About Simon and Sandra

We are a retired, married couple from the UK.

The Holiday That Never Was!

So, today we were supposed to be jetting off 🛫to the USA for our annual holiday but alas, due to the current situation we all find ourselves in, it was of course, cancelled. The most exciting thing happening today, apart from our daily exercise, 🤸‍♀️🏋️‍♀️will be a supermarket food delivery. Hey ho, it is what it is, nothing to be done about it. Millions of people are in a similar situation. 

Fingers crossed, we will be able to travel again next year. We certainly hope so as it is  rather a big year for us both as on 6th March 2021 we will have been married for 50 years!!! 😱 👰🤵💒 No! we hear you exclaim, how is that possible, you look so young? 😂 We say, goodness, where have all those years gone, how did we ever get this old? 🤨

We have already started to plan our trip for next year to celebrate this momentous event so hope you will join us again for ‘Simon and Sandra’s Golden Wedding Adventure to Canada and the USA’ starting 9th June 2021.

Until then, to all our blog followers we say, stay positive, stay safe and stay well. See you in 2021. 🌈😀

Day 19 – London Heathrow and Home!

So, here we are, it’s Friday and we are home once again! 🏡

We left the hotel at 5.00 p.m., got a taxi 🚕to the airport and once again we had a really friendly driver who moved to Las Vegas from Los Angeles about nine years ago. He felt LA had just gotten too busy. He was originally from Ukraine and told us the most amazing story of how he and his family left and began a new live in the US.

The roads to the airport were very busy so it took longer than anticipated but we still arrived in good time to drop (not literally, they were much too heavy for that) our bags and then went off to wait in the lounge.

Both our bags were overweight, just as I knew they would be, mine 4kgs and Si’s by 3kgs. I don’t know how that happened, no really!, because I had most of our purchases in my small carry-on suitcase and I even made a list of what extras things we’d packed in the large suitcases and none of it seemed to weigh that heavy! Anyway, the young lady at the bag drop didn’t make any comment, she just put ‘Heavy’ orange stickers on both and let them pass right on to the conveyor belt. Bless! 🧳

We went through Security and once again, Si was body-searched! I don’t know, I think he must look shifty or something. Then, they wanted me to open my small carry-on suitcase. I  duly obliged and it turns out they didn’t like the way I had packed the charger leads! 😦

Our flight was good, apart from a little turbulence, but nothing to worry about ……….. well, I suppose something to worry about if you’re a nervous flyer!! 😱

The inbound flight from Heathrow to Vegas actually arrived early and we thought to ourselves, that that boded well for getting away on time …………. no, no, no, why would we think that, we know better!

They say it all happens in Vegas and that is so true. The inbound flight arrived and before anyone started disembarking along came five policemen 👮‍♀️👮‍♀️👮‍♀️👮‍♀️👮‍♀️ who proceeded to board. They were on the plane quite a while before two of them came off escorting a young gentlemen in handcuffs!!! 😱 Well, you can imagine what happened, everyone waiting in the lounge were just staring in disbelief. Then two more officers escorted two young women off, not in handcuffs though. We all assumed they must be the travelling companions of the arrested.

We never got to find out what happened. We did ask one of the stewards on our flight but he had heard nothing about the incident. What! You’d think that the British Airways (BA) staff would at least talk to each other.

So, in the end we were 40 minutes late leaving but because of good tail winds the flight back to Blighty only took 9.5 hours instead of the usual 10. Apart from the turbulence it was uneventful ………… or at least I think it was, I was asleep 😴 for about seven of those hours. Poor old Si, as usual, was wide awake the whole flight back. I’d booked us two great seats in the front of our section of the plane, next to the emergency exit, so we were able to stretch right out.

BA are celebrating 100 years this year and one of the things they are selling are small jars of Marmite with a special label on the front. I didn’t realise but you cannot take the large jars of Marmite into the US but these are only 70g so that size is okay! I had wanted to buy some on our flight out to Las Vegas, I thought it would be nice to have some on my toast once we were at Dornans, but they couldn’t get the Duty Free trolley unlocked so I had to wait until today.

For those who do not know what Marmite is, it is made from yeast extract, a by-product of  brewing beer. It’s a sticky, dark brown food paste with a distinctive, powerful flavour, which is extremely salty. This distinctive taste is represented in the marketing slogan: “Love it or hate it.” Such is its prominence in our popular culture that the product’s name is often used as a metaphor for something that is an acquired taste or tends to polarise opinions. When talking to people who have never been to Las Vegas I always say it’ss like Marmite, you either love it or hate it!

BA Marmite

So, today ends another great holiday. 😢 We’ve had a fabulous time, seen so many beautiful things and met some very friendly and interesting people.

We drove 2041 miles in our ‘trusty steed’, low mileage for us I guess!

We would like to thank you all for journeying with us down our ‘holiday road’ and for all the comments you posted, 👏 they really are appreciated and we look forward to sharing our next ‘adventure’ with you all.

We usually finish with a little music so here’s a song by the lovely Alison Krauss and the Jerry Douglas Band that will get your feet tapping! I’ve also just found another video of Four Strong Winds by Neil Young. The scenery of Alberta, Canada is so beautiful I thought it was worth sharing with you.

So, for now, as usual it’s ………. “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 next time. Bye! 👋 🇬🇧 🇺🇸

Si and Sand in the Grand Tetons National Park

 

 

Day 18 – Las Vegas to London Heathrow!

Well, I’m wide awake this morning!

The first thing I did was to email the car company who will be collecting us from Heathrow. If you remember on the day they were supposed to collect us from home to take us to Heathrow they had a computer problem and no-one turned up until we contacted them. I’m pleased to confirm we are on their books for tomorrow, Friday, afternoon. 🚗

Then I double-checked that our room was down for late check-out. I originally booked to leave at 3.00 p.m. but when I spoke to Customer Services they said we could extend until 6.00 p.m. if we wished for just an extra $34, well it seemed rude not to accept. So, we have a comfy place to eek out some of the waiting time instead of the hard chairs at the airport. Our plan is to leave here about 5.00 p.m., we are already checked in so it should just be a case of dropping off the bags ………………. and paying the excess charges. I just know the bags are going to be overweight! Hey ho! 🧳

We had breakfast at the pool cafe again and our waiter was the same guy we had when we first arrived. He remembered us (is that a good or a bad thing!?) and when we ordered two mimosas (thought it would be a nice end to the holiday!) he actually paid for them! How kind was that!

Our two Mimosas!

One funny thing happened at breakfast. The pool cafe is open-air so there are always a few sparrows flying around looking for their own breakfast. Well, Si was sat there enjoying his breakfast when something appeared overhead and hit him on his head! He was so shocked but boy was it funny. It was a single French fry that a little sparrow had picked up but it was so heavy he dropped it just as he flew past Si.

That naughty sparrow with his French fry!

Si had his All American breakfast while I decided on the Fruit Parfait. Si always has his without the fried potatoes so our waiter decided he should have fresh fruit instead!

Sand enjoy her parfait this morning!

Si with his All American, minus potatoes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our waiter thought Si should have some fruit as he didn’t want potatoes with his All American breakfast!

Si had grabbed us a good spot by the pool and we found ourselves between two couples, one from near Denver and the other from somewhere I’d never heard of in Minnesota. We spent a few hours discussing this and that …………… and politics!! ☹️

It was very hot again this morning so we had our umbrella up straight away. Unfortunately, the wind started to blow very strongly and we were all asked to put them down, for safety reasons. We didn’t stay long after that because of the heat.

As I’m not one for eating on a night flight (I like to get my head down as soon as we board) we decided on room service and have just had a fabulous turkey club and french fries with a great pot of camomile tea for me and coffee for Si. I’m sure poor Si will spend the whole flight awake like he usually does!

Thought I’d finish the post today with a photo of one of the very lovely flower displays they have here at the Bellagio.

Just one of the Bellagio flower displays

Our next post will be from good ol’ Blighty, 🇬🇧 hopefully late Friday if I can stay awake! 😂 😴 So please join us then. In the meantime, thank you once again for reading. 😀

Day 17 – Las Vegas

Well, if you need something to help you sleep tonight, this post is probably just the ticket! It’s a little underwhelming compared to previous posts as we haven’t done much really.

Just as I predicted yesterday we’ve had a day of eating (breakfast) at the pool cafe, lounging round the pool, with occasional dipping/swimming to cool off, more eating (dinner) at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., cocktails at the Bellagio and then a little gambling!

Gosh, it was hot today, by 9.30 it was 90 and then rose to 101 degrees. We spent most of the time under our umbrella with dips in and out of the pool. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not complaining. From what I read and hear the weather home in the UK is rather poor, rain, rain and more rain so we need to appreciate the sun and heat while we can.

We met and talked with some very interesting people at the pool, lounging just like us and who will also be flying home tomorrow. A couple from Kingston in the UK and a couple from Australia.

This is one of the waitresses at the pool who kept us hydrated!

Tonight we decided to dine at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (the restaurant dedicated to all things Forrest Gump, the film) as we missed it on our original stay here the week before last. We’ve dined at one of these before, in Tennessee, it was just the same. Si had his favourite coconut shrimp and I had the fish and chips. I’d been looking forward to that all day. Good job I only ordered the small portion!!

It’s a fun place to eat as they ask you questions about the film and it’s interesting to see just what you can remember …….. assuming you’ve seen it in the first place! 😀

Most of the drinks you order at the restaurant come with a free glass to take home. Yes, we now have two glasses to try and fit in the cases plus the other goodies we bought there too! Why oh why, can’t I ever just walk out passed the gift shop without buying anything!!?

The entrance to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. on The Strip!

Si with his coconut shrimp

Sand with her small portion of fish and chips!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our drinks at Bubba Gump – these are the glasses we get to keep (well, they give us new ones!)

After dining we came back to the Petrossian Bar here at the Bellagio for cocktails before having a gamble. Mr. Monopoly seems to have gone on his own vacation as he was certainly absent tonight!!!

Si has a question ………………. when did it become the thing for men to wear their underwear under their swimming shorts????? It suddenly seems to be the thing to do, or it does here at least!

We’ve been coming to the Bellagio since it opened, 21 years ago, and for the first time we find ourselves in strange territory! They have dismantled the atrium exhibition and are setting up a new feature! What a shame for the people who come here and look forward to the display only to find it’s not there. These are the photos of what the new display will look like shortly, shame we won’t be here to enjoy it!

How the Bellagio Atrium will look when it’s finished!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh my, all this lazing, eating and drinking is no good for a girl or boy for that matter! I’m actually sat in bed writing this and I’ve just realised that I fell asleep over the laptop! 😂 😴

Dear, dear me! I need to be awake and on the ball as I’m now waiting for British Airways to say we can check-in on-line and I don’t want to get that wrong. 😱 (It’s okay, I’ve just completed check-in, all’s okay).

I think I’d better say “goodnight all” and get some shut-eye. See you tomorrow! 😀

PS: I told you I fell asleep, well I’ve just realised I’ve missed some of the photos off the post! Dear me, I think I need a holiday. Here are the ones I forgot to add!

In the restaurant there are all the popular sayings from the film. if you want your waiter to stop you turn over the red sign.

From Bubba Gump!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, on the way back from Bubba’s we came across another ‘big’ shoe just as we did on our first week here. Loving those shoes!

My goodness, now my alarm’s going off on my phone, it’s time to book my spin class for tomorrow week. How quickly things get back to normal and we are not even home yet!

Now I’m really off to sleep. Night all! 💤 Thanks for reading.

 

Day 16 – On the Road Again! Salt Lake City to Las Vegas

The day started sunny and 70 degrees. After a quick breakfast we were on the road by 8.45. It was a long 6.5 hour drive that was totally uneventful today! As we drove south the temperature started to rise and our ears started to pop. The temperature when we reached Vegas was 103 degrees and we were down from 7000 to 2000 feet above sea level.

So, the events of the day so far! This is going to be a very long read and as I can’t promise what I’ll have to post about tomorrow as it will probably be just a day of breakfast, sitting round the pool, eating again and gambling, you may want to read this post in two halves, today and tomorrow! 😂

Britney (sat nav), I always knew she was trouble from the moment she started speaking! Today of all days she decides she’s going to have a strop. At least three times during our trip she decided to have a sulk and stopped working. 😠 We actually knew the way anyway, straight down I15 South but that’s not the point! The good thing is that when we reached the Hertz Returns facility and were asked if everything had been okay, Si told them about Britney and they very kindly deducted the cost of the sat nav, $170 (£136) off the bill. Thank you very much Hertz. 😀

We arrived at the Bellagio rather earlier than planned. They’ve now introduced an on-line check-in system, so instead of standing in the queue of thousands (we can remember a time when one didn’t have to queue at all here to check-in but how things have changed!). This means that you tell them when you expect to arrive and they email you your room number and you just go to the Mobile Check-in Lounge, pick up your key and off you go to your room.

Bellagio Reception (check-in queue)

We told them we expected to arrive around 4.00 p.m. but instead arrived at 2.00 so our room wasn’t quite ready. So, what are two weary travellers meant to do? Um, let me think! 🤔Well, we could go to the Petrossian Bar and maybe have my favourite cheese plate and a cocktail or two ………… so that’s exactly what we did. We hadn’t been there twenty minutes when the email came through telling us our room number.

Sand enjoying the cheese plate …. again!

Si enjoying a beverage!

So, here we are in our delightful room overlooking the famous Strip and Bellagio fountains. As I’ve already packed the cases ready for our flight home there will be no unpacking to do. Just take out what we need for the next couple of days.

We had a very interesting conversation with the Bellman who has worked here since it opened 21 years ago. It was privately owned then by Steve Wynn but is now part of the MGM Group. We discussed how things have changed since the early days. It’s still a lovely hotel but there are one or two things that regular guests would notice. Hey ho, nothing ever stays the same.

Welcome to Arizona

FedEx times three!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, as today’s been a day rather short of adventure I’ve decided to fill the post with photos and musings, in no particular order!

  1. When we had dinner last night at The Texas Roadhouse in Salt Lake City (SLC) we chatted to the waiter and he asked us what we were doing there and we explained we were on our way to Las Vegas before returning home to the UK. It so happens that he and his girlfriend’s family are all flying to Las Vegas on Thursday and staying over the weekend. “After all” he said, “who goes to Vegas on a Wednesday?” We replied, “well we do actually!” to which he replied “yes, but I’m young!” What the ….! Cheeky blighter. All the same, he was rather charming. 😀
  2. The last 100 miles on the road to Vegas is very boring! 😴
  3. We are, once again, eight hours behind the UK (what happened today with regards to the voting of the next PM?) 😱
  4. Why doesn’t the UK have Express driving lanes? Here, if you have two or more people in the vehicle you can drive in a special fast lane.

    Just a train we saw along the way

  5. As we left SLC this morning I remembered the last time we were there (not on this visit but in 2013 …. our retirement trip) when we visited the Great Salt Lake and even though I was wearing a cap I was bitten very badly on the head by something that was never identified. The resulting bumps on my head were so bad that when we arrived at Yellowstone National Park I had to see a doctor who told me I couldn’t wash my hair for a week! What!? I have to say that at the end of the seven days my hair looked rather gorgeous and not at all as bad as I imagined it would. I will not mention here what happened next when

    Double Coca-Cola truck – double the fun!

    we arrived in the Tetons and was attributed to those bites on my head, but my nearest and dearest will know what I’m talking about and what Si lovingly refers to as “Sand’s meltdown!” 😂 We laugh about it now but it wasn’t funny at the time.

  6. Si noticed on our drive today the various advertisements for different hospitals and how they said there was only a six-minute waiting time for Accident and Emergency. Wow, makes you kind of envious!

    Saw this on the back of a lorry!

  7. Yesterday, I lost an item of ‘ladies apparel’, couldn’t find the particular item anywhere and was convinced I’d either left it behind somewhere or someone had taken a fancy to it. Well, pleased to say I found it this morning tucked away in the small spare suitcase I brought with us specifically for all those goodies I didn’t intend to buy…… but did!!!
  8. We saw a lighthouse on the side of the highway today and it was my intention to post a pic but the photographer was flying along so fast that the photographer’s assistant only managed to photograph half of it. So, you won’t be seeing that little treat this evening!
  9. We passed by a town called Panguitch today and reminisced how we stayed their during our 2013 trip. We had booked a lovely little B&B where check-in was 3 p.m. We arrived at 2.50 p.m. and the hostess asked us to “wait in the parlour as you are ten minutes early.” Um, you can imagine what we thought about that. I have to say that it turned out to be a rather lovely place to spend a few days and the hostess was a very pleasant lady.

A rather bad ‘Welcome to Nevada’ sign but a good pic of our car mirror!

The Trading Post of yesteryear!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One last thing I thought we should share with you all, just in case anyone’s planning a long road trip in the future, are our ‘Rules of the Road’ (or our ‘must haves’ in the car) that have served us well for many a year! In no particular order:

  1. Snacks (must always includes Cheetos)
  2. Drinks (water and soft)
  3. Hand wipes
  4. Trash bag
  5. Lead for iPhone so you can play music

    Now that’s what you call an oil tanker – two together!

  6. Note pad and pen (because there’s always a time when you will say “remind me” and then you get to your destination and can’t remember what the “remind me” was for!
  7. Headache pills (the long trips can be stressful!)
  8. Lip balm for the lady and gent, if he’s inclined
  9. Nail file because all the lifting of the cases in and out of the car always results in broken nails for someone
  10. Always do hourly exercises to keep the blood flowing. This can include butt clenching, foot wiggling and shoulder lifts – 20 reps of each
  11. Always acknowledge the Cracker Barrel and Chick-fil-A signs with arms raised to the

    Cracker Barrel

    heavens and saying their names out loud. Cracker Barrel as it’s one of my ‘on the road’ places to pop in and have a meal. Good ol’ American fare, and very popular and Chick-fil-A (we’ve never eaten there) but, the founder, Truett Cathy (1921-2014), seems as though he was a great employer. He made the decision to close on Sundays in 1946 when he opened his first restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia. Having worked seven days a week in restaurants open 24 hours, Truett saw the importance of closing on Sundays so that he and his employees

    Chick-fil-A

    could set aside one day to rest and worship if they choose – a practice they uphold today.

Having had the cheese plate earlier I don’t think we’ll be eating again tonight so instead, perhaps a visit to Mr. Monopoly is in order. I received a message this morning from the Postcode Lottery to say we had won £20 so perhaps luck is with us today! Fingers crossed.🤞😉

As always, thanks for reading! 😀

 

Day 15 – On the Road Again! The Tetons to Salt Lake City

So, today we’ve been ‘back on the road again!’ The day started sunny and warm, about 70 degrees and the trip was uneventful until we reached about the half-way point and the black clouds rolled in and ‘boom’, very heavy rain. I’m pleased to say it didn’t last long and were soon enjoying the sunshine again. 🌞 The trip took about 4 hrs 30 minutes, so not too bad and once we had checked-in to the hotel (it’s the same one we stayed at on our trip north to the Tetons) we went and enjoyed a meal, once again at The Texas Road House with the fantastic buttery rolls.

One thing that rather puzzled us was when we ordered our drinks and were asked for proof of age!! What, I didn’t know we looked so young. 😂 Our waiter told us it’s because Utah has got the strictest drinking laws and because they are just a restaurant rather then a pub then they have to ask for proof of age. However, you’ll remember we went into the same restaurant last week and no one asked us then for proof of age! Perhaps our stay in the Teton range has made us look younger!!!!!!

As we were driving along today I asked Si what his favourite food had been during our stay in the Tetons. He said he had liked everything but for me, I will always remember the Tetons for the petite bison fillet with huckleberry sauce ………… more than fabulous, hevenly!  I wonder if I can buy that in the UK, I need to check out Amazon!! 😉

Here are a few photos of things we saw today!

As we left Dornans this morning the Coca-Cola lorry pulled up. I just love to see these, we don’t see them very often, if at all, in the UK.

The Coca-Cola lorry

Not even going to comment on this sign I saw in a ‘facility’ in Jackson!

Not a lot to say really!

Saw this RV and immediately thought of one of our favourite songs!

Four Winds!

This video, courtesy of YouTube, is not of the best quality, but the tune’s still great! Four Strong Winds sung by Neil Young and Friends. Sing along if you know the song!  La, la, la, la. 🎸

As we flew along the road in Etna, Stary Valley we saw this wonderful small cabin on the side of the road. I just knew I had to take a better look so we did a U turn in the road and went back. Sadly it wasn’t open but I’ve managed to find out some of the history, you know I love a little piece of history! So …………… here’s today’s lesson!

The Baker Cabin

The Baker Cabin

Anna Eliza Telford was born in Bountiful, Davis County, Utah, on 7 August 1856, the daughter of John Dodds Telford and Sarah Matilda Coltrin. She married Alonzo Baker on 29 January 1876. They first made their home in Richmond, Cache County, Utah, where they had six children: Harriet May, William Alonzo, Anna Eliza, Sarah Lavinia, Elcie Camelia, and John Lorenzo.

They moved to Star Valley, Wyoming, in the spring of 1888. Son George Tyler was born in May 1888 after they got to Star Valley. They spent the winter in a tent with a lean-to which was an overturned wagon box. In the spring of 1889, Alonzo Baker and other family members contracted to build a roadbed for the railroad south of Deer Lodge, Montana. The oldest boy William, who was 10 years old, went along to help.

Meanwhile, Anna Eliza, who has spent the harsh winter in the tent and wagon box, and vowed not to do it again, decided to build her own home. She and her oldest daughter May, apparently went to Prater Canyon to get logs. This was the nearest place to get logs. She brought the logs out, trimmed them, and carved the notches so the logs would fit together snugly. Her father was a carpenter and she must have learned carpentry from watching him. The home she built was 16 ft by 30 ft and had two rooms. It was strong enough to last more than a century. Long after the family had abandoned the home, it stood while it was used for storage, for animal shelters and other uses. It was only when the last owner was about to tear it down for firewood that it was revealed as the sturdy pioneer home that it was. It was relocated to Etna where it now stands as the oldest home in Star Valley. It is identified as the Baker Cabin. It was built by a pioneer woman with the help of a 13 year old girl and several small children.

Her daughter May went to Logan in the fall of 1889 to go to school. She contracted diptheria and died at the age of 13. Anna had four more children: Ruby Eleanor, Eather Cyral, Leroy, Mary Vella and James Telford. Anna died two days after the birth of her last child, James Telford.

Alonzo Baker remarried in 1902 and subsequently moved to California with his family.

What a great story that is! To read more on this story and to see one of Anna Eliza and Alfonso’s grandchildren, Lloyd Baker, who was actually born in the cabin, then just click on Lloyd Baker’s name above.

Meanwhile further along the road ………… some creatures just have no respect! These cows thought it was okay to walk on the road.

Cows blocking our path!

Welcome to Idaho

We thought this cloud looked like a laughing man!

Can you see the laughing man?

 

 

 

 

 

We just knew the rain was gonna fall!

Here comes the rain!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reminded us of the spin classes I’m missing and Si his road cycling back home!

Reminded us of home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We drove past this trailer pretty quickly, it didn’t look very safe!

Hay trailer – it looked a little unsafe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

and finally ………………….

Welcome to Utah and Salt Lake City!

Tomorrow we have a long six-hour drive back to Las Vegas to return our ‘trusty steed’ and Britney (sat nav) to their rightful owners, then it’s in a cab and back to the Bellagio for our last couple of days before our flight on Thursday. ✈️

Hope you’ll join us again tomorrow to see what interesting sights we see along the way!

As always, thanks for joining us along our ‘holiday road!’ More tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

Day 14 – Out Hiking Again!

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, it was our intention today to hike to Taggart Lake and that’s just what we did! We hiked 5.5 miles in 3 hrs 47 minutes. It was rocky, mountainous with some steep gradients.

Sand ready to hike up to Taggart Lake

The natural lake is located at the terminus of Avalanche Canyon. There are a number of hiking trails can be found near the lake including a three miles roundtrip hike that commences from the trailhead parking area The lake is approximately one mile south of Bradley Lake reckoned by trail distance. A 2005 study of the water quality of the lakes in Grand Teton National Park indicated that the lakes in the park were still considered pristine and that they had not been impacted by air or water pollution.

Here are two videos of Taggart Stream in full flow from snow melt. The second one shows the photographer at work and yes, that’s my thumb too! 😉

We’ve visited Taggart Lake before and it was still as beautiful as we remembered it. The last time we visited in 2014 we were greeted on the trail by rather a lot of deep snow but not this time, the trail was clear.

We were glad we remembered to take our poles today, they certainly helped with the steep inclines.

We are told to be ‘Bear Aware’ and we like to think that we are. This morning, as we walked through a particularly dense area of trail I looked behind me and around, saw nothing, then suddenly seconds later, a dark shadow appeared from behind me, I jumped out of my skin, turned round not knowing what to expect and a young woman was behind me! She apologised for making me jump …… I would much rather she had made some kind of noise so that I knew she was there!! 😱 That’s one more of my nine lives gone! 😂

Taggart Lake

We met two very nice young ladies, friends from Wisconsin, who are on a two-week holiday having recently graduated. They are camping! How brave the young are with the possibility of bears comin’ a knockin’ in the night! One of them will be studying political science when she goes to college so she was very aware of UK politics and Brexit. We spent a very interesting 20 minutes chatting with them.

Si at Taggart Lake

Sand at Taggart Lake

 

We then decided to hike further on to the glacially formed Bradley Lake which is less than one and a half miles north of Taggart Lake. While still walking along by Taggart Lake we came across two young people who asked if we would take a photo of them. The photographer duly obliged and then the four of us walked the trail to Bradley Lake together.

The two young people were Dottie and Nate (sister and brother) from Texas. We spent the next 45 minutes or so in very pleasant conversation talking about all kinds of things. They are on holiday enjoying time together before Nate, who has just graduated, goes off to Florida to join the Navy. His ambition is to become a Navy pilot (he already has his own private pilot’s licence) and once Dottie graduates, her ambition is to become a Veterinarian, possibly with exotic animals.

Dottie and Nate

I told them I would mention them in the blog today. So, a big ‘shout-out’ to Dottie and Nate. It was our pleasure to spend time with you today. You made our walk to Bradley Lake a pleasurable experience. Hope you made it to Jenny Lake okay. Have a safe onward journey.

Just a few photos of other things we saw on the way up and down from Taggart Lake today.

Saw this Swallowtail Butterfly sitting on a Balsamroot on the hike

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baalsamroot

Butterfly that landed on man’s hand, flew away and came back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sand on the hike with Taggart Lake in the distance

Sadly, this is our last full day in the Tetons so it’s time to pack up once again before we leave for Salt Lake City tomorrow, where we will overnight before driving back to Las Vegas for our final few days, before flying back to good ol’ Blighty on Thursday.

Our blog tomorrow will be all about our road trip to Salt Lake City. Not quite like being in  the Tetons but I’ll try and make it as interesting as possible! 😀

Thanks for reading folks. Back tomorrow!

Day 13 – Out Hiking!

So today we decided to ‘get back on the road’ and do some hiking. We started off at Jenny Lake to view Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Covering roughly 1191 acres, glacially-carved Jenny Lake is the second largest lake in the Grand Tetons. At 423 feet it’s also one of the deepest. The lake was named for a Shoshone Indian named Jenny who assisted with camp logistics during the Hayden Geological Survey of 1872. Nearby Leigh Lake is named for her husband, Richard “Beaver Dick” Leigh, an itinerant trapper and early tour guide who helped guide the Hayden Expedition through the area. In 1876 Jenny and their six children died of smallpox. Jenny Lake and Leigh Lake are either side of String Lake so they do in fact remain joined together forever. How romantic! 😢

The easiest way to access Hidden Falls is by way of the Jenny Lake boat shuttle to the entrance of Cascade Canyon. From there it is a 1.2 mile roundtrip hike or another option is to hike 5.2 miles roundtrip from South Jenny Lake on the Jenny Lake Trail. During the summer vacation period, Hidden Falls is one of the busiest tourist attractions in Grand Teton National Park.

Jenny Lake Ferry

We started to see the water from Hidden Falls as soon as we started on the trail. The noise and the speed of the water was truly amazing. It’s basically snow melt from up in the mountains. The captain of our ferry was telling us that further up the mountain there is still waist-high snow! We thought that we had better give that hike a miss today.

Sand on hike to Hidden Falls

San and Si at Hidden Falls

We then walked on to Lower Inspiration Point. This granite-carved segment of trail that gains access to Inspiration Point was built by Civilian Conservation Corps workers in the 1930s.

Sand and Si at Inspiration Point

We also did a short hikes along Leigh Lake and then String Lake. Both very beautiful areas.

String Lake

On the way back down we saw this American Robin and loads of Balsam Root. Balsam Root is a big favourite with bears so always best to be alert when there’s a lot of that around!

An American Robin

Balsamroot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we left we saw a ranger with moose and elk horns and two bear pelts! We went over to see what it was all about and he told us what happened to the two bears, one black and one grizzly. The poor grizzly was knocked down and killed by a car driving too fast. We’ve noticed here that there is often no patience by car drivers. The speed limits go from 25 to 55 but mostly people want to travel at 55 with no thought of the animals that can suddenly cross the road.

The poor black bear, a mother of two cubs, became attached to humans after they starting feeding her and the cubs and eventually she had to be euthanised and the cubs went off to sanctuaries. When they first arrived they refused bear ‘food’ instead preferring to eat apples from people’s hands and then lick them. How sad it is we can’t train humans to be more thoughtful of wildlife.

Si was amazed when he lifted up the moose horns as they were so heavy. Each spring, usually in April, antler bone begins to grow inside a nourishing skin covering on the moose’s head, called velvet due to its short, soft hairs. Antlers are one of the fastest-growing tissues of an animal, and can grow up to eight inches of antler growth in a span of nine days and can weigh as much as 60 pounds! Around September, the velvet will shed and the antler bone hardens. As males age, their antlers grow in bigger each year.

Bear pelt head!

Bear pelt claws!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Si with moose horns!

While we were up at Lower Inspiration Point a family were having a snack when a Chipmunk suddenly appeared, quite frantic, and was trying to get at the food. He had obviously been fed by humans in the past too.

Chipmunk at Inspiration point

To finish off the day we drove the very bendy road to Signal Mountain. It is an isolated summit standing 7,720 feet above sea level. The next closest higher summit is more than 10 miles away, and this isolation provides sweeping views of the Teton Range, much of the northern Jackson Hole area as well as the Snake River. Though located adjacent to the Tetons, Signal Mountain was not formed in the same manner or period. The mountain originally was formed by volcanic ashfall from one of the eruptions of the Yellowstone hotspot. The peak is also partially a glacial moraine formed by a receding glacier that came south out of the Yellowstone icecap. This same glacier also created neighbouring Jackson Lake.

There were a couple of things I forgot to mention yesterday ……. the first thing is that we’ve noticed on this trip particularly is young boys on walkie-talkies! It seems families have decided that that is a great way of keeping track of their youngsters rather than by mobile phones!

The second was …………….. mosquitoes! When we went to Oxbow Bend at sunset last night, they were swarming. It was a truly horrible experience for the photographer ……………… he insisted that his assistant stay in the car, so that’s just what she did!!😂 Here’s another photo of our evening visit yesterday to Schwabacher Landing.

Oxbow Bend at sunset

 

Schwabacher Landing in the evening

Also, on our Eco Tour I told you about the herd of bison who crossed the road right in front of us. Well, I’ve managed to load a small video of the event. Sadly, I wasn’t able to load the full video as it was too long so you only a small portion of the whole herd. Still, better than none at all I guess!

It’s been a while since we’ve had a history lesson so here’s one now on the American Bison courtesy of The Nature Conservancy‘s ‘Bison History and Facts’.

Great herds of bison once roamed North America between the Appalachian Mountains on the east and the Rockies on the west. It is estimated that around 30 million bison roamed the continent when Columbus landed. The herds were so large that the bison became a symbol of the seemingly endless resources of the continent.

In the late 1800s, the bison were almost entirely eliminated, with less than 1,000 individuals left at the lowest point. A 1905 a census indicated there were 835 wild bison and 256 bison in captivity at that time. Sanctuaries, zoos, and parks were safe havens for bison and helped to increase their numbers. The first national preserve for bison was founded in 1907 near Cache, OK and later became the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Reserve. Subsequent game laws and other protective measures allowed the surviving bison to live and multiply.

Today their numbers have rebounded to about 350,000 – only about 1% of their original numbers, but enough so that the bison are no longer in danger of extinction. About 15,000 reside on public lands in the US, the rest are private herds, such as those maintained by The Nature Conservancy.

Historically, the bison’s most important predators were wolves. Wolves constantly followed the large herds, culling the old, incapacitated, and very young animals. Even solitary adult bulls were not immune to attack. To a lesser extent, native human Americans were predators of the bison. Grizzlies occasionally killed bison, and mountain lions and coyotes were also occasional opportunistic predators of young calves.

But one of the primary killers, before the slaughter by humans in the late 1800s, were iced-over rivers. Thousands of bison drowned, particularly in the northern U.S., when the enormous weight of crossing herds caused the ice to give way.

Here ends the lesson for today!

For dinner tonight we decided to ‘stay local’ and ate here at Dornans at the Chuckwagon Grill. Good ol’ American food!  A slightly different setting to what we’ve been used to but look at that view! The food was good too. It only stays open until 9 p.m. and each evening a country singer entertains the diners. Si had his usual ribs and as I wasn’t particularly hungry I just had the mac ‘n cheese.

View from the Grill

 

 

 

At the Chuckwagon Grill with the entertainer in the background

The food!

 

 

 

Tomorrow is our last full day here in Jackson 😢so it’s our intention to hike to Taggart Lake. We’ve been there before but it is so beautiful it deserves another visit!

Once again thanks for reading and your comments. More tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 12 – Day of Leisure plus Shopping!

After the past few hectic days we decided today should be a leisurely one so we set off to Jackson to take a look around the shops and have lunch. It was about 75 degrees and very pleasant. It was a chance to leave off the hiking gear and get back into shorts and t-shirts.

Jackson still has that old cowboy feel about. Lots of lovely shops, great eateries and free parking!

Stagecoach in Jackson

We managed to buy quite a few things! Well, when the shops are so lovely it seems rude not to.

The boardwalk in Jackson

We went into one store the sun was ablaze, when we came out it was bucketing down. Of course, we’d left our wet coats and hats in the car. I asked Si as we drove into Jackson if he’s checked the weather forecast but of course he hadn’t! So, we made a quick dash, along with most of the other visitors to the nearest eatery which was the Roadhouse Brewing Company, a pub/eatery. We couldn’t have chosen anywhere better. Great atmosphere, with about eight TV screens all showing something different. There’s an upstairs terrace to sit out on and eat but unfortunately due to the rain, everyone came running inside so it was quite packed.

Roadhouse Brewing Company

Roadhouse Brewing Company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had the Petite Bison Fillet, again, with huckleberry sauce and caramelised carrots (fabulous) and Si had the Bovine & Swine Bratwurst, bovine and swine garlic knackwurst, sauerkraut, stour mustard and Hoagie Roll. He said that was fabulous too. For dessert we ordered the Strawberry Bunuelos consisting of strawberries, whipped cream, vanilla ice cream and fried Bunuelos but sadly the Bunuelos (fried dough balls) were stale so we couldn’t have them! Instead we were offered Ice Cream Sandwiches that consisted of ice cream sandwiched between two biscuits and rolled in hundreds and thousands. I had the huckleberry ice-cream (I’m very heavily into anything huckleberry at the moment!) and Si had the salted caramel. They were both delicious and as our original choice was not available we didn’t have to pay for them either!

Sand on Jackson Town Square

There were some beautiful bronze statues on show. Here are a few:

This is probably the closest Si will get to a bear!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Si with Mark Twain and friends!

Sand sitting with the Wright Brothers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This evening we’ve been back to Schwabacher Landing to see if we could see any wildlife and to photograph it in different light. We did see a beaver but that’s all. The view was very different this afternoon to the morning view. The morning view was much better.

Beaver at Schwabacher Landing

We also went back to Oxbow Bend again to photograph it as the sun sets. Here’s just one of the photos Si took, I’ll post the rest tomorrow.

On the way back we nearly had our closest encounter with a bear yet! As we were driving past a wooded area a fast moving bear ran behind our car. We turned around and went back but he had fled!

As it’s been a slow day I thought I’d post a few photos of our current abode …..

Our des res!

Our cabin, Willow

Spur Ranch sign (that’s the name of where we are staying!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dornans Reception

When I’ve finished the post for the day and publish it, I always manage to think of something I missed off. I did that with yesterday’s post. I meant to say that here in the Tetons, they get approximately 500 inches of snow in the winter! ❄️😱Thought that was quite an interesting fact!

Hope you’ll join us again tomorrow for our next adventure. We are hiking round Jenny Lake.

 

 

 

Day 11 – Our Eco Wildlife Adventure! (Part 2)

Hi everyone, the photographer’s assistant is up bright and bushy tailed this morning (Friday). All these early starts and long days are playing havoc with these old bones! Mind you, I don’t think it helps that we up at 7000 feet above sea level either! 😂😉

So, to continue yesterday’s (Thursday) activities:

We were up early again this morning and in Jackson by 6.00 a.m., the temperature was a balmy 59 degrees, to meet our guide for the day, Kirk, for the Eco Tour Wildlife Adventure here in Teton National Park. There were just seven of us, including Kirk, the other four people were all from New Jersey, USA. They were all lovely travelling companions and we had a great day. Kirk bought breakfast, snacks, drinks (including tea and coffee) and a lovely picnic lunch with sandwiches that had been specially made to our order, crisps, pasta and fruit and chocolate brownies. We were all well catered for. Binoculars and spotting scopes were also provided and definitely added a further dimension to our day. We had never used scopes before but wow they are well worth the cost, the ones we were using cost about $3000 (£2400)!

The Eco Tour Bus

It was an early start as that’s the best time of day to catch sight of all the wildlife, they mostly go to ground later as it becomes warmer. We were not disappointed and even Kirk was amazed at how many species we were able to cross off our list so quickly. We saw two young moose playing together, bison, pronghorns, elk including a baby newly born and still being cleaned by its mother, a coyote, a fox with a huge bushy tail looking for food (Kirk thought it would have had cubs nearby) a brown bear and two grizzly bears (they were two-year old twins) who had recently been ‘put out’ by their mother (so we were reliably informed by the Ranger). That happens so that Mum can have more babies without having to look after her previous cubs. The difference between a brown bear and a grizzly is that the grizzly has a hump on its back!

Young Moose playing!

Pronghorn

Fox

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, that’s a grizzly in the distance!

While we were all stood on the side of the road admiring the bears there was one car with a young boy sat inside with his earbuds in playing on his phone!!!!  I made a comment (of course!) and his mother heard me and turned to him and asked him why he wasn’t outside and he just shrugged!! What can you say!?

It’s very obvious when there’s wildlife nearby as the road becomes a car park! People literally stop in the middle of the road get out of their cars, often leaving the doors open, so that they can catch a glimpse of whatever animal is nearby! The park Rangers are always on the look out for sightings of bears as they know just what that means and are on hand to control the crowds, especially those who do stupid things like trying to get up close for the ‘one great photo’.

Moose Pond

We stopped for lunch earlier than normal, about 11.30, as we had all been up since about 5.00 and also some rain was forecast for early afternoon. Kirk took us to a great spot right on the Snake River, Jackson Lake. It was beautiful. In fact the whole of the Tetons is the most wonderful place to be with magnificent views and crystal clear rivers and lakes. In the winter there’s great skiing too, although we’ve never tried that and looking at some of the slopes I don’t think we’ll be trying that anytime soon! 😱

Jackson Lake

San and Si at Jackson Lake Lodge

After lunch we went onto one of the backroads that most tourists wouldn’t know was there. It was a rather bumpy ride but well worth it as when we rounded one corner a herd of bison were just coming down a hill and across the road in front of us to a new grazing pasture. It was amazing to witness. Luckily, the roof of the bus opened up and we could stand and watch it all happening without being in danger of attack. I have a video to post of this but at the moment it’s ‘not playing ball’ so I’ll have to add that later but in the meantime I do have one of a bear!

 

 

Bison Herd on the move!

It’s great to stand and watch the wildlife living their natural lives. It’s difficult to take photographs, unless you have a huge lens, that really capture the magic of it as we are not allowed to get too close but I hope these allow you to enjoy what we are enjoying!

The tour was supposed to end at 2.00 but unfortunately on the way back we encountered road works (there’s always roadworks somewhere!) and we queued for 45 minutes. By this time we were all rather weary after a fantastic day. Kirk was an excellent tour guide, so knowledgable about the Tetons and how they were formed, flora and fauna and the eco system.

Lupins

San and Kirk out tour guide at the end of the trip

We are still trying to find the name of this beautiful butterfly!

While the Teton Range dominates the landscape, it is the interplay of mountains, faults, glaciers, forests, rivers, lakes, wetlands, and geologic features that create the overal grandeur of Grand Teton National Park. Taken individually, each feature is fascinating and worthy of protection, but when combined as they are in Grand Teton, they create a mosaic that is inspiring beyond compare.

Oh, while I think of it, I need to make a correction about a photo I put on yesterday. I told you about the prairie dogs under the cabins well, Kirk corrected us, they are in fact uinta ground squirrels. In our defence they look very similar just one is bigger than the other!

So ends another great day here in the Tetons.

Thanks for taking the time to read our blog and for your comments.

 

 

 

Day 11 – Our Eco Wildlife Adventure! (Part 1)

Hi everyone, we went on our ‘adventure’ today and I’m part-way through writing the blog but the photographer has had problems up-loading his magnificent photographs. The problem has now been resolved but we’ve had a long day and it’s rather late so I’ve decided to finish it tomorrow (Friday) as I don’t want to rush it and spoil your enjoyment!

Join us again later to read all about our adventure! 😀🐾

Day 10 – Yellowstone National Park

I’m pleased to report that the photographer’s assistant was up and out this morning, not feeling 100% but not too bad! The temperature at 9.30 a.m. was 59 degrees but this afternoon it rose to 72 degrees. Some rain and lightening was forecast from about 4.00 p.m. but I’m pleased to say that it stayed dry until about 5.30 p.m. when we had quite a shower but the lightening didn’t materialise and the sun came out and it’s very pleasant indeed! Fingers crossed the weather’s okay for tomorrow as we are off on a tour.

We were originally booked to go on a Wildlife Eco Tour here in the Grand Teton National Park today from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. but we were asked if we would change our day to tomorrow the 13th June which we did. Good job we did because I don’t think an early start like that would have been to the photographer’s assistant’s liking at all!!

Welcome to Yellowstone

Instead we drove to Yellowstone National Park, an hours drive from the cabin to the entrance of Yellowstone and then another hour to one of our destinations which today was Grand Prismatic Spring, the other being the gift shop at The Lodge to purchase a very important item, well a quantity actually of ……………….. Yellowstone bear soaps!! I bought some when I visited before and they proved to be very popular!

Yellowstone Bear Soap – cute or what!

We were surprised when we arrived in Yellowstone at the amount of ground snow there still is. Much more than in the Tetons.

Ground snow in Yellowstone

Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States, and the third largest in the world, after Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand and Boiling Lake in Dominica. It was was noted by geologists working in the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871, and named by them for its striking coloration. Its colours match the rainbow dispersion of white light by an optical prism: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue.

We’ve been to Yellowstone twice before and each time have photographed the spring at ground level but we knew it was possible to climb up above the Spring and look down to take photographs. Problem was that there was no official route. People would scramble up the hillside and over time a social path was made. An overlook was proposed back in 1997 but only opened in 2017. It is now a 1.5 mile hike up to the viewing platform and is very popular with visitors. It’s well worth the climb, the view is certainly something to behold.

The Grand Prismatic Spring!

We saw this smaller pool on our way up to Prismatic Spring but don’t know the name of it ….. research needed!

A smaller pool on the way to Grand Prismatic Spring

On the way up to the viewing platform we saw this bison have a rest and no doubt warming himself. They lie near to thermals because of the warmth.

A resting bison

On the way back to the car a bison that had been sleeping nearby decided to get up and have a swim. He’s looking rather the worse for wear poor thing!

Bison in the swim!

Bison after his swim

As we’ve been before and visited most of the favourite places to see we decided we would just concentrate on the ones we hadn’t. So, we stopped at Kepler Cascades, a waterfall on the Firehole River. The cascades drop approximately 150 feet over multiple drops. The longest drop is 50 feet. They were actually named in 1881 for the 12 year old son of Wyoming’s territorial governor, Kepler Hoyt, who toured the park with his father, Governor John Hoyt.

Kepler Falls

 

We passed through the Continental Divide a few times today. Continental divides spans the USA north to south and it divides the watershed of two great oceans. In the east rivers drain to the Atlantic and to the west they drain to the Pacific.

S&S at the Continental Divide – Elevation 8391!

Leaving Yellowstone

Grand Teton National Park is named for Grand Teton, the tallest mountain in the Teton Range. The naming of the mountains is attributed to early 19th-century French-speaking trappers—les trois tétons (the three teats) was later anglicised and shortened to Tetons. At 13,775 feet (4,199 m), Grand Teton abruptly rises more than 7,000 feet (2,100 m) above Jackson Hole, almost 850 feet (260 m) higher than Mount Owen, the second-highest summit in the range. The park has numerous lakes, including 15-mile-long (24 km) Jackson Lake as well as streams of varying length and the upper main stem of the Snake River. Though in a state of recession, a dozen small glaciers persist at the higher elevations near the highest peaks in the range. Some of the rocks in the park are the oldest found in any American national park and have been dated at nearly 2.7 billion years.

Smoking Grand Teton!

We’ve noticed over the past couple of days that clouds have been hanging over the very peak of Grand Teton, it looks as though it’s smoking!

We’ve made a discovery …………….. there are Prairie Dogs living here under some of the cabins! It’s not as bad as it sounds ………… this is them! They are herbivorous burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. They are a type of ground squirrel, found in the United States, Canadian Prairies and Mexico.

Prairie Dogs

As we left Yellowstone we clocked up 1000 miles in our trusty steed!

One thing that’s been bought to my attention (thanks Nat) is that the photographs in the blog are not behaving as they should i.e. you should be able to click on them and they open up larger in a new window and they are not doing that. Well, I think I’ve solved the problem and as of this post you should be able to do just that. Well fingers crossed they do! I’ll work my way back through all the photos of this trip and see if I can rectify them too.

Well, we need an early night as we have the early start tomorrow to I will say “goodnight” to all. Thanks for reading and we hope to have some great wildlife photos of our tour tomorrow.

 

 

 

Day 9 – The Tetons on a very chilly morning!

Well, we surprised ourselves this morning, the photographer and his trusty assistant were up, dressed, teeth brushed, bear spray in hand (I forgot to tell you yesterday that we purchased the obligatory bear spray and the lesson of the day was how to use it, curtesy of one of the Rangers … let’s hope we never need too but the Ranger did say that there had been many sightings in the past week or so!) and were on the road at 5.04 a.m. But boy it was chilly, only 36 degrees, but we were wrapped up warmly in layers (note to our dear Ann ………. you were right about the thick tights under the walking trousers instead of jeans, I was really toasty warm!) 👍😘

Our mission for the day was to photograph Oxbow Bend situated on the Snake River. It is one of the most photographed spots in Grand Teton National Park. It has stunning views across the river and majestic Mount Moran is staged as a perfect backdrop for the scene. Mirror reflections are possible on calm days and early mornings. It attracts loads of photographers and tourists, all willing to lose hours of sleep and endure chilly early mornings just to get or see the perfect shot.

The Oxbow Bend shot!

On our drive this morning we passed bison and elk grazing at the side of the road but we couldn’t stop because we needed to get to Oxbow Bend for the sun rise but we hope to correct that wrong very soon. We did stop for elk in the road on the way back though!

Elk

When we last visited the Tetons Si wanted to visit Schwabacher’s Landing on the Snake River but the road was shut off due to snow. However, this morning that has all been put right as it was open. Wildlife including moose, pronghorn, mule deer and bald eagles are commonly seen in the immediate vicinity of the landing but we only saw a chipmunk or it could be a squirrel out searching for his breakfast!

The hungry critter!

Schwabacher’s Landing

The reflections are just wonderful!

There were a few photographers when we arrived at the Landing and I had to laugh as they were all stood side by side, mostly men but some ladies of a certain age, with their huge tripods and lenses all muttering and murmuring at the beauty of it all. It is indeed very beautiful!

Here are a few of like-minded photographers!

And this is the photographer’s assistant wrapped up warm against the cold! I actually didn’t have to carry any equipment this morning …………. that’s a first!

The trusty photographer’s assistant wrapped up against the cold!

There’s an outdoor eatery here called ‘The Chuckwagon’ so you can guess where this pic is from!

The Chuckwagon!

In the cabin we have a telephone but no TV, well that’s not a problem. Also, we’ve now learned that they actually have their own well and that answers the question we’ve been asking about how on earth can the cold water be so cold? Now we know!

Here’s another pic of the Grand Tetons we took as we travelled back to the Cabin.

The Grand Tetons

We had a lovely lunch from the deli today, they do great sandwiches, huge as you can imagine and then this afternoon we went out to photograph the T.A. Moulton Barn,also known as “the most photographed barn in America” and the John Moulton Barn both situated on Mormon Row.

Mormon Row was established by Mormon settlers in 1890’s who moved into the Jackson Hole Area from Idaho.  There were 27 homesteads established, and these farms thrived even though this area presents a very harsh environment for farming.

Much of their farming success was attributed to their intricate dike and levee system that carried water to their crops. This eleborate irrigation system was built by hand, with the help of well-trained teams of horses.

Of the 27 original homesteads established along Mormon Row in the 1890’s, the buildings of 6 homesteads remain standing.  Up until the 1990’s all of the homesteads along Mormon Row were left to decay.  But once awareness of their cultural value became more and more apparent, the remaining 6 homesteads from then on have been maintained so visitors can get a glimpse into the fascinating past of Jackson Hole.

S&S at T.A. Moulton Barn

John Moulton Barn (hope you’re not as confused as I am!)

Her Majesty in her chariot! Si’s words, not mine!

We met a lady at the Barn who told us she visits Oxbow Bend at various times during the day to see different wildlife so, we then went back to see what we could see. Unfortunately, apart from being very windy and cold we didn’t see anything other than ducks. Perhaps we’ll try again another day.

We did however meet a lovely couple and their two children from Washington State. Turns out she was a Twilight, Hunger Games and Harry Potter fan so we had a lot in common! Also, her husband had served in the Navy and at one time was in Portsmouth, England! Si and I were born just across the water in Gosport …… what a small world it is!?

We went further on up the road and saw this! We didn’t linger!

Bear warning!

We did manage to get a bison photo though!

A Bison herd!

Also, here’s one photo I forgot to add in yesterday’s blog. It’s a calf that took an interest us as we drove here to the Tetons.

A calf we saw on the free range on our trip to the Tetons

Tonight we dine in style (or so we are told) at The Blue Lion in Jackson. The temperature has improved a little since this morning, it’s now 54 degrees. The thing is we are booked to sit on the patio for dinner (the guy who took our booking promised us today would be warmer than yesterday!) so this could be interesting as it’s quite windy as well. Hey ho, we shall see!

Well, are back from the restaurant and I have to say, it was a fabulous experience. The patio was enclosed so no problems with the weather. The photographer’s assistant is a little squiffy!!! We had a fabulous meal and if I can finish today’s blog it will be a little miracle! You’ll have to excuse any mistakes!! 😂 We have just had the best meal of the holiday so far.

Si started with baked brie and raspberry sauce, followed by salad (I’ve never really got to grips with the idea of having a salad course!) then scallops with rice and asparagus. The photographer”s assistant didn’t have a starter or the salad but went straight in with buffalo tenderloin and huckleberries, potatoes au-gratin and asparagus …………….. it was fabulous! (have I said ‘fabulous’ before?)! I just can’t begin to tell you how fabulous it was! I had two Gin Basil Smashes (local Great Grey Gin from Jackson Still Works, fresh squeezed lime juice and house made basil syrup), probably two of the best gin drinks I’ve ever had 😀 while poor Si had just one sauvignon blanc, he was driving after all, and we finished with black coffee for Si and black coffee and Frangelico for the photographers’s assistant ………… no wonder I’m squiffy!!!! Si was really impressed with how I was able to work out the gratuity even in my ‘confused’ state!! I must confess, I laughed all the way back to the cabin …………….. I don’t know why!! 🥴

Cocktails!

The Brie starter

Si’s scallops

Sand’s buffalo tenderloin with huckleberry sauce .. fabulous! Does the photographer’s assistant look a little squiffy?

Black coffee and Angelico .. what better way to finish the meal!?

One thing I forgot to mention earlier was roundabouts …………….. or circles as Americans like to call them. There’s one on the way to Dornans, it’s very strange driving on the right round the ‘circle’ as opposed to the left. I’m not surprised that Americans find them so confusing!! 😕

We started the day with seeing the sun rise so only right that we finish with the sun setting!

The setting sun – please forgive all the windscreen bugs etc!!!!

In the meantime, I think it’s time for some shut-eye, it’s been a long, long day and the photographer’s assistant is not feeling her best!! We aim to make it to Yellowstone National Park tomorrow. Thanks for reading. Back tomorrow! 🥴

 

 

 

 

Day 8 – Salt Lake City to the Grand Teton National Park and Dornans!

Another day, another post! At least it’s on time today! 😀

After breakfast at the hotel we set out to find a Post Office as I wanted to post a birthday card. Well, it took a while because the instructions we were given were very complicated and we ended up going round in a circle! After locating the Post Office we set off from Salt Lake City for another long drive, albeit only five hours today! It was an interesting one too, not like yesterday on one long boring road.

A bendy road we travelled on today!

The day started at 68 degrees and was variable as we travelled north but it’s now 61 and sunny. I have to say it’s very pleasant indeed and tomorrow is forecast to be even better. The only snow we’ve seen is on the mountain tops so fingers crossed it stays that way.

We passed through Idaho (that was unexpected) and lots of open range country with cattle. We travelled along the Old Oregon Trail

The Old Oregon Trail

that was laid by fur traders and trappers from about 1811 to 1840, and was only passable on foot or by horseback. By 1836, when the first migrant wagon train was organised in Independence, Missouri, a wagon trail had been cleared to Fort Hall, Idaho. We also drove along the Pioneer Historic Byway

Old Pioneer Byway

that retraces some of the steps taken by Idaho’s early pioneers and early-day Yellowstone Park visitors.

We had a nice singalong en-route, it was first of all Si’s spinning playlist (an acquired taste for some) and then something a little gentler ……………. John Denver! You remember I told you yesterday that we had a different lady speaking on the sat nav and how curt she was, no respect at all for the elderly? 🙁 😂 Well, we’ve decided to call her Brittany!! 😱 (Apologies to any Brittanys reading this blog!!)

Entering Wyoming home to Jackson and the Grand Teton National Park and our destination.

Entering the state of Wyoming, home to Jackson and Grand Teton National Park

Entering Jackson

Entering Grand Teton National Park

After our long drive we arrived here, our home for the next week, at Dornans Spur Ranch

Moose Junction where Dornans resides

Dornans

Dornans

and what can I say, it’s Heaven. We are staying in a log cabin, well it’s more than a basic log cabin actually, about fifty yards from the Snake River.

The Snake River at Dornans

The Snake River

What a fabulous find this place is. Some of you will remember back in 2013 when we stayed in a log cabin, 8000 feet above sea level just outside Yellowstone National Park and it was such a dreadful experience I vowed never to do log cabins again? Well, I’m glad we took a chance on this one.

One of the views from our porch!

Our cabin!

It’s a family-run business and it was Evelyn Middleton Dornan from Philadelphia on leave from her job in a war plane factory during World War 1, who came out in 1918 to visit a friend, Maude Noble, who operated Menor’s Ferry (the ferry building is still located on the west bank of the Snake River across from Dornans) who started it all. The visit left a deep impression and three years later, the war over, Evelyn returned to the Tetons and homesteaded on the east bank of the Snake River and staked a claim to just over twenty acres south and east of the ferry Noble ran and the homestead eventually became Dornans Spur Ranch and has been in the family ever since. There are just 12 cabins and ours is called Willow.

I don’t expect many of you remember the film Spencer’s Mountain, released in May 1963, (it was for forerunner for the TV show The Walton’s). Well, Dornans and some of the family members running it at the time were extras in the film.

Filming Spencer’s Mountain

We had originally booked about a year ago to stay at the Old Faithful Lodge Cabins in Yellowstone but changed our minds in February and decided to stay in the Tetons. I didn’t expect to be able to find anywhere as most of the good places are booked at least a year in advance but we found Dornans and they had just one cabin available for this week. We were so lucky. Besides the cabins there are three restaurants, a nationally famous wine shop (we’ve just been in there and my goodness, I couldn’t begin to count how many bottles of wine they have, but I’ve just read they have over 1500 labels), a gift shop (think I may take a little look in there), a deli, a grocery store, a bar and a place to hire bikes, canoes and many other things.

Before I forget, I said I would post a photos of our ‘trusty stead’ and here she is plus a few other interesting things we saw during our journey!

Our ‘trusty steed!’

Bears in a raft!

Strange place to see a bear!

Elk ……. not real ones of course!

Suspicious cloud … it had three layers ….. do you think it’s hiding alien life force?

These elk antler arches are situated on each corner of Jackson town square. There are four of them. They have been picked up after the elk shed them.

Well, day one completed. I’m being told that tomorrow we rise at 5 a.m. so that we can get to Oxbow Bend to, hopefully, see the sun rise. This should be interesting ……….. me rising at 5 a.m.!! 😱

More tomorrow! Thanks for reading and for posting comments.😀

Day 7 – Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Part 2)

I’m pleased to say that the author has awoken from her long sleep and is raring to go but first of all, let’s talk about yesterday!

You could say yesterday was a rather long, tiring day for the ‘adventurers’! The day started as usual with breakfast in the Pool Cafe of The Bellagio and there were no dramas such as milk throwing! The wind had dropped as had the temperature to about 92, so very pleasant.

Just a pic of me as Si was looking a big grumpy in his!

After checking out of the hotel and saying ‘farewell’ we jumped into a taxi heading for the car hire centre at the airport. You have to give a round of applause to Las Vegas because when it comes to car hire they have got it sorted. Instead of all the car companies being spread out around the airport as is usually the case, there they have one huge complex holding them all. The whole process is so easy.

Our taxi driver was Steve Davison, a very friendly guy who I said I would give a ‘shout out’ to in today’s blog. “Hi Steve, it was great meeting you yesterday.”

As Si is a Hertz Gold member we were in, collected our car and out within ten minutes. If you’re a Gold member, when you arrive you just find your name on the electronic board and next to it is the stall number where your car is ready and waiting to just drive off. You just show your driving licence to the man on the gate, collect the rental agreement and you’re off and running. So easy. I shall post a pic of our ‘trusty steed’ later. We asked for a Jeep Grand Cherokee (or equivalent) and got a Chevrolet Equinox. It’s okay, large enough for us. It hasn’t got all the bells and whistles we’ve been used to in the past but it’s comfortable and even has a reversing camera!!!

For regular readers of the blog you’ll know that we usually have sat nav, usually voiced by a lady and we call her Margaret. Well, I’m sad to report that Margaret has been retired 😢and replaced by a much younger women who I have to say is rather curt with us! We haven’t thought of a suitable name for her yet! 🤔

Our drive was uneventful but long and very tiring, approximately six hours plus here to Salt Lake City where we have ‘over-nighted’ before driving on today to the Grand Tetons National Park. The problem with yesterday’s drive was that it was literally one long straight road that went on, and on, and on for the whole of the trip.

We’ve visited here before, very interesting place and will be over-nighting here again on our return trip to Vegas.

Here are a few pics from our long drive!

Entering Utah

We also went briefly through Arizona and I did take a pic but unfortunately at that point I didn’t realise the camera was set wrong and it came out all blurry! Hey ho!

Snow of them there hills (or mountains!)

Driving through The Gorge on I15 outside Las Vegas

Good thing we could drive at 80 mph or it would have taken us even longer to get here!

Well, there you go then!

Hey, there’s one of our favourite ‘on the road’ eateries!!

Interesting!

Coming up to the Virgin River. Alas couldn’t get a photo but it looked very muddy!

Just a pic of the road we were travelling on!

When we arrived at our hotel we asked the receptionist about places to have dinner and she said that as it was Sunday most of the restaurants are closed! However, the Texas Roadhouse was open and as that’s one of our favourite places to eat, (two of our very best friends here in the U.S., Dot and John, introduced us to this great eatery a few years back) we decided to eat there. My goodness, they serve the best steaks ever and as for the hot rolls served with cinnamon-honey butter, well don’t even get me started on those. Si says they are “little clouds of loveliness.” They are so delicious that there are lots of copycat receipes on the internet. May have to try making some of those methinks. 🤔

Dinner at Texas Roadhouse

It’s all about the steaks ………… and the rolls of course!

A note about our next destination, the Tetons …………. we’ve just checked the weather for today and for Yellowstone and it’s snowed overnight!!!!! ❄️ We’ve brought some warm clothing but if it’s that cold I feel a little shopping trip may be in order!!

“What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours.” That was the case yesterday too. The temperature dropped 20 degrees from Vegas and 30 degrees from the hottest day we had there!

The time difference between us and home has changed as well, we are now only seven hours behind the UK. It all gets very confusing!

At one point yesterday we were wondering why our ears kept popping and then realised we were up at 6200 feet above sea level.

Well, enough about yesterday, today beckons. The sun has just come out and the temperature is currently 56 degrees, so a little cooler than we’ve been used to of late but hey ho!

More later! Thanks for reading. 😀

Day 7 – Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Part 1)

I apologise to all our followers who have woken up on Monday morning expecting to see a post about our journey today (Sunday) only to find this!

We arrived safely in Salt Lake City after a very long and very tiring six-hour plus journey  and after having a quick dinner the author of the blog was so shattered (well it’s very tiring being a passenger on a long journey!) she decided a quick nap 😴 was in order before writing today’s post. Well, we all know what happens to good intentions don’t we? 🤔The nap turned into a nice long sleep and it’s now rather late to be composing anything sensible. So, today’s post (well it is still Sunday here, albeit very late) will be delayed until tomorrow, Monday.

Now let’s get back to that lovely dream  I was having before I woke ………………………

Day 6 – Las Vegas and Harry Potter!!

We’ve had a full day today!

It started off with high winds again today but at least that kept the temperature down for a while. As today was our last full day we decided against spending time round the pool this morning in favour of getting out and about. We started off with breakfast at the Pool Cafe and as we will be leaving Vegas tomorrow decided we should indulge a little and had Mimosas with our breakfast. We were part way through eating when suddenly, whoosh, we found ourselves being splattered with a white substance ……………… the waitress had dropped a jug of milk and it went absolutely everywhere including on us! It was hilarious really but unfortunately there were one or two guests who did not find it so amusing! 😂😱 The poor waitress was mortified.

Enjoying our Mimosas.

No, they’re not both mine …. just the one!

We then moved on to the Fashion Show Mall for a browse and possibly a little shopping. As we wondered around we came across a Vans store where they have just started selling a Harry Potter range of sneakers. I only found out about them yesterday and lo and behold there they were, right out in front of the store. Well, what’s a huge Harry Potter fan supposed to do ………… I went in of course and treated myself to a pair of the Golden Snitch ones.

I also managed to find myself a rather lovely handbag (because I really needed one you know!)

There’s a new show in town too …………….. ‘Potted Potter ………….. all seven Harry Potter Books in seventy hilarious minutes’. The show only started last Tuesday and today was the first matinee performance and we managed to get tickets. It’s showing in a small venue at Bally’s Hotel and as the venue only holds about 220 people it was a rather intimate setting. The comedy-duo are British performers Dan and Jeff, who used to be on CBBC (that’s a British children’s television brand owned by the BBC and aimed at children aged from 6 to 15). The show was entertaining and really funny at times, even a small amount of politics managed to creep in about a certain President and that went down very well!

The ticket pricing was a little screwey!!! There were three levels of ticket prices, General, Gold and Platinum but when we arrived at the venue there was really no difference between the top price and the bottom with regards to seating. We were three rows from the front but only paid $49 each whereas the people in rows 1-2 had paid  approximately $109 each. We would have been very unhappy to have paid top price and then find we were all sat together!

The day seems to be full of everything Harry Potter. Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2 are even on the television tonight!

I will just mention that we’ve had a couple of good wins again today courtesy of Mr Monopoly and 4D Wheel of Fortune so always good to finish on a high note! 😀

As always, we’ve enjoyed our stay here but it’s now time for the second part of our holiday and time to move on to the Grand Tetons National Park so better bring the thermals to the top of the suitcases! ❄️ We’ll collect our hire car in the morning and be on our way further down the holiday road.

See you next in our overnight stop in Salt Lake City.

 

Day 5 – Las Vegas and the cheese plate ….. finally!

Well, I can see most of you scratching your heads thinking ‘what on earth is she talking about …………. a cheese plate?!!’ 🤨

Some of you will know this already but for those who do not then I shall explain.  One of my great joys of coming to the Bellagio is visiting the Petrossian Bar to partake of the cheese plate and cocktails whilst people watching and listening to the pianist (it just so happens that today one pieces was ‘Somewhere in Time!). The cheese plate consists of the Chef’s selection of seven fabulous cheeses accompanied by various warm bread rolls, crunchy flat breads, sliced apples, apricots, dried raisins, quince jelly and walnuts.

Sand with her cheese plate and cocktail!

To go with this I had a ‘Raspberry Cosmopolitan’ (vodka, cranberry juice, orange liqueur, raspberry liqueur, lime juice and ice shaken in a cocktail shaker then poured into a martini glass and garnished with a raspberry, or in this case two raspberries). Si had a ‘Park Avenue’ Manhahattan (Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Cherry Herring Liqueur, Luxardo Cherry and Orange Peel).

As Si opened one of the cocktail menus he was given a little surprise! 

The ‘after’ photo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was an Irish gentleman’ sat on the next sofa to us. Our first impressions were not great as he was sat with his feet on the table. Anyway, our first verbal contact was when he asked us if we could identify the flavour of the popcorn! The first thing you get when you sit down in the Bar is a trio of popcorn and fabulous nuts. We were unable to identify the flavour (our server, who has been serving in the Bar since the Bellagio opened 21 years ago and who has served us many times over the years, informed us that it was truffle and truffle oil flavour). He turned out to be quite a character. He was from Belfast, had never visited Las Vegas before and had flown down from Chicago for a three-day visit before returning there for a business meeting. He was very chatty and turned out to be rather funny.

It was our intention to go and visit the Fashion Show Mall after lunch to take a look at the many shops (well, it’s been a couple of days since we last shopped!) and to visit a couple of the other casinos but by the time we had finished our cheese, cocktails and various other beverages, we decided it would be wiser to leave that until tomorrow …………….. if you get my drift!!! 😂 So, instead we visited ‘Mr Monopoly’ and once again he rewarded our loyalty with a nice little win. We are so easily pleased!

The winning combination

Our win!

We did go round the pool for a couple of hours this morning and had breakfast at the Pool Cafe. It’s lovely in there, very informal with lovely staff.

Breakfast at the Pool Cafe – caramalised pink grapefruit and cereal

Cereal and cinnamon raisin bagel with Philly cream cheese

I don’t know why we didn’t think of going there earlier in the week! So many places to visit and so little time. It was a little cooler today, 95 degrees but very windy. So much in fact, that we were told for safety reasons to put all the sun umbrellas down. 💨

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post about The Hunger Games what our archery scores were. We had various exercises to perform and on one we actually scored 94% and our overall score was 74%. Considering we had never used a bow and arrow before we felt rather pleased.👍 Also, we were both rewarded with a Hunger Games’ pin because they could see we were going to make excellent warriors in ‘the Revolution’! Wow!

Last night we ended up eating at Sadelle’s again

Si’s not so healthy dinner last night!

And mine wasn’t that healthy either – well the tuna was okay but not the fries!

and it was our intention to eat tonight at the Forrest Gump restaurant Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. but after our lunchtime indulgences we are not exactly hungry so another thing to go on the ‘tomorrow’ list. It’s a good job we’ll be coming back here to finish off the holiday!

Tomorrow is our last day here and so I was just checking out the weather for our next ‘port of call’. We are heading to Salt Lake City on Sunday and on Monday to the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. On Sunday, Salt Lake is forecast to be sunny and 62 degrees and on Monday the Tetons and Yellowstone, cloudy and 63 degrees. In fact tomorrow in the Tetons, snow is forecast with a temperature of 44 degrees. Good job we bought warmer clothing with us. After Vegas I think we are going to need it!

Thanks for reading and all the comments. We’ll be back tomorrow from what is sure to be a very busy Vegas ……………… the weekenders are arriving as I write! 😱

 

Day 4 – Las Vegas and The Hunger Games

We decided against lounging round the pool this morning ………………. us oldies decided we needed a break from the hot sun! It’s 2.00 pm and at the moment the temperature is 101 degrees and is forecast to rise even further before the day’s out! 🌞🥵

I apologise in advance that most of today’s blog is only really going to be of interest to fans of The Hunger Games. Maybe now’s the time to pop out and put the kettle on!

After another delicious breakfast at Sadelle’s

Si had a healthy breakfast today!

Sand’s breakfast

we headed over to catch the monorail at Bally’s Hotel that would take us down to the MGM Grand Hotel to take a look at The Hunger Games Exhibition. We decided it was too hot to walk. We were very lucky because today was the first official opening day for the exhibition and for most of the time we were the only people in there.

Entrance to the Hunger Games’ Exhibition

 

 

If you are a HG’s fan then it’s a real treat. It’s not a large exhibition but there are a lot of the actual costumes from the films plus actual props including President Snow’s desk and chair, set recreations and hands-on interactive exhibit elements allowing visitors to engage with behind-the-scenes content and explore the technology that brought the films to life. The best part for us, apart from seeing the costumes was taking part in Beetee’s Archery Training. It was fantastic ……………… I’m thinking of taking up archery!

Here’s a sample of some of the costumes …..

Katniss Everdeen’s wedding dress

The Mockingjay dress

The Victory Party costume

The ‘Girl on Fire’ costume

The Tribute Parade costume

Peeta Mellark’s Tribute Parade costume

Tigris shop costume

Effie Trinket’s Victory Parade costume

Sat at President Snow’s desk and in his chair!

Sat on the train to the Capital!

The Capital Train

Katniss’ hunting costume

I haven’t seen a map laid out of Panem before but it was interesting to read where all the Districts are supposedly located. It’s based on a map of the U.S! For example, District 10 is in Texas/New Mexico. How did I never know that!?

A map of Panem

At the end of the exhibition we had our photos taken pretending to fire arrows and there was of course the gift shop!  I’m now the proud owner of items of THG’s memorabilia. Who would have guessed it!?

Here’s me and Si in action!

On the way back from the exhibition we stopped off at one of the other casinos and this is what greeted us ……….. they must have known a shoe-aholic was about to walk through the door!

Now this is what you call a shoe!

We haven’t decided about dinner tonight so if we go anywhere very exciting I’ll report back tomorrow!

Thanks for reading!

Day 3 – Las Vegas

Hope you’ve got an hour or two to spare, today’s post goes on a bit!😱

It’s been very hot again, 92 degrees this morning at 8.30 a.m. with lots of sun, sun, sun.🌞

After enjoying another lovely breakfast at Sadelle’s

we spent a couple of hours round the pool. We found an excellent spot right next to the pool and with no smokers! Yesterday we managed to be sandwiched between three lots of ‘puffers’. It always comes as a bit of a surprise to us when we see people smoking these days. Of course, here, people can smoke in the casinos and round the pool. There are special ‘no smoking’ areas but they are smaller than the ‘smoking’ areas.

One entrance to the Bellagio pool area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Si having a dip!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me trying to look cool in very hot conditions!

We were saying yesterday that another thing we tend to forget until we get here is just how much walking there is to be done. If you wanted to walk from one end of The Strip to the other you would be walking 4.2 miles! Still, it helps to keep us fit by walking off all the food we are eating and cocktails we are drinking!

This afternoon we’ve been doing one of my favourite pastimes …………… shopping!! Well, it has to be done!. We walked over to the Forum Shops attached to Caesars Palace Hotel. It is a major 677,138-square-foot shopping mall. Measured in terms of sales per square foot, it is the highest grossing mall in the United States! It has great shops. I could probably spend all day there!

On our way to the shops!

 

Adding Las Vegas charms to my bracelet!

I spent some time in the Pandora store buying Las Vegas charms for the travel section of my bracelet!

We then came across one shop where a young lady handed us body butter made from green tea. Before we knew it we were in the shop and I was being given a sample collagen treatment being assured that in a very short space of time I would look 10 years younger and where the key ingredient is black Caviar! According to the young man carrying out the procedure, it was a ‘Premium Non-Surgical Instant Wrinkle Eraser’. It’s to be used once a week together with a special moisturiser. Si was amazed at how it worked in such a short space of time! 😱The next time any of you see me, please tell me how young I’m looking because I ended up buying this ‘incredible’ product. 👧 It seems to be a big deal in the beauty world! I’m not going to tell you how much it cost but we did get an excellent deal with the moisturiser and face wash thrown in for free! I know what you’re all thinking ………….. suckers! 😂Time will tell!

Do I look any younger?

I’m going to break away for a while as we are having dinner at one of the new restaurants here at Bellagio called Largo by James Beard Award Winning Chef Julian Serrano who we are told “sets the evening in motion with his stunning interpretations of Italian, each packed with distinct and unmatched flavours.” Tour the bolder side of Italy with innovative small plates. All sounds rather interesting ……………. I shall report back later.

Hi-de-hi, we are back! Well, food excellent, seating excellent, we were right next to the Bellagio Fountains so magnificent all round …………….. except maybe the price for all that excellence!!

Small plates it was …………. you could call this Italian tapas. For a party of two they recommended having four plates to share but more could be added if required. We shared the two slices of Bruschetta Al Pomodoro, small Margherita pizza, two pieces of Cannelloni with pulled short ribs, Linguine Pesto, one Limoncello, two glasses of Merlot, one G&T, two coffees with liqueurs and a bottle of Pellegrino …….. grand total with tip ……….. $230 (approx £184). Well, “hello” Las Vegas! Would we pay that back home for the same meal, probably not, but will we pay it in Vegas …… yes! Expensive, but it was fabulous and I think we will visit again. For all those who like to see photos of the food here they come, apart from the one of the Bruschetta, that wasn’t fit to be published!

The pizza!

The Canelloni

The Linguine

 

 

 

The Merlot

The Limincello

Si’s coffee and liqueur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those not particularly interested in culture it’s probably best to look away now ………………… we saw the fountains play at least four times and one of the tunes was a heartstrings-tugging version of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43. (theme tune to the film Somewhere in Time (1980) …………… fetch me a hankie please! 😢 If you have never seen the film then please, right that wrong immediately!

There are many versions to be found but this is just one …

I’ve now managed to find the actual one from the film, it’s a shorter version … enjoy!
Sniff, sniff, sob, sob ……… if that didn’t stir your emotions then you must have a heart of stone!! 😢
After all the indulging we decided to finish off the evening with a little flutter and I’m pleased to report that luck was on our side as we played $20 and came away with $140! 😀
Fingers crossed for more luck and lots of sunshine tomorrow! 🤞

 

Day 2 – Las Vegas

Well, we’ve had a hot day today! It’s currently 95 degrees at 8.00 pm!

Our day started with our leisurely breakfast. They’ve revamped what used to be called Cafe Bellagio and changed it’s name to Sadelle’s. I was trying to think of how to describe it now and Si’s come up with “more sophisticated”. Si’s first holiday breakfast was quite restrained, he usually starts large but today he just had an omelette with smoked salmon, I just had the yoghurt parfait.

Si’s first holiday breakfast!

It’s right next to the famous Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. where they are currently celebrating a Japanese spring.

Japanese Spring

Si took some video too!

After breakfast we joined the ‘beautiful’ people (I’m not including us in that description!) at the pool but limited our time as its been a while since our lily-white skin has been exposed to really hot sun! 🌞This is just one of the, I think, five pools and it’s Olympic size.

We wondered down to the MGM Grand Hotel to check out where to buy tickets for The Hunger Games Exhibition (more about that later in the week) and managed to win a few bucks on a Monopoly machine. Mr Monopoly has always been very kind to us in the past.

On the way back we saw a very interesting sight ………… two young ladies advertising a night club, dressed, shall we say, very skimperly! It was a real eye waterer and something we’ve never seen in the 30 years we’ve been visiting. Unfortunately, we will not be posting any pics as this is a family-friendly blog!!!! Just use your imagination!!  😱

My early 3.30 start this morning caught up with me this afternoon and I had to retire for a nap. I now have my ‘second wind’ and we are off for a bite and a gamble.

More tomorrow!

 

Day 1 (Part 2) Where we arrive, albeit late!

It was my intention to finish yesterday’s blog when we arrived but we were so tired after the delay (more on that below) and the 10-hour flight etc, that we just fell into bed. I’m now writing this at 3.30 am because my body clock’s telling me it’s actually 11.30 am.

When we checked in at Terminal 3 and were told our flight was on time our hopes were raised for an easy getaway. Alas, our hopes were dashed of course and we ended up leaving 90 minutes late, due they said to the incoming flight being late on its stand and the time it took to clean etc.

We flew BA this time. We were flying on a 747-400, that means it would be about 30 years old and having read reviews I have to admit our expectations were not too high. The last time we flew it was on a Dreamliner so comparisons were bound to be made! But, credit where it’s due, everything turned out okay. The crew were all youngish, very friendly, attentive and helpful, the plane’s condition was good and the food was fabulous. They even offered us two drinks each with more to come with our meals! I wondered if they thought we were the nervous flying types 😱 but no, everyone were being offered two.

The result of too many G&T’s (I’d already had one in the lounge) was I filled in one part of the Customs’ form wrong and had to start again. 😀 Customs do not like amended forms!

We had ordered special meals, meaning, paid for. I ordered the ‘Vegetarian’, even though I’m not vegetarian because the reviews on it were 9 out 10 so I was hopeful. I was not disappointed! I’d recommend that to anyone. Si had the ‘Taste of Britain’ and included his beloved pork belly (Wiltshire, no less) and he couldn’t fault it at all. I’ll have to post a pic of his pork belly later, it’s on his phone and I don’t want to wake him up!

If there are going to be any problems with the plane then you know who the recipient of that problem will be ……………. Si of course! Sure enough, his TV screen wasn’t working (well, it wouldn’t be would it!) but in two jiffs one of the crew had it sorted and came back a couple of times to make sure all was well. I have to say, we were impressed.

Even the boarding was different, instead of row numbers we were boarded in groups, from 1-5. I wasn’t at all sure how that would work given the hundreds of people who were waiting to board and at the first sign of a door opening would all rush forward. Note: I’m always amazed how no matter what day of the week you fly to Vegas, the plane is always near to capacity!

Anyway, we arrived after a good flight (I slept for about five hours so it seemed fairly short to me), only a little turbulence, and made our way to the dreaded Customs and Border Control where we have been known to queue for some length of time. However, when we arrived we saw they now have six self-service style Customs’ machines and as long as you’ve entered the US once before on your current passport and have an ESTA (you are part of the visa waiver scheme) then you can check yourself into the country. We’ve used the machines once before so happily headed that way instead of joining the long queue to be ‘checked in’ by a human.

So, it should have taken no time at all but ……………. and you’ve guessed it folks, there was a problem with Si’s fingerprints (well there would be wouldn’t there!) where the machine just couldn’t ‘read’ his little finger. 😂 He pushed down firmly, wiggled it, even had a ‘helper’ come over and hold his hand down but it kept saying ‘try again’. After about six attempts (after which I felt certain someone would come over and declare “no entry for him, get back on that plane and go home”) it eventually said “okay, approved” and off we went, straight to baggage reclaim where our cases were among the first to be delivered, then outside into a taxi and straight here to the Bellagio where we are ensconced on the top floor of the Spa Tower with a wonderful view of the famous fountains and of The Strip. The temperature when we arrived was 90 degrees, so very pleasant!

Room at the Bellagio

We are going to take it easy today, have a leisurely breakfast, go round the pool for a while and take it from there!

 

Day 1 (Part 1) We have lift off …….. well almost! Heathrow to Las Vegas

Our day did not have the best of starts when our car didn’t arrive to bring us to Heathrow! Many apologies later a car arrived and whisked us here with no problems. It turned out that our driver lives just down the road from us and he too has lived in the area for as long as we have and he passes our house when he walks his dog but we had never seen each other!! Small world!

The next thing was when we passed through security and Si forgot he had his phone in his back pocket!! 😱 Needless to say the alarm went off and he was treated to a full body scan, had to remove most of his clothing, had a portable scanner run all over him and was eventually let through. Meanwhile, Mrs B is struggling to gather everything off the conveyer belt wishing she had four arms instead of two as she dropped all of Si’s loose change on the floor amidst everyone else trying to retrieve their belongings at the same time! 🥵

I’m pleased to say that everything else has been plain sailing. I’ve purchased my perfume (very opportune that we are here today as I run out of my favourite this morning), purchased a few other items including sweeties and cheese biscuits (we just can’t fly without our Chedders) and we are now ensconced in the lounge with a gin and tonic, lager and some rather tasty pasta.

For those who always enjoy seeing what Si’s eating, here’s the first meal of the holiday!

More once we’re across ‘the pond’. 😀

 

One week to go!

Well, just one week to go and today I “crossed the Rubicon” and as they say “alea iacta est” (the die is cast)! The decision on what to pack and not to pack has been made. 😱😅 I have been quite ruthless with clothes and even the shoe total has been reduced down to six pairs for me (plus two pairs of walking/hiking shoes) and four for Simon (including one pair of walking/hiking shoes). Well, he is a man after all and men never need as many clothes or shoes as us women. If only we could be more like men ………… a couple of pairs of trousers, shorts, some shirts, t-shirts and ‘boom’, they’re done. It’s so much more complicated for women  ………. well for this woman at least! 😒 If there are any women reading this blog who are indeed like men when it comes to packing, then I salute you! 🙇‍♀️😀👍

Anyway, my furrowed brow is no more,😀 the gin bottle has been returned to the fridge, Simon has come out from behind the sofa, where he’s been hiding for a few days 😱 and I can now relax and look forward to our trip.

We hope you will join us on our next journey down the ‘holiday road!’

Press to play and sing along!

 

 

 

 

 

We’re back!

A creaking door opens and dust flurries hit the air. Well, it’s been a while since we were last here! Hope I can remember how to do this!

Welcome to our 2019 American Adventure.

This blog will be a little different as we are not visiting lots of different places as we’ve done in the past. We will actually be doing what I guess would be called a ‘two-centre plus’ holiday. We will be starting off in Las Vegas before travelling via Salt Lake City to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park before driving back, again via Salt Lake City to Las Vegas.

We’ve been to all these places before but never grow tired of visiting them. Vegas is like coming home to an old comfy pair of slippers whilst the Tetons and Yellowstone are beautiful places to visit with spectacular scenery and wildlife. There’s always something new to see and discover.

I hope I can make the first part of the blog interesting enough for you all. It’ll be difficult to make pool lounging, eating and shopping sound very exciting but I’ll do my best! To pass the time you could of course, always check back on our previous adventures.

Problem with this type of holiday is choosing what to pack! Vegas will be very hot whereas it’s going to be a lot colder when we reach the Tetons and Yellowstone. In fact it’s been snowing this week in the Tetons and more is forecast. For someone who finds it difficult anyway trying to keep packing to a minimum, this will be a challenge!

Now I know that Las Vegas to many is like Marmite ……….. you either love it or hate it! We’ve been visiting Las Vegas since 1988 so I guess you could say we kinda love it. Mind you, when we first started coming here it was a whole different ball game. Not at all like it is today. Lots of families visit now and there are many great restaurants, good shows and fabulous shopping.

Also, back in the 80’s of course there was no such thing as the internet. Back then you had to write to or telephone the local tourist office and they would very kindly post you a ‘Visitors’ Pack’ consisting of a hotel booklet, local information and a trusty road map! We weren’t able to visit Trip Advisor to read people’s thoughts and criticisms of the hotels, restaurants, things to do or to make bookings way in advance. You just had to make a choice and hope it was the right one. Either telephone ahead for a hotel reservation or just turn up and hope to get a room.

Funny story here! I remember on one visit to the west coast of the U.S. one of our stops was going to be in San Francisco. Well, armed with our trusty paper guide we decided on a hotel and telephoned ahead to book a room. There was a vacancy but thought it strange when we were not asked for a credit card to guarantee the room but didn’t ponder on that for too long.

When we rolled up and parked outside the hotel we started to have our doubts. It was in a rather dubious neighbourhood and didn’t look very welcoming. It turned out that it was the kind of hotel you book by the hour!!! Needless to say we didn’t bother to get out of the car!

We headed instead for the local tourist office and a very kind lady made us a booking at a motel next to the Golden Gate Bridge so it all turned out okay in the end. It was a lesson learned.

When we arrived at the bridge it was lovely and sunny and Simon said about stopping to take photos. In my wisdom, I said we could do that the following day! Well, anyone who has visited San Francisco will know about the famous fog that rolls in over the bridge. Needless to say, the next day and for all the days we were there we never saw the bridge again!

Also, back then it was a case of take your trusty camera, together with lots of rolls of film and cross your fingers that once you returned home you would end up with a few good ‘snaps’ of the jolly holiday.

I guess you could say it added to the excitement back then but I say “thank goodness” today for the internet, mobile phones, laptops and digital cameras!

So, we look forward to ‘travelling’ once again with family, old friends and hopefully a few new ones too, on this year’s adventure. It all kicks off on Monday 3rd June.

Day 16 – Newark, New Jersey to London Heathrow and Home

Yesterday – Monday 25th September 2017:

It’s always sad when we come to the end of a great holiday and today is no different!

After having breakfast at the hotel we headed for the Gettysburg Museum of History and what a great place that is. As it was just a stop-off for us on the way to the airport we only had about three hours to enjoy it all. We shall definitely put it on our schedule for the future and spend a good two days exploring everything.

The next time we visit I think we will need to come much earlier in the year as today was 100℉.  and much too hot to be getting in and out of the car. It was our intention to do the auto tour but as time was against us we only did a small part of it.

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Sand and Abe!

While we were waiting for a film about Gettyburg to begin we checked out a few exhibits at the Museum, they have one million artefacts of the Civil War! We found this one quite moving.

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Drum used by Henry Mayo at the Battle of Gettysburg!

Civil War musician’s wooden snare drum. The drum measures 13 1/2″ high x 16 5/8″ diameter overall, the front of the drum features a brown spread eagle with a red, white, and blue federal shield at the center and a red banner in the eagle’s beak that reads “REG. NY INFANTRY”. This drum was carried by Henry Mayo of Company F, 147th NY Infantry at Gettysburg and he was killed on July 1, 1863. The drum was returned to the Mayo family some three years after the Civil War when it was initially picked up on the 1st Day’s Field at Gettysburg. Thirty-year old Henry B. Mayo enlisted as a Private at Palermo, NY on August 23, 1862. On September 22 he was transferred into Co. F, 147th NY Infantry. He was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863. The 147th NY fought near the Railroad Cut on July 1 and fell back to Culps Hill on July 2 and 3.

We then watched the film, narrated by Morgan Freeman, setting out what happened at Gettysburg.

The Battle of Gettysburg, fought from July 1 to July 3, 1863, is considered the most important engagement of the American Civil War. After a great victory over Union forces at Chancellorsville, General Robert E. Lee marched his Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania in late June 1863. On July 1, the advancing Confederates clashed with the Union’s Army of the Potomac, commanded by General George G. Meade, at the crossroads town of Gettysburg. The next day saw even heavier fighting, as the Confederates attacked the Federals on both left and right. On July 3, Lee ordered an attack by fewer than 15,000 troops on the enemy’s center at Cemetery Ridge. The assault, known as “Pickett’s Charge,” managed to pierce the Union lines but eventually failed, at the cost of thousands of rebel casualties, and Lee was forced to withdraw his battered army toward Virginia on July 4.

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Pickett’s Charge took place here!

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Alexander Hays (July 8, 1819 – May 5, 1864) was a Union Army general in the American Civil War, killed in the Battle of the Wilderness

Between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies were casualties in the three-day battle, the most costly in US history.

On November 19, President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen Union soldiers and redefine the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address.

The Battle of Gettysburg painting also known as the Gettysburg Cyclorama, is a cyclorama painting, a type of 360° cylindrical painting, by the French artist Paul Philippoteaux depicting Pickett’s Charge, the climactic Confederate attack on the Union forces during the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. Four versions were painted, two of which are among the last surviving cycloramas in the United States.

The intended effect is to immerse the viewer in the scene being depicted, often with the addition of foreground models and life-sized replicas to enhance the illusion. Among the sites documented in the painting are Cemetery Ridge, the Angle, and the “High-water mark of the Confederacy“. The completed original painting was 22 feet (6.7 m) high and 279 feet (85 m) in circumference. The version that hangs in Gettysburg, a recent (2005) restoration of the version created for Boston, is 42 feet (13 m) high and 377 feet (115 m) in circumference.

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Just a small piece of the Cyclorama!

The Civil War lasted four years from 12th April 1861 until 2nd June 1865.

If you are a lover of history as I am, then if you are ever that way then make sure it’s on your list of places to visit. You will not be disappointed.

After our visit to Gettysburg we drove to Newark Airport, the trip was quick and easy. Made easier in fact by listening and singing along to The Walker Brothers! A lot better than our nightmare of a drive the day before!

Here are a few pics of that we saw along the way ……………….

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Perry T. they named a road after you!

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Reminded us of that ‘huge’ snake we saw at Corolla!

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Goodbye Pennsylvania, Nat, Terry and Ty!

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Denise and Desiree, do you have a family member in the chocolate business?

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I’m sure a lot of you remember the Boston Tea Party, a political protest by the Sons of Liberty in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 16, 1773 when tea was thrown into Boston Harbour and the saying of  “No Taxation Without Representation” was born.

Now it’s “Taxation Without Representation” which refers to the fact that the people of Washington DC have no representation in the United States Senate. In the United States House of Representatives, the District is represented by a delegate, who is not allowed to vote on the House floor but can vote on procedural matters and in congressional committees.

Then, it was off to Newark Airport. We actually arrived before check-in opened but when it did we were given priority called ‘TSA Pre✔️’ which is expedited screening through Passport Control and Security! We didn’t have to take anything off (shoes, belts etc I mean!) because we were highlighted as being part of the programme. News to us at the time but I’ve checked it out and it seems that it all ties in with certain airlines. Excellent for us as were through in a jiffy. My first thought was that it was all because we were British!! 😀 🇬🇧

Mind you, I was having a series of little mishaps at the time in that I dropped our Airline ticket and didn’t notice until someone pointed it out to me and then I dropped my boarding pass at Security but luckily Si was behind me and picked it up! 😔

Today – Tuesday 26th September 2017:

The flight was good and uneventful. We were told originally that the flight time would be 7 hours 5 minutes but once on board it was amended to 6 hours 5 minutes, I guess due to the tail winds. However, we were delayed 45 minutes so arrived back at Heathrow at the original time anyway. Then we couldn’t get on our designated stand as it was already occupied so we did a circuit of Heathrow until the stand was vacated, finally we get to Baggage Reclaim where our bags should have been first off, they came off almost last!!

Finally, we decided to go through the automatic gates at Immigration and my passport wouldn’t work, I was referred to a real person!! Si of course sailed right on through and was wagging his finger at me!

Luckily, our driver was waiting for us so once on the road we were back home in 30 minutes.

Here we are then! Back in good ‘ole blighty. 🇬🇧 We’ve arrived home in sunshine and it’s really quite warm.

Yet again, our ‘adventures’ in the USA have not disappointed. We’ve had a fabulous time, albeit a short one. We met up with good friends, Nat, Terry, Ty, Denise and Desiree. Chatted on Face Time with those we couldn’t get to see. Dot, you and JB are on the top of our list for next time. We are so sad that we didn’t get to see you on this trip. 😔  We met some lovely people on our travels.

We drove 2362 miles in ‘the beast’ a vehicle intended for eight people (at least we had plenty of space for the luggage!) and very comfortable it was too and saw lots of interesting things along the way. Margaret (sat nav) was on the whole okay although she did have trouble finding her satellites at times!

So, once again I say “many thanks” to those who travelled with us, read the blog and sometimes left comments. As I’ve said in the past, it’s always good to know that it’s not just us reading the Blog.

Before we go, I would just like to leave you with this rather wonderful song, ‘Four Winds’ sung by Neil Young together with some beautiful scenery.

So, until we all meet again, we would just like to say, as always, ………………..

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 next time. Bye! 👋

S and S 2

 

 

Day 14 – Cary, North Carolina to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Another beautiful sunny day in Cary. We were ‘up with the lark’ this morning as it was our last day here with Denise and Desiree. We decided against breakfast in favour of brunch later as we were meeting up with Desiree and then travelling to Jordan Lake Dam and Cove to meet up with Denise to see one of her favourite photography sites and possibly some wildlife.

It was a really beautiful place and we were very lucky to see eagles, black vultures, turkey vultures, herons and an egret.

Jordan Lake

Jordan Lake Cove

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Jordan Lake Dam

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Three ‘non-feathered’ birds!

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Black Vultures

Brunch followed at The Mayton Inn, food excellent once again and we then had to say a very sad farewell. 😔 Our time together was short but memorable and filled with joy and laughter.

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Until we meet again dear friends …………………… even though “there’s nowhere to go!!”

We left Cary for our onward journey to Gettysburg which should have taken us 5 hours 30 minutes but sadly, some things never go to plan!! Our journey turned into something akin to a nightmare …….. it took us 7 hours 15 minutes! The traffic was nose to tail for about 120 miles. By the time we arrived at the hotel we really needed to lie down in a darkened room with a wet cloth on our foreheads. Instead, as it had been a few hours since brunch we made a quick visit to the Appalachian Brewing Company for fish and chips for me and a shrimp and scallop flatbread for my dearest. All was delicious!

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Simon at the Appalachian Brewing Company – you don’t really think that’s his drink do you?

Some other photos we took along the way …………..

These two have special significance, one for Desiree and one for our favourite UK spinning instructor, Bex Charker. 😀

Tomorrow we make our way via the Gettysburg Civil War site to Newark, New Jersey for our flight home.

More from Gettysburg tomorrow.

Day 13 – Cary, North Carolina

The day started sunny and hot again today but the humidity was not as bad as yesterday when it was an absolute shocker!!

In the Inn today there’s been two birthday celebrations, one 70 year old gentleman and another who was 90 and there’s been a wedding. Being such a lovely hotel it’s very popular for celebrations.

Desiree came and met us for brunch this morning. Denise was unable to join us as she was going to be taking a charity spinning class. We would have joined in but alas we didn’t have our cycling shoes!! That was our excuse anyway!

Brunch was delicious. Si had shrimp and grits(!!!) whilst Desiree and I had the goats cheese and fresh herb omelettes. We were all set for the day!

After collecting Denise we headed out for Duke College in Durham. Duke University is a private research university. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present-day town of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco and electric power industrialist James Buchanan Dukeestablished The Duke Endowment, at which time the institution changed its name to honor his deceased father, Washington Duke.

Duke students often refer to the campus as “the Gothic Wonderland,” a nickname referring to the Collegiate Gothic architecture of West Campus. The stone used for West Campus has seven primary colors and seventeen shades of colour. James B. Duke initially suggested the use of stone from a quarry in Princeton, New Jersey, but later amended the plans to purchase a local quarry in Hillsborough to reduce costs.

The buildings are magnificent. Unfortunately, the Chapel was closed today for a wedding so we were unable to take a look inside but Denise tells us it’s just wonderful. Note the blue North Carolina sky in these photographs.

 

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Sandra, Denise and Desiree

During our tour of the campus we came across Sara and her Service Dog, Leo. What a great pair they were.

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Our next port of call was to Historic Stagville. Those who know me well know that there’s nothing I like more than to spend a view hours soaking up some history and that’s just what we did this afternoon.

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Stagville Plantation with buildings constructed from the late 18th century to the mid-19th century, was part of one of the largest plantation complexes in the American South. The entire complex was owned by the Bennehan and Cameron families; it comprised roughly 30,000 acres and was home to almost 900 enslaved African-Americans in 1860.

The remains of Historic Stagville consist of 71 acres, in three tracts, and provide a unique look at North Carolina’s history and general infrastructure in the antebellum South. Among structures on the Stagville site are several historic houses and barns, including the original Bennehan House and some of the original slave quarters, which were in an area known as Horton Grove.

The Bennehan House was built in 1787 with a large addition in 1799, and Horton Grove, an area of two-story slave residences were built in 1850. The slave residences are well preserved and are the only two-story slave quarters remaining in North Carolina. Significant archaeological finds around the quarters have given archaeologists and historians a glimpse into the lives of the many enslaved people who lived and worked at Stagville and throughout the Bennehan-Cameron holdings.

We took a very interesting tour of the Bennehan house below, Horton Grove and the Great Barn.

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Bennehan House

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One of the slave houses in Horton Grove

The bricks forming the chimney to the right of the house were all hand-made in 1850 and  one of them bore the thumb print of the maker and one the fingerprints of a small child.

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The Great Barn

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An old stool in the Great Barn

The Great Barn was built in 1860 and stands today as a testament to the enslaved who built it.

The Bennehan-Cameron family sold their final holdings in the property in the 1950s and in 1976, Liggett and Meyers Tobacco Company, which had owned and worked the land for decades, donated some of the acreage to the state of North Carolina, which now operates the property as Historic Stagville State Historic Site, a historic house museum which belongs to the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

At the start of the tour we noticed something very strange on the way to the house! Had someone been playing tennis? No, these are actually Osage oranges. Osage orange is a small deciduous tree or large shrub, typically growing to 8 to 15 metres (30–50 ft) tall. The distinctive fruit, is roughly spherical, bumpy,  8 to 15 centimetres (3–6 in) in diameter, and turns a bright yellow-green in the autumn. The fruits secrete a sticky white latex when cut or damaged. Despite the name “Osage orange”, it is only very distantly related to the orange and is instead a member of the mulberry family.

The earliest account of the tree in the English language was given by William Dunbar, a Scottish explorer, in his narrative of a journey made in 1804 from St. Catherine’s Landing on the Mississippi River to the Ouachita River.

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Osage orange

After all the walking and learning we were just about ready for dinner and Denise and Desiree thought we should be introduced to real North Carolina BBQ and so we headed off to a restaurant called Picnic.

On the way we stopped off to photograph the Catsburg Country Store in Durham, a great favourite of Denise.

This two-story, hip-roofed, frame structure is a well-preserved box-and-canopy store. Built in the 1920s by Sheriff Eugene G. Belvin.

Though no longer open for business, it is still widely recognized as a local landmark. Its renown comes from the large painted image of a black cat on the front parapet above the word Catsburg, which has led to the building becoming a favorite of local photographers and artists. This part of town is called Catsburg as a tribute to the late Sheriff Belvin, whose nickname was “Cat.” Belvin was an extremely popular sheriff in Durham County who earned his nickname through his ability to sneak up on bootleggers and moonshiners in the 1920s. Little to nothing is known of “Cat” but some say that his knack for finding local stills had much to do with him being a Distiller and wiping out the competition.

Catsburg store

Well, Picnic turned out to be a great choice for dinner, the food was excellent. They even had Plymouth Gin which some of you will know is my absolute favourite beverage so Picnic scores 10 out 10 as far as I’m concerned. The waitress was very attentive and had a great booming laugh which tickled us all.

Picnic

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All in all, a great day with dear friends.

Our adventure continues with the ladies tomorrow morning and then we are off to Gettysburg before heading to Newark, New Jersey for our flight home on Monday night.

We’d be pleased to see y’all tomorrow!

 

 

 

Day 12 – Corolla to Cary, North Carolina

After breakfast this morning, which included some lively conversation with two other couples at the Corolla Inn, one of which was an English couple who now live in the US, we set out for Cary. It was an easy four-hour drive with the sun shining all the way. It’s been a very hot day here in Cary, up in the 90s.

We are now residing at The Mayton Inn and what another great find this is! This is our home until Sunday. I think we’ll be very comfortable here!

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The reason we have come to Cary is to meet up with sisters, Denise and Desiree.

Some of you will know that Si’s a member of Flickr (the photography site) and way back in May 2012 one of Si’s friends on Flickr, Denise, won the landscape picture of the year in the Sony World Photographer of the Year Competition (sorry Denise if I haven’t got that 100% correct!) and together with her sister Desiree, they were both coming to London so that Denise could collect her prize and her photograph was to be shown in an exhibition at the same time so Si and I took the opportunity to go to London to meet them both in person.

We met them both again last year when we were visiting Charleston and they drove down to see us and this year we have come to their ‘neck of the woods’ to meet up again.

After a very pleasant afternoon of drinks and nibbles, we decided to go to dinner at the Academy Street Bistro. We had a lovely time chatting, laughing and generally catching up. We were enjoying ourselves so much that once again, I forgot to take the usual food pictures!! But we did manage a few anyway.

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Here are a few pictures that we took on our drive today.

 

Thought the lighthouse was rather fetching and I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of a Red Wolf. It’s been a long time since we saw a Piggly Wiggly so thought they deserved a mention.

Note to our dear friend Dot …………………. saw this on the way into Corolla, thought of you and made a mental note to photograph it as we left today. So, there I am camera poised for the moment and what happens? I look away for a second and before we know it the sign’s passed us by! Well, only one thing to do, a u-turn and that’s just what we did.

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We have a full day planned with Denise and Desiree tomorrow so hope you’ll come back to share in our day.

 

Day 11 – Corolla, North Carolina

Another lovely sunny hot day here in Corolla!

After breakfast we headed for the beach. At 11 miles long there’s plenty of beach to go around, or so you’d think! Why is it that no matter where you decide to sit there’s always someone who decides the best place to settle themselves is in front of where you’re sitting? Yes, it happened to us. We arrived quite early with just a couple of towels and some sunscreen and then I found a very comfortable chair just sitting on the sand waiting for us and we settled in for a couple of hours. After a while along comes two families consisting of four adults and three children and they decide the best place out of the whole 11 miles to park themselves is right in front of us! Hey ho!

The remains of Hurricane Jose is a few hundred miles off the North Carolina coast and it showed in the waves this morning. A few brave souls decided it was just ideal for surfing, we decided it was just right for a paddle and a couple of selfies!!

There were loads of crab holes in the sand but no matter how quick we were the little devils always beat us by scrambling down their holes before we could even focus the camera. We were lucky though, as we left the beach we saw this beauty walking up the steps.

Crab at Corolla Beach

This afternoon we went for a wild ride to see Corolla’s Wild Horses.

The origins of the Wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs date back nearly 500 years, making them the earliest settlers of the Outer Banks, and some of the earliest residents, second only to the local Native American tribes. While historical journals, documents and ship’s logs hint to the wild horses’ origin, it’s hard to determine one specific set of events that led to their presence on the Outer Banks.

It’s possible that the horses were left behind by one of the first explorers to the North Carolina Coastline, a Spanish explorer named Lucas Vasquez de Allyon. In 1521, Vasquez de Allyon commissioned his commanders to explore and colonize the entire American eastern seaboard, and at least a handful of these commanders landed somewhere along the North Carolina shoreline. While many modern historians believe the majority of these initial explorations happened somewhere around Cape Fear, (due to multiple references to the large saltwater river), it’s possible that these expeditions led them all the way to the Northern Outer Banks.

Access to this part of the beach is only possible in a 4WD vehicle.

When Hurricane Jose passed by Corolla last week it didn’t dump much rain but the winds were so bad that 8 feet of sand was lost out to sea.

Every winter, pounding waves ravage the sand along the beach, exposing hundreds of ancient cedar and live oak stumps. It is an annual occurrence here and on other beaches but this year it’s happened early.

Resembling black teeth in the sand, the stumps dot the path of passing traffic along the beach. One of the larger stumps has been outfitted with bright red reflectors to steer travelers from damaging their vehicles – or worse.

It is estimated that a maritime forest existed here some 2,000 years ago but was decimated as the barrier island drifted west toward the mainland, covering the roots in salt water.

Trees

We were driven along the beach and through sand dunes in search of the wild horses and were lucky to see at least 20. They are amazing to see, they do not react to humans or noises of any kind. They are just minding their own business. They are magnificent looking horses.

Egrets love to sit on the backs of the horses and feed on the ticks and mites! Lovely!

On the way back Si was saying how disappointing it was that we hadn’t actually seen any on the beach when boom, as if by magic two appeared! They just stood there, not moving at all as all the tour vehicles pulled up and people starting photographing them.

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Horese 3

After a full day we were ready for dinner and we decided it was time for some ‘fine dining’ and we did just that at Kimball’s Kitchen. I had a potato and caviar dish to start and Si a prawn cocktail (not quite as we know it Jim!!) then he had a 22oz ribeye steak!! while I had a modest 8oz fillet mignon. Everything excellent!

Some of you may recall from previous posts that I’m quite partial to a French 75! A gin cocktail that is made with Plymouth Gin. Well tonight I had a French 85, the difference being that it’s made with Bombay Gin instead and there is no mint in it. We learn something everyday.

This was the view from our table. Quite lovely I think!

Sunset 1

Talking of beautiful views, this is one from our room at the Inn last night!

Sunlight

Well, today was our last day at Corolla. It’s been a short but very enjoyable stay and we will definitely be coming back in the future. This is a beautiful place to visit especially at this time of the year when it’s much quieter than in the height of the summer. Everything’s been wonderful.

Tomorrow we move on to Cary in North Carolina and are very excited to be meeting up with more dear friends, Denise and Desiree. Those who follow our blog will remember we met up with them last year in Charleston. This year we are meeting them on their home turf.

Hope you’ll join us there tomorrow!

 

Day 10 – Corolla, NC

Si attacked by snake!! …. (almost)! 😱

After yesterday’s grey and rainy day, we awoke this morning, as promised, to brilliant sunshine and then temperatures soaring to 90°F.

After a very acceptable breakfast here at the Inn and an interesting conversation with a poor lady who was telling us how she woke up in the night with a big spider running across her arm and how they couldn’t find it anywhere so she slept on the sofa for the rest of the night and now is worried about what tonight may bring ……………… gulp, lucky for us she’s on the second floor. Plus we had the ‘pleasure’ of a hawk flying past us with a poor little mouse in its mouth, he was having breakfast too, we set out to explore Corolla Light.

First of all some pictures from the hotel pier. This one is of our current abode.

Inn

Our first port of call was Historic Corolla Park where we booked a trip for tomorrow afternoon to go and see Corolla’s wild horses. They are the area’s oldest and most beloved residents, the Wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs. Stranded on the Outer Banks for centuries, but still enjoying the laid-back beach lifestyle, these feral and wild creatures are tolerant of the visitors who visit their beaches for the warm sun, cool waves, and miles of space.

We then set out for the Currituck Beach Light Station. After the climb up Absecon Lighthouse last weekend with 228 steps we knew this climb would be a ‘piece of cake’ as it only has 200 steps. The only difference from the Absecon is that when we reached the top it was a case of straight outside, no where to sit for those who didn’t actually want to go outside and admire the view! Also, the rails around the top were not exactly my idea of ‘super safety’. So I became what is known in the trade as a ‘wall hugger!’

On December 1, 1875, the Currituck Beach Light was completed. Unlike its fellows, Currituck Beach Light was not painted, leaving its brick facade visible. In 1939, the lighthouse was automated. Since 1991 visitors have been allowed to climb the original 220 steps to the outdoor gallery. Access to the lens room is not permitted as the first order lens is not only the original lens, but it is still a functioning one. The light comes on every night and shines from 158 feet (48 m) at 20-second intervals to warn ships hugging the chain of barrier islands along the coast.

Lighthouse

Si 2

My hero! Just don’t look down.

Cowardy Custard

The ‘Wall Hugger’ or ‘Cowardly Custard’ as my husband called me!!

 

We then took a walk along the boardwalk to the Currituck Sound. The Sound is a nature lover’s playground, offering ample access to wide open spaces of shallow, easy to navigate open water, dense thickets of maritime forest, and small, marshy islands that are covered in wildlife.

Sound

There’s a reason why some of the Outer Banks’ earliest visitors flocked first to the northern beaches of Duck and Corolla. With miles of soundfront providing a comfortable but temporary home to thousands of migrating waterfowl, the landscape proved ideal for adventurous hunters and provided a gorgeous and wild vacation destination for explorers who liked to escape to a locale well off the beaten path.

It was here as we walked along the boardwalk, Si in front and me five paces behind, I know my place, that my dearest was almost attacked by a snake!! As he walked in front of me, out of the corner of my eye I suddenly saw something rear up! OMG, what to do? “Snake” I screamed! Should I hit it with my bag, jump on it or fall down, grab it round the neck and wrestle with it ………………… or should I just wait and let it slide back into the marsh? Well, the survival instinct kicked in and we stood stock still and waited as it eyed first Si and then me. It eventually decided that neither of us looked very tasty and went on its merry way. What type of venomous snake was it, a Rattlesnake, a Copperhead or a Pygmy Rattlesnake? How does one suck out the poison from a snake bite!? The things that flash through your mind in a moment of danger! 😱

I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear that we survived and the snake turned out to be a ……… well, we think it was a Ribbon Snake!!!? Ha, ha, ha, and completely harmless. If anyone knows differently please let us know. 😉

Snake

It turned out not to be Si’s day! Note to Malcolm T, they seem to have the same problem here in Corolla that you had in Canada!! 😀

Si and branch

On the way to the Sound we saw this rather attractive little bridge!

Bridge

Well, after the snake scare we decided it was time for lunch and off we went to a restaurant that had been recommended to us by Natalie, who has holidayed here a few times. We went to the Upside Restaurant and after a very enjoyable lunch of fish tacos for Si and a chicken flatbread for me we set out for Kitty Hawk.

Now some of you may know that name as it became world famous after the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, made the first controlled powered airplane flight at the Kill Devil Hills, four miles from Kitty Hawk, on 17th December 1903.

Kitty Hawk is usually credited as the site of the powered flights because it was the nearest named settlement at the time of the flight. The Wrights chose the area because its frequent winds and soft sandy surfaces were suitable for their glider experiments, which they conducted over a three-year period prior to making the powered flight.

On the day, only five people witnessed that first flight, one of whom was John T Daniels. Daniels had never seen a camera before let alone taken a picture but on the day he was the one who snapped that famous “first flight” photo using Orville’s pre-positioned camera. The picture he took that day, below, was the only one to commemorate the very special event and is now world-famous.

Wright 1

Here we are stood on the very spot where Orville Wright first took to the skies in his airplane and human flight, that we all now take so much for granted, became possible. Note the difference in the landscape now compared with back in 1903 when it was all sand. It was eventually planted by the Army to make the area more tourist ‘friendly’ and stable.

Wright Bros 1

We finished the day with a ‘little shopping’ and were jolly glad to get back to the Inn and out of the heat! Phew! 🌞

San and beast

Sand and the ‘Beast’ back at the Inn.

I just know what the next question will be ……………… what’s with the blue horse!!??

Answers on a postcard please …………………………

Thanks for ‘travelling’ with us. More from Corolla tomorrow folks.

 

Day 9 – Palmerton, PA to OBX – Corolla, NC

So we left Palmerton under grey skies this morning for our eight-hour drive to The Outer Banks (OBX). We had sunshine and very heavy rain along the way but we are promised sun for tomorrow.

As we’ve spent most of the day in the car, there’s not been a lot of ‘action’ so I’m afraid today’s post is rather thin on the ground.

The day didn’t exactly start very well when at 2.00 a.m. (US time) this morning I tried to book my spinning class for Wednesday next week at my Nuffield gym back in the UK. Basically, it wouldn’t let me book because booking doesn’t start until 7.00 a.m UK time! It didn’t matter that although it was 2.00 a.m. in the US it was was actually 7.00 a.m. in the UK. Just because my phone was saying 2.00 a.m. (five hours time difference) I wasn’t allowed to book! Crazy or what! I will be having a word with them when I get back, that’s for sure. Don’t they realise that people take holidays outside the UK time zone?

During the long drive here I was mulling over one or two things (well there’s nothing else to do except admire the scenery and eat crisps and sweets!) When I spoke with my two besties, Dot and Nat, this week the first questions they asked were (1) had I ordered my new iPhone and (2) which iPhone was I intending to get? Those who know me well know that I like to have the latest gadgets and usually order a new iPhone as soon as it’s released. Well, the thing is, having been away from the UK during the Apple Keynote speech, I haven’t had time to watch it yet, I’m not fully up to speed about the ins and outs of the three new phones, iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X (or ten as it will be known). I only know the basics but for those who are interested, my instinct is to wait for the iPhone X that will be released in November. I really think I just can’t live without the facial recognition capability! 😉

The other thing I was mulling over was the fact that I was overcharged $5 for a book I purchased in Jim Thorpe yesterday! I don’t think it was intentional, the lady was rather elderly, I just think she got confused. It’s a lesson learned, always check your change folks!

Those of you who have followed the blog over the years will know that we do like a Cracker_Barrel_Old_Country_Store_logo.svg

Cracker Barrel restaurant. Well, they’ve been very few and far between this trip. In fact we’ve only seen one and that was today on the way here. We did the usual of arms raised in homage and shouted “Cracker Barrel” out loud. We never got to actually see the restaurant though so was unable to savour its wares as it was off the Interstate.

We saw many interesting sights on our trip here, one of which was this! Nice to find another Harry Potter fan!

HP1

Many of you will will remember that when we do a ‘big’ trip to the US we usually like to play the Licence Plate Game and we usually end up with never having seen a Delaware licence plate! Well, as this is a short trip we haven’t bothered with the game but having driven through Delaware today we’ve seen dozens of Delaware plates. How typical is that? Well, I think when we get home we’ll be turning the little wooden plate over as I feel justified in saying we’ve definitely seen a Delaware plate or hundreds!

For our music pleasure today we listened to Brucie (Springsteen) that is and Jackson Brown. Who wouldn’t sing along to Brucie’s Thunder Road and Jackson’s Brown’s Lawless Avenues? Now’s your chance!

A lot of the places we drove through were named after loads of places from the UK, such as Kent, Sussex, Essex and Somerset to name but a few. We also saw Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. It’s all very confusing to the elderly! We even saw the Statue of Liberty in Virginia! Sadly, I was too slow to get the photographic evidence. The world’s gone crazy!

We drove over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel on our way here. What a magnificent feat of engineering that is! Due to the very high wind and rain the sea was raging and we were only allowed to drive at 45 mph!

CB Bridge 1

CB Bridge 2

For the engineers among you, the Bridge-Tunnel project is a four-lane 20-mile-long vehicular toll crossing of the lower Chesapeake Bay. The facility carries US 13, the main north-south highway on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and provides the only direct link between Virginia’s Eastern Shore and south Hampton Roads, Virginia.Project Information Board

The crossing consists of a series of low-level trestles interrupted by two approximately one-mile-long tunnels beneath Thimble Shoals and Chesapeake navigation channels. The manmade islands, each approximately 5.25 acres in size, are located at each end of the two tunnels. There are also high level bridges over two other navigation channels: North Channel Bridge and Fisherman Inlet Bridge.

We eventually rolled in to Carolla, part of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, in the rain and are now staying at The Inn at Carolla Light. What a great find this is! We have a lovely suite that overlooks The Sound. Upon arrival, we were greeted with enthusiasm by JC, a great guy, who very manly carried our two very heavy suitcases up two flights of stairs to our room!

Corfolla 1

Here are a few miscellaneous photos that we took along the way today!

Dog 1

A ‘friend’ we passed along the way! I just love the wind in my hair!

 

On the recommendation of JC we dined at North Banks tonight. A small, but lovely restaurant and very busy. Si decided on the full rack of ribs and a beer and I had the Atlantic salmon and a gin julep. All excellent!

We managed to get back to the hotel in time for Si to take a beautiful sunset photo from the deck of our hotel.

Corolla Sunset 2a

More tomorrow from Corolla Light! Night folks.

Day 8 – Atlantic City, New Jersey to Palmerton, Pennsylvania

Well, what a difference a day makes!

Yesterday, hot and sunny this morning it was raining, windy and the waves were really quite high and breaking on the shore creating white water. Good job the Ironman was yesterday and not today.

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We were told yesterday that the bar at The Claridge Hotel was the original from when the hotel opened in 1930. Just imagine the people who have sat there! Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra to name just two.

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These are photographs on two the lift doors, remembering Atlantic City how it used to be.

After breakfast and with our pockets a little lighter than when we arrived in Atlantic City on Friday, we headed out on our relatively short trip to Palmerton, Pennsylvania. Straight away we discovered we had trouble with Margaret (sat nav) again in as much as she kept wanting to take us the long way to our destination just as she did when we were travelling to Atlantic City. Our trip this morning should have only taken us 2.5 hours whereas Margaret was saying it would take 4.5 hours. What could possibly be wrong with Margaret!!??

Well, suddenly a lightbulb turned on in my head and I knew what the problem was! Click on ‘Settings’ and there it was! Whoever had been using the sat nav before us had programmed it to avoid all toll roads!!!!!! Hence, why she kept trying to either get us to do a u-turn or keep asking us to turn right or left off the Interstate. As soon as I turned ‘no toll roads’ off everything was right again with Margaret. Hooray!

By the time we arrived in Palmerton the weather was sunny and hot. If you read yesterday’s post you will know that we were meeting up with our good friends Nat, Terry and Ty today.

We spent some time this afternoon with Nat visiting the town of Jim Thorpe. Nestled in the breathtaking Lehigh Gorge, this Victorian town originally known as Mauch Chunk was changed to Jim Thorpe in honour of the Olympic champion.

James Francis Thorpe, (May 22 or 28 1887 – March 28, 1953) was an American athlete and Olympic gold medalist. A member of the Sac and Fox Nation. Thorpe became the first Native American to win a gold medal for his home country. Considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern sports, he won Olympic gold medals in the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, and played American football (collegiate and professional), professional baseball, and basketball. He lost his Olympic titles after it was found he had been paid for playing two seasons of semi-professional baseball before competing in the Olympics, thus violating the amateurism rules that were then in place. In 1983, 30 years after his death, the International Olympic Committee restored his Olympic medals.

The town has been called the “Switzerland of America” due to the picturesque scenery, mountainous location, and architecture.

 

JM4

Sandra with Nat in Jim Thorpe with the biggest lump of coal Nat had ever seen!

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JM5

JM3

We all had a lovely dinner together but unbelievably we were so busy enjoying ourselves that we forgot to take a group photograph!! I know I have one from the last time we all got together so I’ll dig that out and post it instead!!

Tomorrow we head to The Outer Banks in North Carolina, a 200-mile-long (320 km) string of barrier islands and spits off the coast of North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, on the east coast. Somewhere in the US that we have never visited before!

See you there!

 

Day 7 – Atlantic City, New Jersey

First of all, let me apologise in advance to all our readers if you find parts of this post do not make sense or have rather a lot of spelling mistakes. Si and I have been taking advantage of the ‘Happy Hour’ at the rooftop Vue bar and lounge on top of the hotel. It was such a beautiful afternoon and as all the cocktails and small plates only cost $5 each (£4.00 a pop) it seemed very rude not to!! 😉

Si took this great picture from the rooftop of our hotel reflecting next door in Ballys exterior.

Claridge Reflection 1a

Before I forget, I meant to say yesterday that it had come to our attention that the ‘maids’ looking after our room are male! Never really thought about it before but this is the first time we haven’t had females looking after us. Guess that’s a sign of the times!! 😉

The day started sunny and hot again and after a very special FaceTime call with our dear friend Dot in Upstate New York for a catch-up, we had breakfast in the Twenties Restaurant. We were told today that the bar area is all original dating back to when the hotel was built in the late 1920s early 1930s. I had the healthy option again and Si the Western Omelette. Both excellent. So, nicely full we set out to do some of the ‘touristy’ things in Atlantic City.

First port of call was the Absecon Lighthouse. It’s a coastal lightbouse and at 171 feet (52m) is the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey and the third-tallest masonry lighthouse in the USA. Construction began in 1854, with the light first lit on January 15, 1857. The lighthouse was deactivated in 1933 and although the light still shines every night, it is no longer an active navigational aid.

Lighthouse 2

It was designed by George Meade and still retains its original first-order fixed Fresnel lens. The lens is made of lead glass and weighs 12,800 pounds (5,800 kg). As the light was fixed (non-flashing), it does not have a landward segment allowing visitors to look up in the lens where the keepers entered it for maintenance.

Lighthouse 1

We climbed the 228 steps to the top (after six weeks with no real exercise, my poor knees paid the price!) and there was a great view of the whole of Atlantic City.  We were greeted at the top of the stairs by a man called Bayard Moran, a very pleasant elderly gentleman who gave us a signed card in acknowledgement of our achievement. It turned out that he was an Anglophile having spent time in the UK when he was in the Service and also his son studied at Cambridge and so he had holidayed in the UK as well.

As we left the lighthouse we met Buddy. Now Buddy has been a volunteer at the lighthouse for eight years and has lived in Atlantic City since 1956. He will be 90 years old on 24th September and various events are being held to celebrate his birthday. He climbs the 228 steps to the top of the lighthouse every Friday and often on one other day as well!!! He is described as a volunteer treasure and a true keeper of the light. His aim is to reach 105 years of age as that’s the age his oldest relative reached before dying.

Buddy

After the lighthouse we visited the aquarium. They had many species of fish, lizards, tortoises etc. I don’t know but keeping any wild animal in captivity doesn’t sit right with me!

Yesterday I mentioned that an Ironman triathlon was happening here today, well it turned out to be a half Ironman, that’s Ironman 70.3. The “70.3” refers to the total distance in miles (113.0 km) covered in the race, consisting of a 1.2-mile (1.9 km) swim, a 56-mile (90 km) bike ride, and a 13.1-mile (21.1 km) run. Each distance of the swim, bike, and run segments is half the distance of that segment in an Ironman triathlon. Well, you learn something everyday! It was a very hot day for such activities!

Iron Man

Looking after everyone was the local Police in some of the strangest vehicles we’d ever seen!

Police

Tomorrow we leave Atlantic City for Palmerton, Pennsylvania. It’s a very special day for us as we will be meeting up with our other dear friends Nat, Terry and Ty! 😀

It was Ty’s birthday today, he’s nine years old. So, “Happy Birthday Ty” hope you’ve had a great day. See you tomorrow. 🎂🎉

More from Palmerton tomorrow!

 

 

Day 6 – Atlantic City, New Jersey

Good day loyal followers!

A strange thing happened at the hotel last night that I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post. I was sat here writing the blog and suddenly there was a ‘ding dong’ and a buzz and a man’s voice flowed into the room saying “regarding the emergency, don’t worry, the Fire Brigade 🚒says there’s no fire so no need to worry!” What the …. , what emergency, we hadn’t heard a fire alarm? Si called down to the front desk to ask what that was all about and they repeated what we had already heard. About an hour later, the guy came over the speaker again telling us not to worry as there was no emergency and we should just “carry on.” 😱 We meant to have a word with reception this morning to tell them we didn’t hear an alarm …… but we forgot. Must do that as we leave for dinner this evening. Scary!

We ate breakfast in the Twenties Restaurant here in the hotel this morning. Service was a little slow but as we are holiday and not in any particular rush we didn’t really mind. Si had the Crab Cake Eggs Benedict while I settled for the healthy option of Homemade Granola Parfait with fresh strawberries, blueberries and strawberry yoghurt. Both were magnifico. What do you think Si’s intentions are with that knife!! 😱

Alas, the restaurant does lose one star because they do not serve camomile tea! Now back in the 1980s when we first started visiting the US they couldn’t even serve a decent cup of tea, it was always made with lukewarm water but over the years things have improved dramatically and my experience for some time now has been that tea is usually served with boiling water and most places serve herbal teas. Luckily, I always carry my own supply of tea bags so I asked the waiter to just bring me hot water instead. He was most bemused by my request. All I can think is that the hotel is still serving the tea they were serving back in the 1930s when the hotel first opened!!

When we awoke this morning thick fog was covering the Atlantic Ocean but the sun soon burnt it back and it’s been the most glorious hot and sunny day. Having been born near the sea but having moved away long ago, it’s always a great joy to soak my tootsies whenever we are near the ocean and that’s just what I did this morning.

AC2a

 

AC1a

We explored the hotel this morning recalling whose footsteps we were following in. It really is beautiful. Note the lift (elevator) says ‘Car Up’ as it would have done in days gone by. There’s also a tribute to Frank Sinatra that includes his piano.

Sinatra

Frank Sinatra’s piano

We did a walk along the Boardwalk and visited the Tourist Centre where a very helpful lady recommended places to visit and very kindly pointed out where the Outlets were!! Si grimaced and thanked the lady for pointing that out to me!

AC8aPolice

Well, what would you expect me to do!? Of course we got the car out and made a visit. I wanted to check out the Pandora shop anyway. I’d bought myself one charm in Boston to remind me of our visit there and so it seemed a good idea to see what the local store had too. It was well a visit and I managed to find two lovely charms to adorn my bracelet. Also, one of the shoe stores was having a Sale on Vans Trainers so it seemed like a good idea to check that out too. We both managed to find some we just couldn’t do without!

There was a Zumba class on the Boardwalk this morning. Oooooh, if only I’d had my Zumba shoes I would have given the old hips a good shaking!!

Zumba

We decided that we would try Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant at Ceasar’s Palace for dinner tonight but sadly, it was not to be. We arrived and were seated straight away, so far so good but alas, when I sat down the seat was so low that my chin was resting on the table. Ridiculous! Obviously, I couldn’t eat my meal like that so we asked to be reseated. Well, we waited, and waited and no-one returned to move us and in the end the waitress said it would be a good idea to go and stand at the reception area. Well, long story short, we left. An appropriately worded complaint will be going to Gordon Ramsey’s team and nil points will be going on Trip Adviser. Terrible, terrible customer service.

In the end we ate at the Twenties Restaurant again. It was us and six other people. As this is a non-casino hotel most people were out in the casinos eating dinner. Let’s say it was a very quiet affair.

I have been asked for pics of Si not eating ………………………… well, here he is drinking instead! He said that this little pinot noir is now his favourite wine! 😀

Pinot Noir 1a

A little bird has told us that the weather back home is not quite as lovely as it is here so we’ll be doing all we can to send a little sunshine your way! 🌞

There’s an Ironman Triathlon here tomorrow so that should be interesting to watch. Si was thinking of entering but he didn’t want to embarrass all the contestants!! In his dreams!!

 

 

 

Day 5 – Taftsville, Vermont to Atlantic City, New Jersey

Before I tell you about our day, I remembered that I’d forgotten to add two things to yesterday’s post. One was photos of the covered bridge, the weir and the river at Taftsville just up the road from the Inn and second was a very short, quick video of the apple pressing at Cold Hollow Cider Mill. I’m  starting to get forgetful in my old age! Taftsville 1aTaftsville 2aTaftsville 3a

This morning before we left the Inn we had a lovely breakfast with four new guests, a couple originally from Scotland who now live in East Sussex and an American couple from Guilford (I thought they said Guildford but apparently not!) in Connecticut. We had a very lively discussion about Scottish independence, Brexit and Donald Trump!!

The American couple, Ken and Naomi, were on their way to Stowe to partake in the 27th annual ‘British Invasion’ which is a weekend celebration and salute to the Great British motorcar and British lifestyle. They own a Jaguar and last year won first place in the Jaguar Sedans (1955-87) MK I/II, 420, S-Type, XJ6, XJ12, XJ6C section with their 1962 Jaguar Mark II. Fingers crossed they managed another win this year too.

So, it’s “goodbye” Vermont and “hello” New Jersey!

Now then, as we spent most of the day in ‘the beast’ I’m afraid there’s no ‘action’ to speak of but just what we could see out of the car windows as we hurtled along.

We departed lovely Vermont and headed out for Atlantic City. The drive was scheduled to take 6.5 hours but allowing for stops on the way ended up taking seven. It was a much easier drive than we were anticipating and arrived in brilliant sunshine and not the rain we had been expecting. To smooth our passage we listened and sang along to the tunes of John Denver. All together now, one, two, three:

We needed a smoothing tune or two because Margaret (sat nav) didn’t want to take us on the route to Atlantic City that we preferred (i.e. away from New York as we knew it would be too busy on a Friday afternoon), instead she insisted on trying to turn as around at every exit en-route! It’s not like Margaret, she’s usually so co-opertive!

A long drive like this one can be rather boring but a few sights along the way made it interesting including this rather pretty picture as we left Vermont of Echo Lake in Tyson and one of the Fall colour ‘in progress’.

Echo Lake Tyson

Fall 1

At one point on the drive I began to wonder if I’d had a drink or two, albeit it rather early for a drink, because I realised that I was indeed seeing cows and a moose(!) standing on a roof!! Luckily, on closer inspection I realised they were not real after all.

Cows 1Cow Moose

I felt really at home when I saw this sign. My name before I married my dearest was in fact Weston! Pleased to see I was offering ‘luxurious accommodations and fine dining”, definitely my kind of place.

Weston 1

When we saw this one we were rather confused ………….. had we been transported back home and didn’t realise it!

Sherwood

It was very kind of the good ‘ole folk of New York and New Jersey to lay on a welcome for us!

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and boy were we pleased to see this sign!

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We are not staying at a casino but at The Claridge Hotel and Brighton Park here in Atlantic City. It has a very interesting history as it stands on the site where the founder of Atlantic City, Jeremiah Leeds, built his family settlement in the late 1700’s. The hotel opened in 1930 during the great depression and some of its famous guests included Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Princess Grace of Monaco, Al Capone and Nucky Johnson who was an Atlantic City, New Jersey political boss, Atlantic County Sheriff, businessman, and racketeer! Some of you back home in the UK may have seen Sky Atlantic’s Boardwalk Empire in which the character Nucky Thompson was actually based on Nucky Johnson. Great show!

Tomorrow we’ll take some photos of the hotel, I know, the excitement is just too much, but in the meantime, this is the view from our hotel room looking over Brighton Park and out to the Atlantic Ocean. Is that the UK I can see, I’m waving, 👋are you all waving back?

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That’s all for now folks, see you tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Taftsville, Vermont. A Day Of Very Mixed Weather!

We were woken in the night by very heavy rain and thunder! But by the time we had partaken of an excellent breakfast here at the B&B the rain had stopped. This morning we were treated to a very delicious cheese and ham scone (no, not like a British scone, this was a flat cheese scone with the ham inside) together with poached eggs on top and tomatoes completed with a lovely red nasturtium from the garden on the side. There were also homemade raspberry turnovers, fruit and cereals. We were the only two for breakfast but more guests are arriving today so it will be interesting to see who those other guests are and where they are from tomorrow morning.

After breakfast we left to drive to Waterbury. The rain had left mists everywhere, curling round the mountain tops it was a stunning sight.

Clouds 1

We saw various warning signs along the way …….

but alas the only ‘wildlife’ sighting we saw today was a little bunny rabbit!

Bunny 1

One thing that is always obvious to us as we speed along the Interstates is how well kept they are. Grass nicely cut and no rubbish at all.

Being in this part of the country always feels like home as a lot of the towns are named after places back home i.e. Manchester, Portsmouth, Windsor, Essex and Middlesex to name but a few. It’s pretty obvious who settled this part of the USA!

By the time we arrived in Waterbury the sun was out and it was lovely and hot. Waterbury is home to the original Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory. This is where the whole B&J story really started. From a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont, to far-off places, the journey that began in 1978 with two guys and the ice cream business they built is as legendary as the ice cream is euphoric. We decided to do the factory tour but were not really impressed as we had chosen the day production had been stopped to clean the machines ready for a new flavour run!  Anyway, we were given free ice cream to try so not everything was lost!

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They have an ice-cream graveyard on site and that’s where all the retired flavours go to ‘rest’. Each retired flavour has its own headstone. Here are just a couple.

As Si’s into cider at the moment we felt that a trip to the Cold Hollow Cider Mill was in order. We were able to go and see how the cider is made and this turned out to be very interesting as we had it explained about how our cider is known as ‘hard’ cider in America (i.e. alcoholic) but American cider is just pure apple juice with no additives whatsoever and confusingly enough, in American you can also buy apple juice distinct from cider because it does have additives and flavourings! Confused ………… we were. There’s a wonderful store in the Cider Mill too filled again with all those goodies we just have to have! I picked up a jar of Apple Cider Jelly (jam to the Brits) to bring home with us but sadly it didn’t make it to the counter as I dropped it, boom, glass and jelly all over the floor. They also make cider doughnuts and of course we just had to try them! They were fabulous.

Cold Hollow Cider Mill

Tonight we went back to The Mill at Simon Pearce for dinner and once again, it didn’t disappoint. We don’t eat lamb at home but Si decided that as we are in the USA it’s somehow okay as the lambs are American …………….. so that’s what he had for dinner!

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I think someone somewhere wasn’t happy with his choice because as we tried to leave the restaurant the heavens opened and the rain lashed down! It was running in rivers down the car park. We had neither coats nor brolly! That’ll teach him!

Tomorrow (Friday), we leave the lovely Applebutter Inn here in Vermont for quite a long drive down to Atlantic City for the weekend. Just a little history note for all those historians reading the blog, the Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as in 1854 it was the home of Edwin C.  Emmons and he fought in the American Civil War for the Union.

By the way, that’s our ‘beast’ of a car on the drive. I can just about manage to climb out of it without falling but getting in is not a very lady-like affair as I have to put one foot in and then heave myself in by pulling on the armrest!! Hey ho, the perils of being short!

 

See you on the shores of the Atlantic ocean tomorrow folks.

Day 3 – Boston, Massachusetts to Taftsville, Vermont

We leave Boston today to travel to Vermont but before we do that let me tell you about last night’s ball game, Boston Red Sox versus Oakland.

We toyed with the idea of getting a taxi to Fenway Park as it seemed a lot easier than walking to the station and working out how to buy tickets. Our last experience of train travel was when we wanted to travel from New Jersey into New York City to go and see Ground Zero. Now we are quite intelligent folk and as some of you will agree, I’m quite a techie (Sandra that is, not Si, no tittering from anyone thank you!) but it really was a bit of a nightmare. We had to purchase them from a machine that really didn’t speak English, I think it had been imported from the planet Krypton! Anyway, we had to enlist the help of a very pleasant guard who explained it all to us. It wasn’t possible to buy return tickets, had to be singles. Alas, I ended up using the inbound ticket to travel outbound, the guard on the train didn’t notice and I was lucky that the inbound train guard didn’t either! Duh!

Anyway, I digress …………. last night’s ticket purchases was extremely easy, even though it was from a machine and only cost us $11.00 for two returns to travel anywhere. Now that’s what I call cheap. So we jump on board, packed like sardines in a can (we’ll never complain about the London Underground again!) and off we shoot to Fenway Park.

It was a great game and the Boston Red Sox won by 11-1. The whole thing about baseball is that it’s such a family event. Everyone having a great time. There’s no swearing and shouting of abuse like we have at football (soccer for our US followers) matches. At football, once the game starts everyone is concentrated purely on the game. No-one speaks or usually moves until half-time whereas at baseball there’s people on the move all the time but not in a distracting way. There are dozens and dozens of snack vendors going up and down the isles selling hot dogs, pizza, peanuts, candy floss and drinks. No need to go hungry or thirsty there.

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First Ball! Can you spot it? Not bad considering I took it on my iPhone!

 

They were having a special event last night in aid of children’s cancer and they had families affected who came on to the pitch.

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We had great seats just up from behind the batter. We were under cover and there was also a fine net so that no-one would get hit with the ball if it came behind. Sadly, there was a very small area where the net was not attached to the roof and we couldn’t believe it when a ball came through that small space and hit an elderly gentleman on the head! 😱 🤕 He had a little cut but seemed okay, the medics however insisted he went out with them to be checked over. He was very reluctant to go though and miss the game.

All in all a great experience. 👍

As we needed to go to the Post Office this morning and it was just along from the Paramount Cafe we decided we would go in there again for breakfast. As we entered the waiter welcomed us back which was a nice touch. Another great breakfast consumed, Si had the Avocado Surprise while I just had scrambled eggs on toast.

Just one side note regarding Boston ….. we were told this morning that there were gangs of young men on Boston Common last night with guns and one was critically injured!!

Now, onwards to Vermont!

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Sadly, didn’t see any!

It was a lovely three-hour drive to where we are staying, in Taftsville, just outside Woodstock, at the Apple Butter Inn. An 1850’s farmhouse bed and breakfast and our hosts are Jill and Don together with Ginger a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

The B&B is absolutely lovely. We are in the King David room and it even has a sleeping porch all screened in so that we can sit there in comfort with a nice glass of wine and some cheese. In fact, Si’s already been down the road to the little local store and purchased said items! 😀

As we had arrived rather too early for check-in we decided to go into Woodstock to take a look around. It must be at least 20 years since we were last there. It’s a wonderful little town with those gorgeous little shops that are always full of things we can’t possibly live without!!

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There are a couple of lovely covered bridges locally that have been restored to their former glory.

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On the drive into the B&B we crossed over the Ottauquechee River with its covered bridge and waterfall. Next to it stands a building that for centuries served as a woollen mill and is now home to Simon Pearce Glass and The Mill restaurant. We are booked there for dinner this evening. We are told no-one who eats there is ever disappointed! I shall report back later this evening on our experience. In the meantime, this is the setting!

Well, we’ve returned from The Mill at Simon Pearce and what a find that turned out to be. It was voted one of “America’s Most Romantic Restaurants” and we could see why, everything was magnificent. We were advised to book early and turn up about ten minutes ahead of time as we wanted a table by the window and it’s first, come first served. We did as we were told and bingo, we had the best seat in the house.

Best Table In The House

We may go back tomorrow evening. We both started with mashed avocado and lump crab on toast then Si had the fillet mignon and on a lady’s recommendation who eats there regularly, I had horseradish crusted cod, it was magnifico!! We shared Bakewell Tart to finish and the waiter was keen to know what we thought of their English pudding. We reassured him that it could easily have been made ‘back home’ so that pleased him.

For those who follow Si’s daily intake, here’s tonights!

Si's steak

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Quechee Weir at sunset

Well, it’s been a long old day one way and another so it’s off to bed we go. Tomorrow we continue our tour of Vermont!

Night everyone! 😴

PS: Note for Sue P ……………. the gin and tonic lip balm is working a treat! 😘

 

 

Day 2 – Boston, MA

“Turned out nice again!”

So the day has indeed turned out to be a very lovely one, sunny and very hot. It was an early start because we were awake at 4.30 am, not being acclimatised yet to the time difference!

We decided to have breakfast away from the hotel so sought advice from one of the ladies on Reception. She directed us to The Paramount Cafe on Beacon Hill. It’s a small cafe that’s been in business since 1937. All the food is cooked to order in front of you and it was excellent. I’m sure some of you would like to know what we had for breakfast! We had omelettes, Si the Western consisting of ham, onion pepper and American cheese and for me the tomato, mozzarella and basil.

We first visited Boston about 25 years ago and it’s now a lot busier with many more tourists but it’s still a lovely place to visit.

Here comes the history ‘bit’ ……….

The history of Boston, the capital of Massachusetts plays a central role in American history. In 1630, Puritan colonists from England founded Boston and helped it become the way it is today. Boston quickly became the political, commercial, financial, religious and educational center of the New England region. The American Revolution erupted in Boston, as the British retaliated harshly for the Boston Tea Party and the patriots fought back. They besieged the British in the city, with a famous battle at Bunker Hill in Charlestown on June 17, 1775 (which was lost by the colonists, but inflicted great damage against the British) and won the Siege of Boston, forcing the British to evacuate the city on March 17, 1776. However, the combination of American and British blockades of the town and port during the conflict seriously damaged the economy, and the population fell by two thirds in the 1770s. The city recovered after 1800, re-establishing its role as the transportation hub for the New England region with its network of railroads, and even more important, the intellectual, educational and medical center of the nation.

We walked the city today stopping off at the Old Granary Burial Ground. It is Boston’s third-oldest cemetery, founded in 1660. It is the final resting place for many notable Revolutionary War-era patriots including Paul Revere, the five victims of the Boston Massacre, and three signers of the Declaration of Independence: Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine. The cemetery has 2,345 grave-markers, but historians estimate tha