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Vacation Fun
Retired Ceres Police Officer Ron Richter

was the first to step up and take on the Courier's challenge of sharing vacation photos with readers.

Richter spent 18 days during a May and June road trip which took him first to Rachel, Nev., a desert town near Area 51 which was celebrating its quirky Rachel Days Celebration. Rachel has a connection with Ceres. On June 21, 2008 the towns folk celebrated the arrival of a 1985 fire pumper donated by the city of Ceres. Engine #23 appeared in the town's parade and Richter snapped a photo of it.

Ceres and Rachel share a special link. The late Ceres Police Sgt. Howard Stevenson, who was killed in the line of duty on Jan. 9, 2006, often vacationed in Rachel, a town of about 85 north of Las Vegas. The town - located near the legendary Area 51 - also erected a monument dedicated to Stevenson's memory. Stevenson used to travel to Rachel in order to watch jet fighters based out of Nellis Air Force Base play war games in the Red Flag program.

Stevenson's ashes were spread near Rachel, near the memorial grove at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park and one of his favorite hunting spots off of Highway 108.

Rachel is located on Highway 375, known as the Extraterrestrial Highway because of its close proximity to Area 51. The town gets lots of visitors from people interested in seeing the top-secret military base which has been the topic of significant speculation and alleged ties to flying saucers. There are other weird things that go on there and Richter had photos to prove it - including a young woman (missing an arm) who volunteered to swing from hooks looped through holes in the skin on her back. Being the family paper that we are, we decided not to print the scene outside of the Lil A'Le'Inn (get it, Little Alien Inn?).

From there, Richter headed through scenic vistas in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, and Big Bend National Park in Texas. While in the Gulf region of Louisiana he paddled out among the swamps of the Bayou.

The battlefield of Vicksburg, Ms., proved to be a history lesson. The battle there was seen as key to the Civil War as it divided the South.

He then traveled the Old Natchez Trace that extends roughly 440 miles from Natchez to Nashville, Tenn., linking the Cumberland, Tennessee and Mississippi rivers. It was created and used for centuries by Native Americans, and was later used by early European and American explorers, traders and emigrants in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Richter also saw where the Battle of Shiloh was waged in Tennessee.

Being somewhat interested in alcoholic beverages, Richter then visited the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, Tenn., where he learned Jack was a real figure in whiskey history and not just a fabricated commercial icon.

On his return leg home, Ron journeyed through Abilene, Kan., where a sign drew him off the freeway to visit the home where Dwight D. Eisenhower grew up. The former president's grave is nearby as is his presidential museum and library. He probably missed the Bob Dole residence outside of Russell, though. Richter says he will be following up with a trip to see the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum in Simi Valley.

If you'd like to share your vacation with the Courier for possible publication, email photos to and give us a little narrative on what you did on yours. Please try keep any women hanging from meat hook type photos to yourself. Unlike Ron (who traveled alone), try to include photos of the one taking the vacation).

Happy vacationing Ceres!