5 of the Most Somber Places in the U.S.

During our travels, we’ve visited and toured some remarkable exhibits that have ached our hearts. Our Country’s history is not without sadness, shame and embarrassment. We were educated by visiting these places and exhibits in ways we’ve never thought possible. If any good comes out of visiting these places, its to create an understanding of the progress our Nation’s made over the years.

Continue reading “5 of the Most Somber Places in the U.S.”

Arco, Idaho – Its Totally Nuclear, Man!

 

Anytime we pass through towns, we do a little Google search so we can perhaps, get a little more educated. We passed Atomic City and looked it up (when we got a signal…there is A WHOLE LOT OF NOTHING OUT THERE!!).  Surely though, reading did cause a bit of raised eyebrows.  We drove fast to get out of there…well, because they do a whole lot of ‘testing’ and we didn’t want to become specimens…er…’victims’.

 

Kidding aside, Atomic City has its own notoriety HERE with equal sense of humor by these writers.

So, not only enriching our minds by Googling these small passer-through towns, we just want to be prepared in case Jeopardy calls us to be contestants on their game show, we can REALLY look smart and know the winning question.

So…Alex Trebeck recites “the answer is the first city in the world to be lit by atomic power.”

Question:  “What is ARCO, IDAHO”

Alex: Correct!

…and here’s our proof!!  Because we all know, it didn’t happen unless there are pictures, right?  Yeah, WE took this picture!

As we made our way north up to Salmon River, Idaho, we did a couple overnights in the

small town of Arco, Idaho.  Arco…hmmmm…nuclear nerds know about Arco, everyone else…not so much.  Its a quirky little town; kind of ‘lost’ in time, ya know?  Kind of like the ones they do the population salute on that classic tv show “Hee Haw”.  Anyways, we stayed at the small KOA Craters of the Moon Campground so we could tour this notable town as well as go tour the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

BUT WAIT!!  There’s more!  See?

The Wikipedia Version:

Arco was the first community in the world ever to be lit by electricity generated solely by nuclear power. This occurred for about an hour on July 17, 1955, powered by Argonne National Laboratory’s BORAX-III reactor at the nearby National Reactor Testing Station (NRTS), which eventually became the site of the Idaho National Energy Laboratory, a predecessor of the current Idaho National Laboratory.[7] NRTS made further history on January 3, 1961, when the SL-1 reactor melted down, causing three deaths. It was the world’s first (and the U.S.’ only) fatal reactor accident.

So, after reading all this, we were sort of afraid to drink the water…and wouldn’t you know, when we got parked and hooked up to our utilities, we were told “DON’T DRINK THE WATER”; that the water had been shut off ‘town wide’.  Now geeze, there;s a scary coincidence!!  No, really, we can’t make this stuff up!  So we had to go to the Dollar General, because in population 995 there IS NO Walmart, to buy bottled water.  Why does this stuff always happen to us?  We finally did get the okay to hook the water up but still leary (aside from it being all nuclear…) about drinking it so we stuck with the bottled stuff.  (Note to selves…always have at least a third of a tank of water)

You can read more of the Wikipedia HERE

Since I’m a sunset picture taker, I begged Captain Dan to go find a good place to get our first Idaho sunset photos.  And we did…

Not even 5 miles outside of Arco, we found this beautiful landscape Kodak-perfect location.  A wheat farm with the mountains.  How perfect.

So, I played with my camera a little bit waiting for the perfect shot.  Oh wait, these ARE perfect!!

 

And while I was taking photos, I just had to snap one of the Captain staring into the eyes of the sun.

And then it happened!  Over the mountains, Mr. Sun went slowly to bid us goodbye for another day.

 

 

We head back to Liberty for a good night’s sleep.  It was the first time we were able to sleep with the windows open.  It got a bit chilly that night but who’s complaining after bearing the heat in Texas, Nevada and Arizona on the way up.

The next day, we meandered about the town.  We found an awesome Veteran’s Park (we try to visit them all!) but we were dismayed at one thing.

Take a moment to study this photo:

Let’s see now.  Hmmmmm,  There’s Old Glory, the POW/MIA flag (black), the state flag (blue), Army flag (white), Navy flag (navy), Marine Corps flag (red), Air Force flag (front and the wrong one but well anyways…) and a Support the Troops flag with those four branches.  But wait!  There’s FIVE branches of the military!!  I guess in Arco, Idaho, they’ve never heard of the Coast Guard…we shall change that.  We will have to write a letter (another one…AGAIN!).

So, after rolling our ‘whatever’ eyes, we made way over to this cool Submarine display.  Now how on earth, did they get a submarine in Arco, Idaho?  And really, the Navy couldn’t come up with a different number than 666? *gasp*

 

 

It was a well done park that saluted the Navy and their Submarine Nuclear notoriety.

 

 

 

After we were finished reading and honoring quietly, the men who served, we decided to walk across the street to get an ‘Atomic Burger’ at a diner called Pickles.  That didn’t end well though.  Captain Dan got sick not 20 minutes later and we had to head back to Liberty.  Poor guy! It was time to call it a day anyways, so we headed back to Liberty so I could “hold his hair”. (He’s going to kill me if he reads this!)

By morning he felt his spry and chipper self so we proceeded with our plans to day trip it to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.  On our way out of town, there’s this big hill that has all these numbers painted on it.  Intrigued, we Googled that too. We read that that hill is called Graduation Mountain aka “Numbers Hill” and that the numbers are actually painted by each graduating class from Arco.

 

Our two-night stay in Arco was actually quite cool.  Its more than just a map dot.  The town’s people are quite proud of their notoriety and we can see why.

If you enjoyed reading about Arco, Idaho, you may want to read about our experience at…

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve!  

Bison Range on Antelope Island? A Great Salt Lake Treasure!

In late June ’16, part of our mission to Utah was a ‘working’ one.  I attended the Young Living Essential Oil Convention in Salt Lake City while Dan stayed behind at Hill AFB FamCamp. While I was gone, he perused area maps and tourism brochures to see what we could do while in the Salt Lake City area.  Once the convention was over, I relocated back from my hotel room back to Liberty so we could go on a few field trips during our remaining stay in SLC.

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Amarillo By Morning, Amarillo’s where I’ll be…



“Amarillo by Morning, up from San Antone…

Everything that I’ve got, is just what I’ve got on.
I ain’t got a dime, but what I got is mine.
I ain’t rich, but Lord I’m free!
Amarillo by morning, Amarillo’s where I’ll be!
                                 – George Strait 




Since we were little kids, We’ve always wanted to go to Texas.  We remember watching black and white tv shows that were filmed in Texas.  We loved big shiny belt buckles, cowboy hats and boots.  We were enamored watching gunslingin’ heroes with big shiny revolvers.  We love all things Texas. Cactus…armadillos…cowboys (not the Dallas team)…stars in the big Texas sky…country music singers…etc.  


Through our many years in both of our military careers, every shipmate or their family members who were from Texas always bragged about what fantastic state…er….’country’ it was.  We never got that privilege to be stationed at or visit, so planning to go to Texas for the winter was a no-brainer…well…and the fact that it’s warmer and closer to the equator just delighted us to the stars.


Our first stop in Texas was Amarillo at Oasis RV Resort where we had reservations for 3 nights.  We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived; big and long concrete padded sites, quiet, in-ground hot tub and pool, great staff yet close to Amarillo.  We loved it so much that we went to the office asking to stay three more nights to enjoy it…well and plus, there was so much to see and do in Amarillo.  Off of I-40, you can’t miss the huge high-poled sign. Don’t forget to check our review HERE.



Conveniently, less than two miles down the road from Oasis RV Resort is the infamous Cadillac Ranch. Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation and sculpture on I-40’s Frontage Road only miles from Amarillo.  It was completed in 1974 as part of an art exhibit.  





All of the Caddy’s were partially buried nose down.  Cadillac Ranch has been seen in a few movies and music videos.   To be quite honest, we were a bit disappointed because it was so small compared to how its portrayed in magazines and television.  Needless to say though, we still enjoyed seeing it in person.  Dan had a good time checking out all of the graffiti and adding his own. Bucket list item number 4139…CHECK!

 We had such great weather all the days were were in Amarillo.  Every night, we walked down to the resort entrance to across the road to watch the beautiful Texas sky light up with yellows, oranges and reds.  The sunsets were absolutely spectacular.


On the second day, we took a drive to Amarillo to Jack Sisemore’s Traveland RV Museum which hosted a fantastic collection of vintage campers and motorcycles behind the RV dealership and service area.  We saw an advertisement in a tourism magazine so it of course, was something we just had to go check out.  We were amazed by such a great collection that took us back to the eras of simple camping.



It was great to see how campers evolved into the beautiful RV’s through the years.  Such a great nostalgic collection of 15 campers which were staged with vintage camping items.  



Notably, there was the actual 1948 Flxible Clipper (Gornike bus) that was used in the movie ‘RV’ that actor Robin Williams starred in.  More on Sizemore’s Museum website here. This is a definite Amarillo ‘must see’ when you visit, especially if you’re a nomadic traveler, vintage glamper or high-test RV’er.



Upon leaving, we asked an employee where he recommended a good hearty lunch.  While we love to check out all of the tourist dining places, we’ve learned to ALWAYS ask the locals where the best eats are.  Calico County Restaurant is where its at in Amarillo!  Comfort food at it’s best.  Just like Momma used to make.  We’re suckers for homecooking like this and apparently a lot of Country Music singers and celebrities were as well by looking at all the signed photo frames of all the famous people who also ate there.




Once we were finished with our late lunch, we found the Texas Panhandle Veteran’s Park and just had to stop to pay our respects and appreciate this wonderful dedicated property.  We took great care in remembering our brothers and sisters of our military family; even a Coast Guard Brother.  This park was very well put together and landscaped.

One of the highlights of our visit Amarillo was having dinner at the Big Texan!  We are carnivores.  We love meat; we were raised on good hearty meat.  We love beef; beef that is prepared and cooked perfectly and the Big Texan scored big time.  We learned about the Big Texan from the tv series ‘Man vs. Food’ but never in a million years did we ever think we’d actually GO there.  



The meal was spectacular…and no, we didn’t have the 72 oz. steak; my 24 oz. was way too much but made for a killer doggie/people bag to take home for steak and eggs the next day.  (Pssssst, we always do that…order big steaks and take home people bags).  Dan had the ribs and ate every morsel and scrappin’.  The Big Texan also has a spectacular gift shop that had ‘everything Texas’.  I was in my glory while Dan sat patiently on the bench outside…with the other men. 




So, if you’re ever in the Amarillo area, here’s just a small samplin’ of cool places to visit and chow down.  As we found through our journey across this great state, ‘Everything’s big as Texas”; so much to see and do (and eat!) that you need a whole lifetime to enjoy this huge country…I mean ‘state’.