Our Lazy Daze Motorhome

Our Lazy Daze Motorhome
2009 Lake Louise

Saturday, September 29, 2012

St. Louis, Mo Ulysses S. Grant NHS

9/27/2012 Thursday. 

Ed was up early, about 6:45 am, and we left the campground a little after 8:00 am continuing on I-80 toward St. Louis, MO.  We drove off the Interstate to easily find the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site.   Ulysses S. Grant was the 13th president of the United State of America.

The home below was really the site of Grant’s wife, Julia Dent’s, family home. The Dents were true southerners, had about 30 slaves and apparently Mr. Dent (Julia's father), who was very rich for his time, argued with Grant over the equality of blacks. He argued that the country would never survive without slaves.  Ulysses Grant was a man of equality, so they butted heads, much to Julia's chagrin.  The Grants never actually lived in this house.  

Grant bought the property to help Julia’s father when he was in financial difficulty at the end of the Civil War.  Although the National Park Service renovated and now maintains the property, we were disappointed that the Grants never had the opportunity to live here.   They did live in the cabin on the other end of the property, now owned by the Busch family (Budweiser Brewing).  President Grant employed caretakers who oversaw the property after his purchase.  Later, the house was purchased by another family who lived there for three generations.  The property was purchased by the Park Service in 1985.  The house was painted white during Grant's time, but later owners painted it lime green.  It was explained to us that bright colors were more expensive so this color was a symbol of wealth. The “color of money.” The home was not furnished.  At the end of the war, all the furniture was moved into storage at a brother's home during Grant's presidency.  The home burned.  No one told Grant; he had to read about it in the newspaper, which he was not happy about. Needless to say, the caretaker got fired!!   It was interesting to hear the Park Ranger explain about where the slaves lived on the property and the summer kitchen located in an out building, as opposed to the winter kitchen, which was located under the dining room to keep that room warmer. 

 This is the  slave door on the back of the house that was uncovered during NPS renovation.  They left it as it was back when the slaves would have used it.

  This is the winter kitchen under the dining room. The summer kitchen was in an out building to keep the heat out of the home.
 Ulysses S. Grant

Julia Dent Grant

Learning more about Ulysses and Julia was wonderful.  We have decided to visit as many homes and libraries of the Presidents that we can.  So much history and so interesting.

 This is the cabin Ulysses and Julia actually lived in during the war. This is on the property now owned by the Busch (Budwieser) family. 

 Julia didn't really like the cabin and after her mother died, she moved back into the family home to take care of her father.

We left St. Louis and continued on I-270 and I-57.  We finally arrived at our stop for the night, the Benton, IL KOA campground at exit 71.  We had all of the amenities, but next to I-57 (100 feet) .  It is tiring traveling to a different campground every day.  We drove  239.8 miles today.

Independence, MO Pres. Truman Home/Library/Museum

09/26/2012 Wednesday. 

We left Lewis and Clark SP about 8:30 am and headed to Independence, MO and spent a good part of the day visiting both President Truman’s home and his museum/library. (Jeanne got her Senior Pass here.  She began drawing her Social Security the first of the month, and now the Senior Pass.  She feels very entitled.)

The home was built by Bess's grandfather.  We heard some interesting stories from the park ranger about his mother-in-law's dominance over the household, such as taking her place at the head of the dinner table.  Apparently, Harry had married up; coming from farm life and marrying into the prominent family that operated the large flour mill in Kansas City.  We toured only the downstairs of the large Victorian home, which is furnished with everything from typical belongings to family heirlooms and a few prized remembrances from the White House (over 5,000 artifacts). The Trumans were very conservative, like nailing down the linoleum where it was buckled instead of replacing it. We were not allowed to take photos inside the house.  But took many at the museum/library, which was also very interesting.  The library is reserved for people actually doing research, so walking in to take pictures is prohibited.  The museum recounts the President’s time as Senator from 1935 to 1945, his time as Vice-President for about 4 months in 1945 and his assuming the presidency that same year at the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt.  He had a very impressive presidency that included the defeat of the Germans, followed by the dropping of the Atomic Bombs and the surrender of the Japanese in World War II, the Cold War, the beginning of NATO, the Marshall Plan to restore Europe, the Berlin Airlift to supply citizens with food after the Russians closed all access to the city, the Communist takeover under Mao of China, and the Korean War, accompanied by his removal of General Douglas MacArthur as head of the U.S. Forces.  He proposed a National Health Plan and Civil Rights legislation that were both defeated by Congress and he was the first head of state to formally recognize the newly created State of Isreal  He decided not to run again for President in 1953 (because Bess wouldn't allow it). Quite a story for one President.  

 The entrance to the library and museum.


 Ed and Harry!

Harry Truman was the first president to get a Presidential Library.  This is his office here at the library, where he worked out every detail himself. 

  Harry's and Bess's tomb in the distance.  An everlasting flame burns in memory of a president that faced many challenges.

 Both Harry and Bess and their daughter, Margaret and son-in-law are all buried here at the library.

 This is the replica of the Oval Office.  Quite impressive.

 Do you see the fake door on the right side of the picture?  That is office of Truman's personal secretary.

We found as we were leaving the replica of his Oval Office. Every detail, even a taped recording of Truman welcoming us to his office, was very impressive.  

We returned to our travels on I-70 and stopped in Columbia, MO, at the Pine Grove Village with a fee of $28.  (We needed the air conditioning as it was getting warmer as we drove south.)  It was basically a trailer court with some available sites.  We wouldn't stay here again because it is much too close to the noisy interstate, although there are few CG choices in that area. We drove 180.8 miles today.

Nebraska Into Missouri

Nebraska was fairly unremarkable.  We didn't take any pictures along the way because the landscape really doesn't change, it's flat.  There are cornfields and other unidentifiable crops growing along the interstate with an occasional windmill or oil well.  The big draw to get into Nebraska was the Cabelas.  The Cabelas headquarters is here.  Ed loves that store and ended up buying some Carhartt jeans that he tells me fits him to a T.  No pictures today!
9/23/2012 Sunday.  
We headed on toward Sidney, Nebraska on US 385.  A straight shot that took us through our last glimpse of the Badlands and onto the plains of Nebraska.  Hilly roads with blowing winds and small towns the whole way, a very different look that got boring after a while but was still very scenic.  We arrived in Sidney about 5:30 pm and set up at the Cabela's campground just off I-80. It was full hook-ups with a nice laundry and bathrooms for $27.48. We drove $220.9 miles today.  It was nice, not too much road noise.  Would stay here again.

09/24/2012 Monday.
Up at 8:00 to get ready for our big visit to Cabelas.  We bought a new Garmin Nuvi 1490 at Cabela's for $149.99 ($100 off because it was a closeout) with Lifetime Maps along with a few other items.  I-80 was straight and smooth without the severe winds we had for several days.  We stopped for the night at Windmill SP, exit 285 near Gibbon, NE. Very pretty campground with scattered trees, several small fishing lakes, great temperatures today and easy access to I-80.  The cost was $23, with a one day park pass for $5.  We were in site 29, a pull-through with electric only.  Bathrooms weren’t updated, but the laundry was OK. We would stay here again. Drove 229.4 miles today.  Met some locals on a bike ride who told us that the big windmill we were looking for had blown down in a storm.  We've decided that we are both fat so we had grilled chicken and 1/2 baked potato for dinner.  Our first day of eating "lite".

9/25/2012 Tuesday.  
We continued on I-29 toward Kansas City.  Not a lot of options for campgrounds so Ed made the decision to find the Lewis and Clark State Park in Rushville, MO.  Since we'd missed the exit to a better road, we took Exit 35 on Rt. 116 that was a small, hilly county road and it took 24 miles through switchbacks and cornfields.  Who knew?  The park had been underwater from flooding of the Missouri River and was closed for 2 years, only reopening this Labor Day.  They are slowly renovating the park, new gravel on some sites, bathhouse has new flooring, but not new shower interior. There was lots of hot water with good pressure.  The cost was $19.  We drove 314.1 miles today.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Spearfish, SD Badlands and Black Hills

09/20/12. Thursday.  Today, we had our last lunch stop at the Cowboy CafĂ© in Medora, ND.  We finally left at 1:40 pm taking I-94 to US 85 south toward South Dakota.  Jeanne drove to Spearfish, SD and arrived at Chris’ Campground at 6:00 pm.  We drove 215.8 miles today.  We didn’t expect to drive this far, but there was nothing along the way except cut fields of hay and sunflowers, and a few antelope.  The campground was nice with Wifi and cable.  Our host wanted us to read his brochure before we paid.  He was sure we would take one of the scenic drives and stay two days.  Cost was $30/night.  Bed about 10 pm.
 Both North Dakota and South Dakota are very flat!!
 9/21/2012. Friday.  We talked again with the owners of the Chris’ Campground about which driving tour to take today.  As expected, we decided to stay two nights.  Our host's recommendation was to tour the Spearfish Canyon in the Blackhills National Park on route 14a.  What a wonderful drive.  We stopped at the Bridalveil Falls.  Further down the road, we hiked the ’76 Trail.  It gains 1.000 feet in 3/4 mile. We didn't really realize how steep that was, so we decided to turn back at the half-way mark.  The half-way point sign told us to beware of “steep climb ahead and loose gravel.”   It was great exercise in a beautiful forest of yellow aspen.  We drove on to the Roughrock Falls at the end of a one mile gravel road.  Just beautiful from the natural beauty of the creek, falls and trees to the wonderful walkways available to access different views of the falls.  We went on to Cheyenne Crossings store and cafe for their Indian Tacos, a large piece of Indian fried bread covered in tomato, lettuce, special meat mixture, sour cream, cheese and salsa.  Our first Indian Taco and it was very good.  After lunch, we drove on through Lead to Deadwood.  We visited the Visitor's Center and was told of the local tourist attractions, but we concentrated on the bar/casino where Wild Bill Hickock was shot (saloon # 10) and the casino owned by Kevin Cosner. We also drove up a steep street to the Mt. Moriah Cemetery where Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane were buried.  The taxes from the casinos in Deadwood allows the city money for preservation of important buildings and landmarks.  We left Deadwood and returned to Spearfish and found the Safeway store to replenish our supplies.  We returned to the campground, caught up on laundry, Ed’s travelogue and Jeanne’s blog.  
 Our hike straight up!!

 The colors were absolutely beautiful!!

 At the lodge across from the 76 Trail hike, we spotted these snowmobiles, just waiting to have some fun!

 Roughrock Falls.  Very beautiful!

This is where we had our first Indian Taco.  It was delish!!

 Mt. Moriah Cemetery (Boot Hill) where Wild Bill and Calamity Jane are buried.

 Deadwood from Boot Hill.

 The buildings in Deadwood seem authentic.  The only difference from when Wild Bill was there is that most of the buildings now house casinos.  The developers are hoping that tax money will help with renovations.

 This is the building that Wild Bill was shot.  Now called Saloon No. 10.

 4-way stop sign in the middle of the street.  Only seen that one other time in Georgia!

Along the highway, near Custer City, SD. 
09/22/2012 Saturday. We were up early to find the Spearfish post office, but were delayed by the high school homecoming parade.  We finally found the post office, got on I-90 for a few exits and then headed south on Route 385, which took us through another scenic part of the badlands.  We passed the Crazy Horse Memorial.  It appeared that little progress occurred since our last visit several years ago.  They tried to charge $10 a person which we didn't want to pay, so we did a U-turn and headed on to Custer City, SD arriving about 2:45 pm.  We tried to stay in the Custer State Park, but this was the weekend of the big Buffalo Roundup, an event marked by a chili cook off, art auction and an auction of several head of buffalo to keep the herd size under control. Finally found a site at the Wheels West RV Park.   We got satellite TV and watched the last half of the Penn State football game.
 Crazy Horse Memorial hasn't changed much since the last time we were here in 2007.  They have an entrance fee of $10 per person to help finance the work.

 A sweet little deer near the Visitor's Center in Custer City.

We stayed here at the Wheels West RV Park in Custer City, SD.  It was the only campground in town with an empty site because of the Buffalo Roundup which starts on Monday.  We decided we wouldn't stay around with 14,000 people to watch those poor buffalo come over the hill and be trapped so they can be sold.  This is the way they thin out the buffalo population in SD.
9/23/2012 Sunday.  Ed was up at 7:00 am. It was cold, 35° outside.  Nobody slept enough.  We drove to the Visitors’ Center to ask which stores were openWe were excited to see another Lazy Daze sitting with their satellite dish up near the Visitor's Center.  It was John and Dotty Schedel from Florida.  They were staying in Custer State Park where they couldn't get a satellite signal, so they moved into town for a clear southern sky to watch a Nascar race.  They are such a nice couple with an 2000 LD island bed.  We toured their rig and they toured ours.  We exchanged contact information and talked to them about joining the SELD group.  We left Custer City about 1:30 pm and headed toward Sidney, Nebraska on US 385.  A straight shot that took us through our last glimpse of the Badlands and onto the plains of Nebraska.