Day 28 - Driving to Salt Lake City & on to Los Angeles


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North America » United States » Utah » Salt Lake City
July 12th 2012
Published: July 17th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

Alarms went off again at 7.30am which is happening all too often. I think we all had good sleeps though in the cool fresh air of Jackson Hole and we were soon off down to breakfast for the usual continental affair of Frosty Flakes, a muffin, OJ and a couple of slices of toast with jam.

We left around 9.30am after we had got everything packed away in the car. Did a refill of the fuel tank, and bought a coffee from the same cafe we went to yesterday next to the Movie Theatre and we were on our way to Salt Lake City in Utah where we have an evening flight to Los Angeles.

I had initially planned on taking the 5 hour trip (plus stops) pretty much due south which had a brief period in Idaho however last night I decided to change the itinerary. In last nights Chuckwagon show they told a story about some dude called Nick who founded Jackson Hole and was the first to bring horse drawn wagons down over the Teton Pass from Idaho.

I figured if a wagon could do it then our Chevy Traverse would have no problems so after a quick check of the new route, off we went heading due west. We reached the pass in no time and we climbed very steeply very quickly. The view was sensational of the Teton ranges. The kids were a bit sleepy in the back but I soon got Luke out of his drifting sleep when I told him I had seen a warning sign on the road saying “Moose crossing - next 7 miles”. Perhaps with Luke’s great spotting skills I was going to spot this elusive creature after all !.

The next 30 minutes was an awesome drive and I was carefully watching the twisting road and occasionally glancing into the side forest looking for movement. It was with some sense of disappointment we got to the other side of the pass and no sighting, however we soon stopped by the river canyon and got some great snaps as we passed out of Wyoming for the last time and into Idaho.

Once we left I was driving along on a beautiful sunny day without a cloud in the sky and temperature around 30 degrees and nearly jumped out of my seat when I saw this plane coming straight at me from the left side of the car about 50 feet in the air ! It went straight over the top of our car and flew off down over the hill in front.

After recovering, I saw the plane take a turn to the left and did a circular loop and around he came again. I pulled over and got the camera out to try and catch a picture. Wow he was flying so low it was scary. He did about 4 or 5 more loops before heading off. He was not spraying anything on the farms so I guess he was either a stunt pilot or an idiot !

Before long we had arrived in Idaho Falls. Now after coming from Wyoming where there are mountains everywhere this place was dead flat without a hill or mountain in sight so I was starting to think the name of the town was a joke or something as there is no way they can have a big waterfall here.

Our Tom Tom wanted to take the bypass route south of the city but it was about midday so we were keen to have lunch so I ignored him (not for the first time !). As I followed the signs to Idaho Falls business area we drove along what you would call an industrial area which looked pretty crappy. Then I spotted this weird diner place called Scotty’s Hamburgers. It had this parking area out front which was full of Pick Up trucks and somehow caught my attention.

The kids saw it too and when I asked if they wanted to go there they shouted Yes !!!. I did a u-turn and in we went pulling in at the only parking spot left. It looked like a scene from Happy Days ! We went inside and they had about 10 burgers to choose from. Kerry had a Cheeseburger, Elise a Double Cheeseburger, I had the Great Scott Burger and Luke had the Super Burger. No fries just burgers.

When I ordered everyone looked at us really strange. We were not dressed like locals aand we certainly did not sound like locals. I cannot say for sure but I’m gussing we were the first Australians this group of folks have ever seen. What a delight for them !

The burgers were fine and we were soon on our way.

After that we drove a bit further and I spotted this Moose on the side of the road. Finally !!

OK so it was not real but I had to stop and get a photo taken. It was out the front of a furniture shop Wild West Designs. After I got Kerry to take the snap I said this place looked cool and we went in for a look. The kids stayed in the car as we did not think we'd be there long. Well, about 30 minutes later we left with this massive box of a bowl with three elks at the base. A real different piece of furniture we scored for $90-. A lot of the stuff is decorated with antlers and people use their stuff in log cabins and the like. A really cool shop if you ever go to Idaho Falls !

I then followed signs to downtown Idaho Falls and soon we were on this road alongside a river. I was concentrating on getting back on the Interstate but Kerry said it looked really neat and asking me to take the next right which Mr Tom Tom also wanted to do by coincedence. As I turned right we went over the river on a bridge and I then when I glanced back at the river I was stunned at the beauty of what I was witnessing. It was in fact the Idaho Falls ! We had stumbled across them by chance. Now how can I describe them ???

Well the river kind of splits into two. There is a man made wall that has been built on one side of the river for a section that runs around a corner for about half a mile. The wall looks like it has been built at a height about 5cm lower than the height of the river if that makes sense and the whole length is one even height.

What happens then is that as the water goes downstream some of the water falls down over the wall to the lower section of the river whilst the rest of the water flows straight on. Hence there is a waterfall effect right down the length of the wall which is an amazing sight and kind of looks like a mini Niagara Falls as it curves around the river bend. It is only a height of about few metres but looks so cool. The top deck of water is so smooth it looks like glass even though water continues to flow down this section. This was such an impressive thing to see.

Anyway we move on and drive south on our adventures. The landscape keeps changing from potato farm, to rocky outcrops, to potato farms back to small mountain ranges, to potato farms again (well, we are in Idaho). I went past this place with a sign saying Army Surplus Warehouse. What would they be selling ? Tanks or something ??

The temperature was getting hotter and it’s now 40 degrees when we arrive at Pocatello. Until yesterday I had never heard of this place but the cowboy dude who was driving our wagon last night comes from here and since it was on our way I thought we’ drop in. In reality there was only one thing I was after. Starbucks !

Mr Tom Tom told me where he was in town but as we drove by I could not spot it. We drove along to downtown and still no sight so we turned around and went back. Mr Tom Tom is saying in 300 metres you have reached your destination, then 200 metres, at 100 metres to go I told everyone to look out but no sight at all just McDonalds, Buger King and Domino’s. Damn !

I’m in the middle lane of a 3 lane road and I see a sign saying Fred Meyer's which looks like a department store or something and Kerry spots a Starbucks sign on the side of the building ! I instantly react by pulling across the lanes into the car park and some guy I cut across was not very happy at all honking his horn at me. I’m sure if he understood I was an Aussie just hanging for a coffee he would have been more polite.

We wander in and this place is like Walmart and has everything inside Supermarket, Clothes, Shoes, Electronics, Pharmacy and Starbucks ! I’m ordering the coffee when Kerry comes back saying she had found a top for a bargain at $14.99. I told her to buy it and then she realises it’s actually $19.99 and wants to back out. I said just buy it and turns out is was 40% of the lowest marked price and only $12.90 or something. We will have to keep an eye out for this place in future. Much nicer than Walmart.

As we leave Pocatello we are driving along going past the University of Idaho and in the distance there is this black stuff shooting up into sky. At first look it looked like a chimney stack from an industrial plant blowing pollution into the sky but to see the reaction of my travelling partners I said “look guys ahead I think there is a geyser ahead”. They did not take the bait at all but as we approached it was clearly not pollution. This was on the top of a ridge and whole hillside had been burned out, and this was in fact a mini tornado that was blowing on the ridge drawing all the ash from the burned ground up into the sky. Interesting but I did not see any cows up there in the sky !

The drive kept going and soon enough we were in Salt Lake City where the traffic was crazy. Sped limit said 65 mph but everyone was going like 80 mph. We had time to see a quick look of the State Capitaol and refill fuel before heading to the airport for our Delta flight to LAX at 8.15 pm. The flight time is 2 hours but as we gain an hour on the timezone we arrived in Los Angeles at 9.20pm and are staying at same Four Points Sheraton we did on Day 1 right at LAX Airport.

Well it's been a great 4 weeks, the drive has been the highlight without doubt and I am forever greatful to Kerry for planning this bit after reading the Trafalgar Tour magazine.

One more nights sleep before we head home.


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