Legacy Sailing
 Photo Gallery 21  
September - October 2004
Florida to the Pacific Northwest
On this leg we headed diagonally across the country from Florida to the Pacific Northwest.  We stopped overnight in Atlanta for a visit with our old friend Bill Burks and then pushed on rapidly into the Midwest.  At St. Louis we stopped briefly at the Jeffersonian Expansion NHS (and rode the Gateway Arch to the top) and then at the Ulysses S. Grant NHS for a 'drive-by' visit.  On quickly to Kansas City we stopped in Independence for the Truman NHS and the same day through Kansas to Nebraska for a stop at the Homestead NHS. 
Better known by its most familiar feature, the Gateway Arch, the Jefferson Expansion National Historic Site sits on the banks of Mississippi River at St. Louis. The grounds are beautifully landscaped with tree lined promenades that lead to the open central area where the Arch, and its subterranean museum are located.
After descending into the bowels of the ground beneath the Arch, one rides to the arched viewing area at the top. The windows are quite small, about 9x27 inches due to the tremendous compression loads on the sides of the Arch.
They are also situated on the downward sloping sides of the Arch, allowing one to look nearly straight down at the shadow of the arch below.  Not for the acrophobic! These steep stairs lead from the viewing area to the 4 foot diameter capsules, each holding 5 persons, that carry passengers up and down the 600 feet from the top.  Not for the claustrophobic!
We detoured slightly to pass through a corner of Kansas so we could check it off.  Here I don't think we are in Kansas anymore, Toto! Heather standing amidst the restored tall-grass prairie at the Homestead National Historic Site near Beatrice, Nebraska.  I would neither want to walk through no plow this stuff!
One of the landmarks along the trails west in the 1800s was Chimney Rock which signaled the end of the 'sea of grass' that was the plains and the start of the mountains. A little further along the trail was Scottsbluff.  Now an agricultural town, then the location of a pass and at times a trading post.
The Scottsbluff NHS has a road winding to the top of the bluff which gives great views of the surrounding countryside. Looking down from the top at the road, the visitor's center, and the pass through the rocky ridge.
Fossil Butte NM, located in southwestern Wyoming has a beautiful visitors center filled with examples of the wonderful fossils from the surrounding area. While we couldn't see fossils in the ground, we still enjoyed walking the trails and seeing the changing colors of the aspen trees and the shrubs on hillsides.
At Golden Spike NHS at Promontory, Utah the park service has reinstalled a bit of track at the spot where the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869. Although the originals were scrapped shortly after 1900, both of the engines have been recreated for display.  The day we were visiting the Jupiter was on the spot.
Interestingly the Jupiter was wood fueled, since the Central Pacific railroad had no coal, while the 119 was coal fueled since that railroad had access to coal from the east. Out on the basalt plains of Idaho's Snake River at INEEL is EBR-1, Experimental Breeder Reactor 1, the first nuclear reactor to produce electricity.
Craters of the Moon NM preserves the largest recent lava fields in the continental US.  The textures of the lava are among the best features of the park. The flows, here about 1500 years old, include pieces of the crater rim that were carried along with the lava.
Although walking off the trail is forbidden in most places, one of the cinder cones can be climbed. The smooth cinders are a real contrast to the lava flows.  In the distance you can see the cones defining the "great rift."
Even out in the midst of lava flows, small bits of vegetation colonizes the bits of soil that is blown into or develops in the cracks. The park has several lava tubes, including this very large one, Indian Cave.  Light from collapses in the ceiling lets illumination into the bottom of the cave.
Updated 11/14/2006