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We have to admit. Canyonlands National Park was not at the top of our list for parks to visit. But as we were driving in there the sights were great. We are glad we went. Some compare it to the Grand Canyon although not as crowded. We used Ballard RV Park in Thompson Springs, UT as home base for Moab, Arches, Dead Horse, and the Island in the Sky part of Canyonlands. Thompson Springs feels like you are in the middle of nowhere. It’s kind of a ghost town but there is a gas station. We went around Memorial Day so much of Moab was full. In Canyonlands we walked the Mesa Arch Trail. It is an easy ½ mile walk. If you are bringing kids be careful once you reach the Arch because there is a big drop off behind it. For pictures sunrise is a good time to go because the underside of the arch is lit. Also try to be patient because, as with the arches at Arches National Park, many people feel like they have to be inside the arch to experience it so you will have to wait to get a picture without them in it. Later we went to the Grand View Point. It is the southern-most spot on the mesa. We walked about half of the Grand View Trail. By this time it was afternoon and was starting to get hot. There are some great views up there. But I also like taking pictures of flowers, plants, lizards, and other small animals. If you do too you can spend a lot of time there. It’s a nice spot to sit on a boulder and eat lunch. On our way back to camp we stopped at Peace Tree restaurant in Moab for an expresso shake. One day we went to Lion’s Park in Moab. There’s a covered shelter there for a picnic and there’s a pedestrian bridge over the Colorado River. We took pictures from there, watched people launch their floatables and saw some people jumping into the river. That looked kind of scary since the water levels are up this year and the current is fast. Dead Horse State Park Another day we went to Dead Horse State Park. Spent time here walking the trails, taking pictures of cactus flowers, lizards, chipmunks, and ground squirrels. We could see people waaay below on the canyon floor driving a jeep trail. There was a very small shop there (didn’t look like it was run by the park) selling sandwiches and smoothies, etc. All I had was a smoothie and it was good. I don't love the name of this park or the story behind it. Legend has it that some horses were left to die. I don't know if it is true or not. But I did love this park for all that I saw there.
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Our first visit to Arches National Park was mid-morning on a Wednesday in late May. We sat in line for at least 30 minutes. We were afraid there would be nowhere to park but people seemed to move fairly quickly so we did find parking. We saw a lot the first day including Park Avenue, Balanced Rock, The Windows section and a viewpoint for Delicate Arch. Then we went to the Moab Brewery to eat. Went to Arches an hour earlier than yesterday and waited in line far less. We decided to hike to Delicate Arch which is a 3 mile round trip hike. A lot of uphill. It took me about an hour & 15 minutes to get to the arch and 45 minutes to get down. Afterward I think we did Sand Dune Arch, and Broken Arch. That same day I think we did Landscape Arch too. Michael did tunnel Arch and Pine Arch but I was really hot and tired so I took pictures. I think we went back to the brewery and had poutine and ice cream.
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Decided to drive into Capitol Reef. Wow - we could tell right away that the views here were going to be great because there were good views before we even entered the park. We drove the scenic drive at the end and went all the way down the dirt road at the end of that. The parking lot there is VERY small and there was hardly any room to turn around. Driving on a dirt road in our tow vehicle is a little nerve wracking for me so I was glad when we were back on paved roadway. We went to see Cassidy Arch from the view point. We didn't hike the trail. When the Mormon's developed this area they planted fruit trees and called the place Fruita. Pies are still sold there. We also went to the Gifford House and bought the cherry pie and a Strawberry Rhubarb. The weather was perfect. The next time we went back the weather was rainy and chilly. Unfortunately they were out of cherry pie but we got Peach, Apple, and mixed berry. I liked cherry most, then apple, then peach, then mixed berry. A deer walked across the road between us and the Gifford house. Unfortunately we couldn't do very much because the rain was pretty steady. We still managed to take a picture of the school house, see petroglyphs, and do a boardwalk.
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Bryce Canyon National Park that is. An unusually snowy May in Bryce. Our new home base was Panguitch, UT. We drove into Bryce Canyon on a Friday, hoping there would be less people than on Saturday. The closer we got the more low hanging clouds we saw. Then the further we ascended we started seeing snow and before we got to the top we saw a heavy coating of snow on everything. Saturday we stopped at the visitor center at Red Canyon and found out about scenic byway 12 and decided to do that drive Sunday. Then we went to Ruby's (there's a Ruby's motel - Best Western Plus, and a Ruby's campground and Ruby's store and restaurant, etc.) to eat breakfast. We decided to do the Queen's Garden trail. I got down 2 or 3 levels and started to feel some uncomfortable twinges warning me of IBS. So we climbed back out. After awhile we left to go back to the Crusader but we had to go to a rest stop bathroom on the way - thank goodness I didn't try to finish that trail. I was better by the time we got back to Red Canyon so we did the Hoodoo and Pink Ledges Trails. Sunday we had the breakfast buffet at Ruby's and then started driving scenic Byway 12. I drove. Maybe that influenced me but the drive/scenery seemed underwhelming until we got to a really high, really narrow part of the road. It felt like we were driving on such a high narrow road you could just fall off. We made some stops at visitor centers and scenic pullouts. We stopped and had lunch at the Burr Trail Grill. I had a Thai burger and a piece of caramel apple pie. I started driving back but about halfway got pretty sleepy so Michael finished driving back. Monday we went back into Bryce to do Queen's Garden trail again. This time I made it to the end and back - but coughing a lot because those bronchitis coughs really hang on. I was questioning whether it was "worth it" or not - because we've already seen so much great stuff how could it be better? Before going back to the Crusader trailer we decided to do the Mossy Cave trail. Mossy Cave itself was pretty un-exciting. I had seen it on a TV show called Motion. They visited it in the winter and it was full of stalactite - looked more interesting. However, there is also a falls in the area which was good. And I probably enjoyed the trail the most because you cross the Tropic Ditch and I got a picture of it with some hoodoos which made for a really nice photo. Tuesday we decided to see Cedar Breaks National Park. I didn't know much about this park so I was excited to see it. Once again, the closer we got the more and more snow we saw on the ground. Being someone who lives at sea level I just don't think about the conditions at a higher altitude. Cedar Breaks is at about 10,000 feet. By the time we got up there I was stunned to see a very thick coating of snow everywhere with signs and trees sticking up out of it. We stopped at the stop sign and turned on our left turn signal, looked right, and then started turning left but then stopped abruptly. What?! Look - the road is covered in snow - not plowed. We were going nowhere. Stunned we decided to turn right and drive for awhile still wanting to look at the snow. Not far ahead was Brian Head which is apparently a ski town because there were a lot of ski lifts. I guess the middle of May isn't still ski season so it looked like a ghost town - full of snow. We went all the way to Cedar City to the Walmart there. We shopped. We hadn't been to a Walmart or any store of similar size for a couple of weeks. We missed having all those choices. Wednesday we knew we would be leaving our RV Park the next day so we started making calls to reserve a spot in Moab. We were getting too close to Memorial Day to be able to pick and choose where we would stay in a place as popular as Moab so it took us most of the day to figure out a new plan. The new plan was to stay here in Panguitch another week and then spend a week heading toward Moab and stay just north of there in Thompson Spring instead. That works out because if you are going to sit somewhere awhile spending time it might as well be in an inexpensive park here in Panguitch. We spent awhile Thursday working on our plans too and looking for trails to do in the parks. And I think we might have done laundry too. Friday I worked a little in the morning and then Michael decided we should go to Bryce and eat lunch at the lodge there. I love hanging out in the National Park lodges so let's go! As we started driving into the park the snow began .... it didn't seem like there would be snow at all when we left the trailer 30 minutes earlier! It as really pretty. We ordered open faced meatloaf sandwiches with mashed potatoes. Comfort food for a chilly wet day. So beautiful watching the snow from inside the cozy lodge. After that we looked in the gift shop and then went to Ruby's gift shop. There I got a star shaped geode and a yummy hot cappuccino. Then we drove around looking for pronghorn antelope and I saw it coming in the sky. A wave of darkness with blowing white stuff at the leading edge. We pulled over in a parking lot for a minute while it washed over us - more snow. Then we decided e would head back to the trailer. Saturday we thought the weather was not going to be good so we did laundry and chores. Around 4:40 we went to the KOA and got propane. On the way back we stopped and got a shake at Henrie's drive-in. Michael got marshmallow carmel and I got carmel. Sunday we thought we would go to the park but then we saw the forecast. High of 47 with a feels like of 38 and windy and rainy. So we decided to go to the Bryce Canyon Pines restaurant. We had seen on their sign they had homemade soup and pie. We started driving there and somewhere along the way the biggest snowflakes I ever saw started falling from the sky. Wow - it came down heavy and was covering everything of course. We got to the restaurant and found out there was a 45 min wait - they must have been short handed. I got ham on grilled cheese and a cup of tomato soup. I was going to have boysenberry pie but all they had was blueberry and strawberry banana. So we decided to get it another day. Monday we went back to Bryce but parts of it was closed. It was snowing/sleeting/hailing/who knows. We drove around the parts we could and then went grocery shopping. We also stopped at Bryce Canyon Pines to get our pie to go. Tuesday I had to work in the morning and then it was raining. We ate our pie from yesterday for breakfast.
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After seeing the Grand Canyon we decided we wanted to see Zion National Park. We left for Tuba City which was about an hour and 45 min drive. Being in Tuba City feels like we are really in the middle of nowhere. We stayed at a Quality Inn that had an RV Park behind it. No WIFI was provided for the RV Park but I was able to either connect with Michael's Verizon service or go in to the lobby and work, or go to the coffee shop next door and work. We visited the Navajo museum which we enjoyed. We stayed 2 nights. The last night here I started feeling bad with lots of coughing and a fever - I ended up trying to sleep in one of the recliners but didn't feel like I got much sleep. I was on my way to getting bronchitis. I felt like a zombie and we had a 3 hour drive to get to Mt Carmel. Once we arrived at the RV Park at the Best Western in Mt Carmel I made an appointment with a doctor online. I knew I needed to get started on some kind of medication or the bronchitis was going to get much worse. Very quickly I go a phone consultation with a doctor who prescribed steroids and some pills to alleviate my cough. Fortunately I was able to get that filled at a pharmacy in Kanab. I got better pretty quick but as of mid May I still have the irritating cough so I take Mucinex at least at night. We stayed home all day. I couldn't really connect to the hotel WIFI from where we were across the street. But I was able to connect with Michael's phone, or by going across the street to sit in the lobby. I think we started visiting Zion Saturday, May 4th. Took it easy so I'd keep getting better and not relapse. Trails I remember we did were the Narrows (the water portion at the end was closed due to high/fast water), Lower Emerald Pools, Hanging Gardens, at least part of the Watchman Trail, Archaeological Trail, and The Grotto. I love this park because you are down in it rather than up on the rim like at Grand Canyon. The stone walls in this park were massive. Made us feel small. The lodge here was very nice. A peaceful place to sit even if you don't stay there. The shuttle buses were a great way to get around. After 4 nights at the first RV Park we moved to Mt Carmel Motel RV Park. The WIFI here was great and I was able to work on it every day. We stayed here for 4 nights and continued to visit Zion.
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We left Houston on a Friday and didn't get out of Texas until Sunday. 9-21-90 Friday 6:30 pm We left Houston and stopped at Schoebel’s in Columbus, Texas for dinner because we were hungry and to celebrate getting out of Houston traffic! We arrived at the Caverns Inn in Boerne TX just before 11 pm. This Inn is cheap but the shower head didn’t work and there was no towel for the floor. Tomorrow comes the long drive to El Paso. No firm plans on what to do next. 9-22-90 Saturday We left the motel about 9:30 am heading toward El Paso. We had bagels for breakfast. Stopped in Sonora at the Dairy Queen for ice cream. Played the Best of Heart Tape and read Dancing with Porcupines before that. It had rained most of the day. Mostly there were some great cloud formations – got much grayer toward El Paso. I drove for an hour before Ft Stockton. Tried the TV in Ft Stockton – no reception – will try later. At 3:30 we are 11 miles from El Paso and it is pouring. The fields are filling with water – raging rivers are forming! Waterfalls are along side the road. It is very wet!! 5:30 approaching el Paso – we’ll stay at Motel 6 west. We’re having pizza hut delivered to our room. We are watching the movie Chances Are. Pretty good movie. The low today was 62 degrees that was when we went to the grocery store about 6:30 pm. 9-23-90 Sunday I woke up at 6:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep. Overcast outside windy and cold out. We left to eat about 9am and had French toast in El Paso. By 10:30 we were at the War Eagles Air Museum in Santa Teresa, NM. Most planes in this museum are flown once a month. Keith got to fly in the trainer (simulated flight). The people there were very nice – still cold very windy and a little rainy. Then we went to the store and bought some pears and back on I10. Awfully boring out here on the way to Arizona – no scenery and very overcast. We decided to stay the night in a Picacho KOA Kabin near Tucson AZ. Got there early enough for a dip in the hot tub and a shower before dinner. Hot tub was great. There were squished crickets in the shower ick. For dinner we had rice and crab meat. It was hot out. The kabin had a evaporative cooler – which didn’t really cool. But it blew air so I enjoyed sleeping on the top bunk where I got the brunt of it. We plan to get up tomorrow to photograph the saguaros by sunrise. We have the portable tv in the kabin. We have filled out our first postcards. I need to get some sleep. 4:30 am comes awfully early. The lady at that KOA wasn’t very personable when we asked about the weather she looked out the window & gave us a report. Gee thanks. 9-24- Monday We got up and out pretty quickly photographing the saguaros was great fun – they are very beautiful in the soft light. Sunrise seemed to be late – then we went on to the Sonora Desert Museum – wondering why they didn’t open at 8:30 as they’d advertised. We walked up to it and found a clock that said 7:45 am – uh –oh then a man told us they didn’t not observe daylight savings. Everyone seemed to be amused that it messed up the Texans. I’ll say. This means we were up at 3:30 am. So now we are 2 hours ahead of Houston time. Anyway the Living Desert Museum was wonderful. It’s the only type of museum I really enjoy. A tour taught us about plants and we did our own animal tour. Had a corn dog for lunch. Wonderful hummingbird aviary. Very hot had a headache when we left. Headed toward Phoenix. Stayed in Motel 6 East – Phoenix.. Closest to the zoo. Went for ice cream at Dairy queen. 9-25-90 Tuesday Went to the Phoenix Zoo today it cost 6.00. Many exhibits were being renovated or under construction. So lots of critters were off display. It was SO HOT – no concession stands open. Just too hot to enjoy. We leave at 11:30 am to go to the Grand Canyon. It was probably around 5 pm when we arrived at the Grand Canyon. Lots of people here. Can Not imagine being here during the summer season. Must be pretty crowded then. We were at the South rim. Left on our way to Cameron to spend night. Wow only one hotel – we’ll go to the next city and the next – these towns are incredibly small. We will go on to Page – uh oh – every hotel motel whatever are full – full We ended up in Big Water, UT they had a room 38.00 no food in town no TV – no phone – we are in Utah and think we have lost an hour now – we had cold beans and crackers for dinner. Sometimes not planning things out doesn’t work out well. 9-26-90 Wednesday Left Big Water around 10 am I think The plateaus and rocks here in Utah have more colorful stripes then ones we were seeing in NM and AZ. We may not be returning to the Grand Canyon – Arizona was not very kind to us – hard to find things – awfully hot – no rooms – no animals – it got on our nerves I guess. Arrived at the KOA in Glendale UT around 2 or 2:30 I guess. Booked a tent site for 3 nights. Figured we would see Zion National Park today and tomorrow, Bryce Canyon the next day and North Rim of the Grand Canyon the next day which would be Saturday. The lady at this KOA has little or no personality. Oh well we will visit Zion for the rest of today. There is a tunnel that is 1.1 miles long – it was finished in 1930. There is a lot of color and texture here. We will do some hiking tomorrow in Zion. We had spam, potatoes and asparagus for dinner. The temperature today was probably upper 70s low 80s tonight it’s supposed to be in the 50s. 9-26 Now we are trying to do laundry – washing it is no big deal but there are only 2 dryers. Some people appear to have waited a week or two to do their laundry. I called Lee apparently Muffin (my cat) had worms and Kurt administered a pill – they are so sweet. Then called Mom. Dad’s still fighting with the roof people. All else was fine. I am ready to settle in to the tent – If I can’t get these clothes dried they will wait till morning. Today we hiked the Narrows – an easy trail at Zion. Saw a large buck running across a stream and several other deer later on. 9-27 Thursday Well the clothes waited till morning. Got them dried – greeted the horses and ate oatmeal. Left for Zion – it is very overcast today. We got started hiking right away on “Emerald Pools” we went all the way to the top on this one where we found a pool at the base of an approx. 800ft tall – very quiet – took a picture of rocks reflections and a dragonfly here. Also a panoramic from top to bottom. If you went the whole way it was moderately strenuous otherwise easy. After this 2 or 2:30 we had lunch at the lodge. I didn’t feel very well after this – intestinal issues. Keith fixed some chicken noodle soup for me. So by 6pm I was in the tent having Gatorade, soup and crackers – picked up a country station on am from Phoenix – felt better and took a walk to say goodnight to the horses. I slept real well. Keith said it rained a little. 9-28-90 Friday We left for Bryce Canyon Probably around 9 or 9:30. Yikes it is cold this morning – the sun came out and it warmed up a little. Then we arrived at Bryce. It is definitely cold here. Stopped at visitor’s center. Proceeded to drive to the top 9,150 ft yikes again. Brisk wind – my hands are numb and the meter on my camera barley works – very distracting – hard to concentrate on all the ingredients of a good photo. Pretty much drove all around looking for light and at one point Keith tried to photo some lightening while I went chasing light – which lead us to find some rainbows. I tried to take a nap once during a thunderstorm – I recorded it – didn’t get much. Then around 3 pm it started to hail and collected on the ground for awhile – got some nice late evening shots at Fairyland. Ate lunch at the lodge Keith had a bison burger and I had clam chowder and a turkey sandwich. Bought a pretty mauve vase with feathers on it here. To sleep I put on 2 pair of long underwear. 1 pair sock 2 pair leg warmers – sweats and hooded jacket – it stormed tonight loudly – kept dry and almost warm. 9-29 Saturday I had oatmeal, Keith had grits. On our way to the North Rim today – just left – Jacobs Lake 11:15 am it is clouding up good thing I like rainbow shots. Lots or at least fair amounts of Aspen changing color up here – really nice walked down to Brite Angel point – very hazy here. Very nice Lodge and cabins – we ate spaghetti sat at a picnic table then we left for Flagstaff. Motel 6 was full. We stayed at the Twilite motel for only $34 we got double bed – couch and kitchenette – very nice I thought. Had McDonald’s for dinner. Started to watch Let it Ride movie and fell asleep. 9-30-90 Sunday On our way to Albuquerque had egg sandwich for breakfast – left around 9:30 am or 10. Long drive – very few stops – I guess we ate danishes for lunch. Arrived in Albuquerque before 5pm. Made reservations at High Finance restaurant – rode the tram up to the restaurant. It was freezing up there. Got some pictures of clouds and aspens and sunset – then went in to eat. Great Food. I had steak Dianne, a filet flamed in apricot brandy and grand mariner. Most tender meat I ever had. For dessert chocolate chip cream cheese and chocolate layer cake we stayed at the KOA central kabin #2. 10-1-90 Monday We did the laundry 1st thing then had breakfast at KOA 4 pancakes and ham. Then we went shopping in Old town Albuquerque. It was fun I love the art here I bought 3 t-shirts for my cat sitter and a blanket. Keith bought a cat for his mom for Christmas and a cross for Jeanette and a T-shirt for himself at KOA. Had a great lunch at something del Montoya. Went to the zoo for one hour. It closed at 5pm. We ate a hamburger back at the KOA. 10-2 Tuesday Today we had the rest of the danishes for breakfast and went driving around. Stopped at a pawn shop and an army surplus. Also a book store where Keith bought a couple of books I bought a magnet – had lunch at Kentucky fried. Drove up to Sandia Crest. Bought a piece of pottery in the gift shop. We were in a cloud up there. Then we went to the Coronado mall where I bought a book on indian designs. We went back to camp made beanie weanies out of bans and Vienna sausages – yuk – we did laundry and I broke a nail playing pacman. Wrote a few bazillion post card and and that was enough. 10-3 Wednesday Mailed the postcards and bills. 200 miles later I realized I had not addressed the postcards! Duh! We are on our way from Albuquerque to Carlsbad Caverns and Fort Stockton. Had pancakes for breakfast and ham ad turkey sandwiches. Arrived at Carlsbad at 2:30 did the short tour of the cave then stayed to see the bat flight at 6:10 pm they came out and were finished at 6:40 or so then they started again about 7pm and finished by 7:15. Hopefully we got some good full moon shots but nary a one lizard shot. The best part about the cave is that it provides a home to 750,0000 of these great little creatures. Then we left for Ft Stockton arrived at Motel 6 about 11:00 Tx time. The time changes have messed us up. 10-4- Thursday Who knows when we left Ft Stockton – got up around 9 or 9:30 by the time we got to lunch it was 11am then we got gas and washed the car then we left. Stopped in Junction to get gas and go to Tastee freeze for a burger. Only 3 more hours to San Antonio. Got to San Antonio and checked in to KOA kabin 7. Went to River Walk Lone star café – had grilled chicken – very good. We called the Melodrama Theater and found out they are moving – no shows right now – rats! We go to bed around 11pm its comfy here the kabin has air conditioner. 10-5- Friday I tossed turned uncertain why I couldn’t sleep and why my back hurt so much and realized it was 11:15. The time changes really messed me up and so do window shades. We went To McDonald’s for lunch checked out 2 missions – Mission Conception and Mission Jose. Then off to River Walk We have tickets for the Imax at 3pm. A show called “To the Limit” – wow it was really great – it featured a skier a rock climber and a ballet dancer. Then we went to Texas 21 for dinner had brisket – the sauce was too vinegary and the margaritas were too tart. Checked out some hotels on the river La Mansion was very nice. We came across an old lady who just got up and started singing and she was great! Stopped for sugarless saltless chocolate at chocolate factory yum then home to KOA to bed. 10-6-90 Saturday We got up around 9 went to breakfast at Mcdonald’s all you can eat pancakes – then we went to Aquarena Springs – saw Ralph the diving pig! Not far from home now. But we had a great time.
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Trip to Grand Canyon Including stays in Abilene State Park, TX, Oasis State Park, NM, and Albuquerque, NM If you've read other parts of this blog you probably see that the trips we have taken were vacations from work so we bought plane tickets, reserved hotel rooms, and rented a car. We tried to fit in just as much fun as possible into our 9 days of freedom. If we were going to visit a national park, then I'd reserve us rooms at a lodge within the park. I didn't want to waste any time driving to the park. We also had to ask some nice friends if they would look after our 2 cats who would have to stay behind. We are now semi-retired (I still work remotely) and last year we purchased a fifth wheel trailer. So now I just need to know that I will have cell service or WIFI so that I can work. We aren't limited by time. We think we would like to be away from the Houston heat for the summer. We don't really have an idea of how long we'll be gone we're just going to try it out and see how it feels. So this year we are taking our first real trip in the trailer. We left in mid-April heading toward the Grand Canyon. And we brought the cats. Our first stop was Abilene State Park in Abilene Texas. If I had it to do again I would have stopped sooner than Abilene. I think that was too far mostly for the cats sake. We were tired too and the cats seemed to handle it pretty well, but it stresses me out worrying about how they are feeling. Abilene State Park was a nice place to stay. We walked a couple of trails and got used to living in our trailer. Cell reception was poor. Here are some pictures from the park: After two nights we moved on to Oasis State Park. Driving thru New Mexico we noticed two things. A bunch of wind turbines and SO many Holstein cows on dirt lots. You like to think of the cattle grazing in a nice green field and then coming in for the evening to be milked but there they are in the dirt. They are fed in a trough and get milked 3 times a day. Anyway, Oasis State Park was very nice. Clean and peaceful and roomy. Was able to work here using the cell phone as a hot spot. We stayed a couple of nights and moved on to Albuquerque. Here are some pictures: In Albuquerque we visited Petroglyph National Monument. I had been here 30 some years ago and it was just as interesting this time around seeing the petroglyphs (rock carving/drawings by the indians). The next day we visited Old Town Albuquerque. I'm not as fond of shopping as I used to be so we didn't spend all that long here. The Desert View RV Park was pretty good despite its proximity to the freeway. Traffic noise is like white noise to us and not that bothersome. What is bothersome is the dry air out here. I'm used to humidity in the 70's but what I was experiencing was in the 20s. Very uncomfortable to my nose and ears. Here's some pictures from our time in Albuquerque: We left for Williams, Arizona to stay at the Grand Canyon Railway Park. I didn't realize I was going to hear a train running in the middle of the night. That train only goes to the Grand Canyon and back. This was a very nice park with a good bathroom and showers and laundry room. We ate at Grand Canyon Brewing which was an easy walk from our spot. The next day we drove into the Grand Canyon. It had been 30 some years since I'd been here (at which time I remember being under-impressed. This was Michael's first trip here so I was mostly excited for that. But I enjoyed the visit much more this time around. The Trailer Village RV Park was pretty nice. Elk came through the park every day. Tmobile wasn't working very well for me. I had to use Michael's Verizon service to get my work done. We walked a lot of the Rim trail over the next few days. We were only able to get 2 nights in Trailer Village and then we moved to Camper Village in Tusayan not far from the park. We were only going to stay a couple days but ended up staying 4 more days for a total of 6. We used the shuttle buses a lot. One day we drove to the Desert View Tower. The RV park WIFI was very good here (our site 25 was very near the office) and I was also able to pick up the Starbucks WIFI since it was right behind us. Here are some of our pictures: See our continuing adventures when we leave for Tuba City, AZ on our way to Zion National Park.
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If you want to see Shenandoah, the full drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and the Biltmore, here's your itinerary! Day 1: Fly into Charlotte, NC: We landed about 5pm so we spent the night in a hotel nearby. Day 2: Drive north to Front Royal, the northern end of Shenandoah. You have time to visit Monticello and an orchard if you like. Day 3: We spent the whole day driving thru Shenandoah, stopping at overlooks and spending the night at a Days Inn at the end. Day 4: Started driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway BRP at 8am and stopped for the night in Roanoke, VA. Day 5: Continued the drive on the BRP stopping at Fairy Stone State Park along the way and at the end of the day stayed in Boone, NC Day 6: Continued on the BRP and stayed the night at the Baymont Inn in Cherokee. Day 7: We spent today exploring Great Smoky Mountain National Park GSMNP including Clingman's Dome and stayed the night in Cherokee. Day 8: Today we drove to Cataloochee to see a herd of elk that live there and stayed the night in Cherokee. Day 9: Drove to Asheville today stayed the night at a Baymont Inn there. Day 10: Visited the Biltmore today and drove to Charlotte afterwards and we flew home on Day 11. Here are the details of what we did each day so you can better assess if this plan works for you. We Left work on Thursday and headed for the airport excited to be on our way! We landed in Charlotte about 5 pm picked up our Dodge Avenger and headed for Mooresville, NC. We checked into the Wingate hotel and then went to Duckworth Sports Bar & Brew Pub. We had the Smokehouse Philly and a regular Philly steak & cheese. It was ok – not killer. Also had a Mocha Stout and an Oatmeal Porter. Then we went to Target and got a cooler, some water, and cheese sticks for the road tomorrow. The room was very nice – it even smelled good. We were awake at 6 am and had the free breakfast at the hotel which was eggs, bacon, a Danish, and hot tea. Monticello Friday: The destination today is Front Royal, VA. It is a full day of driving with a stop at Monticello and Carter’s Orchard. We left around 8am and plugged the address of Monticello in the GPS. It said we would arrive about 1pm so I called ahead and made our reservation to tour the house at 2:10. When we got to the grounds of Monticello we got a BBQ sandwich on site.. Then walked around the gardens and at our reserved time toured the house. Very interesting about all the modern innovations they used during the building of the house. Carter’s Orchard Afterward we left for Carter’s Orchard which is practically next door. This was fun. We picked apples and I spotted a mouse in one of the trees and we took its picture. We also got some cider and apple butter, and apple cider donuts. Tasting the donuts I could not have told you there was any apple flavor but I did like them and ate most of them for snacks on the road. They were a good hold-me-over snack. We left about 5 pm which was none too soon because we still had a couple of hours to go and it would be dark before we arrived. It was quite a ride as some of the roads were very very dark and it was difficult to see. But the stop at the orchard was worth it! We loved eating fresh apples every day. We got to the Holiday Inn in Front Royal, took our stuff up to the room and went to Houlihan’s which was a restaurant attached to the hotel. We had meatloaf and a skinny Margarita and a salad with chicken and fruit and 2 beers. We went back up to the room and I washed all the (Fuji) apples we had picked with shampoo so we could eat them each day. Stayed in room 527. It was a very nice, clean, quiet room. Saturday: Had breakfast at Houlihan’s. We had the low carb omelet which was 3 eggs and bacon and cheese. Then we left for Shenandoah National Park, stopped at a lot of overlooks and went into Skyland Lodge. We stopped at more overlooks and went into the Big Meadow Lodge and had lunch. It was about 1:30. We had a chicken club wrap and tomato soup and hot tea and the French dip and tomato soup. After that we were on our way and we finished the drive thru Shenandoah. We left the park around 4:30 and checked in at the Days Inn Room 127 in Waynesboro. We went to dinner at 6pm at the Green Leaf Grill. We had lasagna and a Virginia Apple Bold Rock Hard Cider and a crab cake sandwich and a warm beet salad and a couple of beers. Days Inn comments: Not much bathroom counter space. 2 people’s stuff won’t fit there. It is a quiet room since it is on the back end. We got a 1 king bed room but now that I see it is hard to find a place to put the second piece of luggage – I should have gotten 2 queens. This was my least favorite room of the trip. Sunday: We ate at the Shoney’s next door to Days Inn. We had the breakfast buffet which was good and left for the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) by 8am. 1st stop is to see the old Farm community buildings (Humpback Rocks). It was really cold outside. Next stop was Wigwam Falls and a bunch of overlooks. We couldn’t find some stuff I had noted and the James River Visitor center was closed – for what reason we don’t know. The reflections in the water we were hoping for weren’t that good – so this may be a better visit in the afternoon. Then we went looking for lunch which was not easy in this area. We finally found a place called Scotto’s in Glasgow – it was a wild ride getting there on a twisty turny road with hairpin turns. We had sandwiches. Got to Peaks of Otter Lodge in early afternoon. This is a really pretty area and the reflection in the water was very good. I wouldn’t mind coming back here. There is a restaurant and gift shop there also. Then we continued on and ended up in Roanoke. We are staying in the Best Western in Room 303. The restaurant we wanted to go to turned out to be closed on Sunday – didn’t know till we got there – so we ate at Shaker’s in the parking lot of the mall near where we were staying. Between the two of us we had ½ rack of ribs and sweet potato and broccoli and a southwest chicken salad. We brought a piece of key lime pie back to the room. The room at the Best Western was very nice. At some point we went to Target and got me a scarf and a pair of gloves since we heard the weather would be very cold by the time we got to Great Smoky Mountain National Park(GSMNP). Monday: We ate breakfast at the Best Western – scrambled eggs, sausage, and danishes. This will be day 2 of our 3 day BRP drive. My day to drive. We went to Fairy Stone State Park. It is a fairly small park but had cabins that looked nice. The first part of the road after turning off the BRP was wild. Steeply down and twisty turny – it seemed like just a one lane road with no yellow line down the middle. When we met cars going the other way I couldn’t believe we both fit. Later in the trip to the park there were 2 deer in the road but fortunately I saw them soon enough to stop. We hoped to find fairy stones here but had no luck. The place you look for the stones is down the road (about 3 miles) from the part of the park where the cabins are. From here we left and went to Mabry Mill. We got a sandwich here – there was too long of a wait for lunch at the cafe (at least an hour) so we got the sandwich to go. Nice area but the trees that would have reflected in the water had already lost their leaves. We left and looked for the Poor Farmers Market but missed it. We stopped at Mayberry trading post. It was a small place with items that looked like they had been there since the 70s – but I did buy a jar of apple butter there made somewhere locally. We left and stopped at several more overlooks. Cumberland Knob visitor center was closed and I was looking for a bathroom. Found the Blue Ridge Trading Post just in time – only 30 minutes or less until they closed and they had a bathroom. It would be getting dark soon & we thought maybe we should leave the BRP. I plugged in the address of the LaQuinta in Boone and when we got to our exit (441?) we saw that the BRP was closed there for repairs. We arrived at the LaQuinta Room 226 in Boone and asked for a recommendation for dinner. They said Dan’l Boones Inn. It was an interesting place. You wait to be seated (there was a line) and then they bring the food to you on a cart and its all you can eat. We had fried chicken, salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, coleslaw, gravy, apple sauce, and dessert. Strawberry shortcake, banana pudding, chocolate cake. Tuesday: We got up and ate breakfast at the LaQuinta – boiled eggs, no meat and yogurt and a Danish. This is our last day to drive on the BRP. Stopped to see Moses Cone, Julian Price, the Viaduct visitor center, and then Grandfather Mountain which was one of the highlights. First we ate lunch and then we crossed the mile high swinging bridge. We didn’t have time for Linville Falls. It was getting late so we decided to leave the BRP early (in hindsight we don’t think it helped very much). We took 276 after Pisgah – wow another steep downhill curvy road like going to Fairy Stone. Got to the Baymont Cherokee around 6pm. Around 7pm we went to a restaurant named Paul’s and had a fried chicken dish. Wednesday: Ate breakfast at the Baymont – no eggs, no meat were available. So I ate French toast with cream cheese and yogurt to get some protein. Drove to GSMNP. Saw elk at the Oconaluftee visitor center. Took pictures and then went inside to ask about travel distances to the things we wanted to see and went to the Sugar Land visitor center. Got lunch there – grilled cheese sandwiches. Then we went to Clingmans Dome. You can potentially have 360 views up here. But this day we found ourselves inside a cloud (this means you could not see a thing – just white cloud) It was soo windy! And really cold. We could only see what was close to us. Ice and snow on trees – everything else was white – couldn’t see the landscape. Then we went to Cades Cove – people drive between 2 mph and 5 mph there for no apparent reason. An 11 mile loop takes 2 or 3 hours depending on how many stops you make. We saw horses and deer and wild turkeys. By the time we got out of there it was time to leave to drive the 2 hours back to the hotel. Took pictures of elk again at the Oconaluftee visitor center again. Thursday: Breakfast: Had 2 pieces French toast with cream cheese at Baymont and yogurt. Took an extra yogurt and ate it around 9am at Cataloochee. Drove to Cataloochee to see the elk. It took a couple of hours to drive there. Just the dirt road portion was a little difficult because it was narrow and there were blind curves. Arrived a little after 9am and saw at least 3 males. 2 were big ones and only 1 of them appeared to have a herd of females. Took pictures of those and the stream there and the buildings. Headed back to the Oconaluftee Visitor center but stopped in Maggie Valley at a restaurant called Maggie Valley Restaurant (owned by a family with the name Carver) on the way back to have lunch. I had turkey and dressing and Michael had meatloaf. Then we drove back to Oconaluftee Visitor center and stopped at Mingus Mill. And after that went to the farm museum at the visitor center. Then we went to Mingo Falls. There was a family here who let their 3 kids climb all over the rocks endangering their lives and preventing us from taking child-free photos of the falls (well ok, we waited until they FINALLY left). Then we went to Cherokee Coffee which used to be Tribal Grounds. We both had a zombie slayer but mine was just coffee and not expresso. So good – it was spicy. We sat out back by the river and enjoyed the cool air. Had KFC for dinner. Friday: Staying tonight at a Baymont Inn room 318 in Asheville Went to Peter's Pancake & Waffles at 7 am and had 2 eggs, bacon and 2 pecan waffles. I started driving the BRP from Cherokee North to Asheville and saw more pretty fall colors. Then on some of the rock cliffs we saw icicles hanging down. Then around another curve it looked like glitter was falling from the sky – but it was really ice crystals. Then around another bend there were white trees and the ice turned to snow! We must have been almost at 5,000 feet when we saw this (near Licklog). We saw a rainbow too but there was never an overlook where we could get a picture. We got to Asheville and I discovered I did not like driving there. Especially in a low sporty type car like we had. I couldn’t see well enough to parallel park. One way roads. Lots of car traffic and foot traffic. We ate lunch near our hotel at the Corner Kitchen. I had some kind of multiple meat ( I think it was pork shoulder, bacon, and ham)pate called terrine and the plate was called the Ploughman’s lunch I think. A salad w/goat cheese, dill, cheddar and Havarti cheeses on the side, and crab and corn chowder soup and a homemade ginger ale– pretty good. Dessert so yummy. A brownie with peppermint ice cream. The Baymont put is in room 106 but after hearing road noise and a baby cry I asked for another room and we went up to 318. That night we went to Tupelo Honey and I had trout with cauliflower with cheese and trout had capers and a great sauce. And I had another ginger ale – a number 5 which they warned me about (said it was hot) – but no, not so hot. Saturday: Ate at the Baymont Inn for breakfast and left for the Biltmore. Toured the house at 9 am and had hot chocolate. Then toured the gardens and for lunch we went to the Bistro at Antler Village. I had a wood grilled duck pizza with mozzarella. Wow – so good. Then we did the wine tour and tasted the Pino Grigio and a Riesling and the Christmas wine. Then we did the 2 hour drive to Charlotte left around 4pm and got there about 6:15 to the Renaissance – was really nice there (room? 427 maybe – it was on the 4th floor). We ate at the hotel which wasn’t very good. I had Bison short ribs which was fine but the beans that came with it were a little hard/dry. Even the pecan pie wasn’t great. Tasted like it might have been frozen – or at least like the pecans were a little rancid. Then we did the 2 hour drive to Charlotte left around 4 pm and got there about 6:15 to the Renaissance – was really nice there (room? 427 maybe – it was on the 4th floor). We ate at the hotel which wasn’t very good. I had Bison short ribs which was fine but the beans that came with it were a little hard/dry. Even the pecan pie wasn’t great. Tasted like it might have been frozen – or at least like the pecans were a little rancid. Sunday: Had breakfast at the Terrace Café. I had a chocolate covered cherry latte – so good – and they made heart shapes with the foam and cream. Had eggs, bacon, and blueberry pancakes.
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2013 Road Trip from Houston Visiting Avery Island and New Iberia, LA Bonus: RIP Van Winkle Gardens Fun Weekend Getaway from Houston Day 1: arrive and see the Tabasco tour Address: 32 Wisteria Rd, Avery Island, LA 70513 Day 2: went to Jungle Gardens on Avery Island to see hundreds of egrets, then around lunchtime went to Rip Van Winkle Gardens RVWG. RVWG address: 5505 Rip Van Winkle Rd, New Iberia, LA 70560 Day 3: Drove around New Iberia, saw the historic house Shadows on the Teche but didn't go in. Drove back to Houston My husband is a lover of hot sauce. He suggested a trip to Avery Island where Tabasco is made. Hmmm I thought Avery Island? I’m not sure I’m going to love this. But it would just be a weekend trip, and I know he’s loving the hot sauce so sure, let’s check it out. We left on a Friday and drove to the La Quinta, New Iberia. It was reasonably priced and comfortable. Michael’s only complaint was that at one point he could hear voices in an adjoining room. We ate at the Applebee's across the street and then headed for the Tabasco factory. It costs $1.00 to get on to Avery island where the factory is. The tour was free. We were lucky because we did get to see the factory in operation on a Friday. Some Fridays they are not operating. It was interesting seeing production of a product we like to use. There is a short film before you go on the tour and they give you some tiny little bottles of Tabasco as free samples. Then we went to the gift shop which I thought was fun. I liked the jalapeno ice cream and the Tabasco Coke. There was also a food cart outside if you needed lunch. Then we went to see bird island. It wasn’t the best time of day to photograph the birds because the sun was behind them. We decided to come back the next day. In the area between where you first enter the bird island area and before you get to where all the egrets are we saw a turtle and an alligator and a raccoon. Saturday: Bird Island opened at 9am and we were at the gate when it opened. Lots of opportunities to photograph snowy egrets and white herons taking off and landing. There are hundreds of birds here. They have nests on wooden platforms out in the water. Also got a picture of some roseate spoonbills flying overhead. By lunchtime we left and went to Rip Van Winkle Gardens not far away. I loved this place. They had so many peacocks! We went to the Café for lunch. We had a very nice view of the water and watched a peacock walking around the tables outside looking for a handout. Many of the trees here are so large. Then we bought a ticket to tour just the grounds (as opposed to touring the house). Nice gardens. It was pleasant walking around the place. We got some nice pictures of peacocks. Sunday: After breakfast we headed back to Texas. Stopped at Don’s Specialty meats in Scott, LA and got some seafood boudin to bring home. It was so good we wish we would have gotten more than we did. We had planned ahead and brought a cooler to put it in. Before we reached Texas we stopped at Sam Jones State Park: http://www.crt.state.la.us/parks/ishjones.aspx It was a nice little park with campsites and some small cabins. I was surprised how pleasant our trip to New Iberia was. I had a great time taking pictures and trying all the Tabasco products in the gift shop.
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Glacier National Park, September 2015 In July 2015 a fire started in Glacier. Then another and then a third. Also there were many fires in Washington and Idaho. The smoke blew east. About a week before our trip you couldn’t see 20 feet in front of you.  The smoke was so thick. Then the weekend before we left it rained!  This knocked down some of the smoke. Saturday:   We stayed 1 night at the Super 8 Kalispell. It was a comfortable clean room. Had blueberry and lemon pancakes at Perkins - yummy. Then we went to Replay Sports and bought 2 cans bear spray for 15.00 without holster and 25.00 with holster because the bear spray has been previously rented.  Then we can sell it back to them if we don’t spray it.  Also bought a pair of socks made in Vermont (Darn Tough) 25.00 ouch but they will replace if they get a hole etc. These are thick soft socks - love them. Took pictures at Glacier sign on the west side and the hubby got a senior membership. Went to visitor center near Apgar. Then tried to check in at Lake McDonald but we were too early. Going To The Sun Road (GTTSR) is closed at Logan Pass because it’s snowing up there! We took the shuttle to Trail of the Cedars .8 miles. Nice paved trail. We took the shuttle back to Lake McDonald and drove to Johns Lake Loop 3 miles round trip. It wasn’t flat but it wasn’t too bad. Then we checked in. We were in value room 211. I loved the bathroom because it had a heater right in front of the toilet so I didn’t have to be cold coming out of the shower. Had a Flathead Lake Huckleberry Riesling at 7:30 pm in the Lounge. We ate at Joe Jammer's Grill because the restaurant at the lodge is expensive.   We had pizza which was not that good and bison sausage which was good. We took a selfie while at McDonald Falls. Went to a ranger talk by Olivia about the visitor experience at the parks. Sunday:   Woke up in McDonald Lodge – slept well and comfortable. Went to window to listen for rain and heard it.. not so excited about that. Got ready for the day and packed bags & went down to eat the buffet breakfast at the lodge. Had eggs and sausage and bacon and French toast with fruit and oatmeal with fruit and a little coffee. This was the second best breakfast of the trip – next to Perkins. Next we loaded up the Forerunner. Tonight we are moving to Swiftcurrent Motor Inn on the East side. Then we drove as far as we could on GTTSR toward Logan’s Pass to see what we could see. We saw snow but it was not actually snowing where we were. Then we drove back to Apgar – the internet connection was good in the village by the Inn. We drove the long way around the park and missed the turn at East Glacier OOPS and ended up in Browning (nothing there but a Holiday Inn and a casino) we took 89 to St Mary. 89 was being worked on and was unpaved part of the way. I saw a bald eagle fly over us here. We stopped in the visitor center at St Mary and then went for pie at Park Café we had razzleberry and  huckleberry with ice cream. I read about this place during my research for the trip. I'm pretty sure we'll be back for MORE pie later. We saw a bear on the way BEAR sighting # 1, and some goats on the side of a mountain. We saw BEAR #2 sometime around when we bought our boat tickets for Wednesday (for the Grinnell Glacier Hike). We checked in at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, our home for the next 7 days!  We got room 27. Loved it. When you walk out the front door you have a mountain view in front of you and you are only steps away from the beginning of the iceberg lake trail and other hiking trails. We had dinner at the Swiftcurrent restaurant – we had a pasta dish and chicken and mashed potatoes and then went back to the room to figure out what hikes to do and hopefully it won’t rain! Monday:  Our day started at the Swiftcurrent (SC) restaurant at 6:30 am which is when they open. I had 3 egg frittata. As we ate one of the employees looked out the door and said hey – look at the mountain with the sun on  it … wow! Beautiful. Then at 8 am we started on the trail to Iceberg Lake.  The beginning is difficult – a steep incline. Actually the whole trail was at an incline just not as bad. It was a difficult 5 miles for a flat-lander who hasn't acclimated yet. There is a pit toilet about ½ way in. I hear there is one at the lake too but I didn’t see it. When we got to the lake it was snowing. I loved that. Unfortunately there were no icebergs. There were terrible wind gusts that felt like 40 mph.   When they came up I just braced myself putting my back to the wind. E-gad. I had hoped to enjoy the area for a little while but we did not stay long. Didn’t even explore the lake area which was a mistake and I felt disappointed later. But I was heaving for breath when I got there tired from all the uphill climbing (others breezed by me like it was no big deal) and then experiencing those wind gusts I was out of patience. I wish I would have used some trees to block the wind or something and just taken a minute to relax. I had dressed appropriately and felt good in that regard. I had on  my long johns top and bottom and a T-shirt, and then a long sleeved button up shirt over that and a jacket over that.  I think I wore my knit hat. Had to take some clothes off on the way up and then put clothes back on once I got near there (not all of the clothes – was too tired/frustrated heaving for air), and then removed some again on the way back down. I think I also was wearing my vest (where I kept photography equipment). In the back pack I had the water hydration bladder with about 24-32 oz of water and a poncho, extra pair socks and food – an Epic meat stick and gorp/snacks etc. Pack was heavy but I did drink most of the water. My nose got burned … I should have opted for the ear/headband and the wider brimmed hat. ON the way back saw bighorn sheep and BEAR #3 from afar. Going downhill hurts (bad knees) and my legs are like jelly once I get closer to the end. EVERYTHING hurts. Thank you GOD for the pit toilet I used on the way back. It took 4 hours to get to the lake and 4 hours to get back. The colors here are so amazing. Green, blue, red, purple and that is just the rocks. Saw several chipmunks – most were too fast to photograph. When we got back to the room I took off some clothes and just laid there on the bed and wrote these notes.   We went to the camp store and got some BenGay which was soothing for my swollen knees.   I had the garlic pasta tonight with chicken. While in the store I discovered they have soft serve ice cream and root beer so I can make a float. Tonight I’m thinking I have earned a glass of wine. Everyone we pass on the trails says hi and thank you when we let them pass I did a video of a stream going over the trail – there was a lot of those… love that. Also did video of sheep and bear BEAR #4 And Logan Pass REOPENED today!! Tuesday:  Note that there is a lodge just outside the gate at St Mary’s that looks nice… there is a restaurant and gift shop there too. This is also near the Park Café where we had pie at least 3 times. Went to SwiftCurrent restaurant for breakfast (we usually get there by 6:30) had the 2 egg breakfast and  tiramisu pancakes which were ok but not as great as the name sounds. There was no sauce. Then we walked to Fishercap Lake to look for moose. Found none. We did see ducks . Then we drove to St Mary’s to go to Logan’s pass. Everything up there was covered in snow and it was very windy and we were shrouded in clouds most of the time. So we didn’t stay long. We checked out the visitor center – not a lot there really – plus it was chilly in there too. Then we left and had not gone far when we stopped to take pictures of mountain goats from afar. Then stopped again at Park Café because we wanted homemade pretzels and bratwurst but they were out of the pretzels so we opted for just pie. We  had huckleberry this time and  huckleberry cream pie. Then we went back to Many Glacier Lodge where we had a beer and a Stormy at the Pass w/coconut rum and ginger beer. We sat looking at the water and a mountain where we spotted BEAR #5 which may have also been bear #3, because it was in a very similar location. We decided to take the short hike .7 miles, to Fishercap to check for moose. There weren’t any – but this may be the time we saw deer on the way back – and it was sprinkling. Went back to SwiftCurrent and had veggie penne pasta with chicken and  Caprese salad and then we went back to our room and spent a long time preparing for the Grinnell Glacier hike tomorrow. We took it pretty easy today since there was a big hike yesterday and then one tomorrow. This is a big hike and I am a little …. Worried about whether I will make it or not. Iceberg took me 4 hours and I knew the elevation gain of that was less – plus we only have so long to make it back to the boat. We could walk all the way back but I knew I wouldn’t be in great shape for that. Wednesday:  Ate breakfast, 3 egg frittata, and went to Many Glacier Lodge by 7:15. Boat boarded at 8:20 and we went across Swift Current Lake in the Two Gun Chief boat then got out and walked ¼ mile (1/8 of which was steep uphill) and then got on the boat Morning Eagle (of course I was last to get on it) and rode across Lake Josephine and started the hike with the ranger. For a very short time I was able to keep up. But the trail was very steep for a long time. This was extremely difficult for me. I tried not to stop too much, going slow instead. VERY slow. The group was going to stop around 10:30 for a snack and then be at the glacier by noon.   Eeek they were on a schedule. We aren’t sure where they stopped for a snack but it may have been where we eventually stopped. Big red boulders here that another tour group was sitting on and having a snack.   Then we looked way up there and saw our group… holey moley – it looked as far up as it seemed we had already come. Now I know what ? 900 feet I guess elevation gain feels like. To go all the way was  1800 feet elevation gain over 4 miles of trail. I just could not get enough air… and I felt crushed when I realized I probably was not going to make it up there. After all, once I made it up, I’d have to come back down…. And how long would that take. Once we decided we would not go further we spotted a nice herd of big horn sheep. There were a few males in that group. And the area we were in was really beautiful. One thing that made me sad was that I was so busy heaving for air that it killed my desire to do one of my fav things which is take pictures. How could I enjoy myself without that? That was another reason I agreed we should go back. I took a bunch of pics here and we had our lunch. Got some nice pictures of a chipmunk and a golden mantled squirrel. We could see the glacier from where we were. Saw a snake on the way back down – just the last half of it as it slithered into the brush. Gorgeous colors once again. In the rocks and the brush. Spent about 2.5 hours walking up and maybe 1.5 hours going down. At the bottom we decided to do the trail to Grinnell Lake. It is a nice place to sit and eat or just enjoy the quiet but the lake is much prettier from above where you can see the color of it. You can hardly notice that down at lake level. When we saw it from above we could see little dots on the shore which were people. So when we were sitting there by the lake we looked up and could find people walking the Grinnell Glacier trail.   How did the other people manage I wondered? How were they able to accomplish that? The trail to the lake felt longer than it said it would be – but maybe that’s because of that horrendous climb I just did. There was a swinging bridge on the way … which seemed to amuse some people. Perhaps they’d never been on a swinging bridge before. The trail was pretty easy. Near the end I spotted 3 or 4 ptarmigans with just a very few white feathers. Saw another chipmunk and a dipper bird. We took the 4:15 boat back and at Many Glacier Lodge the boat captain pointed up at another 4 BEARS! This was BEAR 6, BEAR 7, BEAR 8, and BEAR 9.   One of those bears was probably also #3 and #5. We also saw more mountain goats before we left Lake Josephine. We got Dust Cutter drinks Huckleberry Lemonade at the Lodge and sat by the fire. Then came back to SwiftCurrent and got sandwiches, chicken salad and pepper turkey in store and sat in the lobby and sent messages to Lee and Karen (Dad’s wouldn’t send) and ate sandwiches in our room. Tomorrow we may try to do Two Medicine instead of Logan Pass. I would like to rest my knees for a day before trying the Highline Trail. I also want to see Fishercap before breakfast to look for moose. Thursday:  I think both my knees are swollen but the left one is worse. The good thing is it doesn’t hurt though. Today I ate a cheese stick and we walked to Fishercap Lake before having breakfast. No moose. But we did see ducks and deer down at the misty end (left side) this was just as it became light between 6:30 and 7 am Then we went back and had breakfast today I ordered 2 eggs a la carte and toast with cream cheese. Then we drove to Two Medicine. But right after passing the turn for Many Glacier Lodge and around the corner we stopped because I saw a brown bear on the hillside. BEAR 10 and BEAR 11 turned out to be a grizzly momma and cute baby! These are the only grizzlies we saw on the trip but we did see them 2 or 3 different times. Then on to Two Medicine. First we did Running Eagle Falls. The top fall was dry but the bottom was good. Weather today was great. The road ends at the camp store parking lot. Their camp store was closed for the season. We went to look at the lake and a lady came over to point out a black bear BEAR # 12 and 2 moose at the edge of the lake (hard to see). Then we went and found a place to sit by the lake and ate lunch. A big bird with a fish flew overhead. Next we did the Paradise Point Trail. It ends up with you on a beach. You go up and down on the trail and then to the beach. We would have seen the moose better from here. It was about noon. Then we went back to scenic point trailhead and did the Apopski falls. Not a fabulous falls but it was ok. I wouldn’t do it again – not scenic enough for the length of the walk. Then we started back. I went to bathroom at running Eagle falls because it was a very nice pit toilet – fresh smelling. We had cell service for a short while between the park and highway 49. On the way back we stopped because we saw the grizzly again but the light was bad – there was a glare on the lens and could barely see her. Then we went to lobby to check email/do texts and bought sandwiches for dinner. This is working well because the sandwiches are good and between those and drinks and/or chips we only spend about $17. Last night I had chicken salad with cranberries. Tonight I had peppered turkey. They were good. Before we ate them we walked to Fishercap and saw a female moose in the middle of the lake eating. We were about to leave when we heard someone say the male was coming. A bull moose with a fairly big rack came from the left end of the lake where we had seen the deer. He was grunting and thrashing his antlers on the bushes. MOOSE #3 and #4. Then on the way back to our room there were 2 deer momma and young one eating right near the trail and she didn’t run. That was ? around 8pm because it was barely still light. Then we ate our sandwiches and chips  & I showered and got ready for bed and now it is 9:52 pm as I write my notes. Noisy neighbors next door banding and dropping things. It was warm today. I unzipped my pants legs and had shorts on most of the day. Tomorrow we go to Logan’s Pass to hopefully see mountain goats closer than near the top of a mountain. There is snow on the ground there so I guess I will wear long underwear and lots of layers. You can’t get a specific forecast here for a certain location. They post the forecast for Babb, MT in the lobby. Winds are 3-5 mph tomorrow and high in the 70s. So hopefully it won’t be frigid and windy, just cool, we’ll see. This place is fabulous. Friday:  Today we ate breakfast as usual. We had 2 eggs and biscuits with sausage gravy and  2 eggs with oatmeal. Meh… it was ok but I wouldn’t have the oatmeal again. Then we got our stuff together for a hike at Logan’s pass and left. I prepared to be cold up there since I knew there was snow on the ground so I put on long johns and a t-shirt and took my jacket but didn’t wear it. I wore wool socks and toe sock liners. My feet never got cold. I didn’t need the jacket. It was sunny and warm with a high near 70 none of me got cold. There was much less snow than there had been 2 days ago. I wore my green hat and ear band around my neck.  Stopped to see Wild Goose Island on the way. We decided to start with the Hidden Lake overlook trail. It was about 500 foot elevation gain over 1.5 miles. Felt like longer than 1.5 miles but maybe that was because my knees were already swollen and there were many steps on the boardwalk which is harder for me than just an incline. Up up up looking down is like… wow.. we’ve come that far up? It probably took us 1.5 or 2 hours. But we were taking pictures although probably not enough. It’s all just wow gorgeous. Meadows, boulders, color, snow. We had hoped to see mountain goats but NO not even 1 goat. We did see 2 pika but neither of us got a picture of it. On the way down we got pictures of 3 marmots. The view of hidden lake was pretty and we sat up there and ate lunch. At least I did, Michael was not hungry. Is saw a golden mantled squirrel under the viewing platform. We could see people down on the beach of the lake. We started back down ? at approx. noon or a little after. Stopped halfway or so just to sit on boulders and look around. Before that we crossed a big patch of snow and the hubby’s leg sunk to his knee. We hated to leave but knew we would need a bathroom soon. Got back to the visitor center and was hot so I took off my long john top in the 4runner – but it was too hard to take off the pants so I went to the bathroom to do that. By this time the parking lot was full. I touched a badger pelt. I asked about the highline trail for tomorrow.  There is about a 700 foot elevation gain on that trail. Then we left and stopped at St Mary Lodge for gas. I bought an I’ll be your Hucklebeary sleep shirt. at their gift shop. Before we got there we had BEAR sighting #14. A black bear ran across the street about 3 cars ahead of us (Just after the Rising Sun I think). St Mary campground closed temporarily due to increased bear activity probably due to low berry crop because of the drought. Then we went on to Many Glacier. Before reaching the lodge we stopped and took a picture of BEAR #15, a black bear. Then we drove thru SC campground to see what people were camping in. Saw a variety of tents, pop-ups, pop up truck campers, trailers, casitas, motor homes, etc. 21 ft. limit on gong to the sun road but St Mary’s is where you pick up GTSR, not many glacier. Then went to our room 27 put our junk inside and went to store to get sandwiches and root beer float. Am writing my notes at 8:45 pm. I think we will do Highline and red rock trail tomorrow not sure in which order. Saturday:  this was to be our last day in the park Went for breakfast as usual, about 6:30 had 2 eggs, ham, potatoes and toast and ½ cup coffee. By 8:15 we were on the trail to Red Rock but before we got to Fishercap we passed a guy who said a female moose was in the lake feeding so of course we went there. Started taking pictures of her and saw her pause and look off to the right – down there I saw a calf and then another female there were people down there trying to get closer so of course she walked further right to get her calf away from them. We left those 2 alone and took more pictures of the one in the lake. Then went on to the Red Rock trail till we got to Red Rock Lake. Next time we come we’ll have to hike over to the falls. This time we want to head back and go to Logan’s Pass to do the Highline. It is 9:30. We get back to our room (didn’t see any more animals) about 10:30. I drove us to Logan’s Pass. We were there by 11:30 I guess and it was already too late. The parking lot was full. Nice day, a Saturday, should have known. A ranger later told me you have to get there by 10:30 so we plan to try again tomorrow. Then we went to Apgar visitor center to get a goat patch. They only had the patch/pin combo but a ranger told us we could get one at the train stations tore. We went and there they were. Then we went to Kalispell to return the bear spray to replay sports then went to see where our hotel was for Sunday night. The Kalispell Grand. Then decided to head back to our room but stopped at a pie factory and got 2 sour cherry sodas Flathead gourmet (very good – not too sweet), and 2 pieces of huckleberry pie to go. Saw a wind sailer on St Mary’s Lake. It took 1.5 hours to drive the entire GTTSR without stopping. It takes less than 30 mins to get from St Mary gate to Swift current. In same spot as before we saw momma grizzly and baby ..lots of scopes were set up so she must have been there awhile. Then went and got sandwiches at the store and we had those and I just finished pie and it’s 8:56 pm. Tomorrow we check out and go to highline trail and head to Kalispell and Big Fork Sunday:  Got up, ate a bison meat stick (Epic) and went to check out and then to restaurant and had French toast. We left and didn’t get far before spotting a black bear and then up higher a smaller bear – maybe a cub? That was BEAR #16 and BEAR #17 Then we drove a little further and saw the Momma and baby grizzly which was bear sighting BEAR 18 and BEAR 19… but we have seen her at least 3 times I think . Then we went to Logan’s Pass and started the Highline trail. This was exciting and I videoed part of it. We didn’t get too far. We just went to about the end of the handrail section I think and we turned back.  The height and narrowness of the trail was making one of us fairly nervous. Then went to Big Fork to Flathead Brewery restaurant on Flathead Lake. We had the elk brat and Chili verde beef and a flight of beer. The we went to check in at Kalispell Grand. Unfortunately most shops were closed on Sunday. We printed our boarding passes for the flight and ate dinner at HOPS I had ahi tuna and a yak burger – both were good. Got cookies in the lobby for the flight and there will be breakfast tomorrow. It is 10pm now. Flight boards about 10:30 am tomorrow. We enjoyed staying at this hotel. Monday:  Unfortunately I woke up about 3:40 with a horrible headache. I took a couple of aspirin and after about ? 40 mins or so took another one. By about 5am it was better. We went ahead and got up since neither of us was sleeping. Breakfast – had quiche and cake/bread and yogurt at the Grand. Nice room. Comfy bed. Boarded plane at 10:40. Didn’t want to leave… I feel like I belong here. The end of another great vacation.  I was worried about the smoke from the fires obscuring the views but that didn’t happen.  It sprinkled the first 2 or 3 days but it wasn’t a washout and we got to use our rain ponchos.  This was the most beautiful park I have seen yet.

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