Cross country: Elko, Nevada and Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah images

August 31, 2013

Salt? Do you need salt? Well, we passed plenty this morning on our way out of Salt Lake City. First there was the Great Salt Lake itself. As we drove by this huge body of land-locked salt water I was thinking that this was one of Mother Nature’s cruel tricks. Here’s this large amount of water in a desert environment but humankind can’t use it! Then Richard reminded me that there are many life forms that appreciate that salty environment. Gem said nothing—which I always count on him to do.

Next we stopped at the last rest stop in Utah which was actually the Bonneville Salt Flats area. The speedway exit was a mile down the road and I don’t know how much further in. All along the highway, people spelled out their names with rocks or drew designs in the salt.

Once in Nevada, we took advantage of the casinos buffet meals and ate lunch. I’m hoping to be hungry for dinner. We have all sorts of leftovers, especially spaghetti.

Right now we are in an Elko, a lot bigger than I remember it, RV Park, the Double Dice. It’s gravel of course, but has a few trees. We’re going to be home a day sooner because we couldn’t find a Park in Lovelock, Nevada. Can you imagine that! So right now our target date is September 2.

Now that we are in Nevada, Pacific time ,and  one state away from home, I’m ready to be home! And, I was just told by my son that we will be doing some overnights with the younger grandkids. I’m excited to see all the kids.

Tonight I’m positing some of the Temple Square images. I’ll probably finish them up tomorrow night. In the meantime, we’re going to have dinner—no salt!


Cross country: Salt Lake City and the last of Dinosaur National Monument, Utah images

August 30, 2013

I left without my camera last night! I’ve been carrying it for almost three months and last night I forgot to bring it to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearsal!!  I know that some people do great stuff with their cell phone cameras, but I had never used mine before for that task. I did take some shots with it, but now I have to figure out how to get them out of the camera and on to my laptop. So, don’t look for them too soon!

The choir was wicked. I’m sure I would have gotten even more out of it if I knew the music. They were amazing. We were talking to a volunteer, and he took our address, promising to send us a couple of CDs. We do think we were lucky to have come into Salt Lake City on a Thursday night—rehearsal night.

Today, I did remember my camera when we went to the Temple Square. We asked for a tour and two delightful young women, one from California and the other from Oregon, took us around and showed us a couple of buildings. Their faith is what impressed me the most. I told them we were Jewish and would be asking a lot of questions. We did and they answered them.  The only disappointment was that we couldn’t enter the Temple building itself. I remember that from the last time we were here. The whole experience was wicked. I’ll have images to show you maybe tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, we start our four-day trek home. We will drive about 200 miles and stop for the night. I don’t know how much use my camera will get. I started this journey out by shooting out the truck window; I could end it that way. I did some driving by shots on our trip from Grand Lake, Colorado to Jensen, but I haven’t processed them yet.

So we will see what tomorrow brings. I’ll have my camera with me in the front seat.


Cross country: Salt Lake City and Jensen, Utah, and Dinosaur National Park images

August 29, 2013

Jensen—it barely exists. Yesterday, I talked about the National Monument; but, today I want to talk about the town. The Monument covers Utah and Colorado, with the quarry in Jensen. So, I’m wondering why the gateway to the Monument is Vernal and Naples. These cities are 13 – 10 miles away from the Monument.

Jensen’s claim to fame is the Utah Welcome Center! The 2010 census says Jensen’s population is 412. Not much for an unincorporated area that’s the gateway to such a tremendous find. Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox. Oh, before I do, we couldn’t find a real ice cream place in Vernal. They had one store that served frozen custard, soft serve ice cream and frozen yogurt. Vernal needs a Baskin Robbins!

Right now we are in Salt Lake City and I understand from the gals in the campground office that there are plenty of Baskin Robbins stores to quench my ice cream thirst. Maybe tonight we will go listen to the rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and then find a Baskin Robins. We are neither Mormon nor Christian, but we’ve heard a lot about the choir.

This afternoon, I’m posting images of dinosaur bones and the immediate area around the quarry at the Monument. Tomorrow, I’m hoping to show you shots from the Monument’s car tour.

Although I’m still wondering how Jensen lost out, we will enjoy Salt Lake City tomorrow.


Cross country: Still in Jensen, Utah and more Rocky Mountain images

August 28, 2013

What a find! I can only imagine what people thought when they uncovered dinosaur bones in the early 1900s in what is now Jensen, Utah. After digging up and shipping complete skeletal remains to various museums, the original National Monument was established in 1915 to preserve the quarry and 80 acres around it. In 1938 the Monument was increased to include more than 210,000 acres.

You can see the actual bones in the quarry building. How wicked is that? After viewing the bones, we took the 24-mile driving tour to see the scenery that included the Green River. This was a photographer’s dream. I have seen colors like this before in mountains, but the Green River added a new dynamic.

We are both feeling better today, but are still feeling some of the altitude effects. We are still at a little over 5,000 ft. We live at 106 ft.

Tomorrow, we go on to Salt Lake City, and will be there for two days. Then it’s four days to home. We are both anxious to be in our home. I have such mixed feelings. I want to see more, but I also want to be home. Making it easier is that we have visited this part of the United States and seen its beauty.

Tonight, I’ll show you the rest of the Rocky Mountain images.  I’m not going to write captions since they are all landscape images that are similar yet different. I’ll try to get to the Dinosaur National Monument when we get to Salt Lake City. You know it’s true, the further you go, the behinder you get.

I don’t think we’ll find anything new in Salt Lake City, but it’s been about 33 years since we’ve visited. I’m sure things have changed.


Cross country: Jensen, Utah and Rocky Mountain National Park images

August 27, 2013

Beautiful but exhausting—that’s how I’ll describe the Rocky Mountain National Park. Beautiful, because it is; tiring because when you can’t breathe correctly, you get tired and don’t feel well. We left that wicked campground a day early. Richard was having increasingly difficulty breathing.  We did get to see mamma moose and the babies one more time before we left. So, here we are in Jensen, Utah and Dinosaur National Monument—getting closer to home.

We went from a mountain campground to a high desert rocky campground. I’m not griping. That’s just the way it is. Gem is not happy about the move. The other campground had some wicked smells! Tomorrow, if Richard is feeling better, we’ll go into the National Monument. I talked to some people in the campground and they said it was amazing. So, how can we not go??

Now, yesterday I promised you my impressions of Rocky Mountain National Park. Please understand that we love our National Parks. The only one we missed on this trip was Shenandoah National Park because we needed to move on so we could visit relatives.

Rocky Mountain is one of the best we experienced. However, it is not for the person not used to altitude. We peaked at 11,800 ft. Our campground was over 8,000 ft. So for those of us who live at 108 ft. above sea level, it’s hard to breathe.

We did our best and drove the main road through the park, stopping at every trail head and turn out. I think we got the essence of the park. But, timing is everything. Each afternoon, monsoons hit the area. The black clouds roll in, threatening to ruin everyone’s fun. If you’re lucky, they just make it difficult to take photos. If you’re unlucky, you get rained on. The rain can last for a few minutes or for hours.

I know you’re saying, “Well, just go in the morning!” We intended to do that, BUT! I did shoot a lot of images, and I’ll show you some tonight, continuing for a couple of posts.

The other important fact about the Park, is the dying lodge pole trees. They are dying because of a beetle infestation and lack of water. In the current drought conditions, the trees can’t make the sap that helps them fight off the beetles that bore into the bark.

The ranger who led the hike said the forest in changing from a majority of lodge pole trees to a variety of trees that can withstand the drought conditions. Fortunately, Mother Nature’s changes take a long time, and hopefully we’ll see the lodge pole pine make a comeback.

Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll get to see Dinosaur National Monument and it will also be beautiful, but not tiring.


Cross country: Grand Lake, Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park

August 26, 2013

We reached new heights today—11,800 ft. above sea level! We drove to the crest in the Rocky Mountain National Park, stopping to take pictures. We tried one small hike, and we both had altitude problem. So, we thought we’d let the truck do the hiking. We still had problems!

Richard couldn’t catch his breath, and I had a tightening in my chest and couldn’t catch my breath. I was also worried that he was overworking his knees. We’ve never had altitude problems before, and I’m guessing it’s age (and, in my case a repaired heart). Our campground is at 8300 ft. At first it was difficult for me to walk the dog up hill; now it’s a little easier.

I shot a lot of photos today and still have to sort through them. Tonight, I’m showing you scenery in and from our campground. You’ll see a great number of shots of mama moose and her two offspring. It was so wicked that they came to feed in our campground near the children’s playground.

I’ll give you my impressions of the Park in tomorrow’s post. No, we’re not going to try to hike it again. We thought we’d go into Grand Lake Village and just take it easy. No new heights for us; it’s easier to function at 8300 ft.


Cross Country: Grand Lake, Colorado and Strasburg, Colorado images

August 25, 2013

Mountains! It’s been a long time since we were in mountains. We could see them from Denver, but today we’re in them. You see, in California we have flat lands, deserts, hills and mountains. We haven’t seen true mountains since we left the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. Yes, there was Acadia National Park and Cadillac Mountain in Maine, but there is no comparison.

During our drive in, we crested at about 11,400 feet. Our campground is at 8,600 feet. So, I’m experiencing some altitude adjustment. It’s good that Denver is at 5,000+ feet so we had a chance to get used to the higher altitude or my adjustment would be worse.

I remember going through the Rockies 2 years ago. The drive was so beautiful. I didn’t have my camera yet and didn’t take photos because my little point and shoot couldn’t capture it like my memory can.

We will be here for three nights and will have two full days in the Rocky Mountain National Park. I hope to get some fantastic images for you. I’ve already started. When we came in, a mama moose and her two babies were feeding on some tree leaves. This campground has wildlife in it and we have been warned about not letting Gem off the leash.

I’m hoping the cooler weather up here will help us finally get rid of the fleas. Warning: don’t take your dog into the Midwest. The fleas are mean there! Today I’m showing you some of the treasures at the Strasburg Museum, a collection of history donated by public entities and private citizens. Buildings were moved and placed in the museum. I have many more images, but you may not be as enthusiastic as I am about history. I’ve chosen samples to show you.

Okay, time to get dinner on. Maybe after dinner and if the rain, yes it’s raining again, stops, we can go to the visitor’s center and plan our day in the mountains tomorrow.


Cross country: Denver and Strasburg, Colorado

Finally, someone shot Richard! Yes, he got his cortisone shots yesterday and is now walking normally and feeling a lot better.

I also had my lens prescription faxed to Kaiser and then took it to CostCo, picked out new frames and they will be waiting for me when I get home. Now that’s service! And, because I bought them through CostCo, I can take them in to get fitted to my local store. Lesson learned: when you get a new prescription, get new glasses!

After our Kaiser/CostCo adventure, we had time before we went to visit with Nicole and Alex Dorotik. I’ll talk more about Nicole in the next paragraph. We went to Cherry Creek State Park only to see that it was a lake, and had two main events happening in the park. The ranger at the guard station seemed relieved when we told her we were going to turn around. Then we went across the street to a regular park. I managed to get one decent image.

Denver and its suburbs are spread out and reminded me of San Jose. However, San Jose is small compared to Denver. There is an abundance of industry, shopping malls, etc. as you drive through the various towns. And, of course, there is an abundance of traffic.

On the way to the Dorotik’s home, the skies were active with thunder and lightning. Even though I said I wouldn’t do any more drive by shots, I just couldn’t help myself. This would be an experiment and fun to work on. So, I have a couple of those images for you too.

Now, back to Nicole. Her Mom and I go back before she was born. Judy is my soul sister in Los Angeles. We held each other up in tough times until I moved to San Jose. I don’t think she’s ever forgiven me for moving away. But even when things were dark in Sacramento, she was there. Nicole is Judy’s youngest, and is now a doctor, wife and mom of three. We last saw them when we came through Denver on our South Dakota trip two years ago.

We had a great time then and had a wicked time last night. The children (Lily, Savi and Brady) are great kids, and Alex does a mean barbecue. It’s wonderful to see children who meant a lot to you grow up, have their own families and live happy lives. Will we see them again in another two years? Maybe if they come to see Judy in California.

Tomorrow, we leave for Rock Mountain National Park. We reserved three nights at a campground. With his knees doing well, I think Richard will enjoy this Park the best. I’m so glad he got his cortisone shots.


Cross country: Strasburg, Colorado and Goodland, Kansas images

August 22, 2013

Beam me home Scotty! Wouldn’t that be great? It would make traveling so much easier. Imagine, you need medical attention; you beam home, go to your doctor and then beam back, resuming your vacation. Tomorrow is our medical day. I’m going to at least order new glasses to be sent to my home. I also hope they can do something with my broken glasses. Richard is going to finally get his cortisone shots.

Right now we are in Strasburg, Colorado which is about 30 miles outside of Denver. But, I want to talk about Goodland, Kansas. I don’t know why that town touched me so much. Maybe it was the owner of the KOA we stayed in. She is an extremely talented jewelry designer. While I shopped, we talked about how she sells her product.

She said the women in town do not buy her necklaces. They tell her that they don’t have any place to wear them. You see, this is a small farm town. Everything is pure simplicity. There are no large franchised restaurants and no fast food joints. The few eateries are mostly bar and grills. Life is simple here, but the weather isn’t. The summers are hot and dry; the winters, cold and dry. The KOA is only open in the spring and summer.

The KOA owner said the winters are too cold, sometimes getting down to 16F. They don’t get too much snow, but when they get flurries, I-70 is closed because it freezes over. Her business relies on RV overnighters. We were the first to arrive yesterday, and she nearly filled up the park. The next morning, we were almost the last to leave an almost empty park. I bought some jewelry, but I don’t know if anyone else did. I left thinking that the inhabitants live in a harsh climate, and their lives are not easy.

I tried to get some images of the city, but me and my lens weren’t cooperating. So, I don’t have too many to show you, but you may get some idea of life in Goodland.

I’m going to take a couple of days off from posting this blog, and I’ll resume as we leave Denver. Hopefully, I’ll have some Denver images to show you. I just don’t know how long we will be here. Our next goal is Rocky Mountain National Park. We missed seeing it the last time we were through here.

Yes, it would be wicked is we could beam from place to place!


Cross country: Goodland Kansas and the St. Louis, Missouri images

August 21, 2013

Against the wind, we drove against the wind. I know I skewed Bob Seger’s lyrics, but that’s what we did today. Kansas turned dry, flat, hot and windy—about 20 miles per hour. At every rest stop, there were wind warnings via a loud speaker. We lost about 4 miles per gallon on fuel. This drive wasn’t as pretty or relaxing as yesterday.

I guess part of the reason is that I really don’t like to drive stop and pick up the next day and continue on. It’s been three days of this. Tomorrow we will be in Denver where we will shop (the refrigerator is almost empty) and do laundry. Then on Friday, we will spend most of the day at Kaiser and then have dinner with friends. Good news: we entered the Mountain Time zone. We’re getting closer to home!

Right now, I’m writing this blog and, once again, hearing the locusts. I haven’t talked about the locusts. We’ve been hearing them for about three weeks now. It’s just a constant buzzing sound. They don’t do anything but make noise.

We did go into Goodland after dinner, and I took a few pictures. Goodland is a small farm town. I’ll tell you more about the town tomorrow and I’ll post images too. Tonight we are catching up with St. Louis, Missouri.

Remember we were there for just a few hours, but I did want to get close enough to shoot the arch. We didn’t have time to go to it, park and go up to the top. But, I did get the feeling of it. It is huge and wicked. I hope you enjoy what I did get.

So with that, I’ll close this post. Hopefully, as we climb in elevation to Denver, we won’t be fighting the wind, and we’ll have an easy drive.