The Reasons You’ll Totally Enjoy A Rocky Mountain Vacation

When it come to major tourist regions in the U.S., the Rocky Mountain region is at the top of the list. Visitors to the Rocky Mountains enjoy hiking, skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, camping, fishing, rock climbing and much more. Add to this some of the most historic towns in the western U.S.

colorado rocky mountainsA 3,000 Mile Long Mountain Range

The Rocky Mountains stretch from old Mexico north through the United States and into Canada. The total length of this tremendous mountain range is over 3000 miles. The states that are part of this mountain chain include parts of California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, & Wyoming. Stories of early adventurers like Lewis & Clark, John Fremont and Kit Carson exploring the Rocky Mountains are legendary.

The Rockies are home to many scenic campgrounds, historic sites, ghost towns, gold prospecting sites, and of course national parks. Some of the historic towns you’ll want to put on your trip planner include:

Cripple Creek, Durango, Cortez and Silverton, Alamosa, Colorado.

Taos, Santa Fe and Las Vegas, New Mexico

Laramie, Cheyenne, South Pass City, Wyoming

Virginia City, Bannack Ghost Town, Gold Creek, Bozeman, Missoula, Custer Battlefield, Montana

great sand dunes

Great San Dunes National Park

The National Parks of the Rockies

National parks and monuments provide you with the opportunity to explore nature at its best. From the diversity of beautiful wildlife to the endless possibilities in their miles of trails. There are several world famous national parks in the Rockies, including Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, Grand Teton, & Glacier.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Without a doubt, Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best places to head for a vacation in Colorado. Rocky Mountain National Park has 355 miles of hiking trails. They range from flat lakeside strolls to steep mountain peak climbs.The road system of Rocky Mountain National Park offers visitors access to diverse ecosystems characterizing the higher regions of the central Rocky Mountains. The roads take visitors through lowland meadows and aspen groves, along swift-flowing rivers and up through sub-alpine forests to more than 12,000 feet in elevation.

Rocky Mountain National Park covers 415 square miles in north central Colorado. The east gate is at Estes Park and the western gateway is at Grand Lake.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve is located 35 miles northeast of Alamosa, Colorado. This is in the southern part of the state relatively close to the border with New Mexico.

This geologic wonderland contains about 39 square miles of massive sand dunes, some 750 feet high. The Great Sand Dunes National Park also includes alpine lakes and tundra, six mountain peaks in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range over 13,000′ in elevation as seen in the photo above right. Among the trees you will see are spruce pine aspen and cottonwoods.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park  is located in the far northwest corner of Montana on the Canadian border. The Great Northern Railway, popularly referred to as “The Empire Builder”,  played a major role in the parks awareness to the general public having built it’s rail line from St. Paul, MN to Seattle, WA along it’s southern border.

In 1932 Canada and the United States declared Waterton Lakes National Park (founded in 1895) and neighboring Glacier National Park (founded in 1910) the world’s first International Peace Park. While administered separately, the park’s two sections cooperate in wildlife management, scientific research, and some visitor services.

See these additional Trips Into History articles on the links below…

What It Was Like To Travel On The Old Butterfield Stage Line

Garryowen and George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry

bannack montana ghost town

Bannack, Montana ghost town

Annual Rocky Mountain Festivals and Events

The Telluride Film Festival is a popular and prestigious annual event that attracts some of the biggest stars in Hollywood to a small Colorado town.

The Rocky Mountain National Rendezvous

The Rocky Mountain National Rendezvous (RMNR) is an annual celebration of life on the pre-1840 American Western frontier. The event is both re-enactment and living history, based on the fur-trade rendezvous that was held in the Rocky Mountains by the early fur trappers.  For detailed information regarding this annual event see website…http://rmnr.org/

Cody Nite Rodeo

Wild West Family Fun in Cody, Wyoming every night June 1st through August 31st 8:00 PM. Come early, meet the clowns & bullfighters, get your photo taken on a live bull or try your hand at riding a mechanical bull.

fort garland colorado

Infantry barracks at old Fort Garland, Colorado

Living History Program at Nevada City, Montana

The Outdoor Living History Museum in Nevada City, Montana, has one of the largest collections of Old West Artifacts outside the Smithsonian. The museum site  displays a hundred 1863 to early 1900 structures, and about 70 living history interpreters. Living history weekends are held Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

Spectacular vistas, scenic highways and historic sites and towns are all part of the Rocky Mountains and the old west. The above mentioned historic sites, national parks and annual events are just a small sample of what awaits you on your next trip to the great and scenic Rocky Mountain region.

(Article copyright 2015 Trips Into History)

Your La Jolla, California Getaway / Scenic and Much More

The Land of Today’s La Jolla Dates Way back

What today is a beautiful tourist destination was at one time home to Native Americans. Artifacts found in and around La Jolla, California tell us that Native Americans settled along the Pacific shoreline nearly 10,000 years ago. Archaeologists have found stone utensils and other Indian artifacts for many years.

la jolla photosWhat happened to the native Americans who called this area home is an unanswered question. Did they migrate nearby? Did they move further south perhaps into Mexico? Answers to these questions still remain a mystery.

La Jolla Becomes Part of San Diego

The area around La Jolla was made part of San Diego in 1850. This would have been about 80 years after Father Junipero Serra built his mission in San Diego which was the first Spanish mission built in California, then called Alta California.  At the time San Diego took over La Jolla there were no permanent settlers in this section of land. It wasn’t until 19 years later  when two brothers, Daniel and Samuel Sizer, each bought a plot here. The plots sold were 80 acres in size and cost $1.25 per acre. This was quite a long time ago but regardless who would have imagined that an acre today in La Jolla would be priced in the millions?

la jolla coastline

Sea birds gather along the La Jolla coastline

Railroads Mean Growth

The railroad made it’s way to La Jolla, California in the 1880′s. This represented a milestone for La Jolla. Whenever the railroad laid tracks to a town the result was growth and typically large growth. The railroad was the catalyst for aggressive development including that of sea side resorts that would lure travelers from San Diego and inland communities. As an example, La Jolla Park Hotel opened its doors in 1893 and cottage-style homes were built along Prospect Street and Girard Avenue.

In 1900 La Jolla, California counted about 350 permanent residents. For the next twenty years La Jolla solidified it’s tourism appeal and tourism became it’s number one economic driver and remains so today.

La Jolla became known as an artist colony during this early 20th century period. The community was also fortunate to have newspaper heiress Ellen Browning Scripps settle there. Scripps used her wealth to help further La Jolla’s cultural base. In La Jolla, San Diego proper and in parts of southern California in general, her name is on numerous landmarks and institutions. One such well known institution is the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Ellen Browning Scripps Park.

Today’s La Jolla Attractions

Many refer to La Jolla as the jewel of San Diego. This is probably a pretty accurate description. La Jolla rests atop the bluffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean. This world famous tourist destination and jewel of San Diego has attracted millions over the years, and continues to do so to this very day.

What to expect with La Jolla is a small town feel, some of the finest ocean and coastal mountain views anywhere in southern California and an easy to access coastline. Put these all together and you have one magnificent attraction.

Beaches, Restaurants and Shopping / Something For Everyone

The three main areas of interest for La Jolla visitors is the beautiful beach, the variety of unique restaurants, and the top notch shopping. Home to some of the best coastline in southern California, La Jolla offers beach goers the opportunity to play, relax, and just enjoy the sun on some of the finest beaches that even rival those found in Hawaii for their seclusion and serenity.

la jolla california coastlineFrom the long white sand of La Jolla Shores to the quiet and relaxing beach off Marine Street, you’ll have plenty of space to find your very own piece of southern California paradise.

La Jolla restaurants are world class and boast of having some of the finest chefs and up coming chefs in the U.S. Because La Jolla enjoys a year round growing season, these chefs have easy access to some of the finest food products found anywhere and that translates to some of the best meals you’ll ever enjoy.

You may enjoy these additional San Diego articles from our Western Trips website…

Coronado Island and the Historic Hotel del Coronado

The Oldest Building in San Diego Located in Old Town

For those who want to check out the shopping, many say that La Jolla offers some of the most unique shopping found anywhere. It’s been said that La Jolla shopping is the choice of celebrities and bargain-hunters alike. From the world’s most luxurious brands to everyday values.

la jolla attractions

La Jolla street leading to the coastline

La Jolla is a community to visit for a vacation, a great weekend getaway or if need be, just for a fun and relaxing day.  If you have to pick a season in an area that has four excellent seasons, summer is probably the best time to visit, as the beaches there are truly beautiful. Looking for a trip destination out of the ordinary and one with great photo opportunities, you may want to consider La Jolla, California. For more details of dining choices and shopping see website…http://www.lajollabythesea.com/

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Trips Into History)

Texas World War II Aircraft Exhibits / San Marcos Regional Airport

japanese zero replica

There are plenty of fine venues for viewing vintage and historical airplanes in Texas. One special venue is located in San Marcos, Texas and called the Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum. Located at the San Marcos Regional Airport and operated by the Central Texas Wing, this museum displays a very interesting collection of aircraft including a B-25 Mitchell bomber, replicas of a Japanese Zero and a Japanese Torpedo Bomber, a P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane and several others Also many smaller artifacts from the war years.

texas world war two aircraftThe Museum Hangar

The Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum is located inside a hangar built during the days of World War Two. During the war, the San Marcos Army Airfield was a navigator training school. There were an estimated 10,000 navigators trained at this airfield.

When the war ended, the San Marcos Army Airfield was deactivated. Military helicopter training brought the airfield back to life from 1948 to 1949. It was the largest helicopter flight training base in the U.S. After this second deactivation, the San Marcos airfield became San Marcos Air Force Base in 1951. The field was given the new name of Gary Air Force Base, named for the first soldier from Hays County Texas killed in World War Two, in 1953, later named Edward Gary Air Force Base and was deactivated for the last time in 1956.

mitchell b-25 bomber yellow rose

Mitchell B-25 Bomber “Yellow Rose”

The hangar where the Commemorative Air Force Museum resides at today’s San Marcos Regional Airport is the last remaining hangar there from the days of World War Two. The wooden hangar was one of three built in 1942 shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Museum’s B-25 Mitchell Bomber

The B-25 Mitchell Bomber “Yellow Rose”, built in 1943 by North American Aviation, is one of the key exhibits at the museum. The bomber is completely restored to its wartime capabilities and is operated by the Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF). The restoration effort took four years to complete. It is one of the flying museum pieces belonging to the organization’s “Ghost Squadron” aircraft collection.

The “Yellow Rose” goes on tour each year to an average of twenty-five cities and towns. This B-25 let’s people get a real close up look at this historic sixty plus year aircraft. You may even have a chance to crawl through this flying museum.

Japanese Zero Replica

Two other aircraft exhibited at the Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum are Japanese World War Two aircraft. One of the planes is a Japanese Zero and the other a Japanese Torpedo Bomber “Kate”. The Japanese Zero and Torpedo Bomber, both replicas, were built for the movie Tora, Tora, Tora.

You may also enjoy the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

American Military Aircraft

The Famous Pitts Special Aerobatic Plane

japanese zero replica

Japanese Zero replica

Visiting the Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum

Museum hours of operation are Monday-Wednesday-Friday and Saturday 9:00-4:00 There is no admission charge but a recommended $3 donation is appreciated to keep them flying. The Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum operates as a non-profit.

The museum is located at the San Marcos Regional Airport in San Marcos, Texas. San Marcos is located about 30 miles south of Austin along Interstate-35. For more information regarding the Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum, aircraft, activities and shows planned around Texas by the Central Texas Wing see website…http://cafcentex.com/

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Trips Into History)

 

The Centex Wing Museum highlights military aviation memorabilia, especially World War II. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

The Centex Wing Museum highlights military aviation memorabilia, especially World War II. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

The Centex Wing Museum highlights military aviation memorabilia, especially World War II. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

The Centex Wing Museum highlights military aviation memorabilia, especially World War II. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

The Centex Wing Museum highlights military aviation memorabilia, especially World War II. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf
P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane

P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane
P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane

P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane

P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane

P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane
B-25 Mitchell bomber and a P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf
B-25 Mitchell bomber and a P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

B-25 Mitchell bomber and a P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

The USS Midway / San Diego’s Premiere Attraction

uss midway museum

If your travels take you to San Diego, California, a visit to the historic  USS Midway Museum is a must. Here you’ll be able to explore a real aircraft carrier and one which was the longest serving aircraft carrier of the twentieth century. During her forty seven years in service, the USS Midway had a total of about 200,000 servicemen assigned to the vessel.

uss midway museum

USS Midway

On 30 September 2003, the USS Midway  began her journey from the Navy Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, Wash., to San Diego where she would be a Museum and Memorial. She was docked at the Charles P. Howard Terminal in Oakland, Calif., in October, while the construction of her pier in San Diego was completed.

The USS Midway is now docked in San Diego Bay just east of the downtown area and has been transformed into one of the most visited ship museums in the world.

Explore the USS Midway

The USS Midway CV-41, was the third vessel named Midway. Named after the Battle of Midway,

uss midway aircraft

The massive hangar deck of the USS Midway

The ship is amazingly restored and full of really interesting exhibits. The ship is literally a floating city at sea. During it’s operational years the USS Midway carried about 4,500 crew members.

Your trip though the USS Midway will take you to the crews quarters, the officers quarters, the four acre flight deck and other portions of this magnificent vessel. Your admission includes a self-guided audio tour to over 60 locations from the engine room to the flight deck. When exploring the hangar deck which housed many of the aircraft you’ll notice the large elevators on either side of the ship that raised the planes from the hangar deck up to the flight deck.

The USS Midway Service

The USS Midway was operational from 1945 to 1992. It was commissioned one week after the end of World War Two. The vessel served in every ocean on the planet.

The ship is 1,001 feet in length which is about the size of three football fields. Weighing 70,000 tons the USS MIdway is as high as a twenty story building. Each of her two anchors weigh 20 tons. The ship could carry eighty planes.

More interesting facts regarding this vessel include…

  • During three tours of duty in the Tonkin Gulf, aircraft from the USS MIDWAY downed the first three and last MiG in the Vietnam conflict.
  • USS MIDWAY was the first carrier to be “forward deployed” in a foreign country, sailing for 17 years out of Yokosuka, Japan.
  • When operating at sea, USS MIDWAY was refueled every three days. She burned approximately 100,000 gallons a day.

A Perfect Family Museum

The USS Midway is a terrific museum adventure for the entire family. The vessel is literally a floating city. On board the USS Midway, you can learn about life on a Navy ship and how aircraft land and take off from an aircraft carrier. Visitors can tour many of the working areas and see more than 15 restored aircraft. Volunteer docents, many who either served on the USS Midway or are former Navy pilots, provide live talks about the catapult and other operations.

See additional Trips Into History articles on the links below…

A Great Museum and a Sunken Whale Ship

The Palace Steamers of the Great Lakes

Crossing the Atlantic with Marconi’s Wireless

Your La Jolla California Getaway

An excellent book regarding the USS Midway is…USS Midway: America’s Shield by author Scott McGaugh.

Things to Know Before Your Visit

  • Many doorways have a high threshold, and there are many stairs, some of them quite steep. Wear comfortable shoes with soles that give you firm footing.
  • Elevators provide access to the hangar deck and flight deck
  • Bring a light jacket; it can be windy on the Flight Deck
  • Leave the big bags behind. Only modest-sized diaper bags and camera bags are allowed
  • If you have a child in a stroller, either take them out and park the stroller at the entrance or be prepared to skip visiting many parts of the ship.

uss midway san diego

The self-guided USS Midway audio tour is included in the entrance fee (available in English, Spanish and Japanese). The audio tour incorporates the voices of many who served on the USS Midway. They tell the stories of their experiences on board the aircraft carrier.

The USS Midway Museum is open daily 10A to 5P. The last admission is at 4p. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

(Article and Photos copyright Trips Into History)

 

The Story of the Famous Pitts Special Aerobatic Plane

The airplane model featured in this article has won more aerobatic contests than any other aircraft in the U.S. Today the plane still remains a powerful competitor. The Pitts Special S1 is one of the most famous airplanes in civilian aircraft history. It has performed at more air shows than any other type of aerobatic aircraft.

pitts special plane

Pitts Special Aerobatic Plane

The Pitts Special aerobatic planes were designed by Curtiss Pitts and took to the air in 1944. Pitts built a limited number of planes and two models were built from the original model. These were a one-seater called the S-1 and a two-seater called the S-2.

A Rough Beginning Followed by Recognition

When Curtiss Pitts set put to build an airplane, the intention was to build only one for himself.The trouble is, when a airplane you build performs so good, word spreads. The face of aerobatic flying was changed forever when Pitts built his first plane. That plane today is one of the most recognized American built aerobatic airplane.

The first plane built by Pitts which had a home built inverted fuel system was destroyed in a crash. In 1946, Curtiss Pitts received an order for ten of his planes but before they could be delivered the purchaser filed for bankruptcy. At that time only one plane was completed and it was eventually sold to a Miami, Florida firm called World Air Shows.

pitts special s 1

Pitts Special S-1

As it turned out, this sale of only one Pitts Special to World Air Shows would help achieve world wide recognition for this remarkable aircraft. The plane that World Air Shows purchased would be flown by a young aerobatic pilot named Betty Skelton.

Betty Skelton who was later called “The fastest woman on earth“, flew the Pitts Special to several competitive wins. Skelton won the National Aerobatics Championship three times. She was the first woman to attempt the “inverted ribbon cut,” in which she would fly upside down only ten feet off the ground, slicing a ribbon with her propeller of her Pitts Special. Betty Skelton twice set light-plane altitude records, attaining an atitude of 29,050 feet in a Piper Cub in 1951. Even though the planes engine exploded during flight Skelton achieved an unofficial women’s air speed record of 421 mph in a P-51 Mustang.

Later, Betty Skelton worked in advertising and test driving Corvettes. Skelton held the honor of being the first woman to drive a Pace Car at the Daytona 500.

See these additional Trips Into History articles on the links below…

Heathkit Home Built Airplanes

Some of the Best Western U.S. Air Museums

The USS Midway / San Diego’s Premiere Attraction

From our Western Trips site see...Wiley Post and His Record Setting Lockheed Vega Airplane

An excellent book to add to your reading list is …Pitts Specials: Curtiss Pitts and his Legendary Biplanes by author Budd Davisson. There are also several books for youngsters regarding Betty Skelton which you may find interesting. One of these is titled, Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton by author Meghan McCarthy.

The Pitts Special Specifications

The Pitts Special had a Lycoming 180 HP engine.

Maximum speed was rated at 176 MPH with a range of 315 miles.

Upper wingspan measured 17 ft 4 in. Length 15 ft 5 in and height 6 ft 3 in.

Gross weight was 1,148 lbs. Service ceiling was 22,300 ft.

The Pitts Special Legend

Homebuilt planes were built from the original plans sold by Pitts who later sold more refined technical plans starting in the 1960′s. Curtis Pitts left perhaps the biggest mark on aerobatics and air shows with his innovative airplane designs.

The International Council of Air Shows Foundation says this about the Pitts planes…From the first prototype to the hundreds of Pitts Specials that have performed at air shows over the last half century to the design ideas taken from the Pitts Special and integrated into today’s high-performance monoplanes, much of what air show flying is all about today can be traced back to the Pitts Special”. All Pitts one and two seat planes designed can be traced directly back to the Pitts Special of 1944.

It’s been said that Curtiss Pitts didn’t invent aerobatics or small planes. He also didn’t invent bi-planes. What Curtiss Pitts achieved was to mold all of these together into what today is the art of modern aerobatics.

curtiss pitts aerobatic plane

Curtiss Pitts, an aviation pioneer, died at his home in Homestead, Florida in June 2005.

As of this writing, a sample list of several museums around the U.S. where Pitts Specials are on display include…The National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C….The San Diego Automobile Museum in San Diego, CA…The Pacific Coast Air Museum in Santa Rosa, CA and the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, PA. There are more displays plus you’ll likely see a Pitt Special or two when attending your local air show.

betty skelton

Betty Skelton Frankman

Please note that there is also a Betty Skelton collection at the National Air and Space Museum.

Betty Skelton began flying airplanes at the age of twelve years and as mentioned above won many titles in the Pitts Special. After Skelton’s retirement from aviation, she joined Chevrolet with their development of the popular and unique fiberglass Corvette. Betty Skelton also set several records behind the wheel of the Chevy Corvette.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Trips Into History. Betty Skelton Frankman photo in the Public Domain)