Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Chasing Petroglyphs: On to Trails End, and Moab

The drive from Vernal to Moab was pretty boring, but we had a memorable stop at the Outlaw Cafe in some small town, where we had surprisingly good salads.

We got to the cabin at about three, keys were waiting for us, and the cabin is quirky but had a lot of things we really like. Lots of space, a beautiful deck with a wide expanse of view, and although the temperatures in Moab are in the 80’s heading toward 90’s, the breezes in the Pack Creek Valley keep things relatively cool. The king-size bed is generous and firm.

The rules focus on quiet and mutual respect. We took a look at the pool and hot tub and had no interest. We loved the quiet of the cabin.

I’m a worrier. I love planning trips, and sometimes it feels like a high wire act. Will I be able to get the dates I want for the property I want? Will I be able to fly on the dates we need to fly on? And when I chose this cabin to stay in for five days, I worried that it wouldn’t be as good as the photos. Maybe it was too far from town?

The internet didn’t work, which was a good thing. We were so busy that we didn’t even worry about getting it fixed for the first three days, and that was a lovely blessing. And in the midst of “busy,” we had this lovely, incredibly quiet, beautiful retreat in the middle of our vacation. This was not a luxurious place, unless you consider privacy, simplicity and quiet a luxury – and we do.

You can see our food box on the table – everything we need except for fresh milk for my cereal, which I mix myself and bring with us. We will pick up milk later, at the grocery store in Moab, along with our dinner. There is a stove and oven, a full size refrigerator, a microwave, a coffee maker. There is a large sink, all the dishes, pots, pans, containers we might need.

Although the temperatures are in the 90’s, the cool winds keep us comfortable and we never have to turn on the air conditioning. I need to wash a couple things; I wash them in the sink, hang them on hangers on this porch, and within a couple hours they are completely dry. Sheer luxury.

Although I am not much for sunning, lying out on the bench to dry my hair was another luxury, the breezes faster than a hair dryer.

As I walked around taking photos, it’s a good thing I didn’t know about rattlesnakes. There was one coiled right by the back deck which slithered away while Adventureman stepped out on the deck. He took it in stride. I didn’t grow up with snakes; I might have had a different reaction.

The pool was lovely and we are happy enough in our little cabin and on our little deck.

We head into Moab to pick up dinner; it is Monday, and as is true through out the United States, many places are closed. AdventureMan picks a Thai restaurant, Singha Thai, and we order vegetable rolls, sate and Thai salad. We pick it up and stop at a grocery store for milk. The grocery store is disconcerting; we hear German, we hear French, it is packed with Moab tourists from all over the world looking for something for dinner. We buy our milk and hit the road; it is 20 minutes to our cabin, Trail’s End, at Pack Creek Ranch. We are at the foot of the La Sal mountains.

At sunset, AdventureMan sees twirling lights on a nearby hill. Like the petroglyphs, it is a mystery. We can see vans on the crest of the hill, we can see a human twirling (juggling?) something (flashlights? those balls with lights inside?) as the sun goes down and we can hear singing, but we can’t hear the words. We imagine it is some sort of sunset ritual.

The sunset is full of bird sounds; owl, turtledove, others which shriek a little, and the soft gurgling of Pack Creek. Once the sun is set, there is a stunning quiet, so quiet that your ears might ring with the silence.

The night sky is brilliant with stars.

The next morning, the light paints the distant rock hills with color.

June 12, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Living Conditions, Privacy, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | , , , | Leave a comment

Chasing Petroglyphs: Joe Pickett Guides Us Through the Red Desert, Wamsutter and the Lincoln Highway to Rock Springs, Wyoming

The sun wakes us early the next morning, streaming in our window. The temperature is 22°F and there is a light frost on the ground. All we brought in are our backpacks, so we grab a quick breakfast from our supplies and head out.

It’s a beautiful day at 22°F

“Why would you want to go to Rock Springs, Wyoming?” asked my new brother-in-law with genuine bewilderment, at the end of our trip as we were spending time with him and my sister.

I didn’t know he had been born there, and still has family there. No, we had chosen this obscure route because of a series by C.J. Box about a game warden named Joe Pickett, a series we have both read from book one to book 22. In Off the Grid, Joe is tracking a crazy bear into the Red Desert when he finds a bunch of terrorists and naive young people putting together a magnetic pulse bomb to create havoc in the civilized western world. (Honestly, I don’t even know how to describe the plot to you, sometimes it doesn’t have to make a lot of sense, you just sort of have to roll with it.)

I had never heard of The Red Desert before, and I had driven that stretch of Highway 80, the old Lincoln Highway, several times. It was always just a place to get through, but this time we would be looking at it with different eyes.

It all started in Qaqortoq, on our Wake of the Vikings trip (just type in Wake of the Vikings in the search window of this blog if you want to more about that trip). In Qaqortoq, AdventureMan asked me what I would do if I lived there and I told him I would learn to spin wool, something I’ve always wanted to do. He said “If I had to live here, I would kill myself or drink myself to death.”

On this trip, we passed through several towns about which he felt the same. We like being remote on trips. He doesn’t like the idea of living remote.

The field irrigators are on, and the spray etches patches of fairy ice onto the grass.

It is a beautiful day, and we stop often, just because we can. It is cold, but it is also beautiful. These rocks, we learn, are called fortification rocks, because in territorial wars people could use them to strategic advantage.

note the bullet holes. Bullet holes were everywhere.

There were mountains in the distance capped with white snow. We began seeing pronghorns, and at one point, when we stopped to take a photo, I almost stepped on a dead elk, probably hit by a car. There was no smell, probably because it was still so cold.

Pronghorn

Baggs, Wyoming, is at the border between Colorado and Wyoming and is at the southeastern tip of The Red Desert. Baggs was where AdventureMan said he would kill himself if he had to live in a town with 411 people.

AdventureMan mentions there are routes into the Red Desert coming up, and I counter saying that they are tracks, not routes, and if we were to go in, and get into some trouble, it is very remote and we might be those tragic elderly people who foolishly thought they could survive, but couldn’t. Honestly, I would love to see the Red Desert AND I know we are not the people we once were. I think we could survive a lot, being who we are, and I also know it is not wise, at our age, to tempt the fates. I can’t really tell whether he is disappointed or relieved by my response. My best guess would be – both.

That’s the tip end of The Red Desert in the background. If you look at the Google Map of today’s journey, you will see a big empty space in the middle, a biblical “trackless waste.”

Just around lunchtime, we enter Wamsutter, a boom-and-bust town with several past lives. AdventureMan finds the Hacienda Mendez, where we have our first taste of cactus salad – it is delicious.

Dining area
Bar
Crispy chips and tasty salsa

Cactus Salad – Nopal Salad
Mexican Burger

Shrimp Tostadas

And on we go, down the Lincoln Highway toward Rock Springs, the Red Desert to our left with high tabletop plateaus guarding the tracks leading to the interior, and the Great Divide Basin to our right, along with the Killpecker Sand Dunes (Wikipedia calls them the largest living dune system in the United States. I didn’t know that – did you know that?)

We head into Rock Springs and find our home for the next couple of nights, The Outlaw Inn. I could not resist the name.

They gave us a really great room, with two bathrooms, one with a toilet and shower, one with a toilet and tub. Just pure luck.

Calamity Jane in one of the party rooms

Dropping our gear, we headed out to explore Rock Springs. We wanted to find the college museum, but when we found it, nothing was open. In Joe Pickett’s world, this was where his daughter April went to university, a rodeo college. What we did find was a wonderful museum, the Rock Springs Historical Museum, and a wonderful docent who was willing to answer all our questions. This museum was wonderful. It included a full jail, and a padded cell as well as well-curated exhibits of communications, health care, etc. through the earliest history of the county.

I am eager for tomorrow, when we have a real adventure, searching for the White Mountain Petroglyphs!

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Beauty, Cultural, Living Conditions, Marriage, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Safety, Social Issues, Survival, Travel, Wildlife | , , , , , , , | 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

Treasures From the Past: Cookbooks and Salmon Burgers

I used to collect cookbooks, and, at my prime, I probably had close to three hundred. I loved them, some more than others. When it comes to books, I think I may even have hoarder tendencies; it is very hard for me to part with a book.

ThIs is the first cookbook I ever bought for myself. I still love it and can’t part with it. I bought it in Nairobi in 1973. It has some great recipes, but most of all, it has an entire culture full of differences, with a guide to organizing a large camping trip into the wild, foods for invalids, pages of instructions for servants on how to do laundry, clean, etc., and an entire section on asking for what you need in Swahili.

Kenya Cookery, reprinted 1972
Table of Contents
Useful Swahili Terms

Maybe it’s an age thing, but there came a year when I realized that I really only used a few of my books, and it was time to simplify. I am now down to about thirty cookbooks, and each one reflects on stages of my life with which I am not ready to let go. Germany. Tunis. Saudi Arabia. Jordan. The South (you can’t beat the South for desserts.) And Alaska.

Both my Alaska cookbook (1947) and my Pacific Northwest cookbook (1946) are older than I am. The Alaska cookbook is from my Mom; she knew I would treasure it. I love looking through this cookbook and last night I cooked from it.

Out of Alaska’s Kitchens
Game recipes

I can imagine there might be a way to fix moose burgers that would be tasty and delightful. As a child, I remember moose burgers as being tough, always, and chewy, and, well, game-y. Our dads hunted in the Fall. There were big hooks in our basement where they hung the deer or moose when they brought the hunt in, and where they skinned and quartered the meat. The butcher would grind the moose meat and package everything up in white freezer paper. The meat would be stored in the cold storage locker, and Dad would stop by during the winters and bring something home. The only thing worse than moose burgers were bear burgers.

We never killed what we didn’t eat. Nothing was wasted. It was like it would be disrespectful to the creatures we hunted.

Pacific Northwest Cookbook

This book was left to my by my aunt. I use it to make a Pacific Northwest Bouillabaisse, and several fruit desserts made with fruits which were plentiful in season – cherries, blueberries, rhubarb, as well as apples, peaches, apricots, etc. This book is another one I will pass along rather than get rid of.

So last night I wanted to make Salmon burgers. I looked in my Alaska cookbook, and there it was.

Salmon Burger recipe

It made me laugh when I read through it. Canned milk – yes, well there are times in Alaska when fresh milk just isn’t available. Salmon was canned in big cookers in jars, and was an all day task. Corn flakes – we don’t even keep processed cereals in the house anymore. And no egg for binding, but I also remember that in the winters sometimes we didn’t have real eggs, only powdered eggs, which were good for cooking, like pancakes, but really were not at all egg like on their own.

So I used it as a guide, but changed things a little. I did brown the onion and green pepper and add it into the salmon mix. I actually did use milk, not believing it would absorb, but it did. I added an egg, just one. And I used half a cup of plain bread crumbs in place of the corn flakes. Because we like the taste of smoked salmon, I added a couple drops of liquid smoke.

Salmon burgers

BIG hit. These were moist and delicious. I started with a medium high heat, then turned it down when I flipped the burgers.

I served them with snow peas (mange tout) sauteed in garlic and butter.

I love it that salmon is so healthy and so available, and that these old cookbooks still have relevance; sometimes the oldies but goodies make a grand come back. I miss my Mom, and I miss the Aunt that gave me the PNW cookbook, but having their cookbooks keeps them a little closer.

October 5, 2021 Posted by | Aging, Books, Cooking, Cultural, Food, Kenya, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Recipes, Wildlife | | 1 Comment

Leaving Bozeman, Day 14

AdventureMan hates my phone alarm, which is a tune called “Twinkle.” He always says it reminds him of hotel mornings when we have to get up at what he calls “The Cr#p of Dawn.” This was one of those mornings, we need to be up, get to the airport, turn in the car, check in two hours in advance, etc. 

Don’t you love this Mama Bear’s big claws?

It all goes smoothly. We drop our keys in the drop box, still a little nervous that we never received a contract for the upgraded vehicle. By the time we reached Dallas, I had a confirmation of the car rental return and a copy of the contract. Go figure.

The airline people were not at the airport two hours before the flight. Oh well. We checked in and had time for breakfast at the Copper Horse before boarding for our flight. In Dallas, we found a BBQ take-out and ate in the waiting room. 

We arrived safely back in Pensacola, on time, and there were zero taxis and about six sets of people in front of us. We never do this, but we called our son and asked if he would pick us up. He arrived, fully masked, welcomed us back, and drove us home. That night, he texted that he and our grandson both tested positive for COVID and the family would be quarantined, They live just blocks from us, so we were able to see them, to bring groceries or whatever they might need. They were tired and achey, but never got very very sick. 

I just took a break; AdventureMan asked me how the trip report was coming and I said I was finishing up and I was astonished at how much COVID had been an influence on this trip. From the start, when Viking cancelled our planned cruise in May, to the end, with hotels and restaurants struggling to find staffing, COVID had played a major role. We need to be paying attention. Things are changing. We are going to need to do things differently. We need to start figuring out those strategies now.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Climate Change, Counter-terrorism, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Public Art, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Safety, Travel, Wildlife | , | 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 8, Roaring Mountain, Norris Geyser Basin and Old Faithful

This is the book we use that tells us everything we didn’t know we didn’t know.

It’s hard to believe we’ve already been traveling a week, and only have a week to go. We are having so much fun, and time is skimming by.

Today we drive south. We are up early, to avoid the crowds. Too late, there is already a line for coffee. They have delicious biscotti; huckleberry for AdventureMan and Cinnamon for me. It is cold, so cold I put on my levis for the only time on this trip. We are headed to one of my favorite places, the Norris Geyser Basin.

We beat the tour groups for the only morning

On the way, we stop at Roaring Mountain, another of my favorite spots. It is a cloudy day, but that is OK at Roaring Mountain, a sulpherous, misty site full of fumaroles, holes out of which pour hot steam. In the cold morning air, the steam shoots out, and then billows dramatically around the mountain. 

Clearwater Springs
Roaring Mountain
Emerald Springs

The Norris Geyser Basin had two great hikes, and the parking lot has what we call Rock Star Parking when we get there, very few people. 

We love this hike. The first attraction is Steamboat Geyser, which is unpredictable but is always looking promising when we see it, burbling up with little bursts of geyser enthusiasm. Along the track are many geysers, but also bubbling pits and brilliantly colored springs of boiling water. All the steaminess is exaggerated in the morning cold. We can’t believe it can be this cold in mid-August. 

Steamboat Geyser at Dawn
It’s inviting, and deadly

AdventureMan tells me – and this is really true – that a man fell into one of the springs at Norris Basin, and died, and that his body dissolved in the chemical rich pool. He didn’t die on purpose, but, like many tourists, he wanted to take a dip. His sister says he tripped over his own flip-flop, fell in and died a terrible death, boiling to death. Aargh. 

Rockslide en route holds us up a couple minutes while blockage is cleared
Firehole River and Falls, a great side route

We head on to Old Faithful. There is a long boardwalk there I have never walked, and we have little hope it will be uncrowded. We decide to have breakfast first, and discover the dining room is not open, does not seem to be serving meals at all. The grill is open, all grab and go, so we pick up breakfast and for me, coffee, and ask if we can eat on the terrace. They tell us yes, so we head upstairs, and there is a lovely spot with a bench and two tables overlooking Old Faithful, so we set up there and have one of the most unexpectedly lovely breakfasts of our trip. 

Old Faithful Inn
Last time we stayed here we were in the room in the upper right corner

We could watch Old Faithful erupt from our front row seat, but we decide to leave our location for someone else, and to hike out to another vantage spot good for watching the eruption. It is a great walk, we find a good place and just as I am about to walk to the prime location, a family stops there and claims it. We sit nearby, and a bison comes near. The family can’t resist, they decide to follow the bison, so we get the place after all. 

We sit, and an EcoTour comes and joins us. We get the advantage of all this knowledgeable young guide’s experience just sitting there and listening. As we are listening, a Park Ranger comes hustling up to try to keep people from getting too near the bison. It seems to be a never-ending battle; people seem to think this is like Disneyland and nobody gets hurt. Wrong. People get hurt all the time. These are WILD animals and they are becoming less and less afraid of human beings. That is a bad thing, and can become disastrous. 

The Bison is in the upper right quadrant of the photo

AdventureMan took the guide aside after Old Faithful did its thing and tipped him, told him to have a beer on us because we benefitted from his discussions even though we weren’t a part of his group. We love young people who love their jobs and do them so well. 

We learned that early-mid morning is a great time to visit Old Faithful. There were people, but not so many, even in this near peak of summer visitors.

What we noticed is that there were no buses full of Chinese. No buses full of Japanese. No large groups of visiting Indians. No large groups of students. No European youths. We met one French-Canadian biker along the Firehole Falls road; he had started at the Canadian border and said he had 20,000 more miles to go. The bikers in Yellowstone and Glacier earned our unalloyed admiration – they were riding up very long high hills with gear. They had their sleeping bags and small camp stoves and their clothing. I cannot imagine how they persisted, but they almost all looked strong and wiry and like they were loving every minute of their biking experience.

We got in over 12,000 steps today. AdventureMan is happy.

We went into Gardiner for dinner, to the Wonderland, a restaurant we discovered the last time we were in Yellowstone, a couple years ago. We were astonished – we went early. Almost every table was full! They did have a table for us, and we were very grateful. I had trout with aioli sauce, AdventureMan had elk chili (it was sprinkled with powdered sugar, and was sweet!) with their famous jalapeño cornbread. Wonderland was hopping busy; we were so impressed with the way the team all worked together. While the servers were taking orders, others would be taking plates away, filling glasses, bringing food from the kitchens – everyone helping each other. It was awesome to behold. 

Trout with mashed potatoes and aioli sauce
Elk chili with jalepeno corn bread

Back at our cabin, coming back from a post-dinner walk, we looked up the hill behind our cabin and there was a huge bull elk! It had a huge rack of horns, and looked so noble as he sauntered along the hill. Word spread quickly and people grabbed their cameras, mostly cell phones, and ran out to the street to catch a photo of this magnificent animal. He was far enough away that the few people who gathered didn’t bother him, he barely noticed our existence, and we were very quiet and respectful. I didn’t have my camera, only my cell phone. I took pictures anyway. Nothing could capture the full grandeur of this creature, but we all clicked away in sheer astonishment and admiration. There are hundreds of female elk and little elk calfs around, but this is the only bull elk I ever saw in Yellowstone. 

Bull elk behind cabins
Such a thrill I had to put in two photos

September 14, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Fitness / FitBit, Food, Hotels, Local Lore, Road Trips, Safety, Travel, Wildlife | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Highway 98 back to Apalachicola

This is a beautiful drive, it never gets old.

My friends have fishing camps and hunting camps; some of the fishing camps you can fish from the porch, just like the fishing camps along the Dordogne and the Gironne in France. I think some of the hunting camps double as venues for poker games and some serious drinking.

When I was a little girl in Alaska, bear were serious business, and every Alaskan child learned early to make noise, not to run and never never never to get between a mama bear and her cubs. I can imagine a Florida bear is a nuisance, getting into garbage and tormenting the dogs, but I haven’t heard of a human being having a problem with a Florida bear, other than hitting them on the highways.

All along this route we see some serious money going in. Some is Florida people, building their dream home in a beautiful, if dangerous (hurricane) location. Others are people sick of the snow and ice and cold of the north, building their more modest retirement homes or sheltering in trailer (caravan) villages. This very pretty little village is Carabelle, just east of Tate’s Hell State forest. (I just love that name, LOL)

February 4, 2021 Posted by | Alaska, Biography, Community, Hurricanes, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Settling In to Apalachicola

Prior to Hurricane Michael, Apalachicola had a long history as home to some of the most delicious oysters in the world. Mountains of oyster shells like this were iconic Apalachicola scenes.

Apalachicola is a great little town for walking. There is a downtown with cute shops, there is a grocery store, there are several good restaurants, and lots of parking. We check in to our hotel, we take a long walk, we decide to eat early. Yes, another restaurant, but it is early and nearly empty. We find another isolated table.

The focus is definitely on drinks.

The food was OK.

We left as more people started coming in.

You can rent these houseboats for an Apalachicola stay right on the water.

I am losing the light when we come across a large pick-up full over the brim with duck decoys. The next morning, I could hear shots going off all over the estuary as hunters brought down the migrating ducks.

February 4, 2021 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Eating Out, Food, Hotels, Living Conditions, Photos, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | | Leave a comment

“Do You Want to Reserve for Friday night?”

I was so excited. We are headed out, our first trip since February when we took our grandchildren back to New Orleans, as we so often did until March and the advent of COVID. We’ve sold our big house, are comfortably settled in our smaller house, and I am SO ready to resume a more normal life.

I had just finished telling AdventureMan about a restaurant in a hotel we have visited several times, but we’ve never stayed in nor eaten in. The menu looks fabulous! (The Franklin in the Gibson Inn, Apalachicola). He looked at me over his reader glasses, lovingly – and sadly.

“”So do you think everyone will be masked and socially distanced?” he asked me.

“Oh,” I responded. Deflated. Sometimes, for a short while, I can totally forget the new reality of masks and social distancing, and not eating in restaurants.

We decided that as we will be staying in a lovely place with condo conveniences, we can order out. It won’t be the same, but the food will be good, we can store our leftovers in a refrigerator, and we can be safe.

Sigh.

I’m still excited. Apalachicola is beautiful, and the hotel where we stay (The Water Street Hotel) is right on the estuary. There are screened balconies where, even in this chilly weather, we can sit out and watch the heron, and fishing birds, and watch the boats stream by. We can head out to St. Marks, famous for the large flights of migratory birds at this time of the year.

It will be cold. It will also be beautiful, and it will be relatively deserted, safe from those globs of corona virus floating around where human beings breathe. We can walk to our hearts content. I can take pictures.

We like birds. We are enthralled with their beauty. It gives me a happy jolt every time I see, from my little house, a pelican, or a stork, or an eagle, or a red shouldered hawk. No, we are not birders. We like birders, but cannot begin to generate their endless enthusiasm and capability for detailed observation. We just sit back and enjoy the moment.

Apalachicola is a very old Florida town, once famous for it’s timber, and once famous for it’s oysters. The recent hurricane activity has wiped out the tasty Apalachicola oysters, at least for the next few years, and has greatly wiped out the economy of Apalachicola. We look forward to lifting that economy, as best we can, with our visit, and we encourage you to do the same.

January 13, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Birds, Community, Eating Out, Florida, Food, Geography / Maps, Hotels, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | | Leave a comment