Notre Dame to Nappanee

Notre Dame University

Founded in 1842 by a Catholic Priest, Notre Dame is now rated one of the 25 top universities in the country.  We were camping in Niles, Michigan, with our friends, Jeff and Marilyn, who took us for a bike tour through the very impressive campus!  The architecture is awesome, and the grounds gorgeous! I know pretty much nothing about the individual buildings, so you just get to look at pretty pictures…






When we  were told we would see “Touchdown Jesus”, I really didn’t know what to expect.  This huge mural, on a building facing the football stadium across a grassy mall, says it all!




This garden is dedicated to the “Fighting Irish”.  Kathy, this shot’s for you! (Even tho’ it’s not Wyoming!)


South Bend, Indiana

We also rode a bit through South Bend.  A great bike path winds along the St Joseph river, and through some quaint neighborhoods.



As I’m sure all you car buffs recall, South Bend is the home of the Studebaker automobile.  Studebaker build wagons before cars were a thing.  If you want to see more Studie history, go back to a previous blog here.

Anyway, in 1876, two men met at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. J.M. Studebaker was showing off his wagons, and J.L. Mott was displaying a unique Renaissances-style cast iron fountain. Studebaker loved that fountain, and when he had built up sufficient capital, he ordered one – even more elaborate, and had it electrified.  In July of 1906 it was unveiled: changing colored lights, cherubs riding dolphins, and lots of turtles, topped with a majestic lady.  The fountain stood for decades, but was dismantled in 1941 and thought to have been sold for scrap.  However, John and Mary Seiler rescued the top third of the fountain, and many of the other pieces, and used them to decorate their golf course, and later their home.  In 2009 their descendants donated the pieces to the History Museum in South Bend, and later the original molds were found and used to recreate missing pieces.  2016 saw the second unveiling of this fascinating fountain, with all the original functions restored.  

We didn’t get to see any light show…



I’ve been interested in the Lincoln Highway, which was the first true east-west route across the country.  In South Bend, Indiana, the Lincoln Highway crossed the Dixie Highway, which was a north-south route, from Florida to Canada, inspired by the success of the the Lincoln.



South Bend is also a very nice modern city, with many beautiful buildings you won’t see any pictures of here.



Kayaking with Friends

Jeff and Marilyn then took us to New Buffalo, on Lake Michigan, where we both got out our tandem kayaks and had a great time exploring a bit of the lake, and then a ways up the Galien River.  It twists and turns through beautiful greenery and some nice homes.  We got out at the Galien River County Park, where they have a small dock and a boardwalk across the marsh and into the forest.  There you climb about six flights of stairs, and then out onto a long “Canopy Walkway” out to an overlook for a beautiful view of the river and the marsh.  Only a couple of my pictures survived! (More on that later…)




I’ll let you read about the famous Dewey Cannon.  It’s mainly famous because we ate in this park.





Newmar corporation built our motorhome, three years ago. It is a wonderful company, in a largely Amish area in Nappanee, Indiana.  The fabled Amish craftsmanship is evident in the way the motorhomes are built.  We had some problems with the fake leather upholstery starting to look like it had leprosy, and Newmar graciously replaced all the furniture!  The driver’s and passenger’s seats up front, two recliners and the couch.  Very nice!  And we are not the original owners, or under warranty.  A great company.  They also replaced my cracked windshield and repaired a ding I’d put on one side.



Here is our home getting ready for her new windshield.


While the motorhome was in the shop, we got to tour the area.  The Heritage Trail is an audio presentation we downloaded, and then followed its instructions through many of the little towns in the area.

Edward Bonney moved to this area in the early 1830’s.  He had plans to make a big city, and name it Bonneyville.  He built a large mill, using an unusual horizontal turbine to power the huge grinding stones.  He also tried to build a tavern/hotel.  Canals and railroads were the main methods of transportation then, and both ended up by-passing his great location.  His dream of Bonneyville evaporated.

The story is that he was charged with counterfeiting, arrested, and sent under armed guard to Indianapolis for trial. He managed to escape, and headed to Iowa, where he used his talents tracking down other criminals as a quite successful bounty hunter.

He later returned to Illinois, was indicted for murder, and then acquitted.  He became a postmaster, and authored a book titled “The Banditti of the Prairies, or the Murderer’s Doom!!”.   (I haven’t read it)  He then enlisted in the Civil War, and received a wound in the Siege of Vicksburg, which eventually killed him.  He was buried in the same area he had originally owned.

All this is to introduce the mill that he built, with the interesting horizontal turbine.  Some argue whether it was built in 1832 or 1837, but at any rate, it was quite a while ago.  The coolest part is that it is still in operation!  We had to purchase a couple bags of flour, stone ground in a water powered mill working over 180 years!!


In 1896, J.J. Burns built the Cosmo Buttermilk Soap Company in Goshen, Indiana.  With almost 80,000 square feet, they produced laundry soap, bath soap and toilet paper.  In 1910 the building was taken over by the Chase Bag factory, where they made sacks for flour (Like above), and many other paper products, including the little tags wrapped up in Hershey’s Kisses!  The term “Bagology” was utilized here, meaning “To elevate the production of bags to the level of science.”  However scientifically elevated, the bag business folded about 1982.  The buildings are now being converted to shops, restaurants, and museums.




Albert and Elizabeth Beardsley built a magnificent palace of a home in Elkhart, Indiana in 1908. They named it for a daughter they had lost as an infant. When they died, other family members lived in the home, till 1944.  Then the Deputy family moved in, and raised 5 boys there.  In 1969 the Deputys sold Ruthmere to the Beardsley foundation, which has preserved it and now offers tours.  No photography is allowed inside, and since most of my outside pictures apparently got wet (More on that later), all you get to see is the greenhouse and garage.  Trust me, the rest is opulent and amazing.



This is the garage, and I wondered why you would build such a large building as a garage and have only one relatively narrow door…



When inside, I found the reason… a large turntable, like you’d see in a railroad roundhouse.  You could drive a car in, turn a large crank, and the car would rotate, then back into position.  You could have several cars in the garage, and drive them in, rotate and drive out again forward.  Very cool.

In the garage today is a 1917 Cadillac, a 1916 Milburn Electric car, and a 1912 Pratt-Forty, which I believe was made in Elkhart.



Back in the Wisconsin Dells

We so enjoyed our brief time in the Wisconsin Dells, that we stayed in the same campground again on our way back to Minneapolis.  We also allowed more time for a kayak trip, exploring from downtown Wis Dells up the river to the Holiday Shores Resort and back, about 15 miles.






It was at the very end of this breathtakingly beautiful kayak trip that my phone slipped into the water as I stepped onto the dock.  I traipsed for a LONG time in feet of water and 9 inches of mud, looking for my prodigal phone, and finally giving up.  Some of the pictures apparently uploaded to the cloud, but many others didn’t, seemingly random.  If you find a soggy iPhone floating around your neighborhood, give me a call.  Sigh.



Cheesy Fun in Wisconsin

In our last episode, video footage documented a large family biking through the woods… in a park outside Minneapolis.  If you look closely at that video, you will notice Peter had a bike with no pedals!  It is called a “Strider.”  Peter hadn’t graduated to a bike with pedals… but the very next day he practiced hard and got the hang of it!  He then rode like a champ, and here is proof:



Wisconsin Dells

A very beautiful campground:




A fun evening with neighbors… and a crazy Tiki Tornado or something like that… Hollow in the middle, eyes and mouth cut into center so smoke and fire erupt everywhere… Hot Stuff!




We rode bikes into a cute little part of town.  OK, Ripley’s isn’t too quaint with the huge animals escaping the roof.



I was drawn to Mac’s because
1. That’s my Dear Old Dad’s name
2. It had to do with macaroni and cheese – a whole restaurant themed around it!





It wasn’t too crowded, so we tried it out.  I loved it.  Others must have seen how happy I looked, because later they all came in too.


They had several Mac Facts posted… here are a few:

Fact #1. Some cheeses are stored for a year before they are ready to eat.
Fact #3. Remains of cheese has been found in Egyptian tombs over 4,000 years old. (ready to eat yet??)
Fact #4. A farm in Sweden makes moose cheese.
Fact #6. It takes approximately 10 gallons of milk to make one pound of cheese.
Fact #7. The world’s largest consumer of cheese is Greece. (Per Capita, perhaps?)
Fact #9. Wisconsin and California are the top two cheese producers in the United States.





We took the kayak upriver and had a great time looking at the great cliffs along the shoreline.  The first time we’ve ever kayaked under trees!









She stands 50 feet tall, and represents the Lakota and Dakota cultures that previously thrived in this part of the world.  She moved into this site near Chamberlain, South Dakota in 2016.  The diamond shapes in her quilt shimmer in the wind “like aspen leaves.”



National Grasslands Visitors Center

Closed. Sigh. And after I went to all the bother of parking.



Badlands National Park

After we left the legendary Wall Drug, we headed south into the Badlands.  Many Bison were on hand to welcome us.




In addition to flowing grasslands, there are amazingly eroded canyons.







There were a few places we saw other people, but it was really uncrowded.


















Corn Palace

“Prairie Palaces” were all the rage from the 1880’s through the 1930’s.  Designed to encourage tourism, and showcase the great crops grown in the prairies, each one tried to one-up the others.  Every year, the buildings were redecorated with fresh corn, and a new theme for that year.



The interior is used for selling souvenirs when there is not a game or show going on.



Huge murals, composed of a variety of colored ears of corn, adorn the walls.





Corny stuff is everywhere!





The biggest “Corn Palace” was built in 1887, in Sioux City, Iowa.  They renewed it every year, but in 1892 Sioux City was hit with a huge flood.  A six foot high wall of water devastated much of the city, and it was impossible to create a corn palace that year.  In fact, with the financial difficulties prevented them from ever rebuilding their opulent palace.  Below are a couple of pictures of the palace in its prime.


When the town of Mitchell, South Dakota, realized that the Sioux City Palace would not be rebuilt, they created one of their own.  Here are a few pictures of the palace with its many revisions over the years.  It is now the only “Corn Palace” in the world, and has been entertaining guests for over 128 years!


Mitchell, South Dakota

Our campsite was pretty close to a nice lake, but unfortunately we needed to press on, and didn’t get the kayak out.  Next time…






Elm Creek Park in Minnesota

An afternoon spent with kids and grandkids on bikes was fabulous!



Tandem Bike

My Dad bought a very cool Gitane tandem 10 speed bike back in the early 70’s, in the hopes that Mom would ride it with him.  She didn’t like it…  So Cherryl and I rode it a lot while visiting with them, and they finally gave it to us as a wedding present!  It is really set up for racing, with rather tall gears.  That was great for Southern California, but it wasn’t so much fun in the mountainous areas of Colorado.  Mountain bikes seemed far more relevant, and so the beautiful old tandem hung neglected in the garage.  We eventually gave it to our kids, who managed to neglect it just as we had been doing!  While visiting them now, we got out the bike, and cleaned it up.  It still needs more cleaning and tuning, but it rides pretty well.  I think it looks pretty good for an almost 50 year old bike!

South Dakota!

Crazy Ukulele

Cherryl has been playing Ukulele since she was a kid in Hawaii.  When we lived in Denver, she was in the Rocky Mountain Ukulele Orchestra, under the direction of Gary Jugert.  At the start of this Virus junk, Gary started doing internet ukulele lessons. I decided I’d like to try it too, so I got a cheap uke in Arizona.  While in Denver last week, we both got upgraded instruments. I have had a lot of fun and a lot of frustration trying to learn how to play!  If you are somewhat crazy too, you can go to and join with tons of folks having fun learning ukulele…



Devil’s Backbone

Friday we met up with dear friend Giny, and explored a bit a place called Devil’s Backbone.  It was pretty hot, so I can’t really say we hiked… from where we walked, it was very pretty, but we didn’t see the “Backbone” well till I launched the drone.










Campion Academy

Friday we moved to the campus at Campion.  We have stayed here many times over the years, when Becky and Kevin were in school here, but also when there were camp meetings, pathfinder outings or music programs.  The campus is very quiet, being summer and of course our virus pandemic.  It was fun to look around.

The following picture shows the peaked roof addition we’ve done to our motorhome. (NOT!)






Fort Collins City Park

We had a picnic with our friends Giny and Joe, and his mother Janet. We then explored a bit of  City Park – a nice park with a pretty lake.




Lusk, Wyoming

Ever heard of Lusk?  We hadn’t either.  Don’t worry too much about it… we spent the night there on the way to Rapid City.  Some interesting clouds; the campsite not so interesting.





Rapid City, South Dakota

Our campsite was next door to Fort Cody, where they do sightseeing tours of Mt. Rushmore, serve up chuckwagon dinners and shows, and have a lot of exhibits to peruse.  I found a few old cars worth looking at.  There was also an old Ford Falcon Pickup… I’m told it was a factory car, built before Ford started making the Ranchero.



Here’s a very short view of the land around our campsite.


We also spent some time with Cherryl’s niece. Crista and Josh Few have moved into a beautiful house in a gorgeous area.  I flew a bit over their home, and then a couple minutes trying to chase a Bobcat.


Wall Drug

If you have driven across South Dakota, you have probably seen several of the roughly 18,000 signs advertising Wall Drug.  In the little town of Wall, (Maybe the WHOLE town), is this self proclaimed world famous store. In 1931 Wall had all of 326 residents, and Ted Hustead bought a tiny run down drug store.  They started offering free ice water in an attempt to drum up business, and started growing dramatically.   It now covers at least a whole city block, and they sell all kinds of souvenirs… We have driven past this place many times, and now we’ve stopped and seen it.  Good for us.  Next time I can drive past easily.


















Fun @ the Fort

We moved from Denver to Fort Collins, Colorado.  A KOA campground was surprisingly beautiful!  A nice walkway circles a small but picturesque lake.




Near the start of the lake walkway, I was surprised to see a bear!  OK, only painted on a rock…



But along the path were many other exotic animals – painted on dead trees.



There were even beds of herbs growing that we were free to help ourselves to.


Thursday we got the kayak out of our basement.  This is what it looks like folded up…



And here are a few pictures of it in use at Horsetooth Reservoir.  Supposedly Horsetooth valley was protected by a giant, to keep Indians from hunting game there.  Long ago, a Chief killed the giant with an axe from heaven, and the giant died and turned into a giant stone.  We never saw the stone, but did have some fun on the water.  Since the valley has been turned into a reservoir, I’m thinking the only game caught now is fish.




Here is a video of our time on the beautiful Horsetooth Reservoir.


Destination Denver

Lincoln, Nebraska

Our campground in Lincoln (pictured above) was greening up nicely compared to our time there in February.  While all the green stuff loved several days in a row of rain, I’ll admit we got a little tired of it!  We took a drive down south of town to a couple of Nebraska State Parks: Wagon Train and Stagecoach.  The two parks are fairly close to each other, and each of them encloses a small lake.  As you can see below, the lakes were up a couple of feet!





The geese didn’t seem to mind the high water – there were dozens of goslings being guided around the park by watchful adults.



This farm is just outside Stagecoach Park.



North Platte, Nebraska

We’ve driven the route from Lincoln to Denver more times than I care to count, and most often we stop at the midway point for fuel.  So all North Platte has meant to us was fast food and fuel.  This trip we decided to take it easy and spend the night there.

Our campground was quiet and very close to the Famous (?) Fort Cody.


Fort Cody is one of those tourist traps that you always drive by, but where you never stop.  Turns out “Buffalo Bill” Cody drove stagecoaches into North Platte from Kearney in 1865, and opened his “Wild West Show” here in 1893.  This “Fort,” is apparently full of his memorabilia, but I don’t know for sure, since the virus has shut it down.  I’m sure it was open the thousands of times I’ve driven right by, but the one time I have the time to check it out, it’s closed.  Ha!



Tourists may not currently be allowed inside, but manikins still guard the walls, apparently from guests of the nearby Hampton Inn.


Muffler Men

Bob Prewitt, in 1962, made a huge fiberglass sculpture of Paul Bunyan for the Paul Bunyan Cafe on Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Paul held a huge axe in his hands, right hand palm up, and left hand palm down.  Prewitt’s fiberglass company was bought out the following year by a boatbuilder, who figured they could build more of these 20 foot titans fairly easily.  Many sprung up along Route 66 and other places around the country to lure people off the road and into shops, museums, restaurants and more.  So many were used by muffler shops (the hands held mufflers easily) that they became known as “Muffler Men.”  As the years went by, many morphed into other characters.  I was pleased to find that Fort Cody includes a Muffler Man turned Indian.  As most of the surviving Muffler Men, the pose is the same; looking a bit awkward without an axe or muffler!



We decided to walk for a little exercise and exploration on a quest for groceries.  We used our little Burley trailer… and tried to get this chapped and saddled dinosaur to help pull it, but he wasn’t about to join in.  Posing for the picture was all the effort he was willing to expend.



Now we’re back in the Denver area – at a nice campground nestled around a big rock outcropping.  The sky is beautiful and things are still very green.  Again, when we were here in February, we saw more snow than green…





Last night was beautiful… and I love trying night photography.  This shot (at 10:30pm) is all Colorado… an SUV, with kayaks and bikes, in front of a rocky outcropping and a gorgeous sky.  Love it!



That rocky hill beside the camp used to have a walking path up the middle.  It’s been closed for a long time, but at night this locked entrance took on a somewhat spooky look. On that strange note, I’ll close this blog.








Last week I showed a bit of old downtown Lincoln… on a bike ride this week we ended up touring University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and we were amazed at the size and architecture of this campus!






The chemistry building looks impressive, until you compare it in size to the Huskers Stadium right behind it!  Says something about priorities…





The Museum of Natural History is guarded by a huge Mastodon.




The bell tower above has this plaque on the side… It plays beautifully… quite nice thank-you notes!




Don L. Love

Love was Lincoln’s mayor for two non-consecutive terms, six years in between 1909 and 1931.  He donated money to Union College in 1939, and after his death his estate donated to UN-L.  Consequently, both Union College and University of Nebraska- Lincoln have buildings named for Don Love.  

Below is UN-L’s Don Love Library:



Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson grew up from age 8 in Norfolk, Nebraska.  After high school, he hitchhiked to Hollywood, and the world was never the same.  Something of Nebraska must have stayed in his heart, however… Three months before his death, he gave $5.3 Million to the University of Nebraska Foundation, which was used to create the Johnny Carson School of Theater and Film.  Another $5 million was donated by his estate after his death.  So below is one of the Carson buildings.



“Torn Notebook”

This huge metal sculpture apparently reminds student to hold tightly to their notebooks in high Nebraska winds.





Johnny Carson’s name is on the door of this huge “Temple”.


This artsy building is where apparently someone lost his head… It reminded me of Medusa’s Head sculptures in the huge cistern underneath the city of Istanbul… but that’s another story…




North Bottoms Neighborhood

Many Germans moved to Russia in the early 1800’s, promised free land, exemption from Russian Military and political autonomy.  When the Czar revoked those privileges in 1971, a flood of German emigration to the Americas began.  Lincoln was a great destination, with land and jobs available.  Most took advantage of “Bottom Lands” along Salt Creek, where frequent flooding reduced land values and the rail yards offered jobs.  The many homes in the area show a mixture of architectural styles – some like the “Old Country” and some more American.



The neighborhood is not too terribly far from our campground, but we haven’t explored the area very much.  Here are a couple of examples:




PS: the Iris blooming in the sunset are in our campground north of the North Bottoms Neighborhood.

Downtown Lincoln



The boundaries of Lancaster County, Nebraska were drawn up in 1855, and settlers started arriving soon after.  A Methodist Elder was among them, and he staked out claims and laid out the township of Lancaster.  He erected a two story building used as a female seminary and governmental meeting hall.  (It burned down in 1867).  A Methodist Church was built in his center of town, which was later replaced with the huge church in the picture above.

The State Capital Commission designated Lancaster as the new seat of State Government in 1867, and renamed it Lincoln to honor the martyred President.


This Telephone Building interested me with its covered emergency exit stairway.  Covered only to the second floor… maybe the Telephone people rented out the top floor to others they didn’t care much about?  It’s covered far higher than would be needed to keep baddies from jumping on it from the ground (Batman hadn’t been thought up yet).  It looks original, since the windows are staggered to allow room for it.






Whoever works in Woods Brothers was practicing social distancing with her mask on.



Several buildings have entrances or windows covered with nice canopies.  And the many covered walkways over the streets would make you think the weather is often bad here!





This one even has huge pedestrians built in!



The old Gold’s Department store building was completed in 1924, abandoned in 1980, and has had many abortive attempts to remodel/restore it.  Someone is trying again, and hopes it will house a fancy hotel in a couple of years.  I’ll keep you posted.



There are signs up promising the “Return of Downtown Lincoln” is coming soon…




It’s already an interesting blend of old and new.



The Sharp Tower building was finished in 1927.  At sixteen floors it was a skyscraper!