Oregon Zoo

The grandkids had a few days off from daycare, so I got to spend some time helping entertain them last week. One day we went to the Oregon Zoo. When I ride the MAX to and from the airport, I have often imagined what the Zoo was like when the train stops at that station. Now I know. Two animals there especially caught my eye.

I am not sure if I have ever seen a bald eagle, but I know that I have never seen one this close. We were about 3 feet away from this one. I can’t tell if it is the male or the female.

I was also taken with Dozer (short for Bulldozer) the African Spurred Tortoise. We watched as he climbed over an obstacle and made good time getting to his sunning spot.

Airport Art

I’m particularly fond of art at Portland’s PDX. Now that I am traveling again, I search for art in airports.

In ONT Terminal 4, I saw these lovely portraits of Mark Twain and Langston Hughes made from paper and cardboard. I’m sorry I didn’t take a photo of the artist’s name.

These sculptures hang from the ceiling at one end of Terminal C in the Denver Airport.

The Shed: Habitat ReStore in Fort Collins

The idea for a boutique shopping experience at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Fort Collins was born during the pandemic. My sister, the liaison with faith-based communities, thought of ways to maintain connections with various congregations. With ideas from Pinterest, she organized projects for people to create and sell in pop up events using donations given to the Habitat ReStore.

One idea led to another, and soon a corner of the ReStore turned into The Shed. Here shoppers will find upcycled and handcrafted items. The Shed has been open for a while, but the Outdoor Shed launched last week with great items for the backyard.

Anna and Abby’s Yard

We are so excited to not only be traveling, but especially to see family again. It’s been since October when we were last in Oregon, and Anna and Abby’s Yard has been completed and opened since then.

This playground celebrates the lives of two young girls who died in a freak accident in 2013. A huge tree in front of a house across the street from Rogers Park came down and serves as the foundation of a number of structures in the park. You can see photos of sections of the tree here.

The spirits of Anna and Abby grace the yard
This is the tail of a very long dragon
Soon these shelves will house a Little Free Library

Laura Ingalls Wilder Touring

Being big fans of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, we had to leave I-90 and drive north to the town of De Smet, South Dakota. It’s here where By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years took place.

Today you can tour the Surveyors’ House where the Ingalls Family spent one winter, as well as the house that Pa built in town.

You can also drive out to the homestead just outside of town and see the five cottonwood trees that Pa planted for Ma and his four daughters.

After this tour, we took the Laura Ingalls Highway (#14) from De Smet to Walnut Creek in Minnesota to see Plum Creek where the Ingalls family had lived in a dugout. It is on a private farm these days, but you can pay your entrance fee in a little box and drive out to the site and even picnic there, if you wish.

The sign notes the location of the dugout

This was my favorite day of our Dakota adventure, as I remember so distinctly reading about these places.

South Dakota Tourist Attractions

Most Americans have heard of Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota. It used to be that you might see Wall Drug bumper stickers fairly often, but I have not seen one in many years. When driving through the rolling green hills along I-90, the occasional billboard advertises this tourist attraction. And yes, they had free ice water, although the day we drove across South Dakota it was cool and rainy, and coffee sounded better.

It’s everything you might think it would be

The other famous attraction is Mitchell’s Corn Palace. It, too, is conveniently on I-90. Every year the building is decorated with corn in various themes. In 2007 the theme was Rodeo.

Although I would not plan a trip to South Dakota to see these two stops, they are nice distractions from interstate driving.

South Dakota Scenery

Crossing over into South Dakota, I checked off state number 50!

We enjoyed scenery in parks in this state. Our daughter had once been to Mount Rushmore and told us that we didn’t need to pay money to see it since she thought it underwhelming. So we gave our tourist dollars to Custer State Park instead.

From Custer State Park, you can see Mount Rushmore through the trees.

Of course, we had to make a stop at Badlands National Park, as well.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Our second and final stop in North Dakota ended at Teddy Roosevelt National Park. My trusty little Canon PowerShot S410 did its best to capture the wide vistas, but I’m sure a wide angle lens with more pixels at sunrise or sunset would have made for better photos. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our time in this National Park.

We enjoyed watching the bison from the safety of our car
The prairie dogs were our favorites, though.

North Dakota: 2007

It’s time to start buying plane tickets again, but this week I am remembering past trips while anticipating future ones. Also, if foreign travel is not in the cards this year, this diverse country of ours offers many places to visit.

After our attending our daughter’s college graduation in Minnesota, I knew that this was my best opportunity to visit my last two states. We rented a PT Cruiser and headed to North Dakota.

Our first tourist stop landed us in the middle of the state on I-94 in Mandan. Here we visited Fort Abraham Lincoln. Visitors can view a replica Mandan Village called On-A-Slant, named because the land sloped toward the river.

Also in this park is the last house where Custer lived before his infamous defeat.

Central Coast Fauna

It’s always exciting to see animals that you don’t normally see in your daily life. On our trip we saw many birds.

This deer was spying on us in MontaƱa de Oro as we started our ascent up Valencia Peak.

We rarely see Sea Otters, so the many we saw in Morro Bay were a real treat for us.

We also saw ground squirrels and lizards, and one lone Monarch butterfly. There is no photographic evidence of that, though.