Saturday, October 8, 2011

October 8, 2011


Canopy Tour


Last night while watching TV there was a quick 15 second promo for Arkansas State Parks.  During the promo there was a flash picture of someone on a zip line.  This morning I did a Google search on ‘Arkansas State Parks zip line’.  Got several hits on a place that is not affiliated with the state parks but is near one.  We called to inquire and were able to get a reservation for early afternoon.  So, we altered our plan for the day and headed east instead of south.  Two and a half hour drive on picturesque Ozark back roads and highway brought us to a small city.  Got space in nice RV park and hooked up the carbus to utilities.  Drove the car south on another nice Ozark back road for 25 miles to Ponca, AR.  town is so big you would have to sneeze twice to miss it.  Got driving instructions from tour office and drove six miles to tour location deep in the Ozark hills.

This was a first for us.  We had heard of zip line tours in Costa Rica and Puerto Rico before but not in U.S. 

It was fun.  Guides were great.  Helpful and informative.  Our group had people from Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.  We all had a great afternoon.


All geared up

Hand dug well and digging tools found when setting up Canopy Tour course.  At one time there were 14000 people living in the area (mining, etc.) now there are 400.

One of six zip lines we traveled.


Coming in.

Taking off backwards on this line.


Early Fall in the Ozarks.

Zip line ride from the zippee perspective

Sue zipping

Friday, October 7, 2011

October 7, 2011


Will Rogers, Joplin,

and Sam Walton

Map of trip so far.

After Oklahoma City yesterday we headed north-east and spent the night at an Elks lodge in Claremore, OK.  Claremore is the hometown of Will Rogers.  He was born several miles away but grew up in Claremore. 


This morning we visited the museum dedicated to him and site of his tomb.  Outstanding museum!  We spent an hour there but one could easily spend a whole day.  Oklahoma is proud of him and should be.  He was an amazing man.

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North-east to Joplin.  Object, to see the tornado aftermath.  WOW!  Most of the debris is cleaned up but the wasteland is awesome. 


The empty space is dotted with new construction sites and scattered repairs of homes not totally destroyed.

Many retail establishments in temporary quarters.

One site where no cleanup has begun is the school.  That will be a long time coming.


Above picture is one of four buildings of similar size or larger on the school campus.  This was a LARGE school.  All the buildings look like this.

South to Arkansas.  A few miles into the state is Bentonville.  This is where Sam Walton began the journey that led to the WalMart empire.  His original store is now a visitor center and museum. 

Nice chat with the docents, one of whom was from California, and interesting tour.

South a little more to a golf resort with a RV park attached.  A bit pricey but it has all the amenities.

October 6, 2011

Oklahoma City

One objective only.  Visit the Oklahoma City Memorial.

We toured the site, took pictures and then had a nice, one on one, informative and inspirational chat with one of the NPS Rangers.  He pointed out the many symbolic features of the site and related how the site affects people in many different ways.  Not much I would choose to seek out in Oklahoma City but this is a must do experience.


Reflecting pool looking west.  Pool is located where street was.  Building was to left.


One chair for each person who died.  Building was located in space that is now the grassy area.  Chairs are placed approximate location of people when bomb exploded.  Large group in middle were in building.  Smaller groups on each side and behind are where people outside the building were located.


Tree that survived the blast.  Note building to left.  The black spots are where windows were.  All were blown out of course.  They have been bricked in and painted black. Forgot the symbolism intended.



On the east and west end of the reflecting pool are two gates.  See pool picture above.  The time on the east end (top picture) gate is hard to see in this picture.  It reads “9:01”.  The time on the west gate is “9:03”  The bomb exploded at 9”02.  The east gate represents the time of innocence. The west gate represents the time when Oklahoma City and in fact all of us were changed forever.

October 5, 2011

Ponca City, OK

Layover day.  No driving, just sightseeing.  Ponca City is like a hidden jewel of interesting spots.  Who ever heard of Ponca City?  We hadn’t.  We asked a friend who has a brother in Oklahoma if he might suggest some things to see.  Much of his suggestions were from the Northeast corner of the state – several in Ponca City.

Ponca City is the birth place of Conoco.  There is a huge refinery here.  A brand new museum was completed a couple of years ago.  Very well done.  We spent over an hour there.  some people spend a whole day.  There is that much information.

Next stop the Marland Estate.  E.W. Marland is an amazing story of nothing to boom to bust to boom to nothing to less than nothing.  Marland was the founder of Marland Oil. At one point he owned more than 10% of the worlds oil fields.  He also was a representative from Oklahoma and the states governor.  His personal life was interesting too.  He and his wife took in her niece and nephew when their parents could not care for them.  They then adopted them.  Now it get a bit strange.  Mrs. Marland became ill and subsequently died.  Marland then had his nieces(daughter) adoption reversed and then married her.  During his boom times Marland was a very generous benefactor and built two residences befitting his status.  The first was a 22 room mansion with grounds and gardens that stretched a quarter mile around the mansion.  The mansion had air conditioning (in one room) and the states first indoor pool.  The pool is located below a large veranda that had large glass tiles in it to allow light to the pool.  The mansion is impressive even by todays standards but pales when compared to what came next.  The estate is amazing.  Huge grounds. A 3/4 mile drive leading to the entrance gate lined with statuary.  Out buildings including gate keeper house, stables,an artists studio, chauffeurs house (two story, four bedroom) and six car garage.  A pool shaped like an inverted ‘T’ of Olympic length in both directions.  Small lakes dotting the grounds with boats and a stone boat house.  At the center of all this is a true castle.  Impossible to properly describe.  EVERYTHING in and about the ‘house’ was the best and then some for 1925.  Every room is a work of architectural and creative art and innovation. No cost was spared.  Ceilings painted in gold and platinum or carved in plaster. Intricate carvings in expensive woods.  Paintings and statuary.  Safes in many rooms.  Most were used to ‘store’ liquor (Oklahoma was a dry state and I guess no one would expect booze to be in a safe.  One large safe was used to store their silverware.  Today, one place setting of their silver would be valued at 20,000-30,000 dollars.  They could seat over 50 people at once.  The castle was completed in the mid ‘20s and cost $5.5 million to build.  I have no concept of what that would be in todays dollars.  It is possible to tour the house and grounds on your own using a printed guide and placards stationed throughout.  For the same price a guided tour is offered.  We did that.  Good move.  Two and a half hours seemed like minutes.  Lots of extra information and antidotes and access to special places, some of them hidden. Fun afternoon.


View of house that visitors would first see.



Outline of pool, now filled in






Small portion of carving in ceiling of one room


Part of room dubbed the Art Room because of the numerous paintings.  Note the floor.


Close up of floor.  That is not tile.  The brass grid was placed first and each cell was poured with a special concrete mix and then polished.


Hand painted in place


The panels of this ceiling were painted flat on fabric in a work room in the basement then brought up to be placed.  Perfect fit and match everywhere.


First electric bulb sauna in the state, possibly the country.


The murals on the beams of this ceiling (there are six or seven beams) depict a timeline history of the Native Americans of the area from very early times until the present (time house was built).  The time of the white man is one half of the last beam.


Statue Marland commissioned  and donated to Ponca City.  It stands at entrance of what was 3/4 mile drive to estate.  It is a tribute to the Pioneer Woman.

We also walked the grounds of the Standing Bear Indian Heritage Museum.  This site is dedicated to informing on the heritage of the six tribes that inhabited the area.

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Standing Bear                   Cool light post

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

October 4, 2011

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

But first a stop in Wichita to reminisce. 

This is where we spent our first three years of married life.


Actually, see the three windows at ground level?  That is where we lived – in the finished (mostly) basement.


Entrance to our space was around corner in center of picture.  Fence was not there 45 years ago.


Door to basement apartment. (Behind post)


We knocked on the front door but no one was home.

In the summer, every evening we would walk around the neighborhood.  Evenings are nice in Wichita.  Comfortable temps.  Cicadas buzzing.  Quiet tree lined streets.  Often we would walk six blocks to a special place.  We did it again today.  We parked at the house and walked here:

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It is still there exactly as it was 45 years ago.  The buildings and streets nearby have changed but this little island is just as it has been for five decades.  We each got our small chocolate dipped cone and walked back to the carbus.  Fun.

South, avoiding the toll road, we entered Oklahoma.  We have not spent any time in Oklahoma.  It was always just a place to get through when headed to Texas for training or sightseeing.  The woman at the visitor center related one mans response when asked what brought him to Oklahoma.  His response, “I 35”. The north south freeway that goes right through the middle of the state.

We are in Ponca City in a quiet campground on a pretty lake.  Ponca City has free city WIFI.  Yippee! Tomorrow we will sightsee.


Quick note on the weather.   In the 3+ weeks we have been on the road we have had one afternoon with scattered showers (we had already parked for the day) and a couple days of partly cloudy.  The rest of the time has been sunny and mild.  In Wyoming, South Dakota, and Iowa the nights sometimes were cool – mid 30s but warmed soon in the morning. (made for nice colors)  Things changed when we got to Kansas.  Warm to hot. High 80s to low 90s in the day, mid 50s at night. This is the first week of October. right?  Oklahoma is the same or worse.  Nice outside in the evening weather but the days are hot enough that air conditioned buildings are comfortable.  Definitely no color change here.  We see on the news that California is expecting some rain.  It looks like that same storm is going to move across the country in some fashion.  Oklahoma City TV weather guy predicts possible 1-3 inches of rain in western Oklahoma this weekend.  Perspective:  That is more rain than some parts of that area have had in the last 12 months.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October 3, 2011

Another Day, Another President



Early morning in West-central Missouri.




West through a maze of freeways in Kansas City and into Kansas.

First stop, Brown v. Board of Education Visitor center in Topeka, KS.



The visitor center is in the school that was attended by some of some of the children who were the subjects of the suit.


The National Historic Site commemorates and explains the landmark Supreme Court decision that began the end of segregation. Very well done and informative displays in a neat old school – complete with creaking floors :).

Another hour west to Abilene.  Dwight Eisenhower grew up here.  The Eisenhower Center includes museum, library, chapel/grave, house, and grounds.


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Chapel.               Window in opposite end of chapel.


Graves of President and Mrs.. Eisenhower


Eisenhower home


Statue on grounds.

October 2, 2011

Headed South

This morning was our last time in Iowa for this trip.  We have enjoyed our time there.  Colors are just starting to happen in the foliage.  Won’t be full force for a week or two but still very pretty.  Harvesting of corn and soy beans is just starting in central Iowa area and we got to see some combines in action.  Friendly people and nice, picturesque, little, mid-west towns.  Relaxing just to pass through them.

South out of Iowa and into Missouri.  Crossed the Missouri River (again) and headed for Independence.  Visited the Truman visitor center to see a video and do some browsing.  Then we walked five blocks to the Truman home and went on a tour.  The house is exactly as it was when Mrs. Truman died (President Truman died earlier).  There is no guessing about how things might have looked or what furniture they might have had.  It’s all there and nothing has been moved even.  President Trumans hat and overcoat are even hanging where he put them after his last walk around town.  No pictures allowed inside but here is outside view of house.


After the house tour we walked by the church where they were married and then drove to the Truman museum and library.  We did not tour the museum though it looked quite extensive and well done.  We did view the graves of the Trumans though.


The inscriptions on top of the grave stones list the major events in their lives.

East a bit to another 'camping ‘resort’ aimed mostly at summer visitors.  This one is pretty nice.  Lots of trees. Many activities of all types and for all ages.  Several lakes.  And, miles from the freeway.  This would be a very pleasant summer camp spot for families.