A Visit To The Parks

Camping with Young Ones

I’m attracted to the national parks of the west. For each of my visits, I’m armed with a detailed list of attractions that I want to enjoy and photograph.

However, this past August’s visit was a little different.

I invited a granddaughter and grandnephew to accompany me on an end of summer excursion. We would go to a few of the parks and stay in a small popup camper.

So this series of photos are not my usual scenic variety. Instead they are a scrapbook of places that the kids and I visited.

Adeline and Elliott are surprised to find snow in August.

Standing beneath the elk arches in the Jackson, WY town square.

Looking at a grizzly behind glass at Jackson Lake Lodge

Riding the tram to the top at Jackson Hole Mountain

At the Willow Flats Overlook in the Tetons

Checking out the shoreline at Colter Bay
Nice view of the Tetons at Jackson Lake Lodge
Layers of travertine at Mammoth Hot Springs
Watching the flow at Tower Falls
Painted bison at a W. Yellowstone restaurant
Lots of steam and noise at Beryl Springs
A reprieve from the parks in Rapid City, SD
Fun at the water park
Presidential faces at Mt Rushmore
Last stop at Badlands Nat’l Park

It was fun visiting the parks again, but this time with the kids in mind instead of my usual photography expedition variety.

Written by:

Arnie Lee

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

This is not the rally that I remember

As a frequent visitor to the Tetons and Yellowstone, I often travel along Interstate 90 through Wyoming and South Dakota to reach these national parks. More than a few times I’ve passed through western South Dakota near the small town of Sturgis. Coincidentally the iconic Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that takes place each year in early August.

Leaving the national parks we passed and were passed by dozens (maybe hundreds) of motorcycle riders, pickup trucks and motorhomes towing trailers of motorcycles of all types and styles.

Here’s what I learned about the rally after talking to some of this year’s attendees.

One motorcyclist told me: “Attendance is way down”. This gentlemen, a senior about my age, tells me he’s been to the rally many time since the 1980s. The Dakota News Now (television station) said that attendance has been dropping steadily since 2015 when it was a record 740,000.

This year estimated attendance to be about 500,000 according to rally organizers. They attribute the drop to inflation, fuel cost, weather and aging demographic.

A group of motorcyclists were at the same hotel as we were staying. I mentioned to one of them that in the 1980s I used to see tents on the hills of Sturgis where motorcyclists would camp. He said that since then, so many attendees have become financially well off. His days of camping were long past and he pointed out his motor home saying that he drags his bike behind in a trailer from North Carolina and then drives his bike from the nearby RV park into Sturgis.

One of Sturgis’ nearby attractions is Mt. Rushmore National Monument. During our visit there we couldn’t help but notice the hundreds of rally attendees also at Mt. Rushmore. Here they were having an impromptu meeting to show their support and loyalty to our country’s veterans.
The city of Sturgis have been targeting younger attendees. They say that its efforts are paying off. A survey last year showed the average age of attendees was 50.8 years old compared with 53.5 years old in 2017. Most of the motorcyclists that I talked to were older than this 50.8 year average.

This same survey noted that 40% of rally goers in 2022 had household incomes of more than $100,000 a year. With the price of a road motorcycle hovering at the $20,000 mark, motorcycling most likely requires a decent income.

Written by:

Arnie Lee

Red Star Line Museum

Emigration to America

A couple of years ago while visiting friends in Belgium we drove a short distance from Brussels to the nearby port city of Antwerp.

Antwerp is Belgium’s second largest city. It’s situated along the Schedt River which empties into the North Sea which is turn connects to the Atlantic Ocean.

One of the world’s biggest ports, Antwerp handles more cargo than any other port in Europe except nearby Rotterdam. Seeing the inviting waterfront surrounding us, we took a very pleasant sightseeing boat ride on the Sheldt.

After our sightseeing excursion, we explored the streets of Antwerp and stumbled upon the Red Star Line Museum.

The Red Star Line was a shipping company that operated between Antwerp and the eastern seaboard of the USA and Canada. Throughout Europe they advertised their routes and from 1873 to 1934 – sixty years – Antwerp was a center for emigration from the continent. Emigrants from Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Netherlands, France, Italy and other countries traveled to Antwerp to board the ships bound for North America.

More than two million Europeans were passengers on the Red Star Line steamships from Antwerp to America’s large metropolitan centers – New York, Philadelphia, Boston. Paintings and displays in the museum depict the many travelers in Antwerp’s streets preparing for the long and challenging journey across the ocean to a destination that promised them a new, brighter future.

On display are curated personal belongings – clothing, suitcases, diaries, photographs, jewelry, toys – that punctuate the stories of individuals and families who decided to leave their homeland hoping for a better life.

For me, the Red Star Line Museum highlighted the overwhelming struggle that millions of individuals experienced reaching for a better future by having to brave the unknowns of emigrating to America.

If you’re interested in learning more, here’s the link to the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp.