Sunday, July 20, 2008

Catching Up

This is a short blog to catch up, and hopefully tomorrow I will be able to post a blog for each day that is missing....tonight's hotel doesn't have wireless in the room and last night it was pretty late when we got settled...don't remember the excuses for the other nights....
Thursday we went to Donner Pass....quite a powerful experience to go through the museum and walk around the trails....couldn't help but express the irony of the fact that while walking down the trail to where the Donner Party lived out the winter of 1846 in solitude you can hear all of the cars and trucks zooming down the highway at 75 miles per hour....after we left there we headed to San Francisco....I couldn't talk Donna into walking across the Golden Gate Bridge...but it was still wonderful to drive across and view the Pacific Ocean to the west...we checked in the hotel and caught the bus for Fisherman's Wharf....we took the scenic route for a couple of blocks...and then headed the right direction....of course it had been in the high 90s when we came across California, but by the late afternoon and early evening the breeze that was blowing across the water was down right of course we had to buy a hoodie....I overheard one shopkeeper saying that they sell more coats in July than any other time, because everyone comes to San Fran thinking that it is summer....LOL...Friday morning we dumped our Coney Island water in the Pacific Ocean....and gathered a sample of Pacific ocean water....then we were off to the John Muir woods to see the Coastal Redwoods...these are not the giant Sequoia trees, but they were giant to us!!!! It was so peaceful and made me think of Eden and what that might have been like....We drove into the valley to spend the night....the traffic was glad that I was able to visit...and would love to visit again.....BUT...I would not want to live there and have to put up with that kind of traffic all of the time....Saturday we drove and drove and drove...but it was worth it...we reached the Grand Canyon in time for Donna to see it before rained earlier in the day and was still cloudy...however she was so impressed....more details later....We stayed Saturday night in Flagstaff....We didn't get up quite as early as we thought we might, but that was ok...we had a great morning driving and walking through the "Terrified Forrest" as Donna called the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert......what another grand case of God showing off!!! How beautiful.....we continued to drive across NM....I had some really great Green Chile Blue Corn Enchiladas ..... Yum....don't think that Donna was so impressed with her fajitas....we called it quits at Santa Rosa for the night...hopefully we will arrive in Amarillo tomorrow.....I left out lots of details...
Thanks for reading....we miss everyone....we will be home soon.....Matt will be home Friday....Gordon will be home the 30th....hope Mike has enjoyed the peace and quiet! LOL

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Melody here—Tuesday and Wednesday we drove across Wyoming, Utah and Nevada----lots of rocks and sagebrush….We went through the Flaming Gorge National Park area early Tuesday….then headed into Utah….of course when we arrived at the Great Salt Lake, Donna had to taste some of the water…I don’t think she really believed that it would be salt water…but guess what it is salty….The Great Salt Lake is not a very beautiful piece of water….and the area we walked on was extremely stinky…Donna says that she wishes there could be a camera to capture the smell of things…except I don’t think anyone would want to smell this….we stepped over lots of carcasses of birds…pretty yucky…one of the interesting things about the Lake is the way the salt dries on the sand and it crunches under your feet---like stepping on a beach of corn flakes….then you will reach another part and if you step it will be very wet underneath your feet….so we traveled on….after leaving the lake area…the salt desert stretches for miles and miles and miles…we stopped at one rest area where you could walk out on the salt flat…it was probably over 2 feet thick…it looked like a sheet of ice….there was a man wind sailing on the salt…we were able to take some interesting pictures of him…he even let Donna go for a spin….I think my favorite part of Tuesday and Wednesday were seeing the mountains that were tall enough to still have snow remaining on the tops…we saw some peaks that were over 10,000 feet tall…..the really bad thing about the last couple of days has been the haze…it hasn’t been clear enough to see things until we are really close up….We did stop a little early on Wednesday ---we reached Reno…found a place with an outside pool and actually did a little swimming….nice to relax a little before heading into San Francisco…

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Melody here...Monday morning we set out to meet with Bruce Salzburg, the Attorney General of Wyoming....we wanted to do that because Bud and Temple met with his counter part, Mr. Preston. Mr. Salzburg was very generous with his time...thank you so much! It is such a small world...he went to kindergarten in Stillwater, Oklahoma!! He even remembered his street address and phone # from then.....When we told him what the boys had done while in Cheyenne, he said we should eat lunch at The Plains, IT IS STILL THERE! Although the boys couldn't eat or sleep inside, the newly opened Plains Hotel hosted a luncheon for the boys and Mr. Preston (and others) on the sidewalk outside of the hotel..... We were excited to hear about that! We headed to the library for confirmation about the boys trip....they sent us to the State Archives...they were very helpful...we found two newspaper from September 20, 1911 and one from September 21, 1911...we also were able to copy two photos of the Plains Hotel in March of 1911.....What a great find.....then we were off to eat lunch...we stopped at the Newspaper Office and visited with Kevin....although he was too busy to eat lunch with us...he said that he would pass our information along to the Education reporter Becky...Tonya was one of the secretaries at the newspaper...she was so friendly and energetic...we offered to take her to lunch also, but she had to stay and work....thanks Tonya..... The Plains Hotel is such a grand old hotel...very beautiful and ornate... we arrived in time to eat their lunch buffet and it was absolutely super!!! The brownies we had for dessert were so rich and gooey...We are so glad we decided to eat there.... it was a fantastic choice for us...... we asked to talk to the manager so we could pass along the story of the boys eating on the sidewalk....we talked to Connie....she listened so wonderfully to our story!! She even shared a postcard book about the Plains with us! Thank you so much.....I was disappointed that we didn't know about the Plains in advance or we could have stayed the night there! Oh well, maybe nextg time..... We headed out about 2:15....we felt pretty excited about the day...We left two books in at the public library and one with Mr. Salzburg.....It was super to be back on track of Bud and Temple.....Thanks again for reading....we are having a super time, but look forward to being home soon..... We drove until Green River and spent the night...also managed to get a little laundry done....this is the first time we have had decent wireless....tried to load some pictures yesterday...but they were so slow

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sunday at Mt. Rushmore

Donna: It’s Sunday and we headed toward Mt. Rushmore. Another destination not on the route of Bud and Temple, but we just had to see it while we were this close. Quite a few times yesterday people would make comments pretty close to, “You just walk up, see the faces, that’s all, then you leave. Nothing too great.” How wrong can they get? I am thinking they started walking around on their own and had no idea what they were seeing. Ranger Jason announced he was getting ready to give a walking tour. I was interested in having a guided tour because I heard him say he would explain why these four men were the ones chosen for the monument. I got a lot more than I had planned on. Way cool! We learned about how the idea was developed. How the men were chosen. About the work entailed in carving the monument. Ranger Jason even had some interesting facts to share about all four presidents. Then we were lucky enough to have him a little later to show us some of the tools used by the workers as well as a more detailed description of their job description. It seems every job was specializing. I was very surprised when learning that not one person was killed on the job.
We were driving toward Ft. Laramie when we were able to see the unfinished Crazy Horse monument. It will be even bigger than Mt. Rushmore. One fellow traveler who had visited Crazy Horse said that the face of one president on Mt. Rushmore would be the same height as the hair on Crazy Horse. I do plan to go back someday. We then headed to Ft. Laramie. I think about half the structures were ruins from the old fort. They had glass doors with locks so you couldn’t really get too close to the rooms that had a lot of artifacts in them. We’re planning on staying in Cheyenne, Wyoming tonight and look forward to meeting the attorney general and doing some more newspaper research tomorrow.

Melody here…Gutzon Borglum…another man who had a passion….but is not a name that is recognized in the households across America---but I hope to do my part to change that fact for the students of Yale…Borglum is the sculptor who had the vision to create the President’s faces on the side of Mt. Rushmore….A native of South Dakota wanted Borglum to carve the legends of the old west into the hills of South Dakota…but Borglum convinced him to carve the Presidents instead….he was a first generation American and had a deep love of his country…. What a great visionary…. Standing in front of the carved faces was another opportunity to marvel at the talent and vision of people across America….what talent to take the side of the mountain and turn it into the likeness of four of the greatest Presidents of our nation….It was amazing to hear that the men had to climb over 700 stairs to get to the top of the mountain….then they were able to clock in!!
Listening to the ranger talk about why these men were chosen, reinforced my desire to teach our students about these and other great men and their inspiring character traits….
Mt. Rushmore was my favorite part of today….we traveled through the open country of Wyoming…it is beautiful…stopped at Fort Laramie…lots of history….the Bedlam house is the oldest standing building in Wyoming (1848 or 9) –then headed to Cheyenne….
Another full day of seeing beautiful flora and fauna…I am amazed at all the deer and antelope we see….
Hope you are having a great day Matt……Everyone, thanks for reading….we hope that you all enjoy the little snippets we put on here….Look forward to being home and sharing all of the stories in person….consider yourself warned!!!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Saturday--July 12

Donna: Saturday the 12th of July. Our first order of business was to stop at the 1800 Town. Not just a description. It really is the name of the town. We ate breakfast in an old train car. Original carpet, paint and tile. Pancakes, biscuits and gravy. Yum! I met some fellow travelers. Would you believe they were from Oklahoma? One was from OKC. A couple from Oilton. Then…one couple lives less than a mile from me! They even know some of my neighbors! We continued on and entered the Badlands National Park. A great geological sight. Various colors, sizes and shapes. At one point we actually got to climb around on some of the rocks. Did you ever notice it’s much easier to climb up than it is to come back down? The rocks we were climbing on seemed more like compacted dirt. I couldn’t imagine any serious rock climbing as I wouldn’t trust it to hold my weight. At many points (and we did stop at many) you could see off into the vast horizon. It was a sight to see in the middle of the afternoon. I think it would be absolutely gorgeous to see at sunrise or sunset. This was not on the path of Bud and Temple. I am sure they would have been amazed. I can’t imagine travel through the Badlands being easy for horseback riders.
We then decided to head to Deadwood. A stopping point for the night before heading for Mt. Rushmore the next morning. For a small town, it had lots of people. Lots of families and lots of motorcyclists. We were able to witness a gunfight in the middle of the street. Then, a little later, the shooting of Wild Bill Hickok took place in the #10 Saloon Museum. I got to personally meet Jack McCall, the man who shot Wild Bill! Melody was able to get Jack and Wild Bill’s autograph. Guess what! We met another Oklahoman from Bartlesville!
Melody here. I think my favorite part of Saturday was seeing another one of God’s beautiful creations. The Badlands almost looked like sand sculptures of giant proportions that have been weathered and eroded and neglected over time. If you look at them long enough you start to see many different shapes and images in the rocks. Another way to describe the Badlands is sand art on an enormous scale with all of the different colors. I think my favorite part of the badlands was the area where the stone and paleosols (are you impressed Mike? ) were yellow and pink along with the other colors, but the yellow and pink were very vivid, making a vibrant picture against the gray and brown rocky surroundings—like a giant paintbrush had been dripped across the rocks…. The brochure at the badlands says you can make the loop in 50 minutes. Yeah, right!
I enjoyed talking to Wild Bill Hickok and Jack McCall in Deadwood. It’s a pretty interesting little town with a lot of “wild” history. Tomorrow it is on to Mt. Rushmore!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Please forgive us....

We have a correction to make---the Community Restaurant we enjoyed so much was in Cortland, NY--not Geneva---I would like to thank the person that emailed us to let us know we had gotten it wrong....please forgive us....we are a little bleary from all the time in the car...but we do remember the great food......

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Driving Driving Driving (Friday)

Driving, Driving, Driving, keep that car a driving….Rawhide! 17 hours of driving. Sounds boring, right? Wrong. We got to see some sights. We even stopped to see the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth Minnesota. We left Michigan, into Indiana….. We crossed into central time zone…. on to Illinois for the toll roads and the Chicago traffic. ARRGG!!! That felt like 16 hours of the driving…… All the way across Wisconsin….then Minnesota…. and into South Dakota…… After a couple of false starts, we were to find the best treat we had had in a long time. ….The Siding 36 Motel….. What a respite for weary travelers! It was the best place we have stayed the whole trip, except maybe our NYC hotel. The motel had been completely remodeled in 2008 giving it a feeling more like a home than a hotel. I definitely felt rested upon rising in the a.m. …almost as good as staying at the Kliewers…they even had cool lamps…I think that is what made me this of her house…that and the cool colors on the walls…. This would be the perfect place for my guys to stay and go pheasant hunting! We hear that is really popular around that area….
Donna: It’s a good thing Melody’s driving! We got an early start, hoping to make up time and get miles out of our way to get started on our next stop. I started the morning by promptly falling asleep. Hee! The only pit stop allowance we gave ourselves was the Jolly Green Giant. 60 feet tall! We also met Jonathan and Zach. We now know that the state of Iowa will have access to “Bud and Me”. I agree with Melody about how wonderful the Siding 36 Motel was. It’s off the road a bit. A hidden treasure! My original thought when we were trying to find it was that it would be another “Bates Motel” adventure. It was a far cry from that!
Melody: I think my favorite part of the day was giving the book to the two boys and the owner of the Siding 36 motel. It is such a joy to see the excitement in people’s eyes when they are told the story of Bud and Temple. At first, the look is of skepticism, but turns to amazement and joy as we continue telling the story. We did not even realize what a treat our rooms would be when we told the owners we would leave a copy for them in the morning, but I am so thankful that we did. Rhonda assured me she would read the story and then share it with her grandchildren. How fun to know that many other people have the chance to be impacted by this story of courage and integrity! And although today takes us out of Bud and Temple’s path, I think it is pretty important to see Mt. Rushmore and the tribute in stone to four great men, two of whom the boys admired greatly.

Niagara Falls

Thursday we awoke with fresh legs ready to seek out Niagara Falls and all its beauty. What an exhilarating experience that has to be experienced in person to reap the full benefit of the Falls’ magnificence! Pictures and words do not capture the feelings experienced while standing in the Falls’ presence. The first thing we did was ride the Maid of the Mist boat, which actually brings you within 30 feet of the Horseshoes Falls on the Canada side. You might wonder why it is called “Maid of the Mist”. There is a mist that rises from the water after it plunges the hundreds of feet to the rocks below. Also there is an Indian legend that we need to look up about the history of that name. We thought we looked pretty fetching in our pretty blue raincoats they gave us to wear! Yes, we needed them, because the mist is pretty heavy. Abraham Lincoln said he wondered where all the water came from and when Donna saw the quote she said she thought the same thing. Donna was also amazed by all of the seagulls and as you view our pictures you will notice that she is pretty enthralled by birds we see along the way. The ride on the Maid of the Mist lasted 30 minutes, but is a very powerful 30 minutes of being so close to the falls. The view from the observation tower is wonderful as you are leaving. Just when you think it couldn’t get any better, we headed to the next exciting part called Cave of the Wind. The Cave of the Wind was behind the Bridal Veil waterfall. When you are viewing Niagara Falls the Bridal Veil looks pretty delicate (and small) compared to the American Falls and Horseshoe Falls when, in reality, if Bridal Veil Falls stood alone, it would be a very tremendous Falls in its own right. Guests can no longer go to the cave because of a rock slide, but you can climb to the Hurricane Deck and let the water and wind of the Bridal Veil Falls tumble and pound over you. Cave of the Wind not only provides you a slicker, this one yellow, but they also provide you flip flops because if you walk to the Hurricane Deck, you cannot leave without being entirely soaked. Definitely an adrenaline rush! Super fun! What an amazing experience….Prior to Niagara Falls almost everything we set out to see had been man-made, and we have viewed some super, tremendous, wonderful things that definitely amaze and astonish you, but nothing has been like this. It is like God showing off. “What you can do…I do better.” I am so thankful for the blessing to see this wonderful creation! I definitely would like to take my family back. We rode the trolley around and saw the Niagara River and the rapids…….. heard the story of the 63 year old teacher that survived the ride over the falls in a barrel in the year 1901. All too soon it was time for us to go……..away we drove to Pennsylvania with blinders on, saying “no, we can’t stop! We are already behind”, ……..barely getting a glimpse of Lake Erie, but Donna did manage one picture. Then on to Indiana …and a slight detour up into Coldwater, Michigan. Again, not bad for one day…Canada, New York, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan. Whew!! Lots of fun….
Donna’s Additions: Our time at Niagara Falls. What an incredible experience! I can’t believe we were actually able to get so close to the falls! We got so close in the Maid of the mist that I found myself thinking about stories such as the Titanic… When we got really close, the falls came down around you on three sides (probably why they call it Horseshoe Falls, huh?) This made the water we were riding in pretty choppy. I found myself wondering what would happen if the boat lost power. Would we get sucked into the falls or pushed away or just spin in circles forever? The mist caused by the falls made me think of an avalanche of snow. All you could see was white. Several times when we were able to get really close, it seemed like the falls should rush towards us, but they have their own path to take. You can’t imagine how many seagulls were flying around and perching on the hillside. It said that one winter they counted 40,000.00 of them. That doesn’t even include some of the other birds there! Cave of the Winds was really exciting also. The Hurricane Deck was the best. The falls were actually coming down on us! I was sure I would have been able to wring my eyelashes out! I figured this was a good thing to do. It would keep me away from the river by the rapids that led to the falls so I could touch it. Would you believe fate gave me the opportunity to get next to the river anyway and stick my hand in? I promised a friend that I would not try any white water rafting, but I didn’t say anything about feeling the water. Of course, it was in a safe place, a little nook. Something everybody needs to experience. The whole experience gave us such a rush. We were still feeling it long after we left the falls! But, just for the record, I don’t plan on trying to ride over the falls in a barrel on my 63rd birthday!
Melody says, before we went to Maid of the Mist or Cave of the Wind we just stood and watched the rainbow over the falls. I don’t think I’ve seen a more beautiful sight breathtaking sight that seems to engage all of senses….the roar of the falls…the shimmering rainbow in the fine white mist floating down to coat arms and other exposed skin…. Super powerful! We were thankful we arrived early enough in the morning to catch the right angle for the sun to catch the rainbow. As I stood there, rode the boat, and climbed the stairs to the cave of the winds, I tried to imagine I was 6 and 10 years old from landlocked Oklahoma and tried to think how Bud and Temple would have felt when they viewed this sight. I have seen pictures, movies and other water falls in person and yet I cannot find adequate words to express the magnificence…and although they do not say much about it in their book, I have to think Bud and Temple were pretty astonished and amazed by the beauty of God’s creation here, as well as I am.

Tuesday and Wednesday

Tuesday was a pretty amazing day that we did three loads of laundry and were on the road by noon after such a long night! What fun we had in NYC…it just went by too fast…. We headed up from Maryland to PA and NY. Although we didn’t stop there, ( because it was out of the way) we gathered some information about the community of Jim Thorpe PA…. Pretty amazing that a community would change its name to someone who hadn’t visited the town. We think there is a story there…..We pressed pretty hard, but did manage to take several pictures of rocks just for Mike. J We finally stopped for dinner in a little community called Geneva,NY and ate at the Community Restaurant. .. a definite thumbs up…It was a Greek restaurant that opened in the 1920s… current owners are only the second family to run the business. Wonderful food in a charming atmosphere! Then we pressed on . …. We did see one of the Finger Lakes in the “twilight”. We ended up staying south of Rochester NY and decided to get a better view of Lake Ontario the next morning…..Good to stop for the night….

Wow! We had a real breakfast of sausage, eggs, waffles… Wednesday morning we headed toward Niagara Falls with the best intentions of viewing the falls and heading on. However, we were distracted…..Imagine that!!! We drove along the coastline of Lake Ontario for about 75 miles. It was so picturesque….. If you didn’t know better you would think it was the ocean because of the vastness. Once again it was a hazy day and you couldn’t see for far….seems that we have had lots of those…We traveled along…stopping to take pictures and prowl around…. we came to Old Fort Niagara and made a pit stop. (not a quick one!) Donna says…..What a great place to visit. The Fort has a long history of participation in many wars. (was the British outpost in the Revolutionary war) There were very few places we were not allowed to go and very few things we could not touch. How’s that for exciting? We also got to see people in period costumes. The cook was preparing cabbage soup in the fireplace. She showed us what the bread would look like, as well as the peas and salt pork. We also learned this is where the nursery rhyme “Peas porridge hot…” came from--- the protest of the bad military food…LOL We also learned about the origin of Humpty dumpty. It seems many of our nursery rhymes have political backgrounds. There were also some games to learn the soldiers played. We were also shown the different parts of the musket and got to hear one fired. (similar to the ones used during Black Powder Deer Season) Oh, how I wish we could have taken a picture of the sound. (very loud---even though we were expecting it! Ha) We spent a lot longer there than was anticipated, but it was well worth the time. After leaving Fort Niagara we headed to Niagara Falls. We didn’t actually view the falls on Wednesday, but did visit the state park and received our tickets. We toured the visitor center, learning about the history of the falls. We were tired and needed to get a room as well as get a bite to eat. We would get a fresh start on Thursday. Our busy and hectic time in Washington, D.C. and New York must have eventually caught up to us.
Thanks for reading.....Miss you Mike, Matt and Gordon....

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sagamore Hill

Monday, July 7---Sagamore Hill---Teddy Roosevelt’s home…the first Summer White House! Another treat was in store for us today….we rode the Long Island Rail Road out to Oyster Bay!! We had a brisk 14 block walk with tons of people on the sidewalk—selling everything…After much discussion with the train people, we decided that Oyster Bay stop would be the best stop for us…glad we didn’t listen to the first ticket agent…we would still be walking! LOL…It was a long ride out to Oyster Bay…over an hour…much different than the other subway rides we had taken to this point…also, at times the train really seemed to creep along…finally we made it to Oyster Bay….again unlike the other places we had been, this place was not well marked, so after some directions from the guys who worked for the train, we found the town hall---that was about 3 blocks—the nice security guard told us Sagamore Hill was about a mile or mile and ½ down the road…very helpful and friendly…he said that there was a taxi service we could use or we could walk…well, since we’re so great at walking after our days in DC and NYC we thought…”what’s a mile and a half” -- maybe we will get a taxi on the way back…Oyster Bay is a wonderfully preserved town of historic homes and businesses…a pleasant surprise waited about 8 blocks into our walk…the Oyster Bay Public Library…so we decided to stop—thinking that the home wouldn’t be much further---they have a great collection of Teddy Roosevelt articles in the TR room, and we were even allowed upstairs to view the TR book collection…what a great treat…thank you very much! We didn’t stay long because our goal was Sagamore Hill—this is where Teddy went after the “Parade” of 1910 was over….his home….Well, let me tell you that Sagamore Hill is not 1 and ½ miles from the town hall….it is about 4 miles….we were hot and sweaty, not to mention stinky and kind of (really) cranky, when we arrived! But our spirits were soon lifted by the staff of Sagamore Hill—first Thomas, in the gift shop, arranged our tour, and when we told him why we were so interested in getting to Sagamore Hill, and the drama of getting there (he is the one who said it was really 4 miles), he said he thought that the curator of the museum would like to talk to us---so we were off to see Amy—she was thrilled to hear the story of Bud and Temple! And we were thrilled because someone from the east new and believed the story of the wolf hunt! Amy gave us water and even volunteered to drive us into town so that we wouldn’t have to walk the four miles again! How sweet…we so appreciate your time and willingness to talk to us. Thank you for letting us interrupt your day! Richard gave us the tour of the home—what a splendid job you did of entertaining and informing us during the tour…We will be taking you up on your offer of receiving items for classroom use! Mr. and Mrs. John Reilly from Connecticut heard our story about our “hike” and volunteered to let us share their cab back into town! (Actually it ended up being their treat!) Thank you so much…I enjoyed meeting both of you and hearing stories about your teaching experiences, Mrs. Reilly…I hope that you enjoy your sailing and have a safe journey to Block Island later this summer…maybe you will run into Gordon!
It was hard to believe that our time in NYC was over….a final train ride..a quick bite to eat….a 14 block walk to the hotel to pick up the luggage….an 8 block walk to the bus station (and one last trip to the souvenir shop) and a four hour bus ride….and we were back in DC….then a 4 (giant) block walk to the Union Station to get the car….and more map reading to navigate DC and out of the city…. Not bad for one day!!!

Statue of Liberty

Sunday, July 6---we awoke after some much needed rest and “hailed” a taxi and away we sped (pun intended--)for Battery Park and the Statue of Liberty….we thought we were getting a pretty early start, but there was already a huge line of people, or a crowd, as Donna calls them, lined up to take the ferry across to Liberty Island! We had to wait for a couple of ferries to make their way, but it didn’t take too long…the crew “encouraged” rapid movements to get as many people as possible on the ferry at a time…and let’s just say that they were the closest we came to seeing a really rude person! Another crewman assured one of the young people waiting in line that it was all part of the rhetoric! LOL But, on a serious note, I wonder how the immigrants of the early part of America felt as they boarded and disembarked on the ships sailing to our country…were the seamen friendly to them? Finally, it was our turn to board, and we set out in a pretty brisk pace for the island…unlike the leisurely cruise to Mt. Vernon….CROWDS, CROWDS, CROWDS…part of it due to the 4th weekend, but I am thinking that it is always busy!! I have seen the Statue of Liberty hundreds of times in movies and in pictures, but gazing up in person was definitely worth all of the security measures we had to go through to get the up-close and personal view….after the normal security to board the boat, there was additional security if you wanted to climb to the observation deck in the base….part of the security involved blowing air all over your body while you were in a booth…very almost tickled…while we were waiting to enter this part of security Donna spied some other ladies with Fund For Teachers bags!! We caught up with them on the ferry ride from Ellis Island. Rachel and her friends from the Houston, Texas area were very friendly…hope you are learning a lot at your conference in Connecticut…Back to Lady Liberty….while I knew intellectually how tall the statue was going to be, it was even more imposing than I imagined…a great experience that every American should have a least once in his up close view of Lady Liberty (climbing the 157 stairs up to the base and the 157 stairs down---completely worth it!)
You might think that was the end of our day, but we were only halfway finished…we caught the subway for Coney Island to pickup our Atlantic Ocean water to carry to the Pacific....we were a lot more comfortable buying our Metro card than just a week earlier in DC…we were old hat at it now!!! We ate a hot dog at the Nathan’s Hot Dogs, where the World Champion Eating Hot Dog Contest is held every July 4th…don’t think we will be victorious because we just had one each! But they were great with the sauerkraut on top! After that we strolled the boardwalk and collected some water. As we made our way to the subway, we were able to talk to several mounted patrolmen in the area…they were great…surprised we had ridded 80 miles…I don’t think Little John would do very good at that job…there were lots of noises from the boardwalk…one of the horses was pretty skittish as we talked to the patrolman…he said that he is always on horseback, but usually not in Coney Island…After a quick stop at the hotel, we went to do a little window shopping…I loved going into M&M world…we even had the test to see what color of M&M was best for us…mine was light purple and Donna’s was maroon….After shopping we called it a night!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Emails lost in Cyberspace

We have sent lots of people emails that may be floating around in cyberspace.....Sorry if that is you....Matt...have sent you an email almost everyday....sorry if you haven't received them....We are in Niagara Falls today...will update the rest of the NYC trip and Niagara tonight.....Spent this am (july 9) traveling the banks of Lake Ontario and touring Old Fort Niagara! Super fun...we are looking at lots of cool rock formations.....Mike should be proud of us...we are even documenting where we find them or take pictures of them...Donna especially liked Fort Niagara...she got to touch stuff there!!!!
More later.....thinking and praying for all who are at Falls Creek this week!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

NYC--we survived

Melody again---
we survived NYC without getting lost! When we arrived at the Port Authority Bus Station we headed north to our hotel--it was just 6 blocks...and they know how to do blocks in wasn't the 1 mile blocks like in Washington DC! LOL...we stored our luggage at our hotel, and then we were off...we walked around time square---really pretty mesmerized by all of the lights and attractions....if we were overwhelmed by Washington---you can imagine the feeling in NYC--the buildings were MUCH TALLER---and there were so many more people....i thought all of the people trying to sell the bus tours and broadway tickets were very annoying...they didn't want to take no for an answer---everywhere you looked there was something to buy----and yes, we did buy some of the 6 for $10 T-shirts-- it was very hazy and cloudy--when we arrived at the Empire State Building--the wait was over an hour and because of the clouds they said zero visibility...we decided the $40 dollars that we would have to spend to see nothing would not be worth it! so we headed back toward the theater where we would watch the Phantom of the started raining...I am the gifted one in the group and bought a rain poncho---donna said she didn't need one....because it wasn't raining very hard....Well, by the time we walked all the way back, I think she was soaking...we tried to eat at a couple of different places along the way, but didn't have much luck because the lines were so long...but right across from the Majestic theater was a place called John's Pizza ("No Slices" is what it said on their shirts). There was a small wait there, but the hostess thought we would be out in time --- I am so glad we ate there....super pizza --it was made in a brick oven---hand made dough--fresh toppings---super!
The Majestic Theater lives up to the is a grand old theater with very ornate draperies and columns everywhere...a super place for the production! I loved it...I know that Kalli Kliewer would have loved to have been there...I can't say enough good about it...was just a super experience...when it was over and we finally waded through all of the people exiting, we once again traveled several blocks to the hotel....this time to check in! We were exhausted...we had gotten up at 4 o'clock...navigated downtown DC--parked the car---hiked to the bus station--made the four hour bus ride to NYC---walked around and were "whelmed" as Mike says, eaten a real NY pizza, watched a Broadway show...and survived all of the street hawkers...not bad for two country girls huh!! So we were asleep pretty early that was great to rest and get a good nights sleep! More soon...thanks for reading...will try to publish more tonight or tomorrow...

DC --last days

This is Melody--I know that I have lots of catching up to do--- I absolutely loved Washington and NYC--I am ready for some "wide open spaces" or as donna says "Green Acres is the Place to Be" I feel very blessed that I was able to go see many of the places that you see and hear about... I know that I have seen most of the places on TV, but there isn't anything like seeing these things in person. Unlike Donna, I wasn't disappointed in the White House tour...I thought it was fabulous to see all of the rooms they are willing to share with the public...Gov. Frank Keating was super...if I already mentioned our visit with him, I will say it again....he so graciously spent an hour visiting with us, when I know he had other (shall we say more important) things to do....Spending the fourth of july day at Mt. Vernon and seeing the laying of the wreath ceremony at George Washington's grave was very poignant ... I think i captured a pretty good picture of a boy scout laying a carnation on the grave after the ceremony...the view of the Potomoc River is serene and beautiful...Donna assures me that she could wake up to coffee and this view any day... We had birthday cake there...and soldiers and other people in colonial attire were all over the grounds...the new museum that the Reynold's foundation built was wonderful...thanks Gov. Keating for letting us know it was worth the time to go through...Sailing to Mt. Vernon on the "Spirit of Mt. Vernon" was quiet the experience in itself....we met a Kindergarten teacher from California...I talked her ear off all the way there! Imagine that! We did see the helicopter that was carrying President Bush and the other helicopters guarding him while we were cruising...we ate a super meal at the Marina Cantina...I had a soft-shell crab dish that was out of this good....unfortunately if was raining when we headed back on the metro---we did not want to get to the mall with all of the people and be drenched for the we just stayed at the hotel...We could look out over the balcony and see some of the fireworks though... not getting to see the fireworks was one thing that has been disappointing on the trip...but hey, I spent the 4th of July at Mt. Vernon..... not everyone can say that...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

July 5th and catching up!

We've left D.C. for a couple days. What a great experience. Very interesting. Every American should find the time to visit. Just don't do it if I plan to visit it again. There were SO MANY people! We got to visit several of the Smithsonian museums. At the Museum of Natural history we got to go to the research place. That's the first time I've been allowed entry in a place that has double locked doors to get into. I was surprised at the American Art Museum there was no Norman Rockwell. How American can you get?
WE WENT TO THE PUBLIC LIBRARY AND FOUND LOTS OF ARTICLES ABOUT THE BOYS VISITING! There were three newspapers in D.C. when they visited. Can't wait to share with our students some of the comments that were made. Hee Hee!
We also visited Arlington Cemetery and got to see the changing of the guards. It sends a chill down your spine. If you get a chance, look up information about the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Knowing about being one of the guards and the commitment they've made will make even more of a difference if you witness the changing of the guards.
We toured the capital, which I think I already mentioned. We got a tour of the white house. It was mainly just the entry area. I was kind of disappointed I didn't get to see more, like the kitchen or something. Security was pretty high just about everywhere we went. Between that and the crowds, it kind of took some of the essence away. That really applies to visiting Mount Vernon. That's the kind of historical setting you can feel something for. It was hard with about 10 million people around. Think it was because we visited on the 4th of July!?
That's not half our time in D.C., but I think Melody's already covered most of it. I don't think you all want to hear it echoed.
Now that we have the D.C. Metro system figured out, we parked the car for the weekend and caught a Greyhound bus to New York City. We got up at 4:00 to make it in time. We made it with 20 minutes to spare. We've already walked many, many blocks, but at least they aren't all uphill like it was in D.C. The streets are on more of a grid here, too, so it's not as confusing. The blocks are the same size, too. In D.C. a block could have been a normal block or the equivalent of everybody else's 3 or 4 blocks. The streets here are even more crowded! We browsed a while on our way to the Empire State Building. We went inside, but didn't go to the top. WAY crowded. Our Broadway show started at 2:00 and we didn't want to be late. It started to rain. Melody purchased one of those thin rain ponchos you can get at the ballgames. I didn't think it would get to be any more than a mist, so I thought I'd brave it. Guess who's still trying to dry from the inside out? We saw Phantom of the Opera. Super! I went to watch a show several months ago with my sister in OKC and it was terrific. I think I might be getting hooked onto something new. Raise your hand if you want to be a "show buddy" when I get back to Oklahoma. It's about 5:30 now. The current plan is to rest up because we had a late night last night (waiting to see if any fireworks appeared on the horizon) and a way too early morning. An early night means an early morning! Of course, I don't think we've had one day yet go exactly as originally planned. Isn't it great!?
By the way, if anybody sees any of our students, light a fire under them and have them get on the blog. I really want to hear from them!!!!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Washington DC Day 1 and 2

Well, we made it DC....we have figured out the "Metro" (subway, train system) with lots of practice and patience of some friendly Metro workers in Silver Springs Station! Thanks so much....Tuesday was the first day in town...we walked around for a little will notice their is a theme for the the days in Washington...walking...walking...walking...then we took the trolley around DC for about 3 and 1/2 hours...we saw lots of the monuments, embassy row, and the national cathedral...It is such an amazing is overwhelming and so much information ... the city is enormous....very breathtaking...then we went to Sen. Inhofe's office for our tour of the Capitol...we had the best guide...Thanks so much..The art work and the craftmanship of the Capitol is unbelievable...more stuff to put on our list to study....Then we were off to Arlington National Cemetary...we were able to see the changing of the guard...what a moving experience to watch...I did get some good video of the is a powerful experience to observe.... then we were back on the Metro and our 6 block walk home...we stopped for a bite to eat on the way to the room ... it was great...roasted chicken...but I think that we would have eaten was a great day....but long and we were very tired...But ready for the big day on Wed...
We were very early to our meeting with Gov. Keating...glad because I thought it was in one spot and it was in another...but we were just about 3 blocks off...101 NW is different than 101 NE...go figure...glad it wasn't the 900 block...LOL Gov. Keating is a super guy...we visited with him for about one hour...Nancy and every other person we encountered in his office was friendly and gracious to the two teachers from Oklahoma...He told us a great story about one of the books he is working on about Standing Bear...I am anxious to do some reading about this man and read his book when it comes out! Thanks again Gov. Keating for your time...Then we were off for more walking....we went to 3 different Smithsonian Museums today, but we had the best treat of all at the Museum of Natural History! Thank you Linda Gordon for taking us to look at the archived Teddy Roosevelt speciems...We were able to view a Rhino in the museum but most of the other items sent from his African safari are in storage...We appreciate your time and effort so much --- this was another great experience for us. I appreciate Linda Reid from Oklahoma for the contact information...What great blessings Donna and I have had while we are on this trip...We talked to a young from Louisiana who is working for the SI as an intern while we were riding the shuttle to the storage facility--we were able to share Bud and Temple's story with her and hear about her research on fish...another great story....we finished looking at the Museum of Natural History and then headed back .... I got an email from Matt today that said he got a "little" lost! but he had made it back....I understand that feeling....Please remember to pray for him...He is having a great are we...we are off to the white house tomorrow--then to the library to look up Bud and Temple...the 4th we are taking a boat ride to Mt. Vernon...can't wait...Thanks again Gov. Keating...and Linda at SI..... It has been two great days!!!!!!