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May 15 - The next morning I said goodbye to the Colorado River and began to follow the fork of the Gunnison River along US-50. Late morning I stopped at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Yawn. This struck me in a similar way as Bryce Canyon.Yep it’s unique, its pretty, but there just wasn’t anything that sparked my senses. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. I fixed a nice lunch and ate overlooking the gorge I then continued following the Gunnison River most of the way to Monarch Pass 11, 312 feet (the highest elevation of the trip) and the Continental Divide.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Monarch Pass 11, 312 feet (the highest elevation of the trip) and the Continental

Monarch Pass and mountain Sheep along side the road

On the eastern slope I picked up the *Arkansas River which I eventually followed all the way to Wichita, KS on US-50 and US-54. Some where along the eastern slope I saw about a half dozen mountain sheep along the road and before arriving in Pueblo I saw about a dozen antelope.

* FYI – Anyone one growing up in Kansas pronounces the river’s name as the Ar-kan-zes River (like our state). Everyone else in the world calls it the Ar-kan-saw River (like the other state).


May 16 - The day started out okay but by the time I reached the Kansas boarder the wind was brutal! It would have been bad in a normal vehicle but in a Jeep pulling a trailer with a 17’ kayak on top the 35+ mph side winds from the south were horrible! I had to keep a death grip on the steering wheel to keep it from being pulled out of hand. I had followed the Arkansas River from it’s near infancy all the way to Wichita.

About 5:00 that afternoon I called my sister. Me, “Hey Sis, what is the wind like there?” Kathy, “Oh, its really bad.” Me, “I just can’t take it any longer. I’ve gotta stop for the day.” Kathy, “I understand. Where are you?” … I honk my horn. … Kathy, “What was that sound?” Me, “I’m waiting for someone to come to the door.” Kathy, “huh?” Me, “I’m in your driveway.” Kathy, “You brat (or something to that effect).”

Patti, Sis (Kathy), and Mother at Botanica
May 17 – June 1 - I spent this whole wonderful time in the Wichita (Park City, Valley Center area) just doing domestic chores with my sister and mother plus visiting with family. I enjoyed every minute. It was great. It included 3 trips to 81 Speedway (my childhood racetrack), a trip to Marquette, KS to talk to my cousin’s 5th grade class, the Botanica, Sedgwick County Zoo, and the River walk and a night of ducking tornados.

Wichita River Walk
World Treasures Museum

Memorial Day and Tornados in the news

Sedgwick County Zoo

Sedgwick County Zoo & Oscar in his favor place with his head hanging off the edge of the picnic table.

June 2 & 3 - I drove I-35 (the Kansas State Turnpike) all the way to the Kansas City area before hopping on the I-435 bypass, SR-152, SR-169, and arrived at the home of my old junior high and high school buddy’s home, Jack and Rose Lynch. It was a great couple of days just catching up on what’s new, talking about old times, and renewing our friendship.

Jack & Rose Lynch
  Jack and I drove into Fort Leavenworth where virtually all of America’s Generals have studied. It has a beautiful and interesting campus on the banks of the Missouri River.

Jack & Rose Fort OdesaTwo old school buddies

We also stopped at the big Cabela’s outdoor store, Kansas Speedway (beautiful track), Fort Odesa, and tried to go to the Truman Home but it was under security because Kerry was coming through.
... Thanks for a great time!
  June 4 - I left Kansas City going east on US-24 east to the site of the Lexington Civil War battle. Oliver Anderson’s mansion was the site of a 3 day bloody back and forth battle. I took the tour of the home (I was the only person on the tour) lead by a Jamaican lady who had served in the US Armed Forces (interesting).

As we talked about history and genealogy she just about hit the ceiling when I told her I was going to Büdingen, Germany later this year. Büdingen is where she was stationed overseas. She couldn’t believe that anyone in the US had heard of this small town. It was a fun tour and a great talk about Germany.

I continued on US-24 east to SR-23 down to I-70 and finally Sweet Springs. There I met Betsy Stuerke (a.k.a. TCOR [Third Cousin Once Removed]) and when out for a great BBQ dinner in Concordia.

June 5 - Betsy picked me up the next morning and we drove into Boonville via I-70 to pick up Orvis and Sheila Wall (another TCOR). We were all excited to be going to the site of the Wall family farm during the Civil War time period. We all descend from Preston Wall (1800 – 1854). Betsy (Wall) Stuerke descends from Richard, Orvis Wall from Henson Dudley, and I from Harrison (all are brothers and the sons of Preston Wall).
The WALL family farm from the Civil War time period. The Lamine River (on the right) merging into the Missouri River.

The Missouri River and Betsy "Wall" Stuerke (a.k.a. TCOR Third Cousin Once Removed).

Joe Manicapelli the current land owner and a WONDERFUL host. Thanks Joe!
  The land is easily located with the Missouri River being the northern boundary and the Lamine River on the east. Today the land is owned by Joe Manicapelli.    
The Lamine River
  Joe is very interesting guy with a good knowledge of history and he knows a good deal about the land and it’s passed owners (some of which we already knew but much of it was new). Joe was a very gracious and patient host to us strangers. He took us all over the land showing fields, weeds, muddy river banks, and telling us tales and tidbits all along the way. Joe was great!

Joe Manicapelli and Orvis Wall (another TCOR).

Tavern at Arrow Rock, MO

That was a fun and interesting morning we spent with Joe. We drove to Arrow Rock for lunch in an old tavern and later saw the Wall farm that was owned by Richard Wall (son of Preston) which is today owned by Betsy Stuerke (aka TCOR).

My GGG Grandfather, Preston Wall, purchased this land from the widow of the William Ashley.

The Wall family home no longer is standing but it 'probably' was located where I was standing to shoot this photo of the current home. The photo on the right would be the location of the orignial home.
The land deed states that one acre where William Ashley is buried and a right-of-way passage to the river will remain in the position of the Ashley family. He is buried standing upright in a small hill overlooking the Missouri River.

William Ashley 1778- 1838

William Ashley was born in Virginia about 1778. As a young man he moved to Missouri where he became a trader. He later joined the army and fought in the War of 1812. He was elected lieutenant governor of Missouri in 1820. He and Andrew Henry formed the Rocky Mountain Fur Company in 1822.


Ashley's company was the first to depend primarily upon trapping the beaver rather than buying them from Native Americans. May 30, 1823, Ashley and his party of 70 men were attacked by 600 Arikaras. Twelve of Ashley's men were killed and the rest were forced to retreat.

He was later elected to the House of Representatives but was twice defeated for the post of governor of Missouri. William died of pneumonia on 26th March, 1838 and is buried on the property.

June 6 & 7 - Booneville, MO marked the eastern most spot on the trip. It was time to turn the Jeep northwestward and start the return to Seattle. I backtracked on I-70 to US-65, drove north to Chillicothe, turned west on US-36 through St Joseph, MO, Hiawatha, KS, north on US-75 to Nebraska City, and SR-2 into Lincoln, NE.

By the time I arrived in Lincoln, NE Orvis and Shelia had returned from our Wall reunion in Missouri. We visited two nights and a day seeing old family sites, a talking about family history, but my favorite part was the ride in the 1910 Buick. Now that was cool.

Orvis Wall's 1910 Buick

June 8 - I traveled west out of Lincoln on US-34 following the North Platte River and later crossing the South Loup River to Grand Island. I then turned northwest on SR-2 passing the Nebraska National Forest before turning north on US-83 and traveling through the Sand Hills, crossing the middle and north forks of the Loup River, into Murdo, South Dakota, AND the first real rain of the entire trip.

June 9 - Once the rain and gloom arrived it hit in force. It was crappy all day and all night. The next day was more of the same. At times it was so cloudy and/or foggy that I could barely see across a parking lot. I had wanted to see the Badlands National Park this day but just kicked around Wall, SD and Wall Drug Store biding my time and waiting for a break in the weather.
Wall Drug

T-Rex in Wall Drug

Yuck-o weather at Wall, SD
June 10 - The next morning it was as bad as ever. I could hardly see my Jeep from the motel room. It was really yuck-o! Finally about 9:30 the sky started to brighten just a little so I headed into Badlands National Park. It’s well named. I was underwhelmed. This is nothing more than bad soil erosion. It’s not pretty. It’s not interesting. Why in the heck did I stick around to see this? Sorry but I don’t get it. None the less I can check it off, say I’ve been there, and done that.

Badlands National Park

Come on, it was a joke. Gee whiz!

We’re in the middle of no where and they are charging $8 to park?
I got back on I-90 heading west to US-16 and south to Mt Rushmore National Memorial. The weather was great and everything was beautiful but I began it get grumbly. Maybe it was the past few days of rain and gloomy weather but for second time in the same day I was disappointed in a destination. This time it was Mt Rushmore. Well the truth is I liked Mt Rushmore. What I didn’t like was the freaking rip-off on parking by the parks department. I can use my annual park pass for entrance but I had to pay 8 bucks to park. What? This was the only national park, memorial, or other site on the whole trip that charged parking.

Mt Rushmore National Memorial
  By the time I got to the Crazy Horse Memorial I was in no mood to pay for a short stop to take a close-up photo. So I parked on the highway and took a snapshot from there. Grumble, grumble, grumble (I’m getting to be an old codger). Then I turned on the radio and heard “A severe thunderstorm with high winds and golf ball size hail is currently passing through Wall, SD.” Holy moly, I got out of there just in the nick of time. “There is a severe thunderstorm and tornado watch in effect tonight in the Grand Rapids area.”Okay, its time to go. The weather was still bright and sunny as I headed up US-395 (beautiful) through Deadwood and on to Sundance, WY. The weather got gray cloudy, windy, rainy, and crummy but the worst of it was definitely to the east and closer to Rapid City. I’m glad I left.

Crazy Horse Monument
June 11 - The weather wasn’t great but not too bad when I got up and started getting ready to go but after just a few minutes on the road it started turning to gray yucky drizzly glop. Nothing constructive in the way of rain for the local farmers and just totally miserable for seeing Devil’s Tower National Monument. Damn I’m grumpy. Okay, I drove to the damn tower. It was wet. It was gray. It was a lousy view AND no alien spaceships. Okay, I did it so there.
Devil's Tower National Monument
Devil's Tower National Monument and antelope
I’d been tracking the weather in Yellowstone National Park since I was in Wichita. It was lousy then and it was STILL lousy.
  Some of the roads were closed due to snow. All-and-all the weather forecast didn’t sound good. Okay, that’s it. I’ve had it. I’m outta here. I don’t need to travel into more bad weather. Hey, I’m retired and I have 365 days of vacation each year (366 this year). Why go there when the weather isn’t at it’s optimum? There’s always next month or next year. Besides, I think I’m ready to head home. This is enough travel for one trip.
At this point I made the decision to head-for-the-barn.

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

  I traveled on I-90 through Gillette and Sheridan, WY up into Montana and the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Maybe it was just that I didn’t have any big “expectations” but I truly enjoyed this monument (obviously much more than Gen Custer did). It is very well presented and gives a good idea of what happened on that fateful day. There are markers approximately where each man fell. Therefore it is easy to look out over the landscape and see the course of the battle.

June 12 - I woke up in Billings, MT with a rash on my arm that itches like crazy. What the? Did I catch something in the hot tub? This is really nuts. Oh well, I try to put it out of my mind and keep heading westward. I traveled west on I-90 through Missoula, Deer Lodge, and Wallace, ID where I stopped, visited Patti’s Uncle Gregg, and had dinner at the Jameson before heading off to Spokane, WA for the night.

June 13 - The final day was a blast across I-90 back to Seattle. It was a good trip. I’d love to do parts of it again BUT in the end I must confess. I love foreign travel more. NO I don’t love foreign countries more. I love foreign travel more. I like stepping out of my comfort zone and being enveloped by a foreign country, foreign language, different currency, foods, animals, and customs. I love America and want to see more (and I will) but the rest of the world is calling me.


Columbia River Gorge



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Revised December 15, 2007