Thursday, October 29, 2015

Visit to Eisenhower Center

Wednesday (Oct 28):

We decided to visit Abilene, Kansas today to see the Eisenhower Center which includes his presidential library, museum & boyhood home. Even though Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas, his family moved back to Abilene when he was 1 year old. His father worked for most of his life in a local creamery to support the family which included 6 boys. They bought a small house located on 2.5 acres on the “wrong side of the tracks” in Abilene where the boys were raised. The house was added to over the years as the boys got older and their grandfather came to live with them. One of the boys died in childhood. All of the other five became very successful in their selected fields: business, law, military and government. Dwight Eisenhower was the only son to go into the military as it was a way for him to receive a great education at West Point with very little cost to the family. All of the brothers supported each other efforts of attend college and all of the five graduated.

In 1946 his mother sold the home and it was later acquired by the group that built the Eisenhower Center along with the surrounding property to form the current facility. We took a quick tour of the house and learned some information about Eisenhower’s boyhood.

We watched a 23 minute film at the Visitor’s Center that gave a quick synopsis of Eisenhower’s life and his accomplishments. Eisenhower was the last president to be born in the 19th century. We also visited the Center for Meditation located near the Visitor’s Center.

Meditation Center.

Stained glass inside Meditation Center
We then started our tour of the Eisenhower Museum which gave a detailed history of Eisenhower’s life in the military and his time as President of the USA. Here are a couple of photos of murals on the wall in the entrance to the museum.

We spent several hours inside the museum (you could probably spend several days and not see everything in detail). As with the other Presidential Libraries/Museums that we have visited over the year, the total amount of exhibits and information is overwhelming. Eisenhower was at the center of world events for a least 20 years (1940-1960) and the museum attempts to document this portion of his life in detail.

We made a quick visit to the Eisenhower Library which houses the archives from his military service and time as president. It was getting late in the day and the Center closes at 4:30 PM.

We stopped by the Russell Stover’s Factory Store located in Abilene along I-70. They have a whole room full of “bloopers” that are candies that are eatable but did not turn out to have the look they expected. We bought some of these along with some sugar free chocolates that Connie wanted for baking.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Chapman, Kansas

Monday-Tuesday (Oct 26-27):

On Monday morning we left Nebraska City heading south to Kansas. As we passed from the farm fields of Nebraska into Kansas the scenery along the road changed. More of the land in Kansas is used for raising livestock and we saw more cattle than we have in a long time.
Driving along I-70 in Kansas
The trip was about 190 miles and we stopped at a rest area in Kansas to eat lunch. The Chapman Creek RV Park is located right off of I-70 and is a relatively new campground with only 23 sites. I rode around the campground with the host and chose Site 15. All of the sites are narrow and we had to make several adjustments getting into the site even though it was a pull through. We got set up and met our neighbors, Tim & Marsha, who are from Minnesota and just started "full-timing" in their Jayco Eagle 5th wheel this year.
Site 15

View from our site of I-70
On Tuesday morning I let Connie sleep in. She had not slept very well for the last couple of nights and we were not in a rush to go anywhere today. After breakfast we drove over to Milford Lake State Park which is located a few miles north of I-70 near Junction City KS. Milford Lake is a large man-made lake on the Republican River.
Milford Lake

Milford Lake dam
 We went to this park because there was a number of hiking trails located with the park. We stopped by the park office, obtained our daily fee pass and proceeded over to the south part of the park to walk a portion of the Eagle Ridge (it is 8 miles total and we walked about 3 miles of it). The trail wandered back and forth along the lake. There were not many good views of the lake along the trail because all of the trees that have grown up along the banks.
Connie crossing bridge along the trail.
We finished up the portion of the trail we wanted to walk and went over to the horse camping area in the park. One of the motorhomes parked in this area was a Dutch Star that looked a lot like ours.

We then drove over the north part of the park and had a quick bite to eat along with some water. We then walked the 2.1 mile Crystal Trail which goes around a number of corn fields located on the edge of the park. By the time we had finished our second walk we were both tired and ready to get off our feet. We returned to The Duchess for an early dinner and just as we finished eating it started to rain. Good timing on our part.

Monday, October 26, 2015

A few days in Nebraska City

Friday-Sunday (Oct 23-25):

On Friday morning we awoke to the sound of light rain falling on The Duchess. I spent the morning trying to update all of our financials through Quicken. With the recent cancellation and reissuing of our main credit card, I ended up having to make several changes in Quicken to have all of the transactions downloaded. In the afternoon the sun came out and we went back over the Lewis & Clark Museum to walk the prairie trail located on the property. We finished the walk and it started to rain again. That evening Connie made a pizza from scratch in our convection oven (even making the pizza crust). She tried using a baking stone to help make the pizza crust crisp and it did seem to help.

On Saturday we visited the Arbor Day Farm and the Arbor Lodge. Arbor Day was started here in Nebraska City during the 1870's and later became a state and then a national celebration of tree planting. J. Sterling Morton, an early Nebraska businessman & entrepreneur, is credited with being the founder of Arbor Day. It is reported that over 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska during the first few years of the Arbor Day celebrations. Most of Nebraska was prairie land with trees only located along creeks and rivers.

Our first stop was the Arbor Day Farm. The farm was started to celebrate Arbor Day with a number of activities for families to learn about trees and their benefits.

We saw a 20 minute movie about "Trees in the Movies" in the Visitor's Center for the farm and then walked through an exhibit with information about trees around the USA. From there we proceeded to a paved trail around the farm that had several informational areas along with a tree house that was 50 foot tall at the top. We both climbed to the top of the treehouse and enjoyed the view.

I climbed through a maze located along the trail.

After finishing the paved trail, we hiked a longer trail located along a creek that runs through the property. Lots of information about the trees that have been planted on the property along with some native to Nebraska trees.

After finishing this trail, Connie did a wine tasting at the small restaurant located on the property. She liked the reds but not the whites. The wines were $19 a bottle so we passed on buying any. From the Arbor Day Farm we walked across the street to the Arbor Lodge.

Arbor Lodge
The Arbor Lodge is a 52 room mansion built by J Sterling Morton on an original 160 acre property.  It started out as a small two room house in the 1850's and was added to over the years as the family prospered until it ended up this size. Mr. Morton was a businessman and politician. He served as territorial governor before Nebraska became a state along with being Secretary of Agriculture under President Grover Cleveland. He had four sons who all went into business for themselves. His oldest son, Joy Sterling, went to work for a company that supplied salt throughout the Midwest. He ended up buying the company and renaming it the Morton Salt Company. The slogan of the Morton Salt Company is: when it rains it pours. We watched a short video about the house and the Morton family. Then we toured the first, second and third floors along with the basement (a one lane bowling alley is located in the basement). Some of the furniture located in the house is original and some of it has been donated as period pieces. President Cleveland and his wife stayed in this house during a visit to Nebraska. The house and grounds were donated to the State of Nebraska in 1923 and have been overseen by the National Arbor Day Foundation for a number of years. The Morton family planted over 270 varieties of trees and shrubs on the property during the years they lived there. Several of the trees had turned to beautiful reds, oranges and yellows.

Located on the grounds is a statue of J Sterling Morton along with a whispering bench. You can sit at one end of the bench, speak in a whisper and be heard by someone sitting at the other end. Connie and I tested the effect and it does work. I don't know how it done, but it is amazing.
Connie at one end of The Whispering Bench.

J. Sterling Morton statue dedicated by Ex-President
Grover Cleveland in 1905.

We walked back across the road to the Arbor Day Farm restaurant and shared a piece of apple pie made with apples from the farm. It was delicious. We then drove back to the Lewis & Clark Museum to take the short trail down from the Visitor's Center to an overlook of the Missouri River.
Both of these photos are looking across the Missouri River
into Iowa.

On Sunday we drove over to Peru Nebraska and rode our bikes along the Steamboat Trace Trail. This trail runs along the Missouri River for about 22 miles (we did not do the entire trail). The trail is level with only a few inclines along the way.

While in Peru NE we drove through the Peru State College. This is the oldest college in Nebraska beginning with it's roots as a Methodist college in the 1850's. We only saw a couple of students walking around the campus which we thought was unusual even for a Sunday.

We drove over to visit the Indian Cave State Park but most of the park (including the cave) were closed due to a road repaving project. Back to the Duchess for dinner and then started our preparation for travel tomorrow to Chapman Kansas.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Nebraska City, Nebraska

Wednesday-Thursday (Oct 21-22):

On Wednesday afternoon we arrived at Victorian Acres RV Park in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Our Garmin GPS sent us over the Missouri River into Iowa before we realized where we were (it completely missed our turn in Nebraska). We returned across the river into Nebraska and quickly found the campground. The campground is located next to Hwy 2 but we are below a hill and don't hear much noise from the road. We got The Duchess set up in our pull through site 66. It is nice to have full hookups again for the motorhome.

Victorian Acres RV Park
We went into town to do some grocery shopping before returning to the campground for the evening. Both of us had saved half our dinner from the restaurant we ate at on Tuesday night, so we heated up our left-overs and settled in for the evening.

On Thursday we visited the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Trail & Visitors Center located here in Nebraska City. There are a number of Lewis & Clark Centers located around the country at various locations along their expedition in 1804-1806. This Center concentrates on the discoveries of plants and wildlife made by Lewis & Clark on their journey.

Entrance to Center

Connie standing in replica of boat used on
Lewis & Clark Expedition (boat was used in a movie about the Expedition)

The Visitor's Center

Replica of smaller boat used on the Expedition with the one dog,
Seaman, that accompanied Lewis & Clark.

Inside a replica of Native American
Earth Lodge

Replica of Native American Earth Lodge
Lewis & Clark documented discoveries (by white Europeans, the Native Americans had known about them for centuries) of 122 animal and 178 plants while on their journey. There was also an exhibit about the fishing done by the Expedition along the Missouri, Yellowstone & Columbia Rivers. There was information about the fishing tackle they took along with them as well as the techniques taught them by the Native Americans. Most of their meals consisted of meat shot or fish caught by members of the Expedition. There was information about the vessels used by the Expedition on the rivers: over 20 different kinds of boats, canoes and barges. There was also an exhibit showing the different medicines used by the members of the Expedition along with the remedies shown to them by the Native American tribes they visited. Only one member of the Expedition died which was very unusual during that period of time so some of the medicines/remedies did work.

We then went into Nebraska City and walked around the downtown area. Nebraska City is the oldest city in Nebraska and was the start of the Oregon trail overland once the settlers got off of the Missouri River boats. During the second half of the 19th Century the city was a busy river port for boats along the Missouri River.

Rock & plaque indicated a spot along the Oregon Trail.
The city has a number of building from the late 19th and early 20th century still in use with old painted advertisements on the side of the corner buildings. Notice the prices charged on the advertisements.

There was also an open area in the middle of downtown with a very large mural and other artwork.

We passed by an unusual building that is now a bank but was once the United States Post Office for Nebraska City.
Old Post Office building.
We drove around town and enjoyed the fall colors along the residential streets.

We returned back to The Duchess where Connie cooked us a Lemon Chicken Pasta dish for dinner. Looks like we may get some rain tomorrow here in Nebraska.