Update 3

Date: November 28, 1995, 9:50 PM
To: Friends
From: Robert McNally
Subject: Update 3: Robert & Rebecca

Dear Friends,

Since our last update in the beginning of September we have progressed through several changes of states and weather. From Montana we drove across North Dakota. Camping isn't very feasable in ND because there are LOTS of mosquitos and we still didn't have a proper tent. We went through Minnesota to the greater Minneapolis area where we spent three days walking through the Mall of America. It has four anchor stores, over 400 smaller stores (on three floors), many restaurants, a multi-theater, and an indoor amusement park in the center. We also saw the Minneapolis Skyway (indoor walkways and bridges that connect the downtown buildings on the third floor) and got warmer sleeping bags and a better tent. We went through Wisconsin next and stopped for a few cold days in Warrens for their Cranberry Festival. We saw our first snowflakes on this trip as went walked among the craft booths on the first day of the Festival. The village of normally 400 people had 100,000 people and $2 million come through in three days last year. They are kind enough to provide free parking! Do go dressed warmly though. We drove through the Amish area while there and saw some beautiful rolling farmland. Rebecca finds it interesting that, as a part of their religion, the Amish do not believe in using electricity, but yet they use fabric that someone else processed (weaving & dying) with electricity to make their quilts and other things which they sell to the public. Doesn't that mean that they profit from somebody else's use of something they shun? Anyway, we also saw Frank Lloyd Wright's home "Taliesin," and had a meal in the restaurant he built close to his home.

We went through Chicago, IL where we met with a business friend of Robert's. We went on to St. Louis, Missouri where we saw the Arch, also known as The Thomas Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in the National Park system, Museum of Science (the first "public" place in which Robert has ever been asked not to juggle!), and met with another software entrepreneur. The Arch was built over the course of several years, remarkably without a single fatality. We drove southwest and stayed in Branson, MO for several days. Branson is like Las Vegas except no gambling and only "county" musical shows. We hear it is well known if you like that kind of entertainment. We drove through Harrison, Arkansas (home of the KKK headquarters :| ) on our way to Hot Springs, AR where we met up with Rebecca's mother and her husband, and attended the Feast of Tabernacles together for eight days. We found a great Greek place that made fresh yogurt each day. We soaked our feet in the public hot springs wadding pool. That's about the best we can say for Hot Springs. We would have chosen a different place to keep the Feast if we had not planned to meet family there. Moving along, we visited Rebecca's family in several areas of AR. Our last night in AR we were the solo campers in a state campground during a terrific thunderstorm. Fortunately, we have had better luck with our current tent keeping us dry. (It is pretty common now, but be sure you get a rainfly that is a separate piece from the tent. You don't have to worry about touching the sides of the tent that way. Also, put your plastic groundcloth inside, not outside, when you expect it to rain.) We've never experienced the amazing amount of booming thunder and blanket lightening (which lights up the whole sky) in these mid-western storms. If you have experienced that but have not been close to an earthquake, then you will understand at least the sound of an earthquake by imagining the loudest thunder coming from directly underneath your house rather than some distance up in the sky!!! You're missing out if you haven't camped in a good thunderstorm. :)

So, we went through Nashville, Tennessee and Smoky Mountains NP. By that time we were into November and the NP campgrounds had closed for the season (Robert rejoices!). We did camp one more night in Cherokee, North Carolina where it rained all night again and Rebecca willingly took the tent down in the rain the next morning since she was the one who insisted on camping. It really wasn't that bad and didn't keep Rebecca from wanting to camp (Robert groans). We did come to an agreement that we would wait until we reached a bit warmer climate to camp anymore since we expect to stay with more friends and family in this portion of the trip. Rebecca took interest in the Cherokee, NC area (in the Cherokee Indian reservation) and attempted to gather family history information. The Trail of Tears began in that area on the west side of NC in 1830 when the US military forced most of the Cherokee people to march without warning during winter through five states to Oklahoma. The Cherokee who hid to escape this move became a separate group from those in the west and today have land that was privately purchased and given to them. They gained recognition and self-government in this century. We visited our friends the Cloningers in NC who send their regards to those who know them.

We visited the Booker T. Washington NM outside of Roanoke, Virginia. Mr. Washington was born a slave and freed after the Civil War still a child. He then went to great lengths to get a formal education and eventually started a college for blacks in Alabama. We saw the small house where he lived as a slave and the surrounding farm. We drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway and through most of Shennandoa NP, VA then to Washington, DC. Before the budget furlough we saw the White House, the Washington Monument, the original Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights, the Smithsonian introduction, the Capitol building, the Supreme Court, and the Library of Congress. Don't drive into DC, take the subway--the parking is awful. We went through the Mennonite/Amish area of Lancaster, Pennsylvania and saw a pretzel factory and a video about the Mennonites. The Amish are an offshoot of the more technologically-tolerant Mennonites. We went through Philadelphia, PA at night and stopped to see the Liberty Bell (which is housed in a glass building) and the nearby Independence Hall. They weren't open due to the budget furlough anyway, so we saved parking hassles by going at night.

The next place you want to avoid driving is anywhere near Manhattan, NY especially during Friday afternoon. We stayed with friends on Long Island, and took the train into Manhattan and walked through Central Park (during the day, of course!) and saw the Guggenheim Museum (Frank Lloyd Wright, architect). Now we are in Warwick, Rhode Island visiting Robert's grandmother, aunt, and various uncles and cousins. We hope to see some of the surrounding states while here and then head to Florida.

We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Please pass this on to these who know us but don't have e-mail. Thanks...

Robert & Rebecca

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