National Monuments

Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills


The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. –Gutzon Borglum









Yesterday we visited Black Hills National Forest and Mt. Rushmore. The drive through the Black Hills was lovely. It was a refreshing change to be surrounded by so many trees.  I have, of course, seen pictures of Mt. Rushmore, but it was quite a thing to see in person. I can’t begin to imagine the amount of skill and ingenuity it took to create such a sculpture! It is really quite amazing!












Categories: National Forests, National Monuments, South Dakota | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Oregon or Bust

Sunday we left Pinedale, WY and made our way to Fort Laramie, WY. It was a beautiful drive with ever-changing terrain. We followed the Oregon Trail, California Trail, Mormon Trail, and Pony Express Route for much of the way. It was amazing to look out at the rolling hills, rugged rocky areas, and arid plains and imagine covered wagons making their way across. The strength and determination of the pioneers is really incredible.

I was so excited to visit Fort Laramie! When I was younger, I spent a lot of time reading stories about pioneers crossing this great country in search of land, money, adventure, religious freedom, or simply a different life. I was particularly engrossed by the stories of women who made the crossing. Their diaries describe astonishing courage, fortitude, and sheer tenacity that I found inspiring as well as impressive. Fort Laramie is a familiar highlight in just about every one of these stories of general struggle and hardship. The joy and relief felt at the site of this fort was a common experience among these adventurers.

Pictures from our visit to Fort Laramie


There were many interesting things to see at Fort Laramie, including the oldest house in Wyoming.  Volunteers, dressed in period costumes, told facts and stories about the history of the fort.  We were even served root beer and sarsaparilla by a gentleman working at the old bar (much had been rebuilt, but we were told the floor was the original.). Thanks to the CCC many buildings had been restored or rebuild. One of the most interesting signs explained the history of education on the fort. There was a school early on in its history (1852), but it was hard to recruit qualified teachers and even harder to keep them. Some teachers would actually get drunk in order to be fired from the position. When a qualified teacher was unavailable, soldiers would be paid an extra 35 cents a day to teach the children. The sign went on to say that “a few soldiers made good teachers, most did not.” One man who grew up on the fort recalled a time when two deserters, in shackles, were forced to teach his class!





















































Pictures from Register Rock









































Register Rock (Register Cliff) is one of the spots along the trail that pioneers carved their names into rock as a lasting sign that they had been there. It is an interesting piece of history, knowing that each of those names has a story. Sadly, there is a lot of vandalism at the site. People, completely lacking in respect for history, sign their name on the wall (sadly, sometimes even writing over the names of the original names.)

Pictures from the Oregon Trail Ruts (including a picture of the North Platte River)-






















Categories: National Monuments, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mount St. Helens and Silver Lake

We have had a wonderful time in Washington! The scenery is amazing and the weather is beautiful.  We have been busy making the most of our time here.

On Monday we headed up to the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

At the Mount St. Helens National Monument

At the Mount St. Helens National Monument

Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens

What is left of the trees that were in the blast zone when the volcano erupted in 1980.

What is left of the trees that were in the blast zone when the volcano erupted in 1980.

Taking in the amazing view

Taking in the amazing view

My favorite mode of transportation ;)

My favorite mode of transportation 😉

Looking at these trees was like looking at an optical illusion.

Looking at these trees was like looking at an optical illusion.

On our way home we stopped at this cute little restaurant with a deck overlooking the Toutle River.  The food was great and the scenery was lovely.


Tuesday we went kayaking in Silver Lake. We had so much fun! Our family has done a lot of canoeing together over the years, but this was the first time we went out kayaking together. The setting for the lake could not have been more picturesque. The view of Mount St. Helens was amazing!


One of our neighbors here at the rv park gave us some firewood. We had our first s’mores of the trip!  Eating toasted marshmallows and looking out over the lake was a great way to end a great day!


Categories: National Monuments, National Parks, Washington | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wyoming and Montana

The very impressive Devils Tower

The very impressive Devils Tower

The upside to taking a couple of extra days to get to Montana is more time for exploring. We spent Tuesday night at Mountain View RV Park in Sundance, WY, which is just 30 minutes from Devils Tower. So, on Wednesday Caleb, Betsy, George and I decided to visit our nation’s first national monument (which is kind of cool in itself).Devils Tower is definitely a majestic and impressive sight!

The downside of not arriving in Montana by Tuesday, is that my husband is having to work all day and then drive at night. (Normally, we’ll only be traveling on weekends.) We drove until about 1 a.m. last night and slept in a Walmart parking lot in Butte, MT. Camping at Walmart feels a bit strange, but there were at least 10 RVs here last night. If you are traveling until late, it really is the best option (most rv park’s won’t let you check-in after 8 or 9 p.m.). We’ll be traveling again this evening and hope to finally arrive at our destination!

George viewing Devils Tower with his great-grandfather's binoculars.

George viewing Devils Tower with his great-grandfather’s binoculars.

Major prairie dog cuteness

Major prairie dog cuteness

Horseback riding in Wyoming (haha)

Horseback riding in Wyoming (haha)

Betsy, Caleb, and George at Devils Tower

...and it's me

…and it’s me

Hello, sweet Montana!  You are a sight for sore eyes!

Hello, sweet Montana! You are a sight for sore eyes!

Categories: boondocking, Montana, National Monuments, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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