Day 29! Home Time

As we were at the airport and then sat on a plane for nearly ten hours I was unable to complete the blog yesterday.

We finished our holiday in the casino of course and once again, left on a high note. If ever you’re there make sure to check out the Monopoly machines. Besides us, we saw lots of people having lots of luck on those machine, they are fun to play.

We are now back in Blighty, reminiscing about our great vacation. We saw so many wonderful things, met so many wonderful people and learnt lots of things along the way and the weather was a mixture of snow, sun and heat.

Our flight was uneventful and we were very glad to see the car waiting to bring us home. The flight was full, 475 people! I didn’t know a ‘jumbo’ held that many. When we checked in we were told the flight was full and overweight! That was a little disturbing.

As you can imagine, a flight leaving Vegas on a Sunday was full of the young, beautiful and single making their way home after a rather lively stay!! Most of them were not interested in having an alcoholic drink, they’d had enough during their stay.

All I have to do now is unpack the cases! We had two bags overweight but the kind lady at check-in just charged us for one bag so $60. Unfortunately for us, our three cases were chosen to be opened and searched by security. I always pack them the way Homeland Security tell us too but still they pick on us. I think they must think we are a couple of scoundrels or some such!!

We were just working out how long we’ve actually been awake and it’s 31 hours! Mind you I did sleep for a couple of hours on the plane, Si never sleeps, and we’ve had a little nod or two this afternoon but all in all we don’t feel too bad.

I think the World Cup has kept Si going and I’ve been catching up with my soaps plus we’ve watched the season finale of Game of Thrones!! Roll on next year and Season 5.

For me, I think the one thing I will never, ever forget is driving up the 14,000 mountain, Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. It was more hairy than driving the Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Si’s favourite place was the Grand Tetons. In particular, seeing the Moulton Barn and of course the great privilege of having five photos featured on Flickr’s Explore.

Alas, it saddens me to have to say, once again, ‘farewell’ to all our loyal followers. To thank you for your interest and for the comments you posted. It’s nice to know we are not just ‘talking’ to ourselves.

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

(I do not own the video or its content)

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 28! Las Vegas

Well, the ‘wind down’ is almost complete!

We’ve said ‘farewell’ to the pool. It was very windy this morning and only 84ºF but the wind ceased and it warmed up somewhat.

England’s playing Italy on the television so that’s keeping Si occupied and I’ve been re-packing the bags. Fingers crossed, we should only have to pay excess baggage on one. The lady at check-in may be kind to us, they don’t always worry so much about baggage weight on the way back!

Oh dear, England lost, not good. Let’s hope they can make amends when they play Uruguay next Thursday!

Goodness, good job we are ‘suited and booted’ as they say, ready for dinner, as the lights in the bathroom have just fused ……………… the maintenance brigade are on their way!!

Some time later:

We’ve been to our ‘farewell Vegas’ dinner. We went to Sensi again here at the Bellagio as we love it there. We had a superb meal. I had just about the best filet mignon I’ve ever tasted, it just melted in my mouth and the mash potato made with wasabi and cream was out of this world. Si had his favourite (no, not ribs) but crispy shrimp and then diver scallops. We both shared the chocolate soufflé for dessert. We won’t need to eat for a week!!

Sand outside Sensi

Flowers outside Sensi

Our Chocolate soufflé

Si at Sensi!!!!!! Not the best photo in the world!

Sand inside Sensi!
















The evening finished on a high note gambling-wise, so no complaints there!

Tomorrow afternoon we fly home and land on Monday morning so our final post will be from good ol’ Blighty!!

See you ‘across the pond.’


Day 27! Las Vegas

It’s busier here today, the ‘weekenders’ have arrived ………. the young, beautiful and unattached!!!!

It’s a cooler day, only in the 90’s, there’s a breeze but it’s not until you come indoors you realise just how hot the sun still is. Shade and lots of suncream still required! We don’t want to come home looking like a couple of leather chamois!!

After time round the pool and food, we went back to the Aria Cafe again,

Si at the Aria Cafe

we went to see Zarkana by Cirque du Soleil. They describe the show as a spirited voyage through an abandoned theater where an extraordinary circus comes back to life. Populated by a motley collection of off-the-wall characters and incomparable acrobats, Zarkana is a visual vortex set in a twisted acrobatic fantasy universe where, little by little, chaos and craziness give way to a true celebration. Zarkana™ is a quintessential Cirque du Soleil spectacular featuring an international cast of 70 world class acrobats, aerialists, jugglers, high wire and trapeze artists.

Sand at Zarkana

One of the Zarkana performers

One of the Zarkana performers

It was great and probably the best Cirque du Soleil show we’ve seen. We had fantastic seats and were very close to the stage. There were times when our hearts were in our mouths. One trapeze artist missed his partner’s hands and fell but luckily they had a safety net!!

Tomorrow is our last full day so I will need to start sorting out the suitcases. We are overweight (the cases that is, not us!!) so excess baggage will probably have to be paid!!


Day 26! Las Vegas

I’ve been meaning to say that although it’s very hot here in Vegas, even from early in the morning, it’s surprising how chilly/cold the water is in the Bellagio Pool!!!

Anyway, as usual, we started the day around the pool. True to human form, we are sitting in the same place around the pool each day. Si goes down about 9 a.m. to get us a shady spot, that way we can stay out longer. It’s brave souls who can lie out in that hot sun for any length of time!

We’ve had some lovely photographs taken by a professional photographer. We were having dinner at Sensi the other evening and she came round and asked if we wanted our photographs taken. As it’s always difficult to get any decent photos of the two of us when we are on holiday we decided it would be a good idea.

One other piece of news! You remember I said that we had progressed up the reward card ladder after just a couple of days? Well, we have progressed again, we are now at Gold level. One of the perks is that we can go straight to the head of any queue for food!! Hooray! We also get 20% off purchases ……….. what a shame the suitcases are already full up!!

We had lunch at a new venue today, the Aria Cafe at the Aria Hotel. As usual, here’s a photo of Si enjoying his eats.

Aria Cafe

Si enjoying lunch at the Aria Cafe

We have decided which show to go and see. There’s a new Cirque du Soleil in town, Zarkana, so we will be going to see that tomorrow evening.

Here are some more photos of the Bellagio Reception and Atrium and an interesting sight on the Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas showgirls.

Bellagio Reception

Bellagio Atrium

Las Vegas showgirls

Day 25! Las Vegas

Well, thank  goodness normal service has been resumed! I don’t know what the problem was last night with the wifi.

Yesterday’s question of should I be drinking alcohol in the morning has been answered! We both had the cucumber French 75 just after midday, they were delicious.

French 75 is a cocktail made from gin, Champagne, lemon juice, and sugar. The drink was created in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris—later Harry’s New York Bar—by barman Harry MacElhone. The combination was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun, also called a “75 Cocktail”, or “Soixante Quinze” in French. The French 75 was popularised in America at the Stork club in New York.

The drink’s recipe was first recorded in The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930. The recipe in the Savoy Cocktail Book uses gin. A later cocktail book, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, by David Embury, claims that the French 75 is a Cognac-based drink but being a gin drinker myself, I’ll go with the gin. All the French 75’s I had have called for Plymouth gin to be used and that, as some of you know, is my most favourite gin of all time!

Whenever we stay at the Bellagio there’s one thing we just have to do and that is to go to the Petrossian Bar for their nibbles, cheese plate and cocktails. The cheese plate is the Chef’s selection of seven cheeses, several of which we haven’t even heard of, together with two types of apple, fig, apricots, raisins, two types of bread and a delicious type of crisp bread.

The Petrossian Bar at the Bellagio

Si at the Petrossian Bar

Sand enjoying her French 75 at the Petrossian Bar

Marta playing at the Petrossian Bar

Petrossian has been named one of America’s best hotel bars by the hospitality industry’s Santé Magazine. These mixologists are the most seasoned professionals in their field. It is open 24 hours a day and has live music in the form of a pianist, today a lady called Marta was playing the Steinway grand piano.

I think the cocktails must have had an good effect on our gambling as we’ve had another very successful day, again with Mr Monopoly at the Aria hotel being very kind to us!!

Sand’s a winner (I think she’s had one too many French 75’s!)

Some of our winnings – not bad for a $20 stake!

We’ve taken a few photos of the Bellagio Atrium. The Atrium is a big draw for tourists. Every season is recreated with exceptionally gorgeous plants, flowers and trees thoughtfully arranged to inspire full splendor. Specially designed lighting spotlights every flower to accentuate its best features. To ensure the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens maintains magnificence 365 days a year, 140 expert horticulturists theatrically arrange gazebos, bridges, ponds, and water features uniquely for the Holidays, Chinese New Year, spring, summer, and fall!

The Bellagio Atrium

Snail flowers in the Bellagio Atrium

Frog flowers at the Bellagio Antrium

Flower art in the Bellagio Atrium





Day 24! Las Vegas

Hi everyone, I’m having trouble with the laptop at the moment so can’t log on to the Blog. Everything I typed yesterday has disappeared so I’ll have to start again later. I’m typing this on the iPad but the photos are not on here of course!!

Hope to get back to normal later!!

Hooray, normal service has been resumed!!

All this ‘winding down’ is very tiring! We are up and at the pool by about 9 a.m., have some breakfast, spend about three hours there, in and out of the pool and then it’s off gambling, shopping and dining. When is a person supposed to rest!!??

Bellagio Pool Area

Bellagio Pool Area

As you would expect, it was very hot again this morning.  It’s 8.00 p.m. now and it’s still 100ºF.

Bellagio Pool Area

Bellagio Pool Area

















Just like yesterday we were up and round the pool bright and early and had granola parfaits for breakfast. There is a pool service so we don’t even have to move off our beds, we just order what we want from the ‘pool waitress.’ I’ve discovered today that they serve a cucumber French 75!! Would it be wrong to be drinking alcohol before midday? Decisions, decisions!

Bellagio Pool Waitress

It was time to return ‘the beast’ and Margaret to the rental company today. So we took them back before heading off for dining, gambling and shopping. This year in three weeks we travelled 3,712 miles.

Even though Margaret had her ‘moments’ it was still sad to say goodbye. When we had dropped the car off we went round to the rental office to speak to Fred. You will remember he was so helpful when we collected the car three weeks ago and heard of the trouble we had last year.

Well, he was serving someone but as soon as he saw us he rushed over and shook hands and wanted to know how our holiday had been and if the car had been okay. We thanked him and said everything had been wonderful. He was so pleased that we had taken the time to speak to him.

We were supposed to have gone to see Mac King, the magician, this afternoon but the show was cancelled due to unexpected circumstances which was a shame. We had VIP seating and Si was terrified that he would be asked to go on the stage so I think he was secretly pleased it was cancelled.

So, as our afternoon was ‘free’ after all, we went to have lunch and check out the shops at The Venetian and Palazzo hotels. We ate at another one of our favourite Wolfgang Puck restaurants, Postrio in  St. Mark’s Square of The Venetian. As usual, the food was delicious. When a restaurant serves Plymouth gin you know it’s something special and Postrio serves Plymouth, enough said!

Postrio restaurant

Si enjoying his lunch at Postrio

Well, at the shops in the Palazzo Hotel they have a Jimmy Choo shoe shop and JC had started their season sale today! How can anyone who knows me well expect me to walk past a JC shop with a sale on! Well, of course I couldn’t, I just had to go in and take a look. It wasn’t my intention to buy shoes on this trip but when a girl is confronted with a 50% shoe sale what is she expected to do? Well, buy, buy, buy of course!! Due to a shortage of suitcase space I only bought one pair of summer shoes.

Sand’s new choo’s!

You can also take a gondola ride at The Venetian. We’ve done that previously, it’s very pleasant as the Gondolier sings as he rows!

Gondola at The Venetian Hotel

We had great gambling success at the hotels, we tripled our money! Let’s hope it continues.

We got a cab back to Bellagio as it was rather too hot and too far to walk and when we told the cab driver where we were going he said “oh, going home then.” That’s just how we feel about the Bellagio. We’ve been coming here a long time and every time we walk into the lobby we feel as though we’ve come home. Everything’s so comfortable here, it’s like putting on a pair of old slippers!


Day 23! Las Vegas

Well, now we are in Las Vegas I’m afraid the photos will not be as spectacular as they have been but we will try and take some interesting ones for you and fill you in on what we are up to.

The temperature today started at 95ºF and rose to 105ºF so it’s been a tad hot!! We started the day by spending time at one of the pools here at the Bellagio. The pool area is beautiful and tomorrow we will take my small camera down with us to take some better photos for you to enjoy. In the meantime, here are two I took on my phone today. The sparrow came to enjoy breakfast with us!

One of the Bellagio Pools

Sparrow comes for breakfast at the pool!







The MGM Group, of which Bellagio is part, runs a reward scheme called MLife. You get rewarded for hotel stays, dining, gambling and shopping and we found out today that although we’ve only been here one day we’ve already progressed to the next level!! Crumbs, I don’t look forward to getting the hotel bill at the end of the week!!

The Bellagio Atrium is one of the most beautiful places to see and we will be posting some photos later. We need to go down early to take photos before it gets busy with visitors. Each day for an hour they have live music for everyone to enjoy and today it was a guy playing an electric harp. It was very lovely.

A musician playing in the Bellagio Atrium
















Sand at Caesers Palace

We dined early today at one of our favourite restaurants over at the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace, it’s a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, Spago. The food is always excellent.


Si drinking ……… not eating for a change!

Sand at Spago enjoying a cocktail
















We didn’t exactly excel at our gambling tonight. I did have a rather good spell playing a Monopoly machine but eventually the little man and his dog took all my winnings. We kept our spirits up though by enjoying some cakes, hot chocolate and coffee. Perhaps our luck will be better tomorrow!

Sand losing all her money on the Monopoly machine at the Aria hotel – no, the drink and ash tray are not mine!

Day 22! Moab, Utah to Las Vegas

Well, we left Moab under cloudy skies and it had been raining! Raining in Moab in the summer, unusual! We only had to travel 50 miles and blue skies were back again and the temperature started to rise. By the time we reached Vegas it was 108ºF, so a little warm!!

We had a very disturbed night’s sleep because for some reason we kept getting rattles around our room. One was coming from the fridge, so in the end we had to get up, pull it out and unplug it. We never found where the other one was coming from so it continued to drive us crazy all night.

If that wasn’t bad enough, this morning we lost Margaret!! Got into the car ready to set our route for Las Vegas and wait ………. where’s Margaret? She wasn’t with us. Now I’m usually a very organised person and I always check the hotel room before we leave but somehow she had been left behind. I returned to our room and just couldn’t find her, panic ensued. I eventually found her hiding in a ‘safe place’ where I’d hidden her the night before when we went to dinner. Relief all round, especially on Margaret’s part. She knew she was heading home and there was no way she wanted to be left behind in Moab!

I must report on last night’s meal at Jeffrey’s Steakhouse. It was, once again fantastic. I had the French 75, gin and tonic and enjoyed a great steak with the largest jacket potato I’ve ever seen. Si had the ‘special’ which consisted of a ribeye steak with shrimp and soft-shell crab. It was my intention to photograph the meal but we got talking to a lovely couple on the next table and all thought of photography went right out of my mind! I think the French 75 had a lot to do with it!

The drive from Moab to Las Vegas was quite boring and very uninteresting but the photographer’s apprentice did manage to photograph a few things along the way.

From Moab to Las Vegas

Water Tower on the road from Moab to Las Vegas

From Moab to Las Vegas

The inevitable road works on the way from Moab to Las Vegas

One interesting thing we saw at a place called Hurricane, about 131 miles from Vegas but couldn’t manage to photograph as it was on the opposite side of the road, was the largest Walmart (Asda) distribution centre we have ever seen. There must have been 500 trailers ready to be loaded up with goodies!

Well, we’ve had a lovely dinner, fish and chicken for a change and managed to actually win a little in the casino. Let’s hope we don’t have any rattles in our room tonight and can get a good night’s sleep!




Day 21! Moab, Utah

So, today begins our holiday ‘wind down’. We came to Moab as we needed a halfway point on our return trip to Las Vegas. Although this is our third visit to Moab we have still managed to find a couple of places we had never visited before and as usual, have not been disappointed.

It has been very hot here today, 95ºF and we think that the mosquitoes must have hatched  because they seem to be everywhere! We have decided that we would much rather hike in temperatures of 70ºF rather than the 90’s. Because it’s so hot we cut our day short but we managed to see all we wanted to.

We started off visiting Landscape Arch in Arches National Park. The hike is just 1.6 miles, with gradual slopes, but it did seem rather longer than that to us but it was well worth the effort.

Sand on the walk to Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch

Si at Landscape Arch

Sand at Landscape Arch


Desert Bouquet on the walk to Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch is the longest of the many natural rock arches located in the Arches National Park. The arch is among many in the area known as Devil’s Garden in the north area of the park. It was named by Frank Beckwith, leader of the Arches National Monument Scientific Expedition, who explored the area in the winter of 1933–1934, and can be reached by short walk/hike of about 1.5 miles along a maintained trail.

The Natural Arch and Bridge Society (NABS) considers the Landscape Arch to be the longest natural arch in the world, having measured the span in 2004 at 290.1 ± 0.8 feet (88.4 m), which is slightly longer than a measurement made by the Society in 2006 of Kolob Arch in Zion National Park Since 1991, three slabs of sandstone measuring 30, 47, and 70 feet (9.1, 14, and 21 m) long have fallen from the thinnest section of Landscape Arch, prompting the Park Service to close the trail that once passed beneath it.

On 1st September 1991 hikers were actually sitting beneath the arch and thought they heard thunder cracks but in fact it was a 60 foot rock slab breaking off above them. When the dust settled 180 tonnes of fresh rock debris lie on the ground. Luckily, no-one was hurt. It is thought that unseasonably heavy rains for ten days before the incident had filled pore spaces within the sandstone and the the added weight may have finally overwhelmed the rock slab in its timeless struggle with gravity.

Then, we visited Dead Horse Point State Park (that’s where Si went to last night) so that I could see for myself how beautiful it is.

Panorama shot of Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point

The Park features a dramatic overlook of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. The park is so named because of its use as a natural corral by cowboys in the 19th century. The park covers 5,362 acres (2,170 ha) of high desert at an altitude of 5,900 feet (1,800 m).

The plateau is surrounded by sheer cliffs 2,000 feet (610 m) high with only a narrow neck of land 30 yards (27 m) wide connecting the mesa to the main plateau. Thus it was easy for cowboys to simply fence off this narrow neck, and keep rounded up wild horses from running away.

The Legend of Dead Horse Point: There are many stories about how this high promontory of land received its name.

According to one legend, around the turn of the century the point was used as a corral for wild mustangs roaming the mesa top. Cowboys rounded up these horses, herded them across the narrow neck of land and onto the point. The neck, which is only 30-yards-wide, was then fenced off with branches and brush.

This created a natural corral surrounded by precipitous cliffs straight down on all sides, affording no escape. Cowboys then chose the horses they wanted and let the culls or broomtails go free. One time, for some unknown reason, horses were left corralled on the waterless point where they died of thirst within view of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below.

One useless fact: The area was also used in the final ‘Grand Canyon’ scene of the 1991 film Thelma & Louise.

One of the fun things about driving around the parks is looking for faces in the rocks, this is one the ‘photographer’s apprentice’ saw!

A face in the rock!

Tonight we will be dining at Jeffrey’s Steakhouse. We ate there on our trip last year and it was fantastic so we thought what better way to end our visit here than by eating there again. I will once again be sampling the French 75! That’s a very special gin and tonic. Good job I’m writing this blog before dinner!!

Tomorrow we leave Moab and have another long drive (we seem to be doing a lot of them lately!) to Las Vegas where we will be spending the last week of our holiday lying in the sun, eating fine food and drinking fine wine!!

It occurred to me that in yesterday’s ‘Special Post’ I forgot to tell you what Si’s name is on Flickr, It’s ‘simonsaint’ and also that it might be a good idea to give you a link to his actual Flickr page so you can have a look around if you’d like to. Click here to visit his page.



Special Post! Flickr Explore

I think you will agree that some of the photos Si’s been taking on our trip have been stunning. Some of you know he’s a member of Flickr and in 2013 on average per day, 1.6 million photos were uploaded to Flickr from people all around the world. I don’t know what the average for 2014 is but you can bet it’s around that figure.

Well everyday Flickr choose 500 of the most interesting photos of all those uploaded and put them on to what they call ‘Explore’. It’s hard enough to get one photo on Explore but our Si in the past three weeks, ever since we arrived in the U.S., has had the honour of having five of his photos shown on there. The highest position for one of the photos being number six.

He already had another three featured on Explore, two from 2012 and one this year.

This is the link to Flickr Explore for all those who may be interested in taking a look.

These are the photos from the past three weeks:

Adam on the Trail Ridge Road

Lone Tree on Lake Yellowstone – got to number 6 on Explore

The John Moulton Barn

Bear Lake

String Lake


Day 20! Colorado Springs to Moab, Utah

Today has been another long driving day, seven hours in all. We did stop for some lunch at the ………….. Rib Grill!! Well, where else would you expect us to stop! Here’s a photo of ‘his nibs’ enjoying a few. I had chicken, much healthier ………… well maybe not, they were fried chicken sliders with fries and garlic bread!

Si at the Rib Grill!

We left our hotel in Colorado Springs and said goodbye to Patrick. He’s a young man with a  photographic degree but at the moment he’s working there doing just about everything it seems from valeting the cars to checking people in. A very pleasant young man.

I have to say that Colorado Springs turned out to be quite a surprise. I just wanted to go there because I used to watch Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and wanted to go up Pikes Peak. Si wasn’t convinced any of it would be any good. We were both very pleasantly surprised how lovely it was and how many places to see there were. We hope to return one day.

Colorado is probably the most beautiful of all the U.S. States we have seen, it is absolutely stunning.

Today we travelled through a range of temperatures, we had to cross the mountains to get to Moab and were travelling up hill and down dale, we went from 6,035 feet above sea level in Colorado Springs to 10,600 feet and then down to 5,200 feet here in Moab. The temperatures ranged from 57ºF to 95ºF here in Moab. Crazy!!

Here are some photos of our trip today taken by our photographer’s apprentice!

Road Trip to Moab

Road Trip to Moab

A place with ‘No Name’ on the way to Moab!

Road Trip to Moab

Entering Moab

Tonight, Si went out to Dead Horse Point State Park to take photos at sundown. Here’s one.

Dead Horse Point


Day 19! Colorado Springs

First of all a big shout out of “Happy Birthday” to my niece Karen whose birthday it is today 5th June. Hope you’ve had a great day!

It occurred to me today that in my post yesterday I forgot to mention the one big thing about being up at the summit of Pikes Peak ……………. the doughnuts! The one thing you just have to do when you get there is have the world-famous and yummy doughnuts, the only ones made at an altitude of over 14,000 feet and of course we did. They were delicious.

Doughnuts at Pikes Peak summit

Well, so much beauty to see and so little time!

Today, we started our day with a visit to Manitou Springs. General William Jackson Palmer and Dr. William Abraham Bell founded Manitou Springs in 1872, intending the town to be a “scenic health resort.” It has been the quintessential tourist town since the 1870s, when visitors discovered the healing waters the Ute Indians had been drinking for years. Many of the town’s mineral springs still function today and the water is free.

Manitou Springs

Manitou’s original cog railway

After a walk through the town we moved on to the Garden of the Gods.

The Garden of the Gods’ red rock formations were created during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line millions of years ago. Archaeological evidence shows that prehistoric people visited Garden of the Gods about 1330 BC. At about 250 BC Native American people camped in the park. They are believed to have been attracted to wildlife and plant life in the area and used overhangs created by the rocks for shelter. There are many native peoples who have reported a connection to Garden of the Gods, including Ute, Comanche, Apache, Kiowa, Shoshone, Cheyenne, Pawnee and Lakota people.

The Utes’ oral traditions tell of their creation at the Garden of the Gods. Petroglyphs have been found in the park that are typical of early Utes. They found red rocks to have a spiritual connection and camped near Manitou Springs and the creek near Rock Ledge Ranch bordering Garden of the Gods. Other tribes traveled through Garden of the Gods. The Old Ute Trail went past Garden of the Gods to Ute Pass and led later explorers through Manitou Springs. Starting in the 16th century, Spanish explorers and later European American explorers and trappers travelled through the area, including Lt. John C. Freemont and and Lt. George Frederick Ruxton who recorded their visits in their journals.

The area was first called Red Rock Corral. Then, in August 1859, two surveyors who helped to set up Colorado City explored the site. One of the surveyors, M. S. Beach, suggested that it would be a “capital place for a beer garden.” His companion, the young Rufus Cable, awestruck by the impressive rock formations, exclaimed, “Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods.”

Well, I think the sign says it all!

Si in the Garden of the Gods

Sand in the Garden of the Gods

Rock formation in the Garden of the Gods

Rock formation in the Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods



The Garden of the Gods

Balancing rock in the Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods

Kissing Camels rock in the Garden of the Gods

Amish Girls visiting the Garden of the Gods

















Panorama shot of the Garden of the Gods


Cliff hanger at the Garden of the Gods

Busker in the Garden of the Gods

Tomorrow we leave our lovely hotel and Colorado Springs for Moab, Utah where even more wonderful sights await us. We have visited Moab many times but it never fails to delight!

We have been staying at The Mining Exchange. It was constructed in 1902 by civic benefactor Winfield Scott Stratton who made his fortune in the Cripple Creek gold boom of the 1890’s. The building’s purpose was to house the Colorado Springs Mining Exchange and promote regional mining companies and their stock. It was, and still is regarded as the most substantial and intact building associated with Stratton that remains. It was the first structure in the city to rise above four stories and housed Colorado Springs’ Mining Stock Exchange in the 1920’s. The building had several steel vaults, preserved to this day, they are used to house hotel supplies.

The building was purchased three years ago by Perry Sanders who then set out to build The Mining Exchange. Extensive and elaborate renovations were made, with a very conscious approach to restore the building to its original grandeur, preserving the magnificent piece of architecture that it presents to the landscape of Colorado Springs. In 1900 a Colorado Springs’ Resident said it was “The handsomest, the largest and most substantial structure in the city.”

The Mining Exchange



Day 18! Colorado Springs

So, today we decided to ‘do’ Pikes Peak. We set off in what we thought was the right direction, heading north out of Colorado Springs and quickly realised we were going in the wrong direction! I have to say that it wasn’t Margaret’s fault this time because we hadn’t plugged her in. It was human error.

But, all was not lost because when we realised our mistake we were going to turn around when we noticed we were at a place called Briargate and Si suddenly realised that we wanted to go there anyway because we wanted to visit the Apple store that was located there. We needed to buy another portable drive because the one we’d brought with us to back-up the laptop has thrown a wobbly and won’t work! Amazon, expect an email from me when we return!

We headed back south and soon found Pikes Peak Highway. Pikes Peak is known as America’s Mountain. The Highway is 19 miles long, is a two-lane road ascending more than 6,000 feet in elevation to 14,115 and we were going to drive it. The Ranger said the 19 miles would take us one hour to drive.

Crystal Reservoir on Pikes Peak Highway

Panorama shot of Crystal Reservoir

Some people travel to the summit by cog railway. It was first built in 1891 and runs continually today.

Cog Railway

Well, goodness me, it was one hairy drive. I thought the Trail Ridge Road was scary, this was much, much worse. There were sheer drops round hairpin bends, it was like being on a switchback! I dread to think what my blood pressure reading must have been. Si was okay because he was on the ‘safe’ side. At times I just couldn’t look over the edge and was holding on to the car door handle for dear life. Some of the drop offs are 1,000 feet down! We were told to turn off the air-conditioning going up and when driving back down to use low gear.

Winding Roads on Pikes Peak Highway

The views of course were stunning. We were way above the tree line and as we turned each corner and looked up you could see the cars above just getting higher and higher.

Pikes Peak Highway with Pikes Peak in the distance

Half way up the road we stopped to change into jeans as we were told it would be really cold at the summit but when we got there it wasn’t too bad even though there was some snow and we didn’t need thick jackets.

Can you imagine racing up this road to the summit. Well, daring drivers have been doing just that since the first race in 1916. The race continues today. Mining magnet Spencer Penrose arranged the race to advertise his new mountain auto highway. The first winner, Rea Lentz, sped to the summit in just 20 minutes and 55.6 seconds. Can you imagine driving at speed on a dirt road. It was only fully paved in 2011! The hill climb is the second oldest race in the US behind only the Indianapolis 500.

At the summit is a memorial dedicated o Katherine Lee Bates (August 12th 1859 to March 28th 1929). She was an American songwriter and was the author of the words to the anthem ‘America the Beautiful’.

The first draft of “America the Beautiful” was hastily jotted down in a notebook during the summer of 1893, which Bates spent teaching English at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. Later she remembered:

One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.
















About half-way up stands the Historic Glen-Cove Inn built in the late teens early 1920s. It has always been somewhere for travellers to stop and refresh themselves.

The Glen Cove Inn

Photos from the summit.

Pikes Peak Summit

Pikes Peak Summit

Panorama of Pikes Peak Summit

Si at the Summit

Sand at the Summit


On the way back down there is a compulsory brake check by a ranger. This is because if the breaks overheat they will stop working and no-one wants to be without breaks at this height. Our’s measured 8% so we were given a ‘well done’ because Si was driving down correctly. Well done Si!

Almost back to Earth!

It suddenly occurred to me that I’ve taken a couple of photos of Si at dinner but have forgotten to post them. So this is me righting a wrong! I decided to have a nice healthy salad …………. this one would last me a week!

Sand with her healthy salad!

Si with his short ribs!

Si with his Po’ Boy shrimp sandwich!


Day 17! Rocky Mountain National Park to Colorado Springs

Well, that Margaret (sat-nav), she definitely needs to go back to sat-nav training school. We plugged her in this morning for our drive to Colorado Springs and she said there were no hold-ups and the drive would take just over two hours.

Wrong! We had only been driving for 20 minutes when we came across road works that held us up for 45 minutes!!!! Work was being done to widen a road and it entailed rock blasting! When we eventually managed to drive through I actually saw the man attaching the wires to the plunger to blow up the next lot of rock. I said, “Punch it Margaret” to get our car moving. Didn’t fancy being under that lot of rock when it came tumbling down.

The queue!

Following the Pilot Car

Then, we drive ten minutes down the road and there’s another set of road works. Luckily, we arrived just as our traffic was being let through so we didn’t have to wait.

One sad thing we saw en-route was more flood damage to homes along the river. The homes had just been abandoned with appliances as they were when the waters hit. Very sad!

Flood damage!

It was quite a pleasant drive until we reached Denver!! I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been driving on little quiet roads for the past two weeks but I was scared to death!! At least four lanes of traffic all the way through Denver, drivers swopping lanes like maniacs and even through road works they didn’t slow down to the required speed. It was worse than driving in London! I just wanted to sit on the floor of the car and hide until we were out the other side!

We did see the ‘Mile High Stadium’ the Denver Bronco’s stadium.

Mile High Stadium

Still, it was all worth it in the end because we’ve arrived at our hotel and they must have known the trauma we had been through because we were given a complimentary upgrade and are now residing in the grandest of suites.  It’s also the hottest we’ve had on our trip so far. When we arrived it was 91 degrees, so nice and warm!!

Tomorrow we start our adventures here in Colorado Springs by visiting Pikes Peak. We now have to go and try out the award-winning restaurant they have here. Bon appetite!!

Day 16! Rocky Mountain National Park

We’ve had a very full day and managed to see a lot of wildlife for a change.

We started out with the sight of Mr and Mrs Duck crossing a main road together but unfortunately didn’t have the camera handy.

At Milner Pass we again crossed the Continental Divide!

Continental Divide

We decided to go back to the Trail Ridge Road today, to the valley, to look at the Holzwarth Historic Site. As we passed over the summit It wasn’t quite so cold and it didn’t snow.

In 1917, John Holzwarth Sr. staked a homestead claim in the valley with the intent of building a cattle ranch. After the Fall River Road through the park opened in 1920, the ranch was re-developed  into a popular resort known as the Holzwarth Trout Lodge. The Lodge is now part of the park and preserved as a historic site. The Holzwarth homestead depicts the rustic, unpretentious dude ranching of the 1920s.

Buildings from the Holzwarth Ranch

Buildings from the Holzwarth Ranch

A summer National Park project to restore the ice house


Prior to the homestead another valley settler, a miner Joseph Fleshuts, homesteaded 160 acres with the intent to live on the land for at least five years. Life must have been hard because in 1911 he abruptly abandoned his cabin and was not heard of again.

Sand at Joseph Fleshuts’ Cabin

Homesteaders, miners and trappers were not the first people to inhabit the valley. Ute Indians have hunted game and gathered plants there for more than 6000 years. The Arapaho came later in the 1800s. Members of both tribes still return to a place that was once their home.

On the way to the Homestead we passed over a raging river which we discovered was the Colorado River headwaters.

Sand at the Colorado River headwaters

Si at the Colorado River headwaters

After that we visited Sprague Lake as the Ranger we met yesterday had told us that a moose and her calf had been seen there. The Lake stands at 8,710 feet and is just a 0.5 mile walk round the lake in very easy conditions and it was beautiful. The lake was built early in the early 20th century to provide trout fishing for guests at a resort owned by local pioneer Abner E. Sprague. The lakeside retreat is long gone but visitors still flock to this beautiful place. We saw a young girl of about seven having a fishing lesson from her father.

Sprague Lake

We were very lucky to see a moose but alas no calf. He didn’t seem bothered by the hordes of humans taking his photo as he enjoyed his lunch.

Moose at Sprague Lake

Moose at Sprague Lake

Our last port of call for the day was Bear Lake. The Bear Lake area stands at 9,475 feet and is only a 0.6 miles hike. It has jewel-like lakes with breathtaking back-drops, ice-cold crystal-clear streams that cascade down spectacular waterfalls, great forests of pine, spruce, fir and aspen, soaring mountains summits, amazing wildlife and colourful plant life.

Bear Lake

As Sprague Lake had been an easy walk we thought Bear Lake would be the same but alas it wasn’t. Most of the trail was covered in very deep snow. Lucky for us we had taken our walking sticks with us.

We met some ladies on our walk and one of them was was telling us how her sons went to the college in the very town we live in! The world is very small indeed.

Here are some other photos we’ve taken today of the Park.

No recycling today!

Road Works ahead!

Rocky Mountain National Park panorama

Rocky Mountain National Park panorama

Rocky Mountain National Park

Holzwarth Valley and the Colorado River

On the way back we rounded a corner and there in the middle of the road was a fawn, without its mother. It looked lost and wasn’t sure which way to go. We sat and waited for it to make up its mind. In the end it went back into the forest to find its mother. We also saw another Marmot clinging on to a rock at about 11,000 feet. He seemed very at home. We also saw mature elk.


Buck elk

Buck elk
















We were very lucky to be able to visit the Estes Park and Rocky Mountain Park area because last September the whole area was devastated by historic floods. Homes and roads were just washed away and businesses devastated and although everything is more or less back to ‘business as normal’ there are still signs of the devastation to be seen.

Tomorrow we leave Estes Park and make for Colorado Springs. A fairly short drive for a change, just 2.5 hours. For those who may remember the television show Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, it is our intention to climb Pikes Peak but luckily for us we won’t have to climb it as she did, by foot, we can either drive up or go on a cog railway. As our previous experience of a cog railway was not that pleasant, I think it’s safe to say we will be driving!

Day 15! Rocky Mountain National Park

We started the day by driving into the Park to drive Trail Ridge Road to experience the stunning scenic vistas, vast alpine landscapes and hopefully some wildlife.. It is considered to be one of America’s premier outdoor adventures. The drive is approximately 40 miles long rising to an elevation of 12,183 feet above sea level, where climatic donations, plants and animals are similar to those found near the Arctic Circle. For every 1,000 feet driven the temperature drops 3-5F, just as if you had driven 600 miles north.

We arrived at the first stop-off point, Sheep Lake, where we met and chatted with three Rangers, all volunteers. As you would expect, their knowledge of all things RMNP (Rocky Mountain National Park) was second to none. I have to say, the wind was blowing a hooley and it was very cold. We were so pleased we decided to wear our jeans today instead of shorts.

Sand chatting with one of the Volunteer Rangers

Apparently, there was a 10-year dry spell but the last two years it has been wet again meaning that Sheep Lake in particular again has lakes with water and lots of wild flowers have returned.

The views along the 40 miles are just spectacular, although some are rather scary. There are times where it’s just a shear drop over the side. They only opened the road after the winter snows last week and it takes six weeks to clear the snow to enable visitors to drive the route.

The Trail Ridge Road

The Trail Ridge Road


On the Trail Ridge Road

I took this photo through the windscreen so it’s not perfect!

Simon took a video on the way up the mountain.

On the way up we saw many brave souls actually cycling up!! Rather them than me! This is Adam, one such brave soul. It had taken him four hours to reach the highest point on the road. I wouldn’t like to be cycling down in the strong wind blowing today. One false move and it’s ‘goodbye Trail Ridge Road’ and ‘hello, 12,000 feet below’.

When we stopped at Horseshoe Park there was a family of three, the parents and a little girl of about five and she was stood on top of a short wall, just one easy jump before falling 10,000 feet to the valley below. I can tell you I felt sick. The parents didn’t have hold of her and she actually climbed over the wall and was stood on the rough terrain the other side. The wind could so easily have pushed her over.

Well, not one to hold back, I asked the Dad if he was happy that his young daughter was stood so close to the edge and he just shrugged it off. I also voiced my concerns to the Mum but I don’t think she understood English, let alone my concerns!

Horseshoe Park

Si at Horseshoe Park

When we were up at 11,000 feet Si tried to get out of the car to take some photos but the wind at that point was so bad he couldn’t open the door so had to give up.

On the way up we saw a snow plough and on the way down and a little further up the road saw this ice cutter (a Sandra ‘special’ photo, taken on the move).

By the time we reached the Alpine Visitor Centre at 11,796 it was bitterly cold. We had actually packed winter jackets and gloves for our trip but where were they when we needed them the most ………….. back at the Inn of course!! Luckily, Si had a jumper, I had a fleece and we both had rain jackets so we were warm enough and we did have our wet shoes on. Another example of not enough planning on our part!!

It’s cold up here!

















This is how deep the snow is in places. Also, when we were leaving it started to snow so we thought we should make a quick exit back down before we were snowed in!

Sand in snow drift!

Sand in snow storm!

We decided to have some lunch at the Visitor Centre and Si was very pleased with his German sausage and I with my chicken noodle soup …………… until that is I decided to pour the remains of my soup all over my jeans! I tell you, the older I get the more stupid I get.

We were surprised to find that even at 12,000 it’s possible to encounter road works! Luckily, as it’s Sunday today, they were not working. The pole next to the traffic light sign is the snow pole they use to measure the depth. You can see this one is very tall indeed.

It suddenly occurred to us that as we were driving in the Rocky Mountains now would be a good time to listen to some John Denver so that’s what we did, listened to and sang along with his famous song, Rocky Mountain High. This is JD in Australia in 1974.

(I do not own the video or it’s content. Thanks goes to oicurapns for the video)

We didn’t see much wildlife on the drive, just this Clark’s Nutcracker and a Marmont.

Here are some other views of the Park. This first photo is of Long’s Peak, a squared-top mountain standing at 14,259. It can be seen from just about anywhere in the Park. For thousands of years it has been used as a navigational aid to travellers from prehistoric hunters to Ute people who also saw it as a sacred place.

Major Stephen H. Long led an Army topographic expedition to the region in 1802 and the peak is named after him.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Just a last special note to Sam at the Mammoth Springs Hotel!

Sam, if you read this, you will remember what happened with our bread plates? Well we had a similar incident last night but this time with our salad bowls! What is it about us that makes waiters want to remove our china before we’ve finished with it!! We thought of you and had to laugh.

Day 14! The Grand Tetons to Rocky Mountain National Park

So, today was a long driving day of eight hours. It turned out to be a much easier drive than we were anticipating. We just turned onto the road and hey ho off we went. It was more or less, one long continuous road. Some of the scenery was stunning, some boring!

As we spent most of today sitting in the car, we are rather short on action and photos, but here are a few we did take during the drive.

This is the Hoback River. also called the Fall River. It is an approximately 55-mile (89 km)-long tributary of the Snake River. It rises in the southern Rocky Mountains of Wyoming and flows northeast through the Teton National Forest, before turning northwest to join the Snake just downstream of Jackson Hole, near the head of the Snake River Canyon near the town of Hoback.

Hoback River

Our car by the Hoback River



You sure can see some strange things when out on the road and this was just one of them! A horse with his head out of the trailer window taking in the scenery.

Well, the things you see on the road!

I expect you would like to know what we do to pass the time on a long trip like today. Well, today we plugged Simon’s phone into the car USB and exercised our vocal cords by singing along to many of the songs he has on there, especially Holiday Road by Lindsay Buckingham of Feetwood Mac fame. It was used as the theme song for the film ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’.

(I don’t own the rights or anything to the video).

As we are short on action, here’s a little history lesson!

I’m sure some you will have heard of the Oregon Trail. It is a 2,200-mile (3,500 km) historic east-west large wheeled wagon route and emigrant trail that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon. The eastern part of the Oregon Trail spanned part of the future state of Kansas and nearly all of what are now the states of Nebraska and Wyoming. The western half of the trail spanned most of the future states of Idaho and Oregon. The Oregon Trail was laid by fur trappers and traders from about 1811 to 1840 and was only passable on foot or by horseback. This is part of that trail.

The Oregon Trail

I wonder how many of our older followers remember the television cowboy series, Laramie? Well, we drove through it today. Didn’t see any cowboys though!

On the way to Rocky Mountain National Park

We are staying at The Maxwell Inn in Estes Park, on the edge of the Rocky Mountain National Park and it’s lovely. A young couple took it over last year and have been upgrading and renovating. They are now rated number one on Trip Advisor out of 29 hotels in Estes Park. They have done a great job, it’s lovely.

As we hadn’t eaten anything all day we went for dinner to a steakhouse and the steaks were great but even though we were hungry we couldn’t finish them. Simon’s was the size of a house ………….. I should have taken a photo. He could only eat half of it!

Thoughts for the day:

1. If we drove for eight hours in the UK we would drive off the edge of Scotland!

2. Just about every American we speak to say they would love to come to England.

3. It seems as though just about every American lady watches Downton Abbey and would love to visit the house. They are really impressed when we we tell them we live about thirty minutes from there.

4. What a shame that blogging wasn’t around in 1988 when we first started visiting the U.S. as we would have had a really big blog by now and a wonderful record of all our visits.

Tomorrow we visit the Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time. Join us then for what we hope will be some stunning photos.

Day 13! The Grand Tetons

So, today was our last day here at the Grand Tetons. We’ve seen so many wonderful things and most of this is thanks to Shaun who works here at our hotel. When we first arrived he took the time to mark out a map for us showing all the best places to visit and photograph.

It was our intention to visit Phelps Lake on Death Canyon Road today (Shaun told us not worry about the name!) but when we arrived we saw a sign that said 4×4 vehicles recommended and sure enough when we set off down the road it was full of pot holes and was in the most dreadful state. It was a totally wooded area and we noted that there was no one else were around it was just us. This made us a little uneasy given the prevalence of bears in the area so eventually decided to give it a miss!

After our hike yesterday, today we were fully prepared for anything! We had our hiking shoes on, had purchased ‘bear bells’ and walking sticks and boy were we pleased we bought those sticks.

Sand with ‘bear bells’ and walking stick!

















So, fully equipped we set out to see String and Leigh Lakes instead. It’s been a bright beautiful sunny day but up in the Lakes there’s still tons of snow. We were told that this was due to the snows coming late this year.

As soon as we set out it was obvious this hike was going to be more challenging than yesterday’s. Beside the very deep snow a lot of the trail was flooded. We were glad of our walking sticks to get us over the snow. Our ‘bear bells’ were jingling nicely but we still yelled out now and again just to make sure that any critters present would be aware of us.

String Lake

Simon at String Lake

On the String Lake Trail

String Lake

Poor Si managed to scrape his leg on a tree branch and it was at this point that my handy medical kit that I always carry on holiday and especially when we are out hiking, came into it’s own. Nurse Sandra to the rescue, moping up blood, cleaning the wound and dressing it. I think I’ve found a new profession!!! The patient will live!

We saw this family out in a canoe on the lake. There were two babies on board as well as a young boy!

Pioneers on String Lake

Sadly, after a while, due to the large amounts of snow the trail became hidden and it wasn’t clear which way to go so we decided to abandon the hike and go and have lunch instead, but what we did manage to see of the lake was beautiful and hopefully one day we will return and complete the hike.

On the way back to the car we were fortunate to see two yellow-bellied Marmots.

Yellow Bellied Marmot

After a great lunch, again at the Trapper Grill and served again by Kevin, of soup,  sandwiches and apple pie, we drove to the summit of Signal Mountain. The road to the summit is a very narrow one so a bit hairy at times when traffic was coming the other way but we eventually made it to the top okay.

Signal Mountain is an isolated summit standing 7,720 feet (2,350 m) above sea level. The next closest higher summit is more than 10 miles (16 km) distant, and this isolation provides sweeping views of the Teton Range, much of the northern Jackson Hole area as well as the Snake River. Though located adjacent to the Tetons, Signal Mountain was not formed in the same manner or period. The mountain originally was formed by volcanic ashfall from one of the eruptions of the Yellowstone hotspot. The peak is also partially a glacial moraine formed by a receding glacier that came south out of the Yellowstone icecap. This same glacier also created neighbouring Jackson Lake.

The views as you will see from the photos, were magnificent.

View from Signal Mountain

View from Signal Mountain

View from Signal Mountain

On the way back to our hotel we stopped off at Jenny Lake where a lady was meditating in the sun overlooking the lake. Whatever rocks your boat!!

Meditating by Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake
















Tomorrow we move on to the Rocky Mountain National Park. It will be a long drive of eight hours so an early start will be in order!

See you there!













Day 12! The Grand Tetons

When we awoke this morning we were already concerned on how the day would turn out because it was cloudy and thunderstorms had been predicted. Then, when we went to breakfast we were told that today was the first day of buffet breakfast and we could not order off the menu. We were not impressed because we both wanted the banana bread french toast with strawberries. Anyway,  I’m pleased to report that the clouds cleared, the sun appeared and we have had a glorious day hiking, taking lots of beautiful photos and meeting some very lovely people.

We started with a 3.2 mile round trip to see Taggart Lake. We didn’t do our research very well and were rather taken by surprise when, first of all, it was all up-hill but not too steep and then we were confronted by snow and muddy patches! Needless to say, both of us did not have our wet boots on. On the way back down Simon stood on snow that gave way and he ended up with rather wet shoes and socks and I fell over and got my trousers wet!!

Start of the Taggart Lake hike
















Sand on the Taggart Trail















Sand on the muddy trail to Taggart Lake







Sand on the way to Taggart Lake














The Taggart Trail

Simon at Taggart Lake













After being constantly advised to be ‘Bear Aware’ the whole way up we were, as advised, making lots of human noises and clapping our hands. Simon had seen some programme on television where a guy said to keep calling out ‘Hey Bear’ so the critter would not be surprised to see humans, so the whole way up he was repeating it over and over! We took the rather expensive bear spray but thankfully did not need to use it.

Si with that bear spray

En-route to the top we passed the most amazing rapid water, at one point being the closest we’ve ever been, apart from when we did white water rafting. Si took a video.

Taggart Lake is a natural lake standing at 6902 feet above sea level and a 2005 study of the water quality of the lakes in Grand Teton National Park indicated that the lakes in the park were still considered pristine and that they had not been impacted by air or water pollution. This was very obvious to us when we arrived and saw how crystal clear the water was.

We meet a few people on our way to the top and must give a special mention to Terry from Oregon and her niece Traci, from Irvine, California. They were visiting the Tetons and then travelling on to Yellowstone before Traci had to fly home. Traci’s husband had arranged the trip for her as a Mother’s Day present. He’s obviously one very thoughtful husband. It was great meeting and talking with you both. Enjoy Yellowstone!

Traci and Terry

















After our ‘work out’ we decided it was time for some lunch so went to the Trapper Grill at the Lodge at Signal Mountain where we were served by Kevin. He had spent some time studying in London so when we ordered sandwiches with chips he asked us if we knew that chips in the US were crisps and not fries. Bless! We told him we did indeed know that and he went on to tell us a story of how, when in London, he ordered fish and chips expecting fish and crisps and got …… fries. He laughed and said he then realised how so culturally unaware he was.

In the car park of the Lodge we saw some rather lovely vintage cars and after speaking to some of the owners we were told that they were part of a vintage car rally of 25 cars.

Historic Mercedes Gull Wing

Historic 50’s Jaguar

Historic Corvette

On our way to see Oxbow Bend, a haven for wildlife apparently, we stopped off at the Jackson Lake Dam and had the added bonus of seeing a moose in the trees. He was enormous and didn’t seem at all bothered by all the people taking photos of him. He just sat there munching away.



The Jackson Lake Dam is a concrete and earth-filled dam at the outlet of Jackson Lake. The Snake River emerges from the dam and flows about 800 miles (1,287 km) through Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington State to its mouth on the Columbia River in eastern Washington. The chief purpose of the dam is to provide water storage for irrigation in the Snake River basin in the state of Idaho as part of the Minidoka Project. Jackson Lake is a natural lake but its depth was increased by the dam to provide water storage.

The first Jackson Lake Dam was a log-crib dam constructed in 1906–7 across the outlet of Jackson Lake, a natural lake. That dam raised the lake level by 22 feet (6.7 m), but the dam failed in 1910. A new concrete and earthen dam was constructed in stages between 1911 and 1916, raising the maximum lake level to 30 feet (9.1 m) above the lake’s natural elevation, providing a storage capacity of 847,000 acre feet).

It was lucky that we saw the Moose at the dam because when we got to Oxbow Bend, there was no wildlife at all! In fact, we haven’t seen a whole lot of wildlife here, even though we’ve been told there is lots about. Hey ho, we can’t be lucky every time.

Sand at Oxbow Bend

This is a photo of the complete Teton range. It’s 17 photos stitched together.

The Grand Teton Range

It’s been a rather long exhausting day so you will excuse me if I sign off now and go and enjoy a lovely meal and a couple of glasses of vino!!

PS: We went to dinner and ordered Kobe steaks. Well, once again we had to complain. Si’s steak was too salty (the chief agreed) and my ‘well done’ one was ‘medium rare” so once again we got a free dinner!


Day 11! The Grand Tetons

Well, here we are at the Teton Village staying in a ski-lodge which I have to say is wonderful. We once again have all the comforts of home.

Our day started with a lovely breakfast and for the benefit of and as requested Steve, here’s a photo of Simon eating his banana bread french toast with strawberries and another one of him at dinner tonight with his short rib. He said both meals were delicious!

Simon at dinner

Our first full day here has confirmed what we already knew, the Tetons are magnificent. No matter where you are you can see the mountains.

Grand Teton, at 13,775 feet (4,199 m), is the highest point of the Teton Range and the send highest peak in the state of Wyoming. The Teton Range is a sub-range of the Rocky Mountains, which extend from southern Alaska to northern New Mexico.

Grand Tetons

We visited the site of the ‘John Moulton Barn’. This is very famous and anyone who comes to the Tetons stops to take a photograph hoping to replicate the classic view of the barn. It sits in Mormon Row where 33 homesteaders from Salt Lake City first started a community at the turn of the 19th Century and clustered their farms to share labour and community. Some of the homes and barns still remain today as do some of the ditches they dug by hand to water their crops.

The John Moulton Barn

One of the original homesteaders was John Moulton and his grandson and family still own the homestead he built and it really is a beautiful place. We were lucky enough to meet Iola Moulton who showed us around and was obviously very proud of how the property has remained in the family all these years. The surrounding area is owned by the National Park Service.

Simon at the John Moulton Barn

Mormon Row Outhouse

Mormon Row Barn

Mormon Row
















Ground squirrels live underground near the barns and they may be small but the noise they make when warning others of impending danger is amazing. They are like very small meerkats, they even sit bolt upright on top of their burrows to warn others of danger.

Ground Squirrel
















We are hoping to see lots of moose here but just in case we don’t Simon took a picture of me with this one at the Visitors Centre!

Sand and Moose!

We then visited Jenny Lake. It was formed approximately 12,000 years ago by glacier activity. It is estimated to be 423 feet (129 m) deep and encompasses 1,191 acres. Jenny Lake is considered to be a major focal point in Grand Teton National Park, with many hiking trails, scenic boat rides, and quick access to the major climbing routes onto the tallest peaks of the Teton Range.

Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake

By the way …………… does anyone now the cost of bear spray? We paid nearly $50 dollars for a can that they say will last for about seven seconds!!!!! Still, one can’t put a price on safety! Let’s just hope we won’t need to use it.



Day 10! Yellowstone to the Grand Tetons

Today was a driving day. We left Yellowstone for the Grand Tetons. It was a very pleasant drive, mostly through forests still with winter snow. We had a lovely lunch near Colter Bay eating Teton cheesesteak. We first had cheesesteak in the form of a pizza when we visited with our dear friend Nat in Pennsylvania many moons ago and have loved it ever since.

Lone Tree on Lake Yellowstone

Leaving Yellowstone

At one point, Simon looked in his rear-view mirror and there crossing the road was a bear! We quickly turned the car around but we couldn’t see where he’d gone to in the forest. If we had been just a few seconds later we would have come face to face!

Entering Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons

Tetons from Signal Mountain

From what we have seen on our drive into the Tetons, it’s going to be a wonderful stay.


Days 9! Yellowstone

Today we are going to finish off our tour of Yellowstone. I think it’s fair to say that after today we will have seen just about all we can see on a driving tour. We have some great photos for you to see.

First of all however, it’s breakfast! I must say that the Dining Room does a fabulous granola strawberry parfait which I’ve had a few times. Simon was into omelettes and a bowl of fruit. Steve B. this is for you. Sorry I don’t have photos!!!

Our start was somewhat delayed because two bison thought it would be good fun to stroll and then run along the roadway to find a suitable place for breakfast and in so doing did a grand job of holding up the traffic for quite some time. Great patience is need when visiting Yellowstone.

We eventually arrived at our first port of call, the geothermal features known as Artist’s Paint Pots. There are colourful hot springs, two large mud pots, a fumarole (an opening in the planet’s crust, often in the neighbourhood of volcanoes, which emits steam and gases such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride and hydrogen sulphide ………… this is the lesson for today folks!!) and a couple of geysers. The mud pots were fascinating so Simon took a video which I hope captures the wonder of it all.

Artist’s Paint Pots

Artist’s Paint Pots

Mud Pool at Artist’s Paint Pot

Sand at Artist’s Paint Pots

At Fountain Paint Pots in Lower Geyser Basin we and about 500 Japanese tourists were lucky to see Clepsydra Geyser erupting.

Simon at Clepsydra Geyser















Sand at Clepsydra Geyser



Next we visited Biscuit Basin Loop to see more hot springs but we first of all saw two pretty blue birds (haven’t been able to find out their real names) who had made a nest inside a tree. For small birds they were making rather a lot of noise.

Black Opal Spring at Biscuit Basin Loop

Blue Birds

One of the most magnificent and famous sights in Yellowstone is Grand Prismatic Spring in Midway Geyser Basin. Simon took photos last year but was disappointed with how they turned out. Photos of Grand Prismatic are best taken from above in a helicopter but alas our’s wasn’t available today!! The colours are out of this world.

Grand Prismatic Spring

Onward to West Thumb Geyser Basin one of the smallest geyser basins in Yellowstone yet its location along the shore of Yellowstone Lake ranks it as the most scenic. It derived its name from the thumb-like projection of Yellowstone Lake and the name was given by the 1870 Washburn Expedition. It has less geyser activity than other basins but for its size, has it all, hot springs, pools, mud pots, fumaroles and lake shore geysers.

Fishing Cone at West Thumb

Bluebell Pool at West Thumb

We also saw two Japanese tourists who had gotten married and then were visiting the Basin. How wonderful.

Wedding Couple at West Thumb

















We called into Grant Village for refreshments and ended up having pizzas!! They were delicious but again Steve sorry, I don’t have any photos! This will be rectified very soon! I did however, take a photo of Simon enjoying a few moments in a rocking chair while he waited for me to complete my shopping. He’s still not wearing a hat and I’m afraid you can still see his little ‘lilly whites!!’

Si enjoying his rocker!

On the way back to our hotel I was looking at the map when something caught my eye and I knew immediately we would have to stop off to visit and take photos of …………… Mystic Falls!!!! To all the Vampire Diary fans reading this, and you know who you are, you will appreciate my excitement. We had to do a two-mile round trek to get there and back but when we arrived a most magnificent sight greeted us. No, it wasn’t Damon or Stefan and in fact the Mystic Grill was missing too but we did have a magnificent waterfall to look at!!!!!!

Mystic Falls

Sand holding up a tree trunk on the way back from Mystic Falls!

Last but not least on our travels today we came across signs for the Continental Divide. The Continental Divide of the Americas is the principal and largely mountainous, hydrological divide of the Americas. The Divide extends from the Bering Strait to the Strait of Magellen and separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from (1) those river systems that drain into the Atlantic Ocean (including those that drain into the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea and (2) along the northernmost reaches of the Divide, those river systems that drain into the Arctic Ocean.

Though there are many other hydrological divides in the Americas, the Great Divide is by far the most prominent of these because it tends to follow a line of high peaks along the main ranges of the Rocky Mountains and Andes, at a generally much higher elevation than the other hydrological divisions.

Do I sound as though I’ve swallowed Wikipedia? It’s such a good source of information! Anyway, taking all that into account we of course had to stop off for a photo opportunity.

Sand and Simon at the Continental Divide

One interesting thing we’ve seen whilst travelling around the Park are snow sticks. These are poles that measure the snowfall during the winter. They are all along the side of the road and some we saw in the southern part of Yellowstone were about 12-15 feet tall! They sure do have some magnificent snow during the winter months.

One thing I keep forgetting to mention is that we are again doing the Licence Plate Game. Some of you will remember we did this on our trip last year and for those who don’t know it involves a board with every state of the US on it and we have to try and see all the licence plates of the 50 States and mark this off on the board. Last year we got down to needing just two, Hawaii and Delaware, but were told the chances of seeing those States was very unlikely.

Licence Plate Game from 2013











Well, I’m pleased to report that as of today, only eleven days into our holiday, we already have 44 of the States!! All we need now is the board to mark them off on as we are writing them down on a piece of paper!



Day 7! Yellowstone

We started the day by taking the opportunity to do a horse ride in the back country of the Park. Three million people visit the Park every year but less than 1% actually get to see ‘behind the scenes’ and we can now say we are two of the 1%.

Simon rode Logan and I had Crockett, two very lovely animals. They were very gentle and we were lucky enough to see bison and elk on our ride plus quite a few elk bones! You will see from the photos that we decided to wear safety helmets. After listening to the safety talk where we were told that ‘death’ was a real possibility due to the wild life and terrain so we thought the insurance company would take more kindly to paying any bills that may have occurred from the ride if we wore helmets. Here we are looking every ounce the riding professionals that we are!!!!! Don’t you just love those helmets!!

One suggestion for the wranglers would be to provide mounting blocks for the ‘vertically challenged’ among us!! It’s a shame someone didn’t get a video of me trying to mount Crockett, it would have made a very good YouTube video!!!!!

Sand on Crockett

Simon on Logan

On the way to our next destination we passed one of the hot springs and lovely waterfall near Mammoth where we are staying.

One of the hot springs at Mammoth

Waterfall near Mammoth

After our very enjoyable ride we made our way to Norris Geyser Basin where probably the biggest collection of geysers in the Park can be found. We spent a couple of hours doing the complete 2.2 miles circuit. This place is really something to see and smell!!!! The smell of rotten eggs makes me gag every time (I know, too much information). We were lucky enough to see one of the geysers, Vixen Geyser, erupting, showering three children with water. They were very excited indeed and were running around telling everyone what had happened, giggling all the time.

Vixen Geyser

Geyser at Norris Geyser Basin

Echinus Geyser at Norris Geyser Basin

We then drove up to Canyon Village, which sits more or less in the centre of the Park, through the Dunraven Pass which only re-opened yesterday after the winter snows and en-route saw snow drifts of between 8-10 feet. Simon decided he would find out how deep the snow really was ………….. it was deep. We were rather taken by surprise when we looked up at the mountain and there was a skier coming down towards us complete with his back pack …. I think he must have been going to do his shopping and taking the quick route!

Simon enjoying the snow at Dunraven Pass

Skier at Dunraven Pass
















It was a beautiful drive but when we arrived at the Village it rained and got really quite cold but after refreshing ourselves at the Yellowstone Grill where we partook of a burger (nicely cooked) for Si and a grilled cheese sandwich for me, (I have to post what we ate because there are those among you who like to know the tiniest little detail) we really didn’t care!

In one of my earlier posts I told you about the hotel we are staying at, but didn’t mention that it has just one dining room which means there is usually a wait for a table. All the staff are very friendly and always willing to have a chat about your day.

Today, we had just arrived for dinner when a rather large coach party arrived and it seems that there was immediately a shortage of bread plates for the incoming diners. We were just enjoying our pre-dinner bread (always a favourite with me, I would rather have the bread than the meal!) when a waiter came and asked us if we had finished with our plates, we said we hadn’t which was pretty obvious as there was still bread on them. He went away and five minutes later was back again asking if he could take them away. We again told him ‘no’ and from then on every time we saw approaching we took hold of the plates with both hands just in case he was coming to steal them from us. Needless to say, I had hysterics and just couldn’t stop laughing.

The food has been excellent, but tonight it was necessary to complain about Simon’s bison steak (I do hope it wasn’t one of those we saw earlier in the day), sorry to all vegetarians reading this!! He ordered it as ‘medium’ but when it arrived was swimming in blood, even the mashed potato couldn’t soak it up! Now anyone who has watched MasterChef will know that red meat has to be left to rest before serving it or the end result is a plate swimming in blood.

Nevertheless, he ate it and then complained, well he did say that regardless it was actually rather delicious. I did advise the manager, Lauren, of what MasterChef had taught me and she was obviously very impressed with my knowledge as she kindly took the cost of the steak off the bill and even treated us to two free desserts!! The poor waiter who served us had only been working there a week and the next morning he had the pleasure of serving us again for breakfast and this time we had to complain about the fact that we had to wait 25 minutes before we were even served coffee and tea, let alone our breakfast. I think he was rather pleased to see the back of us!


Day 6! Yellowstone National Park

Some of you reading the blog will know that we were here last year on our ‘big’ tour of the USA and so loved the Park decided to comeback again to spend more time seeing the things we missed. We are not disappointed as it is just as lovely as we remembered it.

We were told it would be cold and to expect snow but here at Mammoth it is warm and there’s no snow in sight, except on the surrounding mountains, so those thick winter jackets we packed probably won’t be needed after all! Just glad I didn’t bring the snow boots I bought!!

Today we visited the Lamar Valley and Black Tail Deer Creek and stopped to take a photo of two bison crossing the road. Imagine our surprise when we turned to walk back to our car and saw a man motioning to us to get out of the way because a huge herd was making its way straight towards us. Needless to say we hurried back to the refuge of our car. There were baby bison among the herd and this makes the parents very nervous when confronted with humans and vehicles.

Bison herd that took us by surprise!

We were also lucky enough to see two moose or is that mooses? This was a first as we didn’t manage that last year.

Two Moose

Here are a few of the hundreds of photos Simon has taken of our trip around the Park today. Hope you enjoy them!


Sand in the Lamar Valley by the Yellowstone River

Bison enjoying a dust bath

A flower in the Lamar Valley

Mummy bison with babies

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Sand looking out over Yellowstone

Another mummy bison and baby

The Lamar Valley

A yellow bellied Marmot


Day 4! Salt Lake City

Well, we have to say that Salt Lake City has taken us by surprise. We’ve enjoyed our visit here a lot. It’s a lovely city, well laid out and very clean.

We started the day by visiting the Saltair. First built in 1893, it is now a concert venue situated right on the edge of the Great Salt Lake. It sits all alone with nothing surrounding it. In its heyday, at the turn of the century, trainloads of pleasure seekers arrived regularly at Saltair to sit or lie down, relax and float in the waters just like a cork because it was impossible to sink as it was so buoyant due to the high levels of salt in the water. Even now, thousands of people flock to the Lake to enjoy the experience. No swimming skills are necessary to enjoy the Lake, you just float.

Bison on the Lake

The Lake has been created due to the influx of water from three different rivers.  With no exit point it means the water just evaporates leaving salt behind. The ratio of salt in the sea is three percent whereas in the Great Salt Lake it is thirty percent.

We then visited Antelope Island State Park, the largest island in Great Salt Lake. The Lake is a remnant of pre-historic Lake Bonneville, which covered more than 20,000 square miles during the Ice Age. The Lake is currently 75 miles long by 28 miles wide, covering 1,700 square miles and the maximum depth is about 33 feet. The Park is home to bison, bighorn sheep, mule deer and pronghorn antelope and were lucky to come across a

New Born Twins!

pronghorn antelope who had just given birth to two babies!

Artifacts reveal prehistoric people inhabited the island more than 6,000 years ago with John C. Fremont and Kit Carson making the first known Anglo Exploration of the Island in 1845.

The first permanent resident was Fielding Garr in 1848 and the ranch house he built was continually inhabited until 1981 and the building still stands today. While we were there we tried our hand at wrangling and needless to say, Simon was the winner,

Si the wrangler

managing to get his lasso round one of the ‘cows’ horns! All I got for my failed attempts was a stint in the jail!


On our way to the Great Salt Lake this morning we found ourselves in Syracuse!! Well, how could this be, had we taken a wrong turn because we know that Syracuse is in the northern part of New York State? Well, you learn something every day and we now know that there are two towns called Syracuse in the U.S.

The Syracuse Fire Engine!

Note to my good friend Dot: make sure you take the right road or you could find yourself in Syracuse, Utah!!!!

No visit to Salt Lake City would be complete without a visit to Temple Square, home of the Morman Church. The buildings are magnificent.

Tomorrow we travel to Yellowstone National Park and unfortunately, they don’t have the internet there so we will be out of contact with the rest of the human race until the 27th of May when we will, once again, regale you of all the great things we will have seen and the wonderful pictures Simon will have taken! Well he hopes!

As we are visiting Yellowstone earlier than last year, we are hoping for lots of different photos. It will be much colder and there may even be a touch of snow!!

See you next week!!

Days 1-3! Las Vegas to Salt Lake City

Hi Everyone, we are back!

Our trip will last four weeks from 18th May to 16th June.

Days 1 and 2 (18th and 19th June):

We, well I, didn’t have a very good start to our new adventure, after enjoying a very nice breakfast before our flight at Gatwick Airport, I had the misfortune to lose my footing in the restaurant, landed very heavily on my derriere and in the process managed to hurt my hand. One of my fingers is now a lovely shade of blue! My hand’s a little sore and painful but I’ll survive. I thank you in advance for your encouragement and support!

So, our first ‘port of call on this trip was Las Vegas. It was 95 degrees when we arrived so lovely and warm and we’ve tried a new hotel too, the Vdara, it’s a non-smoking, non-casino hotel and we were on the 51st floor.  Well, to say the view was magnificent is an understatement. Hopefully, Simon’s photo will show you just how good it was.

On our first gambling outing, Simon managed to win $800 (£500) on a Super Monopoly machine, so all in all, a good start. We will return here in three week’s time to complete our holiday. Let’s hope our winning streak continues then.

Day 3 (20th May):

We left Las Vegas this morning and at just the right time as the weather had cooled to 75 degrees and went to collect our hire car.  Those who followed us last year will remember that we didn’t have a very good time with our car hire!! Well, to cut a long story short, when we arrived at the car hire facility in Las Vegas we informed the agent that we didn’t want a repeat of last year’s fiasco and are now very pleased to report that Fred, the agent, went out of his way to ensure that we received the very best treatment and that we were given the best vehicle available to make up for their shortcomings last year and we are now driving a rather luxurious vehicle, a GMC Acadia. For those who are geeky about cars, just click on the link! Our Acadia is a black one.

En-route to Yellowstone National Park we’ve stopped over in Salt Lake City. This is our first visit here and the weather’s a little cooler than Las Vegas but first impressions are very favourable. Tomorrow we will be ‘doing the sights’.