July 12

Having left Jackson, WY we head out for our destination of the day, Salt Lake City, Utah. But to get to Utah we have to go through Idaho and since we're going that way we figured we might as well take a little detour to go to Pocatello Idaho, location of my older sister's elopement 50 years ago. Yes, they have just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

But to get to Pocatello we have to take a bit of a detour though more of Idaho, and wait, what's this, after two hours of driving through potato fields we see a sign for the POTATO MUSEUM. We HAVE to go to the Potato Museum.
And so we do...
...go to the Potato Museum. You would too.
These folks are from Israel and had to have their picture made with the hostess of the Potato Museum, the woman on the far right. There were probably thirty people in the museum during our visit and the tour buses were due to arrive soon.

In comparison, the Computer Museum in Bozeman was happy to get ten visitors a day.
There were many Visitors Center style exhibits and we enjoyed it all very much.
They even had a cool collection Mr and Mrs Potato Head and various other potato toys.

That was Fun and now on to Pocatello...
...where, according to the car, we were greeted by One Hundred and Seven Degrees...
...and where we found the Court House where Lona and Hartley would have got their marriage license...
...and the church and the minister where they got married...
...and here's the inside of the church as it is today.

This was an elopement. They took the train from LA to Pocatello because you could get married in Idaho without your parents' permission. Their only guest was the taxi driver who was waiting in the back of the church. The minister disturbed his wife and daughter playing cards in the social hall to sign as witnesses.

And they lived happily ever after.
We had to hurry into Salt Lake so we could get into our hotel and then out to Temple Square in time to watch, for free, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in rehearsal.
They were supposed to be rehearsing in the Mormon Tabernacle (I'm sure the choir would have spilled over into the balcony seats) but because of the big summer crowds...
...they moved to the new Conference Center that seats 21,000 people. Big.

The choir has 360 volunteer singers, all required to be 'Mormons in good standing' and there are no doubt 3,600 more lined up to take the place of anyone who reaches their retirement after 20 years of service or 60 years of age whichever comes first. They have recorded dozens of albums, won tons of awards, and traveled extensively.

Check out the orchestra .. check out the organ. It was splendid fun.
From the plaque of the sculpture "Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood" in Temple Square:

"On May 15, 1829, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery went into the woods to inquire of the Lord concerning baptism. As they prayed, 'a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light' (Joseph Smith - History 1:68).

"The messenger was John the Baptist, who had baptized Jesus Christ in the River Jordon and was now a resurrected being. He laid his hands on Joseph and on Oliver and conferred upon each of them the Aaronic Priesthood. This priesthood, which had been absent from the earth for many centuries, includes the restored authority from God to baptize for the remission of sins."
I used to think all the horns on the top of Mormon temples (the trumpet of the angel Moroni) pointed to Salt Lake City, but no I was wrong, as advised by one of the myriad hosts positioned every few feet in Temple Square, they all point East in anticipation of 'the Savior's coming from the East'. I don't know if it's the second coming though .. but a coming nonetheless.
July 13

Today's destination: The Great Salt Lake. But first, on the way out of town, we wanted to swing by the state capitol.

We passed under the historic Eagle Gate...
...and here it was in the late 1800s in a picture in the Historic Center just across the street from...
...The Capitol.
And now we're on the causeway making our way across The Great Salt Lake to Antelope Island State Park.
Still on the causeway.
Here's a group heading into the lake.
And coming back. They were standing up to their knees out there but owww-eeee it was stinkeeee. And there were hordes of sand flies, and even I had not the least interest in going in.
They have a fairly large herd of bison on the island as well as many other animals we didn't see such as big-horned sheep, mule deer, coyotes, and more.
Farewell to The Great Salt Lake.
We caught this building rolling back into town and never did figure out what it was but it seems as though it should be important.
July 14

We left Salt Lake City early so we'd have time to see the Dinosaur National Monument today and spend the night in Vernal, Utah.

On the way we wanted to enjoy a bit of Park City, home of the Sundance Film Festival and site of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Coming out of Park City we traveled through some of the most splendid landscape. It was particularly wonderful because of the variety of trees that made up the forests. I thought I could get a google-maps shot that would tell the tale but no luck - they're all in winter.

The scenery was gorgeous even after leaving the forests.
Approaching Dinosaur National Monument we met our first dinosaur.
I was really taken with this formation. So taken I took a dozen pictures of it.
The highlight of the park offerings is the Quarry Exhibit Hall just recently reopened after being under refurbishment for six years.

This is an enclosed space surrounding one of the many fossil sites in the area. From the park's website: "Here, you can gaze upon the remains of numerous different species of dinosaurs including Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, Camarasaurus, Diplodicus, and Stegosaurus along with several others.

"Exhibits, including an 80-foot long mural reveal the story of these animals and many others that lived in the Morrison environment during the late Jurassic. There are even several places where you can touch real 149 million year old dinosaur fossils!"
A Park Ranger always at the ready to answer all your questions.
And very cool displays. If you find yourself within a half-day's journey it's definitely worth the detour.
And the surrounding towns...
...are full of entertainments.
July 15

On the road again...
...crossing the border into Colorado.
It was time to eat, Sharon was driving, I was calling out the names of all the places to eat as we passed by. 'Burger King' 'Taco Bell' 'Village Inn'.

'Ahh, Village Inn' Sharon noted. 'We always ate at Village Inn when I was growing up.' Since I had never known a Village Inn we of course had to stop here. It's a Denny's-Copper Penny-Norms kind of place so similar to the places where we always ate when I was growing up, and it was still fun.
Rounding the bend into Steamboat Springs, a cute western tourist town with huge condo complexes and giant hotels, and ski runs to beat the band.
July 16

'The Steamboat House' from the winding road up up up the mountain...
...and from near the top of the (get this: Heated) driveway.
The welcoming front door.
This house is magnificent - think about a mountain lodge in a James Bond movie as I'll not have nearly enough pictures to tell the whole story.
As an example, here's most of the kitchen.
We took an outing today to visit Fish Creek Falls. It was an easy drive and a nice leisurely walk - because we did not go down there.

No. We just leisurely walked around the top area and admired the view.
And waited patiently for one of these guys to get himself in focus.
Remember the tatami room in the Kauai house that I always so delight in turning into an office? This house has one too and omg check out this view onto the back landscaped garden, Jacuzzi pond, and Tea House.

I'll make pictures of the Tea House tomorrow. Everyone who knows me will say 'oh Penny, that place is so YOU'.
Sharon's daughter and son-in-law came in last night too and brought their .. not kidding .. seven dogs.

They are working on putting together a no-kill animal shelter in the Denver area and although the shelter isn't ready yet they couldn't turn away any of these special-needs dogs that came their way. But this is it, no more until their project has opened Phase One.

I spent a while trying to make portraits of them all. These Sharon considers her Grand Dogs because they have been around the longest: Roland, Bela, Paco.
These guys are the more recent arrivals: May May, Gracie, Mia, Franklin.
We went out for dinner to celebrate the kid's anniversary at the nearby Café Diva. We all agreed it was totally totally AWEsome.

July 17

Yampa River Botanic Park, a lovely place right in town.

From Ms Wiki: "The park is situated in a valley beside the Yampa River at an altitude of 6,800 feet, with a frost-free growing season of approximately 60 days ((the italics are mine)). Summers are dry and intensely sunny; winters are cold with heavy snow."
It's a sweet place.
Wow, more butterflies.
A nice lake...
...and from their brochure: "In fifteen years the Yampa River Botanic Park sprang from a flat horse pasture to a six acre gem of ponds, berms, and over 40 gardens. It is one of the jewels of Northwest Colorado and one of the few botanic parks in the state."

I guess it's one of the few botanic parks since, if Steamboat Springs is any indication, they have a growing season of sixty days.
Coming home, at the entrance gate to the house.
From the deck outside my bedroom...
...and a view out the side window of the dining room.
July 18

We did a small waking tour of the local springs this morning. It has been Hot and we didn't finish the whole route, but what we did manage was fun.

Note the railroad tracks because they play into the next picture.
This is the spring where Steamboat Springs got its name.

In the early 1800s the spring, which was a geyser at the time, used to make a chugging sound like a steamboat and so French trappers named the area Steamboat Springs. In 1908 blasting for the railroad that runs just to the right of this photo filled in the spring and surrounding underground source such that there was no more chugging and no more geyser.

But it's a good story and the town kept the name.
Tubing on the Yampa River is one of the main summer attractions. We didn't do it because it was too hot and too sunny. That's the reason we told each other anyway.

We didn't ride up on a ski lift and bike down the mountain either.
The Tread of Pioneers Museum was interesting, well worth the visit, with many community displays highlighting the ski heroes of the area, prom night in the 1960s, the early white settlers, and several rooms decked out in full-on Victoriana.
The main dining room and what a view.
A piece of the garden and spa.
July 19

The gondola ride up up up...
...to what looks like the highest point of the ski runs on Mount Werner, here looking down into the valley.
There was a great nature trail with what's-here-in-nature plaques along the way and it felt wonderful to be tromping through the woods despite the heat.
And then a scenic ride down.
Next we drove out to Steamboat Lake State Park and views of Hahn's Peak...
...where we had a very delicious meal at Hahn's Peak Roadhouse.
Back home this is a view of the Tea House...
...and from the Tea House back to the main house. Interiors coming up!
July 20

Good morning! This is the view from my bed. That's my knee. No matter what time I woke up I had to spend a good chunk of time looking out the windows, admiring the view, counting my blessings.
We drove out to Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs. We didn't go in because we have quite the natural hot springs home in our own back yard, but it was fun to see.

If you come after dark, and you have to be over 18, then it's bathing suit optional. Mighty hippy-dippy except that you have to pay and they have bouncers checking id.
Trees trees trees.
More trees.
We had lunch at river's edge...
...and checked out this small museum in town where most of the items on view are for sale.
Following are a few interiors from the Tea House. Next time I'm moving in here!

The main living area is a ten tatami room. The shoji screens can open to extend the room into the gallery area or close for privacy.
A perfect little kitchen. The fridge and freezer are the drawer style built in under the counter. There's an induction cooking surface, and a microwave/convection oven is also under the counter with still plenty of room for whatever you'd need.
In the room with the sunken soaking tub, the shower is on the right wall. The wash basin is available from the hall and the toilet is to the left in its own room.
July 21

We left Steamboat in the morning and shared the road for an hour or so with 700 bikers on the Tour de Steamboat. There was not one thing about this that looked like fun to me.
Leaving the bikers at a turn-off we later entered the Eisenhower Tunnel, the longest mountain tunnel in the Interstate system and also at 11,100 feet, the highest point.

They started construction of the tunnel in March 1968 and it opened in March 1973, a very big deal at the time.
More of Sharon's relatives who had us over for lunch in Denver. Thanks gang, it was FUN!
The giGANtic garden out back. There's what you see and an equal section to the left. Even though it was 100 degrees out there I still needed to go for a tour anyway. A green-grocer's store full of goods must come out of this ground.
A view coming into downtown Denver.

We took the car back and spent the night at an airport hotel so we'd be bright and chipper for our journey home.
July 22

I got home-sweet-home, and yes I left the door open, and I immediately plopped down on the bed just to close my eyes for two minutes. And then I opened my eyes.

No, I'm not keeping him.
HomeUSA the West • Utah-Colorado • '12 Jul: Salt Lake UT to Steamboat Springs CO

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