Cunningham Family's Adventures Thru the USA


Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

For breathtaking mountain views and terrific hiking trails, the Rocky Mountain National Park can’t be beat and  with so many entrances, you’ll be sure to find a nice quiet spot all to yourself.

Trail Ridge Road – Starts at the Deer Ridge Junction (US 36 and US 34) on the east side of the park and the Colorado River Trailhead on the western slope. Closed from mid-October to June.

Horseshoe Park – Access is either from the Fall River Entrance or Deer Ridge Junction.

Moraine Park – Moraine Park is located on Beaver Lake Road approximately 1 mile from the US 36 turn off.

Bear Lake Road  – urn left 1 mile from the Beaver Meadows Park Entrance.

Old Fall River Road – Not open until July 4th. One way traffic only. 9 miles to the top at Fall River Pass and the Alpine Visitor Center.

Lily Lake – Lily Lake is located 6 miles south of Estes Park on Colorado Highway 7 (also known as the Peak to Peak Highway).

Longs Peak  – Lily Lake is located 9 miles south of Estes Park on Colorado Highway 7.

Wild Basin – Located between the Towns of Meeker Park and Allenspark on Colorado Highway 7.

El Capitan – Yosemite National Park, California

El Capitan is a 3,000-foot (910 m) vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, California, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. The granite monolith is one of the world’s favorite challenges for rock climbers.

The formation was named ‘El Capitan’ by the Mariposa Battalion who explored the valley in 1851. (Mariposa Battalion was a California State Militia unit formed in 1851 to fight the Yosemites and Chowchillas in the Mariposa War.)

El Capitan (‘the captain’, ‘the chief’) was taken to be a loose Spanish translation of the local Native American name for the cliff, variously transcribed as ‘To-to-kon oo-lah’ or ‘To-tock-ah-noo-lah’. It is unclear if the Native American name referred to a specific Tribal chief, or simply meant ‘the chief’ or ‘rock chief’.

In modern times, the formation’s name is often contracted to “El Cap”, especially among rock climbers. The top of El Capitan can be reached by hiking out of Yosemite Valley on the trail next to Yosemite Falls, then proceeding west.

For climbers, the challenge is to climb up the sheer granite face; there are dozens of named climbing routes, all of them long and difficult.

Emerald Bay – Lake Tahoe, California

Emerald Bay State Park is a state park located around Emerald Bay, a National Natural Landmark, at Lake Tahoe, California.

The park is home to Eagle Falls and Vikingsholm, a 38-room mansion that is one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the western hemisphere. The park contains the only island in Lake Tahoe, Fannette Island and is accessible by State Route 89 near the southwest shore of the lake. Emerald Bay is one of Lake Tahoe’s most photographed and popular locations.

In 1969, Emerald Bay was recognized as a National Natural Landmark by the federal Department of the Interior. In 1994, California State Parks included the surrounding water of the bay as a part of the park, making Emerald Bay one of the first underwater parks of its type in the state, protecting the various wrecks and other items on the bay’s bottom.

Summer temperatures at the park range from the low 40 °F (4 °C) at night to mid-70 °F (25 °C) during the day, and during the winter visitors will usually experience temperatures between 20 and 40 °F (-7 and 4 °C). During harsh winters, the bay freezes over. The bay is about 1.7 miles (2.7 km) in length, and about two-thirds of a mile (1 km) wide at its widest point.

Sea World – San Diego, California

Sea World San Diego is a theme park located in San Diego, California. The park was founded in 1964 by four graduates of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). They had originally considered the idea of building an underwater restaurant, but the concept grew into the idea of a marine zoological park on 22 acres (89,000 m2) along the shore of Mission Bay in San Diego.

With an initial investment of $1.5 million, 45 employees, several dolphins, sea lions, and two seawater aquariums, Sea World drew more than 400,000 visitors its first year.

To date, the park has now surpassed 130 million visitors since opening.

General Sherman Giant Sequoia – Sequoia National Park, California

General Sherman is the name of a Giant Sequoia, which is the largest tree in the world with a height of 275 feet (83.8 metres).

As of 2002, the volume of its trunk measured about 1487 cubic meters, making it the largest non-clonal organism by volume. The tree is located in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park in the United States, east of Visalia, California. The tree is believed to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old.

The tree was named after the American Civil War leader General William Tecumseh Sherman, by naturalist James Wolverton in 1879. Wolverton had served as a Lieutenant in the 9th Indiana Cavalry under Sherman.

In January 2006 the largest branch on the tree, seen most commonly in older photos as an “L” or “golf club” shape protruding from about 1/4th down the trunk, broke off. No one was present for the incident, but the branch, which had a diameter of over 2 m (6 feet) and a length of over 30 m (100 feet), was itself bigger than most trees on the planet.

Death Valley, California

Death Valley is a desert located in California. It is the lowest, driest and hottest valley in the United States and the location of the lowest elevation in North America at 85.5 m (282 ft) below sea level.

Death Valley holds the record for the highest reliably reported temperature in the Western hemisphere (134 °F (56.7 °C) at Furnace Creek in 1913) – just short of the world’s highest, which was 136 F (58 C) in El Aziza, Libya on Sept. 13, 1922.

Located southeast of the Sierra Nevada range in the Great Basin and the Mojave Desert, it constitutes much of Death Valley National Park. It is mostly located in Inyo County, California. It has an area of about 3,000 square miles (7,800 square km).

Florida’s Photos of Nature

Fun Facts about Alaska

State Flag

Origin of Name: from the Aleut work Alyeska, meaning The Great Land.

  • State Abbreviation – AK
  • State Capital – Juneau
  • Statehood – January 3, 1959
  • Number of Counties – 27
  • State Flower – Forget Me Not
  • State Tree – Sitka Spruce
  • State Bird – Willow Ptarmigan
  • State Insect – The Four Spot Skimmer Dragonfly
  • State Mammal –  Moose
  • State Marine Mammal – Bowhead Whale
  • State Nickname – The Last Frontier, Land of the Midnight Sun
  • State Area Code – 907
  • State Sport – Dog Mushing
  • State Motto – North to the Future
  • State Gem – Jade
  • State Mineral – Gold
  • State Fossil – Wooly Mammoth
  • National Forests – 2
  • State Parks – 100+

Fun Facts about Alabama

State Flag

Origin of Name: from Choctaw meaning “thicket-clearers” or “vegetation-gatherers”

  • State Abbreviation – AL
  • State Nickname – Yellowhammer State, Cotton State, Heart of Dixie
  • State Capital – Montgomery
  • Statehood – December 14, 1819
  • Number of Counties – 67
  • State Flower – Camellia
  • State Wildflower – Oak-leaf Hydrangea
  • State Tree – Southern Longleaf Pine
  • State Game Bird – Wild Turkey
  • State Freshwater Fish – Largemouth Bass
  • State Saltwater Fish – Tarpon
  • State Amphibian – Red Hills Salamander
  • State Reptile – Alabama Red-bellied Turtle
  • State Insect – Monarch Butterfly
  • Area Codes – 205, 251, 256, 334
  • State Motto – Audemus jura nostra defendere (We dare defend our rights)
  • State Nut – Pecan
  • State Gemstone – Star Blue Quartz
  • State Rock – Marble
  • State Forests – 21
  • State Parks – 22

De Soto National Park

Spanish Conquistador Hernando De Soto first landed at Shaw’s point, just west of Bradenton in 1539.

From the mouth of the Manatee River, he led an expeditionary force in search of gold and other riches. Hernando De Soto was searching for the legendary El Dorado at Shaw’s Point. Later it became the name of a legendary “Lost City of Gold” that has fascinated – and so far eluded – explorers since the days of the Spanish Conquistadors. Though many have searched for years on end to find this city of gold, no evidence of such a place has been found.

This interesting story is told in more detail at the De Soto National Memorial Park.

This park has very limited exhibits at its visitors center and a nature trail that overlooks the beautiful Manatee River.

After a quick History Lesson. We had a school lesson about crabs.

While the kids were learning about crab habitats from their Uncle Jake, I took pictures of the mangroves.

Overall, we enjoyed ourselves. Exploring and venturing and learning new things.

South St / Whitehead St, Key West

Key West is one of the biggest attractions on the island is a concrete replica of a buoy at the corner of South and Whitehead Streets that claims to be the southernmost point in the contiguous 48 states. The point was originally just marked with a sign, which was often stolen. In response to this, the city of Key West erected the now famous monument in 1983. Brightly painted and labeled ‘SOUTHERNMOST POINT CONTINENTAL U.S.A.’, it is one of the most visited and photographed attractions in Key West. Land on the Truman Annex property just west of the buoy is the true southernmost point, but it has no marker since it is U.S. Navy land and cannot be entered by civilian tourists. The private yards directly to the east of the buoy and the beach areas of Truman Annex and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park also lie farther south than the buoy.

Everglades National Park, Florida

Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, it contains the southern 25 percent of the original Everglades marshland region of southwestern Florida. It is visited by one million people each year, and it is the third-largest national park in the lower 48 states after Death Valley National Park and Yellowstone National Park. It has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance. Unlike most other U.S. national parks, Everglades National Park was created to protect a fragile ecosystem instead of safeguarding a geographic feature. Thirty-six species designated as threatened or protected live in the park, including the Florida panther, the American crocodile, and the West Indian manatee.

Robinson Preserve

1709 99th St. NW Bradenton, FL 34209

Robinson Preserve was a great place to take the kids.

 There are 56 acres of marshland with 2 1/2 miles of kayaking and canoeing streams.

10 acres of uplands complete with 6 nature trails and as many bridges winding around the mangroves.

 The 500 foot boardwalk makes it a great location for bird watching…

and the trails are great for hiking, biking or simply chasing around tots.

While the family went fishing…

Gabbie and I hung back to take pictures of the marsh.

Finally after becoming bored, I decided to go canoeing with the family. That was pretty fun, but Gabbie did add a challenge… Okay A LOT of a Challenge.

But it was so worth it…


  • Space Needle, Seattle –  The Space Needle is a tower in Seattle, Washington, and a major landmark of the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Located at the Seattle Center, it was built for the 1962 World’s Fair, during which time nearly 20,000 people a day used the elevators, with over 2.3 million visitors in all for the World Fair. The Space Needle is 605 feet (184 m) high and 138 feet (42 m) wide at its widest point and weighs 9,550 tons. When it was completed it was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River. It is built to withstand winds of up to 200 mph (320 km/h) and earthquakes up to 9.5 magnitude. The Space Needle features an observation deck at 520 feet (160 m), and a gift shop with the SkyCity restaurant at 500 feet (152 m). The Space Needle is a tower in Seattle, Washington, and a major landmark of the Pacific Northwest …
  • National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC – The National Air and Space Museum (NASM) of the Smithsonian Institution is a museum in Washington, D.C., and is the most popular of the Smithsonian museums. It maintains the largest collection of aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It is also a vital center for research into the history, science, and technology of aviation and spaceflight, as well as planetary science and terrestrial geology and geophysics. Almost all space and aircraft on display are originals or backup crafts to the originals. The National Air and Space Museum is widely considered one of Washington’s most significant works of modern architecture. Because of the museum site’s close proximity to the United States Capitol, the Smithsonian Institution wanted a building that would be architecturally impressive but would not stand out too boldly against the Capitol Building. St. Louis-based architect Gyo Obata of Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum accepted the challenge and designed the museum as four simple travertine-encased cubes containing the smaller and more theatrical exhibits, connected by three spacious steel-and-glass atriums which house the larger exhibits such as missiles, airplanes and spacecraft. The museum, built by Gilbane Building Company, was finished in 1976. The west glass wall of the building is used for the installation of airplanes, functioning as a giant door
  • Mount St Helens, Washington – Mount St. Helens is an active stratovolcano located in Skamania County, Washington, in the Pacific Northwest region. It is 96 miles (154 km) south of Seattle and 53 miles (85 km) northeast of Portland, Oregon. Mount St. Helens takes its English name from the British diplomat Lord St Helens, a friend of explorer George Vancouver who made a survey of the area in the late 18th century. The volcano is located in the Cascade Range and is part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, a segment of the Pacific Ring of Fire that includes over 160 active volcanoes. This volcano is well-known for its ash explosions and pyroclastic flows. Mount St. Helens is most famous for its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980, at 8:32am PDT which was the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. Fifty-seven people were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways, and 185 miles (298 km) of highway were destroyed. The eruption caused a massive debris avalanche, reducing the elevation of the mountain’s summit from 9,677 feet (2,950 m) to 8,365 feet (2,550 m) and replacing it with a 1 mile (1.6 km) wide horseshoe-shaped crater. The debris avalanche was up to 0.7 cubic miles (2.9 km3) in volume. The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was created to preserve the volcano and allow for its aftermath to be scientifically studied
  • Mowich Lake, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington – Mowich Lake is a lake located in the northwestern corner of Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State at an elevation of 4,929 feet (1,502 m). The name “Mowich” derives from the Chinook jargon word for deer. Access to the lake is provided by a 17 miles (27 km) long unpaved road which opens to vehicles in mid June to early July. Mowich Lake is also a busy campground during the summer with 30 walk-in tent camping spots. Bathrooms, tables, and trash bins are provided. From the Mowich campground, hikers can reach the Wonderland Trail, Eunice Lake, Tolmie Peak, Spray Park, and Spray Falls. Old-growth trees, waterfalls, creeks, cliffs, and wildflower meadows are also located in and around the area.
  • Marsh’s Free Museum. Located in the town of Long Beach, this little museum has been around for years, drawing anyone who happens to find themselves traveling in the area. The name is accurate, as the museum itself is free, giving you the chance to gander at a wide range of strange artifacts, such as Jake, the mummified half man/ half alligator, who is said to have been part of the staff of a local brothel, where he would lead men to the young women waiting eagerly to give them some time, in exchange for some silver. The many odd exhibits here are countered with a vast gift shop, that offers plenty of equally unique trinkets to take home, to commemorate your visit.
  • Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, in Seattle. While not a museum, it is a strange little gift shop. This place that offers a modern look into the traditional freak show exhibit. Meaning that it has some one of a kind items for sale, for anyone who has a very disturbing taste in décor. When you first walk in, you are greeted by the shop’s mascots, a male and female mummy couple, of which originally came from here in the US. While I am not sure how it is they died, Sylvia and Sylvester set a tone for the rest of the visit. From real shrunken heads, to an entire ‘mermaid’ family, to a monkey who’s insides have been turned into a wig, you can be sure to find something interesting to take home here.
  • Grave of the Pickled Pioneer. The story goes like this: a man named Dr William Keil wished to lead a team of 250 people within a religious sect he led, known as the Bethelites, to a new home. He had promised his son, William Keil, that he could lead the train, and the nineteen year old eager accepted the responsibility.

    But shortly before the wagon train was to depart, he came down with Malaria, and passed away. His father, devastated, but wishing to fulfill his promise, built a lead-lined casket, and filled it with whiskey, placing his son in the center, and sealing it shut. Placing the casket in a black wagon, he put it at the front of the train, and allowed his son to lead, as he had wished. His grave is now in Menlo, and is one of the strangest attractions in Washington, but also one of the lesser known.



Around the City – Groton, Ct Photos

The first settlers of Groton were believed to be farmers, and they certainly had their work cut out for them, since the land mostly consisted of rocks and trees.

Eventually, the town became known as an oceanfront community.

It wasn’t long before locals started to build ships in anticipation of trade. Commerce boomed for a while, but was challenged in the later 1700s, when the French and Indian War ended. When Parliament closed down the Boston Port, this took a toll on Groton’s industries.

The Revolutionary War between the colonies and Britain is also a part of Groton history. The memorial for the Battle of Groton Heights was erected in the 1800s to honor those who lost their lives at Fort Griswold.

To this day, the 135-foot tall monument is a town landmark.

After the Revolutionary War ended, commerce in Groton recovered.

A great place to eat is the Buford’s Family Restaurant.

Friendly Service, Large Portions and Great Prices. My favorite was the Chicken Salad Sandwich. Sounds basic but it was awesome. Mmm, and their fries are Top Notch!

Here are some other shots I snapped around town:

Griswold State Park Family Photos

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Pachaug State Forest, Green Falls, Connecticut

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Voluntown, Connecticut

Pachaug State Forest, Green Falls