“Pic of the Week”, September 11, 2020: Hillbilly Hot Rod, Murdo

06 Murdo, South Dakota (7)

We pulled off the freeway to get some gas and walk the dogs as part of our road-trip to the Ozarks.  Murdo, South Dakota, is a small sleepy prairie town of a few hundred residents, and we didn’t have any plans to do anything except take care of our personal and pet needs before returning to the highway.
As I was filling the tank I noted that across the street was a parking area which contained several older vehicles, and I wanted to have a closer look.
Mostly these were cars of about 1970s vintage, but there were a couple of unusual beasts.  The oddest among these was a Frankenstein type of hot-rod, made of welded and bolted together odds and ends …

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.All Trips / Central USA / Montana / North America

Bozeman’s amazing Museum of the Rockies

01 Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman (2)

Montana is a big and not very populous state, but it has a first-class museum in Bozeman that’s well worth seeing.  The Museum of the Rockies (MOR) was founded in 1957 and is affiliated with Montana State University and also the prestigious Smithsonian Institution.  The museum’s collections have grown to include 300,000 items of which only a minority can be displayed.

Tyrannosaurus Rex  Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman

Tyrannosaurus Rex. Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman


The focus of the museum is the rich dinosaur history of the region, and their collection is world-class.  MOR features the largest collection of dinosaur fossils in the United States, mostly housed in a wing known as the Siebel Dinosaur Complex. 
The pride of the collection are the ever-popular Tyrannosaurus Rex, of which the museum has 13 specimens.  The …

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.All Trips / Central USA / Food / Kansas / North America

Danna’s Bar-B-Que and Burger Shop, Branson

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Danna’s Bar-B-Que and Burger shop is situated in a charming building that serves exactly what the sign says — BBQ and burgers
Everything at Danna’s is fresh.  Larger cuts of beef and pork are smoked for 12-14 hours over local hickory wood; smaller cuts of meat and ribs are smoked twice a day for 4 hours.  The result is food that tastes terrific!
Burgers and a variety of sandwiches are available, but most people seemed to be enjoying the plates of BBQ. Plate meals are served with Memphis rolls, delicious cole slaw and the tastiest baked beans I’ve ever had.
Missouri and its neighboring states are known for fine BBQ, and Danna’s won’t disappoint.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

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.All Trips / Central USA / Kansas / North America

A visit to the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center, Oakley, Kansas

05 Buffalo Bill Cultural Center, Oakley (14)

It’s not every day you get to visit a small town that gave birth to a legend.  But Oakley, in western Kansas, was where the legend of Buffalo Bill began.  The legend was to grow from that of a skilled scout and hunter to that of the world’s first great showmen, owner and star of Wild West Show which toured in America and Europe more than a century.
Most legends have humble beginnings, as does Buffalo Bill.  William F Cody was working as a hunter in 1868, killing buffalo to feed men constructing the Kansas Pacific Railroad.  Even then he was recognized as a skilled hunter and was challenged by another to see who kill more bison.  This contest lasted 8 …

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Central USA / Missouri / North America

“Pic of the Week”, July 17, 2020: Titanic Museum, Branson, Missouri

00a Titanic

I was surprised by many things during a recent visit to Branson.  I was surprised how much I liked the town and its residents.  And I was also surprised that my favorite attraction (of the ones we visited) would be the Titanic Museum.
At first blush the Museum seemed a little too corny.  A museum about a ship sunken in the Atlantic located in a mid-western American city?  And the museum is shaped like the ship itself, complete with the iceberg that sank it?  Really?
Fortunately I overcame my original instincts to avoid the place and am very glad I bought those entry tickets, as this was a fascinating 3 hour visit.  The museum covers two floors and gives …

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.All Trips / Arkansas / Central USA / North America

A Visit to Thorncrown Chapel, Arkansas

00 Thorncrown Chapel (43)

One of the loveliest modern chapels I’ve ever visited is Thorncrown Chapel, located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Thorncrown Chapel was designed by E. Fay Jones, who had apprenticed with the great Frank Lloyd Wright, and was built in 1980.  The chapel was commissioned by Jim Reed, a retired schoolteacher, who wanted to create a non-denominational pilgrimage chapel for meditation.  The chapel is elegant yet blends in with the local landscape, seeming an airy part of it.
Thorncrown Chapel is constructed mostly of local wood (e.g. Southern pine) and was built with the general rule of thumb that no materials bigger than what two people could carry should be used (e.g. 2x6s instead of massive beams).  The floor is constructed with slabs of …

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Central USA / Kansas / North America

“Pic of the Week”, June 26, 2020: Van Gogh Easel, Goodland, Kansas

00 Van Gogh Easel, Goodland (6)

It’s not every day you get to see an enormous Van Gogh painting sitting on an easel in a small prairie town.  But that’s what we encountered recently when traveling through Kansas.
Goodland, in western Kansas, is said to have the World’s Largest Easel.  It’s 80 feet tall and holds a 32 x 24-foot representation of one of Van Gogh’s “Sunflower” paintings.  The painting was constructed using 24 sheets of plywood surrounded by fiberglass mattes and layered with an industrial gel coat.  The paint used was industrial acrylic urethane enamel, known for it’s hardiness in extreme weather conditions.  The easel is built of steel, weighing more than 40,000 pounds. The supports are sunk 35 feet into the ground. 
Goodland’s painting is a …

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“Pic of the Week”, June 19, 2020: American Bison, Keystone Gallery

02 Keystone Museum, Kansas (9)

We stopped by the Keystone Gallery after visiting Monument Rocks, south of Oakley, Kansas. Unfortunately the Gallery was not yet open for the season. Still, our stop turned out to interesting.
Immediately adjoining the Gallery was a large pasture wherein we spotted this bison. He was surprisingly near and, as we had a barb-wire fence between us, we hopped out of our car to try to snap some close-up photos — the closest I’ve ever been to a bison (a.k.a. buffalo).
At first we thought this bison was alone, but soon it became apparent that he was part of a small herd as others started drifting over a rise in the pasture.  A small reminder of a time when thousands of bison …

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