Thursday, August 20, 2009

Las Vegas...Provo....Jackson Hole

BLOG ONE OF MONTANA TRIP Las Vegas. Provo, Jackson Hole

July 21st, 2009 Las Vegas, Nevada

In June we received an invitation to attend a 50th Wedding Anniversary party for some friends who were our neighbors from about 1967 to 1988 for July 25th in Montana. We moved from the neighborhood in 1988 and they moved from sunny California to Montana in 1996. Over the years we’ve kept in touch and actually visited their new home build several miles down a gravel road up against the Bitterroot Mountains about ten years ago.

What a great excuse to plan a road trip! On Donner, on Blitzer, to the computer we flew; blazing a trail to the mountains we knew….. By July 1st we had hotels reserved and the loose knit plan of our route for an eleven day road trip that would take us from California, through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Montana. After that we planned to drive from Montana through Idaho, Oregon and back into California with our final stop in San Francisco to visit with children who live there.

One minor detail created a concern … I would be in the middle of blogging daily reports on the 2009 Tour de France along with a Journal and photos that I’d made as we followed the Tour in 2004 on a three month trip to Europe. The Bradenton Newspaper in Florida was counting on my Blog for their Travel Section. I set to work preparing all of my Blogs and photos in advance so that I would be ready to put them in each day as we traveled. The reports on the 2009 Tour de France would have to be created daily and then everything entered as we find Internet access along the way!

We left this morning on our first leg that took us across the desert from Orange County to Las Vegas. Because we couldn’t leave until I posted my Blog after the race; it was a late start and we didn’t arrive in Las Vegas until about 5 pm. We got off the freeway way too early and inched along the Casino Strip for what seemed like an hour. The good news is that it was a perfect way to see all of the new Casinos along the Strip! And, our Prius automobile only uses gasoline when we are moving, so it didn’t take extra gas for the tortoise drive down Las Vegas Boulevard! Yes, we are very economical when traveling and average about fifty miles to the gallon.

Finally arrived at our Econo Lodge on the north end of the Strip; checked in and then headed back to the Strip for a closer look at some of the Casinos. We found free parking at the Bellagio Hotel and enjoyed reminiscing about previous stays as we strolled through the lobby under the gaudy but magnificent ceiling of two thousand hand-blown glass flowers designed by the world renowned artist, Dale Chihuly. As we pushed through the revolving doors into the heat of the night we watched a water show beginning in the lake in front of the Hotel. Moving around the walkways to the music of Frank Sinatra we watched the water dance and shoot towering jags into the night sky.

We joined the thongs of tourist in their brief outfits strolling along the Las Vegas Boulevard from Casino to Casino; the desert temperature was dry but hovering around one hundred degrees give or take ten. We finally found a place to cross the street and then came back on the other side through the Paris Casino; yes, we’ve stayed there before also when time was short and money was plentiful. Now we have lots of time and less money so travel is done more economically; but, we’ve found that it adds a bit of fun to find the bargains both here in the USA and in Europe.

Back across the street, stopped for another romantic interlude at the Bellagio Hotel Water Show before finding the car and heading home for the night. We have Wireless Internet here in the hotel so we’ll stay to watch the Tour de France on our computers before posting my Blog after the race. Tomorrow will be another hot day of driving as we head north into Utah.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 Provo, Utah

Why were we watching the Tour de France on our computers? No cable network television that carried Versus at our little hotel; so computers were our only choice. I posted my Blog as soon as the race was over and we were on the road just before 9 am! It was another day of warm weather as we headed northeast on Interstate 15 into Utah after crossing over the corner of Arizona. Actually, Nevada had been cooler than normal for this time of year because of the overhead clouds that shielded us from the sun most of the time.

Beautiful drive along the edge of Zion National Park that we visited last year on our return trip from the Hot Air Balloon Festival in New Mexico; tomato colored high desert views everywhere we looked. We were headed for Provo about fifty miles south of Salt Lake City.

Arrived late afternoon; found our Econo Lodge Hotel on the edge of town .It has the right number of requirements: air conditioning, clean rooms, Wireless Internet and television…this time with Versus Network so we’ll be able to watch the bicycle race tomorrow morning!

We drove into downtown Provo, the third largest city in Utah and home to the Mormon’s Brigham Young University. I’d expected a large city but this is a very comfortable town with very wide streets. There is definitely a “Midwestern” feel about the town from the style of houses and the commercial buildings. There was a beautiful old church in the downtown area that has been converted to a private school.

Speaking of churches; they almost always have a white steeple and you can spot one in every neighborhood from the highway; not just in every town….in every neighborhood. Reminds me of the Catholic Churches in Italy….there’s so many of them they almost tumble onto one another!

Stopped in the Tourist Information shop for some advice and she answered all of our questions and was a veritable fountain of information about the city. Too bad we’re only spending one night in town. After we returned to our hotel we went for a short walk for some needed exercise after two days of driving. Should have walked longer but the sun was very warm even though it was almost dusk.

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 Jackson Hole, Wyoming

We enjoyed watching the Tour de France on the television this morning. Today was the individual time trials in Annecy so it would be a stretch after the leaders finished before they provided us with results. Deciding to get the results later in the day, we put the pedal to the metal just before 10 am as we had a long road ahead of us today; we’ll be driving along the Great Salt Lake around to the east of the city and then heading into cowboy country: Wyoming!

Our goal today is to reach the northern end of the State of Wyoming and the National Parks. Tonight we plan to camp in the Grand Teton National Park. Several hours into the day’s drive we left the Interstate Highway system and found the beautiful two lane highways along side of rushing rivers and sometimes in the canyons between mountains. It was another long day but with awesome scenery.

In the late afternoon we entered Jackson, also known as Jackson Hole and we knew we were in the Wild West! Stacks of antlers everywhere…arched over the road, on the buildings, in the parks…everywhere! Definitely attuned to the tourist industry, but well done with a western motif.

But what we were looking for was a “McDonald’s Restaurant”. Why? Because they just might have wireless Internet! So for the price of a sandwich, we were able to log into the Internet for one hour; confirm the results of today’s time trials in France and then post my Blog for the day! So much stress!

From Jackson Hole we were only about an hour or so from the National Park. But, because of the beautiful jagged Grand Teton Mountains…WITH SNOW ON TOP…it was a longer drive because we kept stopping for photos and to enjoy a view we haven’t seen for nearly fifty years.

Using our Senior Pass we entered into the National Park without additional fees. We drove to the northern edge of the park to Lizard Creek Campground. They don’t take reservations so everything is on a first come, first served basis. We arrived about 4 pm and were assigned the last camping spot in the campground! The site was an easy walk to Jackson Lake and views of the Grand Tetons. And, because of our Senior Pass we only paid $9.00; half the regular price.

Still warm, we fixed our dinner from supplies that we’d purchased in Jackson Hole and then walked to the lake and around the campground. No campfire program tonight as they only do them on the weekends. As the sun dipped lower we began to set up our sleeping arrangements for the night while we still had light. Big problem…large mosquitoes…didn’t dare leave the windows or car doors open.

Remember…we’re in a Prius…back seats fold down so we put the luggage into the front seats along with all the other extra “stuff”. I blew up the twin size air mattress that we’d brought from home and laid the sleeping bags on top. It was going to be a tight squeeze. We put on more clothing because of the bugs and went for another walk around the campground and actually saw a deer in the trees next to the road. Too many mosquitoes so we got back into the car and ran the engine for the air conditioner while we read our books and waited for the sun to set and the weather to cool down. Looooonnnnnggggg evening! But I’d agreed to try it once as he wanted to see if it would work. Maybe without the bugs…..but I’m so glad we’ve got a sleeping pill to take tonight so that we can get some sleep! I’m a Girl Scout and always prepared! Did I mention that I didn’t drink any liquids after 5 pm…I’m not walking down the road in the middle of the night to the restrooms.


Anonymous said...

Oh what fun to read...your new journal is so well written ..kept me chuckling all the way through. Am looking forward to the next post.
Hugs, Mary

Laura Curran said...

Car camping, I am so impressed. Being able to car camp is a criteria in case I ever buy a new car. Good to hear the test results.

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