Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Chasing Petroglyphs: Needles Canyonland Overlook

I don’t know what I would do without Google Maps; I use them to plan trips, I use them to calculate time and distance, I use them to find exactly where to make my turn, etc. And now and then Google Maps gets eccentric on me.

On our last trip in France, driving from Domme to Salers, Google maps had us on treacherous mountain tracks that were single lane, and timber trucks were coming at us. At one point, Adventureman said “stick to the paper map and major roads, no matter what Google Maps says” and he was right.

This time, taking the road to Needles Overlook, the Google lady kept telling us we had arrived and to turn around, the road had ended, when we could see it, paved and smooth, right in front of us. Weird.

We were so glad we persisted. The Needles Overlook is one of the most spectacular viewpoints we have ever seen. All told, you can probably see nearly 300°; not from one point but by following the paths to the different viewpoints. Just when you think it can’t get any better, it does.

OK, this is indelicate, but travelers know, take advantage of every opportunity because you never know when the next opportunity will appear. I told AdventureMan I was going to check the convenience, and he said “I hope they have toilet paper” and when I got inside, I just laughed. I’ve never seen so much toilet paper in one loo.

June 13, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Geography / Maps, Living Conditions, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Chasing Petroglyphs: Newspaper Rock, Needles and Canyonland

As AdventureMan reads through these posts, he delights in how much he has already forgotten, and he looks forward to reading about what he called “one of our light days.”

I look at him in astonishment. As occasionally happens, I remember things very differently,

“We got a relaxed start,” I begin, which in our language means we did not hit the road at the crack of dawn, but maybe around 0830, “but we were on the road until about 2:00! And it was some tough driving! No place to stop for lunch, we just had apples and oranges by the side of the road.” And water. Lots and lots of water. It was again in the 90’s, and very dry, and there are signs everywhere warning us to drink water.

We don’t have to start from Moab, we just reach SR 191 and turn south. The first thing we come across is Wilson’s Arch:

And another place called Hole in the Wall, but I can’t tell if it is a famous Hole in the Wall or an adventure outfitting place. There is an ATV perched precariously on the top of the cliff.

We turned off 191 to go to Canyonlands, and soon came to Newspaper Rock.

Early on, I mentioned how fragile and transient petroglyphs can be. We don’t really know who made them. We know that many of the earliest petroglyphs incised were written over, improved, by later early peoples. And then, modern day man, who had done the most damage of all – carving his initials over ancient glyphs, removing glyphs, defacing glyphs, rubbing glyphs (thus eroding their edges and making them more vulnerable to weathering elements), chalking glyphs to make them more visible, even touching glyphs leaves chemicals that damage the quality of the glyphs.

When we got to Newspaper Rock, we parked at the wrong end of the parking lot and ended up on a trail going entirely the wrong way. AdventureMan kept saying he thought we needed to go back, but the further along we got, the more I thought we were on the right track – until the track ended. We walked back, and just at the other end of the parking lot was the Newspaper Rock – near the road and protected by a large grill.

The thing is – I saw others, too, nearby. I am so thankful they protected Newspaper Rock, because through the years many of the incisions have been defaced. I am hoping that the others are being protected by the very lack of trails and signage, by the lack of publicity. It’s a pity we should have to protect the petroglyphs from our own citizens.

On the wrong track, but the track led to more surfaces

Back on the right track

I think of Newspaper Rock as a kind of scratch pad. Even Leonardo da Vinci, the great inventor, engineer and artist, made sketches before he executed a masterpiece. I can see traces of the Fremont peoples, and I can see scraps of petroglyphs we have viewed in Vernal.

AdventureMan found Newspaper Rock a very emotional experience. He felt connected to these early people. When I look at these footprints of all sizes dancing around, I feel their joy. And look at the hand – that is almost modern in it’s representation of a human hand; and I think back to the petroglyphs at White Mountain which may have represented the human hand or may have represented the terror of a bear claw. These feet are so happy, and, interestingly, so similar in form. I wonder how they were formed?

I’ve broken the wall into different panels with photographs; taken in total, it is overwhelming.

Much more modern era; we see horses introduced

Those lines – snakes? Rivers? Directions? A life?

I would guess this central figure is a shaman, with what coming off his headdress? Some kind of special decoration on his legs? The target symbol, as opposed to the spiral? The smaller horned man? All those animals – prayers for a good hunt? Celebration of a good hunt?

This one intrigues me – a scorpion? It is just weird!

A dancing bison? Look at the feet and . . . um . . . feet; they are very hoof like. An elk with a magnificent rack and maybe a spear in it’s side?

These last two are not with the others. I believe some well-meaning guide has chalked them so that visitors can see the faint traces.

And this is what the Newspaper Rock looks like in total.

We were no longer alone. Visitors from all over the world were coming, looking and photographing.

We drove to the end of the drivable-without-dire-warnings road. The scenery was increasingly arid and bleak, with it’s own terrible beauty. At one point, we were about to hike out to an old dwelling cave, and we looked at each other. It was noon, and signs everywhere were saying “do not hike in the hottest hours” and it was HOT. We drank some water, ate some oranges, got back in the car, reluctant to pass on an adventure, but happy to pass on potential disaster.

There was actually a ranch out here, and this was the last water we saw. It’s still Spring.

Just a half mile there, and a half mile back . . . we passed.

June 13, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Geography / Maps, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Public Art, Road Trips, Safety, Travel, Weather | , , , | Leave a comment

Chasing Petroglyphs: White Mountain, Eden and the Pilot Butte Ponies

Route for May 22, 2022

This morning, we slept in. Well, 0830 is sleeping in for us, it’s 9:30 in Pensacola and we are up and ready to hit the day. It is a quiet Sunday morning. We have a quick breakfast at the Outlaw Inn, and head out with our friend Google Maps to find White Mountain, and our first petroglyphs of the trip.

It’s an easy drive, just turn right outside the Outlaw Inn and then turn right onto a pretty good County Road. It’s a dirt road, but well maintained. Then we turn onto another county road, a road less travelled. And then Google tells us we’ve missed our exit to White Mountain. What?? There was not a sign of an exit! Not a road sign, not a track, not a visible indicator of a way. We back up. We get out. Oh. There. Faint tire marks turning off the road. AdventureMan goes further on foot to make sure the road continues.

The tracks are more visible once you are actually out in the field. We have an AWD vehicle, we have experience – so we decide to continue on the track. We continue for about half a mile, and the ground is softer. We have visions of being rescued, elderly, dehydrated, because we’ve bogged down out of sight of any road . . . we turn back and decide to follow the county road.

We are so glad we do. Just a couple miles further, we see signs for White Mountain Petroglyphs, and then come to a legitimate turn-off, a marked turn-off. Part way to White Mountain we see those tracks join the road, and we are glad we are not still out there in the field, worried about getting stuck in the sand, no shovels, no cardboard, nothing to help us free ourselves.

Although remote, there is a parking lot, a long-drop toilet, and a clear trail to the base of the mountain, and a clear trail – straight up.

Although Rock Springs is not as high up as Denver, we are still adjusting to the altitude and the dryness of the air. It is still cold, we are glad of it, because the hike heats us up and we take it at a comfortable pace because the air is so dry and our lips and faces are chapping.

Totally worth the hike. While these are not the best-preserved petroglyphs we’ve ever seen, they are original and intriguing. There is also a lot of modern-day petrographic activity of the high school demographic.

Elk

Bear Eating Deer?

The standard rule with petroglyphs (carved into rock) and petrographs (drawn onto rock) is NO TOUCHING. No rubbing, no outlining with chalk, nothing which might degrade the incision or erode the lines. Someone has used chalk, probably a guide, to help viewers understand what they are seeing. If you know anything about petroglyphs, you know that we can speculate, we can ask modern-day First Nation people, and in the end, it is all speculation. Are they celebrating a triumphal hunt? Are they imploring the spirits to be available for the hunt? Are these incised bear claws a tribute to the bear’s strength? A brag about a bear-clan strength? We can only guess.

Is this a birth petroglyh? Is it celebrating a real event or is it a metaphor? So many questions!

An idea of hands? Bear claws?

Impressive. Deep bear claw impressions – how long did it take to make these?

The zigzag – is that for long life? A direction to go for game?

Some are really hard to see on the rock faces, depending on the light and angle

View from White Mountain of Boars Tusk and Killpecker Sand Dunes, the largest living sand dunes in the USA

Boars Tusk is the remnant of an ancient volcano thrust 400 feed above the plain; an instantly recognizable landmark for hikers (and people looking for White Mountain.)

Boars Tusk with Killpecker Sand Dunes in background

We are pumped. We’ve spent a couple hours traipsing around the mountain, seeking out these obscure petroglyphs, trying to decipher what they were meant to communicate. Bottom line – we don’t know, but we are exhilarated and delighted to have found this site.

The county road loops back around to the main road to Farson, and we know that just short of Farson is the Sweet Water Smoke, a barbecue restaurant we’d like to try. We are famished. Hiking and cold fresh air will do that to you!

We find Sweet Water Smoke and are delighted. It is small, and four of the five tables are taken, which leaves one for us. The entire time we were there, people were coming and going, take out orders rolling out the door, this place is humming with activity.

And no wonder! This is not ordinary barbecue! Their cole slaw is Sriracha cole slaw. They offer roasted brussel sprouts as a side, along with more traditional baked beans, macaroni and cheese, etc. I was just blown away to find roasted brussel sprouts as a side in a small Wyoming town. We remember one time traveling through Wyoming when we felt desperate for vegetables and were told to go to this “wonderful restaurant with a salad bar.” The steak was delicious. The salad bar had potato salad, cottage cheese, jello salad, and macaroni salad.

Sweet Water Smoke changes out two additional entrees every week and features a goat-cheese cheesecake with chocolate ganache. Who could resist?

There is a route we want to follow next, the Pilot Butte Road, which is supposed to be challenging, but I think they may have improved the road since we read the warnings because it was easy with our AWD. Having said that, we passed another group busy changing a tire; the road was dirt and gravel and some potholes. Not what we would consider challenging, but a road where we took care.

We were looking for the herds of wild ponies.

Petrified log alongside the guide sign

No wild horses in sight, but some mind-blowing expanses of scenery along the track. There were inescapable signs of wild horses, piles and piles of signs of wild horses, but we never saw a single wild horse.

Pilot Butte, after which the trail is named

In front of us is a valley where Interstate 80, the old Lincoln Highway, runs. It is also where the Pony Express trail ran before the coast-to-coast railroad took over prompt mail delivery. It makes me sad to see that prompt delivery of mail is no longer a priority for the US Mail system. Here also ran several of the migratory trails as America moved westward. What courage and initiative it took – blasting away hills, bridging canyons and rivers, tunneling through mountains and building across swamps – feats of imagination and engineering. We are in awe of the minds that solved these problems.

June 11, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Bureaucracy, Cultural, Geography / Maps, Restaurant, Road Trips, Survival, Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chasing Petroglyphs: A Day for Blizzards En Route to the Elk Hunting Capitol of the World

From time to time, we have a moment of reckoning. We love adventure. We always have. It is wired into our beings. And every now and then, we catch a glimpse of who we might also be, people in their seventies, “elderly” and vulnerable. We realize that today is risky. The weather forecasts are dire. Should we cancel?

We load up the car and head for Snooze, a popular breakfast stop, where I stoke my engine with an oatmeal covered with fruit, and AdventureMan has an omelette with cheese and bacon and hash browns. We stop at Trader Joe’s for an empty liquor box which serves for the rest of the trip as “The Food Box” and keeps our things from rolling around.

Google Maps gets us out of town, on to I-70 and we begin to see little specks of something that might be snow, but we agree that as long as the roads are clear, we are good to go. We do forego the very track-like road for an exit with a more used road, and head north, to Craig, Colorado, The Elk Hunting Capitol of the World.

The higher we got, the colder it got, but lucky for us, it just stayed that way until we left I-70 for highway 40 going north and west through Steamboat Springs to Craig. Here, on the two-lane highway, things slowly got a little dicey. Cars coming toward us were covered with snow. The sleet had turned into a light snow, and the temperatures had now dropped down into the 20’s.

We went through several mountain passes, the snow getting heavier, and beginning to accumulate on the highway. We slowed down. Fortunately, most of the other drivers were also slowing down; you can’t always tell where the ice patches are forming just by looking. We knew we had come through the worst of it when, after the last pass (where I almost felt like I was having trouble breathing) we saw trucks pulling over and taking off their chains, a really good sign.

We were so glad to get to Steamboat Springs. Our short drive had taken four hours, crawling along with low vizibility.

Steamboat Springs is a ski town, with high-end gift shops. This one had a full dinosaur skeleton leg for sale. I could see it in some nouveau-timber-lodge with high ceilings, but I shudder at the thought. We grab sandwiches, enjoy a walk around the town, and head off the few remaining miles to Craig. For a this leg of the drive, we even see some blue sky.

“Why are we going to Craig?” AdventureMan asked, “even though it is the ‘Elk hunting capital of the world?” 

About five years ago, we made a change in our travel habits. I grew up in a family that got up early, drove hell-bent-for-leather as far as we could go, sometimes 12 or 14 hours straight, a habit my husband never loved nor developed. Finally, I figured out there were other options, and we decided on “shorter days and longer stays.” Now, we are much happier travelers, and our adventures have fewer cross moments. 

“Craig is about halfway to Rock Springs,” I responded. “I knew we could drive the whole distance in one day but it would kill us. So I broke the day up, and Craig had these interesting cabins, Wild Skies Cabins. I’m interested to see what they are like.”

I often take a chance on something a little out of our lane, just to see how it works out. Then, I worry that it isn’t going to be a good thing. We found the cabins, and just as we started to unload our bags, we were hit with a furious flurry of snow.

The cabin was simple, and warm. We bundled the minimum necessary inside and AdventureMan just grinned. It’s just what we like. It isn’t large, but it is cozy, it has wood carved furniture, wood-paneled walls, a refrigerator, a microwave, and wi-fi. He loved that the comforters and sheets had fish and bear and canoes; he says it reminds him of boy scout camp. It is not fancy, but it is very private. From our deck we can see a herd of pronghorn deer settling in for the night. By the way, not a single elk in sight.

Don’t you love those sheets and comforters? The sheets are flannel! AND, we have some of the best Chinese food, still chilled and plentiful, to warm in the microwave, so we don’t even have to go out into the snow.

It’s always exhilarating to survive an adventure 🙂

View of our cabin as we leave the next day.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Climate Change, Geography / Maps, Road Trips, Survival, Travel, Wildlife | , , , | Leave a comment

Chasing Petroglyphs: Mostly Remote

Arrival in Denver

How often in life do you get to say “Best Trip Ever!” I can think of two or three trips we have taken which qualify, even though on two of them one of us ended up sick a couple days. This trip, no one got sick, and there were no bad surprises.

You’ve seen this map before, when we were in the planning stages; nothing changed. We flew to Denver with American Airlines. Because we believe COVID is contagious, we chose to fly Business Class and to wear masks. The unpublished contagion rate in Florida hit almost 20% this week, so we are trying to eliminate as many opportunities to catch COVID as possible.

As AdventureMan says, “On a good flight, the number of landings is equal to the number of take-offs.” Our standards are low, but exacting. We had a great ride to the airport (our son) and plenty of time to get through TSA. We had two segments, plenty of time in Dallas-Fort Worth to connect for Denver, and while the food was negligible, there were no fights on board that we know of, we boarded and deplaned quickly; we have no complaints.

Denver was easy. When we got to the car rental lot, they did not have our reservation but with some work, were able to find it and gave AdventureMan his choice of cars, so he chose a sporty Nissan Rogue with ski racks on top. It’s 90 degrees F in Denver, but so dry we have to apply Vaseline to our lips every fifteen minutes or so.

LOL, notice the Florida license plates. We can run, but we can’t hide.

We chose to go VRBO in Denver; we wanted to be near to Little Diamond, who used to come visit us in Germany, in Doha and in Kuwait. We wanted to have time where we could catch up, and we wanted to have some time with her two beautiful children.

The VRBO was lovely, cool and spacious, and surrounded by a gorgeous garden that smelled good! The lilacs – so many lilacs! – were in full bloom, the iris were in full bloom, Spring was springing forth with exuberance!

We were hungry. We had landed around lunch time; by the time we rounded up the car and found the VRBO, we were really hungry, so we headed for Colfax Street, full of eating opportunities. We laughed that we would end up at YaYa’s, but it was so much fun. YaYa is Turkish, his wife is Nepalese, and his employees are Saudi Arabian, Tunisian and Yemini. It’s like a mini-UN, and they all work together and get along. The food was also delicious.

Yaya in cap

We started with the lentil soup, and shared a hummus. AdventureMan chose a felafel sandwich and I chose a lamb kebab.

Storefront
Addas
Hummos

As we finished, a man was washing the front window, so we got to walk through the kitchen, really fun for us to go behind the scenes. Yaya told us he had served both the Royals and the Cowboys that day, a very busy day, but that it was really wonderful to have customers IN the restaurant again. This was a lovely way to start our time in Denver.

We took Colfax into downtown Denver, loving the vibe. Downtown is alive, people really live there, it is full of businesses – and high cost parking. Lots of public art, a feeling of energy and optimism in Denver.

We headed back, stopped by Little Diamond’s house and took her dog for a walk, headed over to our VRBO for a little late afternoon snooze. As the VRBO was close to Little Diamond’s house, she popped by and we all went to dinner at the True Food Kitchen in nearby Cherry Creek. As usual with her, once we start talking, it never stops. We had so much catching up to do, and her life is so busy, complex and satisfying. We hated for the evening to end.

At the VRBO, I am noticing the internet works great. In fact, almost every place we stayed, the internet worked great. So great that I am forced to think I need to commit to confronting my behemoth provider in Pensacola about how often my service drops connection, even after they provided me with something they said would blow my mind with its speed and connection. I am not blown away, and using the speedy, reliable internet along this trip has brought that to my attention in a way I can’t ignore.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Family Issues, Food, Geography / Maps, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Public Art, Road Trips, Travel, Weather | , , | Leave a comment

Coming Up: Red Desert, Dinosaurs, Petroglyphs and Night Skies Travel

Denver, Red Desert (WY), Dinosaur Monument (UT), Moab, Breckenridge, Denver

We take small local trips, but this is our first Spring Out-West trip since last year. We’ve got some highlights – seeing our niece in Denver (early readers know her as Little Diamond) and getting to know her growing children, staying in the Elk Hunting capitol of the world, Craig, Colorado (well, just because who knew?), exploring the Red Desert of Wyoming and visiting remote and rarely seen petroglyphs and pictographs, on through the Flaming Gorge to the Dinosaur National Monument, and then down to a cabin just south of Moab where we will be heading down to the Canyon of the Ancients, near the four corners area of the United States, for more exploration of ancient ruins, focusing on petroglyphs and pictographs. From there, a family meet-up in Breckenridge, a stay with my sister in Colorado Springs, and back up for one last family visit in Denver before we fly back to Pensacola.

Monument Valley Petroglyph

Grand Escalante Petroglyph
Moab Petroglyph

The trip focuses on remote locations, petroglyphs, pictographs, and lesser-visited sites with dark skies, where we will stay mostly in cabins. We are always up to try to find an unknown gem, like the Traveler’s Rest Cabins, where we stay on the east side of Glacier National Park. (I see they are now for sale; I can only hope the new owners are as wonderful as the current sellers.)

Sometimes when choosing a hotel or restaurant, I am hooked by a clever name, so in Rock Springs, WY we will stay at the Outlaw Inn. It’s a Best Western, not a cabin, but I love the name. Rock Springs is also famous for herds of wild horses and outdoor activities.

The whole trip is outdoor activities, with an occasional visit to a specialty museum or two to help us understand what we see. We have two reservations at Arches National Park, the earliest reservations we could get so as to have the benefits of fewer people and the glorious morning light hitting the arches, and reservations for a sunset cruise on the Colorado River, for the same reasons – views with the glorious light of sunset. My husband wants to eat at a famous restaurant, the Sunset Grill, overlooking Moab, so we will make reservations far in advance – the place fills up quickly.

When we land, whether it’s Bozeman, Denver, Juneau, Portland or Seattle, we always give ourselves enough time to visit a local store to stock up on water, apples, oranges, peanut butter, crackers and necessities like tissues, paper towels, toilet paper, insect repellant, sunscreen – anything we might need and not want to carry in our suitcases. It gives us a lot of flexibility, so we don’t have to worry about finding a meal when we are remote. On the other hand, we love a good meal, so we plan to find places in advance, and make reservations. It works for us.

I’m getting excited just writing about it. Planning trips has gotten me through the COVID desert; even just doing the research and getting reservations gets my blood going faster as we anticipate new sights and experiences, new adventures.

And yes, I’m taking you with me 🙂

April 28, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Eating Out, Geography / Maps, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Spiritual, Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Into the Great Wide Open: Day 12, Jackson Hole to Bozeman through Idaho

I have a Swedish sausage with my breakfast, because of Swedish descent as I am, I have never had a Swedish sausage. I like the taste, but not the consistency, which is kind of loose and crumbly. Great coffee, great muesli and love those berries. 

Very hazy day, trouble with allergies and breathing due to particulate matter from raging forest fires

Gas leaving Jackson Hole is $3.99 a gallon at the cheapest station.

I take a photo of the motel we stayed more than forty years ago, just outside Jackson Hole, when we were traveling across the USA in our Volkswagon Bus en route to Monterey, CA for grad school and language school and knew we couldn’t afford to stay inside Jackson Hole. We were right across from the Elk reserve, and once we got our little baby to sleep, we sat outside and watched the enormous herd of elk as they munched and wandered. It isn’t so far outside Jackson Hole, now, and I am glad it is still there. 

This is the second day where we experience haze. We drive up over the mountains into Idaho, and spend a couple hours on very rural highways sharing the road with large combines, harvesters and all kinds of farm equipment. 

The scenery starts to change when we near Big Sky and the Gallatin River. Lunch was apples with peanut butter alongside a road with trucks whizzing by.

Marriott Residence Inn

Once again, our hotel room is not ready. As we wait, another man gets the same response and also that he will not be on his requested floor. He is very angry, says he reserved a month ago (!) and wants to be accommodated. Later I ask the desk clerk if they are having problems with finding people to work and she says yes, that it is a problem everywhere in Bozeman. I suspect that they have closed off the top floor and are also limiting the number of people they can serve until they can guarantee the ability to take care of them. 

I am thinking that this has a lot to do with demographics, and problems with finding good, reliable, safe child care, and finding jobs which will protect their workers and also provide benefits. We can see that many of the hotels are now offering health insurance and educational benefits to the people they hire. I am thinking the labor market has a little leverage, and they are using it to better their conditions. 

And yes, that may inconvenience business owners and managers, and inconvenience customers, like us, but for the greater good, perhaps we can find a balance where everyone wins?

Our room is lovely, and quiet, and spacious. 

We have reservations for dinner at Blacksmith Italian, a restaurant we both found intriguing. Bossy Lady totally screwed up getting us there, sometimes she doesn’t really know everything, but she got us close enough and we figured out the rest. 

The minute we walked in, we knew we were in the right place. It was full of local people. The plates coming out looked very fine. The smells were delicious.

We split a platter of meats and cheeses; it was full of delicate tidbits, duck and Italian sausage and tiny pickled peppers filled with ricotta, etc. This came with crispy tasty triangular bread, a little salty, very tasty. AdventureMan had mussels and a side of pasta as his main course, and I had calamari with a Putenesca sauce and a side of pasta. The sauce was fabulous; I didn’t even need the calamari, the sauce was so engaging. The wines were equally good; I had a Barbera and AdventureMan has a Lacryma Cristi white wine which was so good, I ordered it the next night.

Calimari with Puttanesca Sauce
Side order of pasta

Yes. It was so good we reserved for the next night, too. It would be our last night in Bozeman, might as well end on a high note.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Eating Out, Food, Geography / Maps, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel, Work Related Issues | , , , | Leave a comment

Into The Great Wide Open, Day 11, Mammoth Hot Springs to The Tetons and Jackson Hole

It is COLD! It is sunny! It is gorgeous! It is one of the prettiest days of our trip as we leave Mammoth Springs. I make AdventureMan stop several times, trying to capture how beautiful is the frost in the shadows between Mammoth Springs and Old Faithful. 

I’m trying to show you frost in the fields . . .
Can you see the white frost?
There it is! It shows up better in the shadows! (AdventureMan is very patient with me)
It is August 29th, and this field is still with thick white frost!
The heat of the volcanic fissures show up particularly well on cold days

We come to a traffic clog – buffalo crossing. We are patient, it is entirely possible on this route that these are people who have never seen bison before. They are jumping out of their cars and seem a little wild with excitement. 

I can never get enough of Roaring Mountain. AdventureMan is being a good-sport; see the halo of light spotlighting him?

We crossed the Continental Divide at least three times.

The drive is just breathtaking.

Lewis Falls

Around noon, we leave Yellowstone and are immediately in the Tetons, which we begin to see to the West.

We find the Flagg Ranch Lodge on our right, just in time for lunch. It is a lovely lodge, but you can see that the season is already lagging; the express shop is open but the gift shop is closed.

See the Pay Phone?

AdventureMan stops to get a map of the area and I see an oddity, a pay phone. When was the last time you saw a working public pay phone? After lunch, we try to call our son and discover we are in an area with zero bars. Now the pay phone makes all kinds of sense.

I have soup, and the Prismatic Salad, AdventureMan has the Pig Whistle Salad, and lunch is delicious. We talk with our servers; one is a trucker who works during the season with his partner at Flagg Ranch. Off-season, they go back to California.

Great Prismatic Salad
Pig Whistle Salad

We stop several places to take in Lake Jackson; we can see it has been greatly depleted by the drought, but also replenished somewhat by the heavy rains tamping down the forest fires. Near Lake Jackson, the air starts to get a little hazier from forest fire related particulate matter. 

Look at those gorgeous blues and greens!

The Tetons are grand. Impressive. Awe-inspiring. We can’t get enough. 

Coming in, we are directed by the Bossy Lady to Moose Wilson Road, isn’t that a great name? There is a large parking lot, and multiple signs warning people that this little dirt road is only for cars, no getting out of cars, no walking and no stopping. There is a ranger in the parking lot – in fact, every time we take this road, which is like four different times because the Bossy Lady sent us over this road to get to different places. In spite of the signs, inspire of the ranger presence, people were . . . stopping. Getting out of their cars. Walking. This is a protected wildlife track, bear, moose, deer. 

Alpenhof Hotel

We arrive shortly at The Alpenhof, in Teton Village, and our room is ready. It looks very German to me, but it is actually very Swiss, German Swiss I suppose. Our room makes me smile; it has so many familiar German touches. It is a nice large room, opening out to a balcony shielded by fresh smelling pines. We can hear the funicular in the background, squeaking now and then as the little carriers round the bend coming down and going up. 

Great reading lights 😉
Funicular going up mountain

We walk around, take a sweet nap and have dinner reservations at the hotel restaurant. AdventureMan and I met in Germany; we still have a weakness for German food. Reservations are strictly required, we must be masked, and we see people turned away who do not have reservations. 

As we are waiting, a couple comes in and asks the Maitre d’ if they have “Sloshies.” The Maitre d’ says no, but they can find them in the Bodega at the nearby filling station. The couple tell us that Jackson Hole is famous for “Sloshies” and exit to go find them. They also start a tirade against masking, social distancing and young people who won’t work because they are getting unemployment. If you’ve ever worked with the poor, you know that unemployment doesn’t do it. It is just a supplement.

Dining Room: The Alpen Rose
I really liked this beer, like beer with fruit on a hot summer day in Germany

We are seated, and the menu is lovely. We both decide on salad and a Jaegerschnitzel. If we had known how large they were, we might have thought to share one, but we didn’t, and in truth, while they appeared huge, they were pounded thin, and deliciously prepared with a wine-mushroom sauce. We each ate our entire schnitzels with no problem. We also shared a dessert they called Heisse Liebe, (Hot Love!) but we used to eat along the Hauptstrasse in Heidelberg and it was called Heiss und Eis, vanilla ice cream with a hot sauce made of fresh raspberries and a little liqueur poured over the ice cream. Divine. Heaven. 

We took another walk around the village and called it a night, glad we also have reservations the next night at the same restaurant. 

September 15, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, Eating Out, Food, Geography / Maps, Hotels, Privacy, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Into the Great Wide Open: Day 6, Helena to Livingston and Chico Hot Springs

Breakfast was lovely. There were beautiful hot scones waiting on the table for us, light and fluffy scones, not the crusty tough kind. The hostess, Pat, baked them herself, as well as the breakfast frittata, served with sausages and hot pots of coffee and cream. It was a great way to start the day. 

Carolina B&B Breakfast Room
Coffee and Tea Service
Sun Porch/Reading Room
Carolina Frittata, Sausage and Fruit
Pat’s Famous Scones

At breakfast we met Dave and Carol, from Everett, WA, who were married five years ago at The Carolina and who come back every year to celebrate their anniversary there, they love it so much. 

We drive towards our next stop, Chico Hot Springs, but we stop once again in Townsend. We have been looking for a car wash, our time in Glacier National Park has left us mud-stained and mud splashed; we have dead bugs on our windshield and every time I lean on the car to take a photo, I end up with mud on my legs.

We have MUD everywhere

We really like Townsend. We love the sign in the car wash. I love that while I am reading some Montana mysteries, Townsend is mentioned here and there, and I have a photo of the Commercial Bar, notorious among alcoholic cops and people who start drinking early in the morning. 

The Great Wide Open
“You know those are not real horses don’t you?” No. I didn’t recognize it was an art installation.

It is a beautiful day. 

On every trip, I try to schedule a wild card. A wild card means I don’t really know if we are going to like this or not, it might be out of our comfort zone, but we might also stretch and find we enjoy it. I had found Chico Hot Springs in Paradise Valley, another place frequently mentioned in Montana detective series, and had reserved a rustic cabin, which happened to be all they had left that looked like what we might like. I was making reservations early in December, so I thought it odd that so much was already reserved.

So on our drive, I experience a few little anxieties, like did I make sure this “rustic cabin” has it’s own bathroom? What if it has a musty smell? What if this is some kind of tawdry experience that we might find distasteful?

We stop in Livingston en route; we want to visit the Railroad Museum and to have lunch at the Murray Hotel, where we had reservations last year we had to cancel when COVID overturned everyone’s lives.

Livingston, MT
Murray Hotel, where we would have stayed

The railroad museum was fabulous. AdventureMan loves history and loves railroads. I found some really cool movies, one in particular, Invisible Boundaries which tracks Yellowstone’s Great Animal Migrations. The film was gorgeous. Some of was filmed from helicopters, some by an independent filmmaker who trekked with wildlife specialists and a wildlife artist. The film is lush with color and action; the still shots and the artwork are breathtaking. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me.

The Cashier at the Railroad Museum told us many people come to Livingston to visit Dan Bailey’s, famous for angling outfitting

We had thought we would eat at the Murray, but saw Fiesta de Jalisco and had a craving for Mexican food, so we ate there. It was another restaurant which was careful – seating was separated, people were masked (not while eating). Best of all, the food was really good. I had a chicken mole’ and AdventureMan had a tamale and taco. 

“You have to see the rest room!” AdventureMan tells me

(We were greatly surprised that in all the tourist spots, prices were so reasonable. We think Pensacola has a reasonable cost-of-living; the places we found in Montana and Wyoming – OUTSIDE the national parks – were not more expensive than Pensacola.)

We walked after lunch, and found a cute gift shop where I asked if they had any cherry juice from the Flathead valley, and the woman running the shop looked at me and said “We don’t have it here, but I think I know someone who does” and called a friend. “Yes! She has it!” she told me, so we walked to the Copper Moose where we found the cherry juice and all kinds of wonderful Montana specialties, and some great conversation. We love bringing back local treasures to our family when we travel, and we found some really great treasures at the Copper Moose. We bough the large bottle of cherry juice; we should have bought two bottles, we love it so much. It is tasty, without being too sweet. It mixes well with water or with gin or tonic or seltzer. We were looking for a liqueur to pour over ice cream, like Chambord, but we never found it.

Chico Hot Springs was just a short drive down Paradise Valley from Livingston. Chico Hot Springs was really fun. Our cabin was not ready, but they checked us in, gave us wrist bands to use for the hot springs, and towels and said they would call when the cabin was ready. Just as we had parked, our cabin was ready, so we quickly drove up the hill to our cabin, dropped our gear, (checked to make sure there was a bathroom, and there was) and headed back to the springs.

C.J.Box, in his Highway Series, refers to the old Chico Springs as a former Sanitarium.

AdventureMan had told me he would just sit in the sun; not me! Hot Springs are natural! They have minerals! We used to live in Wiesbaden where people came from miles away and paid a lot to “take the waters.” I hadn’t been in ten minutes when AdventureMan came and joined me. I was delighted. It’s out of his comfort zone. We need experiences out of our comfort zone, we are still capable of growth and new experiences.

After a short while, we headed back to the room for a short nap before dinner. I caught up on my trip notes while AdventureMan went deep into sleep. By dinnertime, we were both relaxed, refreshed and ready.

View toward mountains
Dining Room at Chico Hot Springs

Reservations were a must. The Hotel had contacted me a couple months before and notified me that because of COVID, and employee shortages, and a requirement to socially distance, and the high volume of people wanting to eat in their dining room, if we wanted to eat there, we really needed to make a reservation, which I had made. 

We had an isolated table. Everyone there did. We had a delightful server, Purity, who really knew the menu and the wines. I discovered they had a very large wine tasting room just off the nearby bar, with a lovely selection of amazing wines.

Everything I ordered was off the evening specials menu – they had me at Butternut squash soup and Alaskan halibut. AdventureMan had Prince Edward Island Mussels and the Alaskan halibut, we both had white Bordeaux to drink and ended the meal by sharing a creme brûlée. The meal was magnificent, one of the best on our trip, probably because the wine was so perfect with the meals.

It was nearing sunset. We decided to take a drive along an unpaved road leading out of the hot springs area down into a valley area. We saw a mother deer with two fawns, and we watched the sun set behind a mountain. When we got back to the cabin, there was a fowl – a grouse (?) without fear, waiting to greet us. AdventureMan said he heard coyotes yipping nearby during the night; I slept through it. Our cabin was isolated from the main part of the hot springs complex, and very quiet. We had a wonderful sleep in this rustic cabin. 

One of the things AdventureMan says he loved about these rustic cabins was that they had great lights for reading. We don’t understand why hotels and inns have beautiful nightstands, and even maybe beautiful lights, but the bulbs are puny and they don’t put out enough light by which to read. Chico Hot Springs rustic cabins had good lighting to read by, and lots of hooks to hang up our clothes. We also had all the privacy in the world; the rustic cabins were relatively remote. 

September 14, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, Customer Service, Food, Geography / Maps, Health Issues, Hotels, Local Lore, Privacy, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Into the Great Wide Open: Day 5 East Glacier to Helena

AdventureMan and I have different perspectives on this day. He thinks it wasn’t so bad. I think it was the worst day of our trip.

It started off great. We slept in – well, until 0730, which for my body time is 0830. We ate breakfast, packed out, thoroughly appreciating our three nights at Traveler’s Rest and the spaciousness and convenience of our beautiful cabin there. 

View of Traveler’s Rest From SR2

AdventureMan suggested one last drive to Two Medicine, and it was beautiful, a totally different day from our first drive.

On the way back, we stopped at the glorious Glacier Park Lodge, and then for our last time at the Glacier Trading Post and picked up two pieces of huckleberry pie for the road. The crust on these pies is as delicious as their fillings!

Glacier Park Lodge

As we head out of Browning, AdventureMan says “We can turn off the Bossy Lady now; we have been on this road so often we know the way without her, and you can turn her back on when we get near Helena.”

This wind farm went on for miles!

Long story short, an hour or so down the road, AdventureMan says “None of this looks familiar!” I say sure it does, because it’s all rural stuff, grain and storage for grain, railroad tracks, but it nags at me that AdventureMan might be right. 

When I check, we are on A road but not the road we had intended. This road takes us to Great Falls and the interstate. We near Great Falls around lunch, find the Bear Diner and have what we agree is the most forgettable meal of our entire trip. 

Cute place, large menu

AdventureMan is right, it wasn’t a bad place, the service was good, I was just grumpy to be in Great Falls and eating calories that didn’t thrill me.

It is August, and nearly 80°F and this is at the entrance of the Bear Diner. It gave me a chill knowing winter can arrive suddenly, and it is best to be prepared.

This is also a day when there is a lot of haze, and I am a little nervous about breathing the particulate matter from the burning wildfires.

Carolina Bed and Breakfast, Helena, MT

We get back on the road and arrive in Helena at 2:00, early for our B & B reservation. Fortunately for us, the room at The Carolina B&B is ready, and the hostess is very gracious, welcomes us, shows us to our room, The Anisette, and shows us around the beautiful mansion, full of beautiful furniture, carefully gathered, curated with care, and china, and exotic curios, full of artistic works and models and framed art. Everywhere you look is something of interest. 

Our room, the Anisette, which has a bathroom behind the mirrored door
Bathroom next door to our room; not all rooms had their own bathrooms
A gathering room on the top floor
Bedroom on top floor
Another bedroom

Tonight AdventureMan chooses a place for dinner, and we head downtown to one of the trendiest restaurants in town, Hokkaido, where we feast on Japanese cuisine. They specialize in Ramen and sushi, so I order some broth and a poke’ salad and a sushi roll, AdventureMan orders a seaweed salad and a couple rolls, and we share a large pot of green tea. Every table around us is filled with happy customers, old and young. It was the most varied demographic I have experienced, old and young, foreign and domestic, all economic levels, and the food was delicious, the service efficient and also friendly and helpful. 

After dinner we explored Helena in the glowing late evening sunlight. We found a “mosque” which turned out to be the civic center, and AdventureMan found a statue of Theodore Roosevelt which turned out to be a statue of someone else in front of the Capitol building. We were staying in a very old neighborhood full of spectacular houses and a gorgeous old Catholic church, so we were able to spend some time walking before we turned in. 

Helena Civic Center
Cathedral of Saint Helena, in the last gleams of the day’s sunlight

We were so glad to have chosen a room with its own bathroom. All through the night we could hear doors opening and closing, people using the bathrooms next door to our room. You could hear couples whispering to each other, which warned us to be careful because if we could hear them, they could also hear us.

September 14, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Food, Geography / Maps, Privacy, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment