We have six great kids the youngest of which and her husband took us traveling in their forty-foot "coach" this summer. Can you imagine a son-in-law so nice he takes you with him to his class reunion? Well, actually, we tended our eight-year-old granddaughter while they attended the reunion, but it was 1500 miles from home, and we saw many sights getting there and coming home.
The first stop (after driving through Yellowstone Park, watching Old Faithful erupt, and seeing a real live young grizzly bear on the hillside as we drove by) was the Buffalo Bill Museum. From the statue of Sacajawea standing before the entrance to the mounted grizzly that looked just like the live one we had seen in Yellowstone, this museum is a treasure trove of western memorabilia.
We own a J. E. Stuart painting of Mt. Hood at sunset. He painted a number of originals of that mountain. Guess he wanted to get it right. We had heard that the Buffalo Bill Museum had a large collection of his work, and Wendell (my husband) strongly desired to see it. Unfortunately, they had only his "Splendid Geyser" displayed, or so the docents informed us. Stuart had several "periods." The first was his Wisconsin period. Those paintings are gloomy--meadows in the rain, for example. The Yellowstone period came next. The Buffalo Bill collection is likely from this period. Then the Alaskan government commissioned Stuart to create paintings of Alaskan scenery for their buildings, and so he spent a number of years there. Our painting is from his West Coast period, his fourth period and said to have produced his most joyful work. He stayed on the west coast for the remainder of his life. We began to leave the museum a bit disappointed. Finding our way through the three buildings that make up the museum is like navigating a maze of corridors,but as we turned one of the corners, Stuart's "Yellowstone Falls" appeared directly in front of us. We recognized it immediately, as we had seen it pictured in miniature. We gasped at its beauty and size. It is immense and captures the falls in sunny bright color. I suppose the museum would like to own it, but it was only on loan from another museum.
From there we went to Hart Mountain to visit the Japanese Relocation Center. The local people have done a wonderful job of helping the public feel what citizens of the United States were put through because of fear of anyone Japanese during WWII. From there we traveled to the Crazy Horse Memorial, Mt. Rushmore, Latter-day Saint historical sites in Illinois and Missouri, the Caterpiller Visitors Center in Peoria (site of our son-in-law's reunion), the Lincoln Tomb and home in Springfield, Illinois, and the St. Louis Arch. We even saw a few old friends along the way, people from different times and places in our lives. And as Son-in-law Bill says, "This is the way to travel." Just be sure to tow a small vehicle to get around in after the coach is parked.