Tag Archives: National Park Service

Oklahoma City | National Memorial

by Jim and Melanie

Before destruction – Wikimedia

We recently visited Oklahoma where our son is a pilot in training with the Air Force. On one of the days, we drove to Oklahoma City to visit the National Memorial to the 168 victims of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. The bombing took place on April 19, 1995. The glass-fronted building formerly stood nine stories tall, faced north and aligned with NW 5th Street. Just before 9:00 that morning, a rental truck was parked by the bomber directly in front. He set a fuse and departed for safety and his getaway car parked nearby. At 9:02 the blast tore a gaping hole in the front of the building, killing 168 adults and children. Through a series of fortuitous events, he was arrested within two hours along I-35 north of the city for having no license plates. Evidence led to his conviction of the bombing.

News helicopter view soon after shows the terrible destruction. - AP Photo

News helicopter view soon after shows the terrible destruction. – AP Photo

The scene today is peaceful. It honors those who died and those who worked tirelessly to rescue the victims. The memorial had several beautiful parts honoring those people and the family, friends, and community members whose lives were changed in an instant.

The satellite view below gives an overall perspective. North is toward the top. The blue rectangle is the footprint of the original building. The street originally crossing in front of the building location has been closed. There are many small dark objects aligned in rows within the blue rectangle. Those are chairs honoring each of the victims in their last know location by floor.


Click the image for a Google Map view of the site.

Show me more of the memorial.


Banff National Park, part 2

by Jim and Melanie

Our hosts at our B&B urged us to ride the gondola to Sulfur Mountain next door to Banff. Near the base of the mountain is a place called Cave and Basin. It is the first of Canada’s national parks, established in 1885. We secured our tickets and climbed aboard with two other people. The ride started out kind of level as you can see below. By the time we reached the top several minutes later, we were going nearly vertical. It was great fun and scenic. The town of Banff and the surrounding valley and mountains were beautiful.

Come see what was at the top.

Banff National Park, part 1

by Jim and Melanie

We left the east side of Glacier Park on July 7 and headed north for Canada. The border was less than an hour away. We got to the inspection station and waited for the two cars ahead to clear. Melanie was driving. We were sitting at this stop sign about 20 ft behind the vehicle ahead currently being cleared by the agent. I suggested to Melanie that she pull ahead so we were closer.

The agent waved the car ahead through. We drove up and handed him our passports and photo IDs. He looked them over and said “You folks were doing just fine until you drove up closer. Next time, stay back at that stop sign like the sign says.” He smiled, asked a few questions, and let us pass. I felt kind of sheepish.

Join us for a few days in the Canadian Rockies.

Glacier National Park, part 2

by Jim and Melanie

Please see our Part 1 post on Glacier National Park.

That Thursday morning, Independence Day, we celebrated in one of the magnificent parks in our great nation. The breathtaking scenery, and sometimes breathtaking hairpin turns on the Going to the Sun road, kept us moving toward the east side of the park. The other three nights of our stay were at the Rising Sun location.

On the mountain side south of Rising Sun, pockets of snow still clung in the crevices. This snow patch created a shape that looked like an airplane to us.

From the parking lot at the visitor center, the red buses filled with passengers to tour the park. Many people prefer to have someone else do the driving so they can concentrate on the scenery.

Join us on our walk at Logan Pass and the boat ride on St. Mary Lake.

Glacier National Park, part 1

••• by Melanie and Jim

Between travel time to get there and days to soak in the sites, some of the wonders on our own continent require extended holidays to appreciate them. In the last few years we’ve had more time to travel than we had before, allowing us to enjoy Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks in Wyoming, as well as the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam in the southwest.

More than a year ago we began talking about visiting Glacier National Park in Montana. If we were going that far, we would go “a little” farther and travel into Alberta, Canada, into the Banff National Park area. From our town, it’s more than 20 hours’ of driving time to get to Glacier. We know our limits, and decided to fly most of the way, and then to use a rental car to get around.

On July 3 we left Iowa, this time to national parks of the northwest. We flew into Spokane, WA. It’s possible this wasn’t the best choice, and we’d encourage travelers to check other airports for ticket prices. However, it ended up working out fine for us.

Because of the two hour time zone change, from Central to Pacific time, we arrived late morning. After a stop at a Cabela’s sporting goods store to buy hiking poles, we made our way across Idaha and into Montana, arriving through the west gate of Glacier in the early evening.

We checked into our motel, the Village Inn at Lake McDonald. The building is older, the units unimpressive both outside and inside. Ours had a kitchenette, which we did not use.

If you ignore the building, however, and turn around, the vista is more impressive! This, literally, was the view from our doorway.

The next morning Jim captured the sun rise over the peak of the mountain.

After the sun rose, a mist settled for a short time, giving a more ethereal look.

Come with us as we travel along Lake McDonald along Going to the Sun road.