Reminiscing: Dignity of Earth and Sky

Prior to our 2019 road trip, I had never been to South Dakota and had zero expectations. I fell in love with the whole state. The crush began when we crossed from Sioux City, Iowa into Sioux Falls, South Dakota and grew with each passing mile. The only planned stops we had for the South Dakota portion of the trip were Mount Rushmore and the Badlands. We also spent time exploring the famous Wall Drug.

One of the first things that appealed to me were the gigantic teepees present at every SD rest area. They make my heart happy.

I had seen photos of the sculpture named Dignity of Earth and Sky. However, I had no idea that it is located in South Dakota until we pulled off at a rest area near Chamberlain and… there it was. Squealing may have been involved. My pictures absolutely do not do it justice, but I’m glad I got to see it in person.

Dignity

Until next time, happy trails! And remember, life isn’t just about the destination, it’s also about the journey and the unexpected finds along the way.

Friday Funnies

That’s a big pile of poop

So, there’s a story behind this picture. I’m sure you’re waiting with bated breath to learn the details.😂 The little wooden deer in the picture is named Dixie. Dixie Deering to be exact. I’ve always loved the wooden deer that make appearances at Christmas so, several years pre-retirement I bought Dixie at our local Home Depot and took her to work. However, she was too cute to put up after the holidays so I kept her in my office year-round and decorated her for various holidays. After retirement I decided that she would become our version of the Roaming Gnome; we’d take her with us on our travels and take pictures of her in various locations. That was a short-lived plan. We did take her on our 2019 road trip but by the time we were able to take another trip in 2021, the thrill was gone and I have now let Dixie go. However, this photo of Dixie with a pile of buffalo poop at Yellowstone is one of my favorites.

Road Trip 2021: Pennsylvania and the Flight 93 Memorial

Even though we had begun the journey home, we still had one planned stop to make – the Flight 93 Memorial. We arrived in Lubek, Maine on 9/11/2021; watching some of the annual documentaries reminded me that the Flight 93 Memorial was in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. There was no way we could be so close and not add it to our itinerary.

On our way north, we traveled through eastern Pennsylvania; I wasn’t a fan.🤷‍♀️ Our journey to the Flight 93 Memorial took us through middle and western Pennsylvania, which I loved. We stayed overnight at Black Moshannon State Park, located in the middle of nowhere. It was absolutely beautiful.

On the way to our campsite

We arrived at the Flight 93 Memorial with our travel trailer in tow. The parking area was smaller than what you might find at other memorials but there was parking for at least 10 RVs/buses. At the time of our visit, masks were still required inside all federal buildings, which included the visitor’s center.

The visitor’s center features a small gift shop (of course) and a walk-through display. The display features a timeline of the attacks on 9/11/2001 along with items found at various locations. One section also features audio clips from various cockpit recordings and voicemail messages, etc. I skipped this section; I’ve heard enough of those heart-breaking clips in the documentaries I watch every year. I moved on to the section that displays some of the items that have been left at the memorial through the years. The one that ripped my heart out was a printed on a standard sheet of printer paper; the text is on the image below.

Created with Canva

This is where I discovered that ugly-crying while wearing a mask is less than ideal. At this point, I got out of line and went in search of Kenn. Once we finished in the visitor’s center, we moved outside. (Note: if you are looking to stamp your national park passport, the stamp is not located in the visitor’s center. There are a variety of stamps located in the visitor’s shelter at the Memorial Plaza.)

Unlike other National Memorials (I’m looking at you, Mount Rushmore) the Flight 93 National Memorial is quiet, peaceful. We chose to walk from the visitor’s center to the memorial plaza; the walking paths were level and the walk was easy, even for Kenn’s bad knees.

On the trail from the visitor’s center
The stone in the center marks the point of impact of the crash

There are marble memorials for each of the 40 passengers and crew aboard Flight 93. This one tugged at my heartstrings the most because it also commemorates Lauren’s unborn child.

The Tower of Voices is located near the entrance to the park and has its own parking area which includes spaces for RVs and buses. The Tower of Voices was dedicated in September 2020 and serves as “a visual and audible reminder of the heroism of the forty passengers and crew of United Flight 93.” The tower stands 93 feet tall and holds 40 wind chimes, one for each of the passengers and crew. The wind wasn’t blowing hard enough to activate the chimes the day of our visit but there are audio clips available online.

There you have it, dear readers. We have now reached the end of our 2021 road trip – with the exception of a few miscellaneous things I may post about later. So, what does 2022 hold for us? We were planning a trip to Utah this autumn but have put it on hold until next year, primarily due to the increased cost of gas. (Filling up Ruby’s 38-gallon gas tank is no joke, even at the best of times.) However, that doesn’t mean that we are just going to sit around the house and do nothing. We will still be traveling, just differently. We will still be going to South Carolina to help out with the twins and taking day trips and visiting attractions/locations in the South. We’re also planning to visit friends and family that we haven’t seen in ages. And you know what? I’m not even mad about the change. I’m actually looking forward to doing something a little more low key.

Until next time, happy trails!

Road Trip 2021: New York State

Prior to our Vermont decision to head home, Kenn had wanted to visit the Adirondack mountains in New York state, which I was fine with. Once we decided to begin the journey home, he changed his mind so, we began plotting our return route – which turned out to be easier said than done. There were very few places to cross over from our location in Vermont into New York state. We saw a ferry location on the map but weren’t sure that it could handle travel trailers so, we headed for southern Vermont planning to cross into New York there. However, in a moment of serendipity, just as we reached the road leading to the ferry another truck towing an even larger travel trailer turned that way. We said “what the heck” and followed them; if travel trailers weren’t allowed, we’d find some way back to civilization.

It turned out the the Charlotte, VT ferry does indeed allow travel trailers which meant we were able to cross Lake Champlain in style and it made the transition into New York state much easier.

Ruby and Serenity ready for their first ferry ride
The rig in front of us that we followed to the ferry
It was cloudy and windy and the water was choppy

I’m not a big city person so New York city is not on my list of places to visit. But, New York state? I’ll go back to eastern New York state any time. It is absolutely beautiful and is one of the many places I have fallen in love with during our travels.

Some of the most beautiful sunsets of our trip were in New York state

Of course we had to pose with the iconic sign.

Kenn
Me, wondering when I got so much junk in my trunk

Next time: Pennsylvania. Until then, stay safe and happy trails!

Road Trip 2021: The White Mountains of New Hampshire

We finished our stay in Millinocket, Maine and journeyed to New Hampshire. Due to his interest in the Appalachian Trail, Kenn has read many books by through-hikers and the White Mountains were on his bucket list. Now, I love the mountains – any mountains; the mountains are where my soul feels most at peace. However, I knew nothing about the White Mountains and wasn’t sure what all of the fuss was about. Y’all. Holy cow. The White Mountains are… breathtaking. Sadly, none of my photos did them justice.

The White Mountains

We planned to spend two days in the area and made reservations at the Lincoln/Woodstock KOA Holiday, which was a fortunate choice; this was hands-down the best campground we stayed at the entire trip. You can read my review HERE. We planned to use the first day to drive the Mount Washington Auto Road, but it rained which meant the road was closed. However, the rain was a good thing in that it forced us to take a down day. We spent the morning doing laundry at the campground. (I was impressed by the laundry facilities; the equipment was commercial-grade and there was a working change machine.😮) Once the rain let up a bit we ventured into Lincoln for food and souvenir shopping. We ate at the Gypsy Cafe, a charming restaurant where both the decor and menu are eclectic. If I lived in the area, I’d eat there at least once a week.

Grilled cheese fondue at the Gypsy Cafe

By the time we ate and completed our souvenir/Christmas shopping, the rain finally let up and the clouds began to clear so we did a little exploring on our way back to the campground. This is when I was able to take my favorite photos from the area. I even made Kenn drop me off on a bridge so I could get a shot that I wanted.😂

The shot from the bridge
Clouds over the mountains

There’s a lot of this beautiful country that we have yet to see, but I would return to the White Mountains in a heartbeat.

Next week, the Mount Washington Auto Road. Until then, take care and happy trails!

Road Trip 2021: Baxter State Park & Mount Katahdin, Maine

When I last blogged about our road trip, we had traveled to Skowhegan, Maine to meet my long-time (40+ years!) pen pal and her husband. You can read about our visit HERE. We then left Skowhegan and journeyed to Millinocket, Maine where we stayed at the Wilderness Edge Campground which was an easy drive from Baxter State Park and Mount Katahdin. (My full review of the campground can be found HERE.)

Site 41 at Wilderness Edge Campground

At this point in our journey, we were still eagerly looking for moose. Wilderness Edge offered “moose tours” but all of their tours were full when we arrived. However, a local lodge offered moose tours via boat; the tours were early morning and early evening to coincide with the times the moose would come out of the woods to drink from the lake. We elected to take the early morning tour so we were on the water at 7am. While no moose were seen, we did see a lot of beautiful scenery. And did I mention that it was cold? The temps would have been fine on shore but once you’re on a boat, speeding over the lake, it feels much colder. Thankfully, the tour hosts provided blankets. By the end of the two-hour trip, I was bundled up in a blanket in addition to my own cold weather gear.

Just before launch
Just after launch

We spent most of the next two days exploring Baxter State Park, home of Mount Katahdin. Kenn has long had a dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail. We have done numerous day hikes on southern parts of the trail and Kenn has done a few section hikes, beginning at Springer Mountain, Georgia, the southern terminus of the AT. Even though aging knees and an aching back seem to have put an end to Kenn’s AT dreams, seeing Mount Katahdin, which marks the northern terminus of the AT was on his bucket list.

Oddly enough, once we were in the park, we never set foot on Mount Katahdin. The first day, the parking lot(s) at the base of the mountain were full so we had to visit a different section of the park. When we returned the next day, rain was threatening and we elected to continue exploring the section of the park that we had visited the day before since we had only seen a small part of it. (Don’t worry; it was Kenn’s choice. This part of the trip was all for him.) We picked a section of the park and drove through it stopping whenever we felt like it. We took a few short hikes and saw a lot of amazing scenery, but still no moose. (Darn moose, LOL.) We even got to see otters playing in one of the lakes! All in all, it was an enjoyable, relaxing couple of days.

It wasn’t prime leaf season, but the leaves were starting to change
Tiny fungi
Baxter State Park selfie

Until next time, happy trails and… take a moment to back up your important files. The SD card in my phone recently failed, taking a lot of my photos with it. Fortunately, I had copied all of my trip photos to Dropbox so they were safe. Phew!