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Monthly Archive for October, 2009

My husband, daughter, son-in-law, grandson, and I spent a four day weekend in Wyoming and South Dakota in 2009.  Before we went, we watched “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” since DevilsTower figures so prominently in the movie.  Devils Tower, Wyoming, is 1237 feet tall and was designated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 as the first national monument.  My son-in-law thought that DevilsTower was made up for the movie so he was thrilled to learn a few years ago that it is real.  There is a nice 1.3 mile trail around the monument.  While we walked it, we were able to see a number of climbers working their way up or down the Tower—it looked scary to me!  The ranger said that I would be able to climb it; women are good climbers because their legs are stronger than men’s in relation to their body weight and they follow directions.  For inexperienced climbers, there is a 2 day orientation, instruction, and practice, and then they are led in the climb by a ranger.  I will leave that for younger climbers.

We drove on to Deadwood, South Dakota, where Wild Bill Hickok was shot and killed while playing poker.  He was playing five card stud and held a pair of aces and a pair of eights, known today as “dead man’s hand.”  There are frequent reenactments of the shooting and the apprehension of his killer which are kind of fun to watch.  We visited Wild Bill’s grave and that of Calamity Jane who is buried next to him.  Deadwood today is a tourist town with many casinos.

The next major site we visited was Mount Rushmore.  There is a wonderful museum and history of the carving of the mountain which was an incredible undertaking.  The faces are over 50 feet tall but they are dwarfed by the mountains around them and don’t look as big as they really are.  There is a nice trail to walk along to obtain different perspectives of the faces.  We enjoyed the visit and watching the people who had come from all over the world to see the monument.

We next visited the Crazy Horse monument which will be even bigger than Mount Rushmore when it is completed.  The carving has been ongoing for over 50 years and there are still many more years left before it is completed.  It is most appropriate that a Native American is commemorated in the Black Hills of South Dakota which belonged to the native people for so many centuries.  We enjoyed visiting the museum and learning about the people who did and are doing the carving.  Incredibly, this monument is funded by private funds.

On the way home, we drove through CusterState Park in South Dakota which is home to about 1500 head of bison.  A number of times, we stopped and took pictures of bison crossing the road.  Most of the cows had calves so the herd will grow.  We also saw many pronghorn antelope, deer, prairie dogs, a marmot, and a coyote and a badger.  We later learned that coyotes and badgers work together to hunt prairie dogs—most interesting to see.

This was a wonderful trip to some parts of America that are truly “larger than life.”

In October of 2009, my husband, Bill, and I, and two friends from Bloomington, IL, took a cruise from New York north to the St. Lawrence River to Quebec City and back.  We were celebrating our 39th wedding anniversary and our friends, Helen and Jim McCalla, were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

We flew to New York and spent a couple of days sightseeing.  We had a tour of the city, went to Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty, and saw “Billy Elliott”, a wonderful play about a young English boy whose father wanted him to take boxing lessons and he wanted to be a dancer.  The music and dancing were marvelous.

We boarded our ship and started sailing.  Our first stop was in Boston where I toured Lexington and Concord and the other three toured Boston.  I learned more about the American Revolution and saw the impressive statue of a Minuteman.  Back on the ship, we set sail for Halifax.  Three of us took a bus tour to Peggy’s Cove, a tiny fishing village with a small lighthouse.  Very picturesque (even in the rain).  After a full day’s sail, we arrived in Quebec City.  The passage down (up?) the St. Lawrence was just beautiful.  The leaves were very colorful and there were scattered houses and churches visible among the trees.

We visited MontmorencyFalls and St. Anne de Beaupre Shrine, a beautiful Catholic Church with wonderful, colorful mosaics throughout the church.  After a tour of Quebec City and a stop in the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac, an impressive hotel on top of a hill, we reboarded the ship and sailed back out to sea and a stop at Charlottetown.  Helen and I took a lovely tour of the countryside, had a delicious lobster lunch, and then went to Green Gables.  The author of Anne of Green Gables lived in Charlottetown.  We visited “Green Gables”, a house in which cousins of her grandparents, a sister and brother, lived.  The house and the people must have been the inspiration for characters in the books.  We also went for a walk in the Haunted Wood.  If you haven’t read Anne of Green Gables, check it out.  It is a cute story and being in the house and woods made the characters come to life.

The next port of call was Sydney, a small town.  We went on a walking tour with a guide dressed in period costume.  We had four stops on our tour; the 1787 Jost House, the 1828 St. Patrick’s Museum, the 1785 Cassit House, and the 1904 Lyceum.  Most guides were in period costume.  (After the Revolution, many loyalists fled to Canada.)  The largest fiddle in the world stands on the waterfront.

After another day at sea, we returned to New York and caught our planes for home.  It was a wonderful trip and a lovely way to celebrate our anniversaries.