All Creatures Great and Quirkily Named


… The Lord God Made Them All

By Jeff Salter

Might as well start at the beginning…

I’m told my older brother had a dog named Poochie-Boy, but the first pet I remember (during my kindergarten year of 1955-56), was Spottie # 1. We had that dog for only a matter of weeks before it was diagnosed with red mange, for which the treatment then was apparently to be put down. Somebody in the Macon GA church gave us a Calico cat, which we named Mary. Mary was the most tolerant cat in the world and let my little sister dress her up like a doll. Before we moved from Macon to Covington LA, my parents took Mary out to the countryside and turned her “loose,” because they thought cats could not adapt to new environments.

That same year, we got another fox terrier named Spottie # 2, which was eventually shortened to Spottie. We have photos from the Macon period which show Spottie wearing a t-shirt and somebody’s denim shorts. Later she was called Puppy Sue or Sue. Still later, our brother gave her the name Pah-Who-Wee-Hah-Woo, after a Native American in a TV show we watched at the time. Sometimes that was shortened to Pah-Who. When we’d all return from church or some other outing, Spottie would greet us by dragging herself on the grass with her front paws — sort of like what polar bears do on glaciers in documentaries. Someone in our family said that was purty, which was modified to puhhdy… so when we came home we’d tell Spottie to “do puhhdy” and she’d drag herself all over the yard for us. Spottie # 2 lived a long life and I was already in college I think when she died while sleeping in the front yard.

My grandmother Robinson had an ancient, irritable dog named Dixie. After Dixie finally died, she got a dog she named Daisy. Daisy had puppies (we never met the father) and Grandmother let Becky and I pick out two to keep at her house: Rex was “my” dog over there and Happy was my sister’s dog. I think Grandmother had a dog after those two were long gone, but maybe I’m confusing Daisy in the timeline.

During my sophomore year in Mt. Pleasant IA, we lived next door to a family with a little dog named Lucky. Alas, Lucky was not at all fortunate because she seemingly received too little affection from her owners and often was outside shivering in the cold winter. To the point that Lucky eventually moved in with us and later the neighbors formally announced that we could henceforth take care of her. Now that Lucky was truly my sister’s dog, Becky renamed her Jenny. When my brother visited home from college, he promptly re-named her Benny. He would hold Jenny in his lap, pet her lavishly, and croon, “Benny is so ugly… ugly, ugly, little Benny.” And Jenny loved the attention. Jenny lived to a good old age but was eventually stricken by some sort of paralysis.

Another family pet was from a litter of kittens which had been found in the back of Marsolan’s Feed & Seed Store, where I worked for two summers and on Saturdays of the school year in between. My sister was in the hospital for a procedure and I smuggled that kitten into her room for a visit. So it was officially Becky’s cat, but the cat adopted my Dad. Don’t recall who named it, but he was called Thomas. At a relatively young age, Thomas was found dead under the house. My dad believed he had been poisoned.

While I was dating Denise, I bought her a dog that I’d come across in Hammond where I worked on the daily newspaper. Initially, I named him Ace, though his facial markings vaguely suggested a particular TV actor so my Mom re-named him Spock. He also went by Spocky-Doodle and didn’t seem to mind. I was away in the Air Force when Spock was killed by a car while my folks were visiting the cottage in AL.

Around this same general time, I bought my sister a beagle, which she named either Abby or Nabby. Someone adjusted that to Nabigail and even to Nabigail Van Buren. When our son Dave was an infant (and we visited from NM), Nabby would sit by his crib and sniff him protectively.

Shortly after we were married, Denise bought a puppy which was initially named Angus. Because he faintly resembled a miniature black Angus bull, someone adjusted his name to Bangus. He also responded to Angus McGregor and Bangus McGregor; some called him Bangoose. Bangus loved to play in the water. I’ve forgotten exactly how or when, but he died fairly young.

I’ve forgotten the details, but during our few years in Jonesville LA, we were adopted by a cat we called Midnight. Though we never met the boyfriend, our cat later had kittens. I’ve heard various stories about what happened to Midnight’s kittens, but some tell the tale that they were given away as trick-or-treat treats. [I’m skeptical of that story because trick-or-treat is how a duckling came to live in our Baton Rouge apartment during my grad school time.]

In Jonesville, we also had a little dog named either Rugs or Rags (or both). This dog later strayed out to a distant highway and was killed by a vehicle.

Fast forward a few years to Bossier City. I had been putting off getting another dog because our son was supposedly allergic to canine dander. Instead, we got two ducks (which I named Bo and Luke Duck (after popular, fast-driving TV characters)… and later some rabbits.

But what Dave really wanted was another dog. Finally he got one, which he named Rascal. During the day, Rascal slept on TOP of his doghouse, like the fictional Snoopy. Rascal also went by the names, Razz, Razz-a-Ma-Tazz, Spazz, and others I can’t remember now. He was a great dog, who used to sing for us and could do several imitations. He also ate an entire garden hose one summer. He had a girlfriend somewhere in the neighborhood and spend considerable time escaping from our fenced back yard. Rascal survived a bout of heartworms and lived a good long life until a series of later medical problems put him in too much discomfort to go on.

My daughter acquired a Spitz she named Sugar, the only animal we ever had with official breeding. I don’t recall any variations of that name, but Sugar was very possessive of Julie. Sugar slept on Julie’s bed and if anyone went down the hall and dared enter that bedroom when Julie was present, Sugar would growl viciously. Sugar also had a long life until something caused her to lose the functions of her back legs.

Our next pet was originally intended as a stealth hunter for the mouse-infested Pitney-Bowes Building in Shreveport (where my wife worked). Denise got him at a shelter in Bossier Parish. Initially he was named CIP, which was an acronym for some process my wife worked with at P-B… something like Customer Installation Procedure. Anyhow, after CIP jumped on too many desks where he was not welcome, he was fired from P-B and sent home to live with us. Somewhere along the line, he became SIP and later Sipper, though he briefly had the name Desperado because it sounded a bit too girly for me to yell out the front door, “Sipper, Sipper, Sipper” each evening when it was his supper time. Eventually, after his relocation to KY, he took on the name King Sipper the Cat.


Belle, as a puppy in fall 2006

After my wife had moved here and brought my mom to get her settled, I was still in LA selling the house and settling things at work before my retirement. To keep her company in the old Williams family Farm House, Denise paid $10 at Big Lots for a little black terrier with huge bat-like ears. It was, of course, Belle. You’d need a whole book to describe Belle – and, indeed, Belle’s essence appears in two of my novels as Perra – but suffice it to say that she could hear a leaf fall in the next county, could leap like a gazelle in the wheat fields, and could have out-raced a trained greyhound. Belle was a gregarious critter, making a wide social loop every day. She’d stop in and visit my Mom, go tussle with neighbor dog Sadie (and borrow some of Sadie’s chew toys), tussle with neighbor dog Ike, and explore other places. Belle also visited the gas station on Dairy Road every day and mooched snacks from the ladies in the office; they named her Sweet Pea. Belle accompanied Denise to obedience school, where rambunctious Belle learned how to manipulate my wife just enough for Denise to think she was in charge. Upon “graduation,” Denise offered to let the instructor use Belle as a hospital comfort dog, but the instructor politely declined. Sometimes Belle was difficult to round-up but Denise soon learned that if she would start singing the title song from “The Sound of Music,” Belle would come running and kiss her face. Many was the time when Denise would stand on our front porch and began with “The hills are alive…” and we’d see that black gazelle bounding through the wheat field toward home.

One cold and rainy night, a stray appeared at my daughter’s house. Julie was afraid to let it inside because she had two Labs that could’ve eaten it for dessert. So my wife took in the trembling bundle. Bojangles has been with us ever since. No, he does not sing or dance, but Bo loves to go with me to visit my Mom each afternoon. Until Belle’s untimely death, she and Bo would romp constantly. Bo and Sipper have an uneasy truce.

Those are all the official pets I remember, but along the way, as a high school kid, I raised chickens and hamsters. Didn’t name the fowl, but some of the hamsters were given names, which I recall to have been those of the Beatles members and their girlfriends (or, in John’s case, his wife).


What about you? Ever have pets as a kid? Have any pets now? Any funny names?

[JLS # 294]

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Not at all Strange

This week we’re talking about pets and their names. Animals have always been a huge part of my life. As far back as I can remember we always had some sort of animal sharing our home. As far as I am concerned they all had relatively normal names but I will allow you to be the judge of that.


The first pet I barely remember she was a cocker spaniel named Baby. The only thing I recall about her was that she would chase me out of the room if she was trying to eat. For some reason she wouldn’t let me in the same room if she was at her food dish. She’d bark and run at me and I would jump on the table just to get away from her. I don’t know who named her or what happened to her.


On the farm my grandparents had a dog named Lobo. He had belonged to my uncle but when he passed away (at the age of 17) Lobo became grandma’s. This dog was loyal, cuddly, protective, and a great friend. He would follow us around the farm, or rather he would lead us. Always on the lookout for anything that might harm us. I recall several instances where he killed snakes because they were too close to where we were playing. Lobo lived to a ripe old age and was buried under his favorite tree.


Shortly after Lobo died my dad took us to get a Collie. We picked a beautiful girl. My little brother and I argued over names so finally my dad named her Duchess. It seems most of the time we called her Dutch. She was a great dog who loved going to the farm. When we were in town I enjoyed walking her except when she saw something she wanted. My brothers all thought it was hilarious that the dog could flip me over and drag me behind her while she chased a rabbit or squirrel. At least I never let go of the leash. She also lived a long life. My two older children vaguely remember her. She passed away from cancer.


We had so many cats when I was little that I don’t recall all of their names. There was Sunshine, the only good cat according to my dad who never cared for cats. Monty, Rascal, Pixie, Bear, Midnight, Shadow, Leena, Meena, Cheyenne, and my Jig.


Jig was a one eyed black cat. I found him walking home from school. A couple of boys had been throwing him around like he was a football. I scooped him up and carried him home. When I walked in the door I said, “Look what I have.” To which my mother replied with something along the lines of “ Take him to your room and do your homework.” We were always bringing strays home and begging to keep them. It was usually met a no which after a lot of begging would turn into “Ask your dad.” Daddy always said yes, my sister swears it was all because of the puppy dog eyes and lip quiver. Never before had mom responded with take him to your room. A few hours passed and my mom came up to check on me. It was then that she realized the black cat I had was not Shadow (the one we already had). After seeing that one of his eyes had been poked out she said we could keep him and we got him into a vet. He was a great cat and loved to curl up on me or next to me while I read or wrote.


My sister had a hedgehog named Willie and I had a lamb named Homer (My grandma named the lamb so I know he was named after Homer author of the Iliad and not after the Simpsons).


Fast forward to more recent years and you have my sister’s dogs. Remington, Winchester, and Nikka. When Win and Nik had puppies she and I named them with a bit of an Avengers theme. Hawkeye Number Nine (the 9Th one born), Short Tail Thor ( his mom stepped on his tail slicing half of it off the day he was born), Agent Phil Amina, Koda, Loki, Cam (Captain America) and Dragonmire Ironman.


My current animal is Magneto. My brother named him for the M on his forehead. He thinks he’s a parrot because the cat likes to perch in shoulders.


All these names seem normal to me. They just fit the animals perfectly. I do have a name that I like for a future pet but don’t know if I’ll ever use it and that is Abacus. How do you name your animals?


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Fido, Rover, Buddy…What Was Your Name?

This week we’re discussing quirky or strange pet names.

When I was small, a procession of goldfish came to our house. We usually had them in pairs – a gold one and a black one. The gold one died, so we got another. Then the black one died, so we got another. And then the gold one…well, you get the idea. At the time I wondered if they didn’t like the fact that we named them after us. The lighter colored one was always named Patty, and the darker one was always named Mike (after my brother). Looking back, I have a sneaking suspicion that they might have survived longer if I’d remembered to feed them.

We had a puppy once, for a few hours. We named him Chipper. We didn’t have a dog bed, so we put towels in a box and put my alarm clock in with him so that he wouldn’t miss his mommy. And then my brother Ken’s eyes started watering and he broke out in a rash. He started sneezing and wheezing and my mother started to panic. Chipper went back to his previous owners in a hurry.

Since I was ambivalent about the dog in the first place, I didn’t complain. Apparently my brothers did, because we soon had a parakeet chirping in our kitchen. And I don’t remember who named this creature, but we ended up calling it Suzy. That’s not too strange, except we learned that Suzy was male—and we never bothered to change its name. I didn’t have much to do with Suzy. I cringed whenever it was my turn to feed him and eventually turned over some of my babysitting money to get one of my brothers to take care of my bird chores.

My hubby didn’t seem to mind my aversion to animals. He thought it was funny that a city kid like me taught in a rural farming area like the one he grew up in. But then we had kids, and those kids wanted a pet. Dad and the kids won out, and I had to share my living space with a pair of lovebirds. I don’t think we ever named them – they were just ThoseDangedBirds. They made a lot of noise except when the cage cover was on, so I tended to forget to take it off in the morning. They finally returned to the pet store.

Later on my hubby again overrode my wishes and came home with a Bichon Frise. I made it clear I would NOT have anything to do with feeding and caring for this creature. And for the most part I kept that promise. But I did come up with her name. Since the puppy was tiny, we looked for a name that reflected that – and came up with Demi.

I survived almost nine years with that creature. By the time she died the kids had moved out of the house, and it’s been blissfully quiet – except for when the granddog is here. My younger daughter has a West Highland Terrier named Snowball. Fortunately, Snowball’s previous owners trained him well, because he doesn’t jump on furniture or people, doesn’t beg, and doesn’t bark, except when he sees a squirrel. He holds still when we need to put his leash on and comes when he’s called. So dog-sitting for Snowball in small increments is doable.

None of these names are particularly strange or quirky. But then, we haven’t had to name that many pets. The girls’ piano teacher had a dog named Diogi (pronounced D. O. G.), and my step-daughter and hubby own one named DiNozzo (they’re NCIS fans). I had a forgetful friend name her mutt Hey-You so that she wouldn’t have to think too hard before calling.

How do you name your pets?

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A Quick View of My Favorite Parks

I realize that  I skipped a week ahead on my posts, with my PC  at the Geek Squad.  So here I am at my local library, quickly trying to make amends. .. I can’t seem to find a ‘reschedule’ option for my jump-ahead post. (If you Foxes of the Hound can do so, please help.)

I grew u p in the Washington D.C. Suburbs and we would go to the Chesapeake Bay  or the ocean and enjoyed the  parks there,, especailly when we lived in Mayland. I was small, but I do have striong memories. We went when I was older, as well, but more often than not, we went to the  Shenandoah Valley, Skyline Drive  and the Mannassas Battlefield for relaxation.

Of course, it was easy to visit Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, and Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s beautiful home and lands. He had an incredible view on  the water. Both parks have numerous gradens and support bulidingsm (kitchesn, forges, etc.).

There are many lesser-known treasures as well, such as Gunstan Hall, the home of George Mason. It has a great house and lovely grounds, outbuildings that include a school house and a lovely path trhough the woods that leads to their dock on the water.  Or  Woodlawn Plantation, the home of Martha Washington’s granddaughter.George built it for her as a dowery.It is very convenient, now , right on a major artery of the Virginia suburbs. We visited it often, in fact, we’d take our nieces there when they were little amd we’d stop to eat at a fast-food restaurant at the base of the property. Once, when one of my nieces was about four,she said to her sister, “This is a really old Gino’s; George Washington used to eat here.” No, he didn’t.

I moved to Idaho and I could see so far that I the Grand Tetons over the border  from my bedroom window. I spent little time there and didn’t travel much, but when I went to Colorado, it was another story.

We went to many, many national parks, traveled all over the state. There are too many stories to tell. We would get the kids in the car and go several times a month, even in the Winter, when there was a lull. The weather in Colorado is quite a roller-coaster.

One of our favorite places, easily accessable up the highway, straight up the montains from us was Mount Evans, which has the higest paved road in the world.

It tops out nearly as high as Pikes Peak, but it doesn’t have the  publicity. It has levels, with incredibly beautiful lakes, and the top has a view that is cold even when Denver hits over 100F.

We’d go every year on my birthday, June 20. Often  there would be some snow, sometimes quite a bit. Then we  would go on my husband’s birthday, on July 29th, a mere 39 days later…however, it would then be the middle of the Summer there.  Many types of low-to-the-ground alpine wildflowers would be in full bloom. Weasles would be frolicking and it was another world.The pass to it would close by Labor Day weekend…unless snows caused an earlier closing.

A shorter trip would take us to Lookout Mountain, a short jaunt up I-70.Buffalo Bill Cody is burried there; his lodge is a tourist shop.It has a nuseaum of barbed wire…you read that right. You would not beieve the incredible ideas and configurations that have been used  making twisted wire! In the Summer, there are so many hummingbirds, they hover like butterflies.

There are so many stories that I could tell, but I will quickly add that if you ever have a chance to visit Arizona, please allow yourself some time and a vehicle. I never saw Old Tucson, which I would have enjoyed because of all the many Westerns I have watched, but I saw so much else.

From cliff-dwellings to sacred wells, (deep into canyons, where you walk down hewn-rock steps), the Indian ruons are numerous, interesting and many have museums. Teh natural beauty of the place is varied and so worth seeing.I was in 97F in Scottsdale one day in February and there was snow on the  ground the next day in Flagstaff.

I’ve about used up my time on the library computer, so I will bid you goodbye until I get my PC back, hopefully, this weekend.Thanks for bearing with me.

Have  you visited any of the national parks I mentioned?



Posted in Tonette Joyce | 7 Comments

Parks of Every Variety

They’re Not Just National, You Know

By Jeff Salter

I have visited a LOT of parks and monuments (and reserves) over the years and, to tell the truth, I can’t recall which were “national” and which were “state.” It was sufficient for me to know that somebody was taking care of them and allowing us to share in their beauty.

In a blog from this time four years ago, I briefly describe our first family vacation in 1958, which included stopovers in several parks (large and small). With the exception of the following year, I believe we took a long trip annually until we left LA in summer of 1965. In those travels, we covered pieces of about 30 states, as I recall.

Though a few places were bland or disappointing [see my list below], most of the parks we visited were majestic and inspiring and elevated — nothing at all like the flat, humid, nearly sea level southeast Louisiana where we lived. I was so impressed by many of our tours, that I decided I wanted to be a park ranger when I grew up — I wanted to be the guy living there and conducting those tours!

As I read over my partial list, three things stick out:
** The places I most enjoyed were those which allowed us the most free rein to explore on our own.
** Since our home turf was mostly flat, I was especially fond of parks where we could climb stuff — the higher, the better.
** The parks which allowed hands-on experiences were far more memorable than those with barriers where you could only gaze upon features from a distance.


Bandolier — up the rustic ladders

Some Of The Especially Memorable Places

One of my all-time favorite memories (and one of our earliest trips — probably fourth grade) is Bandolier National Monument (NM) — where my big brother and I scampered up rustic ladders to a partly reconstructed Kiva some 140 feet up a steep cliff. Our parents turned us loose and we had the time of our lives. In retrospect, I never would’ve let my own 9-year-old make that climb (unless I was directly behind him/her). Bandolier also had a long hiking trail which we set out upon, assuming from the posted sign that it was about 1.4 miles long. Turns out that was the distance ONE-WAY. So my young legs tired quickly and my dad had to carry me on his back for half of the return trip.


Bandolier — the partly reconstructed KIVA (some 140 feet up the cliff)

Yellowstone National Park (mostly WY) — We saw Old Faithful spout, we saw bears swarm around the lined-up cars, and I was especially intrigued by volcanic pits of bubbling whatever.

Yosemite National Park (CA) — We traipsed among titanic sequoias and redwoods and saw (in the distance) El Capitan cliff. One evening, we witnessed the Yosemite Firefall, a warm weather event, in which burning hot embers were spilled from the top of Glacier Point to the valley 3,000 feet below.

Side-by-side California parks, with enormous boulders to climb and majestic giant trees to ooh and ahh over were Sequoia National Park and King’s Canyon National Park.

Craters of the Moon National Monument (ID) — Charles and I were allowed to go exploring by ourselves and had a memorable time.

Grand Canyon National Park (AZ) — We wanted to go to the bottom but had insufficient time or $$$ (or both). Actually I saw this twice… the second time with Denise and toddler David.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park (NM) — Beautiful and spooky when they turned out the lights. Visited this twice also… the second time with Denise, very pregnant with David.

Bryce Canyon National Park (UT) — Romped all over the trails… had a great time.

Zion National Park (UT) — beautiful trails, but don’t recall any particulars.

Mammoth Cave (KY) — I visited this site as a grownup with kids.

Mesa Verde National Park (CO) — We arrived too late in the day to visit the pueblos close-up, but we could see them in the distance.

State Parks I Enjoyed

Longhorn Cavern State Park (TX) — Don’t recall how or why, but our family had the tour guide to ourselves. Not as many features as Carlsbad and not nearly the extent of its network, but it was fun to enjoy it “privately”.

Huge outdoor swimming “pool” — (Toyahvale TX) part of Balmorhea State Park.  Fed by a DEEP natural spring. Billed as the world’s largest spring-fed pool (at the time), it freaked me out to swim across the deep end and see all sorts of marine life many leagues below me.

Silver Springs State Park (FL) — Not only was it beautiful, but it was legendary because most of the water scenes of the early Tarzan films were supposedly filmed there. It was also not far from Ross Allen’s Reptile Farm, another highlight of my childhood.

Dinosaur Valley State Park (TX) which had a few preserved dinosaur tracks still visible in the stone.

Parks That Were Something of a Let-Down

Petrified Forest National Park (AZ) — I had expected to see solidified, standing Triassic trees. But it was mostly partial logs and small chunks of logs / branches scattered on the ground … and they would not allow you to take souvenirs.

Painted Desert (mostly AZ) — hardly has a separate identity from the Petrified Forest. Everything was way off in the distance and it was not nearly as colorful as the brochures suggested.

Great Salt Lake State Park (UT) — Supposedly the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere. Its size varies with water level, but typically covers about 1700 square miles. Yep — lake, large, salty water. Not a thrill since we’d been to Lake Ponchartrain numerous times.

Meteor Crater (AZ) [a National Natural Landmark] — Despite its importance as a geological site, the crater is not protected as a national monument, a status that would require federal ownership. At 3900 feet diameter and 560 feet depth, it was just an enormous hole in the ground. I would’ve enjoyed it more if they’d let me climb down to the bottom like Jeff Bridges (later) did in Starman.

White Sands National Monument (NM) — not to be confused with the missile range. Yep, plenty of sand and all white … and you never got it out of your shoes.

Great Sand Dunes National Park (CO) — Yeah, plenty of dunes, all sand… a great place to film a Sahara Desert movie without traveling to Africa.

Everglades National Park (FL) — near the southern tip of Florida. I’d expected a massive swamp like I’d seen in the movies, but it was more like the woods of Louisiana. We saw no animals to speak of… just a wooden pedestrian causeway through a teeny corner of the park (and skeeters… which I’d been told would guarantee us catching malaria).

La Brea Tar Pits (CA) — tiny black pit in the middle of downtown L.A. with a chain link fence around it. All the dinosaurs had already been pulled out and stuck in museums somewhere else.

Places I’d Never Go Back To

Big Bend National Park (TX) — the southernmost tip of Texas. All I remember was intense heat and thousands of gnats that aimed specifically for your eyes and nostrils. Misery… and nothing to “see”.

Other Cool Places

When we lived in Catahoula Parish LA for a few years, one of our favorite haunts was a little ( ? parish ? ) park on a hill above Harrisonburg. Fort Beauregard was one of four Confederate forts guarding the Ouachita River during the Civil War. Nothing remained of the fort itself, but the park had rocks to climb, trails to hike, and cool “stairs” (steps cut into enormous logs). It was fun to visit.

Other places we’ve lived (or visited) have had lovely parks with streams, caves, waterfalls, trails, and whatever — I’ve enjoyed them all. Most were local unheralded parks, such as the lovely ones my brother always found wherever he lived.


What about you? Which big parks have you enjoyed? Which have been disappointing?

[JLS # 293]


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Park and Museum

This week we’re talking about National Parks. I have never been to any big name parks. I have spent plenty of time at a Sate Park. Wild Cat Den is a state park not far from where I live. It is an incredibly beautiful place with lots of woods and cliffs. I always enjoyed climbing The Devil’s Punchbowl and Fat Man’s Squeeze. Down the road is the old mill and school house. I remember a class trip where we got to spend time in the school house and do a lesson. I thought it list have been great to actually go to school there. The creek is where I spent many summer afternoons splashing around. I frequented the campgrounds on colder nights because it was not as crowded.


When I looked up a directory of National Parks I discovered that I have been to one a few times. I never realized it was considered a National Park. The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, we always called it The Hoover Museum. President Hoover was born and spent his early childhood not far from where I grew up and there in West Branch is the museum. I went several times as a child. I liked when they had some Laura Ingalls Wilder/ Little House on the Prairie items on display.


A few years back my kids, sister, and I were on our way home from the Childrens Hospital and decided to make a pit stop at The Hoover Museum. Quinlan was excited because they had several classic cars on display that day. The walk through the actual museum only took about thirty minutes and by the time we were back outside the kids were tired from the long day at the hospital so we didn’t make it over to the cabin where President Hoover was born. Since it is only a thirty-eight minute drive from us I am sure we will be going again.


Are there any National Parks near you that you didn’t know about? I am going to go through this directory and start planning some trips for my little family.


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What I did on my Summer Vacation.

I’m trying to get back in the swing of things after being on vacation for two weeks. There are two more weeks until school starts. (Not that I’m counting the hours or anything, but couldn’t they go back early? Actually this morning, they’ve discovered they have rooms full of toys to play with and my daughter is fervently vacuuming the couches in search of change.)

IMG_1434We visited several national parks and monuments on our recent trip. The first was the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. As we were approaching the park, I warned the kids that they needed to watch out the sides of the car in order to see the “Badlands.” When they saw the first cliffs, they were shouting. I couldn’t believe how excited they were. That evening we drove through part of the national park and were able to hike along the cliffs. IMG_1438The next day we took the road through the park as we headed to our next destination. We were all amazed by the cliffs and rocks. We looked for fossils, but didn’t see any. We did, however, see prairie dogs. My kids wanted to take them home. I’m sure our dog would love a prairie dog as pet for however short-lived that would be.


We also attempted to visit the Jewel Cave monument outside of Custer, South Dakota. We were able to see the visitors’ center and a hike, but could not go into the cave. The tours had already filled for the day and we didn’t make it back another day. We did pass one of the entrances of the cave and it was like standing in front of an air conditioner. Nice relief on a hot day.IMG_1448

The other national monument we visited was Mount Rushmore. We went to the evening lighting ceremony which was pretty cool. At the end they recognized all the veterans who were there and over 100 men and women went forward and told us their branch and years of service. If you get a chance to visit at that time, it is an amazing experience.


We have also visited Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan several times. It’s more beautiful if you aren’t running a marathon, but it does make the pain somewhat more endurable. After my husband and I got married we moved out to Seattle and stopped for several days in Glacier National Park. It is a beautiful place. We hope to go back again.

My dream park to visit is Yellowstone. There is a half marathon that is near the park that I would love to do. (Although after running at the altitude in the Black Hills, I am reconsidering that.)

This year is the hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the first park and so the parks are encouraging people to visit. There is even a special program where 4th graders get in free or something. I overheard (and I totally eavesdropped that they are going to continue the program next year. I’m excited because I will have 2 4th graders.)

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