Note: When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}. Comments NOT in the original emails will be in red.

Note: This report covers Day 12,13 and 14.

Day 12. Sunday Sep 20, 2009. Yellowstone to Salt Lake City.

We hustle around, get packed, get hitched (so to speak), and get on the road by 8 am. Jerry shoots this morning photo.

As we continue, we encounter a troupe of buffalo wishing us a good trip.

Mostly cloudy skies, temperature comfortable. With Jerry helping and the wives getting the inside ready, that was a record time to get out of a camp for us.

We cross the 8262 Continental Divide about 9 am. {Look, both Bob and I are taller than Jerry and Shirley. Wait, it's because of the continental divide. We must be on the uphill side of the divide. If we spit right now, it would all run downhill toward Jerry and Shirley (Oh, Gross!)}

All the time, in Yellowstone, cell phone coverage has been spotty. For example, we never get any bars in our campsite. But at various spots in the park, suddenly we'll get some bars. We often stop then, and everybody catches up on their messages.

We get to Artist Paintpot about 10 am.

Can you see it?
This snapshot freezes a mudsplash in place...

Just kidding. This is the roots of a small tree that fell over or was thrown into the geyser runoff area long ago. The thin tree itself is visible as a miniature "bluff" to the right of the root cluster. It has been there a long time, and the wood is now completely encased in opaline silica, or whatever that stuff is.

I filled up my still camera memory stick, and ran out the battery on the video camera, while we were at Artist Paintpot. I have an extra memory stick and video camera battery in the trailer, but don't want to go all the way back to get them, so I ask Jerry to do both, with his camera. Thanks, Jer!

Stay ON the boardwalk

I can't get enough of these turquoise pools. Remember, turquoise = HOT

We are out of the Paintpots about 10:30am.

Our last photo taken inside Yellowstone itself.

We're headed for the West Yellowstone entrance, and we arrive there a little after 11.

By and by, we start getting hungry and pull off in some little burg. We can't find a good place, so I turn into the parking lot of a motel made entirely of logs. There is one pickup parked next to where we stop, but no tenants, no workers that we can see, although a couple of the doors are open. I think that maybe they are closing for the season.

I go into a couple of the rooms and yell, but no one answers, so we enjoy a lunch as we make jokes that this must be the world's first disposable hotel. You use a room, then just leave it sit there, move to the next room, etc.

We fill up with gas in Idaho Falls at the Flying J. Over 10 mpg, but lots of that was just the truck not pulling the trailer. We keep our driving nose to the grindstone, grind out the miles, and check into the KOA in Salt Lake again about 7 pm. It's the last night of the state fair, and the area is absolutely booming.

It's nice to be back to a campground we're familiar with. Jerry and Shirley pack for tomorrow as we stay mostly out of the way. They get all their stuff into all their suitcases and bags, and after some showers, we spend the last night togetheer (that's a new word, togetheer) - all four of us. It's kinda sad, but in a fantastic-look-what-we-did kind of way, it's also spectacular.

 

Day 13. Monday Sep 21, 2009. Lewises to the Airport. Lutmans to Cedar City

Jerry and I fill up the tank to even the finances. This tank got 9.5 mpg pulling the trailer, on relatively flat ground, without QMI. I think maybe just having the bottle of QMI in the bed of the pickup makes it get better gas mileage.

I take the trailer trash (Hmmm, where have I heard that term before?) out to the dumpster, but it is full and overflowing, so I just set it on the ground beside it.

It's finally time, and I deliver the Kansans to the airport that will return them to their home. Then it's back to put the trailer back on the truck because we're leaving also. We stop at Albertson's for groceries on the way out and stock up. We get out of there and on the road at 11 am.

We have talked it over (This phrase usually simply means that Sharon has decided something) {Bob! We have 4 days to get back home and I just wondered if there is something on the way for us to do. The sooner I get home, the sooner I will start doing "tasks" and I want to prolong our trip as long as possible.}, Our course for the day will wind up in Cedar City, which is on I-15. Then the next day we will do a little detour and go through parts of Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. That will still get us time to get home in time for Sharon's commitment Sunday, but she wants to get home Friday evening to give her Saturday to prepare. But what she really wants to do (and I think this way too) is to get home Thursday night, to have one full day of trailer unloading, cleaning, and putting stuff away in the house.

We stop for lunch about 1 pm and take off again about 1:30, with Sharon driving and me handling the napping chores. She drives almost exactly an hour, when we change back.

We are now listening to two different books-on-CD. One we're listening to together, and I've already told you about that one. The other one is by Bill Bryson and is about the scientific history of the world. When I'm sleeping she listens to that, and when I'm driving we listen to the mystery one. When she's asleep then I just enjoy the quiet.

A little after 5 pm, we pull into the Cedar City Love's gas station, and we just got 10.3 without QMI (but WITH QMI in the pickup bed)! Anyway, that's fantatic gas mileag... Will I just SHUT UP about the gas mileage thing? It's gonna cost whatever it costs.

OK.

One of the reasons I wanted to get to Cedar City tonight was to watch Monday Night Football. One of the reasons Sharon wanted to get here was because it's the season premier of several Monday shows. Well, they don't have ESPN, so I'm with Sharon.

But what they do have is a pretty decent sunset.

xx

 

Day 14. Tuesday Sep 22, 2009. Red Canyon. Bryce and Zion National Parks.

It's 9:45 before we pull out of the Cedar City KOA, and on the way out of town, I pull over quickly and park beside a bank because I spotted a Chevrolet dealer across the street, and I need dexkote or dextron or whatever their engine coolant is called. It's not antifreeze though, according to them. Anyway I pick up a bottle of that, to be mixed 50/50 with distilled water. Like antifreeze. Hmmm. The coolant tank has been about 1.5 inches low for a couple of years now, but I will top it up tonight or tomorrow.

By about 10:30 we are heading up this steep, steep road, Highway 14 I think. This will ultimately tee into a road which goes left to Bryce or right to Zion. We'll decide later. In the meantime, there's fantastic scenery.

The trees at this high altitude are beginning to change leaf color, though they weren't yet, down in Cedar City. We're in a little canyon, still going higher. There are small farms or ranches every mile or so. There is a creek off to our left, and the hill is steep, entering Dixie National Forest.

There is an old cabin on the left, and Sharon spots a bunch of school kids with teachers touring the farm. We see lots and lots of sheep on our left, scattered all over the area. City sheep, not mountain sheep.

We come to a lookout, and way off in the distance is something that makes me want to say "Zion." And when I check the lookout marker, that's exactly what it says.

Sharon spotted a raptor of some kind, and that's actually the main thing we stopped to check, when the view from Zion presented itself. But by the time I got the scope out, this bird had flown. White belly, dark head, says Sharon. Another good one gone.

Eleven am and we are stopped at a lava flow. I don't mean it stopped us, I mean we have chosen to stop. There must be a million sheep. OK, a thousand. Well quite a few hundred. The lava flow is stated to be between 1000 and 5000 years old. Wow, that's older than Bret Favre.

In a bit, we come to another scenic pullout and it's Navajo Lake, created by a dam of lava. The water disappears through seep holes and sink holes, but there are no normal exits.

We continue on, passing Duck Creek Visitor Center and Campground. Just a little before noon, we arrive at the tee, and decide on Bryce, so we turn left. We soon drive past what looks like two or three piles of white sand, one a cone with trees growing on it. Sharon dubs this Snow Mountain. What the heck is that stuff? Where'd it come from? America wants to know. But I don't. Know, I mean.

To get to Bryce Canyon, you go through Red Canyon, and it is beautiful.

We make a couple of stops in Red Canyon, and it's gorgeous here, now.

Hard to imagine that Bryce will be better than what's in Red Canyon, but my memory tells me that it will be.

By 12:45 or so we've leveled off on a high 7800 foot plateau. There is nothing radical around us any more, so I think we have exited Red Canyon.

Sharon has a small herd of Pronghorn. That Sharon.

I'll just show you the scenery for a while, now, ok?

Bryce Canyon road is tight, and we cannot bring our trailer past a certain point. We have the option to unhitch in a dedicated parking lot, but think we've seen enough spectacle for this trip. There are more beautiful sights, but we decide to take our time through Zion also on this, what will be a whirlwind day.

As we exit Sunset Point, there is a small herd of pronghorn, just waitin' for us.

The total herd is one male and about ten or twelve females.

We backtrack now, back through Red Canyon, back to Highway 12, back to 89, past the "tee" where we came into 89, and we are headed for Zion. It's 3:30.

A nice drive, and about 5:00 we are nearing Zion. I am nostalgic as we pass a small herd of buffalo on our left, associated with a horseback riding ranch. Cool.

So here's some shots of Zion.

Yes, we fit through here.

If your vehicle is above a certain height, you can NOT go through the "second" tunnel and must turn around and do a huge go-around - like half-a-day. If you are below this absolute maximum but above another number, (which range we are in), then you have to pay them $15 and get an escort through. It isn't clear why this would make it ok, but we get the spiel when we come to a checkpoint just before the tunnel. The pay-me-the-money point is 11 ft 4 inches but below 14 feet, and we are 11 ft 8 inches. The drop dead point is a couple of feet above us, I think. Your width is also a factor, but we are ok.

The $15 is a fee they collect in order to stop traffic at the other end of the tunnel and you can drive down the middle of the tunnel. Just look at the photo below and use your imagination. They don't send an escort in front of you, like we thought. And like they said.

Another interesting thing about the tunnel is that it zigs and zags - it's not just a straight through tunnel. And it has windows (!) in it - openings actually, to allow air in and exhaust out I guess. We get $15 worth of pleasure taking up the whole tunnel by using the center, then we're out, as you see below. {The story is that they first blasted the "windows" into the mountain and then started drilling a small bore to connect them up. After that, they increased the bore of the tunnel and left the "windows" for ventilation. It is a pretty cool tunnel}

Uh, make a left please.

This will be an arch in only a few zillion years.

Zion Exit.

And just like that, we're out of one of the most spectacular one-day superdrives we've done in a long time.

The rest of the day we drive our way to the Temple View RV Park in St. George (and listen to our mystery book-on-CD), who promises to have WiFi, but I can't get it on my laptop. Hmmm, memo to self: look into getting some sort of USB WiFi signal booster.

So we have an easy evening, watching some TV, reading some, relaxing. I call my cousins and ask if we could stop in and see Uncle Calvin (Mom's brother) and Aunt Arline in Porterville the day after tomorrow. I get answering machines, but that's ok. We'll just do a drop-in if we can't connect with them.

This is the end of the tourist part of the trip. Tomorrow will just be a full day of hard freeway driving, book-on-CD, and buying gas, but me not telling you about it. Don't you wish I'd had this idea earlier? So that'll be Wednesday. Thursday we'll visit Uncle Cal, and drive home, arriving late in the afternoon or early evening. Stopping at the Foster Freeze in Los Banos. Mmmm, I can already taste that root beer freeze.

But also in the last report will be some sort of summary, or best-of things. Now I should qualify that by saying that of 10 promised "last, summary" reports, I probably actually delivered on maybe 4. So don't actually hold your breaths. Actually. Axially.

Cheers

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