A Glorious Summer
How would you like to take a summer trip through 10 states, to 10 National Parks, Monuments, and Recreation Areas, 10 cities, 2 natural hot springs and a genuine Navajo Trading Post? Well, you can! Come along with Phil and me as I share with you highlights of our summer of fun.
Starbucks & Oysters
After returning from our Alaska trip in June, we wanted more adventure so we jumped into our RV in Portland and headed out. Our first stop was Seattle, Washington where the three main highlights were the original Starbucks, Pike Place Market on the waterfront, and oysters.
I thought it would be fun to go to the original Starbucks which is in Seattle but we couldn’t even get in the door. The line ran down the street of this, the original coffee house. Never mind – we didn’t really want coffee – we wanted seafood. We headed across the street to Pike Place Market to see all the seafood for sale there.
The best of Seattle for us was to be found at Ernie’s House of Seafood. I have had many oysters in my life. My grandpa used to serve them at his restaurant near the beach in North Carolina. There was a huge pile of oyster shells outside where the men would sit, and shuck oysters and imbibe. But who knew oysters could taste this good?
We didn’t eat the boar’s head in the photo ourselves but watched as others did in a hip “gastropub” at the waterfront in Seattle.
TO THE WILDERNESS
We wanted to be in the wilderness and we got our wish at Glacier Bay National Park. Glacier Bay is in Montana very close to Canada. I had never been to Montana, but I was fascinated with its mystique of Big Sky and wide open spaces. I was not disappointed. Glacier Bay and the Park were pristine.
YELLOWSTONE – WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE
The iconic Old Faithful Geyser is still spewing tons of water on schedule at Yellowstone National Park. Visitors come from all over to see.
This buffalo-visitor didn’t even stop to look at Old Faithful as he walked right through the parking lot by the lodge. Folks were amazed. You just don’t often see a wild animal of this magnitude walking through the parking lot only feet away from you. After it was over I asked a ranger why the buffalo came through the parking lot like that. He responded, “He was going that way”. I guess it seemed normal to the ranger.
Imagine the Grand Tetons rising up with no foothills to block the view as you drive down the highway. Here are varying views at different times of the day.
We were warned repeatedly about bears in the area. One had wandered into our campground earlier and rangers came round to instruct us on proper food storage. They said that if the bears got into human food, they would have to put the bears down because they would then become more dangerous. That story got my attention – I sure didn’t want to be the cause of a bear having to be killed.
But…I did get a little spooked about me and my little dog walking around the area without the bear spray. Even on bike trails we would see signs that a bear had been sighted. I had the jingle bells they sell that are supposed to alert the bear to my presence, but I didn’t take much comfort in that method. I stuck pretty close to Phil and the canister!
JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING
Wyoming, home of the Grand Tetons, is also home to Jackson. It’s a very nice Western town, with some good food and drink.
CHILDHOOD FRIEND IN SALT LAKE CITY
My earliest childhood friend Cookie married young and left our Southern Baptist roots to become a Mormon like her husband. Phil and i went to see her in Salt Lake City.
Of course, we had to see the Great Salt Lake, which really doesn’t look so great these days.
Cookie and I both have gospel music in our blood so we attended a performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. While at the Church’s Conference Center Phil got a chance to use their free genealogy search called FamilySearch.com. He was delighted to find a number of long lost Spanish relatives, which he shared with his mom, to her delight.
HIPPY DIPPY HOT SPRINGS
While in Utah, we got to explore some of our hippy roots, and some interesting geology, when we stumbled upon Mystic Hot Springs while looking for a campsite. Here’s what the web page said about its origins:
Producer/Director/Artist Mike Ginsburg was traveling in his bus back to Denver from the last Vegas Dead shows in 1995, when he stumbled into Mystic Hot Springs. Instantly he realized that everything he was looking for was right there. Miraculously he was able to purchase the resort. Having worked since 1996, he is still at it! His artistic talent has been used to add new Soaking areas, restore pioneer Cabins, promote many wonderful Concerts, produce DVD’s, create stunning Lampwork glass Jewelery and bring a special energy to this wonderful place.
BRYCE CANYON UTAH
Bryce Canyon is spectacular for it colors and its size. The rim varies from 8000-9000 feet high. It has tall pinnacles, formed by frost and steam, called hoodoos. Paiute Indians lived in this region for many years before European Americans arrived.
There is a sacred oral tradition that states that these hoodoos, or pinnacles, are ancient “Legend People” turned into stone by the trickster Cayote as a punishment for bad deeds.
WELCOME TO ZION
Arches say “welcome” to me and Zion also has arches. It’s fascinating how different the rock formations are in different locations.
Finally, Phil got to see BigHorn Sheep. He was very happy and took about a million photos. Here are a couple good ones:
Lake Powell is a beautiful recreation area and reservoir on the Colorado River. It straddles the border between Utah and Arizona and was created by flooding Glen Canyon. It is now a National Recreation Area and is enjoyed by over 2 million people each year. The favorite way to enjoy Lake Powell is in a houseboat, but we took out a small powerboat for the day instead.
MONUMENT VALLEY AND FOUR CORNERS
Monument Valley is that spectacular place where so many Westerns were filmed. The movie usually features some very small horses riding past some very large rock spires. Unfortunately for us, the day was rainy the day we were there, so no horses or great photos of rock spires.
It was a kick to get to straddle four states at one time! Four Corners is on a Navajo Reservation, so after the photo we stepped over to the nearby restaurant and had ourselves a bowl of elk stew and some Indian frybread with honey!
This state is very special for Phil since it’s his mother’s birthplace and he still has family there. We started our visit in Taos where I had to have Doc Martin’s famous chile rellano. From there we went to the hot springs at Ojo Caleinte, with its various mineral pools and mud bath. Next we visited lovely Sante Fe and ended our trip with a special visit with Phil’s relatives. We bought lots of fresh New Mexico chile for ourselves plus we shipped 2 gunny sacks full to San Francisco for Nicole and Diego to roast, peel, freeze and enjoy all year. Like her dad, Nicole loves New Mexico chile. And like him, for her she likes ” the hotter – the better”.
CANYON DE CHELLY
Canyon De Chelly is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen! My photos could not capture the enormous proportions of the rock formations here.
Notice the size of the rock formation in contrast to the ceremonial house.
NAVAJO TRADING POST
THE BIG KAHUNA – GRAND CANYON
Nothing says “Outdoor Wonderment” like the Grand Canyon, the Grandaddy of National Parks. We had the good fortune to complete our visit JUST before the government shutdown. Oh, I felt so bad for all the US and foreign visitors who were turned away – those who had spent thousands of dollars to make this trip. Imagine having your wedding planned to take place at the park, as some people did and have it subsequently cancelled due to the shutdown!
Much of the park is accessible only by using the park’s shuttle service. This saves congestion and wear-and-tear on the parks. The buses were full of visitors; we were told that the lodging is sold out every day of the year. Hiking down into the Canyon was glorious but what goes down must come up as well!
A very pleasant and easy hike not to be missed was the Rim Trail. Glorious views, level ground and very educational presentations on the park, including examples of the types of rocks that make up this wonder. Did you know that some of the rocks there are 2 billion years old?!
Our visit to the Grand Canyon was a wonderful way to end our Glorious Summer. From here we drove to LA to visit Phil’s soon-to-be 101 year old mother, then to San Francisco to see the kids and put the RV back in storage. We are leaving for beautiful Kauai November 8, with the idea to travel to Southeast Asia to spend the winter. Thailand, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Malaysia, India – who knows where we will go. Do you have suggestions for us?
Thank you for taking this summer journey with us. It was the summer trip of a lifetime that I hope everyone who wants to gets to make!Tweet