Postscript: Cincinnati and Colorado

Whoops: there was more memory left than I realised. By being more selective about Cincinnati and Colorado than I would have wished, I can off-set the justifiable ire and angst emanating from people resident in these excellent USA destinations. This really IS the end of the blog, however, but I will return to the text every now and again to smarten it up.

Cincinnati first.

St. Peter in Chains Cathedral

St. Peter in Chains Cathedral

Downtown Cincinnati from Covington, Kentucky

Downtown from Covington, Kentucky

Riverside

Riverside

Downtown

Downtown

Downtown and Roebling Suspension Bridge

Downtown and Roebling Suspension Bridge

Union Terminal

Union Terminal

Union Terminal

Union Terminal

Union Terminal

Union Terminal

Union Terminal

Union Terminal

Downtown

Downtown

And now for Colorado.

Cortez

Cortez

Rocky Mountains National Park

Rocky Mountains National Park

On Highway 7

Chapel on the Rock on Highway 7

Idaho Springs

Idaho Springs

Leadville

Leadville

Leadville

Leadville

Leadville

Leadville

Denver

Denver

Denver

Denver

Denver

Denver

On the Road: Sunsets

With the available memory on the blog just about used up, I wanted to conclude with a post that is both appropriate and eye-catching. It suddenly occurred to me that our visits to the USA have provided us with some remarkable sunsets, so, since sunsets concluded many a memorable day, sunsets seemed a good way to conclude the blog itself.

The following photos feature St. Louis (Missouri), Townsend (Tennessee), Butte (Montana), West Yellowstone (Montana), the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park (Texas), Missoula (Montana), Great Falls (Montana), Bozeman (Montana), Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming) and Salt Lake City (Utah).

May I extend my apologies to the good people of Cincinnati and Colorado: I had hoped to upload posts about both these destinations, but I have been defeated by a lack of memory (not my memory, you understand. The blog’s memory). Should an opportunity occur on another blog to create posts about Cincinnati and Colorado, readers of “The USA: Landscapes and Urban Spaces” will be the first to know.

Enjoy, and don’t forget to access “In Search of Unusual Destinations” and “Lithuanian Reflections” if you have found this blog has been engaging.

St. Louis

St. Louis, Missouri

Townsend

Townsend, Tennessee

Butte, Montana

Butte, Montana

West Yellowstone, Montana

West Yellowstone, Montana

Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park, Texas

Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park, Texas

Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park, Texas

Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park, Texas

Missoula, Montana

Missoula, Montana

Great Falls, Montana

Great Falls, Montana

Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman, Montana

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

On the Road: Montana

Of the twenty or so states of the USA that we have visited, albeit for only short periods of time, Montana has emerged as our favourite, so much so that we have included Montana on two trips to the USA in the last three years. Given how many posts on this blog feature places in Montana, and given how many places in Montana also feature on “In Search of Unusual Destinations”, it must already be obvious that the state is somewhere dear to our hearts.

What follows is a highly selective farewell to a remarkably beautiful part of the world. I would love to make at least one more visit to Montana before mental and physical decline become so extreme that trips anywhere become ill-advised or impossible.  Let us raise our glasses to Montana, the state that epitomises Big Sky and expansive views. Shame about the politics in recent times, of course, but there you go! You cannot have everything, even in a place that can sometimes resemble paradise itself.

The road trip below (one not undertaken for real, sadly, but it does combine, albeit somewhat creatively, our two visits to the state) begins with Highway 2 which meanders from one end of the state to the other some distance south of the Canadian border. The photos feature Poplar, Chester and Shelby before detours embrace Glacier National Park. After briefly returning to Highway 2 at Kalispell, the photos engage with St. Ignatius Mission Church, the ghost town of Garnet, Drummond and Butte before scenically delightful Highway 287 passes through Robber’s Roost and Nevada City on the way to West Yellowstone. A lengthy detour to stops along or near Interstate 15 then follows (Buffalo Jump State Park and Boulder) before the trip concludes with Roundup and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. The last photo shares some words written by John Steinbeck many years ago. They are words that make sense to us.

Poplar

Poplar

On Highway 2

On Highway 2

On Highway 2

Chester on Highway 2

Shelby

Shelby

Two Medicine Lake, Glacier National Park

Two Medicine Lake, Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park

Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Kalispell

Kalispell

St. Ignatius Mission Church

St. Ignatius Mission Church

Garnet

Garnet

Garnet

Garnet

Drummond

Drummond

Butte

Butte

Eddy's Motel, Butte

Eddy’s Motel, Butte

Bonanza Freeze

Bonanza Freeze, Butte

Robber's Roost

Robber’s Roost

Nevada City

Nevada City

On Highway 287

On Highway 287

West Yellowstone

West Yellowstone

On Interstate 15 between Butte and Helena

On Interstate 15 between Helena and Butte

Buffalo Jump State Park

Buffalo Jump State Park

Boulder

Boulder

Roundup

Roundup

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

Steinbeck on Montana

John Steinbeck on Montana

On the Road: Wyoming

Wyoming is a sparsely populated state with many iconic destinations, both natural and conceived by humankind. It is not quite our favourite state in the USA, but, as I hope the photos that follow will confirm, it is one that cannot fail to thrill everyone who likes wide open spaces, high mountains, eccentric geological features and urban spaces with personality (some of which is often highly kitschy).

Lander

Lander

Between Grand Teton National Park and Lander

Between Grand Teton National Park and Lander

Laramie

Laramie

Gas Lite Motel, Laramie

Gas Lite Motel, Laramie

On the way to Snowy Range  Pass

On the way to Snowy Range Pass

Centennial

Centennial

Jackson Lake Lodge, Grand Teton National Park

Jackson Lake Lodge, Grand Teton National Park

Colter Bay, Jackson Lake

Colter Bay, Jackson Lake

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Fossil Butte National Monument

Fossil Butte National Monument

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Bison, Yellowstone

Bison, Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

On the Road: Texas

Because of its size, its diverse landscapes, its equally diverse settlements and its extensive road network, Texas is THE place in the USA to undertake a road trip confined to a single state (Alaska may be far larger than Texas, but it has far fewer roads along which to travel). The photos below provide a snapshot of a three week trip which began and ended in Houston by taking in Lufkin, Nacogdoches, Texarkarna, Paris, Fort Worth, Archer City, Abilene, Amarillo, Dalhart, Vega, Lubbock, Kermit, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, El Paso, Alpine, Big Bend National Park, Marathon, Sanderson, Del Rio, San Antonio, Kerrville (in the Hill Country) and Austin. Access “In Search of Unusual Destinations” and posts examine places in the Lone Star State in far more detail.

San Augustine

San Augustine

Texarkana

Texarkana

Clarksville

Clarksville

Sherman

Sherman

Stockyards, Fort Worth

Stockyards, Fort Worth

Jacksboro

Jacksboro

Abilene

Abilene

Abilene

Abilene

On the way to Spur

On the way to Spur

Spur

Dickens County

Spur

Dickens County

Amarillo

Amarillo

Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon

Amarillo

Amarillo

Amarillo

Amarillo

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

On Highway 385

On Highway 385

Vega

Vega

Vega

Vega

National Ranching Heritage Centre, Lubbock

National Ranching Heritage Centre, Lubbock

Lubbock

Lubbock

Lubbock

Lubbock

Lubbock

Lubbock

Guadalupe Mountains

Guadalupe Mountains

Leaving the Guadalupe Mountains

Leaving the Guadalupe Mountains

On Highway 62/180 to El Paso

On Highway 62/180 to El Paso

To Big Bend National Park

To Big Bend National Park

Near Santa Elena Canyon Overlook, Big Bend National Park

Near Santa Elena Canyon Overlook, Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park

Marathon

Marathon

Sanderson

Sanderson

Sanderson

Sanderson

San Antonio

San Antonio

San Antonio

San Antonio

San Antonio

San Antonio

Kerrville

Kerrville

Houston

Houston

Houston

Houston

Waterwall, Houston

Waterwall, Houston

Houston

Houston

On the Road: Utah

The state of Utah has had a lot of posts devoted to it on the blog, so I will keep the text in this one to the bare minimum. The first photo is of Heber City.

Railroad station, Heber City

Railroad station, Heber City

The next photo is of the Josie Morris Cabin close to Cub Creek in Dinosaur National Monument. Until 1963, Josie Morris lived in the cabin where she raised livestock and grew a few crops. Fencing, trees planted to provide fruit and shade, a second surviving wooden building and the traces of other small wooden structures near a pretty pond confirm that Josie Morris was determined to remain for as long as she could in this peaceful but lonely outpost, and she did so for over fifty years without plumbing, electricity or immediate neighbours.

Josie Morris Cabin, Dinosaur National Monument

Josie Morris Cabin, Dinosaur National Monument

The next two photos are of Flaming Gorge Recreation Area/Red Canyon Overlook.

Flaming Gorge Recreation Area/Red Canyon Overlook

Flaming Gorge Recreation Area/Red Canyon Overlook

Flaming Gorge Recreation Area/Red Canyon Overlook

Flaming Gorge Recreation Area/Red Canyon Overlook

The next photo is of Hovenweep National Monument. The canyon and mesa country north of the San Juan River possesses many archaeological sites where ancestors of today’s Pueblo people once lived. Round, square and D-shaped towers grouped at canyon heads most visibly indicate once-thriving communities. No one has lived in the communities for over seven hundred years, but their construction and location still inspire awe.

Hovenweep National Monument

Hovenweep National Monument

The next two photos are along Highway 95 on the way to Hanksville. The first photo is in White Canyon and the second is of the approach to the bridge crossing the Colorado River.

White Canyon

White Canyon

Approaching the Colorado River, Highway 95

Approaching the Colorado River, Highway 95

The next photo has been taken from the highway between Hanksville and Capitol Reef National Park.

Between Hanksville and Capitol Reef National Park

Between Hanksville and Capitol Reef National Park

The next photo is of Widtsoe Junction, which nowadays is really a ghost town, near Bryce Canyon National Park. Sadly, not much of the town remains, only three or four wooden buildings and some fencing and corrals, but some families still live nearby, although in modern houses or trailers widely dispersed among the fields, the scrub and the trees. We met a German couple also interested in ghost towns. We chatted a while, then Hilary and I drove along a nearby gravel road leading to the town’s cemetery. Suddenly things picked up considerably. Set among scrub and trees, the cemetery is, by US standards, attractive in appearance and intimate in atmosphere. We were intrigued to find that, among the graves and tombs of people buried between thirty and almost a hundred years ago, infant twins were buried in 1999 and someone else was buried as recently as 2011.

Widtsoe Junction

Widtsoe Junction

The next two photos are of Red Canyon near Panguitch. At Red Canyon the spires, cliffs and hoodoos shelter some mature pine trees and, the evening of our visit, the rock formations glowed below a deep blue sky almost completely devoid of cloud. I walked along part of a trail that takes you close to some of the spires and hoodoos. The trail was very quiet, no doubt because, in comparison with Bryce Canyon not very far away, Red Canyon must seem very modest. This said, Red Canyon shares with Bryce many of the same remarkable geological characteristics.

Red Canyon

Red Canyon

Red Canyon

Red Canyon

The next photo is somewhere in southern Utah and typifies a lot of the landscapes that you encounter simply by driving around with no particular destination in mind.

Southern Utah

Southern Utah

The next photo is of Salina between Richfield and Manti.

Salina

Salina

The next two photos are of Manti. Manti was the prettiest, tidiest, cleanest, most prosperous and most economically vibrant community we encountered in Utah. Only Moab could lay claim to similar qualities, but, because Moab bases its economic well-being firmly on the exploitation of tourists, there were aspects of the town we did not warm to. Manti, on the other hand, did things with far more taste and restraint. And why was this? Because the people it “exploited” were largely Mormons whom we knew to be overwhelmingly white, middle class, conservative and in sympathy with doing things the old-fashioned way.

Manti is dominated by its elegant, white, hilltop temple, the fifth temple built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Below the temple is the South Lawn on which, every year in late June, the Mormon Miracle Pageant is held, and we had arrived in Manti just as the final preparations were being made for the pageant to take place. A vast number of seats were already on the lawn arranged in rows, columns and blocks as if in a theatre. The pageant lasts two weeks and typically draws an average of 15,000 people a night for the eight nights that the performances take place.

The temple itself was completed in 1888. It has been conceived in a variety of styles including gothic, French renaissance, French second empire and colonial. Much effort is expended to ensure that the grounds around the temple always look immaculate, with the result that you do not have to be a Latter-day Saint to enjoy a visit. The trees, lawns and flowerbeds are delightful, as are the views over Manti and the countryside that encloses it. Sadly, the only people allowed to enter the temple are Church members in good standing. Of course, being neither Church members nor people in good standing, we had no chance of getting inside.

Manti

Manti

Manti

Manti

The next photo is of Provo Courthouse.

Provo Courthouse

Provo Courthouse

The last two photos are of Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City

On the Road: Tennessee

If you stay in hotels in West Memphis (which is in Arkansas rather than Tennessee), you will cut hotel costs significantly and find that places are, as a general rule, quieter than in Memphis itself. We stayed at Best Western near where interstates 40 and 55 merge, which meant that the journey to downtown Memphis was about ten minutes. Before tax, a room with breakfast and access to a pool cost $49.

Whether staying there or not, Peabody Hotel, 149 Union Avenue, has to be seen to be believed. There is no problem if, as a non-resident, you pop inside to admire the amazing lobby and the wide hallways lined by attractive shops.

One of the delights of Memphis is the river, in this case the Mississippi. Along the riverbank you have great views punctuated every so often by mighty bridges.

There are now half a dozen excellent houses worth seeing in Victorian Village on Adams Avenue east of downtown, and the views from Victorian Village to downtown are memorable. However, the cash-strapped city government has had to close to visitors all but one of the houses, Mallory-Neely, 652 Adams Avenue.

Victorian Village, Memphis

Victorian Village, Memphis

Interesting buildings, etc. not mentioned above include Lorraine Motel/National Civil Rights Museum, Amtrak Station, Beale Street (Beale Street has to be seen, but once is enough unless you intend to catch some live music), Graceland and Sun Recording Studios.

Lorraine Motel, Memphis

Lorraine Motel, Memphis

Beale Street, Memphis

Beale Street, Memphis

Beale Street, Memphis

Beale Street, Memphis

Graceland, Memphis

Graceland, Memphis

Graceland, Memphis

Graceland, Memphis

The young woman who showed our group around Sun Recording Studios had tattooed her chest with “Honky Tonk Angel”. The young man of Indian origin who helped to run our hotel had a personalised Arkansas numberplate on his car: “SHIV” for Lord Shiva.

If travelling between Memphis and Nashville, pull off Interstate 40 to visit Casey Jones Village where you will find a preserved steam locomotive, some rolling stock, a small station and Casey Jones’ House. The 1890s’ Train Station Railroad Museum, which contains all these things, is free to wander around. Nearby is the excellent Old Country Store with antiques, modern souvenirs, interesting food such as jams, sweets and relishes, and a cafe and a restaurant. Allow at least an hour for the visit.

Casey Jones Village

Casey Jones Village

The newish Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Demonbreun between 4th and 5th in Nashville, is one of the best indoor places to spend a day in the USA, even if, as in our case, country and western is not your favourite musical genre. The collection of interesting memorabilia is amazing. Moreover, the booths where you retire to hear landmark recordings knock spots off how music is accessed at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City. For those with the time and the inclination, the displays are so full of learned insights that you could return the following day to do full justice to the place. Given how cheap admission is compared with, say, Graceland in Memphis ($17-50 compared with $30 for the full works at the rather tacky Elvis Presley showcase), and that every visitor will find something to love and/or admire (we spent over an hour in an excellent exhibition devoted to Ray Charles), this rates as one of the top music-themed museums anywhere in the world. Add to this that, at regular intervals during the day, you can see live acts for free in a small theatre, and that the museum’s restaurant, SoBro Grill, does great American food with imaginative twists without charging much more than a typical diner, and you have what amounts to an excellent all-round experience.

And how much better Broadway is to Beale Street in Memphis. The Broadway bars, cafes and restaurants, many with free live music, are considerably more appealing and friendly than those on Beale Street. At the bottom of the street, near the Cumberland River and the station for the light rail trains to Lebanon, is Big River Grille and Brewing Works where starters, sandwiches and mains average out at $9, $9 and $12 respectively. The micro-brewery serves excellent beers.

Broadway, Nashville

Broadway, Nashville

Nashville

Nashville

Nashville

Nashville

Broadway, Nashville

Broadway, Nashville

For those for whom a real treat is due, the obvious place to stay is Union Station, which is now a Wyndham Historic Hotel. We were encouraged to walk around the hotel which has beautiful bedrooms, lounges and dining rooms. At present, the least expensive bedrooms cost $139 with breakfast. Dating from 1900, the one-time station benefited from an extensive restoration programme in 2006 and reopened as a hotel in early 2007. Marvel at the 65 foot barrel-vaulted ceiling with Tiffany-style stained glass a hundred years old and the rare bas-relief sculptures. No passenger trains currently run through Nashville (the nearest Amtrak stations appear to be in Memphis and Louisville, the latter in Kentucky), but plenty of freight trains rumble along the adjacent tracks.

Union Station/Wyndham Historic Hotel, Nashville

Union Station/Wyndham Historic Hotel, Nashville

Interesting buildings, etc. not mentioned already include Fort Nashborough, Ryman Auditorium, State Capitol, War Memorial Auditorium, Bellsouth, LP Field (home of the NFL Tennessee Titans), Printers Alley, 2nd Avenue North and Music Row. Also note the elaborate shop signs, adverts and murals painted onto walls along or close to Broadway.

Nashville

Nashville

Nashville

Nashville

Townsend is the best, quietest and least commercialised town or city in which to stay if not camping in the Smoky Mountains themselves. Why? Because it is small, you can see the mountains from the main street, mist often enlivens the early mornings, there is a small railroad museum (Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum), half a dozen economy/moderate hotels and motels line Highway 32, and the Little River winds through the valley where paths along the riverbank provide views of pretty houses and old wooden barns.

Townsend

Townsend

Cades Cove is only a 25 mile drive via Laurel Creek Road. Once you have driven around Cades Cove Loop Road; visited some of the historically important houses, churches, barns (some of which are cantilevered) and mills (one with a dam race); completed a short trek or two to see deer, otters, herons, wild turkeys, bats and, if very lucky, a black bear; why not return to Townsend via the one-way lanes called Rich River Road and Old Cades Cove Road. By the way: Cades Cove Loop Road is so beautiful we went around it twice in two days. From the car park at Abrams Fall Trailhead, a delightful 2.5 mile track leads to the waterfall in fifty minutes one way. Many more ambitious trails lead from the loop and information about them can be secured from the Cable Mill Historic Area and Visitor Centre (where half a dozen important wooden buildings from the early settler days have been re-assembled).

Near Townsend

Near Townsend

Near Townsend

Near Townsend

Cade's Cove

Cade’s Cove

Cades Cove

Cade’s Cove

We drove east and south from Cades Cove past Chimney Tops to Newfound Gap (5,048 feet) on the boundary between the states of Tennessee and North Carolina. Towering above Newfound Gap is Clingman’s Dome (6,643 feet). We continued about 15 miles into North Carolina just to say we had visited another state.

Newfound Gap

Newfound Gap