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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Echo Bluff State Park


Missouri's newest state park, Echo Bluff, opens this weekend just in time for those last minute summer vacations and fall planning.

View from the deck
Whether you're looking for the luxury of a resort or a primitive camping site, this park has you covered. The state did it right - with architectural planning and consultation with experts and Ozark residents. Situated on Sinking Creek, which flows into the Current River, it is the perfect place to experience the natural beauty and outdoor challenges of the Ozarks.

The spacious lodge rooms all have decks. On the first floor, a deck runs the full length of the building. The lodge contains three restaurant options
Blackberry Cobbler
and by what I sampled, meals will be a highlight of your day.

If you love the outdoors - from fishing and hunting to canoeing, scenic drives and photo ops - Echo Bluff puts you right in the middle of the action. The park grounds contain trails, a playground, picnic sites, a splash park, a bluff-top pavilion and much more. It also offers the freedom and space to just relax and unwind.

I think it's the perfect place for a fun weekend, a family reunion or a small conference. It is located north of Eminence on Hwy 19. Be prepared, the entrance into the park takes you through some stunning scenery.

Can you tell I love this park?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Traveling with my camera

Washington State coast

Missouri sunset
I fall victim to three subjects when I have my camera in hand. Trees, flowers and barns. I chase these photo ops. Tell me where there’s a special tree, a field of flowers or a round barn and I’m hooked.

There are so many species of trees – and so much individuality within each – that I never tire of them. Whether it’s the tall evergreens on the Washington and Oregon coast, redbuds in the Midwest, flowering trees or bare limbs, I love them.

Mingo State Park, PA

Bluebonnet in Texas
I took the picture of the Mingo State Park tree in the pouring rain. With branches spread wide, it lit up the dreary day.

Flowers call my name too. I can see a thousand daisies, pass fields of bluebonnets or look at a garden and I’m fascinated anew each time. It’s the beauty of the natural world that calls me. It matters not if the flower or tree is perfect, or if the bugs and weather have nearly destroyed it. I want to photograph it.

Prickly pear in Texas

Missouri flowers

I've fallen in love with the prickly pear cacti since our first visit to Texas. A nondescript plant throughout the year but when it blooms, it is stunning.

The tiger lilies (or day lilies - I hear them called both) bloom through much of our country. If you photograph them in the morning, at noon and in the early evening, each shot will be different.

Barn in Amana Colonies

Barns. Well, that’s another thing. Manmade, but they each have a distinct character. I wonder about the people who designed them. Did the farmer try to build a better barn or go with the status quo?
Round barn in Pennsylvania

I hadn’t seen a round barn until recently. Hundreds were built in the 1800s and the early 1900s. Where have they all gone? Many have been torn down. Were they not successful? If you pass a round barn, stop and take a photo. There aren’t that many left. Most of the Midwestern states have one or more round barns still standing. The old wooden barns are fast disappearing too – collapsing in many cases.
Katy Trail in Missouri

Iowa round barn
I’ve enjoyed plenty of photo ops in Missouri, Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Texas, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. In each of these states, I’ve found an abundance of my three favorite subjects. I know – I have a lot more states to visit and many more scenes to capture.

Whether it's my DSLR camera or my iPhone, I'll have a grand adventure!

Pennsylvania trees


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Route 66 in Miami, Oklahoma

Oklahoma Route 66 sign

I wonder if I'll ever get tired of discovering small towns on Route 66. We have driven I-44 between Oklahoma City and Springfield, Missouri, too many times to count, but we've never stopped in Miami, Oklahoma (

We recently resolved that with a day-trip to check it out. Miami, a small town of approximately 13,000, located in the northeast part of the state, off I-44. The old Route 66 goes straight through the downtown area.

I'll digress a minute to tell you that every time we visit a Route 66 town, we meet others doing the same - some from nearby states and some from around the globe.

Vintage Iron Motorcycle Museum
On this day, we first met a couple from Texas. They were driving a beautifully restored pickup. Their blue truck is shown in the photo of the old gas station ( While we took pictures, several others stopped and did likewise.

We saw the Route 66 Vintage Iron Motorcycle Museum. Among other items, this houses the Evel Knievel collection. Unfortunately, we were there on a weekend and they were closed.

Inside of the Coleman Theatre

From there, we stopped at the Coleman Theatre, built as a vaudeville palace in 1929. Both the exterior and the Louis XV interior are beautiful. I loved the mahogany staircase and the gold leaf throughout the lobby. I didn't see the organ but it was built by Wurlitzer in 1928 and is the only one still in its original location. Today, the theatre features multiple productions and events each year.

The Coleman Theatre

Waylan's KuKu

By then, it was time for lunch and we wanted to experience Waylan's KuKu Burgers. Before you even get to the food, you'll find loads of Route 66 memorabilia lining the walls. Tourists and locals filled this fun spot. We stood in line next to a couple from France. This burger joint was on their must-do list. It's open from 10am - 11pm, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Opened in the 1960s, it was part of a Midwestern chain.

Mickey Mantle statue
We found and drove a short distance on the original 9-foot wide Ribbon Road. This road, completed in 1926, was also part of the Ozark Trail Highway.

On the north edge of Miami, we drove through Commerce, the hometown of Mickey Mantle. According to the literature, he was called "the Commerce Comet." The city has erected a 9-foot statue that stands in front of the high school baseball field. (mickeymantlecommerceok).

We've always wanted to drive the complete Route 66 and it's still on our bucket list. But for now, we're chipping away, one stop at a time. Recent posts on other towns include and

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Are there really ghosts at the Battlefield B&B?

Barn at Battlefield B&B

Ghost stories abound in historic buildings - especially around battle sites. Are there lost souls who can't find their way home? Or is it simply our overactive imaginations?

There's much we don't know and many things that cannot be explained. We recently stayed at the Battlefield B&B in Gettysburg. Our room was in the old barn that served as a hospital during the Civil War.

When we arrived, the owner, Florence, told us that the barn is haunted and that the TV show, Ghost Hunters, had aired a segment on it. We laughed and told her we weren't concerned - and we weren't.

The second night we stayed, at midnight Luke the Author Dog woke us from a sound sleep just as a door slammed shut above us. We listened as footsteps moved across the floor directly over our bed. Then except for Luke's barking, silence filled the barn.

After a couple of minutes, he quieted and we listened. We heard nothing more. We decided someone had come into the barn and went back to sleep.

However, the next day we were told that no one opened the door and entered the barn during the night.

Surely there's an obvious explanation - or is there?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Scavenger Hunting the Grant Wood "Overalls All Over" Way

The Color Guide at the Cedar Rapids
Public Library

To honor Grant Wood’s 125th birthday, 25 American Gothic statues – sponsored by area businesses and painted by regional artists – have taken up residence in Cedar Rapids and surrounding Iowa towns.

Remain true in the
Amana Colonies
I like scavenger hunts and the challenge was too much to ignore. We headed toward Cedar Rapids and drove through the Amana Colonies on the way. The sight of a statue in front of the visitors’ center thrilled me. I couldn’t wait to get started.

Andy & Edie at the National
Czech & Slovak Museum
When we arrived in Cedar Rapids, we acquired a printed map of the trail. I studied it, planned my route and away we went. My husband drove and I navigated. After we found about six of the statues, it finally dawned on us to put the addresses into the GPS – nothing slow about us! Did that solve everything?

Bounty at The MedQuarter
Regional Medical District Park
It helped but we still ran into problems. The GPS took us to Coe College but the campus is big and the statue wasn’t that easy to find. We felt victorious when we did. The same thing happened at Mount Mercy University – where do we start? We finally had to ask someone for help, so again we felt great when we found that one. I have to admit I love that statue where the student artists turned the figures inside out – it’s not everyday we see kidneys, intestines, hearts and other organs. Each statue is named and this one is titled “Putting the Goth in Gothic.”

I’m sure Grant Wood would get more than a few laughs out of the artists’ renditions. Fitting the design to the sponsor and/or location required plenty of creativity and the artists pulled it off with flying colors. It took me a couple of statues before I began to realize the significance of the names. Like the art, each reflects the sponsor.

Back of Brucemore statue
If you do the trail, check the back of each statue. They are as well decorated as the front.  At Brucemore, I do believe I love the back of the statue more than the front. “The Lion Goes to the theater tonight” reflects Howard Hall’s (the third owner of the estate) love of his pet lions.
“Remain true” fits the land and culture of the Amana Colonies.

Putting the Goth in Gothic
at Mount Mercy
At one location, the gate was locked and we didn’t find the statue outside. In total, we visited 23 of the 25 sites, and took photos of 22 statues. What a fun way to spend a day or two. It’s great entertainment alone or with family and friends. I highly recommend it!

I admit it - I still want to go back and take pictures of the other three. I feel like it’s a project crying for completion.

The statues will remain in their current locations until the end of September. Check out for more information.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Family, Friends, Fireworks and Fun on the Farm


That best describes our 4th of July. Our son's life-long friends, David and Cissy, hosted a party on their farm. Now, for me a July day on a Missouri farm normally reeks of chiggers, skeeters and a need for sunscreen.

But last night's event turned out to be anything but. Plenty of OFF took care of the chiggers and skeeters while huge trees provided a natural umbrella. The sun's rays took care of the mud and we were left with a fabulous evening with friends and family.

I met the horses - Remington and George are both show horses. The cattle are the start of David's dream herd and I think the donkey was just pure entertainment. I took loads of photos because any direction I looked, a beautiful, serene country view caught my eye. A tour of the farm included a forest, pasture and a small lake ringed with beautiful flowers.

I met David and Cissy's friends and enjoyed the good company. Most of us took a turn on the 4-wheeler. We all probably ate too much good food and when the guitars came out, we enjoyed a sing-a-long until dark when the kids provided the fireworks entertainment.

Cissy didn't let a broken ankle keep her from hostess duties and David proudly gave a tour of the farm. The best part of the whole evening was sharing in their love for their little piece of heaven. A memorable 4th of July!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

David Tannenbaum's book, Out of the Depths

Yesterday I wrote a post about survivor's guilt for David Harry Tannenbaum's Facebook page. Today I've had over 4,400 hits from Israel on this blog. For that reason, I am linking to the post here.

I am coordinating the marketing for David's new book about a Holocaust survivor, Out of the Depths.

I think I found the perfect rest area!

As travelers, we all need and use rest areas. We typically don’t remember much about them except they serve our needs.

However, a few stand out. The best I’ve seen thus far is the Red Barn Rest Stop and Visitor’s Center at the Northwood (Hwy 19) exit off I-35 in northern Iowa. Billing itself as a rest area/visitors center/coffee shop all in one, it fills the bill. The architecture is a perfect fit to showcase northern Iowa’s heritage.

On the first level, you’ll find big, clean restrooms and vending machines. The upstairs (by the way, it has an elevator) houses a coffee shop, a shopping area, a welcome center and brochures from the surrounding area.

Don’t just stop with the first floor or you’ll miss the best part. Have a coffee and a roll at the Cow Coffee Shoppe (I can vouch that the caramel roll is awesome) and shop at the Barn Boutique for local craft goods – lots of handmade, unique items including jewelry, personal, household one-of-a kinds and Amish baskets. I found some really cut handbags with cats - if I'd found one with a dog, it would have come home with me.

Be sure to pick up plenty of brochures and learn about the area. It’s all right here for you.

The landscaped grounds showcase nature’s gifts in this part of the country. This rest area, the brainchild of Jean Stowell, a local Iowan, makes taking a break an enjoyable experience. It’s easy to see why it’s such a busy place!