Friday, October 27, 2017

DESTINATION: Fouke, Arkansas

On a three day weekend in October of 2017, we found ourselves in Arkansas, once again, in search of beautiful fall landscapes.  We left the Dallas-Fort Worth on a Friday night and spent the night in Texarkana.   The next morning we decided to drive fifteen miles south to pay homage to Fouke, Arkansas, home of the Legend of Boggy Creek.

When in Fouke visit Monster Mart

Inside Monster Mart is a museum/tribute to the hairy creature

You can see Bigfoot foot casts and pick up your souvenir.  Don't forget to sign the guestbook!

Fouke is a quiet little town that is best known as being the locale for the Fouke monster legend, one of the most popular legends in the state. The town attracted attention in the early 1970s when a resident of Texarkana reported seeing a mysterious creature there. A reporter for the Texarkana Gazette wrote an article about it and a legend was born. Fouke and its monster became famous and were featured in the 1973 movie The Legend of Boggy Creek. The Fouke monster has been described as something of a Southern Sasquatch- a “big-foot-type monster.” The documentary style film on the creature was made by South Arkansas native Charles Pierce in the early 1970s. The film assured a place in folklore history for the Bigfoot look-a-like, which has allegedly been seen in and around Fouke since the 1940s. The low budget, campy movie earned cult status and the familiarity of this tale and the regular resurgence in the media of yeti, Bigfoot, and caveman-like characters keep the legend alive.

Sadly disappointed we did not see the Fouke monster we headed northeast to the Ouachita Mountains and the town of Hot Springs, Arkansas. For centuries, Native Americans, early European explorers, and visitors from around the world have flocked to the natural hot springs to bathe in the healing waters.  Today, the rich history of the hot springs has been preserved, and the bathing rituals continue to be popular among travelers.

Gulpha Creek runs through The Gorge in Hot Springs National Park

We had to go all the way to Hot Springs National Park to see the first sign of fall

Many buildings in Hot Springs are from the Art Deco time period

Ouapaw Bathhouse

This bathhouse window had a Gothic look

Shady character on the streets of Hot Springs, Arkansas

Stained glass ceiling of a bathhouse

Statue inside bathhouse honoring explorers and Native American's that visited the springs

Rows and rows of mailboxes at the Oupaw Bathhouse

Fordyce Bath House is now a cafe & brewery

Statue honoring in square of Hot Springs

After spending the afternoon touring the bath houses at Hot Springs we headed back west to where our cabin awaited us at the Mena Mountain Top Cabins in Mena, Arkansas.  We stayed in this location once before and enjoyed it so much we were back for another visit. The small cabins at Mena Mountain Top are clad in pine and rustically decorated each with a theme (our cabin had a fishing theme).  Each cabin has a screened in porch that over looks the mountainside and is a great place to sip your morning coffee.  

View from the road near our cabin


View from our road near our cabin.  You can see Rich Mountain in the distance.

 The next day we took a scenic drive from Mena, Arkansas, up northwest to Heavener, Oklahoma, where we made a short hike to view the Heavener Runestone. Some believe that Vikings stopped in Heavener more than 1,000 years ago and left a sign of their passing carved on the face of a massive boulder.  The huge rock, now called the Heavener Runestone, is the centerpiece of a park within the city.

Interesting hike to Heavener Runestone

The Heavener Runestone....what does it say?  "Glome Dal" or "Glome's Valley"

Rural Heavener, Oklahoma

After leaving Heavener we drove the back roads south to Queen Wilhelmina State Park to take in the scenery. Queen Wilhelmina State Park is located atop Rich Mountain which is the second highest peak in Arkansas.  Some of the most breathtaking views can be seen from the Queen Wilhelmina's newly renovated lodge.  We stopped here hoping to have lunch in the Queen's Restaurant, however, it was a long wait to sample their delicious southern cuisine.  We decided to head back to Mena and enjoy the rest of the day touring the town before we said our goodbyes to the Natural State.

Mountain views from Queen Wilhelmina State Park

And more mountain views from Queen Wilhelmina State Park

And even more mountain views from Queen Wilhelmina State Park

Old Mountain Creek Bridge outside of Mena, Arkansas

Mountain Creek near Mena, Arkansas

Old post office/general store of Whitetown, Arkansas

Could not resist photographing these beauties although I disturbed their dinner

Sundown at our cabin.  Goodbye day, goodbye Natural State

Friday, July 21, 2017

DESTINATION: Galveston, Texas

Our next adventure was a weekend trip to Galveston, TexasGalveston is a coastal resort city on Galveston Island and Pelican Island of Texas.

Pleasure Pier on the beach at Galveston

Named after Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Count of Gálvez, Galveston's first European settlements on the island were built around 1816 by French pirate Louis-Michel Aury to help the fledgling Republic of Mexico fight Spain. The Port of Galveston was established in 1825 by the Congress of Mexico following its independence from Spain. The city was the main port for the Texas Navy during the Texas Revolution, and later served as the capital of the Republic of Texas.

Pelican Island once housed an immigration station

Pelicans in Galveston Harbor

Carnival Cruises set sail from Port of Galveston

The tall ship Elissa is a three-masted barque. She is currently moored in Galveston, Texas, and is one of the oldest ships sailing today.  When she's not sailing, Elissa is moored at the Texas Seaport Museum in Galveston. Public tours are available year-round-provided she is not out sailing. The ship is sailed and maintained by qualified volunteers from around the nation.

The figurehead on the prow of the Elissa

The Elissa

We were promised dolphins!

Several boating tours offer dolphin watching near Pier 21.  Most boats offer a covered interior and are considered dolphin safe due to the type of motor on the boat. We used Baywatch Tours for our tour.  They offer daily 45-minute tours that allows guests to view the dolphins in their natural habitat during an informational tour of the harbor.

During the 19th century, Galveston became a major U.S. commercial center and one of the largest ports in the United States. It was devastated by the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, whose effects included flooding and a storm surge. The natural disaster on the exposed barrier island is still ranked as the deadliest in United States history, with an estimated death toll of 6,000 to 12,000 people.

Seawolf Park is located on Galveston's Pelican Island on a former immigration station site. The park offers one of the island's most popular fishing piers, picnic sites and a playground. The park is also home to tourist attractions, including the WWII submarine the USS Cavalla and one of only three destroyer escorts in the world, the USS Stewart. The remains of the tanker S.S. Selma, the largest concrete ship constructed, can be seen northwest of the park's fishing pier.

Seawolf Park

USS Stewart

USS Cavalla

Historical marker for SS Selma

SS Selma as seen from Seawolf Park

Galveston is home to six historic districts containing one of the largest and historically significant collections of 19th-century buildings in the United States, with over 60 structures listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

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Remains of Jean Lafitte's (the pirate) house in Galveston.  The house was called Maison Rouge

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Moody Mansion

Thursday, June 22, 2017

DESTINATION: Mount Rainier, Washington


It was time to say goodbye to Washington State.  Here's one last look at the beautiful mountains out of our plane window as we flew by.  We really enjoyed this adventure!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

DESTINATION: Ruby Beach, Washington

Since we were just a few miles from the Pacific Coast we decided to leave the Hoh Rainforest and spend a few minutes at Ruby Beach, Washington.  We were not disappointed with our decision.  The view from the look-out just below the parking lot was breath taking as was the beach once we got a closer look.

Cedar Creek empties into the Pacific Ocean at Ruby Beach

Famous for the reddish sand that occasionally gathers and large, rock islands known as sea stacks, Ruby Beach is one of the most well-known and highly anticipated beaches to visit along the Olympic coastline. This beach is the northernmost of the southern beaches in the coastal section of Olympic National Park. It is located on Highway 101, in Jefferson County, 27 miles south of the town of Forks.

Where's the beach?

Beautiful sight after climbing over all that driftwood

Like virtually all beaches on the northern coast, Ruby Beach has a tremendous amount of driftwood which we had to climb over to walk the beach and get closer to the sea stacks. 

Sea stacks on Ruby Beach

Destruction Island (also known historically as Green Island) is a 30-acre island located approximately 3.5 miles of Ruby Beach. Home to seabirds, shorebirds, and marine mammals, it is part of the Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge.

Destruction Island as seen from Ruby Beach

Destruction Island was used as an anchorage by Spanish ships in 1775. A crew of seven men was sent to the mainland to procure supplies of wood and water, but was massacred by the local Indians, leading naval lieutenant Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra to name it the Isla de Dolores (the Island of Sorrows). Twelve years later, Captain Charles William Barkley, an independent English fur trader, arrived in the ship Imperial Eagle, and sent a party ashore from the island to a similar fate. He named the river where the second massacre took place the Destruction River. Captain George Vancouver later transferred the name to the Isla de Dolores when the river was given its Indian name, the Hoh River.

Three shipwrecks occurred at the island in 1889: Cassanora AdamsPort Gordon, and Wide West. The 94 foot Destruction Island Lighthouse was built on Destruction Island in 1888-91. A US Coast Guard detachment operated the lighthouse from 1939 to the early 1970s. The light was automated in 1968, before it was shut off for good in April 2008. The island itself is accessible only by boat.Jump up