GIANT CRUCIFIX Indian River, Michigan

Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller, Tracy Harpster, Mary Grace

Date: August 23, 2023

This is supposedly the second largest crucifix in America and is unique as Jesus is not wearing the crown of thorns on his head. The cross is carved from a single redwood tree in 1953 and is 55 feet tall. The crucifix with Jesus was completed in 1959 and is 28 feet tall. It is also called the “The Cross in the Woods” or “The Crucifix in the Woods”. The nearby Catholic church has outdoor seating in front of the cross or indoor seating with an entire wall of the church made of glass so that mass can be held, and the parishioners can look outside and see the crucifix. We look forward to returning to attend Catholic Mass here and see the Nun Doll Museum which occupies one wing of the building. As we approached the giant crucifix at night, it was foggy and misty, and you could see the reflection of the crucifix in the fog/clouds behind the cross. It was a very astounding and spiritual experience.

OUR LADY OF CLEARWATER Clearwater, Florida

Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller, Jacque Miller, Matt Miller, Holly Miller, Shane Miller

Date: October 8, 1997

On December 17, 1996, colorful rainbow swirls appeared on a window of the bank Seminole Finance Corp. The 60-foot tall and 20-foot-wide image appeared to be the Virgin Mary (later called “Our Lady of Clearwater”). The building, just off Highway 19, was a couple miles from my father’s house. Due to the popularity of the image, the road and intersection became very congested. People came, took photos, and prayed. My family visited in October 1997. Chairs had been placed for pilgrims to sit and pray. The media estimated that 600,000 visited the site in the first couple of years. Sadly, in 2004 a vandal with a slingshot shattered the glass.


Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller

Date: November 1, 1986, November 1990, May 6, 2009

We first visited this National Historic Landmark church the day before we ran the 1986 New York City Marathon. The church, the cemetery and green space looked so surreal and out of place, suddenly appearing from the surrounding skyscrapers. I was not allowed to take photos inside the church, but the architecture and stained-glass windows were exquisite. Outside you can see the bizarre trees, and adjacent to the church was the Trinity Courtyard. Buried on the grounds are Alexander Hamilton, many early pioneers, and important New Yorkers.

As for the church’s history, this episcopal church located at an important site during the American Revolution, is tucked in by the giant skyscrapers of the Manhattan Financial District at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway. It is opposite the US Federal Reserve Building and the New York Stock Exchange. The church was built in 1846 and was the tallest building in the USA until 1869.


Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller

Date: July 4, 2022

A few miles before entering Mt. Ranier National Park was this 18 x 24-foot tiny Lutheran Church built in 1906 and is registered on the National Register of Historic Places. The letters on the front of the church are for its German heritage. Forged by the town’s first blacksmith, a four-foot steel cross stands atop the 46-foot steeple. The church still has its original alter, elevated pulpit and one hand-carved pew. Services are still held on one Sunday per month and the church is also used for weddings. Ripley’s Believe It or Not lists it as the world’s smallest “functional” church. Nearby was a bunch of railroad cars converted for overnight sleeping and a couple were turned into a pizza restaurant. 


Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller

Date: June 21, 2022

Located on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana with the Mission Mountains behind it, it is considered by many as one of the most beautiful churches in the world. The church is famous for the beautiful 58 murals which depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments.  The Mission, and the town that grew up around it was founded in 1854.  The original log cabin, next to the church, now serves as the mission museum. The Mission church was built in 1891. We walked throughout the church and took photos of many of the beautiful frescoes painted by one of the priests.


Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller

Date: June 19, 2022

Called the “Chapel in the Dakota Badlands”, the church is the oldest Catholic Church still in use in the state of North Dakota. The church was built in 1884 by Peter Book, an employee of Marquis de Mores, the founder of Medora. De Mores wife, Medora, whom the town is named after contracted to have the church built. On Sunday evening after hiking all day in Teddy Roosevelt National Park we stopped by the vacant church and surprisingly found the doors unlocked. We entered and viewed the small but beautiful church. We sat at a pew for an hour and watched mass online and prayed. It was quiet and peaceful. The historical church is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller

Date: June 16, 2022

An incredible, beautiful chapel made of red cedar wood trusses and glass chapel located atop a hill on 23 acres of prairie grass overlooking the Platte River Valley and I-80. Inside the chapel, water flows freely from the back to the alter visible through glass located under the floor beside the pews. The chapel was built for travelers on the interstate and especially truck drivers who could stop and pray during their long journeys. The adjacent visitor center is carved out of a hill to evoke Christ’s tomb. In the center is a sculpture representing the Holy Spirit above a pool of water. Outside along a trail was a stunning 40-foot-high stainless-steel cross with an eight-foot-tall Jesus. This was a perfect place to stop, pray and find restful peace. I randomly pulled a $10 bill from my pocket to drop in the donation jar and written on the bill was “Jesus Loves You”. What a perfect, special message to me as we continued our 43-day journey to the Pacific Northwest.

LORETTO CHAPEL Santa Fe, New Mexico

Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller

Date: August 1987

We stopped at this beautiful Catholic Church that had a miraculous staircase that has three mysteries: who built it, what is the material it is made of and where did the material come from?  Lastly, how does the staircase stay together as it defies all conventional construction practice and no nails, glue or screws were used (only wood pegs)?

In 1873 the Sisters of Loretto commissioned the construction of a new chapel for the Girls School. The chapel has high spires and beautiful stained-glass windows. As the construction neared completion the project’s architect suddenly died before he could build the most ambitious part of the project – the staircase leading up to the choir loft. The Sisters asked the local carpenters to build the staircase, but they didn’t know how. The Sisters didn’t know what to do so they turned to prayer and did a nine-day novena asking Saint Joseph, the patron Saint of carpenters, to help them with this problem. On the ninth day a knock came to the door. An elderly man with a donkey stood there. He said he came to build the staircase. The man insisted on working by himself in the chapel and no one could watch him build the staircase. After three months the sister came into the chapel and the carpenter was gone so they couldn’t pay him. The Sisters went to the only local lumberyard to pay for the lumber that the carpenter used, and they said the man did not get any materials at all from them.

Findings: A core sample of the wood used to make the stairway was analyzed and it proved to be a form of piece spruce which is not found in Arizona, nor does it match up 100% with any other type on earth. The winding staircase, double helix shape (two 360 degree turns), has 33 steps which was how old Jesus was when he died. So, who was the mysterious carpenter and was the creation of this staircase a miracle? The staircase was roped off so we could not walk up it, but I have Super 8 film of the staircase & church.


Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller

Date: October 30, 2021

This non-denominational 17 foot by 9 foot church called Christ’s Chapel in Memory Park was built in 1949 by Mrs. Agnes Harper & was nestled in pine trees cloaked with Spanish moss. The church had a bell tower, a beautiful stained-glass window with Jesus behind the alter and had three rows of four chairs to seat 12 parishioners. We re-exchanged our vows and took photos.