« September 2008 | Main | November 2008 »

October 31, 2008

Utah 2008 - Salt Lake City & the South East

We arrived back in Salt Lake City about 8:30 pm on Tuesday, Oct.14th and as had been arranged before we left, we stayed at the Baymont Hotel.  In the morning we headed down to State Trailer and picked up our home.  We figured that we had been rushing for the last two weeks, so decided to slow down and we booked for a whole week at the KOA where we had been before we left to go home.

IMG_8398_editedWe took it easy, exploring the city and one day we went to the Tracy Aviary. It’s a large bird park located on eight acres of land in the heart of Salt Lake City.  It has about 400 birds representing 135 species.

Utah 001 
Another day we drove up to Park City which is in the mountains and was the location of Utah 003_editedthe 2002 Winter Olympics.  We took the tour of Olympic Park, getting an up-close look at the ski jumps and the bobsled/luge runs.  There are six ski jumps ranging from 10 to 120 meters.  Plastic runways on the jumps and landing zones (the green patch) allow for summer jumping

Why anyone would voluntarily go down those ski jumps is beyond us. 

They told us that they receive around 500 inches of snow up there.  That’s over 40 feet of snow.  There is a large vibrant community and because it is only about 45 minutes from Salt Lake City, is a very popular spot.
Back in Salt Lake City, as we we drove along North Temple (yes, it’s the street that runs along the north side of the LDS-Latter Day Saints-temple) we saw a line-up outside a Mexican restaurant.  In fact, every time we went past the restaurant there was a big line up – lunch time, late afternoon or 10 o’clock at night.  Turns out the restaurant – The Red Iguana – is famous throughout the city.  Of course we had to try it.  We went on a Tuesday about 2 in the afternoon and only had to wait for 2 other tables to be seated before us, so not bad.  The food was excellent and plentiful and we would sure go back.

On the Sunday, 4 days after we collected the trailer from the repair shop, we saw water dripping under it, right where the kitchen tank is located.  This was the tank that was replaced so, as you can imagine, we were not impressed.  We phoned them on Monday and made arrangements to return with it to the shop early Wed. morning, as we would be on our way out of the city that morning.  Turns out, the custom made tank had not been properly welded at the seams and when it filled with water, the pressure caused it to leak.  It took the shop all day to fix it, as they had to again remove the tank, re-weld and reinstall.  We also had a bit of welding on the frame done and a couple of other minor items.  When we finally went to leave, they waved goodbye to us with no charge for the tank (which we expected) nor for any of the other work they did that day.  At least, they treated us properly.

IMG_8420_edited As it was late afternoon, we stayed in Provo and the next morning, October 23rd, headed toward Moab via Hwy 6, which runs on an angle to the southeast.  We passed over Soldier Summit and were never out of sight of mountains, although as we got closer to Moab the land was flat with the mountains in the distance.

We decided to make our base just south of Moab, and from there were able to visit two National Parks, one State Park and one scenic drive along the Colorado River.  This country is so spectacular that I am going to let the pictures tell most of the story.

Utah 007_editedArches National Park preserves over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, the greatest density of natural arches in the world, as well as other unusual rock formations. With elevations varying from 4,085 to 5,653 ft above sea level it is located in a “high desert” – hot summers, cold winters and very little rainfall ( 10 inches average in a year).  Since 1970, 43 arches have collapsed because of erosion.

The arches result from erosion of sandstone fins that were formed when an underlying salt bed shifted and repositioned itself.  Sections of the earths layers turned almost on edge, faults occurred and erosion then stripped away younger rock.  Water seeped into cracks, froze, expanding and breaking off pieces of rock. Wind & water cleaned out these particles and a series of free standing fins remained.  Additional erosion then gradually formed an arch in some fins.

Above - Delicate Arch, one of the most photographed, has an opening of  about 35 ft.  In 2002 the Olympic Torch relay passed through Delicate Arch.  

Utah 006_editedIMG_8427_edited

Balanced Rock   and   Sheep Rock – you can see a sheep’s head at the top left.











The Three Gossips – and typical rock formations around them.

Utah 010_edited

The Windows – North & South.  We were on a nature walk with a Park Ranger.

Utah_editedLandscape Arch – one of the longest natural stone arches in the world with a span of 306 feet and a height of 105 feet.  Since 1991, three large slabs of sandstone have fallen from the thinnest section and the trail that once passed beneath it is now closed.  It was late afternoon when we visited here.

We spent two days, hiking the trails and visiting the many viewpoints.


Another day was spent following the Colorado River north-east as far a Fischer Towers.  We saw the Colorado here as a reasonably placid river but the size and depth of the canyon tells us that this obviously was not always the case. 

The gravel road into the Towers was TERRIBLE – washboard, pot-holes and big rocks. 
Utah 015_edited


The jumble of towers, spires and unusual shapes is set against the background of a solid cliff – quite different than the free standing fins of Arches National Park.

IMG_8509_editedCanyonland National Park is large, 337,570 acres (527 square miles) and lies to the west of Arches and Moab.   It consists of 3 distinct areas although only 2 are accessible by ordinary vehicles.  We spent one day visiting the one area called “Island in the Sky”.  This is a huge level mesa, part of the Colorado plateau, wedged between the Colorado and Green Rivers.  White Rim is an almost continuous sandstone bench 1,200 feet below the island and the rivers are 1,000 feet beneath White Rim.
Utah 018_edited

 A short hike from the road is Mesa Arch (yes, there are many arches located outside Arches NP).  It is exceptional in that it sits on top of, and at the very edge of a 1,000 ft cliff.

The view through the arch was spectacular.

Of note – there are no railings so a miss-step could be deadly. 



There are a number of trails for 4 wheel drive vehicles that descend into and then traverse the canyons.  This is one of the roads as it descends the first 1,000 feet.

Dead Horse Point State Park adjoins Island in the Sky and from it we had more views of the extensive canyon system.

IMG_8516_editedWe left the area on Tuesday, October 29th. and followed Interstate 70 west to Richfield where we were meeting our English friends, Heather and Tony.

Interstate 70 cuts through the San Rafael Reef.  The rock here is at an extremely steep angle and there is about a one mile 8% pull to the top of the San Rafael Swell.  The Swell was formed by a geological uplift and erosion has created deep canyons and towering buttes.  The rock there is gray/beige, not the red of Arches.

We spent the next day with Heather & Tony, getting caught up on happenings since we had met them in Creston, B.C. the latter part of August.  They are on their way east and we had just come from there.

We decided to stay in Richfield for a couple more days and visit Capitol Reef National Park as a day trip with the truck only.

But that’s the next journal.

Bernie & Ross

Posted by Bernice at 12:40 PM | Comments (4)

October 18, 2008

Idaho & Home - Fall 2008


We crossed into Idaho, Sept 25th, on Interstate 15, just south of the hamlet of Monida (a combination of Montana & Idaho).  We travelled over Monida Pass and were obviously in an area where a lot of wind and blowing snow must occur.  For a number of miles we passed permanently installed snow fences, some double and even triple, and were pleased that we were too early for any storms.


An interesting stop in the afternoon was at the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot ( Idaho, of course).  This is the heart of Idaho’s potato industry and the museum had a great variety of exhibits relating to the potato, as well as  numerous antique implements, tools and other related items.  I wouldn’t make a long trip to see it, but it’s certainly worth a stop when passing by.

Our campground for the night was at the Fort Hall Casino.  It was an excellent full service park and only $20 a day.  We stayed two nights, going in to Pocatello to see the city and to get an oil change on the truck.  That is one thing that Ross is very particular about – we get it serviced every 5,000 km. 


We arrived in Utah around noon on Saturday, Sept. 27th and found colour. The hills were beautiful.  We had no idea that there was so much variety out here.

We had decided to stay at the KOA in Salt Lake City as it was quite convenient to the downtown area as well as the airport.  We were flying home on Tue. the 29th  to Toronto and then after picking up a rental car, on to Cambridge for 2 weeks to visit with our family. 

We had made an appointment for Monday with State Trailer, to leave the 5th wheel while we were away.  We needed some work done - our kitchen holding tank was leaking and we needed to have a front jack replaced.

Now, what to do with the truck.  Our flight out was at 8 AM and we wouldn’t arrive back until the 14th at about 8:30 PM.  The only reasonable course was to stay in a hotel both of those night.  So, on to the Internet and then out to see them.  We found a hotel, about 10 minutes from the airport, with a free shuttle to the airport, a continental breakfast and happy to have us leave the truck in their lot for the 2 weeks.  That problem taken care of.

IMG_8291_editedWe spent the Sunday familiarizing ourselves with the city.  One stop we made was to visit the grounds and the tabernacle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – know commonly as the Morman Church.

This is the temple, but non Mormans are banned from entering. The tabernacle – home to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir – is open to everyone and we had a demonstration of the fantastic acoustics. A young lady stood at the dias at one end of the 6,000 seat auditorium and dropped a straight pin.  We could hear it clearly, at the back of the room, as it landed and then bounced twice more.   

It’s very easy to get around Salt Lake City, once you understand the street name system.  There are two main streets, Centre and Main and streets are then named from that intersection.  The first street east is East 100 the second is East 200, etc.  Going south, the first street is South 100 the 2th is South 200 and so on. So, if you want to find 345 West 400 South, you know the location is on West 400 south of Centre Street and between South 300 and South 400.  Now that I have everyone totally confused I’ll tell you why this is important.  Every community in Utah uses this same street numbering system.  Of course, there are a few exception but not enough to really matter.

Our flight was uneventful and we arrived at Michelle’s late Tuesday afternoon, Sept 29th.  Mandi and the two boys arrived from the Bahamas on Thursday, Oct 2nd. (Quincy didn’t come up this time).

What a joy our grandsons are.



Timothy – Michelle’s son – is now 1 year old.  We last saw him in April before we started out and he sure has grown.  He had his birthday on Oct 13th while we were home.  He is such a happy little boy with big smiles and he gives the most wonderful sloppy kisses!


Aiden, Mandi’s younger, we last saw mid January when he was only 2 weeks old. He’s a very hefty little guy that crawls all over the house.  He reached 9 months on Oct 3rd.  They grow so fast!  I felt tired just watching Mandi carry him around all the time.  I know she hopes he walks early.



Ricardo, Mandi’s elder, again last seen in mid January,who just turned 3 on Sep. 29th.  Such a mature young man.  He attends pre-school part days and talks a mile a minute with a vocabulary that amazed us.  So much bigger and older, but still the enthusiastic joyful grandson we have known. 
We had a wonderful time at home but it was busy with every one staying at Shell and Barn’s house.  I’m sure they breathed a sigh of relief  immediately after we all left – and then were lonely for us all.

IMG_8312_sThe first Saturday home, Mandi, Shell and I, along with the little boys went to the “Thomas the Train” show at the Ricoh Centre in Toronto.  Thomas and his friends are favourites of Ricky.  Pretty good show.


One day we went on the excursion train from Waterloo to St. Jacobs, then returned to the Farmer’s Market for a couple of hours before catching another train back to our starting point.  At first Ricky was very timid around the big engine, but with Grandpa’s assurance he really enjoyed himself.

Actually, a pretty good ride, with narration all the way to St. Jacobs.  At one place we could only go 5 mph as we were travelling on 100 year old track.

We travelled right through the University of Waterloo grounds and beside the many buildings of Research in Motion (RIM) – makers of the popular Blackberry.

Our family celebrated our Canadian Thanksgiving on Saturday the11th rather than on Monday the 13th, as that was when the White Clan could get together.  We welcomed Jane (she was with us in Alaska for a couple of weeks) and her family, especially another great nephew - Andrew, 2 months old.  We also were delighted to see our nephew Michael, who had spent about nine months in the southern Sudan, working with the humanitarian organization, Doctors without Borders.  What amazing stories he has to tell.

IMG_8351_editedWe spent a day at the African Lion Safari – an excellent nature park where the visitors are caged and the animals roam quite free.  Actually, what happens is you drive your car or take a mini-bus through the park – and you can’t get out.  The signs say “Trespassers May be Eaten”.

We took the mini-bus and had a great time seeing so many animals up close. 


Another reason we didn’t drive is the baboons.  They climb all over the cars and vans and they don’t care if they scratch.  Our van driver stopped near all of the animals and also narrated our tour.  We were probably stopped from close to 10 – 15 minutes in the baboon area as they as so interesting.   However, at the exit gate, there is a park staff with a large stick.  Apparently, the baboons sometimes try to hitch a ride to other parts of the park.

We had dentist and doctor appointments, had lunches with friends and spent wonderful time with family.  We also were able to cast our advance vote in the Federal Election.  After listening for almost 2 years to the U.S. political election run up, it was refreshing to know that our election was called and over in 40 days. 

The two weeks went by very quickly.  Mandi and the boys left on Monday the 13th, and we returned to Salt Lake City on the 14th.

We missed them, but we were glad to be going back to our own home.  Yes, it may be only a 5th wheel – but it is home.  We’ll tell you more of our homecoming in the next journal.

Bernie & Ross


Posted by Bernice at 05:56 PM | Comments (6)