Mountainous Meanderings.

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September 21st 2016
Published: September 21st 2016
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Fire pit SupperFire pit SupperFire pit Supper

Looks good doesn't it.
Our stay in Eagle just kept extending. We were only going to visit for a few days but then it was well, there’s a free Gig on Wednesday in Avon, oh and on Thursday there is a band in the Park, and at the weekend there is a three day Guitar Festival, not to be missed and so on. This was all great the only problem being we were still in the car park that said “no overnight parking” Terry contacted the local authorities, explained the situation and we got a pass to stay until Tuesday. So on Saturday we happily set off to the Guitar Festival only once halfway there to receive a call from Terry’s son, Karl to say the police had changed their minds, we had to move. However they did suggest we could stay at the ice-rink park, this must be the politest Police eviction note ever.

Colorado appears to have the most amazing selection of free festivals throughout the summer and the timing for the guitar festival couldn’t have been better for us. It began on Friday night with a Jimi
Our own RV Park.Our own RV Park.Our own RV Park.

Parked outside Terrys house, you could barely see us!
Hendrix tribute band, (which we missed, explanation later), Saturday was an acoustic day and Sunday the electric day. If you took your guitar you could get it cleaned restrung and set up for free. It was set in the beautiful surroundings of the ski Village of Copper Mountain

Now, this is another USA mileage event coming up. Val had loaned us her car so we could go sightseeing. We decided that we would do the Rockies National Park scenic route then, as Copper Mountain was on the way back would meet up with Terry for the concert at 5.30pm. Jim & Donna decided to join us. I had looked at the route and realise it was quite a long way so said we should leave by 9am. They privately thought “what! what are we going to do for 8hrs” but said OK. Next morning, amazingly promptly off we went. Well I can tell you the Rockies are amazing, beautiful, stunning and more. I can also tell you that, the route was approx 300+ miles, most of it mountainous, winding roads and almost all
Guitar RestringGuitar RestringGuitar Restring

Graeme getting his guitar restrung for free at Copper Mountain,. Whats not to like?
of it with no phone signal. At about midday I said we had better check to see how far it was and how long it would take us to get to Copper Mountain. Oh, really, it’s another 180 mile to go, about six hours away! We looked at the map; the only way was forward, no short cuts here. Something had to give and it could only be the concert. We felt a bit bad though, because there was no phone signal we couldn’t let Terry know. When we eventually got to call him the concert was just starting and he was sat, with four empty chairs around him. Oops! So I can tell you it takes 11 hours to complete the Rockies scenic route, even if you do the last bit quite fast!

The next two days were great though. Guitar virtuosos such as Lee Ritenour, Robben Ford, John Jorgenson, Martin Taylor, Redd Volkaert & Scott Goldman took to the stage, as did Frank Vignola & Vinny Raniolo. Life can be a bit odd at times as the last time we saw them play was in the West End Centre in Aldershot. Check out the picture, not much difference in the surroundings! No wonder Artist gets a bit confused at times

As good a time we were having, and as tempting as it was to accept Jims offer to join them on a friend’s house boat on Lake Powell we had to go. We were aiming to meet up with Mike & Ann-Marie in a few days, (friends of ours who live in Luxembourg), in Montana. A tight timescale but do-able. So off we went heading first to Yellowstone. Jim recommended we take the route that passed though the area of Dinosaur National Park, an area we knew nothing about (why would we?) but looked very interesting and was on a scenic route.

Along the way to Dinosaur we got a stone chip on our windscreen, now that’s annoying enough in a car but on a 100” x 40” windshield it can be quiet problematic. We needed to have it mended as soon as possible before it spread.

Beautiful Location Beautiful Location Beautiful Location

The festival was held at Copper Mountain Resort. That's a bit of last years snow you can see in the right hand corner.

As always the journey took longer than expected so we were looking for a night stop. In our “Good Sam Guide” I spotted there was an RV park in a place called Rangeley, it was in the middle of nowhere really but was just up ahead. We hoped it would have availability because the next stop was miles away.

We followed instructions and arrived at the Bucks n Bulls (no really, it was the name) RV park. It looked like there were many empty spaces. It was a pretty remote place; we would probably be in luck. I went in to enquire if we could book in for the night. The owner gave it thought for quite some time whilst consulting her fairly empty park map, “well” she said “it looks like I might just find you something”. As I waited with bated breath I passed the time looking out of the window at a 30 percent full campground!

Eventually, with great satisfaction a spot was identified and allocated, a bit bemused but with thanks I paid and we parked up.

Three favourite things Three favourite things Three favourite things

A log fire, BBQ supper and the RV in a beautiful location.

It was one of those serendipity moments. We got chatting to our neighbours and they mentioned they had a windshield repair man coming the next day. What luck was that? Apparently he came out this way once a week; chipped windshields are obviously a local hazard. We called and booked ours in. This meant we had to stay a day longer but it was much better than a broken screen.

We would have driven through Rangely in the blink of an eye, but as we now had a day here we cycled into town. We found the local museum & pottered in. Well, it was really interesting, we discovered that this area was rich in, and oozing with oil, literally oozing. In the past it just seeped out onto the surface. The Native Americans used it for medicine, & their tools etc. Then, after WW11 an oil boom took place and all the big oil companies moved in. It is now in decline.

The Town, of one main street
Beautiful sunriseBeautiful sunriseBeautiful sunrise

I got up to see the sunrise and then I turned around to see a full moon.
and population of 2000, is trying to rebrand itself and bring in some tourism & income. It had a free glossy visitor’s guide, a free museum, which had an original fully furnished Chevron Camp house, which is very comfy and very retro (I loved the pink telephone), a Camp hall, all the maps, equipment and associated oil drilling stuff. There was an Automobile museum and we also learned this area was littered with rock art, caves and petroglyphs of the Fremont Indians of 1000 years ago. In fact it is known as the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway. Oh, Rangley also had the mandatory, open all day, Mexican restaurant with excellent margaritas. Where are they all going to eat & drink once the wall is built?

It was such luck to get the screen done but we had lost another day of our deadline, the Montana date was looking challenging but we still thought we could do it.

We drove on through Dinosaur to the National Park & Wall of Bones museum. This is real Jurassic Park stuff, although these Dinosaurs are a bit less scary as they are trapped in stone. It is another of those Creationist dilemmas

149 million years ago during a drought, many dinosaurs died near the river edge. When the rains returned the floodwaters carried the bones along the river to lodge in a narrowing, creating possibly the world’s biggest dinosaur “log jam”. Gradually the bones were encased in Morrison sandstone and entombed. Over the years dynamic forces pushed and tilted these layers of rock upwards. Later, erosion exposed the bones, to be discovered in 1909 by Earl Douglass of the Carnegie Museum. Currently there are 1,500 dinosaur bones exposed and not only do they let you touch some of them, they encourage you to do so. Irresistible. Just imagine touching something that walked the earth 149 million years ago. We spent a few hours here taking it all in before heading off toward Flaming Gorge & Green Bridge

One of the great things here is the availability of National and State Parks. You draw up, find a site that suits you,
The Grand Tetons The Grand Tetons The Grand Tetons

As you drive along the road from Jackson to Yellowstone you see the Teton mountain range. There is a cycle path that runs along side.
pay up & park. They offer lovely locations, but basic or no facilities. So you use the Rig in full on camping mode, which we like to do. As well as beautiful views they usually supply a fire pit and often a BBQ site. The main rule you must obey is the “Keep the wildlife safe” rule. We arrived at Fireman’s Park in Flaming Gorge. We picked our site, gathered up logs and pine cones, lit our fire and BBQ’d our supper. Dusk, then darkness came; we ate supper by the fire pit and along with the wine, felt rather chilled

Once supper was finished I piled up the dishes and headed back into the Rig, Now, you need to understand that depending on how the Rig levels itself the door step changes in height. At this particular parking space, the step was quite high. I heaved myself up, tipped the dishes and spread salad all over the steps and ground. Now, I don’t know if bears like avocado salad, but I do know they say “DO not leave any food outside at all to attract creatures. So in the pitch
Roadside View Roadside View Roadside View

Thought I would share just an everyday view though our windscreen ( shield)
black I am grovelling around trying to pick up little bits of cucumber, avocado and tomatoes etc in case a hungry vegetarian bear is passing our way.

The next morning when we went to set off there was a little problem with the compressor for the air levelling system. Graeme sorted it for the time being but it required attention. We felt another day was about to be lost in achieving our Montana rendezvous but it had to be done. We thought we would see how it went until we got to Yellowstone and then decide if we would make it.

We drove through Jackson Hole, a really funky, wealthy town (you can find some of the most expensive real estate in the USA here), through the Grand Tetons and onto Yellowstone.

Now, a holiday planning suggestion you may not have considered. If you want an amazing, “never seen that before” type of holiday you need to do the trip above, it is truly, stunningly beautiful and actually beyond description, so I won’t bother ............................

Only joking, of course I will, but will précis it, because if I described all the scenery, Geysers, Mud Pots, Fumaroles and Hot Springs, let alone the waterfalls, lakes, rivers and wildlife, you would drop into a coma pretty quickly......That’s if you haven’t already. So please indulge me and look at the photographs.

They say “A picture speaks a thousand words”.

However, here are a few facts:

Yellowstone, established in 1872 is very proud to be the USAs (& apparently the Worlds) first National Park. In fact it pre dates the foundation of the National Park system which is celebrating its centenary this year. Originally it was managed & protected by the Army, and existed before the States of Wyoming, Montana & Idaho joined the union.

The Park is just 63 miles long and 54 miles wide
Not to be outdone, so was  the Wyoming oneNot to be outdone, so was  the Wyoming oneNot to be outdone, so was the Wyoming one

We love the different State signs
but has 466 miles of roads, 950 miles of backcountry trails, 97 trailheads, and 287 backcountry campsites. If you are considering booking the pre suggested holiday it also has a few beautiful hotels, but book early they are very popular. The main route is “The Grand Loop” a 180 mile figure of eight road that takes you by most of the main sights

There are over 40 major waterfalls in Yellowstone and over 290 in all. It has about 300 Geysers, 10,000 thermal features, its own Grand Canyon, stunning sweeping clear rivers, the beautiful Yellowstone Lake and the largest concentration of free roaming wildlife in all of the lower 48 states.

It is still considered an active volcano having approximately 2000 earthquakes yearly, and is one of the world's largest calderas, measuring 45 X 30 miles. Interesting to see, but you definitely don’t want to be here for the next “Big One”. Well, you wouldn’t be for long anyway as it would wipe out most of the Midwest and is considered a possible global catastrophe event. The good news is, it is
Chevron Oil workers homeChevron Oil workers homeChevron Oil workers home

Funky pink phone does it for me.
not expected in the next few hundred thousand years.

But as you stand and watch the erupting Geysers and you feel the power coming up through the earth. It makes you wonder?

As you may imagine, it took us a long time to travel just a few miles, as we stopped to see one wonderful view or geological feature after another. Luckily we had managed to book space within the National Park campgrounds so we could take our time through each bit of the loop. This gave the added excitement of seeing what wildlife wandered through the campground each night. I have never seen people move so fast when a Bison passed through the camping & BBQ area of, until then, a happily breakfasting family.

We had lost another day in Rig Maintenance and reluctantly had cancelled our plans to meet with Mike & Ann Marie. As excited as we were to see them, it meant we would have had to rush through Yellowstone in a day and still have a few hundred
Dinosaur embedded in sandstoneDinosaur embedded in sandstoneDinosaur embedded in sandstone

This a really amazing place to see.
more miles to go. With the deadline off we re-routed our trip and turned west.

We decided a few days rest & relaxation would be a good idea, it’s a tough life! We were at the beginning of a route through Idaho called the Scenic 1000 Hot Springs. Perfect, natural hot springs sounded very appealing. We checked out the different areas to possibly stay. We could have chosen from Bliss or Paradise, Soda or Pleasantville and there is even a town named Truth or Consequence (not close enough on our route, but what a great name). We settled on a place called Lava. The campsite was nestled between two hills with the Portneuf River running alongside. We were five minutes’ walk to the Hot Springs where we could wallow in a choice of several pools of varying temperatures and watch the world go by. Or, we could climb down into the river and enjoy a really natural hot spring. The only problem with this being, the temperature control was a little erratic. People would be enjoying the water when someone would suddenly leap up from the river as they were cooking or freezing! That’s why the very reasonable $8 for temperature controlled hot springs was worth every cent, but it was just not so much fun.

We aimed to go west from here towards Oregon where we were going to have the inside of the Rig refurbished. We had been trying to sort out getting the furniture in the Rig updated since shortly after arrival. In theory this should be easy…….. But then again perhaps not. No one ever answered our questions, gave a quote for the things we wanted or appeared to understand our (we thought) plainly and simply explained requests. We had the order number, exact details and dimensions of the furniture we wanted fitted and still it didn’t seem to work. The reply often being, we can build you this (hideous) dinette for much more money and fit this horrible (not what we asked for) desk area, just book it in. Our bungalow building nightmare came back to warn us……. We turned south instead.

We fancied visiting Salt Lake City, as it was on our way (not sure on the way to where as we keep changing our minds) and sounded fascinating. The only two things I knew about SLC was that it was the “home” of the Mormon religion, which in turn makes me think of the Osmonds, and it has a large salt lake. Lots to learn perhaps?

When we arrived at the campground we were told we could be picked up for a free guided tour of Temple Square, the area of the city in which all the main Mormon buildings are situated. As this is what we had come to see, we signed up.

The name most usually associated with the founding of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (CLS) is Brigham Young. Actually, the founder and first President of the Mormons was Joseph Smith, who appears to have led an interesting life, up until he was killed in jail by a mob in 1844. This interesting snippet of information wasn’t mentioned on the tour.

The name Mormon is actually a nickname taken from "The Book of Mormon”,
Bear bathtime Bear bathtime Bear bathtime

He may look cuddly here but he was actually huge.
which along with the “Doctrine of Covenants” & “Pearl of Great Price” defines the difference between them and other Christian religions. The Church's most distinctive scripture was published by Joseph Smith in 1830. It is said that he translated the "Book of Mormon" from gold plates that were found near his house in Manchester, New York!

Bringham became President following the death of Smith. Ongoing conflict within the church led him to relocate his group from Illinois to Nebraska, then west to Salt Lake Valley.

Originally Utah was inhabited by the Pueblo People who built large communities in the southern part of the State from approximately 1 to 1300 AD. The Ute Tribe, from which the state takes its name, and the Navajo Indians, arrived later to this region. So, in 1847 the pioneers, led by Brigham Young, were the first non-Indians to settle permanently in the Salt Lake Valley, which at the time was a part of Mexico ( just think how far North that wall would have to be built) The founding group consisted of 143 men, three women, and two children. The membership has grown from those 148 pioneers to the 15,634,199, (2015) it has today. It is now the 4th biggest Religion in the USA.

Within a few years they started to build their first Temple, and from there set out the City in blocks arranged on a grid pattern in 10-acre squares, separated by streets 132 feet wide. Brigham Young decreed this distance to ensure the streets would be “wide enough for a team of four oxen and a covered wagon to turn around without resorting to blasphemy." Still very useful to this day. The city has very few traffic problems.

The area now covers 35 acres encompassing their Temple, Tabernacle, Museum, and Family History Library, gardens, memorial building and conference building. All very opulent and impressive. Because they have “Missionaries” from all nations, they can offer tours in almost every language. We were escorted by a young lady from
Testing the Geyser water run off.Testing the Geyser water run off.Testing the Geyser water run off.

Just to see if it was really hot!
Bangalore, India. You are taken around the buildings and encouraged to ask questions. We did but I have to say that at the end I was still a little unclear re the history of the scriptures of their Church. It was (to me) a bit all over the place. However it was a very interesting tour. Actually I was more fascinated to learn how a young professional Hindu woman from Bangalore came to be in SLC taking us around on a Mormon tour of Temple Square.

When we left we decided that we could not possibly visit SLC without viewing The Great Salt Lake, so took what we expected to be a short detour to view it. Well, we saw more than we planned because we missed the turning to the Marina and had to drive a further 30 miles before we could turn around. Normally we wouldn’t have bothered but this time we actually had a plan to follow and we would have ended up a long way adrift in Arizona. These roads go a long way! However it did mean we got to see quite a lot of the
The Lone Star Geyser. YellowstoneThe Lone Star Geyser. YellowstoneThe Lone Star Geyser. Yellowstone

When in a scenic layby Graeme saw some people with bikes and asked where they were going. It was to see this more remote Geyser . We followed the cycle route and were lucky enough to view the rainbow making Geyser in action. It only erupts every few hours

On the way from SLC we did an emergency stop when we saw an IKEA! Graeme stayed in the Rig whilst I did a supermarket sweep of some necessary items! However, opposite was a Denver Mattress shop. Now, the Rig came with an apparently wonderful “Sleep Number Mattress”. These are advertised all the time on the radio as the best thing ever. Each side has a remote control to adjust the firmness for each sleeper. Well, I can tell you it’s not ideal in a motor home, as it is sensitive to changes in altitude. We would often forget to deflate the bed before a journey, or not realise our route was to be going through a mountainous when we went to bed it would be like a huge over inflated balloon! On the other hand, if we forgot we had deflated it we would go to bed only to find it was a big saggy bag. It had to go. We entered the store to look at the mattresses, tried a few, picked one, then thought prior to purchase we should re measure the space in the RV to ensure it would fit. It didn’t, we
Minerva Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs.Minerva Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs.Minerva Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs.

Named after the Roman goddess of artists and sculptors. This cascade is formed of Travertine and changes in size and shape over the years. It had altered considerably since we last saw it ten years ago.
needed a mattress no more than 10 inches deep. The one we wanted was 13", so we returned to ask the salesman if he could find another one. This is possibly the worst criteria for buying a mattress. However one was identified & purchased. Question, would you like delivery? Answer, yes please, we will bring the RV to the door. So mattress changed, off we went. Shopping on the road, it’s a breeze, and people often ask us how we manage without a car.

Part of the reason for our plan was that some months ago whilst listening to the Grateful Dead radio station, Graeme heard someone talking about a place named Mystic Hot Springs. The story was that in 1995 Producer/Director/Artist/ Mike Ginsburg was travelling in his bus back to Denver from the last Vegas Dead shows when he stumbled into Mystic Hot Springs. Instantly he realised that everything he was looking for was right there, so bought the place. Over the years he has developed unique hot spring baths (literally) and soaking pools. We checked out the web site, there was a disclaimer, it read “Mystic Hot Springs is a one of a kind place. You will not find it anywhere else. Some say it's like stepping back in time to the 60's or 70's. Things are imperfect. We realize that there's a lot we could do to improve it” How could you resist that sales pitch?

We had looked at the map and realised it was on our route....we had to go! I can’t really explain it, except to say he was right. It definitely is a work in progress, but a very interesting work in progress. There are old school buses, Hippie Buses, old pioneer cabins &, old caravans, many still waiting for renovation. It is a very organic place. The mission statements is “Mystic Hot Springs creates an authentic environment which raises self-awareness by direct experience with nature, art and antiquities” They use all reclaimed materials for the work and in exchange for
Beautiful waterfall viewed from  "Artists Point"Beautiful waterfall viewed from  "Artists Point"Beautiful waterfall viewed from "Artists Point"

This is one of the most photographed features in the Park.
room and board many people come to help with the project.

I thought this was all OK, but it was all a bit of a mess, and I felt a need to tidy it all up, do a bit of painting, and move it on a bit quicker than the current pace (its currently in its 20th year in the making!) In fact whilst lying in the baths I mentally finished the project....... Graeme said I was missing the point!

The Hot Springs baths were great, as you can see. The water comes from the mountain at 75C (168F) at 200 gallons a minute. As it travels through a channel, it cools down, and is then contained in 8 bathtubs and 2 concrete pools. Over time, the mineral build up has created a mound that is a mile across, 200 ft deep, 200 yards wide. Gradually it has encased the baths. When the water overflows from the pools and baths it flows down to 5 tropical fish ponds, which are kept at about 24C (75 F) all year long, which makes it possible to keep exotic tropical fish. The geese liked it too.

Whilst there, idly laying in a bath, as well as redesigning the area I passed the time watching several men dig a new trench into a wooden house, lay a pipe, then take a bathtub in creating an instant free indoor hot tub.

There is a small stage where Touring bands passing through the area occasionally stop and play impromptu Gigs.

It is one of those places you never forget. We stayed for a second day. It is only in the rig you can end up somewhere like this.

We actually know where we are going next as we had to book camp sites. So the road will lead us to Zion & Bryce Canyons, Lake Powell and Las Vegas and whatever else comes along on the way. We are then well on the way to Mexico, we are very excited about that. So the next blog should be the last from the
Rainbow at the base of the waterfall. Rainbow at the base of the waterfall. Rainbow at the base of the waterfall.

You can walk down 500 + steps to the waterfall base. On the way back up I turned around to see this beautiful sight.

PS, Just in case you ever need to know. When we were listening to the Ranger talk, she said bears have developed their tastes and are very particular to a tasty ripe avocado!

Additional photos below
Photos: 39, Displayed: 39


Yellowstone lakeYellowstone lake
Yellowstone lake

Geysers & Hot Springs at Tom Thumb set against the lake. My favourite site in the park.
Prismatic SpringPrismatic Spring
Prismatic Spring

One of the most colourful springs in Yellowstone. It is 200 ft across ,the water is 70C / 158F. This was a clear moment, we stood and watched as the steam drifts across it.
 Firehole  river  Firehole  river
Firehole river

500 gallons a minute pour into the river.
Lava Hot SpringsLava Hot Springs
Lava Hot Springs

A more traditional approach.
At last..... At last.....
At last.....

Thought you might like to see the result of the Tequila hunt. Very good Margaritas. Cheers
Temple Square Temple Square
Temple Square

The Statue of Christ in the top floor of the very impressive Conference centre, The Temple, The Schoenstein Organ in the Conference centre where the famous Tabernacle choir sing. The roof spire. there is a large garden on the roof part of which represent the pioneers journey to SLC.
Mystic  Hot Springs Mystic  Hot Springs
Mystic Hot Springs

And relax................... The water contains lots of calcium, magnesium, and iron, which makes it good for soaking, and should make me youthful and beautiful. (taking into account the recent dodgy haircut!)
Organic Hot TubsOrganic Hot Tubs
Organic Hot Tubs

Each tub is a different temperature. The pools and tubs are kept between 37-43 degrees C.(98 and 110 degrees F)
View from my favorite tubView from my favorite tub
View from my favorite tub

Not bad really. After soaking in these for a couple of days lots of body lotion was required!
Projects in waiting Projects in waiting
Projects in waiting

The plan is to renovate all of them to rent them out like hotel rooms. I was itching to start.
Colourful hot spring.Colourful hot spring.
Colourful hot spring.

The colours are created by heat loving organisms called thermophiles. The green & brown in cooler water and orange & yellow in hotter. only a few microorganisms thrive on the really hot water so they are brilliant blue. The water absorbs all light wavelengths except blue, which the pool reflects.

Just in case you wanted to make your own Mud Pot
Yellowstone wildlife.Yellowstone wildlife.
Yellowstone wildlife.

Elk, Moose, Bison and Grey Wolf.
Yellowstones Thermal features: A very brief description!Yellowstones Thermal features: A very brief description!
Yellowstones Thermal features: A very brief description!

Mud Pots: Microorganisms & acid dissolves surrounding rock into clay which mixes with rising steam to form mud. They bubble away. Hot Spring: hot water heated by magna comes through a channel to the surface. The channel has no constrictions therefore doesn't "Spurt" Geyser: a hot spring that tosses water into the air. V impressive Fumeroles: a steam vent in the earths crust.

22nd September 2016

Love reading your blog
Hi Moira. Love reading about your travels especially Wyoming as Julie's Eldest son Danny has just started Uni in Powell he got a Soccer Scolership and is having a great time there. And we have been to Bryce & Zion canyons. Love Mick & Maureen

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