Walt Barenfanger. This 35 foot long beast is not only a nice piece of metal art, it is also FIRE BREATHING! Yes, go across the street to the Liquor Store or over to the Kaskaskia Hardware store and get a token for One Dollar, stick it into the self-service coin box and this guy’s eyes light up red and he breathes REAL fire for about 10 seconds!!

Kaskaskia Dragon Breathes Fire in Vandalia, IL
Kaskaskia Dragon Breathes Fire in Vandalia, IL
Breathing Fire in Vandalia
Breathing Fire in Vandalia
A closeup of the fire!
A closeup of the fire!

Since 2001 the Dragon has been anchored on the corner of Rock Island Ave and Progress Way, just off of US 40/Veteran’s Avenue. (see complete details at Roadside America).

Sumoflam and Paula Barenfanger, owner of the Kaskaskia Dragon and Kaskaskia Supply
Sumoflam and Paula Barenfanger, owner of the Kaskaskia Dragon and Kaskaskia Supply
Sumoflam and the Fire Breathing Dragon of Kaskaskia in Vandalia, IL
Sumoflam and the Fire Breathing Dragon of Kaskaskia in Vandalia, IL

And thus the five day Midwest Adventure comes to a close as my daughter, three grandchildren and I make our way back to Lexington.  I did get tired, so I thought I would let my little Lyla drive the rest of the way home.  What a great trip this was!!

Lyla driving us home
Lyla driving us home

Some roadside assistance provided by our friends at……

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