Retirement Traveling – Glacier National Park

After leaving the Rapid City area we resumed our journey to the next place on our list – Glacier National Park. To get there, we did not take the most direct route but decided to drive north through South Dakota and up into North Dakota. The reason we did this is because we still needed three more states to go before we accomplished our bucket list goal of having visited all fifty states. The last three were North Dakota, Montana, and Idaho. We really did not spend much time in North Dakota, but did spend some time in Bowman having lunch at Windy’s Bar and Pizza. Good place for burgers, chicken, and pizza. 

Our destination for the night was Cut Bank, Montana. This is a small town where we only stayed long enough to sleep. It was a long day in the car, and it sure felt good to get into our room for some much-needed sleep. We choose this town because it was only about an hour from Glacier. 

The next morning, we got up early so we could arrival at the park around sunrise. We entered through the East Gate entrance and once we drove into the park, we were greeted with some beautiful mountains ahead and a picturesque lake on our left. I had with me my trusty Canon EOS Rebel T7 Camera which I purchased as part of a bundle. Unfortunately it was a little hazy due to the forest fires in California, so the pictures I took didn’t have the detail I was hoping for. In addition to the camera, I highly recommend a good pair of binoculars. I have the Celestron 8×42 DX binoculars and they are great for sight-seeing and wildlife watching. They produce crystal clear images, easy to adjust, lightweight and comfortable to use. With them in hand, you will see up close details you would not see otherwise. 


Our trip through Glacier National Park took us on the Going To The Sun road which is paved and fifty miles long. It is a real engineering marvel completed on July 15, 1933. Glacier National Park was established by Congress on May 11, 1910 and is the quintessential route you are not going to want to miss. As we did in other national parks, we used our trusty Gypsy Guide app on our iPhone to guide us through the park and give us information about the places we stopped for pictures. One of our first stops was to Wild Goose Island. The Gypsy Guide informed us that this scenic area was filmed using a fly by and selected as the opening for the movie The Shining starring Jack Nicholson. I really enjoy little bits of trivia like this. As you can see, it absolutely stunning!


While visiting Glacier National Park, I was happy to see a glacier! We pulled over and took some pictures of Jackson Glacier. There are only about twenty-five glaciers down from one hundred when the park was originally opened. These glaciers are melting and have an average area loss of 40% during the last 50 years. In fact, due to rising global temperatures, many scientists believe all the glaciers will be gone in the next 20 to 30 years. So if you want to see this park, and I highly recommend you do, visit sooner than later so you can see these magnificent ice fields and the effect they have on the mountain terrain.


We continued our drive on the Going to The Sun Road and were truly impressed by the challenge to build such a road on the steep slopes of the mountains. A stone guard rail was constructed that is about two feet high, and it was so well done that the National Park Service used the template to build similar walls in other parks. They also had to do some impressive blasting to create enough room for the road including the West Tunnel which is a testament to these road builders.

Next up was Lake McDonald. Here there is a historic lodge, gift shop, and bathrooms all close by to this very beautiful lake. After having a picnic lunch and doing some sight-seeing, we decided to take a guided boat tour of the lake. We found it interesting when the guide spoke about forest fires and how they shape and renew the area around the lake.


We concluded our day in Glacier National Park by heading out the west gate entrance to the town of West Glacier. This entrance is much bigger than the eastern one and is considered the main entrance to Glacier. We continued on route 2 to Kalispell, Montana where we spent the night. Next up on our trip is Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and I will be posting a new article for our adventure in this area.

Hope you have enjoyed the article and if you get a chance, please do yourself a favor and visit this treasure.


Christmas Presents for Granddaughters

It is that time of year again and all of us are scrambling around trying to figure out presents for our loved ones. In this article I highlight items I purchased as Christmas presents for granddaughters. I hope it helps you in your search for the just right present!

My granddaughters are 12 and 9 years old. They both have special interests such as painting, drawing, reading, travel softball, karate, and basketball. Here are several items I believe will make them happy.

My 12-year-old is very artistic and loves painting and drawing. The first item I got was the Upgraded 48 Colors Watercolor Paint Set. The forty-eight non-toxic paint pods come in a portable carrying case with a clear cover that is detachable so the artist can add even more colors to the palette by mixing the paints. It also comes with three wooden handle soft nylon hairbrushes. I am sure she is going to enjoy this for many hours.

48 Color Water Paints with Brushes


Next on her list is “How to Draw Cool Stuff” a book by Catherine V. Holmes – available in either hardback or paperback (free if downloaded to a Kindle!)  It is a step-by-step drawing guide that illustrates popular celebrations such as Christmas, birthdays, Halloween, and April Fool’s Day – over 100 days, holidays, season, and events.  This should be a great guide for her since she already has a flair for drawing. It covers techniques and illustrations as it guides her through the creative thought process.

How to Draw Cool Stuff teaching book


One of my favorite pass times is to go and watch both girls play softball. I played baseball for many years, umpired, and coached for 17 years. Even though my role now is to be a fan, I try to support all the kids with encouragement and congratulations when they do well. One thing I noticed is the type of bats the kids use today are vastly different from the old wooden bats of my era. Most of the kids on her team are using a composite bat and the ball explodes when they make contact. To that end, I decided to get her a new bat for Christmas. While they are expensive, they will last for years and can be passed down to her younger sister when she outgrows it. The “HOT” bat these days is Easton GHOST – 10 Fastpitch Softball Bat. I suspect she will be hitting line drives all over the field with this one!


Great softball fastpitch bat - Easton Ghost


The next Christmas presents for granddaughters is for my nine-year-old granddaughter who is a completely different child from her older sister. She is the true contrarian of the two and has boundless amounts of energy. I came across this stocking stuffer that will bring hours of entertainment to her. It is a fidget! I particularly liked this one because it has spinning wings. It is sure to bring about “That’s cool” after she opens the present.

Figet with wings!


She is also a voracious reader and loves to read adventures. I constantly see her lugging around a book that has over 500 pages to the softball fields when her older sister is playing. I talked to several people about which books kids are reading today and this set was recommended – Percy Jackson and the Olympians 5 Book Boxed Set. It is called the next Harry Potter! I hope she enjoys the stories and lets her imagination run wild!


Percey Jackson series of books.  Great alternative to Harry Potter.


I hope you have enjoyed following my Christmas presents for granddaughters article. Perhaps you will find these gifts are good for your granddaughters too!

My next blog article will be on Christmas presents for grandsons.


Retirement Traveling – Mt Rushmore and Custer State Park

We began our visit to the Mt Rushmore area by staying for a few days in Rapid City, SD which is centrally located to all the areas we visited. We stayed in the Quality Inn and Suites on N Lacrosse St. Within walking distance, there were several restaurants, miniature golf, and a Walmart Supercenter.

TIP: I highly recommend you pack a lunch and take plenty of water when visiting any of the national parks. There is limited food (if any) available and there are plenty of places to pull off and have a picnic lunch.

We started our journey to Mt Rushmore using our Gypsy Guide app on our iPhone. With this app you will not miss a thing – like having a tour guide in your car. The app suggested that instead of driving directly to Mt Rushmore first that we should head towards the Needles highway located in Custer State Park and visiting Mt Rushmore at the end of the drive. I am glad we listened; you will see why later in this article.

The Needles highway is 14 miles long and was completed in 1922. It gets its name from granite formations that are needle like. Here is an example.

Granite towers located in Custer National Park.

We passed through the Iron Creek Tunnel which is only 8’ 9” wide. It was narrow and only big enough for one car. Be careful someone is not coming the other way before you enter the tunnel. I recommend you do not take an RV on this road. Some of the tunnel heights are only 9’ 8” tall. Plan accordingly!

Next tunnel on the road is the famous Needles Eye Tunnel. It too is only 8’ 9” wide, but it sits at the base of several beautiful rock formations and a scenic overlook. It was a little crowded when we arrived, but we were lucky enough to get a parking spot so we could explore the area and get splendid views of the tunnel.


After exiting the tunnel, we continued to Sylvan Lake. It was time for us to stretch our legs and take some pictures of this impressive lake. There is a 1.1-mile trail that goes around the lake, and it is an easy hike. The views of the lake and rock formations are outstanding. This is a wonderful place to have a picnic lunch and really relax.


After our much-needed rest, we decided to visit the town of Custer, SD. It was a sweltering day, and we were parched from exploring the rugged landscape of Custer State Park. To quench our thirst, we went looking for a brew pub. We found exactly what we needed at the Mt Rushmore brewing company which had on premise the Pounding Fathers restaurant.



This brewpub had excellent beer and a fine selection of t-shirts. I opted for a blue t-shirt with the Mt Rushmore Brewing Company on the front and “The “Pounding Fathers” on the back. Lots of fun and a great conversation starter!

With our thirst quenched, we were ready for Mt Rushmore. We followed the Gypsy Guide to the Iron Mountain Road which has several tunnels. As I mentioned earlier the Gypsy Guide suggested we go to Mt Rushmore last and take this road north. The reason for this is there are tunnels that have Mt Rushmore perfectly framed as you drive through them. The engineers of this road did an excellent job providing these views!


Finally, we arrived at Mt Rushmore National Memorial, and it is well worth the trip. Truly magnificent sculptures in the side of a mountain are an engineering and artistic wonder. Each face is 60 feet high.


I was most impressed with the eyes. As you viewed the faces, the eyes had a reflective feature that looked like lenses. I used my DSLR with telephoto and I still could not figure out how sculptor Gutzon Borglum created this. I switched to a pair of Celestron – Nature DX 8×42 binoculars that have great optics. After viewing the presidents faces you could see the center of the eye was a cone and the surrounding area was hollowed out to form the pupil. Awesome detail that tricks the eyes.


If you magnify this picture, you may be able to see the effect in George Washington’s left eye.

One other piece of trivia. Only George Washington has any clothing as part of his sculpture. You can see his lapels clearly in this photo.

We decided to call it a day and head back to Rapid City. Mt Rushmore and the surrounding area was a terrific and if you get a chance to visit, I hope you enjoy your trip as much as we did.

For more information, check out the following links:


Badlands Info:

Gypsy Guide Info:

Mount Rushmore Brewing Company Info:


Retirement Traveling – Visiting Badlands National Park

Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Parks.

These two parks were great, and we really enjoyed both of them.  We decided to stay for a few days and visit these national treasures. This article covers visiting Badlands National Park.  We’ll have another article on Mount Rushmore and surrounding areas.

We drove from Sioux Falls, SD towards Rapid City, SD via Route 90.  There are lots and lots of farmland as you head west.  During our travels we saw many windmills that provide 300,000 homes with electricity.  With a population of 858,469 (according to Google!) that’s a big percentage being powered by wind.


Windmills in South Dakota Badlands
Windmills in South Dakota

To enter Badlands National Park, we turned off Route I90 and traveled the “Badlands Loop” which is Route 240.  The loop is 40 miles and takes about an hour and 15 minutes if you don’t stop, but you will stop many times to take photos and hike along the way.  I recommend that you give yourself at least a half of day to explore this area.  There are plenty of spots to take pictures, hike, and just relax while soaking up the views. 

After going through the NE entrance station, you soon see amazing views of desolate landscape.  When I first saw it, I thought “this could be a spot on the moon.”  Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I can say the beauty of the ruggedness and lifeless landscape was something I’ve never seen before.  Just when you thought nothing could live here, we came across this big horn sheep that was resting in the shade of the rocks.

Big Horn Sheep in Badlands
Big Horn Sheep resting in Badlands Nat’l Park

This was a magnificent creature and a very large one at that! 

From here we continued through the park and here are some of the views we got to see:

Moonscape view in Badlands
Badlands desolate landscape
Baklands Rocky Formation
Badlands erosion creates scenic view
Selfie in Badlands
My wife Beth with me during our visit to Badlands

As you can see, the landscape is incredible and so different than anything we had seen in our lives.  While driving the “Badland Loop,” we utilized our Gypsy Guide App which pointed out a dirt road that gives you an opportunity to see additional areas such as Prairie Dog Town and many Bison, Pronghorns (commonly called antelope), and Big Horn Sheep.  The Gypsy Guide App gave fun facts such as there were over 2 billion prairie dogs at one point, and they are very social animals.  Although they are cute, we were warned that a flea can jump 10 feet in the air.  Since these fleas can spread disease (such as Bubonic Plague), it’s a good idea to keep your distance!

We also got to see this big bison.  He was lumbering across the plains as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

Badlands Bison
Bison roaming the range in Badlands National Park

This majestic animal weighs about 2,000 pounds.  We decided to give him a wide berth so we could stay safe and keep our car from being wrecked!

We finished our drive on Route 240 which took us back to I90 and Wall, SD.  Here you’ll find the Wall Drug store where you can get free ice water and a coffee for 5 cents.  Lots of tourist attractions here and it made for a good place to stretch our legs before heading to Rapid City.  Rapid City was a great centralized place to stay while seeing the surrounding areas including Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and the Needles Highway.  More on these places in the next blog article.

I hope you enjoyed the info contained here.  I hope you get the chance to create your own memories while visiting Badlands National Park.  It was truly a great visual treat! 

For more information, check out the following links:


Badlands Info:

Gypsy Guide Info:

Wall Drug store info:


Safe travels and discover America.


Retirement Traveling – Part 1

My wife and I decided to put together a bucket list trip that included visiting many of the US National Parks in the western US. Our trip spanned 7 weeks and this article is an introduction to our trip.

One of the goals of our trip was to finish visiting all fifty states. We had already visited forty-six states to date, but we still had not seen North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Idaho. Not only did we visit these states, but we also visited twenty-one others along the way.

Our tip started and finished in New Jersey.  I am not an RV guy, and I could not imagine driving one of those behemoths over 10,000 miles in 7 weeks (actually we drove 11,300 miles on our trip.)  I am perfectly happy driving our car and stopping at a mix of hotels, Airbnb’s, and VRBO’s. We planned our trip so every 10 days we stayed at an Airbnb or VRB. This gave us access to a washing machine, dryer, kitchen, and grill. After 10 days on the road, we found our laundry was piling up and our clean clothes were dwindling. It was great to get all the laundry cleaned and folded for our next 10 days. We also really enjoyed grilling and cooking meals in a real kitchen. After a while, the restaurants’ menus all seem to be the same and we found that most of them had limited selections and limited help due to the pandemic.

As I mentioned before, we wanted to visit US national parks that we have not seen. We have the lifetime National Park Service Senior pass which gives you access to the parks. We were lucky enough to obtain one of these at the old price – just $10. Now they are $80, but since most national parks charge $30 to $35 it still is a real bargain.

Here is a list of parks we visited during our trip. In future articles I will have an in-depth discussion of each park, a few pictures, and tips and tricks we learned along the way. The following is a list of parks we visited:

Badlands – South Dakota

Mt. Rushmore – South Dakota

Glacier National Park – Montana

Yellowstone Park – Wyoming, Montana, Idaho

Grand Tetons – Wyoming

Arches – Utah

Canyonlands – Utah

Zion – Utah

Bryce Canyon – Utah

North Rim of Grand Canyon – Arizona

White Sands – New Mexico

Rocky Mountain National Park – Colorado


Each of these parks had many attractions and all were completely different. Check back later for future articles.



Coping With Coronavirus

Well the stay at home mandate certainly affects many people in the country.  We’ve all had to make sacrifices with layoffs, working at home, and no social gatherings. 

What I am going to talk about here is coping with Coronavirus and the impact on not seeing your family.  We are very lucky to have 2 healthy children and 4 grandchildren that live close to us.  For years we’ve had dinner together as a family every Sunday.  Unfortunately, we had to put these on hold.

My 11-year-old granddaughter has an auto immune condition and has been diagnosed with Chron’s disease.  It is imperative that her exposure to other people is kept to a minimum.  She has a technician come to her house once a month for her IGG infusion and once every 8 weeks she needs to go to the hospital for an infusion of Remicade.  A side effect of the drug treatments has been loss of hair which can be devastating to a young girl.  The good news is the medications are making her feel much better and she’s has more energy and an increased appetite.

But what about the emotional health of everyone.  My grandkids are used to seeing us, their uncles and aunts, and their cousins.  This loss of contact can be hard to manage. 

I have always been a problem solver.  My solution to coping with Coronavirus was to get together using a video conferencing platform and play games for a couple of hours.  We use Zoom Video Conferencing software which can be downloaded for free.  You can use it on an iPhone or Android device or a computer.  Each grandchild uses their Chromebook they use for school.  My wife and I use an iPad.  It’s better to use these devices if available because you can see everyone simultaneously.  On a smartphone, only the person who is talking will show up on your screen



Now that I can see and speak to everyone, I’ve come up with a few games that work great.  Here are some of my favorites:


  • Charades.  This is always fun.  Watching the grand kids act out the answer makes everyone laugh and chime in with their comments.  They kids range from 11 to 7 years old and all of them like to participate.  Our youngest granddaughter who is 7 came up with the list of activities we used last Sunday.  Everyone had a great laugh at her imagination.


  • Monopoly.  We pointed an iPhone at the board and everyone could see the properties and pieces.  My wife rolled the dice and managed the money for all players.  They simply told us if they wanted to buy the properties.  Monopoly is a great game that’s time honored while teaching counting money and making decisions. 

I’m sure there are other games you can play that will help you cope with Coronavirus.  Please leave a comment sharing your ideas on other games that can be used. 

While we’re missing the hugs, we’re grateful we can still see and talk to each other as a family.


Stay Healthy and Safe



Welcome to Senior Self Reliance

My mission is to offer advice on ways to save money, product reviews, cooking, dining out, travel, and generally all issues that are important to Seniors.

My name is Glenn Smith and I started this site because I am a senior!  I’ve done quite a bit of research on different topics that effect seniors and will be sharing my findings with you.  I also would like this space to provide a forum for people to ask questions and provide answers and insights to the community.  I fully expect to learn new things from the community and prove wrong the adage “Old dogs can’t learn new tricks!” 

In addition to the educational value of this site, I hope to make the site fun to visit.  To that end, I have included links to crossword puzzles, Sudoku, word find, jokes, memes, and more.  There’s local weather on the front page, horoscopes, and sports scores.

If you’re interested in contributing an article, please let me know.  My email address is