Friday, June 25, 2010


South Dakota Badlands

That would be Four Thousand, Two Hundred and Fifty MILES.  That's how many miles we drove, on our Ten Day trip, to the Dakotas.

Chimney Rock National Landmark, Nebraska

We had two of our Austin granddaughters with us.  We told them, when we left, that this was going to be a 'Rock Tour'

There were many other big rocks in the same area as Chimney Rock.  Chimney rock was a significant landmark, for pilgrims going west in wagon trains.  It's, it's eroding a little more, each year.
I'm always awed, by what people were willing to endure, to come across the country, in wagons or by foot.

Carhenge, Nebraska

There were, of course, other intersting sights, along the way.  Above is 'Carhenge'....a replica of Stonehenge, built with old cars.  This was more interesting to persons in the 13 and 10 age groups, than some old rock.

Mount Rushmore, SD

We met up with our daughter, and her family, in South Dakota.  Then we set out to see the big Rock Star....Mount Rushmore.

This is quite impressive.  It took them many years, and lots of hard work, to create this piece of art.
The museum there, gives an idea of just how difficult this was to computers, or today's technology.

Speaking of 'Rock Stars'....we had our own, right along with us.

Close by Rushmore, is the Crazy Horse Monument.  This has been in construction since 1948.  They still have a long way to go.  It's a monument to the Oglala Lakota people, whose leader was Crazy Horse.
It's HUGE.  Mount Rushmore, as big as it is, would fit in the upper part of the face of Crazy Horse.

It's a private endeavor, funded by donations, gate fees and the gift shop.  The children of the sculptor and his window, are carrying on his dream.

I don't think Mr. P and I will see it finished.  Maybe, our grandchildren will be able to.

The Black Hills of South Dakota, are quite pretty.

Lots of wildlife.

There are roses, growing wild along the roads.

And, the largest dandelions I've ever seen.  That seed 'poof' is about six inches aross.

And, we were lucky enough to see a double rainbow.  We could see the whole thing...but, I didn't get a good shot.  It was the brightest rainbow, we'd ever seen.

There is a Mammoth dig site, in the area.  It was very interesting.  They've found many whole skeletons of mammoths.  And, they're still digging.

On our way to North Dakota, and our daughter's home, we saw on the map 'The Center of the Nation' site.
It's a red letter point of interest, on the map.  And, the travel book we had, said that in Belle Fourche there is a large compass to mark the spot.  Only, that compass,  is 20 miles from the actual site.  We wanted the 'real thing'.

So, we drove until we saw a sign pointing the right direction....down a gravel road.  We drove down that road.  Out in the middle of a field, is an American flag.

But, up on the road, was this sign....painted with markers, on the back of an old road sign.  We thought it was a joke.

Our son-in-law went out to check.  Sure enough...this was the place.  The geographical center of the United States....that includes all 50 states.

I actually think we'll remember this more, than some piece of concrete twenty miles away, in town. 

We spent a few days at our daughter's home.  They've bought a house, built in 1902.  It has a lot of work that needs to be done.  But, I think it has potential. 

About fifty miles south of their house, in Minot, is The Scandinavian Heritage Village.  Most of North Dakota, was settled by people from Scandinavian countries....mostly Norway.

Finish store house

There are structures to represent the various Scandinavian countries.

Swedish horse

The centerpiece, is this exact replica of a Norse church.

Quite lovely, and the docent there gave us a great deal of information.

This was our first trip to North Dakota.  Because it's the home of our daughter and her family, we're interested in the surroundings.  It's mostly agricultural.  Somehow, that amazes me.  It is very cold, for very long.  There is a short growing season.

And yet, the fields are full and growing.  Above is one of many fields of Canola.  They are beautiful yellow fields.  Later in the year, there will be fields and fields of sunflowers.  The wheat and green peas are going strong.

I didn't get pictures of the lovely flowers of the neighbors.  There are gorgeous peonies in almost every yard.  Iris are still blooming and pansies and petunias are blooming everywhere.  We missed the lilacs, unfortunately.

We had a great visit, and saw lots of countryside.  We miss our daughter, our son-in-law, and those two preciouse grandchildren, already.

But, it's great to be back home.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Riviera Maya...Flora and Fauna...

If you've been following my journal of our recent trip to Mexico, you've seen some of the beautiful plantings around the area.  Here, with the last post on this trip, we'll walk around the resort.

The grounds of the resort, are very well manicured.  Always clean and cleared of stray leaves.  Most of the work done by hand.  No blowers, here.  There were power lawn mowers, but most trimming was with hand shears......and, there is a lot to keep trimmed.

No plain old concrete bridges, here.

There is an area with flamingoes.

They showed off for us.

Beside the golfcourse cafe, where we usually had breakfast, is a crocodile area.  These small ones...

...and larger ones.

Iguanas are everywhere.

Look up!

And, birds we hadn't seen before.  This is a Chachalaca.  The photo doesn't really show his size.  They're about the size of a small chicken.

There were lots of these Yucatan Jays.

They swooped down to get some cookies, that we threw off the patio.
There were lots of other birds.  I'm terrible at bird photos, so didn't get any good shots. 

Another visitor, outside our condo, was this little guy.  The closest I could find, was that he's a Paca.  He doesn't have the right markings, though.  So, I'm just not sure.

He came out to drink out of a puddle, left by the water sprinkler.

Many of the plants, were ones we recognized.  Asparagus fern, coleus, Aztec grass, and purple heart.  Cordyline was used everywhere, as hedges.

I think, this is Oyster plant, or Moses in a Basket.  It was everywhere....

...used as a thick, lush groundcover.

There was even a lighter, variegated version.  At least, I think it was the same plant.  I want some of this.

Two different colors of Ixora.  These make nice hedges.

Lots of ginger, with big red spikes.

And, Plumaria.

This palm was starting out with crinkly leaves.

Some plants, I've seen before, but don't know the names. 

This is a similar shrub, with a bloom spike.

And, what kind of tree is this?

Is this a white version of our Goldenball leadtree?

This one has these flowers....

....and, these pods.

And, look at the size of these blooms.

In the rule section of the book in our room....yes, I read rule sections.....there was the warning:
'Do Not Touch the Black Poison Wood Tree'.
So, of course, we set out to find out what a Black Poison Wood Tree was.
And, we found it.  See the black sap.  That causes 'severe rash'.

So, don't touch the Black Poison Wood Tree.

There were many more plants.  More colorful foliage, than blooms.  It shows you don't have to have lots of blooms, to make a beautiful landscape. 

It was a great trip, with some great friends.  We learned new things, caught up with each other's lives...
and relaxed beside the beautiful blue sea.

Changes in latitudes....brought changes in attitudes.

We're ready to go again.