Thursday, June 1, 2017

Two Weeks in Salt Lake City

May 16 to May 30:

On Tuesday morning we finishing packing up The Duchess and pulled out of our campground in Glendale UT around 7:30 AM. We had a drive of about 300 miles north to our next location in North Salt Lake UT. We had a smooth drive along I-15 stopping for lunch and also to fill up the motorhome along the way. We arrived in the early afternoon and got everything hooked up and set up for the next couple of weeks we will be spending here at the Pony Express RV Resort. The campground has paved roads and concrete pads with grass in between each site. The only strange thing is the location of the sewer connection which is at the end of the site near the road.

We are meeting our friends, David and Cindy Potts, here in Salt Lake City. They arrived the same day as us and are located in the site next to us. David & Cindy have a 43 foot New Horizons 5th wheel that they purchased new in 2015. Cindy is still working remotely until the end of May, so she is limited during the week depending on her work schedule.

We spent the first couple of days getting caught up with the Potts, doing some grocery shopping, trying to sort through all of the pictures we had taken in southern Utah and working on this blog. Since we are in a big city we took advantage of the shopping to visit a Trader Joe's and Costco along with a large local grocery store called Smith's Marketplace. On Wednesday (5/17) we had rain in the morning, sunshine in the afternoon and then some snow flurries late in the day.

Friday afternoon David, Connie and I visited the Utah State Capitol and took a tour that lasted about 45 minutes. The capitol building is located at the base of the mountains and overlooks Salt Lake City. There was a high school choral group singing songs in area below the rotunda and we listened to them for a few minutes while waiting on the tour to start. Being late on a Friday we were the only ones on the tour.

We stopped in a one of the local breweries, Squatters, and had a sampling of several of their brews. Each of us had to order two beers to sample since Utah has a law that says you can only be served two drinks at one time (once you finish those two you can order two more). Strange rule! We were not impressed with the brews as they did not have much flavor.

Saturday (with Cindy not working) the four of us took a trip out to Antelope Island State Park. Antelope Island is the largest of the ten islands located on the Great Salt Lake and the entire island makes up the park. We stopped at the Visitor's Center and were warned about the "biting bugs" on the island whose bites look like lice bites. We saw several people wearing netting over their heads so all of us sprayed on bug repellent. We visited the beach and one of the "points" on the island. I tasted the water which is 4-6 times saltier than the ocean.

We then took the 11 mile drive along the edge of the island to the Fielding Garr Ranch. This was originally established as one of the Mormon Tithing Ranches with livestock including cattle and sheep. There was a large barn on the property where the sheep shearing took place. We ate lunch, visited with one of the volunteers who told us the history of the ranch and then took a brief tour of the  property. Today there are no cattle or sheep on the island. There are 700 American Bison that roam the island and are cared for by the park staff and volunteers. The bison located here have some of the purest genes are the off spring are sold for a lot of money to improve other bison herds around the country. This park in the only state park in Utah that is a money making operation.

Sunday it rained so we stayed around the RV park. Monday we spent the day cleaning our vehicles. I took the Jeep to a car wash and then waxed it. We used a mild soap solution (very little Dawn with warm water) to wash off the road dirt from the motorhome.

On Tuesday, Carl and Pam Manganaro, arrived in our campground. They had been in Heber City UT attending the wedding of Carl's son last week-end and make the short drive north to join the Potts and us. After Carl & Pam got set up the four of us visited The Temple Square. This is home to the largest Church of Later Day Saints temple, their Tabernacle and Assembly Hall. There are two Visitor Centers, Joseph Smith Office Building, the Family Ancestry Building (home to one of the largest genealogy collections in the world) and the Church Headquarters Buildings. We also visited the Beehive House where Brigham Young lived along with his third wife and his children with her. The Mormons practiced polygamy during the 19th century and Brigham had over 25 wives and numerous children. The Beehive House was his "headquarters" where he entertained and welcomed guests and dignitaries as both the head of the church and for a while the governor of Utah.


On Wednesday Pam, Carl, Connie and I traveled to Brighton UT along the Big Cottonwood Creek. The creek was full of water from the snow melt and flowing rapidly. We were hoping to take the road from Brighton to Park City, but it was still closed from the winter snows. So we drove back down to Salt Lake City and then around the mountains to Park City. Park City is home to the Sundance Film Festival and has become quite the tourist town. We ate lunch at the High West Distillery (very good food). Connie, Carl and Pam had drinks made from their distilled products and were impressed with how good they tasted. After lunch we spent a couple of hours walking around the town.

On Thursday Carl, David and I played golf at the Eaglewood Golf Course located about 15 minutes away from our campground. It was a very nice course located above the city with a "senior rate" for green fees of $22. While we played golf, Connie and Cindy went shopping. Later in the afternoon we rode our bikes along the Jordan River Trail which runs along the river just outside the RV park.

On Friday afternoon all of us visited the Red Butte Gardens which are located on the campus of The University of Utah. The gardens are located at the base of the Wasatch Mountains and have a combination of plantings from roses, native desert plants, formal gardens and plants used for medicinal purposes. At with all gardens not all of the plants were in bloom during our visit.

Saturday and Sunday were more days for grocery shopping, laundry and getting ready to move. We tried to stock up on groceries since we will not be near any large towns for a while.

On Monday the six of us traveled up to Alta UT which is home to two ski areas. We were going to hike some of the trails but there is still several feet of snow on the ground (there were several people skiing/snowboarding). So we ended up walking the summer road to the top of the Alta Ski Area which was about a 5 mile hike with a gain in elevation of 1,000 feet. We ate lunch at the top and then hiked back down the road. Great weather with clear skies and warm temperatures.

Monday night we dumped the tanks, pulled up the water hoses and got The Duchess ready to leave early in the morning for our trip north to Idaho. We had a great time in the Salt Lake City area and could see ourselves returning to this region again. We learned a new game while we were there called Jokers and Marbles which Connie enjoyed way too much (she won every game). So glad we could be with friends and hang out together for a while.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Visiting Southern Utah - Part 5

May 12 to May 16:

Friday we decided to do our long hike at Zion National Park. The trail is called the Angels Landing via West Rim Trail. It is a 5.4 mile round trip with an elevation change of almost 1,500 feet. We got an early start on the trail and shared the route with a number of hikers who had the same idea. We took our time going up to soak up the scenery as well as catching our breath with the elevation changes. Part of the hike was climbing several set of wiggles (switchbacks) to gain height along the trail. We reach the area near the peak of the trail where I continued on up on chains that were along the side of the mountain to reach another flat area. There was an hour wait to reach the very top (another 200 feet or so straight up) with room on the trail for only one way traffic so I decided I had gone far enough. We ate a snack and re-hydrated before we started back down. Again we took our time and watched our footing as we re-traced our steps back down the mountain. Wonderful views from the top as well as canyon walls along the trail. The entire hike took us about 4 hours including the 1/2 hour we spent on top.

Saturday and Sunday we stayed out of the national parks. On Sunday we did hike into the Red Hollow Canyon which was located a few miles south of our campground. We hiked as far into the canyon as we could until there was a rock slide that blocked the route.

Monday, May 15th, was opening day for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Connie and I had visited the South Rim several years ago and decided to make the 105 mile drive south from Glendale to this side of the Grand Canyon. We had to wait about 30 minutes in line to get into the park. From the entrance we traveled to the Visitor's Center and the Grand Lodge. We took a short hike out to the viewing area and also walked around the Grand Lodge. The lodge has a porch with a great view of the Grand Canyon.

View from the porch of the Grand Lodge

After leaving this area of the park we drove to the highest point in the park at Imperial Point which is 8,803 feet in elevation. From there were drove along the road to Cape Royal stopping at all of the viewing areas along the way. At each stop we took a short hike to reach the overlooks. At Cape Royal we ate our picnic lunch before hiking out the viewing areas.

The Window Bridge. We hiked to the overlook above my head.

After spending about 6 hours in the park, we made the drive north back to our campground. On Tuesday morning we got up early to make the drive to Salt Lake City.

For more photos of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, click here.

For more photos of sites we visited outside of Bryce & Zion, click here.

For more photos of Kodachrome Basin State Park, click here. 

For more photos of Bryce Canyon National Park, click here.

For more photos of Zion National Park, click here.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Visiting Southern Utah - Part 4

May 8 to May 11:

With the forecast of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, we decided to do our long hike to the bottom of Bryce Canyon on Monday. We had been told that the trails that go to the bottom of Bryce Canyon stay muddy for several days after a rain, so we decided to do the hike today. We got to the entry gate at 8:00 AM and this time drove our Jeep into the park. We parked in the Sunset Point parking area which was already starting to fill up.

We decided to combine two trails to make a longer hike: The Queens Garden Trail down into the canyon and then the Navajo Loop Trail to complete the loop and make our way back to the top of the canyon. We ended up hiking about 3.5 miles with an elevation change of 600 feet.

The weather was cool at the start of the hike but we quickly warmed up once we got going on the trail. We hiked from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point and then proceeded down the Queens Garden Trail. You have a completely different perspective from the bottom of the canyon and you get close to the fins and HooDoo's.

We going to hike back up an area called Wall Street where the walls of the canyon are close together. However there had been a rock slide and only a portion of the trail was open. We hiked up to the rock slide and then retraced our steps to rejoin the main trail up to the rim.

 Once we reached the last section of the Navajo Loop Trail we had to climb a series of switchbacks (they call them wiggles) to reach the rim. We took our time and had to stop and rest several places as we climbed up.

We reached the Sunset Point parking lot, got out the lunch we had packed and ate in the picnic area. After finishing lunch we drove up to the top of the park, Rainbow Point, to hike the Bristlecone Loop. This is a 1 mile hike (at 9,000 foot elevation) that takes you out to another point at the top of Bryce Canyon.

Since there was plenty of daylight left in the day we decided to drive along Utah Hwy 12 to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument which is a 1.9 million acre that includes a number of bluffs, high plateaus, canyons and mountains to the west of Bryce Canyon. Clint, the deputy sheriff that had opened our Jeep earlier in the week, had told us we needed to drive across the "hog's back" section of Hwy 12 so we decided to take his advice. There are wonderful scenic views all along the highway and we commented that in places it looked like we were on a different planet. The "hog's back" is a several miles of two lane road, no shoulder with drop offs of 500-700 feet on each side. This road was built during the 1930's as part of the WPA program to put men to work. Definitely would recommend that RV stay off this road (although we did see a couple during the afternoon).

Scenic overlook along Hwy 12.
Once we crossed the "hog's back'' we turned around and headed back home. Another long day where we saw some amazing sites.

Tuesday and Wednesday we had rain off and on so we stayed around the campground. We did laundry and got caught up on e-mails, Facebook and financials. On Wednesday we got good news that the Little Hollywood Museum had found Connie's prescription sunglasses. So we drove into Kanab to pick up the glasses and do some grocery shopping.

Thursday we drove up to Cedar Breaks National Monument. The road to the monument was closed but we were able to stop at an overlook near the entrance. We were at 10,500 feet in elevation and there was still quite a bit of snow on the ground.

Since the weather was nice, we drove from Cedar Breaks to the Red Canyon Visitor's Center to do a bike ride. There is a two lane paved bike trail that runs 13 miles from Red Canyon all the way to the entrance of Bryce Canyon National Park. There is quite a bit of elevation uphill on the section we biked on: we took 40 minutes going uphill and 15 minutes to make it back down. It was an early finish to our day since we made it back to the campground for a late lunch.