N is for National Parks & Monuments – #atozchallenge

The US National Park System has 417 official units throughout the country including 59 National Parks, 87 National Monuments, 19 National Preserves, 51 National Historic Parks, 78 National Historic Sites, 4 National Battlefield Parks, 9 National Military Parks, 9 National Battlefields, 30 National Memorials and a number of other National sites including National Rivers, National Seashores, National Lakeshores, National Parkways and National Trails.

Bison relax along Lava Creek in Yellowstone while pronghorned antelope look on from the background
Sumoflam and Cannons at Vicksburg National Military Park
Towpath Trail in Cuyahoga Valley NP, Ohio

Officially, the National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.

Some of the scenic and colorful hills of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
A couple of my children at the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln in Kentucky in 1997
Badlands National Park in SD

The NPS is a great blessing to the citizens of this country and all others that may visit.  They have some amazing offerings and a road trip that passes by these is not a worthy roadtrip.  These sites are the gems of our country!

Though I have visited all 50 states in the US, I have not been able to get to many of the sites.  Of the 59 National Parks, for instance, I have only visited 28 of them and some of those were way before my travel blogging and photography days. Of all of the others, I have been to 77 of the nearly 350 sites.  So, I still have a long way to go.

Grand Tetons along US 89 in March 2013
Visiting Shenandoah National Park on Easter Sunday 2017
Gettysburg Address Commemorative Sign, July 1998

That said, I have thoroughly enjoyed my visits to many of the National Parks, Monuments and other NPS sites. My personal favorites are Glacier National Park (Montana), Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming) and Yellowstone National Park (WY) — OK…I love the mountains!!

Following are some photos of some of the other NPS Sites that I have visited over the years.  More are sure to come soon!!  (In fact, just this past weekend — Easter weekend 2017 — I drove the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park and got photos of the Easter Sunrise!!)

Easter Morning Sunrise 2017 in Shenandoah National Park
Grave markers of the US Calvary Soldiers that died at the Battle of Little Big Horn in Little Big Horn National Monument in Montana
Sumoflam at Montezuma Castle National Monument in Arizona in 1983
Visiting the Grand Canyon in 1983
Dinosaur National Monument, Vernal, UT
Family at Sunset Crater National Monument north of Flagstaff in July 1993
The Washington Monument and the US Capitol in Washington DC in 2016
Visiting White Sands, NM in 2013
Visiting Craters of the Moon in Idaho in 2013
Entering Mt. Rainier National Park on WA 410 south of Greenwater, WA
Agate Fossil Bed National Monument in Nebraska
With some family members and a friend at Glacier National Park (May 2005)
Purple Mountain Majesties – Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Mount Olympus and Olympic National Park in Washington as seen from Hwy 104
One of the wild horses on the sand dunes at Assateague National Seashore in Maryland
Visiting the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona with some tourists from the Isle of Man in 1983
Sumoflam at the White House – July 1990
Mt. Rushmore in 2013
Family at the Lincoln Home in Springfield, Illinois, Summer 2001
Visiting Yellowstone National Park in 2014
Family at the George Rogers Clark National Historic Park in Vincennes, Indiana Summer 2001
Capulin Volcano – part of the Capulin National Monument in New Mexico
Some of the kids viewing the massive New River Gorge Bridge in New River Gorge National River, WV in August 1995
Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, NY 1990
Visiting Bandelier National Monument near Los Alamos, New Mexico in 1979. I have always enjoyed visiting old Indian ruins.
Sumoflam at the Everglades in Florida in July 1990
At the St. Louis Arch in Missouri
At Golden Gate Bridge in May 2015
My son Seth at Wupatki National Monument in April 1992

 

 

 

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J is for Joy – #atozchallenge

Traveling this great country brings me joy!  You can see this thru the myriad selfies I take while on the road.

I make it a point to take selfies for posterity sake.   First of all, it proves I was there.  Secondly, it provides a record for my family to see where I’ve been. Lastly…it shows my joy of being on the road!

Jolly Sumoflam! In Jolly, TX

It makes me Jolly.

We all know who is really Nice! Nice, CA

It makes me Nice.

I found Novelty in Ohio

Travel is always a Novelty

Wherever I go I try to Endeavor,

Made it to Hope, AR,

To have Hope

Finding Success in Missouri

And find Success

Sumoflam at Friendship Post Office in Arkansas

Being on the road has helped find Friendship

Meeting a Friendly guy outside the Friendly, WV Post Office

And to be Friendly

Chunky, MS

And perhaps even Chunky

Welcome to Earth, Texas

It has brought me down to Earth

Township of Moon, PA

Zipped me to a Township named Moon

At the Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta 2007

Or by a Starship in Vulcan

And found Prosperity in PA

And to even find Prosperity

Santa Claus, IN

Heck…I even found Santa Claus!

Though I try to be Real Quiet about it,

Sumoflam and Big Fish in Bena, MN

I find that I have some Big Fish stories

Sumoflam at “Fisherman’s Dream” on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota

Maybe even Bigger Fish Stories

Willie the Walleye in Baudette, MN

Indeed, Giant Fish Stories

The Beef House in Covington, Indiana

I have found The Beef

Say “Cheese!” – You’re in Wisconsin!

But also found the cheese

Giant Macaroni in Champaigne, IL

And even a Macaroni to go with it!

Sumoflam with the cow that wears pink glasses

Those big cows are moooving

Salem Sue in New Salem, ND – the World’s Largest Holstein Cow (Yes, that’s Sumoflam under the Udders)

But they can be Udderly huge

Big Bull in Minnesota

And that is certainly no Bull

Giant Pheasant in Gregory SD

I have gotten joy at the feet of a big bird

Giant Sandhill Crane in Steele, SD

And maybe even a bigger bird

Sumoflam at Pheasants on the Prairie on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota

Ok, perhaps even giant birds!

One of my favorite shots…Alligator, MS

I have become a big Alligator

Baby Gator at Gator Chateau in Jennings, LA

But have held a small one

Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, NY 1990

Travel gives me Liberty

Sumoflam with Big Sam Houston towering behind him in Huntsville, TX

And helps me to stand at the foot of giants

The iconic Route 66 roadside attraction known as Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX

I have had many out of car experiences

Sumoflam at Carhenge in Alliance, NE

And I have been surrounded by cars

At Magnolia Market in Waco, TX – Home of the TV Program Fixer Upper

I have learned to be a Fixer Upper

Sumoflam with old Nash at Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa (home of American Pickers)

And an Antique Archaeologist

Voodoo Doughnut in Portland — lost my selfie

I’ve enjoyed some Voodoo doughnuts

Sumoflam at Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, NJ

And other baked goods from coast to coast

Sumoflam at Wonderland Rd. in Upton, KY

And have found the road to Wonderland

The Yellow Brick Road near Dayton, OH

I even found the Yellow Brick Rd.

A street with No Name in Millersburg, OH

A road with No Name

Finding Uncertainty in Uncertain, TX

May lead me to be Uncertain

Corner of This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX

But whether I go This Way or That Way

Okay, Oklahoma in 2012

I’ll always be Okay

Winner Winner..no chicken dinner, just the name of a town in SD

Which makes me a Winner when I travel

Sumoflam at Top of the World on the Beartooth Highway in Wyoming

And that puts me On Top of the World!

Story General Store, Story, IN

This is my Story…

Happy in Happy, KY

…and it makes me a Happy traveler

Stay Awesome folks! #awesomebutgettingbetter

And that is the joy of travel

Enjoy the Ride folks!

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#TBT – Oh the Places I’ve Been: Some Odds and Ends

“You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go!” – Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go

Sumoflam at the White House - July 1990
Sumoflam at the White House – July 1990

As a Throwback Thursday menagerie, I thought I would throw in some of my odds and ends from the past…some going way back and some not so long ago.  I have been blessed to travel so many places and many of my travels happened long before I began writing about them.  So, here they are, a potpourri of places diverse.  ENJOY THE RIDE!

Mt. Fuji, Japan as seen from my airplane seat in 1990 as I flew to Tokyo from Oita.
Mt. Fuji, Japan as seen from my airplane seat in 1990 as I flew to Tokyo from Oita.  Indeed, I soared to high heights!!

“You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.” – Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go

Visiting Bandelier National Monument near Los Alamos, New Mexico in 1979.  I have always enjoyed visiting old Indian ruins.
Visiting Bandelier National Monument near Los Alamos, New Mexico in 1979. I have always enjoyed visiting old Indian ruins.

Most of my early life was spent in the western U.S. and, as such, I got to see deserts, mountains, Indian ruins and more.

Visiting Montezuma Castle National Monument in Cottonwood, AZ in 1983.  I was a tour guide at the time
Visiting Montezuma Castle National Monument in Cottonwood, AZ in 1983. I was a tour guide at the time
Enjoying the splendor of Monument Valley in southern Utah and Northern Arizona around 1983
Enjoying the splendor of Monument Valley in southern Utah and Northern Arizona around 1983
The red rocks near Tuba City, AZ look like someone stacked them.  This was taken in 1983
The red rocks near Tuba City, AZ look like someone stacked them. This was taken in 1983 (and no, I was not really pushing)

Growing a love for antiquities and old things, I had many opportunities to visit old places during my many visits to Japan.  I am especially fond of the awesome castles and amazing old shrines, many of which I have had the opportunity to visit.  Here are a couple.

Himeji Castle in Himeji, Japan...visited in 1987
Himeji Castle in Himeji, Japan…visited in 1987
One of Japan's smallest castles, the Hikone Castle, supposedly has tiles of gold on top.  I visited here in 1990
One of Japan’s smallest castles, the Hikone Castle, supposedly has tiles of gold on top. I visited here in 1990
Perhaps the best "old shrine" in Japan, Nikko has been around for centuries.  This is north of Tokyo.  I visited Nikko in 1990.
Perhaps the best “old shrine” in Japan, Nikko has been around for centuries. This is north of Tokyo. I visited Nikko in 1990.
The colorful pagoda in Nikko
The colorful pagoda in Nikko

While living in Japan, I also visited Kyoto on a couple of occasions.  Kyoto has wonderful old historic shrines and temples, and colorful Geisha…

Hanging with a Geisha in Kyoto, Japan 1987
Hanging with a Geisha in Kyoto, Japan 1987
Visiting the Gold Pavilion "Kinkaku Ji" in Kyoto in 1987
Visiting the Gold Pavilion “Kinkaku Ji” in Kyoto in 1987

Back in the U.S., I have been to both coasts and to the north and south and most points in between.  Here are some of the places I have visited…

In New York City in 1990 before the World Trade Center Twin Towers met their demise
In New York City in 1990 before the World Trade Center Twin Towers met their demise
I was in the US in 1990 for the first cross-country solar car race, called the GM Sunrayce.  During that visit I also made a trip to Washington D.C. and visited the Smithsonian
I was in the US in 1990 for the first cross-country solar car race, called the GM Sunrayce. During that visit I also made a trip to Washington D.C. and visited the Smithsonian
While working on my Masters Degree at Arizona State University, I was afforded the opportunity to represent ASU at West Point and do a paper presentation.  It was a neat experience to visit this amazing institution in 1986
While working on my Masters Degree at Arizona State University, I was afforded the opportunity to represent ASU at West Point and do a paper presentation. It was a neat experience to visit this amazing institution in 1986
Then, there was the visit to Graceland, home of Elvis back a few years ago
Then, there was the visit to Graceland, home of Elvis back a few years ago
And let's not forget Nashville.  I have been there a dozen times since.
And let’s not forget Nashville. I have been there a dozen times since.
I got to visit the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco as part of Antsy McClain's tour team.  Great music hall
I got to visit the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco as part of Antsy McClain’s tour team. Great music hall

I have discovered that the world abounds with natural beauty.  I have been blessed to see this beauty in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Japan, China, the Philippines and other places.

Coal Mine Canyon in Northern Arizona, 1990
Coal Mine Canyon in Northern Arizona, 1990
Island Hopping in the Philippines in 2006
Island Hopping in the Philippines in 2006
Visiting the Matsushima Islands near Sendai, Japan in 1990
Visiting the Matsushima Islands near Sendai, Japan in 1990
Visiting the Matsushima Islands near Sendai, Japan in 1990
Visiting the Matsushima Islands near Sendai, Japan in 1990
On a cruise ship enjoying the splendor of Alaska's beautiful mountains
On a cruise ship enjoying the splendor of Alaska’s beautiful mountains
Sitting on top of the world at Echo Lake near the base of the summit of Mt. Evans near Denver, Colorado
Sitting on top of the world at Echo Lake near the base of the summit of Mt. Evans near Denver, Colorado
Enjoying wintertime at a resort at the base of Mt. Fuji, near Fujinomiya, Japan in 1987
Enjoying wintertime at a resort at the base of Mt. Fuji, near Fujinomiya, Japan in 1987
Down in Japan's version of Mammoth Cave in 1988
Down in Japan’s version of Mammoth Cave in 1988
Enjoying Fall Colors in Algonquin National Park in Ontario, Canada in 2008
Enjoying Fall Colors in Algonquin National Park in Ontario, Canada in 2008
Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Philippines in 2007
Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Philippines in 2007
Visiting the Everglades in Florida in July 1990
Visiting the Everglades in Florida in July 1990

Of course, when taking trips there are always fun things to try.  When in Japan I tried quite a few new adventures.  Perhaps my favorites were taking hot springs baths and going to the Sumo Wrestling events.

Enjoying an outdoor bath in Amagase, Japan.  This was actually part of TV series I was hosting in 1988
Enjoying an outdoor bath in Amagase, Japan. This was actually part of TV series I was hosting in 1988

Beppu is probably the most famous of the hot springs resort towns in Japan.  Located in Oita Prefecture, I had the opportunity to visit often and for different kinds of “baths”

A hot spring shower in Beppu...and yes, the towel was necessary.  1990
A hot spring shower in Beppu…and yes, the towel was necessary. 1990
Relaxing on one of the cozy hot pools in Beppu in 1987.  You are required to be totally disrobed...this is the least revealing photo.
Relaxing on one of the cozy hot pools in Beppu in 1987. You are required to be totally disrobed…this is the least revealing photo.
Then there are the Sand Baths, the Sawdust Baths and more.  I was buried in hot sand and it felt great.  Beppu in 1989
Then there are the Sand Baths, the Sawdust Baths and more. I was buried in hot sand and it felt great. Beppu in 1989

Then there are the Sumos…I got to go to two of their tournaments and see the giant Konishiki wrestle.  I will always be a fan of Sumo wrestling.

Visiting the Fukuoka Sumo Basho in 1991 with my wife.
Visiting the Fukuoka Sumo Basho in 1991 with my wife.
I took this shot of Konishiki from my seat in Fukuoka in 1991.  He made me look small!!
I took this shot of Konishiki from my seat in Fukuoka in 1991. He made me look small!!

Of course, as a history major, I have always had an interest in things historical.  One of my classes at Northern Arizona University was on Japanese literature and we studied Kunikida Doppo, who was considered one of Meiji Japan’s most well traveled writers.   While living in Oita, I was able to visit his studio in Saiki.  Ironically, my professor at NAU, Dr. Atkins, was a Kunikida Doppo expert, so it was a special trip for me.

Visiting the Kunikida Doppo monument in Saiki, Japan
Visiting the Kunikida Doppo monument in Saiki, Japan in 1988
Some of Japan's oldest stone carved Buddhas can be seen at Kumano Magaibutsu park in Oita
Some of Japan’s oldest stone carved Buddhas can be seen at Kumano Magaibutsu park in Oita
The village of Usuki, also in Oita, is home of a famous Buddha statue.  It is also the original landing place of the Dutch when they first arrived in Japan in the 1600s.
The village of Usuki, also in Oita, is home of a famous Buddha statue. It is also the original landing place of the Dutch when they first arrived in Japan in the 1600s. (That is my oldest daughter Amaree popping behind me in the photo)

One cannot study Japanese history without learning about the atrocities of World War II.  The Americans dropped two atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.  I have been able to visit both places.  Ironically, in 1979 I also visited the Los Alamos museum where the bombs were initially built.  So, I have seen both sides of the story.

Nagasaki Peace Park in Sept 1988
Nagasaki Peace Park in Sept 1988
Remains from A-Bomb in Nagasaki in 1988
Remains from A-Bomb in Nagasaki in 1988

And now, for a few other odds and ends, just for fun…

Old Christian Church in Nagasaki 1988
Old Christian Church in Nagasaki 1988
Visiting JFK The Twine Ball man in Lake Nebagamon, WI in 2007
Visiting JFK The Twine Ball man in Lake Nebagamon, WI in 2007
Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, NY 1990
Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, NY 1990
Visiting the shopping area in Carbon, Cebu, Philippines
Visiting the shopping area in Carbon, Cebu, Philippines
Beale Street in Memphis, TN late 1990s
Beale Street in Memphis, TN late 1990s with my high school pal Russ Graves
Photo bear in Gatlinburg, TN
Photo bear in Gatlinburg, TN
Enjoying a visit to the Tulum Ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico
Enjoying a visit to the Tulum Ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico
At Lake Erie on the Ontario, Canada side with sign pointing to Cleveland, OH, my birthplace
At Lake Erie on the Ontario, Canada side with sign pointing to Cleveland, OH, my birthplace
The famed "Spindle" sculpture as seen in the movie Wayne's World.  Apparently, it wasn't worthy.  This was taken in 2007 and in 2008 it was torn down...meh
The famed “Spindle” sculpture as seen in the movie Wayne’s World. Apparently, it wasn’t worthy. This was taken in 2007 and in 2008 it was torn down…meh
Fort San Pedro on Cebu Island in the Philippines
Fort San Pedro on Cebu Island in the Philippines
Giant fish attacking me in Japan in 1976, in Kanazawa
Giant fish attacking me in Japan in 1976, in Kanazawa
Sumoflam and Big Fish in Bena, MN
Sumoflam and Big Fish in Bena, MN
On Glacier Bay in Alaska
On Glacier Bay in Alaska
At the Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta 2007
At the Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta 2007 – with my Canadian pal Crafty Jack
Enjoying the view of the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan Peninsula
Enjoying the view of the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan Peninsula

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