Your hostess doesn't get much time off for vacation each year, and what I do get must be hoarded greedily for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season. So when summer comes, and other folks are packing up the Family Truckster and seeing America's great sights, I admit, I find myself becoming a little bit wistful.
But not this year! Nope, not this gal. Because this year, I am going on a virtual vacation, and I'd like to take you all with me!
Thanks to some terrific packets of 1930s/40s tourism cards-- at just $1 a book at Main Street Antiques last weekend in Columbiana-- we'll get to see all the natural wonders of the American West without losing a single vacation day. So I hope you'll join me today, as we trek on down the Holiday Road.
Bags packed? Mine, too. Great tunes on the radio? A given. Sunglasses on? Totally shaded-up! So all righty then! Let's go!
We begin here...
The Black Hills of South Dakota! The booklet tells us:
The Black Hills are the logical mountain playground of all the Middle West. Nowhere has nature been so lavish in so limited an area with diversity of scenery...And they weren't kidding! Right away we enounter mountains... and tunnels...
(Caption above reads: Tunnel and bridge on Iron Mountain Road)And bridges spanning ancient rock...
Placid lakes...(Caption above reads: Reflections, Sylvan Lake)
The postcard book continues on...
Highest among all the mountains east of the Rockies, the Black Hills still retain the name given them by the Indians as translated from the musical Paha Sapa of the Dakotahs. Blue spruce and norway pine in eternal struggle to conqure the rugged rock-topped peaks give the mountains a midnight blue.
The Black Hills cover an area of about a hundred miles north and south, and fifty miles wide, bordered on the north by a great government irrigation project whose life-giving waters find their sources in the turbulent streams of the mountains...
To the south are the mineral springs with their health restoring waters: to the east stretch the prairies of South Dakota fed by the streams from the slopes upon them: to the West are the plains of Wyoming.
World travelers frequently remark that there are three distinctive features in the Black Hills. These are the Needles, Highways built for scenic purposes, and the National Memorial on Mount Rushmore.
The Needles, at an altitude of over a mile above sea level, are magnificent granite spires, and are the result of millions of years of erosive effect of frost and wind.
No expense has been spared in building highways for scenic purposes, and on many a drive, the autoist thrills his way along a beautiful, safe, winding road through the virgin forests, up the canyons, and over the mountain tops.
And as we wind through hairpin turns and tunnels buried within the Black Hills themselves, then we discover one of America's greatest artistic treasures...
Under its initial construction! Surprise! Says our guide:
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is being carved in enduring granite, under the authority of the Federal Government, supervised by Gutzon Borglum, world renowned sculptor, a whole mountain being used. There are colossal statues of Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Roosevelt, who will gaze at the passing traveler for a million years. Their size, 230 feed from waist to brow, by far exceeds anything the world has ever known.
Yes, indeed, we get to see Mount Rushmore being built on this retro relaxation trip!
And if that isn't wonder enough, let's head West to the Black Hills in Wyoming, for one other memorable sight...
Devil's Tower! This inactive volcano is known for it's beauty, and also as a very recognizable image in a particular Stephen Spielberg UFO film. Of course, with Mount Rushmore just being built during the time of this trip, we'll have to wait a few decades to see Close Encounters.
Well, patience is a virtue. And speaking of patience, I guess it's time to make the long drive to our next tourist spot... the national parks of Utah!...
Here, have a sandwich and a Nehi. I'm sure you're hungry by now.
Okay, and here we are in Utah! And, look, kids-- it's the Grand Canyon!...
Don't get too close to the edge, now. The Thrift Shop Romantic doesn't have the insurance coverage if anyone gets lost, hurt or plummets to their sudden death on this trip. And that would really ruin your vacation, too.
Our booklet tourguide tells us:
Situated at the geographical center of the magnificent westgern region containing sixty-two national monuments and walrks, Salt Lake City, Utah, has come to be known as the "Center of Scenic America."
About two hundred fifty miles south of Salt Lake, reached by a paved highway, are five National Parks: the like of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world...
(Caption above reads: The Sentinels, Bryce National Park)
...The National Parks of our country are fast becoming the most wonderful playground s in America. The Utah parks are no exception. The fact is these stand out unique among National Parks...
The landscape builds up interest and suspense every mile to end in a pulse-quickening tableau that is nothing short of overwhelming. Men have been known to tremble and silently weep at the overpowering grandeu display in these National Parks which are destined to become chief among the greatest scenic attractions in the world...
Um... need a tissue, my friend? Sure, no problem... I know... I'm a bit choked up myself.
No, no, I'm fine to drive, thanks. Just one more look at that beautiful scenery and we really should be moving on, anyway. To our last stop:
And what a trek it is! Our paper tourguide explains:
The Redwood Highway traverses the Redwood Empire. "America's newsest National Playground," San Francisco is the southern terminus while Grant's Pass, Oregon is the northern terminus, covering some 469 miles.
Ninety seven percent of the world's redwoods are found in the Redwood Empire. These magnificent giants of the forest are thousands of years old and reach a height of 364 feet and a diameter of over 25 feet. These monarches of the ages are the oldest living things on the faces of the earth, and grow in their native state only in the coast range and nowhere else in the world. The Redwood Highway itself is lined with over 100 miles of Redwood Giants.
And giants they are! We see the world's tallest tree (well, circa the 1940s, anyway) stretch far, far into the clouds...
We drive directly through the trunk of a jigormous tree!... (The people in the red car are the folks just after us...)..
We take in some of the local fauna... In the case, it's these rare Roosevelt Elk...
We enjoy the poetic natural beauty of our surroundings...
The card reads:
author Joseph B. Strauss
Builder of the Golden Gate Bridge
Here sown by the Creator's hand
In serried ranks, the Redwoods stand
No other clime is honored so
No other lands their glory know.
The greatest of earth's living forms
Tall conquerors that laugh at storms;
Their challenge still unanswered rings
Through fifty centuries of kings
The nations that with them were young
Rich empires, with their forts far-flung,
Lie buried now-- their splendor gone,
But these proud monarchs still live on
So shall they live, when ends our day
When our crude citadels decay;
For brief the years allotted man,
But infinite perennials span.
This is their temple, vaulted high
And here we pause with reverent eye,
With silent tongue and awe-struck soul:
For here we sense life's proper goal
To be like these, straight, true, and fine
To make our world, like theirs, a shrine,
Sink down, Oh, traveller, on your knees,
God stands before you in these trees.
Seeing these trees standing impossibly high, I think folks of almost any personal philosophy would feel the unique gracefulness and gravity of their centuries-old presence.
Then we take in some seriously silly tourist attractions, like the Tree House at Lilley Redwood Park...
And the Mystery Park in Klamath, where trails through the forest are intepreted in a number of unqiue ways, including one reflecting the tall tales of Paul Bunyan...
We make a few small souvenir purchases...
And then we have one brief, less glamorous pit-stop to make...
..Before we conclude this long and amazing vacation.
I hope you all had as much fun as I did! Thanks for coming with me and sharing a bit of that driving. :)
- Did you miss last week's Treasure Box Wednesday, where we went antiquing in Ohio? Well, if you're not too tired from all the traveling, click here and join me for that.
- Or if you'd like a glimpse at a Pittsburgh attraction, click here to flap by the Aviary.
Thanks for stopping! It was a pleasure to have you along.