Thursday, September 24, 2015


"I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man
Crossed the deserts bare, man
I've breathed the mountain air, man
Travel, I've had my share, man
I've been everywhere..."

Feeling like Johnny Cash singing "I've Been Everywhere", I ticked off the names of several small towns as we drove across parts of Wyoming, Idaho and Utah on our way to Salt Lake City. We stopped in Afton, WY, Bear Valley, ID, and Logan, UT, just long enough to eat and take bathroom breaks. Come to think about it, that means we ate our way across three states! 

Afton, Wyoming

Our first stop in Afton added at least a couple of pounds to our waistlines when we visited the Star Valley Chocolate Factory. Met at the door by the owner with a plate of mouth watering chocolate samples, we instantly turned into chocolate zombies and loaded up. Then, with our faces stuffed with truffles, we wandered out onto the streets of Afton to check it out before moving on.  

Afton, a charming western town, sports an elk antler arch across main street.

Passing Through Paris. Paris, Idaho, That is.

Paris Tabernacle, built in 1889. We could only take pictures of Paris through the bus 
windows. It looked like a quiet, family kind of town and probably would be a nice
place to sit a spell.

Scenes of Bear Valley and Bear Lake. Idaho and Utah each share a portion of the Lake.

Bear Valley and the lake beyond. Notice the mist rising from the lake.

A wonderful moment in nature, thanks to Larry Miner's photographic skills

Logan, Utah

Downtown Logan, Utah

We stopped in Logan for lunch and just like a homing pigeon, I headed straight for the downtown park and the Saturday crafts fair. Brimming with handmade items, I scored a beautiful natural stone pendant and a chicken and mushroom crepe that I will dream about for a long time!

Next Stop, Salt Lake City, Utah

All too soon, we climbed back on board the bus and headed for Salt Lake City. We settled down in our cushy seats while Timothy, our tour director, announced a surprise. Since we would be in Salt Lake City on a Sunday, he had arranged for us to attend a dress rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! He then played one of the Choir's albums while most of us quietly listened. But not our zany friend, Karol! Moved to conduct the choir and chair dance all at the same time, she entertained us once again by just being her delightful self!

Karol, conducting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!

Salt Lake City Tabernacle

Mormon Tabernacle Grounds and Choir. The music is as beautiful as I've ever
heard. Like so many things, the voices and orchestra have to be experienced
 in person to fully appreciate their talent and professionalism. What a treat!

After leaving our baggage at the hotel, we visited the iconic Mormon Tabernacle grounds.We actually ate at Brigham Young's home (bottom left) cafeteria style. Although we had to wait in a long line to get our food, it was worth it. The entries are delicious and the pies are out of this world! No kidding. I'll remember that coconut cream forever!

Downtown Salt Lake City

The next morning after enjoying the Choir, we drove through the streets and neighborhoods of downtown Salt Lake City. Appropriately, the weather was "divine" and I noticed that the town's air smelled fresh and clean and scented with flowers. I mean, what city smells good? I'm very impressed by how clean, quiet and orderly it is. It's a beautiful city!

We said goodbye to Salt Lake City and hello to the Canyon Lands, home of the "hoodoos" and deep canyons colored in the hues of a desert sunset. I could feel the excitement of everyone as we looked forward to the best part of the trip, the magnificent natural wonders of our continent.

****A special thanks to Larry Miner who supplied all the photos in this blog. Thank you, Larry!

Next time: Canyon Lands: Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon. Don't miss it!

Remember to double click on any picture to get a full screen view.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


JACKSON HOLE is a lush valley that's home to several towns, Jackson being the major one, and the Grand Tetons National Park. It lies about half way down on the west side of Wyoming and is one of the most beautiful places we visited on our tour of the Western National Parks.

Leave it to lonely French trappers to see the shape of breasts in the magnificent mountain tops of the Grand Tetons. In fact, that’s what Grand Tetons means: Big Breasts, or Giant Ta Ta’s, take your pick!

We thought leaving Yellowstone would be hard, but it just got prettier and prettier the farther south we traveled. The jagged mountain range of the Grand Tetons set against a landscape bursting with flowers made me want to stop the bus, pitch a tent and stay awhile. We did stop long enough to take a few photos and visit a frontier log cabin church that is straight out of central casting. The setting couldn’t have been more picturesque.

Church of Transfiguration. I think anyone could find spiritual peace sitting in these pews
 with the Grand Tetons to contemplate. We stopped long enough to sip a glass
 of wine compliments of our tour director and enjoy the breathtaking views. 
(top right and bottom left photos compliments of Larry Miner.)

WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS: (Top) A common sight in these parts is the Touristus
 cum Cameritum, AKA Karol, a member of our group who kept us laughing
 all over the west. Her take on all of our visual delights was, "Gorgeous, simply
 gorgeous!", which in turn became the group's response to everything! 
Thanks, Karol, for being totally delightful company!

Jackson, WY~Something For Everyone

The delights just kept coming as we drove into the town of Jackson. Rich in pasture and farmland, it’s located in the southern end of the valley or “hole”. The quiet tree lined streets and uber quaint downtown pulled at our hearts as we passed through on the way to our hotel, which by the way, blew our socks off! Just a short walk to the ski lift on the edge of town, it is one of the best places to stay while in Jackson. Fully refurbished rooms and great food, the ambiance can’t be beaten. Sipping cocktails on the “veranda” after a delicious meal, feeling the cooling breeze while feasting my eyes on the perpendicular forested hills, I felt like I could take up permanent residence. (Snow King Resort)

After breakfast the next day, we headed for the Snake River to go on a “river float”. At first I thought that maybe the “float” part of this excursion had to do with our senior citizen status, but I soon realized that the thrills of this ride centered on the views and not the highs of white water rafting. With the snow capped Grand Tetons in the background, we spent two relaxing hours floating down the Snake marveling at all the wildlife. We saw eagles and their nest, several large beaver huts, pelicans, geese, and even a couple of celebrity roosts. Sandra Bullock and Harrison Ford are just a few of the famous people who have vacation homes there. I would too, given half a chance! (Jackson Hole White Water was our river rafting guides.)

Ah, perfect weather, great friends, Sandra Bullock's house and a free
 lunch--what more could you want? That's the Grand Tetons in the background, Folks!

Back in town, we’re given a free afternoon to enjoy Jackson. Before heading out on my own to shop and explore, I sat for awhile and people watched in the town's center square or park. This pleasant central oasis has four unique elk antler arches at each corner. Surrounding the park is an eclectic blend of stores: clothing, jewelry, collectibles, home furnishings and art studios, most all with a western theme.  Upscale and unique, the shopping is a nice experience in itself. The cornerstone of the square is probably the Cowboy Bar, famous for its saddle bar seats and fun honky-tonk atmosphere. Sandra Bullock celebrated one of her birthdays here and I could see why. It looks like a great place to hang out, especially after a hard day of shopping!

Downtown Jackson, nestled against the southern rim of the Hole/Valley.

I ended this perfect day with a fantastic dinner at the Cafe Genevieve, advertised as specializing in everything pork.  I ordered the pulled pork sandwich topped with a divine coleslaw. Talk about yummy; I just had to take a picture of it before I ate every last crumb! P. S. Check out their Pig Candy next time you're in town--no kidding!

Before dinner at Genevieve's, I had to pose with my friend, Albert Einstein, who 
has taken up permanent residence in front of Mountain Trails Gallery along with
several other dignitaries.  The Gallery, located right across from the main square, is
 filled with stunning bronzes and paintings and is definitely worth checking out!

I am going back, that’s a promise. There is something so special about Jackson and Jackson Hole. Maybe it’s the peace and hometown feel of the town of Jackson. Or possibly it’s the allure of year round delights, from the brilliant colors of fall filled with the longing songs of love sick moose, to winter skiing and summers on the river, it has something for everyone and for every season.

This is what Karol looks like from the front. She is a born entertainer and is a total kick to be around. Happy trails, Girlfriend!

Next time: Salt Lake City and more Karol!