Special Post: Our Rocky Mountaineer Adventure – Part  1 – 8th May

 

Followers of our blog will know that our Rocky Mountaineer Adventure has been about four years in the making.

We originally booked the Canadian route as part of our Golden Wedding Anniversary adventure back in 2021 but that had to be cancelled due to dear old Covid and was rolled over into 2022. Then in 2022, due to illness, it had to be rolled over again into 2023. 

So, here we are at last, about to start our much anticipated adventure. 👏

Day 1 – Moab to Glenwood Springs.

As you know from a previous post, we had already received our boarding passes and luggage tags from a lovely lady called Deb. We talked about why our trip had been moved twice before and when we arrived to board the coach that would take us to the train, we were told that Deb had left a card for us that we would receive when we were on board. 

It was a short drive to the siding where the mighty beast awaited us.  

Ready to Board

The red carpets had been laid out and the U.S. and Utah flags waved merrily in the sunshine. The inevitable photographs were taken before boarding the train and we were on our way. As we pulled away rail staff were lined up waving flags to see us off. 

Our journey has begun!! 

We were told there were only 30 people on the train that consists of 12 carriages! We had 19 in our carriage, Silverleaf Plus, that I think held about 50 so there was plenty of room for everyone and we could swop seats according to which side of the train the interesting views were on. The remainder were in the Silverleaf carriage. The advantage with Silver Plus is that you have access to the lounge carriage where you are able to sit and enjoy the views whilst imbibing plenty of alcohol or soft drinks as required. 

During the high season of July/August all the carriages are usually packed. Even if the carriage had been full it would have still been a comfortable ride as the seats are large and comfortable with plenty of legroom, head rests that can be moved down and used as a lumber support and even a leg rest. The dome windows are huge making the whole carriage very light and bright. Between carriages there are open-air vestibules so passengers can stand there to admire the views and take photographs. 

We were so fortunate with the attendants looking after us. First mention goes to Janet, she was ‘in charge’ of our carriage and was hilarious. She kept us well informed of where we were and the history of each place as we went along. At one point she even dressed up as a sheriff and told us a story that included gunshots and for those she used bubble wrap. It was hilarious! 😂

The lovely and hilarious Janet!

Then there was Rae, our chef. In a small galley she prepared the most amazing meals. Cheryl prepared drinks in the lounge as well as served us in our seats. Cheryl is an amazing lady as she works on board the train, is a chef who works in Tuscany in Italy for three months a year, cooking privately, and then she travels to Florida where she has a gardening business!!!! Finally there was Theresa who also served us in our carriage. 

Rae the Chef

The train manager was a young man called Zach, he looked very young to hold such a position. He was a lovely young man and kept us updated during the journey if there were any hold ups and what to expect when we reached Glenwood Springs and Denver. Another point in his favour is that he drives a Tesla too!

Zach – the train manager

Karl, the third engineer/conductor came along to answer any questions we had about the mechanics of the train and told us what a wonderful company it is to work for. Their top priority is always the safety of their passengers and staff. The staff get two tickets every year to travel on the train. 

The train speed started off at about 25 miles an hour and as we were travelling along old spiked rails there was the familiar clickety clack as the train wheels passed over but once we reached the new continuous welded rails we were able to speed up and there was no noise. The maximum speed of the train is 65 mph. Also, the train for the Glenwood Springs to Denver leg held 6400 gallons of diesel. 

Everyone in our carriage clicked immediately and it wasn’t long before we were all in the lounge enjoying a beverage or two and all laughing together swopping names and stories!! 🍸🥃🍷Si and I were enjoying margaritas. In our carriage they played soft classical music but in the lounge it was middle of the road pop.

Sand in the lounge

Si with the Margaritas

Our resident photographer in action!

Everyone agreed that once aboard it was like a different world and all felt very relaxed. We could tell this was going to be a trip to remember.

It wasn’t long before we were called back to our seats to enjoy our first meal. This is the menu for Day 1 of the trip. There was no limit to the amount of drinks, alcohol and non-alcohol we could have, we just had to ask!

Menu Day 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were following the Colorado River out of Moab and it wasn’t long before we saw people camping along the river. We soon became aware of a Utah tradition and that was mooners!! 😂 Yes, as the train rolls by they drop their trousers and show their bottoms to the train.  

The Utah mooners – not that you can see much!

The scenery was breathtaking. Lots of waterfalls, different coloured cliffs, sheer cliffs and altogether magnificent views.

At the end of each carriage was an open air vestibule where passengers could stand and  take in the scenery and take photographs. 

We made one stop at Grand Junction because just like other forms of transport, the train drivers had come to the end of their allotted drive time and we needed to take on fresh drivers. 

As the Rocky Mountaineer is classed as a sight-seeing train when it’s travelling on single track it has to give way to others trains such as Amtrak and freight. We were lucky that we only needed to stop once to let a Amtrak train through but the stop wasn’t very long. 

Just before we arrived in Glenwood Springs we were given our hotel keys and once off the train we just walked across the road to the Hotel Denver where our cases were already waiting for us in our room. 

Glenwood Springs

It was the smoothest operation we had ever seen. 

Although it felt as if we had not done much during the day everyone felt exhausted and the majority went straight to their rooms although a couple went to enjoy the hot springs.

Everyone agreed that it had been a most wonderful day!

Part 2 of our Rocky Mountaineer adventure to follow!!

Special Post: Our Rocky Mountaineer Adventure – Part 2 – 9th May

The Rocky Mountaineer arrives at Glenwood Springs station for the second day of our trip from Moab to Denver.

Entrance to Glenwood Springs station

The flags on the train had been changed to the US and Colorado ones. The red carpet was once again rolled out and the staff waved us on our way.

As we had arrived before anyone else we were able to have our photographs taken on the train steps without anyone else around.

All ready to board for day 2

Our second day on the Rocky Mountaineer started later than anticipated due to maintenance work on the tracks. This means we had lunch and dinner on the train instead of breakfast and lunch.

We had left our cases in the hotel room and would be reunited with them once we arrived in Denver.

I was talking to a very nice lady on the platform called Tracey who works for Rocky Mountaineer and was telling her about our delayed adventure from 2021 and amazingly she knew who I was! When I mentioned our Golden Wedding Anniversary she said “Oh, it’s you!” She had seen our name on the passenger list and how our trip had been cancelled and then rolled over twice.

We left Glenwood Springs through Glenwood Canyon.

Zach came to tell us about the route for the day and said we would reach a maximum of 9200 feet above sea level and after the Moffat Tunnel which is 6.2 miles (10km) long and cuts deep through the Continental Divide and would take approximately 15 minutes to travel through, we would then pass through 28 tunnels covering 17 miles! The tunnels were built in 1906 and cost $490 million!

The Rocky Mountaineer travels higher than any other train in the U.S. and even higher than some planes do.

We had to stop just once on the journey and that was to let an oil train pass by but we didn’t have to wait too long.

The oil train

We had two lovely surprises while on the train. 

On day one, we were were given the opportunity to order Rocky Mountaineer merchandise and those who know me well know that this is not an opportunity I was likely to miss.

There was one item in particular I wanted and that was the most beautiful hand-painted Christmas tree ornament but sadly, this was the one item that had to be ordered and posted to the buyer and it is not currently possible for it to be posted outside the U.S. Well, to say I was very disappointed is an understatement.

When we joined the train next morning, Sandy and Alice, two lovely ladies we met yesterday and had great fun with, told us they had heard us talking and could tell how disappointed I was about the ornament and so had ordered one for us and would post it to us once it was received!

Well, as you can imagine, we were absolutely stunned. In addition, they refused to accept payment for the ornament or the postage.

Many thanks once again Sandy and Alice for your kindness.

People’s kindnesses never cease to amaze me!

The second surprise was when mimosas were served and everyone in our carriage toasted our 52nd wedding anniversary. Janet said she was so pleased we had eventually been able to make the trip. 🥂

If you’ve read Part 1 of our adventure you will remember that we collected our luggage labels from Deb in Moab. When we arrived to board the coach to take us to the train, we were told that she had left a card for us on the train. That was waiting for us when we boarded at Glenwood Springs and what she said in the card regarding our anniversary and the illness made us have a little cry. She was so kind. 

Deb’s card

Once aboard brunch was served and later on, dinner. By this time I was so full I declined dinner and just had dessert. There’s only so much a girl can eat over two days. Si of course, managed to eat everything! 😂

Day 2 Menu

Forgot to take a photo of the salad!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Janet told us we would see some more ‘mooners’ so she had prepared some score cards so that we could all mark them out of 10 as we passed by! 😂

Si with his score card

Si in the vestibule

Once again, we saw some wonderful scenery, some of the canyon walls were 1300 feet tall and we even saw the lava from an old volcano.

The Rocky Mountaineer

When we reached Denver, everyone received an exclusive RTR (Red Rocks to the Rockies) pin to wear. These are only given to people who have travelled on the train. Everyone also received chocolate and a lovely card thanking them for travelling on the train but we received a special one for our Anniversary that said ‘Happy Anniversary! Thank you for celebrating on board Rocky Mountaineer’. Janet, Rae and Cheryl had all signed it. 

Red Rocks to Rockies

The Card

Inside the card

It’s the little things!

One thing that surprised as we approached Denver was how much graffiti there was. 

A coach was waiting to take us to Denver Union Station to collect our luggage and we were then off to the Grand Hyatt for the night before leaving next day for the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. 

We send a big ‘thank you’ to all the Rocky Mountaineer staff and all our fellow passengers for making this trip so memorable. It was the most wonderful way of celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary, albeit, two years late!!

Day 17 – Las Vegas, Nevada to London Heathrow and Home!

21st – 22nd May:

My night may not have been good but the day certainly started very well!

Si and I went down to the casino for a little gamble before being picked up and transported to the airport. We went for the first machine we saw when we entered and it was one called Dragon Link Happy & Prosperous.

Well, Happy & Prosperous we certainly were. We put in $50 and spent $3 on our first spin and up came the Grand Jackpot ………….. $13,376.82 to be precise, approximately £10,000. You can imagine the shock! Especially for the guy who had sat on the machine next to us! Definitely a ‘if only’ moment! 😔

The winning machine

People immediately began to gather and to congratulate us. The senior managers came down too. In the past tax would have been payable but the U.S. and U.K. now have an agreement that no tax payable. We have won in the past, not as much, but we had to pay tax so arranged back then to get ourselves a U.S. tax code just in case but that is no longer necessary.

A shocked Si!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The winnings!

We knew there was a limit to how much currency you are able to take out of the country before having to declare it so we did some investigation and found that we needed  to declare it to the U.S. Customs. When we reached the airport they sent two men up to the Virgin Check-in and completed the forms there.

When we reached the U.K. Customs and went through the ‘Red’ channel meaning we had something to declare it was very busy! Who knew there were so many honest people around! The Custom’s man told us to go on-line and declare it there! 🤷‍♀️So, we more or less just walked straight through. So no hassle at all.  

Passport Control and baggage check was a nightmare. Another reason never to fly to, or leave Las Vegas on a weekend. The queue was huge. It reminded us of Heathrow! Today everything had to be checked and they wanted us to remove everything shoes, belts, empty pockets and put the laptop in a separate tray. 

At least this year, my carry-on wasn’t chosen for an extra check.

We enjoyed our stay at the Park MGM. It is a non-smoking hotel but we didn’t realise that until we arrived.

Our chauffeur came to collect us and we had an uneventful trip to the airport. We’d been in the hotel all day and when we stepped outside wow, it was hot, hot, hot. 🌞🌞🌞Luckily the Tesla was lovely and cool.❄️

As it was a Sunday, Virgin Atlantic check-in had opened early. We didn’t know they did that but it made sense as Sunday is a very popular day for people to fly home.

We were a little disturbed when the lady told us she would have to allocate us our seats! What! I had booked them months ago. She soon realised she was confusing us with another couple.

We were surprised when she weighed the cases to find they were more or less the same as when we flew out. That’s because I managed to put most of our purchases in the small carry-on suitcase. That weighed very much more. Muscles (that’s me) had to help Si lift it into the overhead locker. 🛄💪😂

We had booked the same lounge as last year so that we had somewhere comfortable to sit while we were waiting to board.

Last year we were unable to complete all the hikes we wanted to do due to Covid. This year the same thing happened but this time due to the snow and bear activity as they were just coming out of hibernation.

We wanted to see the Tetons in the snow and we certainly did that although some of the days were a lot warmer than we expected.

We drove a total of 2,631 miles.

There were two highlights of the holiday, the first of course was the two days we spent on the Rocky Mountaineer. We had waited so long to experience it and was well worth the three year wait!

We hope to do the Canadian Rocky Mountaineer in 2025.

The second highlight was Si having his Schwabacher Landing photo published in the Cowboy State Daily.

Our flight home was uneventful and only took nine hours and twenty minutes. We were late taking off but managed to make up the time.

We noticed that there was a majority of men in our cabin. We think they must all have been in Vegas for a boxing match over the weekend. I sleep most of the way back but did wake up long enough to take these sunrise shots.

The window shades change to different colours according to the time of day the flight is. As this was night-time they were dark so giving the lovely colours.

Sunrise board

Sunrise on board

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we arrived at Heathrow it was heaving with people but most were using the automatic passport control gates and by the time we had collected our cases the whole thing took us just 25 minutes.

Seems strange to be back home and for life to be returning to normal. We haven’t watched a television in two weeks. 📺

I don’t think I’ll be unpacking the suitcases today as we are very tired. The eight-hour time difference takes its toll! 😴

Thank you to everyone who took the time to follow our adventures, leave comments and ‘likes’.

Thank you too, to all the lovely people we met along the way for making our holiday so special.

As usual, it just remains for us to say ………. goodbye again!

arrivederci, adeus, hejdå, 再见, zoi geen, zai jian, tot ziens, au revoir, tschüss, shalom, ciao, じゃね, anyeonghi gasyeo, poka/Пока, adios, hejdå, tạm biệt, vΘleft, farvel, ya sas, tókša akhé,

and see you all on our next adventure. 😀 ✈️🚙🇬🇧🇺🇸

 

 

 

Day 16 – Salt Lake City, Utah to Las Vegas, Nevada

It is now the 21st May!

This post is a day late due to the photographs not wanting to behave and malaise of the author! I was unable to get the photographs to load yesterday. A notification kept coming that I did not understand at all or could find out what it meant so what did I do ……………. shut everything down, rebooted and of course, it then worked like a dream! As for the author well, she blames the very rich food and drink she imbibed last night. 😔

20th May:

We left Salt Lake City (SLC)  bright and early at 7.15 a.m with the temperature at 65ºF and by the time we got to Las Vegas it was a stomping 92ºF. We noticed the difference! 🌞🥵

We didn’t stop for breakfast as we were eager to be on our way. Luckily, being Saturday the roads were not too busy.

For the first time on this holiday I was able to get out the summer gear and put my cut-offs on.

The journey was going to take us six hours. It took us an hour to get out of SLC and most of that time we drove in the Express lane or HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane. As long as you have two or more people in the car you can travel in that. The other five hours was driven on the Interstate so there’s was nothing of particular interest to see.

HOV Lane

I took a few photographs along the way.

All roads to Vegas

 

Our musical interludes today were by Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams and Mary Chapin Carpenter. I bet there are those out there who are asking “who are they”?!

The temple

Today we travelled from Utah to Arizona and then Nevada.

Welcome to Arizona

One thing I wanted to explain was about the drinking situation yesterday. A lady explained to us that the reason the Texas Roadhouse were unable to accept our driving licences as proof of age is that American driving licences, or the Utah ones at least, have a barcode on the back that can be scanned to check your details whereas British ones do not! 🤷‍♀️

 

 

Welcome to Nevada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well that’s good!

 

St. George – Si’s favourite bit of road …. not!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots of black and white cows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sew Sweet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lonely cloud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we were settled in to our hotel we popped over to the Bellagio to look at the Atrium. We think this is the best we’ve ever seen it! Sadly, it was packed with people so we were unable to take one complete video.

Bellagio Atrium

Sand in the Atrium

The colour is fabulous

Beautiful arches of flowers

This evening we dined at Bavette’s Steakhouse & Bar here at the Park MGM. We stayed here many years ago when it was the Monte Carlo.

Bavette’s describes itself as an acclaimed Chicago classic that has arrived in Las Vegas. A stylish departure from a traditional steakhouse, Bavette’s embraces French flair without the formality, blending fine dining with unabashed fun. Indulge in timeless steakhouse fare, including richly flavorful ribeyes, fresh seafood towers, traditional side dishes, and house made desserts. Strong cocktails and a well-curated international wine list enhance the gilded space which features red leather banquettes and glowing chandeliers.

We had a lovely meal and great cocktails (until it all caught up with me later!) We shared the best crab cake we’ve ever eaten, followed by a 6oz filet mignon, petite duchess cut, each with Béarnaise sauce, I had blue cheese, watercress and steak salt accompanied by wonderful mashed potatoes and charred Brussel sprouts with parmesan. We couldn’t manage dessert but had coffee and two glasses of Frangelico instead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We leave Las Vegas tomorrow afternoon for our flight home so tomorrow’s blog will appear on Monday, fingers crossed, once we have arrived home. If I’m too jet-lagged it will be the following day.

This is the 10th anniversary of when we first started the blog so I will be doing a special post to cover the ten years once we get home.

Thanks for reading.

See you ‘across the pond’ in good ol’ Blighty! 🇬🇧

 

Day 15 – The Grand Tetons, Wyoming to Salt Lake City, Utah

19th May:

It’s a sad day as we have left our favourite place, the Grand Tetons and made our way to Salt Lake City ready for our trip back to Las Vegas tomorrow and our flight home on Sunday.

Welcome to Jackson …….. rather goodbye!

Rather Goodbye to Jackson!

As it’s been a driving day there’s not a lot of action to report but I did take a few photographs as we travelled along. Our trip took about 5.5 hours and was uneventful.

One large cow

The long road

Interesting!

A farmer hard at work

This will take a while!

What a beautiful tree!

On the Oregon Trail

We did thank you very much!

I was going to describe the chicken photograph a different way but Si wouldn’t let me for for fear of upsetting some of our lovely readers as it could construed as rather crude!! 😂Answers on a postcard please!!

A sweet little house on wheels plus chimney!

We were serenaded on our trip by the lovely John Denver.

( I do not own the COPYRIGHT of the song. Video is purely for entertainment purposes only. For fair use. Lyrics & music belongs to the rightful owners.)

The majority of our journey was on small country-like roads. It wasn’t until we were about two-thirds into the journey that we joined the Interstate with it’s 80mph speed limit!. 

The only animals we saw were cows, lots of them and one dead elk!

Is this Switzerland?

On one occasion we saw something in the road, it was a marmot and we thought it was dead but it wasn’t until we passed, good thing we didn’t run over him, we realised he was playing dead and as soon as we were by he scuttled back to the side of the road! 

Some parts of the journey reminded us of Switzerland.

Once in Salt Lake we decided to eat immediately and so drove down to the Texas Roadhouse. Somewhere we’ve eaten at many times.

However, there was one problem today, they wanted to see our ID to make sure we were old enough to drink!!! 🤷‍♀️The only ID they would accept were our passports. Good grief, we don’t carry our passports all the time now that we have photographic driving licences but they were not good enough. We walked out in high dudgeon. 🤨

We went along the road to the Olive Garden instead. They were rather more sensible about the whole thing and agreed that we looked old enough to drink so we stayed there and had a fabulous meal of soup (as much as we liked) with bread sticks, then I had sirloin steak with fettuccini, Si had chicken and prawn carbonara and then we shared doughnuts with chocolate and raspberry dip. Yummy!!

Si enjoying his dinner today

That’s two places we will not be returning to …………… Denver because of their ridiculous taxes and the Texas Roadhouse in Salt Lake City. 

It was a lovely 52ºF when we left this morning and by the time we reached Salt Lake City it was a barmy 78ºF. 🌞 We travelled from Wyoming, through Idaho, back through Wyoming and then Idaho again and finally into Utah.

Thanks for reading. See you in Las Vegas!

 

Day 14 – Grand Tetons, Wyoming

18th May:

We had another late start today …….. 10.30! This is becoming a habit!😴

Although the day was warm there was a definite chill in the air and there was a strange cloud-like cover on the mountains all day.

Misty Tetons

We had quite an exciting start to the day when we discovered one of Si’s sunrises had been published in the Wyoming Cowboy State Daily, a digital newspaper. I subscribed to it when we were here last year and I noticed everyday they published a sunrise of the day. I decided I would send in one of Si’s he took earlier in the week at Schwabacher Landing. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it had been published this morning! 😱was my reaction.

Schwabacher Sunrise – Published in the Cowboy State Daily digital newspaper!

Today was our last full day in the Tetons so we decided to check out the wildlife one last time. We were quite successful ………. apart from Grizzly 399. We went back twice today and while the road was still packed with people we don’t know if anyone actually saw her  but we certainly didn’t. It appears she must have crossed the road at some point with her cub as all the photographers were on the opposite of the road this afternoon.

We went to check out where we found the bison yesterday but they had moved on, there was not one to be seen. When we drove back 45 minutes later there was a whole herd of them. Where they had been hiding goodness only knows.

Bison

Likewise with the elk, apart from two lonely ones off in the distance, the whole herd had vanished too. Something strange’s going on with the wildlife we thought!

Who is that?

However, on our drive out this afternoon we saw this fine chap right on the side of the road. We drove round the corner and bam, there was an elk jam. Air bags were very nearly deployed!! 😱

Elk on the roadside

We did mange to see a moose in the Gros Ventre area.

Moose in the woods

In between chasing wildlife we came back to the cabin for lunch. A big shoutout here goes to Stefan and Stephanie in the cabin behind ours. Stefan used to be a chef and last night they brought round two plates of pork chops with the best sauce ever, mashed potatoes with corn, carrots and gravy. Well, to say it was fabulous would be an understatement. Si said it was the best meal he’s had since we arrived in the Tetons. 😀 I told Stephanie that we would adopt Stefan and take him home with us. I would never need to cook a meal again! 😂

Lunch courtesy of Stefan

They have both had a few very difficult days as their beloved dog Lola, aged 13.5 years, has been very poorly and sadly today, she passed away. All the pet lovers reading this will understand how heart-wrenching it is to lose such a well-loved best friend. Even though they were going through such a bad time they were still thinking of others. Another kindness shown to us. 🥰

We went back to check on the Sandhill Crane this afternoon and although the eggs haven’t hatched yet we did manage to catch the bird standing up and if you look carefully at the bottom of the photographs you can just see the eggs. 👏 At one point she seemed to be moving the eggs around in the nest.

Sandhill Crane plus eggs

Sandhill Crane with the eggs

We don’t know what was going on in Jackson today but there were dozens and dozens of cyclists on the cycle paths. We assume it was a charity ride. There were all ages and many different types of bikes.

Cyclists in Jackson

Jackson has great cycle paths that people use for cycling and running.

A couple of days ago I put on a photograph of a bird that we didn’t know the name of so just called it a flycatcher. Today however, Si was chatting with a young lady who knew the correct name ……. it’s a Yellow Crested Warbler. You learn something every day.

Yellow Crested Warbler

Tomorrow will be a driving day as we leave to overnight in Salt Lake City before driving to Las Vegas for our flight home on Sunday.

I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that I’ve done a practice pack today and am pleased to report that everything fits in nicely so no need to purchase an extra suitcase this year for the flight back home. 👏

We’ve had the most fabulous time in the Tetons. It’s such a beautiful place. We weren’t able to do all the hiking we wanted as a lot of the trails are still closed either because of the remaining snow or bear activity. It’s at this time that the bears come out of hibernation with their cubs so it’s a very dangerous time for us humans. 🐻😱

Please join us tomorrow in Salt Lake City!

 

 

 

 

Day 13 – The Grand Tetons, Wyoming

17th May:

Hello from the Grand Tetons!

You will remember that last night I closed saying it had started to rain. Well, rain it did and so much so we ended up with a double rainbow. 🌈

The double rainbow over Dornans

So, to today.

It was another early start for us this morning …. up at 5.00 a.m. and out at 5.20 to photograph sunrise over John Moulton Barn. Regular readers of the blog will know that in the past we have photographed sunrise over the T.A. Moulton Barn hence doing the other one today!

John Moulton Barn

We arrived at 5.30 and it was a rather chilly start, 36ºF in fact. There were already photographers eagerly awaiting and anticipating the sunrise. As always, everyone’s chatting with each other as we wait and wait and wait. There are stamping feet and clapping of hands trying to keep warm as we stand in wet grass. Crazy or what!?

Sunrise is supposed to be at 5.58. You can hear all the cameras clicking every few seconds as people start to record the build up and then the time arrives. Everyone’s peering rather nervously over their shoulders to where the sun will appear to cast the beautiful red shades over the Teton mountain range and down onto the barn below.

Only on this occasion a horrible black cloud moved straight over the sun and ruined the whole thing! ⛅︎ When it became apparent that today was not the day for the perfect sunrise most picked up their tripods and camera gear and slunk off muttering as they went.

Just as we were leaving one of the photographers rushed back to say that T.A. Moulton barn was in sunlight so we rushed down there instead and although it wasn’t a sunrise shot the barn did look lovely in the daylight.

T.A. Moulton Barn

Being a photographer and a photographer’s assistant can be very frustrating at times! There are many disappointments to bear before the one perfect shot is captured. 😔

We decided it was a good time to return to the cabin and go back to bed. It’s now 7.30 a.m. The next thing we knew it was 10.30e t a.m. We decided not to bother with breakfast but would have brunch instead in Jackson.

Before brunch we decided to do one thing we’ve been meaning to do for ages and that was to go up in the cable car to the top of the ski slopes as we’ve told the view is magnificent. En-route I look up what time they open and lo and behold they do not open until 31st May!

So we head off back to Jackson to the Snake River Grill, another recommendation and find they only open for dinner! It doesn’t appear to be our day! 😂

Instead we go to a place we had seen earlier called The Bistro. It looked very inviting and I see from the outside menu that one of the drinks they serve if a French 75. I conclude this eatery must be okay if they serve those to drink. One of my favourites.🥂It was such a lovely day we sat outside on a small patio.The food was excellent.

Brunch at The Bistro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I asked for directions to the bathroom I was amazed when I was told to head to the lobby and turn left. Lobby! In a restaurant. What we didn’t realise was we were actually eating in the restaurant of the Marriott Autograph Collection hotel called The Cloudveil.

We had quite a successful afternoon looking for wildlife! We came across herds of elk and bison and saw a uncommon bird.

Bison

Bison below the Tetons

Elk Herd

Elk Group

The White Faced Ibis

 

 

 

 

 

 

At one point Si was in panic mode as he said there was something wrong with his camera as it wouldn’t focus. I pointed out that he needed to remove the lens cover to take photos everything was okay! 😂We all know it takes a woman …………..!

The news of the day is that Grizzly 399 came out of hibernation with one cub on Tuesday. Grizzly 399 is very famous and even has her own website. She’s very old at 27 years and people were worried she had not made it through the winter but she did much to everyone’s delight. She had four cubs in 2020.

Once she had been spotted at her favourite place, word soon spread and this is the result today. A bear jam!

Last of all on our agenda for the day was to visit a cabin we keep meaning to see but never do. It’s called the Cunningham Cabin.

The entrance to the Cunningham Cabin

The Cunningham Cabin stands as one of the valley’s few remaining structures from the homesteading era when settlers filed nearly 400 claims in Jackson Hole. In the 1880s, John and Margaret Cunningham staked a claim for the Bar Flying U Ranch. Cunningham built his cabin in 1888 in the Appalachian style, commonly called “double-pen” or “dog-trot.” John lived in the cabin until 1895 when he finished his main residence, and it later became a smithy and barn.

The Cunningham Cabin

Cunningham ran a profitable ranch until drought ruined his crops and cattle prices fell at the end of World War I. As an agricultural depression persisted through the 1920s, Cunningham and other ranchers recognized the valley’s potential as a “playground.” Cunningham teamed up with neighbor Josiah David “Si” Ferrin to write a petition signed by 97 valley ranchers. The petition proposed a buyout of ranches to create a national recreation area for public enjoyment. In 1928, Cunningham sold to the Snake River Land Company who later donated 35,000 acres for park expansion.

A violent dark side of the ranch involves a gunfight at the Bar Flying U Ranch. Two Montana wranglers approached Cunningham in April of 1893 to purchase hay. Cunningham allowed the strangers to winter on his ranch. Rumors spread that the men were horse thieves. Next spring, a man claiming to be a U.S. Marshal, with three deputies, rode into Jackson from Idaho. Joined by Jackson recruits, the marshal’s men surrounded the ranch at night. In the morning, the posse gunned down the alleged thieves. The men’s guilt, the allegations and the marshal’s identity were never confirmed.

The Tetons from the Cunningham Cabin window

Finally, I’m pleased to say the snow outside our cabin has almost disappeared. We’ve noticed since we arrived how the landscape is changing.

Join us tomorrow for our last full day here in Grand Tetons.

 

Day 12 – The Grand Tetons, Wyoming

16th May:

We decided to have a lazy start today. All the early mornings have caught up with us plus ……….. we’ll have another early morning tomorrow as we’ll be chasing the sunrise again!

We had breakfast in the cabin and I tried out the huckleberry jam on toast. Of course, it was delicious.

The weather’s been fabulous today. It started at 36ºF and this afternoon had reached 71ºF. It was supposed to rain this afternoon but that never materialised. Update: It’s just started raining! ☔️

As we drove out of Dornans this morning we noticed a large collection of cars parked off the side of the road. A sure sign there’s wildlife about. Sure enough, Mangy moose had returned for his breakfast. At one point he started walking towards everyone so they moved back out of the way apart from one idiot who thought it a good idea to take a selfie with the creature. Luckily, Mangy, just kept on walking and didn’t seem at all bothered about all the fuss.

It seemed as though everyone were out moose hunting today. People kept asking if one had been spotted. I guess we were just lucky seeing mangy again.

Mangy moose

 

Mangy moose

 

 

 

 

 

First stop today was the Visitor’s Centre to get our National Park’s Passport stamped. It’s a great system and one that our own National Trust in the U.K. has started.

Since 1986, visitors to the National Parks in the U.S. are able to buy a Passport To Your National Parks, to collect ink stamps from each of their explorations. We take the Passport to any National Park visitor centre or park store and stamp the passport with the date and location of our visit. We can then personalise the Passport even more by adding stickers from the area visited. It’s a great way to record and preserve memories from every holiday. 

National Park Passport

Sandhill Crane on the nest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After that we went back to check on the Sandhill Crane to see if the eggs had hatched but sadly, no, nothing yet. We’ll check again before we leave on Friday.

On the way back, once again, we saw cars parked on the side of the road so we stopped to see what all the excitement was and lo and behold there was a grizzly bear on the hillside. It had been spotted by a young lad of about seven who had very sharp eyes indeed.

Distant Bear

Sandhill Crane on the nest

We got talking to his mum and dad who had another four children, all girls, and who are home-schooled. They live in California but are doing a road-trip as one of the daughters has just graduated from high school and she wanted to see what lay outside of California.

The mum was born in Ukraine but married an American. She asked me if I wanted to borrow her binoculars to better see the bear. She called me ‘ma’am! I’m know I’m not young anymore but it did rather make me feel 100! 😂

The young lad who spotted the bear had a bear t-shirt on as he loves Paddington Bear. When I asked if he had seen the films his mum said he hadn’t as they don’t watch those kind of things, they prefer to read books.

We went into Jackson for lunch at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar and were served by a lovely young lady called Nicole. She has just moved with her husband, Dillon, to Jackson from Las Vegas! In conversation she told us that Dillon’s a chef and used to work at Spago in the Bellagio and at Caesars Palace. We told her we had eaten at both venues, the last time being during our visit last year and so we would have eaten his food. It’s a small world indeed.

We both had a very unhealthy lunch. Si had a cheeseburger and I had the Million Dollar Bison Burger (fabulous). Si had a Grand Teton Tres Lager (Mexican Lager) while I had a Cowboy Mule followed by a Cowgirl Cosmo. I think that’s why I’m having trouble staying awake to write this post! 😂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did a little more shopping while we were in town. I bought a pair of hiking trousers earlier in the week and love them so much I decided a second pair was required. Si managed to find himself a casual jacket too.

The shop I was in was the one I bought the pancake mix from last year!!!!! I told the man serving how the mix nearly got me arrested. We had a good laugh about it. Wasn’t funny at the time though! 😞

This year it’s being sold as Huckleberry Scone mix. I didn’t buy any!!

For those who do not know the story, take a look at last year’s post – Day 23 – Home! That’ll give you a laugh! 😂

The weather was so nice today, Si decided it was time to show off his legs in his new shorts, also purchased earlier in the week. It’s not just me buying things! 😂

Just look at those legs! 😂

For dessert we went to an ice-cream parlour called Moos. We follow a couple on YouTube who live out of a converted van and on their last visit to Jackson they tried the ice-cream and said how fabulous it was. They were not wrong. I had the Wild Huckleberry (two scoops) and Si had a scoop of pecan and one of vanilla. Another reason it’s hard to stay awake …………. we’ve eaten too much!

We had a quick drive around the Elk Refuge just to see if there was any wildlife to photograph. Sadly there wasn’t, but Si spotted this beautiful Yellow Headed Blackbird.

Yellow Headed Blackbird

On the way back a Ranger had stopped someone, we assume for speeding. Quite right too! There’s a limit of 55 mph during the day and 45 mph at night to protect the animals but people do not always adhere to that. 😞

I don’t think these signs could be any clearer:

Caution, Caution, Caution

No Joke, Go Slow. 45@Night

Wildlife Ahead!

We were hoping to drive out to a spot called Blacktail Pond Overlook to capture the sunset this evening. We’ve never been there before but it’s supposed to be a perfect spot. Sadly, now it’s started raining, it will not be worth going so we shall have to try again tomorrow.

Better set the alarm early for the morning as we need to be at Morman Row for 5.55 a.m. to photograph the sunrise. They are usually spectacular there!

Thanks for reading. Comments are always welcome just so that we know there are folk out there reading all this! 😀

When leaving a comment, please make sure to leave your name otherwise is just says that ‘Anonymous’ has left a comment and we do like to know who you are! 😂 Many thanks.

Back tomorrow!

 

 

Day 11 – Yellowstone National Park

15th May:

After I posted yesterday’s blog I realised I had made two omissions! Well, it was a long day and I was rushing to get the day’s post done before we went to dinner! 😔

First of all a belated “Happy Mother’s Day” to all those celebrating in the U.S.

The second thing was our visit to Oxbow Bend. One of Si’s favourite places to visit.

Oxbow Bend

Now for today ……. rather our fine dining experience at the Blue Lion in Jackson last night.

Hence, the Blue Lion

It was fabulous, we enjoyed every mouthful. The restaurant is lovely as are the staff. I’m not one for clearing my plate but last night I could have licked the plate clean. 😂Si was so amazed he took a photo of it.

Sand’s clean plate!

I didn’t bother with a starter but Si had mini mushrooms stuffed with crab and parmesan cheese and we both declined the salad that comes between courses. I had the elk tenderloin with wild mushroom port sauce, mashed potatoes and asparagus. Si was going to have his favourite, scallops but changed his mind at the last moment and had the 17oz New York strip, one of the specials of the day and it came with crab, salmon roe and asparagus. We were too full for desserts so we both had coffee and for me a glass of Frangelico on the side.

The elk tenderloin

Si’s very large steak!

The libations!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is also live acoustic guitar music every Wednesday to Sunday played by Marco Solis. It was lovely soft music that did intrude at all.

Marco Silas

There were lots of families celebrating Mother’s Day together. Every lady received a rose.

The lady and the rose

As we headed back some our neighbours in the other cabins were enjoying a drink or two and invited us to join them. Well, it all got rather raucous and Zoya, the manager iin charge at Dornan’s, came along and pointed that it was rather late and could we please tone it down a little! 😞 Oh my!

What a bunch! 😂

So, to today’s adventure ……………..

We had excitement at the start of today’s adventure as first of all we saw elk but didn’t stop to photograph them as we were in a hurry. But, the next animal we saw made us stop and jump out of the car ………….. we saw a grizzly bear! 😱Even though it was early there were quite a few photographers excitedly waving their huge lenses about. The bear was fast-moving but Si managed to get a few shots.

Grizzly!

It was another early start, 6.15 a.m. The temperature was 36ºF so a little chilly but as the day wore on it warmed up and the sky was blue and sunny. We were going to Yellowstone National Park and it’s always best to set out early as the traffic can be horrendous.

During the drive we once again passed over the Continental Divide, this was the third time during this holiday!

The Continental Divide complete with lots of snow

A few Yellowstone facts (I know some of you like a few facts!):

1. It was the world’s first National Park.
2. It covers 2,219,789 acres.
3. Wildlife – it has seven species of ungulates (bison, moose, elk, pronghorn being the favourites), two species    of bear and 67 other mammals, 322 species of birds, 16 species of fish and of course, the grey wolf.
4. Plants – There are over 1,100 species of native plants, more than 200 species of exotic plants and over 400 species of Thermopholes (bacteria).
5. Geology – The Park is home to one of the world’s largest calderas (a caldera is a large cauldron-like hollow that forms shortly after the emptying of a magma chamber in a volcano eruption. When large volumes of magma are erupted over a short time, structural support for the rock above the magma chamber is gone) with over 10,000 thermal features and more than 300 geysers. It has one of the world’s largest petrifiied forests. It has over 290 waterfalls with the 308′ Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River as its showpiece.
6. Yellowstone Lake is the largest (132 sq. mi.) high altitude (7,732′) lake in North America.
7. Has nine Visitor’s Centres.
8. 12 campgrounds (over 2,000 campsites)

The drive from the Grand Tetons to Yellowstone is approximately 54 miles. We made it in good time and there was no queue to get in. We were amazed at the amount of snow and the lack of traffic. There wasn’t any!  I think it will be autumn before all the snow disappears, just in time for the next lot. ❄️

One area in the Park where everyone heads to it Grand Prismatic Spring. It’s so beautiful and some years back an overlook was built so that people can look down on the Spring to appreciate its beauty. Sadly, as with a lot of trails at the moment, the area was closed due to bear activity. Also, as the days can be quite cold still there is rather a lot of steam that rises from all the Springs and although with many this is not a problem, today it meant that Grand Prismatic was clouded in mist and so we couldn’t see it at all from ground level.

The Grand Prismatic Spring on a clear day!

All we could see of Grand Prismatic today!

Part of Grand Prismatic. Look carefully and you can see Bison hooves!

Sand on the way to Prismatic Spring

We saw quite a few bison today, some of them actually sitting right next to the hot springs.

Feeding Time!

Keeping Warm

In the steam

Another favourite with visitors is the eruption of Old Faithful a cone geyser. It was named in 1870 and was the first geyser in the park to be named. It is a highly predictable geothermal feature and has erupted every 44 minutes to two hours since 2000.

Old Faithful

The Old Faithful Inn stands right by the geyser.

The interior of the Old Faithful Inn

We were also lucky to see the eruption of Beehive Geyser.This geyser is an unpredictable one as it erupts every 8-24 hours.

Beehive Geyser

Bison Trouble! Near Old Faithful

On the way home we saw two bison just sauntering down the road, not a care in the world. Probably on their way to a dinner date! 😂They are not afraid of the traffic at all.

As Si was taking bison photos today, this cheeky chap came right up to the car door looking for food! I gave him a piece of my huckleberry scone. He loved it!

Cheeky chap!

We also visited the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Artist Point, Brink of the Lower Falls and Biscuit Basin.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Sand and Si at Artist Point

Brink of the Falls

Biscuit Basin area

Here are some other geysers we saw today.

This is a photo of the Yellowstone River complete with snow.

Yellowstone River

On the drive back to our cabin we saw this waterfall right on the side of the road and thought how lovely it was.

Yellowstone waterfall

It’s been another long day but a very enjoyable one seeing lots of amazing things.

Please join us tomorrow for more adventures in Grand Teton National Park!

 

 

Day 10 – The Grand Tetons, Wyoming

13th May:

After our exhausting hike yesterday we retired early and I’m pleased to say we slept very well indeed. We were up and out at 7.30 a.m. this morning.

Before we headed for breakfast we walked to the town square where a very kind lady offered to take our picture in front of the antler arches. They stand at each corner of the public square, outside George Washington Memorial Park.

George Washington Memorial Park is a central park in Jackson. The park was dedicated as a park in 1934 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the first president’s birth. The very first elk antler arch was built in 1953 by the Jackson Hole Rotary Club. Over 2,000 antlers were used for the first of the four arches. All of the elk antlers used for the arches are from discarded antlers. Male elk grow their antlers to impress the females and fight off other males. They are made of bone and can grow up to an inch a day. The male elk naturally shed its antlers when their testosterone drops after breeding season and the process begins again every year. The National Elk Refuge is down the street from Town Square and has an estimated local elk population herd of 11,000. During antler shedding season, it is easy to find the antlers everywhere on the refuge.

Each arch is supported by a steel framework and is constructed by hand using 14,000 pounds or more than 2,000 elk antlers each. They are held together by friction and gravity but need to be rebuilt about every 50 years. Eventually, the antlers decompose and the structures lose their rigidity. In 2006, the Rotary Club began fundraising efforts to replace the arches once again. With the donations made from auctioning off the original antlers, the club could replace them with new frames and newly collected antlers. These unique arches are a well-known Jackson Hole icon. The arches are decorated with Christmas lights during the holiday season and are a magical sight when there is falling snow.

We went to the The Bunnery in Jackson for breakfast. It’s a very popular restaurant which a huge menu to choose from. The last time we went we had to queue but today we were seated straight away. Si decided to have their famous Lorraine quiche with smoky bacon and Swiss cheese, baked in a flaky pie crust, served with fresh berries and O.S.M.((oats, sunflower seeds and millet) toast with fresh fruit, strawberries and blueberries. I had a favourite of mine, the Bunnery parfait made with O.S.M. Granola with Greek yogurt, strawberries and blueberries. Sadly, Si’s quiche didn’t quite meet expectations while my parfait was delicious.

I forgot to photograph the quiche!

Sand’s parfait

They have some delicious pastries that are easily enough for two to share. Of course, we had to buy some for later! In here we have a huckleberry turnover, an almond stick and a blueberry scone.

Don’t they look delicious ….. and huge!

Si paid the lady and suddenly she looked at us and handed him back a $50 bill! He had given her what he thought was one $50 but two had stuck together. She said it happens all the time with the new $50 bills they have. What a lovely lady!

There’s a lot of really lovely bronze street art in Jackson and this is just one!

Slim the cowboy

We then managed to do a little more shopping. The U.S. is suffering the same as us in the U.K., a staff shortage. The lady who had served us today had just arrived here with her husband all the way from Florida. Her company has paid for her to do a three-week stint here in Jackson to cover staff shortages. Lucky lady, being paid to visit the Grand Tetons for three weeks!

On this trip we are visiting some of the places we have not seen before. One of those is the Snake River Overlook Si visited the other evening. We went back this morning to take a few more photos as I didn’t go the other evening. It doesn’t disappoint that’s for sure. A beautiful spot.

Si’s Ansel Adam’s effort!

Snake River Overlook today

Sand at Snake River Overlook

Si at Snake River Overlook

There were people rafting on the Snake River even though the day was rather chilly!

Rafting on the Snake River

We then headed off into the Grand Teton National Park. We still had our Annual Pass from last year’s holiday so we saved ourselves $80 this year.

We stopped off at the Colter Bay Visitor’s Centres and were surprised at how much snow there is yet to melt. Much more than where we are staying.

Colter Bay has a marina that is fed from nearby Jackson Lake but it has been closed for the past couple of years due to low water levels in the Lake. Jackson Lake has been down to levels only seen three times in the last 30 years. The marina is now completely dry due to very low natural flows and the need to supplement downstream reservoirs. Due to drought conditions throughout the U.S west, water supply in the form of reservoir storage is in critical need.

Jackson Lake showing low levels

We visited the Jackson Lake Dam. It was built in 1906 to provide water to farmers and ranchers in southern Idaho that is 800 miles away!

Jackson Lake Dam

We still haven’t seen any bears or bison, but did see elk this morning.

For dinner this evening we are doing fine dining and will be eating at the Blue Lion in Jackson. We’ve eaten here before when I had among other things, bison with huckleberries. Regular views will know I’m heavily into huckleberries but sadly, the only thing on the menu this time with huckleberries is scallops, the one thing I never eat!! 😔

More on the Blue Lion tomorrow.

While we were shopping this morning I found huckleberry popcorn, gummy grizzlies and jam. I’ll be having the jam on my toast in the morning.

It will be another early start tomorrow as we will be visiting Yellowstone National Park. We didn’t visit last year as there were lots of road works but we’ve been advised things are much better now even though they are still dealing with the aftermath of a 500-year flood event that occurred on 13th June 2022.

Catch you all tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 9 – The Grand Tetons, Wyoming

13th May:

We were up with the lark this morning at 4.45 a.m. and off to Schwabacher Landing at 5.30 a.m. ready for the sunrise at 6.01 a.m. We had a bag of goodies with us, water, coffee, bananas and crisps as it was our intention to do a hike to Phelps Lake straight afterwards.

The temperature was 36ºF and it didn’t feel too cold, although we were well wrapped up in our hiking gear.

On the way down to the landing we saw two large elk.

Elk

We arrived to find four other cars already there but there’s always plenty of room for all. We found our position and waited. Sadly, it was quite a breezy morning  and that means ripples in the water and that disrupts the reflection of the mountains. The ideal photograph is the sun shining on the Grand Teton mountain range and reflecting in the pond below.

As we were stood waiting for the sun a fox suddenly appeared opposite us on the other side of the pond. We got a photograph of him but didn’t get a photograph of him catching  a vole for his breakfast!! 🦊🐀

The Fox

Today was not the day for the perfect photograph as it was quite breezy. Si got a few good shots and I took a half-decent video. Perhaps we’ll try again in the next few days.

Schwabacher Sunrise

The goose was still sitting on the nest, no chicks yet! 🐣

Taking in the view

Hello!

After we left Schwbacher Landing we headed for Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve to do a hike to Phelps Lake. There was a sign at the start warning us of the deep snow. In the summer time this hike would normally take about 1.5 hours. Because of the snow, it took us 3.30 hrs to complete 4.26 miles.

We spoke to a Ranger yesterday and she said the hike was doable as long as we had good hiking shoes and walking poles. She said the best time to do it was first thing in the morning as by about 3.00 p.m. the snow is slushy and makes hiking more difficult.

Warning! Warning!

I forgot to say in yesterday’s blog that when we went shopping in Jackson we purchased walking poles especially for today.

It’s always advisable to get to the Preserve early anyway as the parking is limited.

Hike to Phelps Lake

We set off and the first thing I commented on was lack of snow! Well, that soon changed. Before we knew it there was rather a lot of it and of course this obscured the trail. Luckily, we have the AllTrails app because without that we would probably have gotten lost.

Here are some photographs of our hike.

A group of young people passed us at one point carrying their skies. They soon put those skies on and ski-planed instead of walking. We were lucky that someone had walked through before us and for the most part we were able to walk in their tracks.

Unfortunately, where there were no tracks it was a game of poker. I fell backwards twice, held down by my backpack. Lucky I was able to pull myself up with my poles. At one point when I fell down and my backpack had opened up and the bananas I had packed for the half-way point fell out and I didn’t realise it until we got to the lake and found they were gone! No breakfast for us. Luckily, we had hot coffee to keep us going.

Resting in the snow!

It was very hard going and we said it was the hardest hike we had ever done. Not because of the distance but the intensity with all the snow.

I fell forward many times and got stuck up to my knees but poor Si had the most awful experience when he fell down a huge hole so large it was up to his hips. HIs foot was well and truly stuck and he couldn’t pull his leg out at all. We started trying to clear the snow with our walking poles but in the end and I had to dig him out with my bare hands. 😱

Where Si got totally stuck!

We wouldn’t have been so panicky about the situation if it wasn’t for the fact that before this happened we heard growling in the trees and were convinced a bear was nearby. We had the bear spray handy just in case the situation turned nasty!!!! 😱

It was a relief to reach the lake to have a sit down and some coffee!

Phelps Lake

There are two routes to take to the lake. Some people just do half the route but of course the Barretts had to do the whole thing! The Laurel and Hardy phrase “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into” came to mind a few times! 😂

As we reached the end of the walk another phrase, this time from the film Forrest Gump came to mind ……………. “And just like that my running days was over” but in our case Si said our snow hiking days were over. 😂

Poor Si fell down so many large snow holes that his socks and bottom of his hiking trousers were soaking. Mental note to ensure spare socks are packed in future if we ever do happen to go hiking in the snow again.

We did eventually make it back to the Tourist Centre car park and made our way back to our cabin.

When we were at Schwabachers Landing this morning a lady told us they had seen a Sandhill Crane sitting on a nest in water quite near the side of the road but it was quite hard to spot. On our way back I happened to spot it so Si managed to get some really good shots. Sandhill Cranes can be quite hard to find.

Sandhill Crane on the nest

Then, just a little ways down the same road we saw a huge moose feeding. Again, we managed to get a shot.

Mangy Moose

So, the day wasn’t all bad. We had seen a sunrise, albeit not that good, completed a very difficult hike and seen some wildlife. What could be better? Well, an early night I think to prepare ourselves for more adventures tomorrow! 😴🛌

 

 

 

 

 

Day 8 – The Grand Tetons, Wyoming

12th May:

Good evening from the Grand Tetons!

First of all, I told you yesterday that Si had gone to take sunset shots at the Snake River Overlook to try and emulate the famous one taken by Ansel Adams in 1942. Well, I’m pleased to report that he did manage to get a couple.

Snake River Overlook

Snake River Overlook

The original Ansel Adams photograph of the Snake River Overlook taken in 1942

Si’s version in black and white

You can see how the trees have grown up since 1942. How do you think he did?

Today has been another lovely warm day. 🌞

We had to change our plan of going to Schwbacher Landing early to catch the sunrise as we realised late last night that we hadn’t purchased any bear spray! 😔 Not advisable to go too far without bear spray around here! So we drove to the area known as Gros Ventre (pronounced Grow Vont) instead.

The French are the ones responsible for naming both the Grand Tetons mountain range (Grand Tetons meaning big breasts) and Gros Ventre (meaning big belly)! Oh my! 😂

Gros Ventre was so named because the Indians who inhabited the area were large, well-fed people.

Elk move from the Elk Refuge, where we visited yesterday, through Gros Ventre and return to the upper peaks from late May as they feel safer from predators.

The most common animal in the Gros Ventre area are the moose. They remain here from late May until the beginning of September when the rut season begins. Cow moose go up into the Gros Ventre campground, followed by the bull moose, to carry on the rut as they feel safe from predators because humans are there, but it makes it precarious for humans as large moose are there cavorting but usually there’s no problem.

There is a natural warm spring at an area called Kelly Warm Springs, that was founded by a man called William Kelly when he built a sawmill in1907. It is a natural warm spring but a brain eating bacteria has been found there so it is advisable not to going swimming or soak in it! 😱

Kelly Warm Springs

We also saw two Sandhill Cranes, albeit a long way away but Si still managed to get a photograph.

Sandhill Cranes

We had another cloud inversion over the Grand Tetons this morning. Until yesterday, we had never seen that before.

Cloud inversion over Grand Tetons

As we drove around the Gros Ventre area we came across this old cabin and outbuildings. There wasn’t any indication as to what these buildings had been but after some investigation we discovered the are was called the Luther Taylor homestead. You could still see the axe marks on the logs. Someone had spent a lot of time building the cabin. It turns out it was used in the making of the film Shane back in 1953.

Luther Taylor Homestead

Sand at the Luther Taylor homestead

Our next stop was the Visitor’s Centre to purchase the necessary bear spray and to have a refresher on how to use it! 🐻Still quite a lot of snow here! ❄️

Snow at the Visitor’s Center

We then decided to take a quick drive to Schwbacher Landing to check it out ready for our early trip for sunrise tomorrow. On the drive down to the landing there’s some snow but not enough to cause any problems.

Schwbacher Landing

Sand at Schwbacher Landing

While we were there we saw something we have not seen before on our visits and that was a Canada Goose sitting on a nest in the middle of a beaver pond! Who knows, by the time we return tomorrow there may be some chicks to see. 🤞

Canada Goose on the nest

We decided we needed a few more spring clothes as it’s been so warm and that was our mission after having some lunch. We are now all set for whatever nature throws at us! 😂🌞❄️🌧️

On the way back to our cabin we saw two moose that were causing quite the traffic jam but we decided not to stop on this occasion.

When we arrived back at the cabin we found we had a little lodger!

Our lodger!

So, we need an early night tonight as we have to leave here at 5.30 a.m. for the sunrise photos. Fingers crossed for a clear morning and sun! 😴🌞

Thanks for reading. Comments always welcome.

See you tomorrow!

 

Day 7 – The Grand Tetons, Wyoming

11th May:

Today has been a day of hot sunshine and wildlife! 🌞🐏🐦‍⬛

We decided today would be a late start. After all the early starts we’ve had recently we thought we deserved a more leisurely start to the day.

Considering we arrived here yesterday in a snow storm and it was so cold I was shivering, we can’t believe how hot it’s been today. This afternoon it was 63ºF.

As we were not anticipating it being very warm here in the Tetons we didn’t pack many summer clothes. If this heat remains we will have to go and buy some new clothes!! Oh dear, what an awful task that will be! 😂

I did manage to buy another pair of La Sportiva hiking shoes this morning in a sale for half price. We first discovered the brand when we were here last year and they are the most comfortable shoes I have every owned.

After breakfast in the cabin Si went out to get some early shots of the Tetons and was rewarded for his trouble with this lovely shot.

A cloud inversion at the Tetons

We then set out to visit the Elk Refuge. During the winter months the herds come down to the Refuge from the mountains and it’s usually about this time they migrate back up again but we were hoping a few remained.

Sadly, we didn’t manage to see any elk up close but we did see Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep in the Refuge instead.

There were adults and babies and even though they were right on the road our presence didn’t bother them at all.

Big Horn Sheep


Nature can be very cruel ….

Carcass of a dead sheep

We then decided some lunch was in order to visited the Roadhouse Brewing Compay and had Duck flatbreads accompanied by a Smokey Pete (A Smoked Apple Cider Margarita with Vida Mezcal, Triple Sec, Lime Juice, Maple Syrup, Apple Cider) for me and a light beer for Si. Everything was delicious. I had some flatbread left over so it was boxed for me. Sadly, we walked out the restaurant without the box! 😔

As we finished lunch we got into conversation with a lovely couple, Brian and Christina from Connecticut, New England. They were on the hunt for grizzly bears. We told them about the sheep we had seen and as they were the one animal they hadn’t seen they decided to take a trip to the Refuge to see if they could see any.

We stopped off in the Elk Refuge Tourist Centre on the way back and Si took some lovely photos of birds and I managed to find a few things to buy! 😂

Red Breasted Blackbird

Flycatcher

Si has signed up to a special app, Parkwolf, that sends notifications when wildlife is seen and tells you where to go to see them. Well, Si got a message to say there was a moose right outside on the Dornan’s road so he rushed along with his camera and this is the result.

Mangy Moose

As we had lunch today we didn’t bother with dinner and instead Si went to photograph sunset at the Snake River Overlook. This is a famous spot where Ansel Adams, a famous photographer, once took a photograph of the Snake River with the Tetons in the background.

Fingers crossed we’ll have some good photos in tomorrow’s blog.

Visits to the Tetons never disappoint and today has been really lovely.

As I close for the day I thought you may like to take a look at the beast of a car we are driving. I told you yesterday how I once fell out of a Chevrolet Tahoe. When you see this photo you’ll understand why! 😂 Si’s decided he doesn’t like the car’s gear selectors.

Our beast!

The gear selector

Si’s just returned from his sunset trip and now the sun’s gone down he said it’s freezing and he only took a thin jacket with him. ❄️Silly boy! 😔

As we are visiting early this year and there’s still snow about, there are lots of areas that haven’t been able to open but we’ve just found out that Schwbacher Landing is opening up tomorrow so we want to get down there to take sunrise photos ……. again!

Still some snow on the ski slopes!

I do hope you are enjoying reading the blog. Please feel free to leave a comment.

Catch you again tomorrow!

Day 6 – Travelling to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming!

10th May:

First of all I must right a wrong! When I wrote the blog yesterday I was very tired and although I make copious notes throughout the day so that I remember what I want to put in the blog, I forgot to mention two lovely people we met at breakfast yesterday at Daily Bread.

Matthew and Marianne were sat next to us and of course we got chatting, as you do, and they told us they had recently come back from a lovely holiday in Scotland! I was embarrassed to tell them that although we had travelled all over the U.S. we had never visited Scotland. We must put that right in the very near future.

Matthew, although not used to driving on the left-hand side of the road was okay and didn’t really find the roundabouts too difficult.

Today is a driving day to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. Approximately 485 miles and should take us about eight hours.The day started dry but it’s raining now and is much cooler than the warm days we’ve been experiencing.

We have stayed in a lot of hotels over the years but the Grand Hyatt Denver has to be one of the best we’ve stayed in, apart from the Bellagio in Vegas of course. The suite was lovely and the shower was something else. I could have stayed in there all day. The towels were huge and fluffy, and were taller than Si and he’s 6ft tall!

We took an Uber to the Hertz Car Hire and were surprised to see how many Teslas they had for rental. Apparently they are very popular.

A couple of days ago I was checking out our rental on-line and I noticed that the one-way drop off fee had increased by $250 to $700! We spoke to a very nice young lady called Audrey who said she had never seen one that high before. Luckily, I had taken all the Hertz paperwork with me so she could see what the original quote was. She agreed that we shouldn’t have to pay more than was quoted and set about taking the extra cost off the bill. Even after she had done that the final bill was still $200 more than we were expecting. She eventually discovered the reason, it was the Colorado State tax, it was a whooping $212. 😱When you book a hire car it always says local taxes will be added and charged locally so we were expecting that but never in all our years of coming to the U.S. have we been charged a State tax that high. We’ll certainly think twice about hiring a car in Colorado in the future.

Audrey said Colorado will tax you for just about everything!

We ordered a GMC Yukon or similar and have been given a Chevrolet Tahoe which we are quite happy with. It seats seven so we have plenty of room for us and our luggage.

I have a Chevrolet Tahoe story to tell! Dot and Nat, if you are reading this you will probably remember what I’m about to say!

We were in the U.S. to see one of the Twilight movies with some of our Twilight friends so had hired a car to accommodate all of us. When I opened the door to get out I didn’t realise how high off the ground it was and promptly fell out instead!! 😂Si reminds me of this every time we hire a large SUV, as he did today. To get in the car I have to climb on the running board and then heave myself in by means of an appropriately placed grab handle. Hey ho, the perils of being vertically challenged!!! 🤷‍♀️

I’ve started writing the blog as we travel along to Jackson as I hope to make a start on our special Rocky Mountaineer post when we finally arrive at Dornan’s. The only problem is, I get rather car sick so fingers crossed that won’t hold me back!! 🤮

This was an interesting sign …. Stinker!:

Stinker!

The journey passed fairly quickly and we had sun and blue skies most of the way apart from one area where the clouds had descended so low it was like fog and we had to drive very slowly with our hazard lights on. 🌫️

It was only when we were about 40 miles from the Grand Tetons (Jackson) that we met rather a lot of snow and ended up driving through a snow storm! ❄️The temperature dropped very rapidly to 36ºF.

This video was just after the snow storm so the windscreen’s not good and it’s a little shaky!

By the time we arrived in the Tetons a lot of snow on the fields etc had disappeared but there’s still lots of snow on the Teton range. The temperature was up to 56 F.

Welcome to the Tetons!

We were surprised how quiet the roads were. We drove most of the way with just us and no-one else. As we were driving from Denver we came in a different way to the Tetons and drove on roads completely new to us so it made a change to see different scenery.

We saw lots of cows and some Pronghorns. As we entered the Tetons we saw two large elk at the side of the road who looked at us rather suspiciously and decided not to cross the road in front of us and ran off into the fields.

We arrived rather weary, again, and whilst we were checking in we both had the weird sensation of feeling very giddy. It felt as though the cabin was moving. I think it must have had something to do with all the hours we had spent in the car. Very strange!

Our cabin, Osprey, still has some snow! ❄️

Our cabin, Osprey, still with snow!

After checking in went to the store to purchase all the necessaries and then a quick dinner at the on-site restaurant. Si had beef and shrimp Gumbo while I just had tomato and basil soup. It was all rather tasty after a long drive and nothing much to eat!

Si and his Gumbo!

Sand, her soup and a Tetons Lemonade!

It will be early to bed tonight so that we are fit and raring to go for our first full day here in the Tetons.

See you tomorrow!

Day 5 – Another Day of Adventure!

9th May:

Good morning from the Hotel Denver in Glenwood Springs. 😀

The Hotel Denver

I am very pleased to report we slept much better last night. It would appear we have returned to something of a regular schedule as we woke at six this morning. That’s not to say we didn’t wake up in the night too. I told you we are opposite the train station ………… well that means that trains do pass through the station during the night and that’s what woke me in the early hours. One went through at great speed, whoosh. 🚉 It didn’t wake Si of course, he managed to sleep through it.

Our room is large and beautifully furnished, it even has the king bed we asked for but didn’t really expect to get.

I never thought I would say this but …………….. we’ve been sleeping in a brothel!! 😂 😱Well, what used to be one. The Hotel Denver has a very rich history. I know some of you like a little history so click on the two red links, they are worth the read.

Our train journey this morning is starting out a little later than expected due to maintenance on the track. Where have we heard that before I wonder …….. those reading this in the UK?

That means that instead of being on the train for breakfast and lunch we will now have lunch and dinner and arrive in Denver about two hours later than originally planned.

Glenwood Springs is a resort city in Colorado known for its hot springs. It sits in the rugged Rocky Mountains, surrounded by the vast White River National Forest. Glenwood Canyon is rich with wildlife and features Hanging Lake, with its striking turquoise waters. Glenwood Caverns are ancient underground caves. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park has roller coasters and canyon swings overlooking the Colorado River. It has a population of just over 10,000 people.

The day started with clear blue skies and warm sunshine so we took an early walk to take a quick look around before eating breakfast in a restaurant called the Daily Bread. Si had a huge omelet called a Polmek that consisted of Polish sausage, jalapeño chillies and cheese. It seemed to me to be rather a bad idea as we were boarding at 11.00 a.m. and brunch was going to be served shortly after. I just had a bagel and cream cheese. 🤷‍♀️


We have spent another wonderful day aboard the Rocky Mountaineer (all today’s excitement will be included in the special post later in the week) and have now arrived in Denver for our overnight stay at the Grand Hyatt Hotel where we were delighted to be told that we had been upgraded to a corner junior executive suite! 👏

We collect our hire car bright and early tomorrow morning for our journey to the next part of our adventure, our visit to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. 

See you there!

Day 4 – Off we go! Choo Choo! 🚂

8th May:

We were awake early again this morning so I was up and raring to go at 3.30 a.m.!

Si’s currently watching Millwall versus Blackburn Rovers on the TV! Just can’t escape the footie. 😔

We’ve already taken our cases over to the Hoodoo Hotel. They had to be there by 11.00 a.m. That’s where the Rocky Mountaineer staff have two rooms to meet the passengers and to hand out boarding passes and baggage tags. That hotel is only about 150 yards from our hotel so we’re just able to walk them over.

Cases in waiting!

A thank you goes out to our friend Ann regarding hotels. You were right, it was a very easy walk over to the Hoodoo and as we were out so early there wasn’t anyone about. Your advice was spot on! 🥰

The cases do not travel with us on the train but go on ahead by road so they are in our room waiting for us when we arrive at tonight’s hotel, the Hotel Denver in Glenwood Springs.

It’s important to make sure we have everything we are going to need during the day in our hand baggage plus we were told to carry any valuables etc. with us.

It’s just like flying!

Dress onboard is casual but is that casual casual or business casual? Who knows! It took me about six changes this morning before I could decide what to wear. We’ve been told to dress in layers and to take a light waterproof jacket as the temperatures can vary from hot to cold. I’m assuming they are referring to when we may be standing out on the viewing areas. 🤷‍♀️ I’m not anticipating that the train will be roofless!! 😂🌞❄️

When we arrive in Glenwood Springs this evening the train will stop right outside the hotel so we’ll just have a short walk from the station.

We were advised to just have a light breakfast as our first meal on the train will be lunch so that’s just what we did.

Train passengers in waiting!

View from the breakfast terrace

It feels very strange not having a car waiting for us in the car park, we feel kind of rudderless. 😂

We’ve got late check-out as we are not being picked-up from the Hoodoo Hotel until 1.15 p.m. so I think now’s the time to take a stroll along the shops just in case I’ve missed something I would like to buy! 😂

After our short, but successful shopping trip, we made our way to the Hoodoo Hotel and  met some of our fellow passengers who all seem very nice.

The coach arrived to take us to the train and there was definitely a sense of excitement in the air as we boarded for our short trip to the siding where our train was waiting.

All aboard!

Our first day on the Rocky Mountaineer has been nothing short of just wonderful and has exceeded our expectations. Everyone in our carriage are really friendly and we all got on like a house on fire and look forward to the second leg of our trip to Denver tomorrow.

In order to do the trip justice we will prepare a special post to cover the whole trip and will post that later in the week. In the meantime ………………

Cheers!

and goodnight from Glenwood Springs. 😴

 

Day 3 – One more sleep to go!

7th May:

Yes, just one more sleep and we’ll be off on our train adventure on the Rocky Mountaineer!

We’ve been and collected our luggage tags and boarding passes and will be off tomorrow at 1.15 p.m. We will take our luggage to the collection point in the morning and be picked up by bus and taken to the siding where the train will be waiting. 🚂

The day started very wet here in Moab this morning but it didn’t take long before the sun was shining and the temperatures rose, currently it’s 68ºF.

We will be taking the hire car back shortly but before that we thought we would take a

Sand, our chariot and the suitcases!

quick run to Canyonlands National Park to have another look at the very famous Mesa Arch. 

We visited there some years back and Si took this great photo.

He has a new camera this year and was hoping to be able to really try it out for the first time today. He took a few photos on the way into the Park but alas, we were going in at just about the worst time of day and there was at least a 30 minute wait to get in and as we have to get the car back for 3.00 pm we decided we couldn’t wait.

The best time to arrive at any of the National Parks is as early as possible. We would normally arrive just before sunrise.

History time:
Over 200 million years ago, a shallow sea stretched from Canyonlands to California and the area now covered by sandstone spires was part of a vast field of dunes near the edges of the sea.
Humans first visited Canyonlands over 10,000 years ago. Nomadic groups of hunter-gatherers roamed throughout the southwest from 8,000 BC to 500 BC. Ancestral Puebloans or Anasazi thrived: farming and living in what is now Canyonlands.
Legislation creating the park was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 12, 1964.

We went back to Zak’s for dinner tonight as all of the other places we wanted to go to are closed on Sundays.

I enjoyed another Raspberry Margarita and Si ordered another Blackberry Sour but this time he had a large one, 25 fluid ounces! The glass was so heavy I had to help him lift it to his lips!! 😂 He then had to order fish and chips to soak up all that beer. I had a bowl of beer and cheese soup with vegetables. A first for me and I imagine for most people too! 😂 It was very tasty.

Two things to report about our hotel:

1. Con: Our bed has a metal frame and every time we take a breath it squeaks very loudly!😂

2. Pro: It has Tesla chargers so it’s doing something right!

Tomorrow’s going to be a day full of excitement, lovely scenery plus excellent food and drink so we must get to bed early tonight so that we are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for a full-on day. 👏👏

Until tomorrow …………..

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Coronation Day and Moab!

It’s the 6th of May and it’s Coronation Day! 👑

I expect, as I begin writing today’s blog, that most of you are glued to the television watching Charles being crowned.

We are watching it too! (That will surprise some, I know!) We are wide awake even though it’s only 3.00 a.m. and it’s showing on NBC News. Only problem is they don’t have Alistair Bruce, the Royal historian from Sky TV. He’s a walking encyclopaedia when it comes to all things Royal Family.

Today was our first full driving day and as we found it difficult to sleep last night we were up and out quite early. ….. 6.30 a.m.

After a quick breakfast in the hotel and buying goodies to keep us going on the road, we collected our hire car, a Dodge Charger, and set off for Moab. We would normally hire an SUV but as this was only to get us to Moab we went for a smaller one. Mistake! It wasn’t particularly comfortable. I wasn’t able to adjust the seat height and that’s a big problem for me as I like to sit high in the car and poor Si couldn’t get comfortable as his back ached all the time but that didn’t stop him reaching speeds in excess of the speed limit of 80 miles per hour!! 🥹

We had ordered a sat-nav for the journey but it was hopeless! It could tell us where we were at that moment but wouldn’t take an address. We think Margaret, the sat-nav lady, must have decided to take time off so that she could watch the Coronation. That Margaret has always been hard work over the years. 😂

We had paper backups but ended up using Si’s phone. It’s a good job he’s got free roaming in the U.S.!

We may not have been in the country for the Coronation but we did have our Buckingham Palace mints to enjoy on our long journey.

The journey took six and a half hours driving through some magnificent scenery. Mother Nature’s a wonderful thing carving the cliffs into amazing shapes.

Some of the roads were very bumpy and winding to and fro and up and down so that didn’t suit me as I suffer from motion sickness and the fact that we were over 7000 feet in altitude just made things worse. I started to feel a little queasy 🤢  but once we came down from the mountains and the roads smoothed out I started to feel a little better.

 

We arrived in Moab to blue skies and warm sunshine and were surprised at how busy it was.

For dinner tonight we wanted something quick and nothing fancy so found a very popular local establishment where I had a pizza and a raspberry Margarita and Si had their version of a Philly Cheesesteak and a beer. Needless to say, there is cold pizza for breakfast tomorrow.

Seated next to us were two other Brits and we had a very pleasant conversation with them talking about their journey. They are here for just over three weeks and it’s their intention to pack as much in as possible, including visiting Utah’s five National Parks known as the Mighty Five. They are not staying in accommodation but sleeping in their car!! 😱The mind boggles!! 😂

Hope those of you who have been celebrating Coronation Day have had a wonderful time. 👑🇬🇧

See you tomorrow.

 

 

 

Day 1 – On Board!

5th May:

Here we are more than halfway into our flight and currently flying over Canada and as sleep alludes me at the moment I thought it a good idea to start our next post.

Virgin have their own security for Upper Class passengers so we sailed through very quickly with no problem at all. 

Some of you will know that more often than not, Si gets pulled aside for a pat down or body search when going through baggage check.

Well, not today, it was me! But not your usual pat down and search.

When we arrived at the gate to get ready for boarding I was told that I’d been chosen for a security check. The guy doing the check said I had been chosen by the U.S. security people for the check and that’s why I couldn’t check-in on-line. My boarding pass was marked SSSS and that’s what it means.

Who knew, certainly not me. 🤷‍♀️

They took me to one side, no screens to go behind and in full view of everyone proceeded to check my hands, shoes and all my carry-on luggage by rubbing a wand-like stick over everything and then passed a wand over my body and I had to lift up my top to show her the top of my trousers to see if I was wearing a belt.

We’ve had a similar check, but just our hands, when exiting the U.S but never leaving the U.K. I assume they were looking for traces of explosives, that’s what it’s usually for. Oh my! 😱

It was a little unnerving as I was the only person pulled aside.

One good thing was that the guy called Si over and said we could sit in the search area as it was close to boarding Gate B and that was where we would be going through. It meant we would be first on board. Thing was, we were in Group 1 to board anyway but at least we were first to be seated on board.

Fingers crossed there won’t be a similar occurrence when we get to Border Control in Vegas.

Grumpy elderly person now speaking! 

We were certainly reminded earlier today in the Virgin Lounge as to why we do not usually travel on a Friday to Las Vegas! We were ‘lucky’ enough to have a stag party, about 20 men, in the lounge being loud and very boisterous and as they were enjoying the Upper Class lounge, we knew there was a high probability that they would be travelling on our flight in our cabin.

They are not exactly youngsters but still made their presence known.

There are eight of them sat in our cabin and the rest are seated elsewhere. They are going to Vegas for a four-day jolly. Lucky Vegas!

Thank goodness that once they had imbibed more alcohol and eaten plenty of food most of them decided to ‘turn in’ or watch films.

I’m all for people having a good time but not to the annoyance of others!

Grumpy elderly person moan over!

We were welcomed back on board by name no less and all those looking after us are very attentive. 

Once seated we enjoyed champagne and crisps and a lovely warm hand towel. We couldn’t have the usual nuts or pretzels today as there is a nut allergy sufferer on board. 

We didn’t eat a lot for dinner as we had already had lunch in the lounge but I managed a bowl of delicious spring vegetable soup with a cheddar, spinach and plum chutney toastie followed by a Pimms o’clock summer pudding served with a glass of Whispering Angel. Whispering Angel is new to us, only recently coming into our orbit. It comes in the most wonderful bottles.

 

Si had salmon gravadlax with pickled cucumber with grain mustard mayonnaise and pumpernickel bread followed by a warm apricot and almond cake infused with lavender and honey. He ordered a glass of Malbec but when it arrived it was in a can!!!! 😱The wine drinkers among you will understand that he declined it for wine out of a bottle. Our server explained that they are unable to serve it in a bottle as it would come with a cork and so could prove dangerous on board! 💥 

Next on the agenda is going to be afternoon tea. As there’s only 3hrs 39 minutes until we land I think that may be imminent. Have we got room to eat it, that’s the question? Having tea at this time of night, it’s currently 11.09 pm is certainly a little weird. Hey ho, we’ll certainly give it a go.

Well, before afternoon tea, tubs of ice-cream have appeared, at midnight!! Crazy! 🤷‍♀️

In the end I didn’t partake of the afternoon tea and Si had a ‘light bite’ instead.

Our flight took less time than expected and when we arrived in Vegas we were the only flight so no queues at Border Control and were through in two minutes!! We didn’t even have to take our glasses off for the security camera. Si went first and the security guy immediately knew it was him before he looked at Si’s passport! Big brother’s watching!

Our bags came off the plane first so we were out of the terminal so quickly that our car hadn’t even arrived.

Check-in at the hotel was quick too. We are staying at the Vdara Hotel and Spa for just one night as we are due to collect our hire car early tomorrow, the 6th, for our onward journey to Moab where we pick up the Rocky Mountaineer train on Monday. 

Bed calls, we are worn out! 🛌😴

Day 1 – Off we go!

The day is upon us, the cases are packed and we are all ready to go! 👏

There were no arguments this year about the weight of the cases, they came in well under our allowance. That’s got to be a first! Considering that we will be experiencing hot temperatures first of all in Las Vegas and Moab and then winter ones when we reach the Tetons in Wyoming, it’s a miracle. Note: When we re-weighed them just to make sure they had increased in weight! 😱How on earth is that possible!?

We are actually allowed to check-in six cases but we won’t be doing that. We have one large case each plus our carry-ons. Can you imagine Simon’s face if I presented him with six cases! 😂😱🧳

First stop is the Virgin Upper Class lounge to partake of food and beverages and then board the plane for more food and beverages.

Cheers!

Delicious …… but naughty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The drive to Heathrow was a little slower than anticipated due to a coach having broken down in the second lane on the M25. Still, it didn’t delay us too much.

When I went to check-in on-line last night a message appeared saying it was not possible for me to do that, but not to worry as it could mean I’d been chosen for extra checks!! What! Did that mean I may not be able to fly?😱

When we arrived at the Upper Class check-in, a lovely lady called Dee welcomed us and couldn’t understand what the problem was as I had already completed all the necessary paperwork. 🤷‍♀️

She didn’t even comment on my black eye! For those who wouldn’t know, I had a fight with the corner of an oven door! 😔It’s turning a nice shade of yellow now. Luckily, with my glasses on you can’t really see it. 🕶️

We’ve eaten lunch in the lounge accompanied with the odd glass or two or champers 🥂🍾and now await our boarding call which should be about 3.40 ready to take off at 4.30. 🤞✈️

Next stop Las Vegas!

 

Another Year, Another Holiday!

So, after a long, often very cold, snowy winter and the wettest March in England for 40 years, spring has finally arrived. The daffodils are glorious, the tree blossom beautiful and our thoughts have turned to our holiday starting on 5th May.

We considered visiting Canada this year to complete the second half of our original Golden Wedding Anniversary tour that was cancelled due to Covid restrictions, but we’ve decided to do that in possibly, 2025.

This year we will fly into Las Vegas and overnight there before driving up to Moab for a couple of days before boarding the Rocky Mountaineer train for a two-day trip to Denver. For those who follow our blog, you will remember that as part of our original Golden Wedding Anniversary trip we were booked to travel on the Canadian Rocky Mountaineer but that trip had to be cancelled due to Covid restrictions. So, for this year’s holiday, we will be enjoying their new route in the USA travelling from Moab to Denver. The train is slightly smaller due to the tunnels in the US not being large enough to accommodate the Canadian trains.

After overnighting in Denver we will be driving to our most favourite place, the Grand Tetons in Wyoming where we will once again be staying at Dornans in the same log cabin ‘Osprey’ as last year.

We are starting our holiday a little earlier this year as having experienced the Tetons in the summer with rather warm temperatures, we are hoping to experience some left over snow so that we may have some different photographic opportunities. The Tetons have been experiencing some very heavy snowfall this winter so, as the saying goes, hope springs eternal! ❄️

Some of you will remember that due to both of us catching Covid during last year’s holiday it meant we lost a few days. Fingers crossed things will be better this year. 🤞

We look forward to you joining us on our new adventure.

See you soon!

 

 

 

Update on Blondie and her Cubs!!

As you know, we saw Blondie and her three cubs on the 8th June during our stay in the Tetons so are very sad to receive the following news. 😔

Mum Blondie

Blondie’s Cubs

Buckrail Daily News reported the following last Friday 16th June.

MOOSE, Wyoming. — Park officials confirmed on Wednesday that the popular Grizzly 793, also known as Blondie, lost her three cubs at the end of last week.

C.J. Adams, the public affairs specialist for Grand Teton National Park, said the last confirmed sighting of Blondie with her cubs was around dark on Friday night in the Pilgrim Flats area of the park. Park officials who have managed bear jams throughout the spring and summer spotted her. By Saturday morning, she was spotted again, this time without her cubs. While the exact cause of the cubs’ death is unknown, Adams says it was most likely predation by a male grizzly.

“We did observe a male grizzly in the area on Saturday,” Adams says. “The mortality rate of grizzly cubs of the year is around 45%, and predation by a male grizzly is the most common cause of death.”

This is the third set of cubs Blondie has lost.

One good piece of news from The Washington Post is that parts of Yellowstone National Park will be reopen Wednesday morning, after dramatic floods forced the national park to shut down last week. Click on this link to check out what happened.

We’ve visited Yellowstone three times and it is the most amazing place but will it ever be the same again? 🤞

The Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park!

 

 

 

 

 

Day 23 – Home!

Before I sum up our holiday let me jump back a step to finish off what happened yesterday.

Our chauffeur came to collect us and we had an uneventful trip to the airport. We’d been in the hotel all day and when we stepped outside wow, it was hot, hot, hot. 🌞🌞🌞Luckily the Tesla was lovely and cool.❄️

When we arrived at the terminal we had to wait 30 minutes for the Virgin Atlantic desks to open but we were first in the queue. When the young lady took our suitcases, Si told her to be careful as they were heavy and she replied that she didn’t think they were heavy at all! 🦾One case was 27kgs (59.5lbs) and the other one 29kgs (63.9lbs). We are actually allowed four suitcases each weighing 32kgs (70lbs) each. So I think we did okay. 👍

As we are flying Upper Class we get complimentary entry into the Lounge for eats and drinks. So at the moment we are very comfy.

Waiting for our flight!

We were not so laid-back 30 minutes ago though! There was no queue at Security so we were straight in, through the body scanner where the lady said she needed to pat down my left leg and whereupon she immediately patted down my right! Don’t know what she thought I had down my left trouser leg!! 🤔

From there we put our bags through the security scanner and immediately my carry-on bag went down the left channel!! Oh, oh, I thought, there’s trouble ahead!! I’ve seen what happens when the left lane is used!

Well, even though I knew I didn’t have anything I shouldn’t, I started to feel a little nervous and was trying to think what I had packed. The security guy asked me if I had anything dangerous inside and I said I didn’t. Then he asked me to open a box that had  a buffalo ornament in it. Then he ran a drugs paddle over it. I knew it was a drugs paddle because we’ve had our hands checked in the past. OMG I thought, what if someone who’s handled the box previously had been taking drugs, they would think I was responsible. I thought I could be arrested! 👮‍♀️🚓

I repacked the bag and then realised I couldn’t find my carry-on suitcase! That too had taken the left channel! My God I thought, what now? Another one of the security personnel asked me if I had any food in the case and of course, I did ………….. I’d put the huckleberry pancake mix in there! Sure enough, they opened the case and there was the offending item. He unwrapped it and pulled out the contents! Dear Lord, it looked just like a bag of either heroin or cocaine!! Now you may ask how do I know what those drugs look like? Well, I watch the airport security programmes don’t I! 🤷‍♀️Again, he took out the paddle and rubbed it all over the package which thankfully was clear. Well of course it was, I bought it from a store in Jackson for goodness sake. I’m thankful that I put the two items in my carry-on because if I’d packed them in one of the suitcases they would definitely have been opened.

He also remarked about the bag of blueberries in there too. I told him they were actually huckleberries but now I’m worried about Customs at Heathrow as I don’t think we are supposed to take fruit and veg into the country! When I purchased the pancake mix I didn’t notice that it had actual berries in the bag too. I guess they must be dried ones. 😱

Bail money may be required! 💷

Regular readers of the blog will know our history at airports. It’s usually Si who’s taken to one side and patted down, as you know he looks seriously suspicious, or nine times out of 10 our suitcases are opened by Security and everything gets thrown back in with a note saying they are not responsible so don’t even bother complaining and to read their leaflet on better packing!!!!!!

I’m just having a large hot chocolate to calm my nerves! 😂 ☕️

Once on board we settled into our seats. After dinner we had the seats changed into beds. I was surprised how comfy they are. The seat back comes forward to create a full-length padded bed, a mattress topper is added together with a duvet and pillow. It’s great to be able to stretch out.

Si on board

Sand on board

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sand’s starter – mozzarella and pesto with baby tomatoes

 

Si’s prawn starter

 

Sand’s pud – peach cobbler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So to sum up our holiday. We had a wonderful time even if there were a couple of hiccups. Covid being the biggest one of course.

We are both clear now, we took tests again yesterday just to be sure and both were negative, but that doesn’t mean we are back to how we were previously. Si in particular is finding himself very out of breath by just doing the simplest tasks. I guess it will just take time. We were both so lucky to have mild doses. Things could have been so much worse. 😔😷🩺🏥

One disappointing thing is that we couldn’t do as many hikes as we had hoped. Never mind, it’s a good excuse to come back again. As if we needed one. 😂

The second disappointment was the first car we collected from Avis. We had booked a SUV, Ford Edge or similar. They didn’t have a Ford available so gave us a Hyundai Sante Fe instead. We were told it was much more comfortable! It was very disappointing and with hindsight we should not have driven off in it but gone back in and asked for a different one. It didn’t have electric seat adjustment, and I couldn’t even make the seat higher, but we wanted to get on so just took it. It was quite dark when we picked it up but did notice it had not been cleaned very well and had a couple of dents but didn’t notice the large crack in the bumper or the hole in the carpet on the driver’s side. It also had 49,000 on the clock whereas most rentals would not have more than 20,000.

Since Covid a lot of rental companies have either sold off their stock or been keeping them for longer. It wasn’t until we got to Capitol Reef we noticed the tyres were practically bald and the windscreen wipers wouldn’t work properly!! We telephoned customer service and they told us to take it into the Avis rental at Jackson airport and get it changed. That’s what we did and they gave us ‘the tank’. A Toyota 4Runner meant for off-roading. That was much more our style.

We actually did some off-roading driving through deep water. that was scary. It got filthy, all covered in mud but luckily we had that rain on the drive from Jackson to Vegas so that gave it a much needed wash. ☔️

Covid also stopped us from doing horseback riding and river floating. Another two things to add to our list for next time.

We loved the Grand Tetons as we knew we would from previous holidays. It is such a beautiful place with lovely people. It’s very laid back and has lots of great restaurants and shops.

One sad thing that happened as we left Jackson, is that Yellowstone National Park has suffered the most horrendous flooding washing away houses, roads and bridges. The Park has been closed and at the moment it is not known when it will reopen. We met a lot of people in Jackson who were travelling on to Yellowstone so I just hope they are safe. This is a very busy time for Yellowstone and it seems that a lot of staff have had to be laid off. Lots of students work there in the summer months.

There are of course, all the animals too. It’s a very sad state of affairs. The severe flooding was caused by late season snowfall and then very high temperatures that caused the snow to melt quickly along with a day of torrential rain. It’s been blamed on global warming.

I’ve been meaning to post some a pic of our Dornan’s Cabin. Dornan’s also has its own well for water. Boy, it’s cold but tastes great.

Dornans

Our cabin, Osprey

Here too are some of the photos that didn’t get published earlier in the blog.

Panorama of sunrise at Schwacher Landing

Balsam Root

Church of Transfiguration

Si in contemplation!

Sand in the Church of the Transfiguration

Elk Antlers in Jackson Square

Floating Bears

Elk Crossing!

Panorama of Moulton Barn

Teton Waterfall

One thing we noticed on this trip was the changes in Vegas. In the old days it was a shady place, then there was a ‘family friendly’ period but sadly, now, it’s changing again to the point where it’s not necessarily a pleasure to walk down the Strip. There are quite a few homeless on the pavements and women walking along practically naked asking people if they would like their photographs taken with them and pay for the pleasure! We first noticed in 2019 that things were changing and it’s worse now. We were talking to a lady at Security and she said she felt happiest just staying in her hotel!

Our flight home was good and only took nine hours. When we arrived at Heathrow people were mainly using the automatic passport control gates but when it came to our turn, I went straight through but Si couldn’t get through and had to seek help! He was allowed in eventually and within 30 minutes we were on our way home. Wouldn’t be a holiday if Si didn’t have problems at airport security! 👮‍♀️

Seems strange to be back home and for life to be returning to normal. We haven’t watched a television in three weeks. 📺

The suitcases will have to wait until tomorrow to be unpacked. We feel very tired and will be having an early night. It was hot when we first arrived in the UK but it’s cooling down now so hopefully we should get a good night’s sleep! 🛌😴

Thank you to everyone who took the time to follow our adventures, leave comments and ‘likes’. Like a lot of people over the past couple of years, we waited a long time for this adventure but it was worth the wait.

So, it just remains for me to say ……….

arrivederci, adeus, hejdå, 再见, zoi geen, zai jian, tot ziens, au revoir, tschüss, shalom, ciao, じゃね, anyeonghi gasyeo, poka/Пока, adios, hejdå, tạm biệt, vΘleft, farvel, ya sas, tókša akhé,

and see you all on our next adventure. 😀 ✈️🚙

 

Day 22 – Las Vegas to London Heathrow

So, it’s here, the last day of our holiday! 😔 It’s gone really quickly.

We are all packed and ready to go. We will be leaving the hotel at 3.00 p.m, and our flight leaves at 7.35 p.m., 3.30 a.m. UK time and we land at 1.35 p.m. UK time.

Once again, the Tesla Model X will be taking us to the airport. The temperature is forecast to be 107 degrees! Hot, hot, hot! 🌞