Sometimes as a gardener, or even as simply a lover of flowers and plants, one can find oneself “stuck in a rut” with the same old plants year after year and perhaps an unwillingness or trepidation about “thinking outside the box.” A visit to Chicago Botanic Garden helps to inspire and also to rejuvenate an interest in the wonderful beauty that is found right in one’s neighborhood and very back yard. The Chicago Botanic Center is located in Glencoe, Illinois and includes 385 acres of land dedicated to showcasing some beautiful plants and innovative landscaping. The garden was opened in 1972 and with over 50,000 members, it currently has the largest membership of any U.S. public garden.
Yes, many of the traditional plants and flowers are there, along with some exotics not found in the Midwest. However, the presentation of them is everything, a wonderful variety of flowers clustered with a multitude of leafy green plants. A Marigold does not just look like another simple Marigold when portrayed in this beautiful landscape. Many of the plants are commonly found in local yards, but when they are paired with other plantings, it gives new insights as to what works well together. Of course light conditions, soil conditions and moisture needs must all be taken into account and it is great to get recommendations from the expert gardeners there.
In addition to the botanic showroom, Chicago Botanic Garden has numerous statues and garden artwork throughout the garden enhancing the beauty of the flowers and water features. The inspiration portrayed by the sculptors is enhanced by the backdrop of lush trees, flowers and several small lakes within the garden. One sculpture in particular pays homage to the man who is considered the Father of Taxonomic Botany: Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) He created a system for plant classification using both the “genus” and “species.”
Initial impressions of Chicago Botanic Garden lead one to believe that it is just another lovely park with plants, fountains and art work. Yet, this place is also a research and development facility for seed propagation and developing hardy plants for this area of the country. Several green houses on the premises work year round on botanical production. In terms of educational enrichment, certificate programs offered at the School of the Chicago Botanic Garden include: photography, horticultural therapy, Midwest gardening, professional gardener, garden design and botanical arts.
A busy day touring the garden can make one hungry and thirsty. Two cafes are available: the Garden View Cafe and the Garden Grille. The Garden View Cafe offers fresh, locally produced ingredients to serve up fresh salads, soups and sandwiches. The Garden grille offers hamburgers and chicken sandwiches and daily specials. There is enough variety there to please almost any palette. After renewing your energy at the cafe, don’t forget a stop in the gift shop: “The Garden Shop”. A wonderful array of all types of “goodies” to choose from including clothing, specialty books, stationary and also children’s items to inspire young gardeners.
Admission into the garden is free, but there is a parking fee. Membership includes free parking daily and you can visit as many times as you want. A membership also includes discounts at both of the cafes, the Garden Shop and discounts on programs as well. For more information you can call : (847) 835-5440 or click here to link to their website: http://www.chicagobotanic.org/
It’s such a wonderful garden to visit…and hard to see it all in just one trip. My friend and I will be going again soon! Put your traveling shoes on. JES
Many people don’t realize it, but there is a beautiful “gem” of a National Park in the heart of the Midwest, just south of Cleveland Ohio: Cuyahoga Valley National Park. From the Native Americans word for “crooked river”, it is pronounced “Ka-uh-ogh-ha”. It is a beautiful park with waterfalls, cliffs and valleys, and a rich history about life in the mid-western states. When people think of National Parks, they frequently think of the “classics”: Yellowstone, Acadia, the Grand Canyon. Yet this park in Ohio is a beautiful representation of our National Parks system: preservation of natural beauty and also a link to the past. Looking at timelines, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is very young as a member of the National Park service. It was established as a National Recreation Area in 1974, then became a National Park in 2000. The fact that it is a relatively young National Park is very evident as one drives through the park and sees many residential areas throughout the park that were “grandfathered” in and allowed to remain within the park boundaries. These private residences do not distract from the beauty of the park, however sometimes seem odd from what people consider a “National Park” should be like. There are so many roads that go in and out of the park, and of course the residents that live there have easy access in and out. It sometimes blurs the definition of the park boundaries.
The park itself preserves 33,000 acres along the Cuyahoga river valley between Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. The natural beauty of the park includes deep gorges, waterfalls, cliffs and century old majestic trees that rise high in the skyline. Most of the trees are typical of the Midwest and the deciduous seem to outnumber the pines. With the abundance of Maples, I would imagine this would be a wonderful place to visit in the Fall to see all the changing colors. A diversity of beautiful wildflowers can be found throughout the park and more than 100 bird species nest in the valley. The many trails within the park are perfect for both hiking and biking. Many cyclists make use of the fantastic “towpath trails” that follow the canal paths throughout the park. Some of the canals have all but disappeared except for a low trench, but others still have water in them and still seem “usable”. The towpaths where the mules were used to tow boats along the canal, have all been resurfaced and make fantastic bike paths.
In additional to the natural features, the park has a fascinating history about the use of the canals. The “canal era” from roughly 1825 to 1913, was a period of time that Americans relied heavily on the use of the canal system for economical transportation of both products and passengers. The Ohio-Erie Canal was built in 1825 and served to connect Lake Erie all the way south to the Ohio River. It helped to provide transportation and increase commerce from 1827 to 1913. In 1913, a devastating flood occurred that did extensive damage to the canals. At this time the railroads were also expanding into a major form of transportation and beginning to replace the widespread use of canals. The railroads soon became the primary source of transportation and life on the canal boats became a distant memory. When visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park, be sure to visit the Canal Visitor Center, in the northern part of the park with some fascinating displays and some really interesting historical information about river commerce and lifestyles of the hardworking people who depended on the canals.
Another aspect of the park rich in history, but also providing an adventurous way to get back and forth throughout the park is the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. The train ticket gives you an all day pass and you can get off at any stop and get back on to explore several areas within the park. The train also offers meals onboard and “tastings” of beer or wine. With your tasting, you receive a CVSR commemorative tasting glass! Cyclists can also board the train, with their bikes. They have the option to bike the towpath trail one direction then take the train the other. Considering how many lengthy trails there are in the park, this is a terrific option for cyclists if you just run out of steam. Bear in mind that the train does not run 7 days a week. Unfortunately when I was there it was not running. Generally they run Wednesday through Sunday, but be sure to check their web-site for more detailed information and ticket prices: http://www.cvsr.com
Like many National Parks, the park rangers are so interesting to talk with and have a wealth of information about the attributes of their park and also the area of the country they live in. I would like to give a “shout out” to Ranger Jan at Cuyahoga Valley National Park~ she was a delight to talk with and shared so much information and history with us. We ran into her at two different Visitors Centers; so much fun chatting with her! So Hi Jan! We will have to go back again one day, and maybe that time we can catch the train! Put your traveling shoes on. JES
When you look at all the magnificent beauty within America’s National Parks, it is very easy to have a sense of civic pride, especially this year as we celebrate the Centennial founding of the National Park Service.
If you have not visited a National Park lately, 2016 may be a fantastic year to plan a trip to one as we commemorate the founding of the National Park Service. There are currently 59 National Parks and over 117 protected areas that are designated national monuments. There is something for everyone to discover and also parks are accessible in every part of the country.
Teddy Roosevelt is remembered as instrumental in generating an interest in preserving and cherishing the natural beauty of the lands found in our country. He was one of the most visible advocates of the establishing and preserving of the Parks: often remembered as the “conservation president”. He loved the great outdoors and began several steps to insure the preservation of our nation’s natural landmarks. The passage of the 1906 Antiquities Act enabled Roosevelt and future presidents to proclaim certain sites and landmarks historical and/or scientific and worthy of preservation. The very first site to be proclaimed as a national monument under this act was Devils Tower in Wyoming. It is a unique natural feature, rising 825 feet above the Wyoming plains. Roosevelt’s dedication to the preservation of lands prompted the establishment of Teddy Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. With rugged terrain and landscapes filled with colorful geographic features, the park has been described as the “Badlands” of the north.
Roosevelt paved the way for park preservation, however it was really Stephen T. Mather who helped to turn the concept of a National Park system into legislative reality. Mather was an American industrialist and conservationist who promoted the concept of the creation of a federal agency to oversee the National Parks administration. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law an order establishing the National Park System. Stephen Mather was appointed as the first director of the National Park Service in 1917.
Since 1916 our National Park service has continued a legacy for 100 years. I encourage you to celebrate this legacy by visiting a National Park sometime during this Centennial year. Check out the National Parks web-site at: www.nps.gov to find information on the park of your choice. I have a few parks on my list that I am hoping to see including Glacier National Park in Montana….lots of chances for great photos! Can hardly wait to view these mountains with my own eyes and take my own photos other than internet voyages. Put Your Traveling Shoes On. JES
(Authors note: I originally posted this in March, but revised with a few updates and photographs)
Travel planning on the Internet: it really is not as confusing and intimidating as it might initially seem. After planning and executing a few trips, it is amazing how adept one can become. Travel Planning for that fantastic trip sometimes requires some “practice makes perfect”, but there are a few caveats that help make the learning curve a little less painful and more economical. In planning several trips, both airline travel and by car, I found out through trial and error several tips to improve travel planning. Internet travel is not limited to searching for airplane tickets, some of my best car trips were planned with the help of internet searches. Nevertheless, my first venture with using the Internet for travel planning is probably where everyone starts: getting the best deal on airline tickets. There are so many sites out there to chose from, but here are a few guidelines to assist you in getting the best deal:
The Shoshone Lodge & Ranch in Cody Wyoming: www.shoshonelodge.com is a beautiful place right near Yellowstone National Park that surprisingly enough does not show up in several internet searches. My husband found it by simply hovering the cursor around the east side of Yellowstone. We were glad we found it then the rest came easy: their web-site has everything laid out nicely. So never underestimate the power of just “poking around” on the internet, you will be amazed at what you will find.
Planning and negotiating the ins and outs of a trip with the help of the internet can help in so many ways. Not only do you save money by shopping around for the best deal, once your trip is planned you can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Put your Traveling shoes on. JES
Millions of Americans visiting both our State and National Parks every year take in the beauty surrounding them as they walk in the woods and traverse across the bridges and trails. Yet, do many of these park visitors take a few moments to pause and reflect on just how these pathways were blazed, bridges were built and trees planted? Many projects across this country encompassing more than 700 local, state and national parks were completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was established in 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as one of the efforts to put thousands of young men to work during the Great Depression. The CCC was envisioned by FDR as not only a way to help construction efforts in the country, but also to instill a spirit of hope to thousands of men and thereby helping raise the optimism, and economic standards, of the entire country. When FDR presented the bill to Congress, urging the formation of the CCC, he stated:“This enterprise…will conserve our precious natural resources. It will pay dividends to the present and future generations. It will make improvements in National and State domains which have been largely forgotten in the past few years of industrial development…More important however, than the material gains will be the moral and spiritual value of such work…We can take a vast army of these unemployed out into healthful surroundings. We can eliminate to some extent at least the threat that enforced idleness brings to spiritual and moral stability. It is not a panacea for all the unemployment, but it is an essential step in this emergency.”
On March 31, 1933 Roosevelt signed the bill into law and work quickly began to organize and implement the operation of the CCC. Since it was such a huge undertaking the successful implementation of FDR’s vision required the cooperation of several branches of the government to assure its success. The Department of Labor was utilized for the enrollment of the young men. The War Department was responsible for feeding, clothing and training the enrollees for their duties and the Agricultural and Interior Departments selected the work projects, supervised the work and oversaw the administration of the camps.
The volume of projects accomplished by the CCC from 1933 to 1942 is reflected in the statistics. The majority of projects were conservation efforts and thereby had the greatest impact on our parks and farmland. Approximately 125,000 miles of roads were built, 13,000 miles of foot trails built, 972 fish stocked and between 2 and 3 billion trees were planted. Additionally, 40 million acres of farmland benefited from erosion control projects.
Working in the camps as a CCC worker, instilled in most of the workers a great deal of pride in what they were accomplishing for their country. Yet, it was no picnic in the woods; the men worked long arduous hours and were paid only $30.00 per month, thinking in simpler terms:$1.00 per day. Even by 1930 standards…it still didn’t seem like much. Most of their salary was sent home to their families. It was very beneficial that their meals, clothing, lodging and medical care was included in their work with the corps. Over its 9-year span the CCC employed about 3 million men nationwide. The profound impact of the CCC on our Parks system provided an expansion and development of the parks so as to create many new opportunities for Americans to explore the great outdoors, frequently in new ways for many visitors. The CCC was a great benefit to the Parks and even today the legacy continues. An organization called CCC Legacy helps educate and foster an appreciation of the works that were accomplished by the CCC. They have a web-site: http://www.ccclegacy.org with links to how one can learn about the history of their accomplishments and how a person could assist in conservation efforts in their own community.
The National Parks are basically funded through three main channels: tax supported, user fees and private donations. During its tenure, not only did the CCC help the National Parks develop into the parks we know today, but they helped them complete those projects at a great savings. The question has been asked before, but deserves to be given consideration: would the CCC work today? Perhaps Yes. If the formation of an active Civilian Conservation Corp., or one similar to the one that was formed in 1933, were to be successful it would need to take several cultural and political differences into account. The major goals would undoubtedly remain: to restore the original CCC structures, provide maintenance in Parks while simultaneously providing rewarding work for unemployed young people. When people think of America, they not only think of our freedoms and lifestyles, but also the beauty and diversity of our lands. Our State and National Parks help to showcase these beautiful lands, as well as helping to preserve them.
So the next time you visit either a state or national park, ask a few questions and see if you can spot projects completed by the CCC. Chances are good you may find some of their work; so many projects across this country we have the CCC to thank for.
It is a legacy that deserves to endure. Put your traveling shoes on. JES
Sources: “Our Mark on this Land: A Guide to the Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps in America’s Parks”, by Ren & Helen Davis (published 2011)
Driving along the roadways in parts of eastern Alaska, on odd indication of the 1964 earthquake becomes apparent. The 1964 Alaska Earthquake had a profound impact on the people of Alaska and left visible scars on the land. Many of the scars and the buildings that were destroyed have long since left from view, but what remains after all these years are the tall trees that stand stark against the blue skies.
They stand like soldiers guarding the memory of that terrible day in 1964 and to serve as a reminder to never underestimate the phenomenal power of nature’s force. When the quake occurred, sea water came up through the fault flooding the terrain near the trees, but in the same token not uprooting them. So they not did immediately die, but the sea water caused them to turn to a petrified-state and they remain standing.
It is just one of those odd tricks and unusual quirks of nature that leaves behind an almost artistic rendering to tell the story of what took place here over 50 years ago. Repercussions of catastrophic events such as this earthquake can have lasting, visible effects for quite some time after the clean up has been completed and people have carried on with their lives.
The 1964 Alaska earthquake had a profound impact on numerous communities along the fault line. The quake occurred on Good Friday, March 27, 1964 and according to the US Geological Survey measured 9.2 magnitude on the rector scale. The quake was reported as the most devastating quake in North America. A total of 131 deaths were reported and the property damage totaled between 300-400 million dollars. Damage was widespread throughout the state and was felt as far as Oregon. The epicenter of the quake was about 10 km east of the mouth of College Fiord, approximately 90 km west of Valdez and 120 km east of Anchorage. This earthquake is the second largest earthquake ever recorded in the world. (http://www.aeic.alaska.edu/quakes/Alaska_1964_earthquake.html) Because of the epicenters location, some of the hardest hit towns were Anchorage, Valdez, Girdwood and Portage. The quake also spawned a tsunami, which contributed to the severe damage to the harbor town of Valdez. Half the town tumbled into the harbor and the disaster claimed 31 lives. Valdez was not totally destroyed but relocated 4 miles west of the original site. Traveling through Valdez today, there are signs designating “Old Valdez” prior to the quake. Girdwood was also relocated, but the town of Portage was completely abandoned after the earthquake.
The town of Portage was destroyed by the quake. In the area where Portage was located are a few abandoned buildings, still remaining, not yet consumed by the earth.
The area around what used to be the town of Portage is a location that one can readily see an abundance of “skeleton trees” that stand there ground 50 years later after the rest of the landscape has changed around them. In other areas of the country, with higher demands for immediate “land usage”, the trees may have been taken down, but here they stand on a seemingly barren landscape. The tundra and other life has grown up around them, but their clinging to the earth with a refusal to succumb to gravity, gives them a stoic albeit sometimes ghostly look. To hear Alaskans talk of the skeleton trees and their evidence of the earthquake in ’64, there is a sense of deep sadness of course, but also a sense of pride in the strength of the Alaskan spirit and tenacity.
When traveling to a new place it is so rewarding and incredibly interesting to learn some of the historical aspects of where you are visiting. Not only is it valuable in terms of learning how certain areas were developed, but it also gives you an opportunity to view the area with an understanding on why it is the way it is: how the people and the land have been shaped: culturally, geographically and politically. Put your traveling shoes on. JES
Why do I end every post with :”Put your traveling shoes on. JES” ? Well, the last part is easy, JES are my initials: Julie Etta Smith. The Put your traveling shoes on goes a little further than just a request for some sturdy footwear. It is always a good idea to wear comfortable shoes, a trek on a wooded trail would not be too easy with spiky sandals. Yet, I am using that phrase as more of a metaphor for preparing yourself, both mentally and physically, when starting out on a trip. When you start to plan a trip, I like to encourage people to go beyond the usual hotel reservations, airline tickets and road map plan. When you complete those first, it’s best to take it a step further and find out more about where you will be visiting. What about the local history? Is there a favorite local cuisine? Are there products exclusive to that area of the country~ in my case: a fantastic wine, perhaps? Always good to be on the look-out for a memorable souvenir. It is so incredible to read articles and see photographs of an amazing feature or place and then view it with your own eyes. I remember seeing photos of the “freak of nature” prismatic springs at Yellowstone National Park and thinking to myself they must be photo-shopped. Nothing could look that strange. Yet, seeing the rainbow colors with my own eyes made it that much more spectacular. It is good to get some background on the local history and lore of an area.
On the same trip we made to Yellowstone I was in the back seat reading a local publication with a feature about a HUGE mansion that was being built in the late 1970’s.
The man building the Pagoda-inspired design was tragically killed when he fell from the highest floor. Locals say that it is still haunted and sits atop the hill untouched since his death. AND to add a little more intrigue to this story, it is referred to as the Smith Mansion. I know Smith is a common name, but nevertheless this story just keeps getting better. Do you have goose bumps yet? Well, as I was describing this story to my family, I looked up and there it was…just a short distance from the side of the road. “OH, MY GOD……THAT’S IT!” I shrieked to my family as they wondered the cause of my alarm. Now that was creepy: just when I was reading about that local story it appeared before us. Other than a story of unique coincidence, if I had not read up on the local history we never would have known the story behind that interesting Pagoda on the hill.
It is truly amazing the things you can learn before a trip that will really make your trip more memorable. So take a trip to the library, peruse the internet, talk to friends and family that have been there and be sure to enjoy the ride. Put your traveling shoes on. JES