General Sherman

General Sherman is the largest living organism, by volume, on the planet. It is a giant sequoia tree in Sequoia National Park in California.

It is 2200 years old, weighs over 2.7 million pounds, has a diameter of just over 36 feet, a circumfrerence of 103 feet at the base, and is 275 feet tall.

Native to California, the giant sequoia occupies a 260-mile stretch of the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, primarily between 5,000 and 7,000 feet in elevation.

Prairie Monks

Porter Sculpture Park, off Interstate 90, Montrose, South Dakota

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Christmas Carnations

Pale Pink Christmas

Fresh carnations decorate Christmas tree at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, the house museum of Marjorie Merriweather Post, Washington, DC

Fresh pale pink carnations decorate a Christmas tree at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, the house/museum of Marjorie Merriweather Post, Washington, DC.  Post was one of the wealthiest women in the United States in her day. She collected French and Russian art and left her Washington, DC, estate and art collection as a museum.

Join Paula’s Pick a Word in December-Y 3: Pale Pink  (I am a bit behind. :))

Backroads America: Grotto of the Redemption

Holy Row

Stations of the Cross, Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend, Iowa

Stations of the Cross, Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend, Iowa

If you are ever near West Bend, Iowa, you must try to visit the Grotto of the Redemption. It is a worthwhile detour, regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof.  Father Paul Dobberstein, a German immigrant, began construction of the grotto in 1912 and continued building for 42 years.  He collected materials for years before beginning construction. According to, the Grotto is “a complex of nine different grottos in West Bend, Iowa, each one portraying a different scene from the life of Christ. The fourteen Stations of the Cross are also depicted. The grottos were built using stones and gems from all over the world. It was started in 1912 and now covers nearly a whole city block. The materials used in its construction are considered to be the world’s most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, shells, and petrifications in one place.”

I will have a longer post about the Grotto soon.



Zambra Flamenco in the Sacramonte Caves Above Granada, Spain

In the caves of Sacramonte, on the hillsides above Granada, a variation of flamenco has developed over the centuries. Zambra, in which the flamenco performer both dances and sings, is unique to the Roma culture in the provinces of Granada and Almeria in Andalusia, Spain. Zambra is said to have Moorish origins. I a darkened, narrow cave, with the drums and guitars echoing the rapid stomping of the dancers feet, Zambra is mesmerizing.

WPC: Peek

Porter Sculpture Park

A Sculpture Park on the Windswept Prairie

When I visited my sister in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, recently, we were looking for a short road trip for the day. I had read about an unusual sculpture park in the state but couldn’t remember much about it. Thanks to Google (what would we do without it), I located the park and it was only 30 miles west of Sioux Falls on Interstate 90 (I-90). Located in the open, rolling prairie just off the freeway near Montrose, the Porter Sculpture Park is truly a one-of-a-kind roadside attraction. While we were skeptical when we arrived, we ended up spending a couple of hours experiencing over 50 welded sculptures made from recycled metal. Some are amusing, some are menacing. Some are out of another dimension. We could have stayed longer but the fierce wind was chilly even on a bright sunny day. Stroll with me  along the path and view a few of my favorites. Watch out for the cow pies—Cattle appear to roam the park in the off-season. I am saving the oddities for another post.

Sign at the turn off.

The main attraction is the 60 foot Egyptian Bull’s head made of old railroad ties. Human skeletons with rams heads serve as guards. The mammoth bovine is visible from the freeway. An opening in the back lets visitors inside to head to view a crucified demon, and possibly bats.



Pain and Joy. One of the larger works.

The fishbowl was one of my favorites. Single fish swim throughout the site.

Single goldfish on the road into the sculpture park.

The Red Monks and the Yellow Lady. The sacred and the profane. The sculptor, Wayne Porter, had intended to create a line of nine monks with Gregorian chants issuing from inside. If you visit the park, he is usually there. I asked him if he was going to make more monks. He said probably not: It would take too long and he had other projects. He proudly showed us photos of the 40 ft. horse he is currently constructing.

The Purple Rider portrays a story about Porter and his brother, which is explained on the sign.

This grinning is the sculpture that greets visitors from all over.  The variety of  U.S. license plates in the parking lot surprised us. I recommend a visit if you are in the area in the summer.

The first piece as you enter.

Hours: Open Daily 7 A.M.-8 P.M. Memorial Day Through September 15.  Admission:$8 FOR ADULTS, $4 Ages 13-17, Ages 12 & under free.  Directions: 45160 257th St, Montrose, SD 57048


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