2015 – The Year in Review; 2016 – A Glance at the Future

Published: March 17th 2016
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Show Me the Money, Duke!Show Me the Money, Duke!Show Me the Money, Duke!

Superstition Saloon and Restaurant - Tortilla Flat AZ
The 2015 Chapter of The Great Adventure was full of fun, adventure and lots of state capitals. By my definition, a state capital, in most cases, is actually a trilogy – the state capitol, the state history museum and the state Vietnam veterans’ memorial. I began in a city I have visited numerous times but have never taken the time to examine – El Paso TX. I headed to Mission TX, in the southern tip of Texas, to visit some friends that winter there and made a stop in Houston where I found one of the best kept secrets of museumdom – the National Museum of Funeral History and got a space fix at NASA's Johnson Space Center. I continued north through Shreveport LA where I got some Bonnie and Clyde history lessons and onward to Little Rock AR where I visited my first of eleven state capitals. From Little Rock I headed east where I got my first taste of Beale Street in Memphis TN (and, of course, some BBQ) and crossed back into the delta country of Arkansas to visit Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash before heading to Louisville KY to visit with one of my two surviving aunts and to spend three weeks joining in the Kentucky Derby Festival
Saddles for Barstools – Nice Theme StatementSaddles for Barstools – Nice Theme StatementSaddles for Barstools – Nice Theme Statement

Superstition Saloon and Restaurant - Tortilla Flat AZ
activities which included my participation in The Great Steamboat Raceand my observation of some hot air balloon launches.

With the first leg of the Triple Crown in the rear view for me and American Pharoah, I made a week-long stop in Indianapolis where I managed to attend a fiasco that was supposed to be qualifying for the Indy 500, rode around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track in a Corvette for a couple of laps, visited the Benjamin Harrison Home and saw my second state capital. I continued my northerly journey across the state line and into lower Michigan where I set up housekeeping midway between Lansing, the state capital and home to the Gerald R. Ford Library, and Grand Rapids, home to the Gerald R. Ford Museum. I continued on to Traverse City MI where I visited the first of a dozen or so lighthouses and another secret museum of undisclosed magnificence, the Music House Museum in Williamsburg MI. I stopped in Cheboygan MI on the shore of Lake Huron where I visited more lighthouses and got a great lesson about the Great Lakes maritime industry at the Great Lakes Lore Maritime Museum.

Crossing over the Mackinac Bridge into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, I made stops in Marquette MI, where I learned about steel mining and shipping, and in Hancock MI, where I learned about copper mining and shipping, and found a regional culinary delight I hadn’t seen since Butte MT – the pasty. I made a stop in Stevens Point WI so I could visit the state Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial at The Higher Ground and catch my breath before heading to Rockford IL for my sister’s 85th birthday celebration. While in Rockford, I took a side trip to Madison WI to visit the capitol and one of the most awesome ice cream parlors known to mankind – Ella's Deli. From Rockford, I headed west to Des Moines IA to do my fifth capital thingy, to watch some more hot air balloons and to attend my first dirt track, sprint car race and my first NASCAR Xfinity Series race. Heading northward, I made a stop in Minnesota’s Twin Cities but couldn’t visit the capitol due to a closure for renovation and restoration but did do the other capital thingys and did learn a little about America’s Greatest Aviator at the Charles A. Lindbergh House and Park, saw a great collection of early medical electrical devices at The Bakken Museum, got some knowledge about the Upper Mississippi River Valley and visited a couple of friends across the border in west-central Wisconsin.

Travelling west and then south, I began a state capital foray of five capitals in six weeks that included Bismarck ND, Pierre SD, Lincoln NE, Topeka KS and Oklahoma City OK. In addition to the capital thingys, I learned about Native Americans and Lewis and Clark in several of my Great Plains stops and visited the Homestead National Monument of America as well as the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve to round out my Great Plains learning experience. Along the way, I learned about how the Kansas-Nebraska Act intensified the divisions that prompted the beginning of the Civil War and about the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. Although I had taken a drive from Des Moines to visit the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Birthplace, I went ahead and made a stop at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home in Abilene KS to complete Ikeology 101. While looking for a stopover between northeastern Kansas and Oklahoma City, I found two diamonds on the prairie in Wichita KS – the Kansas Underground Salt Museum: Strataca and the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. In Oklahoma City, I was treated to several “off the grid” attractions by my childhood friend, and, although the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta commandeered a good portion of my time in Albuquerque NM, I managed to spent a day
Before 911, The Road Went Over the DamBefore 911, The Road Went Over the DamBefore 911, The Road Went Over the Dam

Apache Trail Historic Road AZ
with another childhood friend. I finished my travels for the year in Flagstaff AZ where the blustery weather found me choosing to forego several attractions that were on my list, but I did find one day nice enough to visit Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Wupatki National Monument.

Until I began compiling this blog, I had lost sight of what a great time I had had and of how many different attractions I had visited. Obviously, I visited lots of local and regional museums, numerous homes of state and local somebodies, examined historic districts and individual landmarks and enjoyed several parks, gardens and walking trails. In addition to getting my penchant for lighthouses, capitals and things Presidential quenched; and, including the memorial in Phoenix I visited before my “vacation” began, I visited 10 state Vietnam veterans’ memorials, several local veterans’ memorials, a dusting of state and local firefighter memorials, a handful of covered bridges and a few carousels. Nope, no waterfalls this summer!

While “home” in Phoenix metro planning for Chapter 2016, my friend, Gary, and I took a couple of scenic drives – From the Desert to Tall Pines Scenic Road and Apache Trail Historic Road – and enjoyed a couple of new eateries I found on the Internet. The Angry Crab Shack is
Midday Was Not So BusyMidday Was Not So BusyMidday Was Not So Busy

Apache Trail Historic Road – Jakes Corner Bar, Jakes Corner AZ
as close to a traditional Louisiana seafood boil as I have found outside The Sportsman's Paradise. I also hooked up with a nephew and his wife, John and Kathy, who had made a one-week winter escape from Illinois and drove to Chino Valley AZ, near Prescott AZ, to visit with my nephew and his family which includes my sixth great, great nephew – my seventh great, great is a niece. My sister is planning a trip to see her newest great grandson but won’t arrive until after I have departed Arizona.

There was a point early in The Great Adventure when I was briefly struck by a notion that I was “homeless” when somebody would ask, “Where’s home?” My reply to that inquiry has evolved from a sentence or two early in The Great Adventure, into, “Wherever I park it this week.” Although I have no permanent “home” of my own, I’m not homeless. The Pilgrim IS home. I have a home, a house if you will. If I need a toothpick, I go get one. If I want a cold drink, I don’t need to walk to a vending machine. There are no suitcases to drag to and
Sing it Toby, “I love this bar, it's my kind of place ...”Sing it Toby, “I love this bar, it's my kind of place ...”Sing it Toby, “I love this bar, it's my kind of place ...”

Apache Trail Historic Road – Jakes Corner Bar, Jakes Corner AZ
from hotel rooms. I now tell folks that, “I have the same house, I just have a different yard every week;” and that if I don’t like the neighbors, I can leave whenever I want! I suppose then, that my “home” might be where I have the same yard for several consecutive months. Most of us have had the emotion during our working lives that going on vacation is nice but, “It sure is good to be home.” Truth be known, most just grow weary of dragging suitcases and eating in restaurants. In that vein, being on vacation in 2015 was nice, and it sure was good to be “home” for a spell; however, the soles of my feet are itching again.

The overall plan for the 2016 Chapter of The Great Adventure finds me making my first stop in Tucson AZ and then stopping in Texas and Louisiana on my way to Florida where I plan to spend Mother’s Day with my aunt. My original plans had me heading north through Atlanta GA and Richmond VA to the “megalopolis” – the New York City, Baltimore and Philadelphia areas - and then to travel to New England to visit
Another Great Locale for a Pontoon BoatAnother Great Locale for a Pontoon BoatAnother Great Locale for a Pontoon Boat

Apache Trail Historic Road AZ
the areas I had omitted in Chapter 2012 before heading westerly through Pennsylvania and Ohio as I watch the leaves provide their annual display. “New information” found me modifying those plans and now have me backtracking a smidgen. I’ll head north through Alabama, catch eastern Tennessee and West Virginia before moving westerly through southern Ohio to visit my aunt in Kentucky. The “new information” dictated I, “Go North, young man,” before the fall foliage to attend the 50th reunion of my high school graduating class. So, following the September class reunion, I’ll take a leisurely course south through the valley of Old Man River and enjoy the fall foliage of Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas before the compass indicator moves to a westerly course through Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico on the way “home” to Apache Junction AZ. Let the trip begin!

Additional photos below
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Quite a Rugged CanyonQuite a Rugged Canyon
Quite a Rugged Canyon

From the Desert to Tall Pines Scenic Road AZ
We Drove Around the Finger for a Look at Roosevelt LakeWe Drove Around the Finger for a Look at Roosevelt Lake
We Drove Around the Finger for a Look at Roosevelt Lake

From the Desert to Tall Pines Scenic Road AZ
Great, Great Uncle Larry with JayceGreat, Great Uncle Larry with Jayce
Great, Great Uncle Larry with Jayce

At My Great, Niece’s Home in Chino Valley AZ

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