Sunday, May 29, 2011

Salt Lake City and a little beyond

A rain thunder and lightning storm welcomed us to Salt Lake City. Weather in Utah and Idaho is certainly not spring like. So far this year Utah has had 150% of its normal rainfall; with the snow pack at 250%! All indicators point to the potential for severe flooding later on in June in the SLC area as all their rivers are virtual rapids; the water resource authorities are empting the reservoirs as fast as they can to hopefully avert flooding. However, as some of the reservoirs are overflowing their dams and still the rain keeps coming I think they will need Noah’s Ark. Four rivers run into the lake and there is no outlet; summer evaporation is the only safety valve. Minerals that flow down the rivers remain in the lake which is what makes it so salty.

While there we visited downtown SLC and visited Temple Square the headquarters of the Mormon religion. As I said to Tom the place is like the Vatican to the Mormons.  We went inside the Tabernacle a very large theatre where the choir practices on Thursday nights and looked at the Temple from the outside (visitors are not allowed inside.)  We also took in a quick look in their Museum, one could get a guided tour but we decided we would do our own tour as we had a very informative guide in St George. We also walked up the hill to the Capital building and discovered the "Daughters of Utah” Museum which is just packed with memorabilia.
After lunch we drove to Antelope Island in the Salt Lake.  It is a State Park which has a herd of 500 wild Bison. This is the time of the year for calves which increases the herd to over 700. In October they round up the herd for a veterinary inspection after which they cull the herd back to 500. Some end up as steaks or hamburgers; others (the lucky ones) go to other parks. Did you see the photo on the last blog? They are huge animals!  There are also antelope there - running fast and wild; it was lovely to see them.  Unfortunately, we did not see any big horn sheep as they stay on the mountains. The brochure said the flies don’t bite but there were millions of them buzzing around and they had a feast on Tom. The lake has lots of other islands that are bird sanctuaries for migratory birds. Before leaving, we drove to a restaurant on the island to sample a buffalo burger but it was closed.  

Our trip to SLC was greatly enhanced by an invitation to Miele (the daughter of neighbors in Los Gatos) and her husband Ronaldo for dinner. They have two gorgeous girls and Francesca put on a ballet display for us that could have lasted the night but bedtime intervened. Ronaldo took us golfing on the Wednesday - it was a lovely day and the golf was not too bad. After golf Tom and I drove to Park City where the 2002 Winter Olympics were held; the original town is a lovely historic mining town set high on a hill. In all there are 10 ski resorts in as many miles, lovely Alpine villages with lots of snow in May.
We are now in St Charles, Idaho on Bear Lake at 6000 feet.  The Lake is a beautiful turquoise color owing to the minerals (calcium bicarbonate - I think that is what we all take for upset tummies) in the water.    

We played golf yesterday at Bear Lake West Golf Course where Tom was delighted to shoot his age (soon to change) and bought our customary logo ball. There’s a restaurant – Cooper’s by name attached to the clubhouse which had been recommended to us by Kent from Bear Lake North RV Park. Cooper’s is one of the best restaurants we have ever eaten in; so much so that we recommend it as a “must stop” for anyone traveling HWY 89 between Salt Lake City and Jackson.
Our lunch included soup a delicious barbequed beef broth. For our entrées we both ordered prawns; I had them sautéed in garlic butter while Tom had them butterfly deep fried. The prawns were plentiful, succulent and cooked to perfection. The service was friendly and personal, everyone obviously take pride in their work; also, the owner Chef/Owner Tony came by to talk to us to inquire if we were satisfied with our meals. We returned last night for dessert when we enjoyed live entertainment in the bar.

This morning we woke up to snow! Can you believe it? Snow Memorial weekend? It soon melted so we were able to drive to Soda Springs where there is a Geyser that gushes every hour and reaches 100 feet into the air. Awesome!  The extreme pressure is caused by carbon dioxide gas mixing with water in an underground chamber.   We had a walk around town and discovered it is part of the Oregon/California Trail.  This town is called after a soda water that was bottled and sold as” Inda-ha” Soda Water.  The water was taken from it natural spring right in the middle of town and sold worldwide until a new way of adding bubbles to sodas put them out of business...
On our return we visited Montpellier another town on the Oregon/California Trail and spent time in the Museum where character actors (townspeople) bring you back in time to the pioneers crossing the country including a simulated bumpy road trip on a Prairie Schooner similar to those used on the Oregon/California Trail. We also sat on logs around a camp fire while the actors, in period costumes regaled us. A good and interesting day. 

Tomorrow we head for Wyoming.

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