Day 79! Home

We are home!

We are home!

So, we are home, our adventures are at an end.

Our flight was uneventful and we arrived home to a beautiful sunny, hot day.

Natalie

Natalie

Carol and Allan

Carol and Allan

Sue and Tim

Sue and Tim

We would like say a big ‘thank you’ to all of you who have faithfully followed our great adventure. Thank you to all those who left comments and let us know that we were not just here talking to ourselves. Our champion commenter was Nat (my Twilight buddy) who left a comment most days! Another ten points to you Nat for not getting bored with our gibber gabber. We had over 6,000 views of the blog, many, many more than we ever expected.

A big “thank you” to Carol and Allan for taking care of the homestead while we were away enjoying ourselves and another big “thank you” to Sue and Tim for taking us to and collecting us from, Heathrow. It was so lovely to see familiar faces when we landed.

We’ve met so many lovely people along the way and we look forward to the next time when we all meet again. So, until then, “it’s goodnight from me and it’s goodnight from him.” That will mean more to the Brits than to the Americans, so just so that you don’t feel left out, here’s a little video for you so you understand what I’m talking about.

So, until we meet again, ‘thanks’, and ‘goodbye’, it’s been a blast!

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,

Day 78! Newark, New Jersey to London, Heathrow

Well here we are, at the end of our great adventures! We’ve had the most fabulous time travelling the highways and byways of the great U.S.A.

The view of Newark Airport from the Marriott Hotel

The view of Newark Airport from our room at the Marriott Hotel

The cases!

The cases!

We drove 13,183 miles in three different cars (you all know the story of Beasts 1, 2 and 3) and have seen things that will remain with us forever. When we think back over the amazing things we’ve seen it seems like we’ve been here forever, but on a daily basis, we feel as though we arrived only yesterday.

We are going home with two extra suitcases!! I don’t know what we have in those extra suitcases (well, I do really), but we don’t really remember buying half of it! I’m sure when we unpack back home there will be a few surprises in store.

We will post once more on the blog, tomorrow once we reach home, so join us then for the grand ‘farewell’.

Day 77! New York City

So, today was the last ‘adventure’ day for us as tomorrow we fly home.

The South Pool

The South Pool

The Freedom Tower

The Freedom Tower and South Pool

The Freedom Tower

The Freedom Tower

Simon and Sandra

Simon and Sandra

GZ 7a

The North Pool

The North Pool

The Survivor Tree

The Survivor Tree

St. Paul's Chapel

St. Paul’s Chapel

Some of the tributes inside St. Paul's Chapel

Some of the tributes inside St. Paul’s Chapel

The 'Bell of Hope' at St. Paul's Chapel

The ‘Bell of Hope’ at St. Paul’s Chapel

Two of New York's finest

Two of New York’s finest

We visited the 9/11 Memorial also known as Ground Zero, in New York City. We travelled by AirTrain from the airport, then travelled on a double-decker overland train and last of all on a subway. It was different and with the help of one or two people we actually managed to buy the train tickets too!!

We expected it to be an emotional visit to Ground Zero and it certainly was. Because the area is still under construction we had to book tickets beforehand (Nat, big thanks for the info, without that we may not have been able to go into the Memorial today) and the organisation, as with all things American, was excellent.

There were people from all over the world and after all the adventures we have had on this trip, this was very sobering.

The Memorial consists of two pools set in the footprints of the original Twin Towers. Thirty-foot waterfalls, the largest in North America, cascade into the pools, each then descending into a centre void. The name of the victims are inscribed in bronze parapets around the pools.

Every day a white rose is placed in the names of those whose birthday it would have been that day.

For the 1000 people who do not have a final resting place, there are paving bricks set between the two pools and each one is dedicated to one of those people.

Reading all the names was very emotional but one of the things we found particularly upsetting was reading the names of some of the ladies who lost their lives that day and who were pregnant. Next to each of the ladies names was added “and her unborn child’.

The master plan for the site calls for a spiral of new towers around the eight-acre Memorial and will also include a Museum (due to open in 2014). In the atrium of the Museum stands two steel tridents – forked columns from the original North Tower.

On the site is a Callery pear tree known as the ‘Survivor Tree’. This tree was planted in the 1970s and stood on the original World Trade Centre plaza. After September 11th, workers found the damaged tree, reduced to an eight-foot-tall stump, in the wreckage of Ground Zero. It was nursed back to health in a New York City park and grew to be 30 feet tall, sprouting new branches and flowering in the springtime. In March 2010 the tree was uprooted by severe storms, but true to its name, it survived.

In December 2010, the tree was returned to the World Trade Centre site. It embodies the story of survival and resilience that is so important to the history of September 11th.

We then went on to St. Paul’s Chapel that stands very near to the 9/11 Memorial. The Chapel first opened in 1766 and survived ‘The Great Fire’ of 1776. President George Washington in 1789 attended service there on his Inauguration Day and it survived the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre while the buildings around the Chapel were either destroyed or very badly damaged.

During 2001 and 2002 it became home to an extraordinary round-the-clock volunteer relief ministry for recovery works at Ground Zero. Family and friends of those missing in the attack went to the chapel and left photographs and stories about their loved ones and people from all over America and the world visited the chapel to leave tributes and a lot remain their today.

Outside of the Chapel is a bell called the ‘Bell of Hope’. Accompanied by an honour guard of British police offers it was presented to the people of New York by the Lord Mayor of London and the Archbishop of Centerbury on September 11th 2002. It was created by the famous  Whitechapel Foundry in London which also cast America’s Liberty Bell and London’s Big Ben.

The bell is rung every September 11th, was rung on March 11th 2004, when trains were bombed in Madrid and on July 7th 2005 after the London tube (subway) and bus attacks. The ringing of the bell symbolises the triumph of hope over tragedy.

Day 76! Elmira to Palmerton, Pennsylvania and on to Newark, New Jersey

Penn 1a

The house on the hill

The house on the hill

I've been trying to get a shot of a Coca Cola truck all holiday - and here it is at last!

I’ve been trying to get a shot of a Coca Cola truck all holiday – and here it is at last!

The Gang 2

The Gang 2

NJ 1aWell, today we said our sad farewells to Dot, John and Kasha and travelled down to Palmerton to see our other great friends, Nat, Terry and Ty and we had the added bonus of also seeing Terry’s Mum, Judy and her husband Terry.

After a lovely dinner with Nat, Terry and Ty, (no, Si did not have ribs tonight, he had crab and shrimp cakes!) we have driven to Newark Airport to stay here in a hotel until we fly home on Wednesday.

Tomorrow we return Beast 3 to the rental company and our plan then is to go into New York City for the last item on our agenda, to visit the memorial at Ground Zero.

Day 75! Elmira

That pesky squirrel up at camp - he's trouble!!

That pesky squirrel up at camp – he’s trouble!!

Dot and John's Flag of Freedom

Dot and John’s Flag of Freedom

Dot and John's dog, Kasha, she's a sweetie

Dot and John’s dog, Kasha, she’s a sweetie

Home from home!! Dot and I on-line - wonder what we are looking at!!

Home from home!! Dot and I on-line – wonder what we are looking at!!

We started off the day at camp where it rained again this morning but we have now travelled back to Dot and John’s home to prepare for our departure tomorrow when we head back to Newark, New Jersey.

On the way we will be stopping off to have dinner with our other great friends, Nat, her husband Terry and little son Ty who live in Pennsylvania. Nat completes our Twilight trio with myself and Dot.

I’ve spent part of today sorting and repacking the four suitcases we now have to take home and am pleased to report that we just about meet the weight requirements. I think it will take a few days when we get home to unpack them and sort everything out!!

Day 74! Hammondsport, New York

House Finch

House Finch

Red Cardinal

Red Cardinal

The Farm on the way to Hammondsport

The Farm on the way to Hammondsport

Curtiss V8

Curtiss V8

Restoration project at the Curtiss Museum

Restoration project at the Curtiss Museum

Life on the lake

Life on the lake

Racing on the lake (is that Si Smith we see?)

Racing on the lake (is that Si Smith we see?)

Life on the lake (again, is that Si Smith?)

Life on the lake (again, is that Si Smith?)

Hammondsport church

Hammondsport church

The bandstand at Hammondsport

The bandstand at Hammondsport

The monsoon!

The monsoon!

The monsoon!

The monsoon!

The day started cloudy and warm but this afternoon we’ve had rain. Luckily, we had just finished lunch and were back in the car before it started. We so enjoyed dinner last night at the Waterfront Restaurant that we went there for lunch again today. There was racing on the lake, Si Smith we think we saw you there!!

Our first visit of the day was to The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport. The museum covers local history with a focus on Glenn Curtis and boasts a large collection of Curtiss’ airplanes, motorcycles and many other items pertaining to the local Finger Lakes area such as boats and wine culture. Curtiss (May 21, 1878 – July 23, 1930) was an American aviation pioneer and a founder of the U.S. aircraft industry. He began his career as a bicycle racer and builder before moving on to motorcycles. As early as 1904, he began to manufacture engines for airships. In 1908 Curtiss joined the Aerial Experiment Association  (AEA), a pioneering research group, founded by Alexander Graham Bell at Beinn Bhreagh, Nova Scotia to build flying machines.

Curtiss made the first officially witnessed flight in North America, won a race at the world’s first international air meet in France, and made the first long-distance flight in the United States. His contributions in designing and building aircraft led to the formation of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, now part of Curtiss-Wright Corporation. His company built aircraft for the U.S. Army and Navy, and, during the years leading up to World War I, his experiments with seaplanes led to advances in naval aviation. Curtiss civil and military aircraft were predominant in the inter-war and World War II eras.

After visiting the Museum we went into Hammondsport, a small town that in 2011 had a population of 662 and in 2012 was voted ‘America’s Coolest Small Town’. Dot and I found two lovely small gift shops to spend some money in while Si spent time taking photographs.

We are currently trapped indoors as we are experiencing near monsoon rain! Have we been transported back to the Mother country?

I’m happy to report that Dot managed to ‘get her act together’ this morning and the hummingbirds are again enjoying their special water.

We had a camp fire last night (sadly the resident photographer didn’t take photos!) and were going to have another one tonight and eat s’mores (a traditional nighttime campfire treat consisting of a roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two cracker pieces) but I don’t think that’s going happen as it looks as though the rains’s set in for the night.

Day 73! Elmira

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

The Gang at the Waterfront Restaurant

The Gang at the Waterfront Restaurant

Flaming Hurricanes

Flaming Hurricanes

Sea Plane

Sea Plane

Sea Plane landing on the lake

Sea Plane landing on the lake

We’ve had a lazy day today! We’ve travelled up to Dot and John’s summer camp where the weather was beautiful and we were treated to Blue Jays and Mourning Doves. We would have seen the wonderful sight of Hummingbirds feeding but unfortunately, Dot slacked off this morning and didn’t prepare their special water. Dot’s response to that was that she was being the perfect hostess and taking care of Si and myself before looking after the needs of the wildllife!! Tonight, John treated us to a lovely dinner at the Waterfront Restaurant on Keuka Lake and we had most delicious cocktail, Flaming Hurricanes. The waitress surprised us all when she actually set light to the sugar cubes on top of the cocktails. People on the lake are able to pilot their boat and tie up to the dock, come in to the restaurant, eat and then sail off down the lake again. When we win the Lottery that’s what we are going to do. We also had one exciting moment when a sea plane landed just on the lake in front of us.

Day 72! Columbus, Ohio to Elmira, New York

Before I start today’s post there’s a couple of things I forgot to mention yesterday!

Firstly, hands up all those who watch ‘The Big Bang Theory’, this will be mostly Americans I think! You know how Howard’s Mum is always going on about eating at the Red Lobster, well we had dinner there last night, the first time ever and the food was excellent and guess what, it was right next door to the Olive Garden, another one of her favourites!! Shame we didn’t have one of Howard’s Mum’s coupons!!

Secondly, granola is one of my most favourite breakfast cereals. Can anyone from the US tell me when they started selling it in individual breakfast packets? I only discovered the individual packets yesterday when we went for breakfast at the hotel where we were staying. I must check this out when we get back home.

Penn State 1aNY 1a

A swing and a miss

A swing and a miss

Base hit

Base hit

Homer?

Homer?

Play ball

Play ball

Take a walk

Take a walk

Struck out

Struck out

The Guys

The Gang!

Terry

Terry

Anyway, today was the last our long drives, just over seven hours from Ohio, through Pennsylvania and into New York State. The journey was mostly made up of long boring roads with lots more road works and the speed limits only ranged from 40 to 65 so it felt as though we were driving for ever!!

We are now staying with our good friend’s Dot and John, and their lovely dog, Kasha. We also had the pleasure of meeting their son-in-law, Terry.

We had a real treat this evening, we all went to see the local baseball team, The Pioneers. After visiting the ‘Field of Dreams’ site recently, we felt that we knew everything there was to know about the game, but of course we didn’t. We weren’t lucky enough to catch a ball but we did partake in the singing, the eats and beverages. Our section was even lucky enough to win vouchers to be used in the local Christmas store! I knew our holiday was passing very quickly but surely it can’t be Christmas already?

Today we will be going up to Dot and John’s summer camp so you may not hear from us again until Sunday when we return to Elmira as the wifi at camp is not quite so accommodating!

Day 71! Columbus

We started the day sorting out Beast 3! We visited the Firestone facility just across the road from our hotel as we were told that they maintain the rental fleet for Alamo/Enterprise. I’m very pleased to say that they serviced Beast 3 for us in just 30 minutes. That saved us travelling the sixteen miles to the airport to swop him over. Everyone please keep everything crossed that we have no more tales of woe regarding Beast 3!

Columbus was really just a stop over on our way back to stay with our good friends Dot and JB and we were planning on just an easy day not doing much. However, we discovered that the Ohio State Fair started today and was being held just down the road from our hotel, so we jumped in our newly serviced vehicle and headed out.

A giant slide at the Fair

A giant slide at the Fair

It's my slide!

It’s my slide!

Four days old!

Four days old!

A camel at the Fair - they were giving rides

A camel at the Fair – they were giving rides

Peyton Taylor singing at the Fair

Peyton Taylor singing at the Fair

The butter cow and calf

The butter cow and calf

The choir sculpted in butter

The choir sculpted in butter

The State Brass Band

The State Brass Band

The Fair is huge and last year received over 800,000 visitors during the ten days it’s on. The organisation was excellent, we were in and parked in no time. Once the car was parked we jumped on a tractor/trailer and they dropped us off right at the entrance.

I have to say that of all the county fairs we have visited in England, I don’t think we have every seen so many food stalls, they went on for miles. There was also a huge fair ground to keep the children amused.

We saw just about every animal you would see on a farm plus camels, lamas and one or two we had never heard of!! There were two calves, both born within the last four days and there were even two cows due to give birth whilst the Fair is on. Now that would be something to see. We also just missed a chick hatching from its egg.

One amazing thing we saw was a cow, calf and the Ohio choir modelled out of butter!! They were made out of 2,000 pounds of butter and took 543 hours to complete. Now that’s dedication.

If you ever find yourselves in Columbus at this time of year, then make a diary note to visit the State Fair. It was excellent.

This time next week we will be preparing to board the plane for our flight home!!

Day 70! Le Claire, Iowa to Columbus, Ohio

The monsoon

The monsoon

Well, what a day it’s been! We had a long drive today, about eight hours! It started out lovely, warm and sunny but we ended it in a monsoon. We drove across four States, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. We were a little concerned when one County sign said ‘Entering Madison County’. Our first thought was that we had been driving around in circles and had ended up where we started a few days ago, in Winterset! We were very happy when we realised that Ohio also has a Madison County!!

I have to say that our sat-nav (Margaret), has not exactly been at her best today. She did all she could a couple of times to send us in the wrong direction. I think she’s starting to feel the strain of the ten weeks she’s been ‘on the road’.

We passed the time by listening to an audiobook called ‘Undaunted Courage’ by Stephen E. Ambrose.

The book is the story of the Lewis and Clark Expediton, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, that was the first American expedition to cross what is now the western portion of the United States, departing in May, 1804 from St. Louis on the Mississippi River, making their way westward through the continental divide to the Pacific coast.

The expedition was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, consisting of a select group of U.S. Army volunteers under the command of Captain Meriwether Lewis and his close friend Second Lieutenant William Clark. The duration of their perilous journey lasted from May 1804 to September 1806. The primary objective was to explore and map the newly acquired territory, find a practical route across the Western half of the continent, and establish an American presence in the territory before Britain and other European powers tried to claim it.

The campaign’s secondary objectives were scientific and economic: to study the area’s plants, animal life, and geography, and establish trade with local Indian tribes. With maps, sketches and journals in hand, the expedition returned to St. Louis to report their findings to Jefferson.

Crop duster

Crop duster

Crop duster

Crop duster

During he drive we were treated to the sight of a ‘crop duster’ plane that flew really low over the road.

We’ve had two disappointments today! Firstly, we had to return the suitcase we purchased on Sunday because when I went to pack it last night it became apparent that there was a strange smell to the interior lining. It smelt of moth balls! There was no way I was packing clothes into that! We went to the store today to change it and we had quite a battle on our hands. Because I had removed the sales tags they said it would be treated as a used item and could not be changed! Yeah right! We stood our ground and tonight we have a replacement all ready to be packed.

Beast 3

Beast 3

Welcome to Indiana

Welcome to Indiana

Welcome to Illinois

Welcome to Illinois

A Police Call Box we saw along the way

A Police Call Box we saw along the way

Welcome to Ohio

Welcome to Ohio

The Mississippi at Le Claire

The Mississippi at Le Claire

Fancy seeing you here!

Fancy seeing you here!

The second disappointment was ‘Beast 3’. We had only done about 400 miles today when the oil light came on again saying ‘change oil as soon as possible’. Well, that’s a battle we will be fighting tomorrow when we once again, visit an Alamo facility to change the car yet again! My goodness, there’s going to be a really long letter when I get home to the people who arranged this car hire!!

To overcome the disappointments of the day we enjoyed a really ‘naughty’ meal at California Pizza Kitchen. I had the largest glass of wine available while Si downed a couple of beers!!

‘Tomorrow’, as they say. ‘is another day!’

Day 69! The Royal Baby, Dyersville and Le Claire

Well, first of all it’s ‘Many Congratulations’ to William and Kate on the birth of their baby son and our future King!!

Wetting the baby's head!

Wetting the baby’s head!

Dyersveille home to 'Field of Dreams'

Dyersveille home to ‘Field of Dreams’

Donny Lansing

Donny Lansing

Me and Donny discussing corn!

Me and Donny discussing corn!

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams

Babe Barrett!

Babe Barrett!

And she makes Home Plate

And she makes Home Plate

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams

On the bleachers at The Field of Dreams

On the bleachers at The Field of Dreams

Who's that coming out of the corn?

Who’s that coming out of the corn?

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams

Si at Antique Archaeology

Si at Antique Archaeology

Miss River Lily

Miss River Lily

Miss River Lily

Miss River Lily

Iowa scene

Iowa scene

One of those dusty Iowa roads!

An Iowa road!

It was actually Cindy, who I met in Forks (big Twilight fan), who emailed me and said Kate had gone into hospital and then it was my bro who texted me during lunch to say that ‘it was a boy’.  Being a big Royalist I’m very sorry that I was not at home for this big occasion but ‘here’s to the next time’.

Today has been another movie buff’s day!

It’s been a really exciting day all round really, first of all with the Royal birth and secondly, the fact that I realised a dream today in visiting the baseball field from the film ‘Field of Dreams’.  In fact, I’m so excited that I’m finding it hard to sit here and type this.

It was exiting enough to just go there but then we were in for a really exciting event. As  Si was taking photos of the field and the house, a man approached us and asked if we would like a photo taken together, which he did. After that he introduced himself as Donny Lansing!! Well, most of you are not going to know who he is but I knew because I’d been reading about him this very morning. He’s the man who owned the farm house next to the baseball field in Field of Dreams and he even had a role in the film!! Well, to say I was flabbergasted is an understatement.

He was the most loveliest person and we spent ages talking to him about his home, the field and the film. He was in three scenes in the film but two of them were cut out but at the end of the film when all the cars drive down at night to the baseball field, well he’s driving the lead car.

We were talking to Donny about corn. The whole of Iowa appears to be one huge corn field and it got us to thinking about how much corn must Iowa produce.  Well, Donny couldn’t remember the exact amount but he said it ran into billions of bushels. After further investigation, this is what I’ve found. The 2013 projections indicate 2.45 billion bushels of corn on 13.97 million acres of land. I hear you asking “well how much is a bushel?” Well, one bushel equals approximately 35.24 litres or a measure of capacity equal to 64 pints  used for dry goods. Or in layman’s terms ………………. rather a lot!

Everything is still as it was when the film was made with one exception, there is now a gift shop. Well of course there had to be one!

Do any of you know the American TV show, American pickers? Well, Si and I watch it all the time back home and here in Le Claire is where the show is based and partly filmed. The name of the shop is actually Antique Archaeology and is owned by Mike Wolfe, one of the pickers.  It’s always surprising how small these places are compared with how they look on TV. Sadly, Mike, Frank (the other picker) or Danielle (she takes care of things while they are both out picking) were not there today but it was exciting to see the place anyway.

You remember I told you yesterday that we staying by the Mississippi River, well below is a photo of a flower that we saw on the river this morning.

Tomorrow we leave Iowa and travel to Columbus, Ohio. One thing we will not miss about Iowa are the dusty roads. Apart from the highways most of the roads are gravel, dusty roads. Beast 3 is already needing a wash!!

Day 68! Winterset to Le, Claire, Iowa

White Lions B&B

White Lions B&B

Kayla, Mark and Hank

Kayla, Hank and Mark

Hank

Hank (so Regal)

Hank sure loves his Mum

Hank sure loves his Mum

It rained!

It rained!

Bike night in Winterset

Bike night in Winterset

Bike night in Winterset - no helmets here!

Bike night in Winterset – no helmets here!

A Harley Davidson

A Harley Davidson

Bike night

Bike night

A Victory bike

A ‘Victory’ bike

We had to say goodbye today to our lovely hosts, Kayla, Mark and Hank as it was time to move on. We’ve had such a wonderful time here at the White Lions B&B and hope to return one day. Kayla and Mark gave us ‘going away’ presents, two Madison County t-shirts. Every time we wear them they will stand as a reminder of the lovely people we met and the super time we had here.

Winterset is truly a treasure and if any of you find yourselves this way then make sure to visit and of course, stay with Kayla and Mark. You just have to sample Kayla’s cooking.

Every third Saturday of the month a ‘bike night’ is held in the town square and last night was that night. The square was full to overflowing with ‘bikers’ who had come from far and wide to meet up, have a drink and listen to music. The range of bikes was truly amazing.

Today started cooler at 64ºF (17ºC) and just before we left the B&B we had a thunder storm with torrential rain. We hadn’t seen rain like that in a long long time. The rain followed us on our way to Le Claire but it’s now sunny and 84ºF (28ºC) so a tad warmer.

Iowa is a very pretty state, it’s lush and green and most of the crops grown here would appear to be corn.

Alas, our first impressions of Le Claire were tainted by the fact that when we checked into our ‘non-smoking’ hotel room, someone had in fact …………… been smoking!!! Our hotel overlooks the Mississippi River and we were on the third floor with a balcony, so the view of the river was lovely. Unfortunately, because we asked to change rooms due to the smell, the only one available was on the ground floor. We are still overlooking the river but the view is not quite so grand but we do have a small patio area.

The next thing we are ‘miffed’ about is Beast 2!! You remember I told you how we went into the Alamo rental facility on Wednesday and they told us we didn’t need to swop the car in? Well, on the way to Le Claire today a warning light came on telling us to ‘change the oil soon’. You can imagine what was said when that appeared. So, this evening we discovered there was a small airport just sixteen miles from the hotel that had an Alamo facility. We went along all ready for a big fight but we were greeted by two of the nicest ladies and they said they could swop the car over very easily and they even had another Ford Edge in dark blue. It turns out that the one they gave us is more highly-speced than the one we returned and is a limited edition. It has a leather interior and if the weather should suddeny turn cold, it has heated seats!!

There is just one other thing to report. Those of you who have been following the blog from the beginning of our trip will know that it soon became apparent very early on, that we would need to purchase a third suitcase as we were running out of space. Well, today we purchased the fourth!! Enough said I think!!

Tomorrow we will visit our own field of corn that grows along the side of a baseball field …. the one from the film ‘Field of Dreams’. I wonder who we will see appearing out of the corn!!

Day 67! Winterset

J, Hank the dog and Gloria

Jay, Hank the dog and Gloria

John Wayne

John Wayne

Si outside John Wayne's home

Si outside John Wayne’s home

So we started the day by saying ‘farewell’ to a lovely couple we met here at the White Lions B&B, Gloria and Jay, from Houston, Texas. The B&B only opened in May and Gloria and Jay were the first guests to ever stay at this wonderful home. Hank, the dog lives at the B&B.

We then went to see John Wayne’s birthplace. He was born here in Winterset on 26 May 1907 weighing in at a hefty 13 pounds! His Dad was a pharmacist who worked on Winterset’s town square before opening his own pharmacy business elsewhere.

As some of you will know, John was born Marion Robert Morrison. He hated his name because he was teased at school for having a girl’s name. He had a very large dog called ‘Duke’ and he used to hang out at the local fire station because the men there were always nice to him. They didn’t know what his real name was but knew his dog, so they always used to say “here comes big Duke and little Duke”. He went home and told his parents that from then on he wanted to be called ‘Duke’ and that’s how he got to be called ‘The Duke’.

The house has had some famous visitors in the past, one of them being President Ronald Reagan.  The town is currently raising funds to open a John Wayne Museum.

Bob Fogler 1a

Bob Fogler Museum Guide

The Bevington-Kaser house

The Bevington-Kaser house

Me in the pharmacy, it is said that Theodore Roosevelt was served through this window!

Me in the pharmacy, it is said that President Theodore Roosevelt was served through this window!

The three-hold privy!

The three-hole privy!

Me 'back at school'

Me ‘back at school’

A lawyer's office

A lawyer’s office

A pioneer mother's note to her daughter on how to wash clothes!

A pioneer mother’s note to her daughter on how to wash clothes

An old petrol pump

An old petrol pump

Log rolling at the County Fair

Log rolling at the County Fair

Winterset's Courthouse

Winterset’s Courthouse

The 'Blue Note' Lounge

The ‘Blue Note’ Lounge from ‘The Bridges of Madison County’

Our next ‘port of call’ was the Madison County Historic Complex or “History on the Hill”. From its humble beginning in 1904, the Madison County Historical Society has developed into a complex which includes 14 buildings located in 18 picturesque acres.

We were advised to make sure we visited the complex before we left Winterset and we are so pleased that we did. It’s a magnificent place full of historical artefacts and old buildings. We were very lucky to be guided around the museum by Bob Fogler, a young man of 84 years, who also told us about his family and lovely wife, Marjory, who showed us around the show piece of the complex, the 1856 Bevington-Kaser House which was constructed by C.D. “Doc” Bevington. The house has been restored and furnished in Victorian richness.

The Bevington-Kaser House and the Limestone (three-hole) Privy are on the National Register of Historic places.

After taking a history lessen we made a quick stop by the County Fair and one of the events taking place was log rolling. Rather them than me, but I guess it was a quick way to ‘cool off’, it’s been rather hot today.

Just to finish off, at the bottom of the post is a photo of the lovely courthouse here in Winterset and one other photo related to ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ film, the ‘Blue Note’ lounge (or it’s really called the ‘Pheasant Run Pub and Grill’). This is where Francesca and Robert ‘got out of town’ for the evening to where no-one would know them. The interior was used for the scene but the outside shot was actually a tractor garage located in Winterset’s City Park! The powers of Hollywood!!

Tomorrow we leave Winterset for another film location, this time in Le Claire, Iowa, to see the baseball field in the film ‘Field of Dreams’.

Day 66! Winterset and ‘The Bridges of Madison County’

Unless you are a covered bridge or The Bridges of Madison County fan then I guess this post is going to be rather uninteresting!!

I’ve been watching The Bridges of Madison County and anyone who has a heart and has seen that film will understand how I feel right now as the tears splash on to the keyboard!!

Twilight was the love story with the happy ending while The Bridges of Madison County is the love story with the heartbreaking ending. If you haven’t seen it then you won’t understand when I say, that when it gets to the part towards the end where Francesca (Meryl Streep) is sat in the truck with her husband and Robert (Clint Eastwood) is stood in the rain staring at here and she reaches for the door handle, even though I know she won’t open it and go to Robert my mind is screaming for her to open it and go with him. What is the right thing to do?

The most famous of the bridges Roseman Bridge. This is the bridge where Francesca pins the note to Robert and I'm pinning mine!

The most famous of the bridges Roseman Bridge. This is the bridge where Francesca pins the note to Robert and I’m pinning mine!

Me pinning my note to the bridge

Me pinning my note to the bridge

The Holliwell Bridge, again used in the film

The Holliwell Bridge, again used in the film

The stone bridge where Francesca and Robert go for their picnic together

The stone bridge where Francesca and Robert go for their picnic together

Middle River Ford where Francesca's two children go to discuss her diaries

Middle River Ford where Francesca’s two children go to discuss her diaries

Is that Clint driving away? This is where they filmed the rain scene at the end of the film

Is that Clint driving away? This is where they filmed the rain scene at the end of the film

The ironing board from the film - it's in the Chamber of Commerce who show the film all the time

The ironing board from the film – it’s in the Chamber of Commerce who show the film all the time. We just got there in time for the heartbreaking scene

Me driving across Cedar Bridge - the only one now able to take traffic

Me driving across Cedar Bridge – the only one now able to take traffic

Roseman Bridge plus a smaller version in the Gift Shop used as a bird feeder!

Roseman Bridge plus a smaller version in the Gift Shop garden used as a bird feeder!

Imes Bridge

Imes Bridge

Hogbackd Bridge

Hogback Bridge

Cutler-Donahoe Bridge

Cutler-Donahoe Bridge

Francesca's house from the film

Francesca’s house from the film

Anyway, today we visited the six covered bridges that Madison County is famous for, including the ones used in the film together with some other locations too. All of the bridges were built between 1870 and 1890, although Cedar Bridge after an arsonist burned it in 2002 was rebuilt to the original plans and consistent building methods and was rededicated in 2004. Here are the photos. Enjoy!

Day 65! Sioux Falls to Winterset, Iowa

OMG, where's the road gone!

OMG, where’s the road gone!

Along the way

Along the way

Smiley at Adair

Smiley at Adair

MV Sergeant Floyd

MV Sergeant Floyd

Sergeant Charles Floyd

Sergeant Charles Floyd

So, as you can see, we are speeding our way across the highways back to New York to stay with our dear friends Dot and John before we fly back home. It doesn’t seem possible that two weeks today we will be home in good ol’ Blighty!!

I’m sorry to have to tell the photographers reading our blog that from now on it is unlikely that we will have anymore mind-blowing photos to post. From here on it’s more likely to be of the holiday-snap variety!!

Today was another five hour drive, some of the roads were the same as yesterday, very straight and not much to see but there were also times when we were treated to hills and trees and the odd photo opportunity.

Today we were introduced to Sergeant Charles Floyd, another U.S. pioneer. Another moving historical story.

When we passed from South Dakota into Iowa we visited a very unusual Visitors Centre. This one was on a boat in dry dock and was called the Sergeant Floyd River Museum and Welcome Centre. The Sergeant Floyd was launched at the Howard Shipyards of Jeffersonville, Indiana on 31 May 1932 and was under the jurisdiction of the Missouri River Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It was named in memory of Sergeant Charles Floyd, a soldier who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their epic 1804 expedition of the Pacific Northwest. In 1803 Lewis was picked by President Thomas Jefferson to lead an expedition through the Northwest. His instructions were to explore the Missouri river. Lewis chose Clark to join him and to share command.

Sergeant Charles Floyd (1782-1804) was one of nine young men from Kentucky chosen to accompany Lewis and Clark on their expedition and he kept a regular journal of the trip from 14 May 1804 until just prior to his sudden and unexpected death on 20 August 1804. It is thought his death may have been caused by a ruptured appendix.

He was buried on the top of Floyd’s Bluff with military honours on 20 August 1804 and the river where the expedition camped that night, was named for Sergeant Floyd. His grave was a well-known landmark but in the spring of 1857 a high and irregular river washed away part of the bluff and exposed his bones, which were seen and rescued. On 28 May 1857 the bones were re-buried approximately 600 feet east of the original grave.

The discovery of Floyd’s Journal and its publication in 1894 led to a search for this second grave site and after finding it the Floyd Memorial Association was formed to recognise the area, mark the grave and construct a suitable monument to the first and only member of that historic expedition to die.

That monument, standing 100 feet high, can be seen today next to the Floyd River. When the bones were studied between 1895 and 1900, photographs were taken of the skull and lower jaw and an impression made of the skull and a plaster cast was formed and the head and face of Sergeant Floyd were reconstructed and is now on display at the Floyd Welcome Centre.

MC 1a

Winterset

Winterset

Our B&B

Our B&B

Winterset

Winterset

The Courthouse in Winterset Town Square

The Courthouse in Winterset Town Square

Me outside the Northside Cafe

Me outside the Northside Cafe

Clint sat here!

Clint sat here!

This says it all!

This says it all!

After reaching Winterset in Madison County and checking into our lovely B&B we set off to find a hairdressers as it was time for another trim (how the time flies).

We are here in Winterset primarily to see the sites where they filmed The Bridges of Madison County (have you watched it yet, did you cry?) so the obvious place to start and to eat at the same time, was the Northside Cafe. This is where one of the scenes was filmed and it’s still possible to sit on the same bar stool that Clint Eastwood sat when he was filming there. The fourth one from the door, so of course I had to do that and have my photo taken too.

I was rather surprised when I started talking to the young waitress that although she knew the significance of where she was working, she has never actually seen the film!! What!!

Winterset is also famous for other things, John Wayne was born here and they have six covered bridges.  These we will be visiting over the next couple of days.

Just a couple of things I forgot to mention yesterday. One, we were talking more about The Homestead we visited that was settled in 1909. The family travelled there in a wagon drawn by a team of horses and the home and outbuildings were dug more or less by hand, some by digging holes in the earth. It was only 60 years later in 1969 that man walked on the moon!!!! Food for thought indeed!

Secondly, for those who have followed our blog from the early days, you will know the story  of Beasts 1 and 2.  Well, we visited the rental facility again yesterday as four weeks had passed and you will be pleased to know that it was a straight forward visit.  We just had to collect a copy of our updated contract and were allowed to keep Beast 2! Hooray! There was no need for us to unpack the car and we didn’t lose USA Licence Plate Game version 2.

Day 64! Rapid City to Sioux Falls, South Dakota

First of all, congratulations to Lisa and Malcolm! Ten points to you both. Lisa, because you knew the film I was referring to was The Bridges of Madison County starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep (anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, watch it now. It’s heartbreaking!) and also to Malcolm because being a guy, he’s probably never heard of The Bridges of Madison County but he knew there was a film called Winterset and also that John Wayne was born there. Your points are in the the post!

Five hours of this!

Five hours of this!

In the middle of nowhere

In the middle of nowhere

On the way

On the way

In the middle of nowhere

In the middle of nowhere

Five hours of this

Five hours of this

Those French get everywhere!

Those French get everywhere!

Five red trucks

Five red trucks

On the way

On the way

Cornhead

Cornhead

On the way

On the way

Today was another driving day, this time to Sioux Falls. It was a five hour drive and the scenery was basically the same all the way and the five hours were spent on one road, the I90, more or less a dead straight one.

Luckily, as always, I spent all the trip with the ‘resident photographer’s’ camera on my lap taking photos as we sped along. Here are a few for you to enjoy.

I keep meaning to say that at the moment the whole of the U.S. is undertaking a major highway refurbishment and I think we’ve been through them all.  My understanding is that the roads in the U.S. were so bad with potholes (a little like us in the U.K. then!) that it was decided to upgrade the Interstate system thereby improving the roads and possibly helping the economy at the same time.

An interesting fact for you, is that under President Eisenhower, one mile in every five of all Interstates had to be perfectly straight to be used in case of emergency aircraft landing!! I bet not many of you knew that!

Another thing I wanted to share with you all was …. roundabouts or circles to those in the U.S. It’s true to say that there are not many roundabouts in the country and on the Montana map we had there was an explanation of how to use them. Well, I’ve been keeping a hold of the map to take a photo of it to share with you all, but now I’ve been and thrown it away! Those in the U.K. would have loved it. I’ll have to keep an eye out for another one.

One more thing I’ve been meaning to say during our visits to the National Parks is, if any of you ever come here and intend on ‘doing’ the National Parks then make sure that at the first Park you visit you buy an Annual Pass, currently for $80 (£55). Some of the Parks can be very expensive and we have saved a butt load of money by getting the Pass. For instance, Yosemite and Yellowstone each charge $25 (£18) per park for a seven-day ticket.

After our overnight stay here in Sioux Falls we move on tomorrow for another film stop in Winterset. See you there!

Day 63! The Black Hills of Dakota (Part 2)

First of all, congratulations to Nat who guessed correctly that The Devil’s Tower is indeed from Close Encounters of the Third Kind! Your ten points are in the post Nat!!

It’s been really hot today, 94ºF (34ºC) so we’ve had to make sure we were drinking plenty of fluids.

Wall Drug Store

Wall Drug Store

What can I say?

What can I say?

Me at the Wall Drug Store (I'm on the right!!)

Me at the Wall Drug Store (I’m on the right!!)

A welcome at the Wall Drug Store

A welcome at the Wall Drug Store

The Prairie Homestead

The Prairie Homestead

The Prairie Homestead

The Prairie Homestead

The Prairie Homestead

The Prairie Homestead

The Prairie Homestead

The Prairie Homestead

A white Prairie Dog at The Homestead

A white Prairie Dog at The Homestead

Welcome to the Badlands!

Welcome to the Badlands!

New life in the Badlands

New life in the Badlands

The Badlands Yellow Mounds Overlook

The Badlands Yellow Mounds Overlook

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

We started the day with a visit to Wall Drug. Now the Americans reading the blog will know what that is but for those back home, Wall Drug is the Wall Drug Store and is a tourist attraction located located in the town of Wall, South Dakota. It is a shopping mall consisting of a drug store, gift shop, restaurants and various other stores. Unlike a traditional shopping mall, all the stores at Wall Drug operate under a single entity instead of being individually run stores. The New York Times has described Wall Drug as “a sprawling tourist attraction of international renown that takes in more than $10 million a year and draws some two million annual visitors to a remote town.”

The small town drugstore made its first step towards fame when it was purchased by Ted Hustead in 1931 with a $3000 legacy. He bought Wall Drug, located in a 231-person town in what he referred to as “the middle of nowhere,” and strove to make a living. Business was very slow until his wife, Dorothy, got the idea to advertise free ice water to parched travellers heading to the newly-opened Mount Rushmore monument 60 miles (97 km) to the west. From that time on business was brisk. Billboards advertising the establishment can be seen for hundreds of miles throughout South Dakota and the neighbouring states.

After ‘buying up the place’ which believe me is very easy to do, we headed off towards the Badlands National Park but along the way we were sidetracked to see one of the most moving things I’ve seen in a long while ………. the Prairie Homestead.

The Prairie Homestead was the original home, known as a sod home, of Mr and Mrs Ed Brown who homesteaded the 160 acres in 1909. All but one of the buildings have survived and just needed a small amount of restoration to bring them back to how they looked when they were originally built!  Homesteading was a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale. Use of the term in the U.S. dates back to the Homestead Act of 1862.

Mr Brown was 55 when he moved part of his family, his wife Alice and grown son, Charles, in a wagon from Nebraska to the Badlands of South Dakota. After 18 months of working the land he was able to pay $80 and receive a patent on the land. This he did.

The home and outbuildings were literally dug out of the ground and it makes you appreciate what hard working, fearless people these pioneers were. Visual memories of homestead days are fast becoming extinct. These pioneers played a very important part in setting the Great Plains of America.

The home had not been lived in since 1949  when In 1962 it was bought by Keith and Dorothy Drew. It was Dorothy who had the desire and vision to restore the Prairie Homestead for future generations to enjoy.

One strange thing we saw today at The Homestead were white Prairie Dogs!!

After spending an enjoyable hour there we moved on to the Badlands National Park. It consists of 242,756 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States. For 11,000 years, Native Americans have used this area for their hunting grounds.

About 75 million years ago the area was covered by a shallow sea teeming with life. In today’s Badlands the bottom of that sea appears as a greyish-black sedimentary rock called Pierre shale and the layer is a rich source of fossils.

Tomorrow we leave Rapid City and drive to Sioux Falls. This is just a stopover on the road to our next main stop, Winterset, Iowa …….. a film stop! Another ten points will be awarded for the first person to tell me which film that may be!!

Day 62! The Black Hills of Dakota (Part 1)

So, with this post we will be all up to date, hooray!

We awoke to a lovely hot sunny day in the Black Hills of Dakota and set off to see the Mount Rushmore National Monument.

Mt Rushmore

Mt. Rushmore

The hordes at Mt. Rushmore

The hordes at Mt. Rushmore

Mt. Rushmore

Mt. Rushmore

Us in fron to Mt. Rushmore

Us in fron to Mt. Rushmore

Fort Hays from Dances with Wolves

Fort Hays (Major Fainborough’s office) from Dances with Wolves

Sandra in the office of Major Famborough

Sandra in the office of Major Fainborough

Major Fainborough's office

Major Fainborough’s office

The bullet hole in the window pane where Major Fainborough shot himself!

The bullet hole in the window pane where Major Fainborough shot himself!

The Rope Shop at Fort Hays

The Rope Shop at Fort Hays

A coffin at Fort Hays!

A coffin at Fort Hays!

Welcome to Deadwood

Welcome to Deadwood

Bill Hickok's Bar & Steakhouse

Bill Hickok’s Bar & Steakhouse

More of those mail boxes!

More of those mail boxes I was talking about yesterday!

Mount Rushmore National Monument is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota. Sculpted by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum.  Mount Rushmore features 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents: George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865).] The entire memorial covers 1,278.45 acres (5.17 km2) and is 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level.

South Dakota historian Doane Robinson is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills region of South Dakota in order to promote tourism in the region.

Robinson wanted it to feature western heroes like Lewis and Clark, Red Cloud and Buffalo Bill Cody but Borglum decided the sculpture should have a more national focus, and chose the four presidents whose likenesses would be carved into the mountain. The memorial began in 1927, and the presidents’ faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. Upon Gutzon Borglum’s death in March 1941, his son Lincoln Borglum became sculptor in charge of the commission and the last drilling was done on  October 31st 1941.

Some of you know that I like my films (movies) so you can imagine how surprised I was today when we were driving down to Mount Rushmore and there on the side of the road was a sign advertising a Dances with Wolves movie site!! Further investigation was required.

On the site there are the buildings that were used in the filming of the Fort Hays scenes in the film. The scenes were actually shot using these buildings sixteen miles away and were supposed to have been torn down after filming was completed but the production company just left them. Someone local bought them and moved them to their current location, had them rebuilt as they were, including the bullet hole in a pane of glass. They have photographs of the shoot, scenes from the movie showing and a behind-the-scenes DVD with Kevin Costner talking about making the film.

There’s a yellow piece of tape on the floor where Kevin Costner stood when shooting the scene where he first went to Fort Hays and spoke to Major Fainborough about a posting and who subsequently shot himself. Of course, I had to stand on that piece of yellow tape!

After that we went to visit Deadwood. The town attained notoriety for the murder of Wild Bill Hickok and the local cemetery remains the final resting place of Hickok and Calamity Jane.  Deadwood became known for its wild and almost lawless reputation, during which time murder was common, and punishment for murders not always fair and impartial.

Day 61! Cody, Wyoming to Rapid City, South Dakota

The road to nowhere!

The road to nowhere!

The long and winding road!

The long and winding road!

The inevitable RV!

The inevitable RV!

Oh dear, an RV wreck on the highway but everyone was okay

Oh dear, an RV wreck on the highway but everyone was okay

Just a nice red barn

Just a nice red barn

On the road scene

On the road scene

Mail Box

Mail Box

A young lady from Ranchester

A young lady from Ranchester

How did he get up there?

How did he get up there?

We didn't see a nodding donkey in Texas but we did in Wyoming!

We didn’t see a nodding donkey in Texas but we did in Wyoming!

Old Glory!

Old Glory!

Granite Pass

Granite Pass

The end of the Rockies

The end of the Rockies

The Devils Tower

The Devils Tower

The Devils Tower

The Devils Tower

Prairie Dog

Prairie Dog

Two cows, two buffalo and one Texas Longhorn passed by the Devils Tower

Two cows, two buffalo and one Texas Longhorn passed by the Devils Tower

Bighorn National Forest

Bighorn National Forest

Well, today we left Cody after a quick visit and set off for Rapid City.  The drive was scheduled to be about six hours ………… which of course turned into nine!!

Once again the terrain we have crossed has been so varied. From lovely green mountains with fir trees to complete desolation. We drove across the Rocky Mountains and the road was very winding and at one point in Granite Pass, we were at over 9000 feet. On the way there were signs pointing out how old some of the rocks were, in one particular area they were 2.5 billion years old!! How can they possibly know that?

The drive across the mountains took so long because it was mostly single-lane road and there were lots of RV’s out and about too, so we stopped for lunch and had a traditional American meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn followed of course with apple pie! It was all delicious.

We then decided to take a little detour of about 60 miles round trip to see something of particular interest to a movie fan ….. me of course! I’ll give ten points to the first person to write in the ‘Reply’ section which movie Devil’s Tower was in!! Of course, there is a lot more to learn about this tower than just being in a movie but I just want to say that today we saw ‘the dark side of the moon’!!

People were living around the tower more than 10,000 years ago and it is still of great importance to the Native Americans who come here and leave prayer offerings. They believe the ‘claw-like- marks on the tower were created by a bear chasing two young girls to the top but it is actually weather erosion.

The area has hundreds of Prairie Dogs, they are so cute and so tame. People are told not to feed them but going by the size of one or two, I think a lot of people are not adhering to the rules!!

One thing we have found interesting on our trip are American mail boxes and we’ve seen a few. I expect most of you know that mail in the US is usually delivered to a box at the end of the property and not as in the UK, actually put through the door. Last week I saw a line of about thirty all stood together. This was because all the houses were dotted about a mountainside so the mailman leaves the mail in all the boxes and the people collect it themselves. Also, we’ve noticed the variety of boxes, some plain, some decorated and some like the one above!! How sweet is that?

I think it’s official now that the older we get the stupider we get.  For some reason and I don’t know why, but every time I talk about Yellowstone I keep calling it Yosemite!! I need to go back and check all the posts because I think I may have been writing Yosemite instead of Yellowstone too!! I think I’ve been on holiday too long, I need to go home for a rest!

We arrived here in Rapid City in very poor weather and the temperature had dropped from 85ºF to 55ºF. Fingers crossed the weather is a little warmer tomorrow!!

Day 60! Leaving Yellowstone for Cody, Wyoming

Saying goodbye! Cheryl on the left and Brogans in the middle!

Saying goodbye! Cheryl on the left and Brogans in the middle!

Goodbye to our cabin

Goodbye to our cabin

Buffalo's Rear!!

Buffalo’s Rear!!

Spot the coyote!

Spot the coyote!

Coyote on the hunt!

Coyote on the hunt!

Beartooth Mountain

Beartooth Mountain

The long and winding road that we travelled along

The long and winding road that we travelled along

Another Yellowstone view

Another Yellowstone view

A view along the way

A view along the way

Wyoming panorama

Wyoming panorama

The Shoshone National Forest sign or as I like to call it The Shoeshine National Forest!!

The Shoshone National Forest sign or as I like to call it The Shoeshine National Forest!!

Storm clouds over Wyoming

Storm clouds over Wyoming

Me outside the Buffalo Bill Historic Centre

Me outside the Buffalo Bill Historic Centre

Buffalo Bill's boyhood home

Buffalo Bill’s boyhood home

A 'little friend' outside BB's home!

A ‘little friend’ outside BB’s home!

So today we said ‘goodbye’ to Cheryl, her dog George and the Brogan family and we came down from the mountain and our Little House on the Prairie for the last time to travel to Cody, Wyoming. Luckily, ‘Margaret’ our sat-nav (GPS) took us the pretty route out of Yellowstone through the Beartooth Pass on the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway via Cooke City. The highest elevation at the Pass being 10,947 feet or 3,345 metres. The road to say the least was very winding and at times breathtaking  and we were once again treated to some of the most magnificent scenery on Earth!

Yet again we were treated to huge herds of buffalo and even found ourselves in the situation of having to wait to cross a bridge because a buffalo had decided he was going first. Poor thing was quite grumpy, he was having a really bad time with all the flies! Still, it gave us time to really study his rear-end. Mine doesn’t seem half as big after staring at his for 10 minutes!!

Then, we noticed a traffic jam ahead and wondered what it could be and coming out of the tall grass to cross the road was a coyote!! He was very thin and his coat very mangey and I certainly wouldn’t want to feel the sharpness of his teeth.

We passed through the Shoshone National Forest (or as I initially called it, The Shoeshine National Forest), while storm clouds had started to gather over our destination at Cody. Still, we didn’t see any rain at all.

We stopped at the Buffalo Bill Historic Centre before checking into our hotal in Cody. It turned out to be a much larger and more magnificent museum than we had expected by far and we really should have had a full day visiting there.  We would certainly recommend anyone visiting Cody to visit the museum. The strangest sign we saw was one on the door that said “No Firearms”. Not a sign we see everyday back home!!

The museum showed every aspect of William F. Cody’s (aka Buffalo Bill) life and times from a small child to his time with his Wild West Show which he toured the UK with and once, performed in front of Queen Victoria. He was instrumental in the building of the town of Cody but his show never performed there.

Day 59! Yellowstone National Park (Part 3)

Elk and Fawn 2a

Elk and Fawn coming down the mountain

Elk and Fawn

Elk and Fawn

Upper Falls from Uncle Tom's Trail

Upper Falls from Uncle Tom’s Trail

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Us at Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Us at Grand Canyon of Yellowstone from Artist’s Point

Artists Point

Artists Point

Is it a mouse?

Is it a mouse?

Dragon's Mouth

Dragon’s Mouth Mud Volcano

Sulphur Cauldron

Sulphur Cauldron

Buffalo above the car park destroying a tree!

Oh my! Wonder who’s upset him!!

Buffalo Herd

Buffalo Herd

Buffalo Herd crossing the road and causing chaos!

Buffalo Herd crossing the road and causing chaos!

Feeding Time!  (Another Sandra 'special'

Feeding Time!
(Another Sandra ‘special’)

Bear and cubs

Bear and cubs

Bear and cub

Bear and cub

The Yellowstone River

The Yellowstone River

Me at the 45th Parallel stood on tiptoe!

Me at the 45th Parallel stood on tiptoe!

And last but not least for the second time this trip ... the Roosevelt Arch!

And last but not least for the second time this trip … the Roosevelt Arch!

As we drove down from the mountain this morning we were treated to the sight of an elk and her fawn crossing the road right in front of us. What a lovely way to start the day!

Today was our last trip to YNP and the weather has been slightly cooler which was a good thing because Simon did the Tom Thumb Trail (aka Uncle Tom’s Trail) which consists of a zig-zag path leading down to 328 metal steps to an overlook of Lower Falls.  It’s said that there are 2,000 steps back up but in reality there’s only 328 plus a lack of oxygen and because of the altitude makes it feel like 2000.

The trail was originally constructed in 1898 by park concessionaire, “Uncle Tom” H. F. Henderson when he was granted a permit to operate a ferry across the Yellowstone River. Henderson ferried park visitors across the Yellowstone River then escorted them to the trail and they travelled down to the base of the Lower Falls via ladders and ropes (even ladies in their long dresses). Upon their return, visitors were provided a picnic lunch on the south rim of the canyon before returning via the ferry. In 1903 when the original Chittenden Bridge was built, Henderson’s ferry business began to decline. In 1905, when the government built a wooden stairway, visitors were increasingly unwilling to pay Henderson the $1 fee for the tour to the base of the falls. 1906 was the last year he operated tours in the canyon. The trail has been maintained and improved by the National Park Service to this day.

During a visit to one of the Visitor Centres today we saw this little mouse-like chap ….. anyone know what it is?

We visited Artists Point in Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon too and saw a man painting this view. Although there are lots of places to view this part of Yellowstone, it is said that this point in the Canyon is the best for painters and photographers.

We visited the Sulphur Caldron and Mud Volcano and although they were not as colourful as the geysers and Prismatic Lake we’d seen before, they were still a wonderful sight to see and watching the mud bubble up and particularly the smell of rotten eggs was quite fascinating.

It was also fascinating to see a buffalo wondering through the car park. Buffalo can outrun man so we were rather worried when it suddenly charged off and jumped over a fence.  We saw it later ripping a branch off a tree. I think us humans had invaded his territory and he was rather cross!

Today was also exciting for a couple of other reasons, firstly we saw a herd of buffalo crossing the main road, some with their calves and later saw a calf feeding from its mother and then to Si’s absolute delight we were treated to the sight of a mother bear with her two cubs, again crossing the main road.

You can be driving along the roadway and suddenly encounter a huge traffic jam and that’s an indication that it’s either a buffalo, bear or elk jam meaning the animals are very close by and of course, everyone stops to take photos.

Then, driving out of the Park we crossed the 45th Parallel which is called the halfway point between the Equator and the North Pole!

Tomorrow we leave our log cabin in the mountains for Cody, Wyoming and Buffalo Bill!

Day 58! Yellowstone National Park (Part 2)

Old Faithfull

Old Faithful

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring

Excelsior Geyser Crater

Excelsior Geyser Crater

Not a sight you see every day!

Not a sight you see every day!

Wonder where he's going!

Wonder where he’s going!

Elk with six points on each antler with his harem!

A buck Elk with six points on each antler with his harem!

The Fishing Hole!

The Fishing Hole!

Today the main focus of our visit to YNP was to see ‘Old Faithful’ which is a cone geyser. It is called the most predictable geographical feature on Earth erupting almost every 91 minutes and each eruption can last from 1.5 to 5 minutes. The average height of an eruption is 145 feet (44 metres) with the highest recorded eruption being 185 feet (56 metres).  It is the most viewed geyser in the Park and each time Old Faithful erupts there are hundreds of people there to record the event.

We also went to have a look at Grand Prismatic Spring. It is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world The lake is known for its turquoise colour and so our ‘resident photographer’ was rather disappointed not to be able to see it due to the rising steam.

The vivid colors in the spring are the result of pigmented bacteria in the microbial mats that grow around the edges of the mineral-rich water

As you travel round the Park, Yellowstone has so many different faces, meadows, mountains, rivers, streams, lakes, canyons and rolling hills it’s no wonder that it was made the first National Park. It covers over two million acres!!

We were lucky today to see a Buffalo treading the highway and a big buck Elk with his harem, they decided to spend the afternoon sitting outside the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.

The last picture is of a small lake we pass when we drive down the mountain ….. we’ve christened it ‘the fishing hole’.

Day 57! Yellowstone National Park (Part 1)

Roosevelt Arch at the entrance to Yellowstone National Park

Roosevelt Arch at the entrance to Yellowstone National Park

Pallete Hot Spring

Pallete Hot Spring

Norris Geyser

Norris Geyser Basin

Norris Geyser

Norris Geyser Basin

Norris Geyser

Norris Geyser Basin

Norris Geyser

Norris Geyser Basin

Norris Geyser Crackling Lake

Norris Geyser Crackling Lake

Norris Geyser

Norris Geyser Basin

Norris Geyser

Norris Geyser Basin

Norris Geyser

Norris Geyser Basin

Si at Mammoth Hot Springs

Si at Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs

Sandra at Yellowstone Lower Falls

Sandra at Lower Yellowstone Falls

Yellowstone Lower Falls

Yellowstone Lower Falls

Buffalo

Buffalo

Buffalo in his mud patch!

Buffalo in his mud patch!

Elk

Elk

Si's bear!

Si’s bear!

First chance Mine up on the mountain

First Chance Mine up on the mountain

Sunset on the mountain

Sunset on the mountain

Sunset on the mountain

Sunset on the mountain

Sunset on the mountain

Sunset on the mountain

We awoke in our log cabin to yet another hot sunny day and after eating a magnificent breakfast cooked and served by Cheryl, we headed out to Yellowstone National Park (YNP).

We have seen some mind-blowing, magnificent sights on our travels across the USA but what we have seen today at YNP outweighs everything we have seen so far.

Yellowstone lies over a hotspot where light, hot, molten mantle rock rises toward the surface. While the Yellowstone hotspot is now under the Yellowstone Plateau, it previously helped create the eastern Snake River Plain (to the west of Yellowstone) through a series of huge volcanic eruptions. The hotspot appears to move across terrain in the east-northeast direction, but in fact the hotspot is much deeper than terrain and remains stationary while the North American Plate moves west-southwest over it.

Over the past 18 million years or so, this hotspot has generated a succession of violent eruptions and less violent floods of basaltic lava. Together these eruptions have helped create the eastern part of the Snake river Plain from a once-mountainous region. At least a dozen of these eruptions were so massive that they are classified as super eruptions.

Yellowstone was established as the world’s first national park in 1872 primarily because of its unparalleled collection of geysers, hot springs, mud pots and steam vents. It is classified as an active volcano and has approximately 2000 earthquakes annually!

The highest point in YNP is Eagle Peak which stands at 11,358 feet above sea level. YNP gets approximately three million visitors a year of which only 140,000 visit in the winter.

The 300 plus geysers make up about two-thirds of all those found on the planet! Combine that with more than 10,000 thermal features and you have a place like no other.

For those who like the technical detail; Geysers are hot springs with narrow spaces in their plumbing, usually near the surface. These constrictions prevent water from circulating freely to the surface where heat would escape.  The deepest circulating water can exceed the surface boiling point (199ºF or 93ºC).

At Norris Geyser Basin a scientific drill hole measured 401ºF or 200ºC at just over 265 feet below the surface. Hot then!!

Hot springs are the most common hydrothermal features in the park. They vary from frothing mocha-like boiling water to clear and calm pools of unfathomable depth. The colours of the hot springs are magnificent and the water is mostly clear.

Travertine terraces are found at Mammoth Hot Springs, where interactions of water and limestone create chalk-white travertine.

The overriding smell where the geysers are is one of sulphur or rotten eggs, although it was nowhere near as bad as we thought it would be!! We were lucky enough to actually see one geyser erupt just as we arrived.

YNP as a whole emits 30-40 times more heat per square feet than the rest of North America.

Wildlife roam freely all over YNP and today we were lucky enough to get ‘up close and personal’ with a buffalo, see a herd of elk and today …………. Si actually got to see a bear in the wild! We also saw an Osprey’s nest high up in the cliffs.

YNP even has its own Grand Canyon called Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and it has a magnificent waterfall (Lower Yellowstone Falls) which looks just like a miniature Niagara Falls with the most wonderful rainbow.

We hiked down to the Lower Falls which are actually twice as high as Niagara Falls at 308 feet (94 metres). The hike is a one-mile round trip with a drop of 600 feet but then of course we had to climb the 600 feet back up to the top, which at the altitude and heat made us a little breathless. The hike is classified as ‘strenuous’.

We were ready for our dinner tonight, Cheryl cooked lasagna with salad and garlic bread and it certainly went down a treat. The other family from England have left and so today we were joined by the lovely Brogan family from the US.

Si took a walk to take some sunset photos for you to enjoy!

Tomorrow we continue our adventure in Yellowstone and will be visiting ‘Old Faithful’.

Day 44! Klamath Falls to Portland (via Crater Lake … again!)

Well ‘what a difference a day makes’ ……. we awoke this morning to bright sunshine, blue skies and it was warm enough to get the shorts back on!!!

Crater Lake 2a

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

Simon and Sandra at Crater Lake

Simon and Sandra at Crater Lake

Sandra at Crater Lake

Sandra at Crater Lake

Chipmunk at Crater Lake

Chipmunk at Crater Lake

Rogue River near Crater Lake

Rogue River near Crater Lake

Rogue River near Crater Lake

Rogue River near Crater Lake

The US Army on manoeuvres

The US Army on manoeuvres

Portland Traffic

Portland Traffic!

As we would be passing Crater Lake again on our way to Portland we decided we should do a little detour to see if Si could take more Lake shots. This is the actual colour of the water, the photo has not been altered at all.

Well, the weather at the Lake was beautiful, such a change from yesterday, although at 8,000 feet the wind was a little chilly.  So, Si got his shots and then we headed off for Portland.  It all turned into an eight hour drive and when we got to Portland it was rush hour, so you can imagine what the traffic was like and to add to that there was a car breakdown and road works!!

We came to the conclusion that the whole of the US Army was on the move today as we passed lots and lots of army trucks on the way out of Crater Lake.

We couldn’t complain about the drive today as about six hours of it was through forests and forests of pine trees.  There’s no shortage of wood in the US that’s for sure.

This is going to be short and sweet today as we are very tired and need to get our beauty sleep!!

More from Portland tomorrow!

Day 43! Crater Lake

Well today, the ‘all-weather’ photographer’s assistant is not so ‘all-weather’, rather ‘under- the-weather’, I’ve managed to get a head cold from somewhere so I’m sneezing and using tissues as though they are going out of fashion!

Crater lake 5a

Crater Lake

When we woke up this morning and it was cloudy but dry we had a little hope that it would be dry up at Crater Lake and we would be able to get good views and Si some good photos.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S. and is fed only by rain and snow (but no rivers or streams) and so is considered to be the cleanest large body of water in the world! The water is exceptional for its clarity and intense blue colour.

The lake rests inside a caldera (a caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption) formed approximately 7,700 years ago when a 12,000-foot-tall (3,600 meters) volcano collapsed following a major eruption. The eruption may have been the largest in North America in the past 640,000 years!

Crater lake 3a

Crater Lake

Alas, when we arrived it was raining. To view the Lake you drive either via the west or east rim drives and we decided to start on the west side.  Good job we did because by the time we came to end of the first half of the drive on the west side the east side drive had been closed off due to the bad weather. As we progressed around the west drive climbing to elevations above 8,000 feet the weather became appalling. We couldn’t see the lake as it was covered in a rolling mist and the rain was pouring down and it was difficult to even see the road which at time was rather hairy as there are no barriers to protect drivers from going off the edge.  We sat for a while in the hope that it would clear but when it didn’t we headed down again.

However, by the time we reached the bottom the sun had appeared and Si was able to grab a few photos of the lake.  Sadly, the blue of the water was not evident all over but just in certain areas.

Crater lake 6a

Crater Lake rim today with snow!

Photographer in the snow!

Photographer in the snow!

One thing that surprised us as well was the amount of snow from the bottom to the top of the Lake. They have an annual snowfall of 43.5 feet (13.2 meters) and start to clear the snow in April ready for the 500,00 visitors that come every year. The lake last froze over in 1949.

It would have been a very beautiful place to see if the sun had been shining so we’ll just have to mark it down for another visit in the future.

Mummy bird at Crater Lake

Mummy bird at Crater Lake

Baby bird at Crater Lake

Baby bird at Crater Lake

We didn’t see much wildlife today but did see the two birds below, mummy and baby.

Crater lake 8aCrater lake 7aAlso below, are another couple of photos we took on the drive back today.

Oh, and before I forget …………… Si had his wish come true today and he saw a bear! “At last” I hear you say!  Well, here’s the photographic proof!! Ha, ha, ha. I bought it for him in the gift shop at Crater Lake.

Si's bear!!

Si’s bear – Bruno!!

 

Day 42! Mount Shasta to Klamath Falls, Oregon

I’m sorry to say there’s not much to report today!! We’ve driven up from Mount Shasta to Klamath Falls but it only took us a couple of hours and it rained most of the way.  The clouds are very low over the mountains.

Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta – the best shot we could get!

Again, the best shot we could get!

Again, the best shot we could get of Mount Shasta

We did have one stroke of luck as we left Mount Shasta and that was to arrive at a view point of the mountain just as the sun came out for a second and showed the snow on top.

We are supposed to be ‘doing’ Crater Lake tomorrow before moving onto Portland on Thursday but we are told the weather will be bad again so we will have to wait and see what occurs in the morning.

I’m sure there must be some good shops around here somewhere!! Maybe we could get Si that extra jumper.

Photographer's Assistant!

Photographer’s Assistant!

Sand and choc

Me doing what I do best ……….. eating chocolate!

As we are a little short on photos today, here’s a funny shot of me taken in the rain yesterday and one Si took today of me eating chocolate!! How come I never manage to get a funny picture of Si?

The hotel we are in at the moment is giving away free soup and bread at 4.30 pm so as it’s such an awful cold day, only 56 degrees F. at the moment, perhaps us ‘old folk’ should trundle down to take advantage of their kindness to feed the poor and hungry!!

Day 41! Mount Shasta

Well today was a bummer on one front but good on two others!!

We awoke this morning to rain and a temperature of 46 degrees F. So it was on with the jeans and wet coats.  We came to see Mount Shasta but alas as of yet we haven’t been able to see it because most of it is covered in mist.  Fingers crossed we get to see it before we leave tomorrow.

The new Licence Plate Game

The new Licence Plate Game

The two good things were, one: we have a new LPG (License Plate Game).  Hooray! Who would have thought that in a small town like this that we would walk into a book store and they would have one. As we are halfway into our holiday, we think we will start over with the game and see how we get on from now until we get back to New York and see if we can do as well as we did with the first one.  I think I’ll put this one on a chain around my neck to make sure we don’t lose it!!

The second good thing was ………….. I managed to find a lovely hairdresser, Mary from Studio B. here in the town to colour my hair. She did a really good job and I look decent again.

McCloud Lower Falls

McCloud Lower Falls

McCloud Middle Falls

McCloud Middle Falls

Us at McCloud Middle Falls

Us at McCloud Middle Falls

The photographer's 'all-weather assistant'

The photographer’s ‘all-weather assistant’

As our plans had to be changed due to the weather, we decided to do a small hike to see the beautiful McCloud lower and middle falls.  The area was once inhabited by Wintu Native Americans and they named the Lower Falls ‘Nurum-wit-ti-dekki’ meaning Falls Where The Salmon Turn Back.

Archaeological excavations in 1986 at Fowlers Campground by the Falls, revealed that the Native Americans came on a seasonal basis about one thousand years ago. They used the camp as a base for hunting, processing food and fishing.

You will notice that the photographer has his ‘all-weather photographic assistant’ with him today, carrying the tripod.  For the fashionistas among you, you may like to know what the modern ‘all-weather photographic assistant’ is wearing this season and who dresses her!! Well, our model today is wearing The Jeggings and a Limited Collection grey sweater from the world-famous Marks and Spencer store at The Meadows, Camberley, her wet jacket is courtesy of a stall at The New Forest Show in Hampshire (August 2011), her hiking shoes are from the Bass store at the Waterloo Premium Outlets in New York (thank you Dot for the introduction) and her leather backpack comes courtesy of a store (name unknown) in Guildford, Surrey.

Especially for you Nat, today we actually used the camera remote and it worked first time so there was no need for swearing, cursing or foot stamping by the photographer!!

Si has become obsessed with bears during this holiday and he’s expecting to meet one around every corner!! There was a small spat between us in the middle of the forest while visiting the Falls today as we both felt the need to carry the tripod so that we had a weapon to defend ourselves should that bear appear. As I am more agile and can run faster than my husband I decided to let him carry it most of the way!!

Tomorrow we leave Mount Shasta for Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.  See you there!!

Day 40! Yosemite to Mount Shasta, Northern California

It’s so lovely to be back in contact with the world!

The Beast 2

The Beast 2

Today was a driving day.  It occurs to me that I haven’t posted a photo of our new chariot, ‘the beast 2’ so here it is! This one’s a little smaller and only seats five people!!

We left our fabulous B&B and the lovely people we met there and are now ensconced in Mount Shasta.  The weather’s a bit of a shock, at the moment it’s cooler and cloudy.  We had some rain on the way here but only a cupful.  We have come to the conclusion that we have probably seen the last of the very hot weather and plan on getting our jeans out tomorrow.  Hey ho!

Lake Shasta

Lake Shastina

Northern California seems to be the home of fruit growing.  We passed through miles and miles of fruit trees, nut trees and acres and acres of sunflowers.  Then it turned mountainous and very green with lots of fir trees. I was taking photos as we travelled but this is about the best one, a view of Lake Shastina (not bad for being taken through the car window).

Tomorrow we explore the Mount Shasta area.

PS: For those taking an interest in Si’s eating habits, tonight he had a beef short rib ……….. he said it was fabulous.  I should have taken a picture of the look of pleasure on his face!!!!

Day 39! Yosemite National Park

Well today was interesting!! We decided to do a small hike, just a two-mile round trip that should have taken 1.5 hours!! Being the Brits that we are we set off about 11.30 a.m. just in time for the hot midday sun. The lady at the Information Centre told us to take plenty of water and at the time we thought that as the hike was only going to take a short amount of time so the water we were carrying would be plenty. How wrong can two people be!!

The rock before the hike!

The rock before the hike! That’s me trying to stop it from rolling any further!!

The hike we were going to do was the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail to Columbia Rock with an elevation of 1,000 feet above the valley floor, so in total about 5,000 feet above sea level.

The summary of the hike was that Columbia Rock is a massive granite rock jutting from the north canyon wall a thousand feet above Yosemite Valley with the rail-lined overlook atop the 5,031-foot rock offering a distance and detailed view of the valley. The hike follows the first steep mile of the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail – with the aid of 60 switchbacks – through oak and manzanita groves. The trail was built in the 1870s by John Conway and his crew.

Not even a quarter of the way yet!

Not even a quarter of the way yet!

Upper Yosemite Falls - this is where we should have turned round!!

Upper Yosemite Falls – this is where we should have turned round!!

Help! I'm exhausted.

Help! I’m exhausted.

Upper Yosemite Falls - I'm feeling a lot better now!

Upper Yosemite Falls – I’m feeling a lot better now!

Upper Yosemite Falls and Half Dome

Upper Yosemite Falls and Half Dome

So, we set off at a steady pace in the sunshine.  Yesterday was a lovely day but cool so we expected today would be much the same but no, it’s been much hotter. The path we were on first of all was gritty sand and the incline rose slowly.  We stopped at various points to admire the view, take photos and refresh ourselves.  However, it became apparent after about two hours that we had gone wrong somewhere!! We soon found ourselves climbing over fallen rocks and up very steep inclines.  One man told us we had about another 15 minutes to walk until we reached the end of the hike and then another told us it was at least an hour. By now we were starting to feel rather tired and our water was running low.  Every time we turned a bend we were confronted with more steep slopes to climb and fallen rocks. To cut a very long hike (story) short, we consulted our hiking book again and soon realised that we had already reached our destination about an hour earlier and should have turned back then!!

Are we stupid or what! I told Si it was all his fault of course as he was the one who picked the hike in the first place and he should have realised sooner that we had been hiking for far too long.  Us ladies know that it’s always the man’s fault, not the lady’s!!!!

We were in fact now doing the 7.2 miles round trip that takes six hours to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Point.  This is usually undertaken by the more experienced climbers, not just us hikers.  We decided the best thing to do was turn around and start the long decent.  Well, as is usually the way, the decent was worse than the ascent.  The rocks were slippery and the sand very difficult to walk on.  Good exercise for the legs though and the views were magnificent!

In the end the ‘small’ hike took us 5.5 hours and we covered seven miles and were at an elevation of about 6,500 feet above sea level.

The snake - anyone know which snake this is?

The snake – anyone know which snake this is?

We saw a snake on our travels and a blue-jay seemed to follow us all the way up and down the hike, every so often it appeared that he was laughing at us.

We hadn’t eaten anything substantial since breakfast so were very tired, dirty and hungry when we returned to the B&B and didn’t feel like going out to dinner but the day was saved when Scelestia here at the B&B kindly offered to share their wonderful family dinner of lasagne, salad and wine with us. It was like manna from Heaven!!

Our B&B

Our B&B – Yosemite Rose

Tomorrow (Sunday) we leave Yosemite and move on to Mount Shasta in Northern California and there hopefully, we’ll be able to update the blog for the past three days.

Day 38! Yosemite National Park

Where’s BT Infinity when we need it!! Still can’t post to the blog so am typing this for when normal service is resumed.  Hopefully on Sunday (and here we are!)

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

Cathedral Rock

Cathedral Rock

We spent Friday enjoying the wonder that is Yosemite National Park. There are many magnificent things to see and photograph and we captured a few of them.

Yosemite covers an area of 761,268 acres and is visited each year by over 3.7 million visitors. It is internationally recognised for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams and giant sequoia groves. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness. The park has an elevation range from 2,127 to 13,114 feet (648 to 3,997 m).

We felt as though we were at the

There are climbers on El Capitan!! Can you see them?

There are climbers on El Capitan!! Can you see them?

top of the world today when we reached the end of the road at Glacier Point.  It stands at an elevation of 7,214 feet (2,199 m) and there is a sheer drop of 3,200 feet (980 m) to Curry Village standing below. You need a good head for heights to peer over the barrier that’s for sure.

Here they are!!

Here they are!!

El Capitan

El Capitan

Tunnel View with Half Dome

Tunnel View with Half Dome the first view that Euro-Americans ever had of this magnificent place

Us at Tunnel View

Us at Tunnel View

Yosemite

Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point

Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point

Si at Glacier Point

Si at Glacier Point

El Capitan is a vertical rock formation 3,000 feet from base to summit along it’s tallest face and is one of the world’s favourite challenges for rock climbers. Today we were treated to such a spectacle and saw climbers on the sheer walls. Some of those who undertake the climb will do it over two days, so get to the halfway point, string up a hammock and spend the night suspended on the side of the rock before finishing their climb next day.  We were told that some of the more really extreme climbers have scaled it in two hours!!!!!! It would take us two years!!

Tomorrow (Saturday) we return to hike some of the less challenging trails.

Tonight for dinner we found a little gem of a place called Charlotte’s Hotel in Groveland. Great food, super atmosphere and was very popular with the locals. Not your typical American food, instead they served small plates of different foods that people could share instead of everyone getting oversized portions that mostly end up being thrown away.

Day 37! Las Vegas to Yosemite, California

Today we are bereft on two fronts! First of all we left Vegas, which we think of as a second home as we feel so comfortable there (I tried to persuade Si that we should cancel everything and spend the rest of our trip there but he wouldn’t do it!) and secondly we have lost a travelling companion!!

Licence Plate Game 1aAlas, we no longer have LPG (Licence Plate Game) travelling with us.  We are so sad that he has gone.  It appears that when we swopped the car over last Sunday and in all the confusion he got left behind on the back seat of ‘the beast’ and is now travelling far and wide with another family.  All I can hear in my head is his little voice when he saw us driving out of the car rental facility calling ‘wait, stop, you’ve left me behind’.  We didn’t realise until this morning that he was missing.  We feel like Tom Hanks in Cast Away when he realises he’s lost Wilson the basketball and he sobs uncontrollably ……….. we now know how he feels. LPG served us well for the first five weeks and five thousand miles of our trip and if we ever see his like again you can be sure we will snap him up. At least we have a photograph of LPG so we’ll never forget him.

Brothel 1a

Saw this on our drive today! Um, interesting!!

So, we drove from Las Vegas to a place called Groveland today which is just on the outskirts of Yosemite and we are staying in a lovely old B&B. We went to the local golf club for dinner (no photos of that I’m afraid) and were treated to the wonderful spectacle of deer coming out for their dinner too. We didn’t manage to get a photo of the deer Golf Coursebut here’s one of the golf course.

Goldfield 1aDriving today we saw lots of different landscapes, we had barren desert, forests, lakes and best of all snow-capped mountains and a glimpse of Half Dome at Yosemite.  We even reached the dizzy heights of 10,000 feet above sea level. The temperature has gone from 102 degrees in Las Vegas to 64 degrees here!! Yosemite 1st View 1a

Lake in Yosemite

Lake in Yosemite

We managed to sort out the problems we were having with uploading photos over the past couple of days so here’s a few pics taken while we were at the Bellagio and especially for Steve Blewitt, here’s Si eating and drinking!!!!

Tomorrow we will spend the day at Yosemite and I think we will have to put away our summer gear and get the jeans out ……… it’s going to be cooler!! Sand Pool

What stomach!!??

What stomach!!??

Si and his Tennessee Highball!

Si and his Tennessee Highball!

Sandra and her Nigori Aviation!!!!!

Sandra and her Nigori Aviation!!!!!

The cheese plate!

The cheese plate!

One of the pools at the Bellagio

One of the pools at the Bellagio

The pianist at the Petrossion Bar at the Bellagio
The pianist at the Petrossion Bar at the Bellagio

Oops, forgot to include the prairie dog we saw when we first entered Yosemite!

Oops, forgot to include the prairie dog we saw when we first entered Yosemite!

Update!

We are currently staying just outside of Yosemite National Park and the wifi is very poor so don’t be surprised if you don’t see any additional blogs for a few days or it may be that we don’t post any photos.

Hopefully, normal service will be resumed once we move on.

Day 36! Las Vegas

Today was our final rest day in Las Vegas.

We had a lovely day, spending the morning around the pool and then we went and did the one thing that just has to be done on a Vegas holiday and that is to visit the Petrossian Lounge here at the Bellagio Hotel to partake of their cheese plate and to drink cocktails.

The cheese plate consists of about a dozen different cheeses, fig, raisins, slices of apple, apricots and something that kind of tastes like liquorice and to go with the cheese is three types of bread and crackers!!  It is one of the best things ever!! There is also someone playing the grand piano.

We took some photos of us enjoying the cheese plate and cocktails particularly for one of our followers, Steve Blewitt, to enjoy!! They were taken taken on my phone as we didn’t have a camera with us but for some reason I’m currently having trouble getting them onto the laptop so no photos today I’m sorry to say but once we sort out the problem we’ll post them.

This evening we enjoyed Celine Dion’s new show at Caesar’s Palace. She has the most magnificent voice and this time she had a great orchestra with her. Her dresses were beautiful and the light show was amazing.

As there’s no photos today, here’s a video for all the Celine fans following the blog to enjoy!! This video is from her last tour. (I don’t own the rights or anything to the video).

Alas, we will be leaving Vegas tomorrow without winning our fortune but we’ve had a great time.  It’s another long driving day as we head for Yosemite National Park.

Day 35! Las Vegas

So today is rest day two.  We spent this morning around the pool again and Si went off and took some photos of the Bellagio reception and atrium.

Bellagio Reception

Bellagio Reception

The atrium is re-dressed four times a year to mark the changing of the seasons.

The light house: the first lighthousesBellagio Atrium 1a were built by the Egyptians as far back as 283 A.D. to guide ships away from rocks and land and bring them safely into harbour.  The first lighthouse in America was built in Boston Harbour in 1716 on Little Brewster Island.  This one is 32ft tall and has a real working light on top.

Bellagio Atrium 6aThe greenhouse is 13ft high, 36ft long and 14ft wide and at the moment is home to lots of beautiful birds i.e. Rosey Bourke, Parakeets, Canaries, Cockatiels and 50 Finch birds in nesting units.

The bridge is 24ft long and 6ft tall and the tree house is approximately 15ft tall.

Bellagio Atrium 8aThe chocolate fountain (photo below, especially for Steve Blewitt) is the largest in the world and is made up of white, medium and dark confectionary grade chocolate.  It has over 500 feet of stainless steel piping, and the chocolate rises 27 vertical feet from the lower level pump room.  It took two years of engineering, planning and design. Quote from the Guinness World Records Ltd:  The largest chocolate fountain measures 8m (26ft 3ins) tall and circulates 2 tons of chocolate (4409 pounds) at a rate of 120 quarts per minute. Is that enough chocolate for you Steve?

Bellagio Atrium 4a

Bellagio Atrium 3aBellagio Atrium 7a

Approximtely 25,000 flowers make up this snail!

Approximtely 25,000 flowers make up this snail!

Bellagio Atrium 3a

Bellagio Atrium 5a

Flowers outside Sensi restaurant in Bellagio

Flowers outside Sensi restaurant in Bellagio

The chocolate fountain in Bellagio

The chocolate fountain in Bellagio

Pawn Shop 2aPawn Shop 4aPawn Shop 3aThis afternoon we went Downtown and visited the most famous ‘Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in the World’.  For those who don’t know, there is a programme on Sky TV on the History Channel (don’t know if it’s on cable too) called Pawn Stars and it’s about     this shop in Vegas owned and run by the Harrison family. They are Richard aka the ‘old man’, his son Rick, Rick’s son Corey and Corey’s friend from school, Chumlee.  There’s usually huge queues to get in but we were lucky today and we didn’t have too long to wait.  Sadly, we missed them because they were in the shop this morning but this afternoon we were told they were ‘out the back’ filming.  Still, it was great to actually be there to see the shop first hand.

Day 34! Las Vegas

The blog for the next three days is going to be rather lacking I’m afraid as there’s not a lot of action this end as we are on a total rest period to recoup after the first four weeks of our big adventure.

Today has been rest day number one which included lazing around the pool, fine dining and gambling (no big wins today!) so today’s blog is rather short. We found an Elvis slot machine that’s rather a lot of fun and we had a few wins but when it came to the big wins then Elvis had definitely ‘left the building!’ We did have some photos to post but it seems as though most of them have taken a leaf out of our book and are having a rest day too because for some strange reason we can’t get them to load. Will have that sorted out by tomorrow when we should also have photos of the atrium here at the Bellagio.  Each season the atrium is changed to represent the time of year and they do an excellent job.  Thousands come to the hotel every day just to look at it. They are never disappointed.

We did buy two tickets today to go and see Celine Dion’s new show at Caesar’s Palace on Wednesday evening (Tony, sorry you can’t be here to enjoy the show with us).  We saw her original show here in Vegas a few years back and it was excellent.

Anyway, I’ll say ‘goodnight’ as it’s nearly midnight here and we have another hard day ahead of us tomorrow so we need our beauty sleep and leave you with another look at the sight I’m looking at right now, the fabulous Las Vegas strip.

The Las Vegas strip at night from our hotel window

The Las Vegas strip at night from our hotel window

Day 33! Panguitch to Las Vegas

The Las Vegas strip at night from our hotel window

The Las Vegas strip at night from our hotel window

The Las Vegas strip during the day from our hotel window

The Las Vegas strip during the day from our hotel window

Me with my 'big win'.

Me with the ‘big win’.

Well it’s official, we are all arched, canyoned and hiked out so have  come to Las Vegas for a rest!! I know, ‘a rest’ you say! Yes, for the next three days we will lounge around the pool, weather permitting, yesterday we had temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees and today in Las Vegas it’s currently about 100 degrees and we are told that last week it reached 112 degrees, so quite warm! After sunning ourselves we will eat good food, drink good wine and do a little gambling.  Speaking of which, tonight we had dinner and then had a quick look around the casino because we’ve had quite an exhausting day and are a little weary and gambled $20 (£13 ) on a Monopoly machine and won …………… $440 (£300).  So, all in all a good start to our little ‘break’.

Teepee 1aOn the drive from Panguitch this morning we saw three interesting things but alas, did not have the camera handy so couldn’t take photos.  First, was a red and white lighthouse in the middle of the desert, second was a sign on the interstate saying ’80 mph’ …. how many of those do you see in the UK and thirdly was a large roundabout, how many of those do you see in the US ….. answer, not many.

It was our intention to stop off at Zion National Park this morning but the crowds were so bad we decided to give it a miss.  We have been to Zion so it was no big deal.  We did see this tepee on the way out though. Bookings being taken now!!

Arizona 1a

We passed briefly through Arizona today on our way to Nevada

Day 32! Bryce Canyon

First of all a ‘funny’ tale!! Peggy who owns the B&B we are staying at here in Panguitch was telling us this morning a story about when she first located from California to Panguitch, many years ago.

Her friend had a very old cocker spaniel dog that went missing one day. Peggy helped in the search but they were unable to find it so they called in the local tracker who also went in search of the animal but returned with the sad news that the dog had been taken by a mountain lion!  Then, he turned and in the distance saw a coyote and instantly and in front of Peggy and her friend, shot it dead! He did that because there’s a bounty in the area and if you kill a coyote and cut off the two ears, you get a reward of $50!!  Peggy knew her life would never be the same again!!!!!!!

Bryce Canyon 6a

Can you see Thor’s hammer to the right of centre?

Bryce Canyon 5aBryce Canyon 9aBryce Canyon 12aBryce Canyon 19aBryce Canyon 17aBryce Canyon 20aBryce Canyon 18a

Ground Squirrel

Ground Squirrel

Bryce Canyon 16a

Old car in Bryce Canyon today

Bryce Canyon 8aBryce Canyon 14aBryce Canyon 11aRed Canyon Tunnel 1aBruyce Canyon 2aBryce Canyon 13aBryce Canyon 7aBryce Canyon 15aBruyce Canyon 3a

What the modern day hiker should be wearing!

What the modern day hiker should be wearing!

So, today we did the other half of Bryce Canyon and did two hikes. One was the famous Navajo Loop trail that starts at 7800 feet above sea level, drops down to 7400 feet and then you have to climb back up again!! Luckily, a lot of it was in the shade. We did it nice and early before it got really hot. Our second hike was at 9115 feet on the Bristlecone Trail but this one was not so steep on the climbs. Some Bristlecones have been found to be between 4000 and 5000 years old!!

We also had a lucky day seeing deer, fawns, chipmunks and ground squirrels.  The difference, for those who like to know these things, between a chipmunk and a ground squirrel is that a chipmunk has stripes on its head and a ground squirrel does not!!  This is what another traveller told us so I’m open to correction!

Day 31! Bryce Canyon, Utah

Sevier River 1a

Sevier River

We started the day with haircuts!! I’ve had the same hairdresser, John, for over 35 years but alas, as we couldn’t bring him with us to the US we had to find someone else to trim the locks.  It was quite a nervy experience trying someone new but we were very lucky in finding a lovely young lady called Jessica who works for Rumours here in Panguitch. In her spare time she’s a barrel racer in the rodeo.  She’s very petite so she should be able to ride around those barrels really fast. She did an excellent job in making us look decent again. While we were waiting for our appointment we had a run up to Panguitch lake and passed this lovely river along the way.

Bryce Canyon 4a

Bryce Canyon

After lunch we drove to Bryce Canyon and were once again blown away by the magnificence of it.

Bryce Canyon 5a

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon 2a

Natural Arch in Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon, which despite its name, is not a canyon but a collection of giant natural  amphitheaters.  Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by  frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views. The rim at Bryce varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet.

The Bryce Canyon area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded in the area in 1874. The area around Bryce Canyon became a National Monument in 1923 and was designated as a National Park in 1928.

Bryce Canyon 1a

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon 3a

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon 7a

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon 6a

Bryce Canyon

LHOP 1a

LHOP ……. Little House On The Prairie

Red Canyon 1a

One of the Red Canyon tunnels

Tomorrow we will be hiking some of the trails we were not able to do today.  Because Bryce is high above sea level the temperature is lower than we had in Moab and today was a fairly pleasant 79 degrees.

As we were leaving Bryce Canyon we had to stop and make way for a wrangler and his trail horses.  Again, something else you don’t see at home. The photo was taken through the car windscreen.

Day 30! Moab to Panguitch, Utah

Today was a travel day.  We left the wonders of Canyonlands and Arches National Park behind and are now in Panguitch ready for a visit tomorrow to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Here are some photographs of things we saw on our trip. There was nothing terribly exciting to take pictures of apart from lots of dust being blown across the road.

B&B 1aWe are staying at a lovely bed and breakfast which makes a change from hotel chains. We’ve already met some lovely people and one lady is a big fan of Downton Abbey!!Day 30 2a

Road Train! (Just for you Bro!)

Road Train! (Just for you Bro!)

Take your RV and your car at the same time!

Take your RV and your car at the same time!

Day 30 5aDust Storm 1aDay 30 1a

Day 29! Moab

Oh my goodness, we have just returned from one of the best meals we have ever had. Jeffrey’s Steakhouse in Moab … if you are ever here then try it!  Being a gin and tonic drinker I just had to try the French 75, (well I had two actually) and they were the best G&T’s I’ve ever had.  In fact, I’m surprised that this blog is being updated at all today!!

Double Arch 2a

Double Arch

Double Arch 1aDouble Arch 4a

We ‘finished off’ Arches National Park today.  It’s been very hot but not quite as hot as yesterday.  There’s been an odd cloud or two!!

That's brave Si waving - it's a sheet drop the other side!

That’s brave Si waving – it’s a sheer drop the other side!

We continue to be in awe of the arches here and how magnificent they are.  Also, today we were lucky to actually see some wildlife (Muskrat, lizard and a frog) and lovely flowers all over the desert.

Si and I had a ‘discussion’ concerning sheep rock! He thought it looked like a dog but I thought it was a sheep.  It was confirmed later that I was indeed correct because it is officially known as ‘Sheep Rock’.  Women always know best!!

Petroglyphs 1a

Petroglyphs

We visited the petroglyphs and learned that Utah was named after the Ute Indians who are believed to have left them and were done sometime between 1650 and 1850 A.D. The stylised horse and rider surrounded by bighorn sheep and doglike animals are typical of Ute rock art. Today, this rock art panel is very important to many Native Americans of the region because it was created by their ancestors.

One thing I keep meaning to say is how impressed we are with the toilets in the desert! No matter where in the desert we are there are toilets that are clean and always smell lovely and as there’s no water available to wash hands there is usually a hand sanitizer to use instead.

Just what a girl needs ... a picture of her rear!

Just what a girl needs … a picture of her rear!

Also, we can’t help but be impressed with the organisation of moving so many people and cars around the parks. So far, there hasn’t been any queues and there’s plenty of parking.

Oh well, at least I look thinner in this one!

Oh well, at least I look thinner in this one!

Desert Flower 1a

Desert flower

Muskrat 2a

Muskrat

Muskrat 1aLizard 1aFroggie 1a

Is this a sheep or a dog?

Is this a sheep or a dog?

Last of all, it occurred to me that the folks back home might like to see what I’m on about when I’m talking about the Licence Plate Game!! Well, there’s a pic down below.  You will see that each block shows the State’s name i.e. New York and underneath that it is the capital of that State. You can see that we  have just two States to see on a licence plate and they are Delaware and Hawaii.

It might also be of interest if I tell you where we have visited so far and you will see how far we have crossed the country.

So far we have visited New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Arizona and Utah.

One of the more stranger things we saw today was a man in a skirt (and he wasn’t even Scottish!) … photo below!!

Sand Dune Arch 1a

Si at Sand Dune arch

PS: I knew I wasn’t on top of things today, I’ve just realised I’ve missed out three photos. One of Si at Sand Dune arch, the second of him emptying sand out of his shoes and a photo of Skyline arch

Skyline arch

Skyline arch

!

Si emptying the sand from his shoes!

Si emptying the sand from his shoes!

Man in a skirt!

Man in a skirt!

Licence Plate Game 1a

Day 28! Moab

First of all I would like to give a ‘shout out’ to Karen from Calgary, Canada who we met on the tour of Antelope Canyon and who is now following our blog.  It was lovely to meet you Karen. Enjoy the blog!

Mesa Arch with the reflection of the rising sun

Mesa Arch with the reflection of the rising sun

Mesa Arch 6a

Mesa Arch with the shining sun

So, today was another lovely, easy day at the ‘office’ …… not!  We left the hotel this morning at 4.45 a.m. to go back to Mesa Arch in Canyonlands to take photos of the sunrise. Just as we pulled into the parking area a coach full of tourists (I know, we are tourists too, but when we saw how many there were our hearts sank) arrived too …. nightmare! Why do these things always happen? Because there were so many people and a lot of them were inconsiderate and had no idea of photography etiquette things got a little heated with the photographers who had been there for some time.  Well, when one stepped in front of Si’s tripod just as he was taking photos then of course words were exchanged and  I think we got sworn at in a foreign language but Si was not having any of it.Mesa Arch 8a

Mesa Arch 4a

Mesa Arch 1a

We arrived down at the arch to find people already there, cameras on tripods just waiting for 6.00 a.m. when the sun was due to arrive.  There was one young Italian photographer who had left his hotel at 3.00 a.m. just to get a good spot. It was well worth the early start as you will see from the photos.

We though these looked like Meerkats!

We thought these looked like Meerkats!

Balanced Rock - how's that staying up there?

Balanced Rock – how’s that staying up there?

After a short rest we then made our way to Arches National Park, another wonder to behold.  The arches are formed by erosion into the most amazing shapes.  It has taken millions of years for these arches to form and one could be standing today and tomorrow be just a pile of rubble.

The Anasazi Indians first settled on the land in 1000 AD and petroglyphs (photos tomorrow) still exist and so proving they were here.

The start of our climb!

The start of our climb!

One of the most famous arches is called Delicate Arch.  We’ve seen it from a distance on a previous visit but decided that today was the day to do the three-mile round hike to get a closer look.  We set off along the trail and soon realised that this would not be an easy hike in temperatures of 90 degrees.  We rounded a bend and could see people way off in the distance but couldn’t believe that was the trail we would be going on.  The climb rises to 500 feet by way of a steady incline passing over soft sand, flat rocks and steps that have been carved out of rock.

We met people on their way back and they all kept saying things like “a ways to go yet” and “it’s very windy up there so hold on to your hats.” We kept walking steadily getting higher and higher and thought we would never reach the top.  About half way it started to get a little hard to breath and my little knees felt a tad wobbly but we kept going one foot at a time, thinking all the while that perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea after all but that British Bulldog spirit kept us going until at last we reached the top and there it was, Delicate Arch in all its magnificence.

Do we really have to climb up there?

Do we really have to climb up there?

The people who warned us about the wind were not wrong ………. it wasn’t a wind blowing it was a gale.  We had to take off our glasses and hats for fear they would be whipped away. The ledge up top was not that big and two steps back could have been a disaster.  It would be true to say we were more than a little concerned for our safety.  Si took his photos very quickly and we started the descent.  Of course it was much easier on the way back as most of it was downhill and we were glad we did it but I don’t think we’ll be going back anytime soon.

We were both wearing our Antique Archaeology (from a US TV show called American Pickers) t-shirts today and at the end felt they were very appropriate because we felt like a couple of right old fossils!!

Sandra not looking her best after the long climb but it's just around the bend

Sandra not looking her best after the long climb but it’s just around the bend

At last! Delicate Arch 1a

At last … Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch 2a

You can see why they call it Delicate Arch

On the way back down

On the way back down

The way down

The way down

At last, the car park in the distance

At last, the car park in the distance

At last! Delicate Arch 1a

Delicate Arch in all its glory!

 

Day 27! Moab

CY11aCY10aToday we ‘did’ Canyonlands National Park or at least the part known as the ‘Island in the Sky’. The colourful landscape has been created due to erosion which in turn has created countless canyons, mesas and buttes by the Colorado River, the Green River and their respective tributaries.

The day started with the temperature in the high 80’s and by the time we left it was touching 100 degrees.  Hot weather for hiking in that’s for sure but the magnificence of Canyonlands made it worth the toil and sweat!!

CY8aCY4aIt has taken 245 million years for CY9aCY7aCanyonlands to look as it does today.  Asking how sandstone is made we were told that it’s sand, water, pressure and time.  It is a very inhospitable place. Trees only grow to a maximum of about 20 feet high and have very shallow roots.  At this time of year some of the cacti are flowering.  During the day most of the animals stay out of the sun preferring to come out in the cooler evening.

CY6a

Mesa Arch

CY5aOne of the most famous arches is Mesa Arch.  Photographers go very early to get pictures of the sun rising through the arch. Arches are created through water erosion and one day this famous arch will just fall into the canyon below.

CY1aVisitors from all around the world enjoy the wonderful views.  Today we saw Japanese, French, German and Belgians.  It felt as though the whole world was here on holiday with us.

CY3aCY12aOne thing that did surprise us was that at 7000 feet in the high desert we actually managed to cross another two licence plates off of our licence plate game so the trip was  doubly worth it. We’ve only got to get two more States (Hawaii and Delaware!) We don’t have a clue where we are going to get Hawaii from!!

Enjoy the photos!

 

Day 26! Page to Moab, Utah

MV6a

Monument Valley

Taken at Goulding's in Monument Valley

Taken at Goulding’s in Monument Valley

MV3a

Taken at Goulding’s in Monument Valley

We had a lovely drive today from Page and are now residing in Moab, Utah.  During our drive we passed by Monument Valley again so took the opportunity to call into Gouldings (that was the first trading post and hotel in Monument Valley and where they filmed a lot of John Wayne’s cowboy films) to take more photos.

The landscape went from desert with red rock that turned to yellow rock and then to a green landscape then back to desert again.

Here are today’s photos.  I took the one of the first arch we saw and I think you will agree it is quite stunning.  Not bad for being taken through the car window while Si was driving at 60 miles per hour!! Stand aside Si, there’s a new photographer in the family!

Taken at Goulding's in Monument Valley

Taken at Goulding’s in Monument Valley

Taken at Goulding's in Monument Valley

Taken at Goulding’s in Monument Valley

Moab 1a

Sandra’s photo of an arch near the La Sal mountains

San Juan River 1a

San Juan River

Mexican Hat 1a

Mexican Hat

MV10a

Monument Valley

MV9a

Goulding’s in Monument Valley

MV8a

Bikes at Goulding’s in Monument Valley

 

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Page 1a

Page, Arizona

Day 25! Page, Arizona

We’ve had the most fantastic day today. The sites we have seen have just been fantastic and the pictures will speak for themselves!

Jeep

The tour jeeps.

Cheryl - our tour guide

Cheryl – our tour guide

First of all we went on a guided tour of Antelope Canyon. It is the most-visited and most-photographed slot canyon in the American Southwest. The land is owned and the tours run by the Navajo.  Our guide Cheryl was fantastic.  Her knowledge was one-hundred percent and she instructed everyone in our group on how to take each photograph to get the best light and angles and she knew everything there was to know about all the different cameras in the group too.  Well done Cheryl.

Antelope Canyon was first discovered in 1934.  A young Navajo girl was out looking for her lost sheep and found them in the Canyon.  Those sheep were not stupid, they were sheltering from the sun and heat.

The Canyon was created and continues to change due to the monsoon rains and flash AC 4aAC 10aAC 3aAC 7aflooding they have in July, August and September. Rain floods down the river bed and the only place it has to go is into the Canyon and as it flows it spins against the walls and in so doing and as it is made of sandstone, erodes it very slowly into fantastic shapes. The floor of the Canyon is shifting sand and today in one particular part the floor was 20 feet higher than it was this time last year and that was due to the last monsoon being fairly mild.  When the monsoon rains are very harsh the floor height decreases dramatically.

One funny thing about today was that for the whole tour all the camera-bearers walked, well rather stumbled mostly, through the Canyon because their heads were always tipped backwards staring up at the roof taking pictures.

HP 2aAfter visiting the Canyon and being the mad English people we are, we then went on a hike in the hot midday sun and shifting sands to visit Horseshoe Bend.  This is the name for a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River located near Page. According to Google terrain maps, the overlook is 4,200 feet (1,300 m) above sea level and the Colorado River is at 3,200 feet (980 m) above sea level making it a 1,000 feet (300 m) drop. That drop is very scary! In fact when Si was taking his photos I grabbed hold of his belt just in case he went flying over the edge!

Si's not scared of the height!

Si’s not scared of the height!

But I am!!

But I am!!

I always considered myself fit but this is a different story!

I always considered myself fit but this is a different story!

Phew, we made it back down!

Phew, we made it back down!

The hike down is not too bad but coming back up is a different story!  If Sue and Nicky are reading this they will remember how I was at the end of the duathlon we did together.  Well, today was a million times worse!! I like to think I’m quite fit, but it was a bit of a struggle at the end but well worth it.

I’ve put some more Antelope Canyon pictures below.AC 1aAC 2aAC 5aAC 6aAC 8a

AC 9a

Day 24! Santa Fe to Page, Arizona

Before I start on today’s blog I need to revisit Santa Fe with some words and pictures!

First of all, Ladies, you know men always know better than women (not!!) well due to my lovely husband’s wonderful navigation skills we passed this Staircase 1atwice on our hike yesterday!! I told him we were going round in a circle but would he listen ……… of course not, he’s a man!!!

Also, here are a few pictures taken from the restaurant balcony at the Lodge. photo-17a

photo-15

photo-14

Just to prove that Si does eat something other than ribs!!

Just to prove that Si does eat something other than ribs!!

So today we had a fairly long drive to Page, Arizona but we made it even longer when we decided we should add a further 44 miles to our journey and stop off at Monument Valley the Navajo Tribal Park ( in Navajo it is Tse Bii Ndzigaii, meaning valley of the rocks )and often referred to as the 8th Wonder of the World.  We’ve been to Monument Valley before but as we were so close decided we shouldn’t just drive by.

Drive 1a

We called this the flying chicken!

We called this the flying chicken!

How many faces and fingers can you see?

How many faces and fingers can you see?

Driving from Santa Fe to Page we had to find things to do as we have almost completed the license plate game, so have now began to find pictures in clouds and faces and shapes in rocks (that’s how desperate we’ve become!!). The drive again emphasised how much untapped land the US has.  We went from long, long straight roads that seemed to go on forever and to no-where to a Najavo Forest 7000 feet above sea level and then hit the fantastic red rocks that lead to Monument Valley. Here are some of the views along the way.

Many of you will know Monument Valley from many cowboy films that have been filmed there.  Most famous of course would be the John Wayne films. In 1958 it became a preserved environment by the Navajo Nation Council under the Division of Natural Resources.  It sits at 5,564 feet above sea level, extends into Arizona and Utah and covers about 91,696 acres.  The height of the monuments range form 100 feet to 1,500 feet tall and the dry desert climate receives all four seasons.  The Vally displays a first hand look at one of the most tremendous natural structures created by erosion. The sight of it is breathtaking.

MV Si 1aMV San Si 1aMC San 2a

Left and Right Mitten and yes, that's a car in the bottom of the picture!

Left and Right Mitten and yes, that’s a car in the bottom of the picture!

The two most famous monuments are right and left mitten.  Can you see why?

MC San 1a

Day 23! Santa Fe

Today was kind of another rest day!

We did a hike this morning above the Lodge but after that we’ve been round the pool so there’s not a lot to report.  Here are some  pics from our hike.

Hike 4a

The mountains above the Lodge.

Hike 3a

Sandra on the trail to Tesuque Creek and Canyon.

Sandra on the trail to Tesuque Creek and Canyon.

Simon takes a water break on the hike.

Simon takes a water break on the hike.

The only 'wild life' we saw on the trail.

These were the only ‘wild life’ we saw on the trail.

Bird 1a

A dish this big and they still can't get Sky TV!!

A dish this big and they still can’t get Sky TV!!

Reception at the Lodge.

Reception at the Lodge.

Tomorrow we leave Santa Fe for Page, Arizona to visit Antelope Canyon so see you there!!

Day 22! Santa Fe

Before I forget …. again, just wanted to say that we do try to reply to all of your comments but you may not be aware of this. You wouldn’t automatically be advised unless you tick the relevant box.

Another thing I’ve been meaning to say and I may be teaching ‘grandma to suck eggs’ here, but if you click on the picture it will open larger in a new window. After viewing just click the ‘back’ button and you will return to the blog.

Today has been a rest day but we did make a trip into the town. We’ve been here twice before and so have visited most of the historical sites already but have included a few pictures for you to enjoy.

Santa Fe, 7000 feet above sea level, has a long history going back to 1610. In 1821 William Becknel came to Santa Fe and discovered rich business opportunities which had previously been exclusively Spanish. A torrent of Americans and Europeans followed and the Santa Fe Trail was born. It was a rowdy place known for saloons, gambling parlours and brothels!!

Now this is a bit of a long read but it’s well worth it.

Loretto chapel 1aOne of the places of interest is the Loretto Ch