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Yearly Travels
2001 Trip That Started It All
2002 Desert Ghost Towns
2003 Eastern & Southern US
2005 Western
2006 Death Valley
2007 New Orleans
2007 Road Trip With Mom
2008 Tombstone
2009 Eastern
2010 No Destination
2011 St. Augustine
2012 England & France
2013 Western Giants
2014 - Southwestern
2015 - Mystery Tour
2016 - Spur of the Moment

Here & There
2009 Kelowna
2009 Glacier National Park
2011 Patched

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Hwy 261
Monument Valley
Oatman
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Valley of the Gods

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This year our travels were going to take us back to Las Vegas.  The pool team Doreen and I played on, won the trip to the International Valley 8 Ball Tournament held every year at the Riviera. The "Guys and Dolls" Pool Team was a throw together group of players and it turned out to be the greatest team. Everyone got along and we had great food, fun and team spirit all year. We played 100% at playoffs, never lost a game and our trip to Vegas was secured.

So now all we had to do was come up with a different route in and out of Vegas.

Our plan was to have the Vegas stint in the middle of our holidays in order to enter Death Valley from the California side, visit a couple of spots we missed in 2002, leave Vegas, travel north of the Grand Canyon to Page, Arizona, and on to Hwy 261 (of course) before heading home.

It is unfortunate that since this trip, we have both had our computers crash and lost all the digital photos we took. We have been able to find pictures by surfing the web and we are grateful others have traveled in the same areas and shared their memories' online.



We also decided to exit Canada on a different route other than I-15 for a change of scenery. 

We left just after lunch on a Friday in late May and crossed into the states at the Caraway Border just south of Cardston, Alberta in the middle of a horrendous hail storm.  Welcome to Montana!!

We had hoped to take the Logan Pass through Glacier Park over to Whitefish but even by late May, the road was still closed. Another year perhaps.  We had to drive south around the base of the park on Highway 2 to Kalispell.

We continued south from Kalispell, Montana on Hwy 93 through Missoula, to the Lost Trail Pass at Salmon National Forest entrance.  At this point we were in tank tops and sandals and were met head-on with a snowstorm that nearly wiped out visibility.

Using your imagination - picture us in bare feet and sandals standing beside this sign that has a foot of snow on it. Welcome to Idaho!! This was not a good start to our "summer" holidays.

Lewis & Clark - Corps of Discovery
Lost Trail Pass

Clark crossed Lost Trail Pass in a failed attempt to follow the Salmon River to the Columbia in early September, 1805. He and his hired Shoshone guide, nicknamed Toby, scouted ahead of the rest and discovered that reports of the Salmon's unsuitability were true.

The twisting, deep river earned its name, "The River of No Return." This was no safe or easy passage to the Columbia or the Pacific. Not only were they disappointed, but the pass itself was steep and treacherous. Their guide lost the trail on the Idaho side, and as they tried to retreat to Montana, their horses fell several times.


We stopped at North Fork, Idaho and tried to contact our Head Referee, Frank Frye, who lived in Salmon, Idaho. We were hoping he would still be involved in the VNEA playoffs and we would get to see him in Vegas again.  We were unable to get a listing for him and subsequently found out he had left Salmon due to ill health.  Shortly after our trip, I received a call that he had passed away. 

FRANK FRYE, A LEGEND IN HIS OWN RIGHT - 1943-2006

Frank Frye was a dedicated and devoted legend of the VNEA. He passed away Sunday, August 20, 2006 in Emmett, Idaho.

Frank Frye, of Salmon, Idaho and Eugene, Oregon was married to Beverly for 43 years with three children. Frank was the Head Referee and Instructor with the VNEA, for 26 years.  He also played a pretty good pool game along with being a wood carver & golfer.

Frank was a true friend to everyone he met and will definitely be missed by all. 

Although most readers don't know who this man was - I want to pay my respects to my friend with this small tribute.

Karen, Frank, Steve & Doreen
This is a photo of us with Frank in 2000.

After Salmon, we continued south on Hwy 93 and spent the night in Mountain Home, Idaho.  In the morning we zigzagged our way down Hwy 51 (Nevada 225) to I-80, west to Hwy 95, south to Hawthorne and finally Hwy 359 (California 167) heading to Yosemite National Park.

It was a surprise to us when we crossed into Nevada and didn't hit a freak weather condition.


We were coasting along quite nicely when we spotted a sign that read "Bodie Ghost Town" 10 miles up this nice looking road.  Wrong!!   We screeched to a halt, backed up and turned north.  What the sign neglected to say was - "This is the original mountain trail the golddiggers used."  The last three miles are a bumpy dirt road which is a mild understatement. As we were nearing the final mile into the town (which, by the way is above the tree-line) our nice sunny weather turned into a blizzard and the "bumpy" dirt road dissolved into a mudhole. We more or less slid into town.  Welcome to California!!

The storm was short lived so we pulled out the parkas, hoodies and gloves and took off on foot to tour the town.

While exploring, we spoke to a Park employee and were advised the main "paved" road north of the town connects to Hwy 395 and is much easier to navigate.  We took her advice and had a smooth exit back to civilization.

In 1858 a Waterman “Bill” Body, a Dutchman from New York state, discovered gold while riding through the site that is now Bodie. The boom in the late 1870s drew hordes of adventurers from Virginia City and other fading Nevada camps. By 1879, Bodie had a population of 10,000 people.

The Bodie Curse

Legends about Bodie abound, including the Bodie Curse. The curse is supposedly perpetuated by the town ghosts who guard against thieves and protect its treasures. Supposedly, if visitors take anything – even a pebble, they will be cursed with bad luck. Misfortune and tragedy are heaped upon the victim until the stolen item is returned. According to Park Rangers, many who have taken things eventually return them, to rid themselves of this curse.

Come to think of it - we did take pictures - and we both had computer crashes - and the pictures are gone!!

Bodie was a Bad Town.  It was rich, it was remote, it had the reputation of being one of the most furious, vehement, violent and lawless towns in all the Mother Lode.  Law and order took a back seat to whatever was the inspiration of the moment including putting a bullet into someone as the only way to settle an argument. On September 5, 1880, the daily Bodie Standard reported three shootings and two stage holdups.  The town had 30 gold mines, 65 saloons, numerous brothels, gambling halls, and opium dens. Every other building on the mile long main street was a saloon. Three breweries worked day and night and whiskey was brought into town in 100 gallon barrels.

The weather was particularly harsh in Bodie. It snowed as much as twenty feet deep. Winds whipped unheeded on the treeless slopes to a hundred miles an hour. Temperatures went down 40° F below zero. Many died of exposure and disease.

Bodie is kept in a state of "arrested decay" meaning it won't deteriorate any further. The State of California took over the town in 1962 to make it a State Historic Park ensuring that the town is property maintained without destroying or changing anything. With many of the buildings left, it is one of the best preserved ghost towns in the country.  Bodie Website

After departing Bodie, and another storm, we felt the urge to go somewhere where the sun doesn't quit and the snow does.  It was hard to fathom we were in central California in late May and still hitting snowstorms.  So without further ado, we put the pedal to the metal and headed further south to spend the night in Bishop, California, just north of the west entrance into Death Valley.  Surely, it wouldn't snow in Death Valley - would it?

Located on the border of California and Nevada, Death Valley is the principal feature of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve. Millions of years ago, there was an inland sea where Death Valley is today, but as the area turned to desert, the water evaporated, leaving behind the salt.

Temperatures in the Valley can reach 130°F in the summer, to below freezing at night in the winter. The National Climatic Center reports that Death Valley's temperature reaches 90°F 327 days a year while freezing temperatures occur on an average of 11.7 days each year. The lowest temperature on record is 15°F. Death Valley holds the record for hottest temperature ever recorded in the United States at 134°F on July 10, 1913. Annual precipitation is 2.33 inches.

We got our wish - no snow and the temperature was well over 100°F.  We stopped to take pictures at a scenic overlook of the valley and struck up a conversation with three German travelers who had flown into San Francisco, rented motor cycles and were touring the Grand Circle.  They were quite amazed that two women were traveling unescorted that far from home.

Twenty mule teams were teams of eighteen mules and two horses attached to large wagons that ferried borax out of Death Valley from 1883 to 1889. They traveled from mines to the nearest railroad spur, 165 miles (275 km) away in Mojave, California.
20 Mule Train

Death Valley ASTER Image

While surfing the net to find pictures to replace the ones both Doreen and I lost in our computer crashes, she found this image.  It intrigued her and of course she had to read more about this technique.  Since different materials reflect and emit energy in different ways, the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), with its multi-spectral infrared channels, can provide detailed information about the composition of Earth’s surface.

Salt deposits on the floor of Death Valley appear in shades of yellow, green, purple, and pink, indicating the presence of carbonate, sulfate, and chloride minerals.

The Panamint Mountains to the west and the Black Mountains to the east are made up of sedimentary limestones, sandstones, shales and metamorphic rocks.

The bright red areas are dominated by the mineral quartz, found in sandstones; green areas are limestones. In the lower center of the image is Badwater, the lowest point in North America.  Earth Observatory

Racetrack Playa - The Wandering Rocks

Scattered across the extraordinarily flat surface of Racetrack Playa, far from the edges of the surrounding mountains are large chunks of dolomite, some up to 705 lbs. Behind many of the stones you'll see grooved trails. Some are short, some long, some straight, some curvy. However, no living person has ever witnessed these amazing rocks in motion, making them the target of scientific speculation and investigation as well as old-fashioned desert tall tales.

We did not get to the Racetrack Playa.  I told Doreen about these rocks so she researched them on the net.  This is definitely something to keep on an agenda for future travels.

Death Valley Scotty, 1872-1954

Death Valley Scotty, cowboy, prospector, and all-round con man, was probably the most outrageous person who came to live in Death Valley - certainly the most famous. Walter Edward Scott, was born on September 20, 1872, near Cynthiana, Kentucky. As a young boy he ran away from his Kentucky home to join his brother on a ranch in Nevada.

After working numerous jobs in the area, he traveled the world for twelve years with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. He finally settled in Death Valley.

He became widely known for his "castle," a Spanish-Moorish style villa really built as the vacation home for Chicago millionaire Albert Johnson. Johnson supplied the more than $2,000,000.00 needed to finance the project, but Scotty supplied the mystery, curiosity and entertainment. Visitors over the years included Betty Grable, Will Rogers and Norman Rockwell.

The Johnsons died in the 1940s, and having no heirs, willed the Castle to a charitable organization called the Gospel Foundation. The Foundation continued to run the Castle Hotel and also took care of Scotty, who lived in the Castle the last two years of his life. He died in 1954.

In 1970, the Gospel Foundation sold the estate to the National Park Service, who now protect and preserve the Castle for present and future generations to enjoy.

Scotty's Castle is a two-story Spanish Villa located in northern Death Valley, CA. It is also known as Death Valley Ranch. Scotty's Castle is not a real castle , and it also did not belong to the "Scotty" from whom it got its name.

This year we did an out of the way trip, specifically to see this place.  Very interesting and self-sufficient in the middle of the desert.  Spring water was used to power a network of water wheels. Some of the wheels powered machines directly by belt and gear, and others generated electricity to provide lights and refrigeration in the castle.  Now there is a solar array to store the energy.  Scotty's Castle Site

Scotty's Castle

Death Valley Ghost Towns

Doreen and I seem to be into Ghost Towns.  Although, we didn't tour Ghost Towns this year, other than to revisit Rhyolite, she found some very interesting information about the towns around Death Valley. This is certainly something to keep in mind for another year.  We also came across a unique website to assist us in our search.   Ghost Town Gallery.com


Ballarat, founded in 1897 had a population of 400 people in 1898. Ballarat, privately owned, is located off the Panamint Valley road west of Death Valley.

Chloride City became a town in 1905 and was a ghost town the following year. It is located off a four-wheel drive road 3.5 miles east of Hell’s Gate.

Greenwater, located south of Dante’s View, was built around a copper strike in 1905.  It grew to a population of 2,000 but by 1909 was a ghost town. There are no ruins left.

Harrisburg, established in 1905. was a tent city that grew to a population of 300.  Pete Aguereberry, worked his Eureka gold mine for 40 years. Nothing remains of the town but Pete’s home and mine which are located two miles down the dirt road to Aguereberry Point.

Leadfield claims had been filed in 1905 but it wasn't until 1926 that great numbers of people came to the area.  In April that year the town was laid out with 1749 lots. By 1927 the mines played out. The town is located on the Titus Canyon road.

Panamint City was called "the toughest, rawest, most hard-boiled little hellhole that ever passed for a civilized town". Its founders were outlaws who, while hiding from the law in the Panamint Mountains, found silver in Surprise Canyon and gave up their life of crime. In 1874 the town had a population of 2,000. A flash flood in 1876 destroyed it. Panamint City accessible via a five mile hike, was added to Death Valley National Park in October of 1994.

Skidoo, founded in 1906, reached a population of 700 and became famous as the site of the only hanging to take place in Death Valley. Skidoo is located off the Wildrose road.. Nothing remains of the town except an interpretive sign.

She was called the "Queen City of Death Valley" and certainly Rhyolite, Nevada was the most ambitious and permanent of the boomtowns in Death Valley's mining era. Estimates are that 10,000 people lived in Rhyolite between 1905-1909.  The train station is still standing.
Rhyolite had electricity, banks, churches, hotels, stores, saloons, an ultra modern school completed in 1909. The bottle house is also still standing with 4 walls intact, whereas most of the remaining buildings are skeletons.

Goldwell Open Air Museum

As we visited Rhyolite again this year it was disappointing to see that much of the area had been fenced off and we were not able to walk around the buildings. On the other hand, we were happy that the area is now being protected from vandalism and theft.  The art museum is still available to the public.

Um.......Seems I have company!
In the 1980's Belgian sculptor Albert Szukalski came here and created the Last Supper, twelve ghostly figures in a ghost town. In subsequent years he invited other artists to create their artwork launching the Goldwell Open Air Museum making Rhyolite a town with an engrossing history, even after it was deserted.
Last Supper by Albert Szukalski

After leaving Rhyolite, we traveled south on Hwy 95 through Pahrump (name makes me laugh) and into Vegas from the west.  It was time to "let the games begin". Our team played exceptionally well and survived until the last match before the "big" board (final playoffs). 
The guys wanted to enter into the hardluck tournament but Doreen and I were anxious to get back on the road.  So, we bid them good luck, left them to their playing, checked out early, and were on our way again.  Oh yeah, I got to spend two nights with my hubby, Steve, while in Vegas.

After all the trips down I-15 over the years to the Vegas Tournaments, we finally took the time to tour through this unique area. Valley of Fire State Park, located 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas, is Nevada's oldest State Park. It covers an area of 34,880 acres and was dedicated in 1935. The Valley of Fire derives its name from red sandstone formations, formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of dinosaurs.

The rough floor and jagged walls of the park contain brilliant formations of eroded sandstone and sand dunes more than 150 million years old. These features, which are the centerpiece of the park's attractions, often appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun's rays.

The Valley of Fire is a popular location to shoot automobile commercials and other commercial photography. Star Trek Generations was filmed in Valley of Fire, and it was here that Captain Kirk fell to his death. In the film, Lake Mead is clearly visible in the background.


We took a backroad into St. George, Utah from the northwest, then connected with Hwy 9 east.

Just after St. George, Doreen noticed the car was overheating, especially when climbing.  We were getting concerned, as we were going into a desolate, hot area with little or no services.  We stopped at a car dealership in Hurricane and asked them to check the car. The young fellow that looked it over really didn't have a clue. He did check the radiator, however, and found nothing wrong.

We attributed the overheating to the hot temperature (115°) and having the air conditioner on high.  A little way down the road we stopped at a scenic overlook.  As we crested the ridge walking back to the parked car, Doreen spotted a large piece of plastic stuck to the air intake under the car.  Mystery solved.  Once we pulled the plastic off, the car cooled right down to an acceptable level and we had no further problems.

So far (cross our fingers and keep them crossed), we have never had any car trouble on our travels.  To be honest, we have never had any trouble at all as long as you don't count avoiding tornados, hurricanes, blizzards, hailstorms, getting stuck in muddy ditches, gall bladder attacks, running on empty and let's not forget the "honeymoon" suite.


We connected with U.S. Route 89A. The state of Arizona has designated this highway as "the Fredonia-Vermilion Cliffs Scenic Road". The highway is used to access Grand Canyon National Park and is known for the Navajo Bridge. This was part of mainline U.S. 89 until the construction of Glen Canyon Dam. In 1960, U.S. 89 was moved to a new, more northerly route and the old route became U.S. 89A.

Honeymoon Trail

Hwy 89A was part of the Mormon Trail known as the Honeymoon Trail.  This historic old wagon road linked St. George, Utah with Lee's Ferry on the Colorado River and from there, numerous settlements throughout northeastern Arizona. The route was used for several years by young married couples from Arizona seeking temple marriage in what was then, the only "Mormon" temple west of the Mississippi River, hence the trail's interesting name.

Cliff Dwellers

Along Hwy 89A, just north of the Navajo Bridge, there is an interesting area where a "modern day" cliff dweller lived. 

Around 1927, Blanche Russell's car broke down near here. She liked the area, bought the property and built her rock house in the 1930's. We were able to walk into the rock dwellings and look around. Story of Blanche Russell

Blanche Russell's Home
Another Rock House
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area established in 1972, covers 1,254,429 acres of mostly desert, encompassing the area around Lake Powell in Utah and Arizona. The recreation area borders Capitol Reef National Park and Canyonlands National Park on the north, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on the west, and Grand Canyon National Park on the south.

Navajo Bridge

Those traveling across the country on Highway 89A between Bitter Springs and Jacob Lake AZ arrive at two bridges similar in appearance spanning the Colorado River. These two bridges, one historic and one new, represent one of only seven land crossings of the Colorado River for 750 miles.

The dedication of the historic bridge took place June 14-15, 1929. Navajo Bridge served the area well for 66 years. However, as automobiles and trucks became larger, wider, and heavier, the need for a stronger, wider bridge became evident. On May 2, 1995, the new Navajo Bridge opened. The historic bridge remains and serves as a pedestrian bridge providing visitors with a breathtaking view of the Colorado River below. National Park Service
Bridge Facts and Figures
Navajo Bridge Historic Bridge Modern Bridge
Total Length 834 feet 909 feet)
Steel Arch Length 616 feet 726 feet
Arch Rise  90 feet 90 feet
Height Above River  467 feet 470 feet
Width of Roadway  18 feet 44 feet
Amount of Steel  2.4 million pounds 3.9 million pounds
Amount of Concrete  500 cubic yards 1790 cubic yards
Steel Reinforcement 82,000 pounds 434,000 pounds
Construction Cost $390,000 $14,700,000

Page

We followed Hwy 89A to Page, did a quick tourist stop at a gift shop, and lunched overlooking Lake Powell. Refreshed, we continued on Hwy 98 to connect with Hwy 160 to Kayenta and Monument Valley. 

Shonto

Just before Hwy 160, we turned into a little place called Shonto for gas. We did a quick tour of the town and as we were leaving, saw a small sign that said Navajo National Monument 9 miles. Sounded OK to us.

Our first clue that this might not be a road of choice, was the vertical climb up a cliff on an unpaved, washboard sand trail.  Once at the top, we continued to follow this 9 mile road over some of the roughest terrain we have ever encountered.  Instead of snow drifts, we were plowing through sand drifts. An hour later, and still not seeing any sign of the Monument, or other life forms, we came to an abrupt halt in front of a deep drift.   Cavaliers are not equipped as dune buggies so we had no choice but to turn around, face the maize of mountain trails, and hope we could find our way back.

Now, this story wouldn't really be worth telling if it had ended there.  But it didn't.  After 20 miles and two hours, we were back in Shonto.  We headed out to the highway and connected with 160.  About 35 miles later, we saw another Navajo National Monument sign - 5 miles up the beautifully paved Hwy 564.  Doreen could not drive past without finding out what we had missed.  Not even 10 minutes later, we were in the parking lot of Navajo National Monument.

Curiosity got the better of us and we searched the area until we found a service road at the rear that looked like the one we were on. We drove about a block and there was the drift where we turned around.  If we had just gotten out of the car, we could have walked to the Monument.  Almost 2 1/2 hours later, we were at exactly the same spot.  Talk about a blonde moment !!!

At this point, we were more interested in the road than the Monument but we did stop for refreshments and took in the walking tour.  

Navajo National Monument

Navajo National Monument preserves three of the most intact cliff dwellings of the ancestral puebloan people (Hisatsinom). The Navajo people who live here today call these ancient ones "Anasazi". The monument is high on the Shonto Plateau, overlooking the Tsegi Canyon system in the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona.

The Betatakin Ruin can be seen from an overlook on a one-mile, round-trip trail.The monument features a visitor center, two short self-guided mesa top trails, two small campgrounds, and a picnic area. Rangers guide visitors on free tours of the Keet Seel and Betatakin cliff dwellings.

Kayenta

Navajo Name: Toh' Di'neesh zhee (water going in different directions). The community of Kayenta is scenically located just north of junctions Hwy 160 and Hwy 163. Kayenta, founded in 1909 as a trading post, is now the gateway to the Navajo Tribal Park at Monument Valley. I had wanted to visit the hospital I was in and see if our friendly orderly was still there but we'd wasted too much time at Shonto.  Maybe another time.

Monument Valley

We stopped once again at Goulding Lodge in Monument Valley to have our supper. 

We went into the gift shop and toured around John Wayne's cabin before heading out.  We were planning to stop for the night further down the road at Mexican Hat or Bluff.

And, of course, we just had to see Valley of the Gods and Hwy 261.  It was starting to feel like home.


It wasn't quite dark, so we decided play around on Hwy 261 before stopping in Bluff;  but, true to form, we found somewhere else to explore.  After driving up and down Hwy 261, we went up again because I wanted to investigate a road we'd been ignoring for several years.  The road is called Muley Point Road and I'm sure it is aptly named.  Definitely fit for mules.  Oh My Gawd. MuleyPoint Info

Muley Road seemed to go on forever and we were thinking this is likely a waste of time, when suddenly the road ended and the world dropped 1200 feet into a magnificent gorge. We were overlooking part of the Goosenecks of San Juan River in the eastern extreme of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.  We could see forever and "no railings".  Once again Doreen was 100 feet from the edge taking pictures of me peeking over the edge.

After all our messing around, it was dark when we got to Bluff and "no room at the inn"  EXCEPT for the "honeymoon cabin". They gave us the regular cabin rate but just a small problem........only one king bed.   Desert Rose Inn - Bluff, UT

With hesitation, we accepted the room and I proceeded to hunt for a board full of nails to put in middle of bed.  The room was absolutely beautiful and it is a shame to waste it on honeymooners who don't pay attention to it anyway.

We spent some relaxing time outside our cabin on the swing, enjoying the night, then finally relented and headed to our shared bed. Well, Doreen fell asleep immediately, snoring like a freight train.  It was vibrating right through the bed.  About 2:30 AM I finally gave up, grabbed a pillow and curled up on the loveseat.  When she woke up, she wanted to know how I could sleep beside Steve (who's a snorer) and not her.  My response "Because I can hit him when I need him to turn over."    I don't think it was the noise as much as the vibrations but in any case, it was not a restful night.

We checked out, did a small tour of Bluff, visited the Historic Fort and then headed to the our favourite shopping/eating spot, Twin Rocks Cafe for our annual breakfast and shopping spree.  They have a unique gift shop and art gallery. Twin Rocks Cafe - Bluff

We were off to climb Hwy 261 one more time before heading north to Hwy 95.


We drove on Hwy 95 to Blanding then Hwy 191 towards Moab.  This year we stopped and toured Hole in Rock.  We had passed it many times, stopping, but not taking in the tour. 

We were quite amazed at the home built right into the rock.  We purchased a few souvenirs, then headed to Moab.

Albert Christensen's 5000 square foot 14 room home is anything but ordinary. Not content to have an average 1940's home, Albert hand carved his dwelling out of a natural cliff face. He called it Hole N' The Rock. It lies on US Highway 191, just south of Moab.

Albert blasted and drilled for 12 years, then, in 1952, moved in with his wife Gladys. The couple operated a diner in the first room until 1955. Albert died in 1957, but Gladys lived there 17 more years, running a cafe and gift shop.  Hole 'N The Rock Site


We approached Moab from the east, via the side road that connected us with Hwy 128 north of Moab. We stopped along the way at a park area on the Colorado River to cool our feet in the water.  We arrived in Moab mid afternoon. 

We had originally wanted to stay at the hotel "Camelot" and ride camels.  No one could give us the directions so we opted for a regular hotel. 

We read a brochure about a Colorado River Tour and Light Show and headed out to get some information. It turned out the tour also included a supper so we booked ourselves for that night and quickly returned to the hotel to get ready for the evening.

It started out with a cowboy supper, complete with tin plates, and we ended up sitting at the table with our host. We still didn't have a clue what it was all about, but we were happy to just wait and go with the flow.

Once supper was finished everyone boarded the boat and we were off.  It was almost dark.  The entire boat ride up and down the river is done with light shows on the cliffs commentated with neat stories about the history of the area (you just have to let your imagination go). The tour was absolutely awesome.  By the time we got back to shore, we were totally relaxed.  This was definitely a highlight of our trip.

Canyonlands by Night

Light and shadows are the magic of Canyon Country. Since 1963 we have availed ourselves to this natural wonder and added sound, the spoken word, and a riverboat to offer an evening program on the Colorado River.

The backdrop for this popular show is a star-filled, Southern Utah sky and high red rock canyon walls. The hosts are knowledgeable, humorous guides who love sharing the wonders of their own backyard with others, along with Indian legends, geology and history as the rock walls come alive with powerful lights, adding color and beauty. This is a sound and light show beyond comparison. The adventure begins with a Cowboy Style Dutch Oven Dinner served on the banks of the Colorado River.
Canyonland by Night Website


We headed back up Hwy 128 to connect with I-70 to Salina then north on I-15. At Lehi we headed west to Tooele.

This year Doreen and I visited Shirley and Don (online friends). It was the first time Shirley and I had met in person.  The visit was great (and so was supper).

This was also where the hotel in Tooele double-charged Doreen's credit card.  We left the keys with the maid in the morning as she was stripping the room and the clerks argued we hadn't checked out.  Luckily we could prove we were 700 miles away at another motel and they were forced to refund her additional charges.  I wonder how many others lose the argument because they can't provide proof of where they were.   Still debating about publishing the name of this motel.

The route home was planned to take us through Yellowstone National Park again. We bypassed Salt Lake and headed east  on Hwy 30 around Bear Lake, over to Montpelier and Hwy 89 to Jackson. From Jackson we drove through Grand Teton National Park into Yellowstone from the south entrance.  We gassed up at Canyon Village and continued along the north loop towards Mammoth Hot Springs. 

There are several scenic sideroads and viewpoints along this route and at one point, Doreen was driving up the mountain on the wrong side to get over to the overlook. I made a smartass comment about this being dangerous - you never know who or what is around the bend. 

Having no sooner said that, we rounded the bend and were staring face to face with one huge buffalo bull. All we could hear was the clip/clop of his hooves as he slowly lumbered up the hill with a trail of cars following him.  When he got to the overlook - he pulled off and let the cars pass.  One got a firm opinion - this was HIS territory.  With due respect, we moved on. We spent the night in Gardiner, Montana, just outside the park.

The last 24 hours of our trip is always the saddest and we try and get it over with as quickly as possible.  We stayed on Hwy 89 through White Sulphur Springs. into Great Falls and home.   Another successful and safe holiday gone by and a whole year to think about where to go next year.