Monday, November 30, 2015

Fall Trip - 2015(5)

(Special note: please forgive the typos, the misspellings, and the awkward sentences. I have been pushing on writing these posts to catch up and realize, after sending them, that there are a lot of mistakes😔
This will be the last post of this section of our trip. As you may have read in previous posts,  we had determined many purposes for this trip. We wanted to visit our final six states to complete visits to all fifty.  We wanted to visit any sites that would help us know more about three themes of history and the people that lived them. We wanted to visit our friend Rusty, and as it worked out, our former student, Effie. And a very important destination for the end of November was the Winstar Casino in Oklahoma for a very special celebration of Latona's birthday with tickets for a Willie Nelson Concert. We would spend several days here to make it a special Thanksgiving/Birthday week! So this post will take you along our route from Kansas to Oklahoma!

We started at Osawatomie, Kansas and here we hoped to visit the John Brown's Museum. Although it said that it was open during this day from 10-4 we never had a chance to get inside and see the Adair Cabin.  The house belonged to a minister and his wife, Samuel and Floella Adair. His wife was a half sister to John Brown and the cabin was a station on the Underground Railroad.

This building houses the Adair Cabin.

Statue of John Brown that had been sculpted by the same artist that crated the Statue of Liberty.
Wonderful irony.

On this land was fought a battle that was part of Bleeding Kansas, a forceful attempt made by warring factions to sway the state to go one way or the other on the slavery issue. The factions of proslavery advocates were led by John Reid and the abolitionists were led by John Brown.

We left the park so disappointed that we were never able to really view the Adair Cabin and learn more of the history of John Brown and the abolitionist movement of this area.

In our reading about the Trail of Tears, we learned about the Indian Removal Act of 1832. The shock of learning and realizing for the first time that this was actually done by the US government probably showed me how ignorant I have been about history in general, but made me realize how much I didn't know about the true plight of Native Americans. My sympathies have always been naturally supportive of this group but very uninformed. So, I was really sickened when I read that President Andrew Jackson actually signed a bill that would require over 125,000 Native Americans to leave their land in the states of Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and Florida so that white settlers would have more land for growing cotton. The government designated land across the Mississippi to what was then Oklahoma Territory. This began the Trail of Tears. Some routes of the forced march were so ridden with the deaths of Native Americans that it was that section was called the Trail of Death.

When we moved on to Fort Scott National Historic Park, we learned that this Fort had three purposes over the period from 1842 to 1873. First, the Fort was to protect the "permanent Indian Frontier". It was part of,a string of forts built from Minnesota to Louisiana for this purpose. Soon this idea of a protective territory for Indians died a quick death.

The Fort played an important role in Bleeding Kansas, the violent battle over slavery, as well as the Civil War.  Eventually, after the Civil War ended, soldiers from the Fort assisted in the Railroad Expansion.


So we ride along with the beautiful skies and open fields with new awareness of so much suffering that occurred was this country was formed.

Lake Pleasant Resort where we finally decided we needed to have the full services of a campground, dumping, electricity and showers.  We were given this site along the lake and then never charged for our night stay.  A nice gift!

We decided to take a little jog back into Missouri to visit the area of Joplin and to visit the George Washington Carver Memorial Park. We saw the statue of him as a boy in his beloved woods, saw the cabin were he was raised by foster parents, the Carvers, and finished our hike at the bust of the adult Carver.  He had been a hero of mine since learning of his work with the peanut and the great efforts he made to bring agricultural advantages to the common person.

Now, we finally headed to Oklahoma. We had a first planned stop at the Walmart in Muscogee because we wanted to visit The Museum of the Five Civilized Tribes. Again, my education was expanding. Who were these tribes, and why did the white culture dub them 'civilized.' What measure was used to determine that category and who decided that.  We had a very informative visit here learning about the Cherokee, the Chicksaw, the Creek (Muscogee), the Choctaw and the Seminole.
One guide shared information about the art we saw and read us a wonderful book called Crossing the Bok Chitto. Although a children's book, I would recommend it.  We learned how the five tribes were forced into Oklahoma and how quickly the land they were promised disappeared.

Not a great picture, but,it shows the progression of how the land originally promised to each of the five tribes diminished and by 1907 there were no more Indian lands in the Oklahoma Territory.

On we went, looking for the local colour of Oklahoma!

Finally, a day before Thanksgiving we landed at the RV Park for the Casino where we would see Willie Nelson.  It was so much fun to finally be here and to be in the subculture of a gambling resort.  We walked around wide-eyed and dumbstruck by the fountains, all the people, and the 7500 slot machines. We did try our luck eventually and won several times...about $190.

But the best part was this happy birthday girl!

Waiting for The big present!

And the birthday dinner!

Our site at sunset!

Today, we will leave Oklahoma and start east and south through Arkansas and Loiusana eventually moving toward Florida and Mom in the next ten days. We will keep you posted - more learning moments and more times of sharing, and having fun as we travel "On the Road Again".

Sending love to you all and hope you all already knew what I have been relearning in a very vivid and real way!  

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Fall Trip -2015(4)

(First, I need to make a correction on the last post. The land that Harriet Tubman purchased was sold to her by William Seward. I missed a word in that sentence in post #3.

I also wanted to start this post with a list of things we saw consistently in the countryside on this trip:
1. Beef cattle and fields of corn, soybean and some sorghum.

2. Eagles and Hawks. We saw hundreds of each including Swainsons, Red-tailed, and Marsh Hawks.

3. Grain elevators, large tractors and combines.

4. Small churches in every farming community.

5. Casey's General Store.

6. Lovely structures.

7. And much more water than we expected in Iowa, Missouri and Kansas. Wetlands, ponds and of course all the rivers and streams.

Let's pick up where we left off with the Kansas sign.  We wanted to spend more time in Missouri to visit Hannibal, St. Louis, Jefferson City, and Kansas City, so we headed east.

We headed east to find the town of Hannibal, on the Mississippi. We wanted to visit Mark Twain's boyhood home and museum and learn about his life. He lived here from 1844 to 1853, nine years old till he was eighteen.  The visitor Center was sharing Ken Burns documentary about Twains life and we enjoyed this very much. This area became the inspiration for much of his best known writings including Tom Sawyer, and the great American novel, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.


This tells a bit of the nature of the culture at this time, both locally and nationally.

There was no place to get my stamp, so I
    went to the post office and got this on the way out of town. On to St Louis and something we always wanted to see the Gateway Arch.  We couldn't believe our eyes when we first caught a glimpse of the tallest arch in the world 660 feet tall at the top.

Happily, they had good directions to get to where we needed to go.

The signs took us to the Historic Old Courthouse and the entry to the area.  After the shock of the sight of the amazing Arch, and we realized we were close to several critical historic events: the landing spot of Lewis and Clark, and the departure site for many slaves on the UGRR fleeing from the slave state Missouri to the free slave Illinois just across the river. What we didn't realize was that we were about to enter the courthouse and step into the room where Dred Scott sued the government for his freedom,
in 1848.  

Eventually, after ten years of appeals, this case ended at the US Supreme Court and the verdict declared that blacks could never be considered citizens of the US and therefore have no right to sue. This decision is considered to be one of the causes of the Civil War. After the decision was read by the court, a former master of Dred and Harriet Scott bought them and set them free.


The Gateway Arch celebrates the Jeffersion Memorial To Westward Expansion. We learned about the three major trails that contributed to this process: the California, the Mormon and the Oregon.

When we left St Louis we got on the "wrong" route and had to find our way along country roads through some of the most beautiful country we had seen. We were edging the Ozarks and driving through the Missouri Valley. Wonderful.

We landed at Jefferson City for a visit to the state capital and museum.

 As we viewed the exhibits we learned many things , but one story stuck. Two sisters helped each other to attend medical schools, one became a doctor and one a dentist. They started a practice and although many people were cautious about a woman Doctor they worked hard and took care of any who came to need their care. Eventually, they started a hospital in 1897 in Kansas 
City, known as Children's Mercy Hospital.  It is still functioning today and is famous for its paediatric care and service and of those who can not afford to pay for their care.

The next stop was a visit to a former student in Kansas City, MO. She is the same age as Phillip and Carrie and attended Acadia Christian Academy with them. She and her siblings were such an important part of our school and it was a real joy to see her, to catch up with stories of her family, and to share a meal together. We loved meeting her children as well.

The weather forecast 
was threatening so we decided to head toward our last state to explore.
Off we went to Walmart, Osawatomie, Kansas. The next day hoped to visit John Brown Museum.
More to come!

Fall Trip - 2015(3)

When we crossed the Mississippi into Iowa, we found a Walmart in Mount Pleasant for a very windy stay. The winds were gusting to 40-50 mph so the van really rocked thru the night and I wondered how it would handle on the drive across Iowa the next day. She did well and I thought of her as Prairie Schooner sailing along the route.  

By mid-afternoon, we arrived at Rusty' s house situated among the corn/soybean fields of southwestern Iowa. He was there ready with a warm welcome and plans for our visit. We spent the late afternoon catching up.

And his kitty timidly joined us.

Rusty showed us around and we saw the well-placed easy chairs where we would spend our evening hours...

And the medals he has won by running 69 full marathons, two on one weekend....

And a poster that told us of a project he works on with his friends in between running, hiking and biking.

The first full day of the visit, Rusty planned to take us to St Joseph, Missouri for a visit to the Pony Express Museum, the house where Jesse James was shot, and the Patee Museum. Of course, Missouri is now state number 48!

Below is a picture of the route of the Pony Express. The Express began on April 3, 1860 and lasted eighteen months. A half-ounce letter that could be sent for one dollar would go from St Joe to Sacramento in 10 days. Riders generally road their horses 12-15 miles at a full gallop, and then swapped for a fresh mount at a relay station. It ended when the transcontinental telegraph lines were completed October 26, 1861. The Pony Express is still a classic icon of the Wild West.

Named one of the top ten western museums of the day,  the Patee House was originally built as a hotel in 1866. It served many purposes over the years and was the official "post office " of
the Pony Express.

Many exhibits were fascinating and the museum had developed a scavenger hunt idea to help you really look at and for the items displayed. We had fun with the search!  One thing we learned was that Quaker Oats had a major operation here for over 75 years here in St. Joe, MO.

Another interesting thing that seems to happen as we travel is the connecting of different parts of history in unexpected ways.  For instance, in Vincennes, Ind. we found the NPS historical park dedicated to the brother of William Clark. Below is an exhibit that tells of the visits of William Seward to Mo. He was the man who helped Harriet Tubman and eventually sold her the in Auburn, NY.

It was a great day of learning. The next day would provide yet another state to visit and another big learning opportunity. Rusty took us to Nebraska City, Nebraska where we visited a Lewis and Clark Interpretation Center. Nebraska is number 49!

Merriwether Lewis had been a secretary to Thomas Jefferson and when the Louisiana Purchase was completed, Jefferson decided he wanted someone to lead a scientific exploration of the new land, mapping it to the Pacific Ocean, and noting all the species that were encountered. He chose Lewis. Lewis then wrote to his former army commander William Clark to co-lead the group. Collectively,they became  known as The Corps of Discovery. Lewis has been described as a moody individual while Clark was identified as the more dependable one. Lewis took a big dog named Seaman with him, while Clark took a personal slave named York. Lewis died young, three years after the return trip in 1806, while Clark lived into old age with a wife and family. There has been much mystery around Lewis's death and many think it was a suicide.  But together, they were able to inspire their men to overcome the incredible challenges they encountered like insects, weather, the topography, and the most challenging hunger.

It was amazing to me to learn that Lewis and Clark discovered and identified 173 species of plants and 134 other species that included the Grizzly Bear. Two woodpeckers that they discovered and sketched in their notes are found in our bird books of today and called the Lewis and the Clark Woodpeckers.

They also encountered over 50 different tribes and had no skirmish except one with a small band of Blackfeet. Indeed, without the help of the Clatsop, Chinook, Nez Perce, the Shoshone, the Teton Sioux, and the Mandan and the Hidatsa tribes, it is questionable that the group of over 30 people of The Corps of Discovery could have survived. But indeed the did, arriving in St. Louis on September 23, 1806, after 24 months of travel. They received a heroes welcome by the town.

The Missouri River in the background.

When we visited the western states, we had small glimpses of the history of Lewis and Clark and their expedition. We visited Fort Clatsop along the Columbia River as well as Cape Disappointment, and here learned about the second winter encampment of the journey, the aid of the Clatsop Indians and the role of the Shoshone woman, Sacajawea. We wanted to learn more about this part of history so we incorporated it into a travel theme for this trip.

I want to add a note here to clarify our travel themes mentioned above.  We have no hope of thoroughly exhausting any subject like the Underground Railroad or The Trail of Tears, or to learn all the stories that make up the travels of Lewis and Clark. Our hope is to be touched by the lives of the people of this time, to be encouraged by their courage and determination, and to pay them respect and honour by visiting places that commemorate their lives and accomplishments. The blog will offer a small gleaning of what we are experiencing.

The terraced fields.

The sunrise on another morning of our visit.

Another corn field and a hard working farmer.

The Bluffs created by wind piling up the Loess soil. They extend miles through several mid-western
States along the banks of the Missouri River.

Rusty was so excited to share the Omaha Zoo trip with us on our last day.  We had such a wonderful time with our friend from Alaska and Iowa. It was sad to say goodbye.

We had one last thing to do on that day before we headed for longer visits in some other states.  We needed to touch base with state number 50. We crossed the border into Kansas and had a small celebration.

We did it! We had now visited all fifty states. We have pictures and postmarks to prove it! We are happy to have done it together, and thank Walmart and MacDonalds for helping us on this leg. They were always open and hospitable. We now jokingly say, you know Lewis and Clark, adventurers. Well you, also know Torrey and Ives!😀