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The Gipper

The Gipper's Guide to America

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On my recent trip to Wyoming I again visited some "old friends"  i.e. National Park Units that I had been to before.

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.   Though this time I visited the southern section, whereas before I had been to the northern section.

Yellowstone National Park.    I had previously been to most areas of Yellowstone, but this time I hit a few spots that I had not stopped in before.  And it is always nice to go back. This was my 3rd time there. For my travel companion, it was his 10th time!

Grand Teton NP.   My previous time here was somewhat cursory being just a "passing through" situation, so this time, staying in Jackson, just 5 miles away, I was able to do a much more in depth visit to this park.

So, my count stays put.  I have been to 368 of the 419 units.  Though I did do a check....I have only 33  park units left on the Continental US to visit.  Nineteen of those are in only 3 states:  9 in Northern New Mexico,  5 in Washington and 5 in California. In no other state are there more than 2. (not currently scheduled to visit any of those states....though I am considering a winter So.  Calif. visit)

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1 hour ago, TexasAg1969 said:

I found this on the internet for those who enjoy seeing starry skies unencumbered by air and light pollution.

https://www.theparkcatalog.com/blog/certified-dark-sky-parks-in-the-united-states/

Interesting that neither Yellowstone nor Grand Teton are on that list, considering how remote they are from any major cities.  I have done some stargazing at several of these parks. Most recently Big Bend earlier in like February.  (but I did not really think to do stargazing in the Tetons.  I was literally going to bed at like 9:00 pm.

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2 hours ago, The Gipper said:

Interesting that neither Yellowstone nor Grand Teton are on that list, considering how remote they are from any major cities.  I have done some stargazing at several of these parks. Most recently Big Bend earlier in like February.  (but I did not really think to do stargazing in the Tetons.  I was literally going to bed at like 9:00 pm.

The back side of Rocky Mountain National Park is phenomenal during the summer when prevailing winds of W to E are in play and any afternoon cloudiness has cleared with those winds. And it really isn't bad either from the Estes Park side under those conditions when looking West away from any lights of Denver. My brother's back porch is set so you sit facing that direction and anything from Denver has his house between us and the light source. Spectacular star counting (well estimation in millions anyway). And the longer you stay out there the more you realize you're on a little ball that is rotating in relation to those stars. In August you get to experience the meteor showers. 😁

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2 hours ago, TexasAg1969 said:

Interesting article on National Park System:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/society/national-parks-estimated-to-save-trillions-in-mental-health-costs

Obviously needs a lot more viable research.

I agree, it helps.  Not sure how they can come up with some kind of dollar figure however.

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On 11/1/2019 at 9:14 AM, The Gipper said:

Interesting that neither Yellowstone nor Grand Teton are on that list, considering how remote they are from any major cities. 

Even more amazing to me was that 2 Florida parks were listed. Trust me, with our humidity it doesn't matter how dark the sky is,  Viewing the night sky is terrible most of the year regardless of the lack of light pollution :(

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7 minutes ago, Axe said:

Even more amazing to me was that 2 Florida parks were listed. Trust me, with our humidity it doesn't matter how dark the sky is,  Viewing the night sky is terrible most of the year regardless of the lack of light pollution :(

And one of the main reasons it is so starry in Estes Park is that you are already 8000 ft into the atmosphere from where you sit. The heavier atmosphere is well below that level. Same reason that many observatories are built as high as possible. The multiple telescope complex on the Hawaii Big Island is above 13,000 ft.

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Next trip is in Jan/Feb.  to Sedona and Las Vegas...and for a day or two to a place called Deep Springs Cal.   Just north of Death Valley.  I don't think you will find it on any regular map, though your Google gps should bring it up.   It is where my brother lives and works at a college/cattle ranch. Closest semi size town there is Bishop Cal.   

I suspect the stars at night are big and bright...dun, dun, dun, dun deep in that part of the country.  We shall see.

I do plan to visit a couple of new NP units:   Castle Mtns...In Cal...out sort of Laughlin way.  Plus  the Tule Fossil Beds...just outside of Vegas.  Plus, I will certainly  re-visit a couple of major parks.  The aforementioned  Death Valley, plus the Grand Canyon, and maybe a couple of others that are somewhat close to Sedona. 

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Love Sedona, Been there a few times and was even scouting out real estate there at one time..

If you get a chance and haven't seen it yet, Canyon De Chelly.. I can't recommend it highly enough!

31647_395638831510_3892185_n.jpg?_nc_cat

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10 hours ago, Axe said:

Love Sedona, Been there a few times and was even scouting out real estate there at one time..

If you get a chance and haven't seen it yet, Canyon De Chelly.. I can't recommend it highly enough!

31647_395638831510_3892185_n.jpg?_nc_cat

Been there, done that a couple of times.

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1 hour ago, The Gipper said:

Been there, done that a couple of times.

Were you required to go with a Navajo guide and if so what was the cost? It's on my bucket list, but "basically I'm on my way to Australia"-James Garner in Support Your Local Sheriff 🤠

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5 hours ago, TexasAg1969 said:

Were you required to go with a Navajo guide and if so what was the cost? It's on my bucket list, but "basically I'm on my way to Australia"-James Garner in Support Your Local Sheriff 🤠

More or less to go fully into the Canyon.  You jump on a truck and they take you  in and around.  But that is only for IN the Canyon.  For all views above the Canyon rim, you just drive yourself and stop as you please. I was there I think in 1999 and again in like 2005....so I don't recall the costs. But it was perfectly affordable.   Tip your guide.

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Word to the wise. Do not ever take the Epcot Mission Space training trip to Mars. It is a centrifuge based ride that takes you to 2.5 Gs which is more than you get in a simple space shot up to the spacelab. When you're an old fart you get close to passout level. Made several people use the barfbags. I went on multiple roller coasters but none hit that level of g-force for sustained periods of up to 1/2 min. like this one did. Anyway we celebrated our upcoming 50th with all our children and grandchildren plus siblings and some of their families (19 in all). Had a good time all week if you like standing in long lives. Favorites were "Sourin'" in Epcot and "Skull Island King Kong" in Universal Studios.

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Stars are numerous and shining bright off my brother's back porch in Estes Park. Just got in tonight and all the weather cleared out just in time. No smog or ozone at all up here at 8,000 ft. And listening to a big ole hoot owl out there somewhere in the distance.

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12 hours ago, TexasAg1969 said:

Stars are numerous and shining bright off my brother's back porch in Estes Park. Just got in tonight and all the weather cleared out just in time. No smog or ozone at all up here at 8,000 ft. And listening to a big ole hoot owl out there somewhere in the distance.

I assume you saw my son's photo of a Snowy Owl I posted on here.   Speaking of brothers and stars.....I plan to go up to my brother's place for a day or two when I am in Vegas.  He lives out past the north end of Death Valley....and there is absolutely nothing up that way. Highly remote. The stars should be crazy from there. 

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3 hours ago, The Gipper said:

I assume you saw my son's photo of a Snowy Owl I posted on here.   Speaking of brothers and stars.....I plan to go up to my brother's place for a day or two when I am in Vegas.  He lives out past the north end of Death Valley....and there is absolutely nothing up that way. Highly remote. The stars should be crazy from there. 

Yes I saw the picture-impressive.  This morning I was looking through clear air above Estes west into the mountains past the Sheep Lakes area in RMNP. There was a very thick cloud in between the peaks snowing thickly like cotton and already fallen snow blowing off the side peaks so much so that it appeared like the two sources were converging into a river of snow flowing down the valley towards the lakes. Too bad I had no camera with me.

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Just bringing this up to date. I took the Deer Mountain Trail in Rocky M. N.P. yesterday which starts just under 9000 ft. and gains just over 1400 ft. in elevation in just over 3 miles. Then you have to walk the 3 miles back. The switchbacks and and then the stairsteps to the top the last 100m + are coronary killers. At nearing 74 I would not do this, but having done well on both thallium stress test and coronary aneurysm scans in recent years since retirement gave me confidence the MDs knew what they were doing. Otherwise I would not be showing you this video I found 👻 that actually matched snowy & sunny conditions I found all the way up and back. Beautiful no wind day with not a cloud anywhere.

 
 

 

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Now that you revived this thread, I will do some catching up with it myself from the past year:

In January and February I spent  a week in Sedona AZ  courtesy of a Getaway into the Hyatt Pinon Pointe, plus another week in Las Vegas via AC at the Club de Soleil.

While in Vegas, I was able to visit two new  National Park Units that I had not been to before:

Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument.     This is a fairly new park unit that covers a huge swath of land that borders the north to northwest of Las Vegas.  Some portions of it are "badlands" type topography which is adjacent to the Las Vegas Shooting range.  And part of it takes in some of the "Big Dig"  that happened there. The problem is, there is nothing to see.  Except for those badlands which have no designated trails, most of the park is just  scrub desert.  There is no visitor center and no museum that houses the fossils like there are in other fossil oriented NP units.  There is just a sign and a story board that you can read.  This is one of my pet peeves about the NPS....they create a park, but do no development of it for years.  This park has been in existence since 2014, and nothing of note has been done to make a visit there informative in the 5-6 years it has existed.

Castle Mountains National Monument.    The same situation exists regarding this NP Unit.  Nothing much has been developed.   This unit is surround on like 3 and a half sides by the Mojave National Preserve (also a NP unit).  I am not sure why this has been made a separate unit to be honest.  Out of Searchlight Nevada you go down a fairly well maintained dirt road for like 17 miles along and through the park. You see the mountains there, but not much else besides tons of Joshua Tree. Don't get me wrong, it is very scenic and worth the drive down that road. But, again...nothing there.  Just a sign...and not even a story board.  It does look like they are working on an old ghost town that is there, which takes a 4 wheel drive vehicle to get to. 

During my two weeks, I did re-visit a number of NP units that I had been to before, including:

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Grand Canyon National Park

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Wupatki National Monument

Tuzigoot National Monument

Mojave National Preserve

Death Valley National Park

Manzanar National Historic Site

I need to double check but I believe that puts me at visiting 367 of the 419 NP units. 

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Checking in on the National Parks.   On my last two trips I did not hit on any new ones that I had not been to before. But on my way back from Texas in July my wife and I did stop at Hot Springs National Park.  I had been there a couple of times before (even stayed a week there on an II trade) but she had not.   Also, just this past week I return visited up and down the Upper Delaware National Scenic River there in the Catskills area.   

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I have learned that  there are 2 new National Park Units, just formed here in late September 2020:

Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial,   Washington DC.   Located along the National Mall, near the Air and Space Museum.

Mill Springs National Battlefield.    Located in southern Kentucky. West of Corbin.  A Civil War Battlefield. 

This brings the total up to  421 total Units.   I have not been to these two.  I have certainly been on the National Mall, but this was not there at the time. 

My personal count stayed the same at  367....But it now means that there are 31 NP units....in the lower 48 that I have to go to.   I plan to hit 3 of these later this month. And then  another 9 in April;  1 in May.  1 in July maybe,  then 5 in August, which would make 19 of the 31.   Plus, I am thinking of perhaps hitting these new ones on short trips of only a couple of days.  I can drive to them easily enough. 

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New National Park Units visited on my recent trip to  Colorado and Utah

Yucca House National Monument.   Yucca House are some ruins of an ancient Pueblo Indian Village in southwest Colorado, about 15 miles south of Cortez. The thing about this unit is that the National Park Service has essentially wholly neglected this unit. I don't know if this is purposeful or not. There is no visitor center, no established paths around the ruins.  The ruins are overrun by vegetation. They are really just out back of some farmer's ranch, with a sign and a gate to go through to get to them. This place is in some need of some serious archaeological attention, if they expect it to be a viable preserved unit. Right now all I saw was a place that was deteriorating in place. 

Hovenweep National Monument.  This unit straddles the Colorado/Utah border. Unlike the above unit, this unit has been well developed...and preserved.  There is a visitor center, and a hike around a canyon with many well ancient pueblo ruins that have been preserved. There are "castles" and towers, that look like preserved "medieval" structures, which, they sort of are. They have been there since sometime between the 1100-1300 period. 

Rainbow Bridge National Monument.   Rainbow Bridge is a natural bridge, which you have been seeing in my avatar the last couple of months. I will only say that I had issues with getting access to this monument, but I put it on my count as having gotten there nevertheless. 

Other national Park Units I re=visited:

Rocky Mountain National Park  (before the fires shut it down)

Florrisant Fossil Beds NM

Great Sand Dunes NP

Mesa Verde NP

Natural Bridges NM

Glen Canyon NRA

Capitol Reef NP

Cedar Breaks NM

Bryce Canyon NP

Zion NP

Pipe Spring NP

My personal count is now up to 370  NP units.  Out of 421. (see previous post where 2 were added in September).  My goal is to hit all the ones in the "lower 48".  That means I have 28 to go. Again, see above re my plans to visit a number of them. 

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On 11/28/2020 at 11:49 AM, The Gipper said:

New National Park Units visited on my recent trip to  Colorado and Utah

Yucca House National Monument.   Yucca House are some ruins of an ancient Pueblo Indian Village in southwest Colorado, about 15 miles south of Cortez. The thing about this unit is that the National Park Service has essentially wholly neglected this unit. I don't know if this is purposeful or not. There is no visitor center, no established paths around the ruins.  The ruins are overrun by vegetation. They are really just out back of some farmer's ranch, with a sign and a gate to go through to get to them. This place is in some need of some serious archaeological attention, if they expect it to be a viable preserved unit. Right now all I saw was a place that was deteriorating in place. 

Hovenweep National Monument.  This unit straddles the Colorado/Utah border. Unlike the above unit, this unit has been well developed...and preserved.  There is a visitor center, and a hike around a canyon with many well ancient pueblo ruins that have been preserved. There are "castles" and towers, that look like preserved "medieval" structures, which, they sort of are. They have been there since sometime between the 1100-1300 period. 

Rainbow Bridge National Monument.   Rainbow Bridge is a natural bridge, which you have been seeing in my avatar the last couple of months. I will only say that I had issues with getting access to this monument, but I put it on my count as having gotten there nevertheless. 

Other national Park Units I re=visited:

 

My personal count is now up to 370  NP units.  Out of 421. (see previous post where 2 were added in September).  My goal is to hit all the ones in the "lower 48".  That means I have 28 to go. Again, see above re my plans to visit a number of them. 

In your opinion only do you think that funding or lack of it in some areas enter into the condition of the side ?  Do you think that the "the government can't get to my all" a factor ? Can interested people fix up the sites on their own like weekend projects or do they not want that ?

Or does lack of interest by the public to have the government spend money on small sites a factor ?

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1 hour ago, mjp28 said:

In your opinion only do you think that funding or lack of it in some areas enter into the condition of the side ?  Do you think that the "the government can't get to my all" a factor ? Can interested people fix up the sites on their own like weekend projects or do they not want that ?

Or does lack of interest by the public to have the government spend money on small sites a factor ?

I don't think your last sentence is a factor. Per se.  If there is a lack of interest in many of these "small" parks it is because they are just not well known.  

But I do think you are right about the statements made in your first paragraph.  Lack of funding is obviously an issue....ergo leaving a lot of needs "not gotten to".  There are a lot of people that do just what you say:  volunteer their time to work on park projects...but that would never really be enough. 

In the case of Yucca House....when reading the website there, it almost seems like it is the intent of the NPS to leave that place in in current fallow nature. Not sure why when many other similar park units undergo archaeological undertakings and preservation, where this one does not. 

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Two new  National Park Units have  been created:

St. Genevieve National Historic Park.   Missouri.    This is like the oldest river town on the Mississippi above Louisiana

Medgar and Myrlie Evers National Historic Park.   Jackson Mississippi.  Home of the Civil Rights leader who was assassinated by white supremacists. 

This makes a total of  423  National Park Units.   I have been to 370.   for  total of  53 not visited by me. (though my goal is to only hit like  40 of them) Plan is to hit a couple here between February and April if possible  after I have gotten the vaccine.  Then to hit  9 of them in New Mexico in April,  if the quarantine in that state is lifted.  (right now they have some of the most strict quarantine rules on visitors in the nation).   Then one in May in Nebraska. One in July in Mississippi (Evers...as I will be going through Jackson then).  5 in August in Washington  plus 2-3 in Alaska if my scheduled cruise can still happen.   And then who knows a

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See this link for the current travel restrictions in place in each state.

What appears is that almost the entire Southeast is completely wide open for travel, except for some limited areas of Arkansas and Kentucky (not because they are less hard hit....they just prioritize tourist dollars over health and safety).   Most of the Northeast does have some stringent statewide restrictions in place.  The Midwest and the West Coast also have restrictions, sometimes in just specific cities.  I have actually twice had trips to Chicago called off because of restrictions, first last summer, then at Thanksgiving. 

The state with the most stringent rules?:   New Mexico.   Mandatory 14 day quarantine for anyone coming into the state.    And of course you know where my next major vacation I had planned was to:   New Mexico.   Where I had planned to hit  9 new NP units.    If things  don't lighten up by the first part of March, I will have to alter my plans.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/map-coronavirus-travel-restrictions-inside-united-states-n1236157

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16 hours ago, The Gipper said:

The state with the most stringent rules?:   New Mexico.   Mandatory 14 day quarantine for anyone coming into the state.    And of course you know where my next major vacation I had planned was to:   New Mexico.   Where I had planned to hit  9 new NP units.    If things  don't lighten up by the first part of March, I will have to alter my plans.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/map-coronavirus-travel-restrictions-inside-united-states-n1236157

Try to get vaccinated ASAP. They may start exceptions for those with vaccines on board. We are scheduled now for Feb 6 and will reschedule the 2nd 3-4 weeks from then. I plan to get proof in writing to take to Colorado in the summer just in case we need it.

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2 hours ago, TexasAg1969 said:

Try to get vaccinated ASAP. They may start exceptions for those with vaccines on board. We are scheduled now for Feb 6 and will reschedule the 2nd 3-4 weeks from then. I plan to get proof in writing to take to Colorado in the summer just in case we need it.

Hopefully  ASAP  after Feb. 8th which is when my age group is supposed to start receiving it here in Ohio.

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3 hours ago, TexasAg1969 said:

Try to get vaccinated ASAP. They may start exceptions for those with vaccines on board. We are scheduled now for Feb 6 and will reschedule the 2nd 3-4 weeks from then. I plan to get proof in writing to take to Colorado in the summer just in case we need it.

My wife is a nurse in Ohio. They gave her a wallet card saying when she was vaccinated 

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I took  a short trip to visit  2 of the newer National Park Units a couple of weeks ago.   Here is where I went:

Mill Springs  Battlefield National Monument.     Located in southern Kentucky near Somerset partially on the shore of the Cumberland River (now lake),  this park commemorates  the Civil War Battle that occurred here in January 1862.  The significance of this battle,  which was a victory for the Union, was that it kept the state of Kentucky in the Union.  Had it gone the other way, Kentucky may have joined the Confederacy.

St. Genevieve National Historic Park.    Located In Missouri on the Mississippi River about 60 miles south of St. Louis,  Ste.  Genevieve  is the oldest  town in Missouri,  and one of the 5 oldest towns west of the Mississippi.  It is called the "Mother of Missouri".  It has several historic structures that date to the early to mid 1700s when the town was first established as a French Colonial outpost for fur trading.  Today it is an extremely quaint town, historic small town. 

Both of the above parks had been established just since October 2020.    They, and a couple of others that I have not yet visited,  took the total NPS total units to  423.  I have visited  370...or is it 372?* of the  423.  Of the 53  I have not visited,  28 are on the "continental"  USA and the other 25 are in Alaska/Hawaii/Virgin Islands and a couple in some Pacific Island territories.   I take my next trip to New Mexico, in April, which is now opening up for travel  where I expect to visit  9 of the  28 units I have not yet been to in the "lower 48". 

My park visitation total seems to vary depending on the method I use to count it.  Needless to say, it is between 370-372.   I do know that the 28 left to do in lower 48 is accurate. 

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