Kickin’ Around in Jackson, Wyoming

Day 38: Thursday, June 6, 2013

Today, we took a ‘down’ day in Jackson. Yes, Jackson is a touristy town. And yes, we’re tourists. 🙂 Hanging around the Cowboy Village Resort has been a great, relaxing haven from long days of driving (and fun!).

Office at the Cowboy Village Resort

Office at the Cowboy Village Resort

Cowboy Village Office - Carved pillar

Cowboy Village Office – Carved pillar

Back side of the pillar

Back side of the pillar

Back side of the pillar

Back side of the pillar

We slept in and then went over to Bubba’s BBQ for breakfast. Now, you wouldn’t think that a BBQ joint would be your first choice for breakfast. However, the front desk clerk at our resort highly recommended Bubba’s. She was spot-on.

I had the Chicken Fried Steak breakfast. I had been mulling over biscuits and gravy or the chicken fried steak…the waitress said that I could have both if I had a biscuit with my steak. BINGO! Tom ordered the Mexican Breakfast Burrito, and we split some blueberry pancakes. Yes, it was a heavy meal. And yes, we just about finished it all. It was SO good!

Breakfast at Bubba's

Breakfast at Bubba’s – Chicken fried steak, gravy, two eggs, hash browns and a biscuit.

After rolling back to the resort, we decided to take a stroll downtown. We put the girls in the doggie stroller and did some sightseeing and shopping. The galleries here have some interesting stuff, from a $450,000 Triceratops head fossil to your normal t-shirts and souvenir shot glasses. I ended up with a Bison purse and Huckleberry taffy. 🙂

Elk Antler Arch - Jackson Town Square

Elk Antler Arch – Jackson Town Square

Bear? Where?

Bear? Where?

Tom REALLY likes Bison

Tom REALLY likes Bison

We also took the opportunity to get the oil changed on the car and to do laundry. Do we know how to party, or what? In fact, we had so much fun that the dogs were just…dog tired! They are definitely bonding more and more every day.

Tired puppies

Tired puppies

Tomorrow, we head to Fort Collins, CO in preparation to see the Rocky Mountain National Park. Then, we’re going to motor through the Midwest before exploring Kentucky, Tennessee, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachians until heading home.

Home. Yes, we’re moving in that direction. Part of me really misses home. The other part kind of wishes that the adventure could continue on indefinitely. But hey, we still have a few more weeks of rolling.

Advertisements

Bryce Canyon Beauty

Day 33: Saturday, June 1, 2013
Visited: Bryce Canyon National Park

This is our third National Park in a week. We are in awe of all this country has to offer, all the wild and beautiful places that still exist and are being preserved for generations to come.

Today’s visit to Bryce Canyon was as good as could be. We got up early and took the first shuttle into the park. It was quiet and almost empty. The morning was bright and cool. Perfect.

The first shuttle stop was at Bryce Canyon. The bus let us off, and within a few steps, we had reached this magnificent vista. According to the park info, Bryce Canyon is not technically a canyon since it was not carved by running water; instead, the canyon was made by rainwater eroding the stone and, over time, making this unique landscape. I do have to say that I took about a hundred photos today. You can thank me for only publishing a few of them… 😉

Tom and Mahgrit at Bryce Point

Tom and Mahgrit at Bryce Point

Magnificent Vista at Bryce Canyon

Magnificent Vista at Bryce Canyon

Unusual Bryce Canyon strata called Hoodoos

Unusual Bryce Canyon strata called Hoodoos (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

We took the bus to each of the stops and checked out the different canyons and views. I especially liked Inspiration Point.

Hoodoos everywhere at Inspiration Point

Hoodoos everywhere at Inspiration Point

This Hoodoo reminded us of an alien. Could it have been an alien race that carved these canyons? Nah…

Hoodoo or Alien?

Hoodoo or Alien?

We walked along the canyon rim trail from one of the points, Sunset Point, to the next vista, Sunrise point. In between, we visited the lodge. It had great, rustic cabins that were just steps away from the canyon rim. I’d love to stay at one of these someday! The lodge house itself was the original lodge put up by a family that now seems to have the monopoly on lodging and restaurants at Bryce Canyon City.

Bryce Canyon Lodge

Bryce Canyon Lodge

After touring the park through the shuttle system, we went back to the hotel and picked up the car (and the pups). We drove out to Rainbow Point, the furthest driving point in the park, and had a picnic lunch. We then stopped at all the vistas on the way back to the hotel. This part of the park is not served by the shuttle system. However, the shuttle gave us a great overview of the park and allowed us to determine how busy the park was (not) and if we’d have issues driving to different points. We spent the rest of the time exploring on our own. What was surprising was the contrast between the vast forests and the dramatic canyons. Both the Grand Canyon and Zion were less densely rich in forest, while Bryce was a mix of the two. Hence today’s open road.

Today's open road to Rainbow Point

Today’s open road to Rainbow Point

There were more great strata at the different vista points, including this great Natural Bridge.

Natural Bridge - Bryce Canyon

Natural Bridge – Bryce Canyon

We saw a lot of ground squirrels and birds in the park, but our most dramatic encounter with nature was the Pronghorn Antelope that were grazing by the side of the road. We stopped and I got out of the car to take this picture. It didn’t phase the antelope one bit.

Pronghorn Antelope on the roadside

Pronghorn Antelope on the roadside

I do have to say that three National Parks in a week is a lot. By the end of the day’s sightseeing, I was getting a bit jaded. “Oh yeah, another breathtakingly beautiful vista. Click.”

Oh the places you will go...

Oh the places you will go… (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

After a hard day of sight-seeing, we had some down time. I did a little artwork, while Tom and Jasmine surfed Facebook and then took a well-deserved nap.

Tom and Jasmine check out Facebook

Tom and Jasmine check out Facebook

All that sight-seeing makes everyone sleepy

All that sight-seeing makes everyone sleepy

Tomorrow, we start heading North towards Yellowstone. However, we are going to take the scenic route. At this point, is there any other route but scenic?

Touring Zion National Park

Day 31: Thursday, May 30, 2013
Visited: Zion National Park

We spent the day exploring Zion National Park.

Unfortunately, the park doesn’t allow pets on its shuttle system and only one of the trails is pet-friendly. So, we decided to board the girls at Doggy Dude Ranch just a few miles out of town. We’re glad we did. The three-page questionnaire and the detailed questions the owner at the Ranch asked us spoke volumes. Had our two girls been more socialized, they would have had a grand time chasing other small dogs around the outdoor play area, complete with doggy pool. However, we explained the issues with Jasmine and Juliet (especially the sensitive tummies), and they were more than happy to keep the dogs in the house. This is not your ordinary boarding kennel.

With the dogs safely and (somewhat) happily housed at the Ranch, we parked back at our hotel and hopped on to the Zion shuttle. The shuttle system for the park is fabulous. One shuttle goes back and forth through the town of Springdale, enabling park visitors to leave their cars at their hotels or in open parking lots outside the park. The park itself has very little available parking, so this makes great sense. Inside the park, the most picturesque road in the park is ONLY accessible by park shuttle during the busy summer season. Given the lack of parking and the impact of cars, this makes great sense. So, we got to the park and then hopped on the park’s scenic shuttle. All of this is provided at no cost (aside from park admission).

Yesterday’s views were just a precursor to the natural beauty we saw today. From the Virgin River to the Court of the Patriarchs, from Weeping Rock to the Temple of Sinawava…we drank in the beauty of this geological wonder. Here are just a fraction of the photos we took.

Tom and Mahgrit - Court of the Patriarchs

Tom and Mahgrit – Court of the Patriarchs

Zion National Park

Zion National Park – It’s all sandstone

Majestic canyon at Zion

Majestic canyon at Zion

Zion National Park - Carved by water and wind

Carved by water and wind

Virgin River - Zion National Park

Virgin River – Zion National Park

This canyon was carved by Virgin River

This canyon was carved by Virgin River and continues to evolve over time

Love the colors, unusual formations

Love the colors, unusual formations

Mahgrit at Zion National Park

Mahgrit at Zion National Park

Butterfly at the Virgin River

Butterfly at the Virgin River

Mahgrit tires of the paparazzi

Mahgrit tires of the paparazzi

Zion Panorama

Zion Panorama (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

We left the park around 1:30 or 2:00 and headed for lunch. We tried MeMe”s Cafe…recommended by the Doggy Dude Ranch people. This little cafe is known for their crepes. We tried the triple berry crepe with vanilla yogurt and Nutella. WHOOP! Tom had never tried Nutella before. What kind of deprived life has this man led? We also had steamed rice, veggie and chicken teriyaki bowls; we balanced healthy with…um…well, everything was yummy!

Triple berry and Nutella Crepe at Meme's

Triple berry and Nutella Crepe at MeMe’s Cafe

After lunch, we picked up the dogs. They were happy to see us, but it was clear that they weren’t negatively impacted by the Dude Ranch. Everyone was happy, including the persistent Jasmine (pet me…Pet Me…aren’t you going to PET ME?).

Many moods of Jasmine

The many moods of Jasmine. Okay, the ONE mood. PET ME!

It was a fabulous day, and we are kind of sorry that we didn’t book more time here. But we’re off to Bryce Canyon tomorrow…perhaps we’ll be equally enthralled with Bryce as we have been with the Grand Canyon and Zion. After Bryce, we believe we are going to go through the forests and green spaces of Utah, up into Wyoming to the Tetons and Yellowstone. After that, we’re contemplating going back down through Colorado and sprinting across the plains to Tennessee. We have up to three weeks more to meander across the country. We’re really not sure how we’re going to spend the time. But we do know that whatever we decide to do…it’s going to be yet another great adventure…

Very Grand Canyon

Day 29: Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Visited: Grand Canyon, Flagstaff
Miles Driven Today: 156
Total Miles: 4,287

We had a magnificent visit to the Grand Canyon today.

The plan was to get up early and get to the Canyon before the massive hordes of humanity. It worked out well! We were on the road before 8 am, and we reached the South Rim about 9:30. We found the parking lot at the Visitor’s Center about half full…not bad!

The Grand Canyon is one of the dog-friendly national parks. Dogs are allowed on all the trails above the rim. So, Jasmine and Juliet were our companions today. We used the doggie stroller and took them with us to the Canyon rim…and there we saw so much natural beauty that it was hard to fathom.

We visited the lookouts near the Visitor’s Center (crowded), and then started walking the trail above the Center. The crowd thinned out considerably, and we had a lovely, somewhat solitary stroll along the Canyon rim. We chatted with a few people (once again, we were asked about the doggie stroller…I should sell these!), but mainly, we just enjoyed the mild weather and beautiful vistas.

Spectacular Grand Canyon

Spectacular Grand Canyon – Click to Enlarge

Beautiful Grand Canyon Vistas

Beautiful Grand Canyon Vistas

Family picture on the South Rim

Family picture on the South Rim

Juliet enjoying the view from the stroller

Juliet enjoying the view from the stroller (just seconds before she jumped out!)

Grand Canyon, A beautiful day

A beautiful day at the Grand Canyon

Tom enjoying the view

Tom enjoying the view

After a few hours, we decided to get something for lunch. We made our way out of the park and down to the nearest town. We sat outside and ate our sandwiches in the bright, warm sun. It really was a perfect day! We also stopped at a fun Trading Post at the intersection of Hwy 180 and Hwy 64. They had some really cool stuff!

White-tailed deer

We spotted some white-tailed deer on the way out of the park

Double Eagle Trading Post

Double Eagle Trading Post

We had taken the scenic byway (Hwy 180) to the Canyon and went the same way back. It was a lovely drive…very few cars and lots of scenery. The open road pics are particularly inspiring today.

Today's Open Road

Today’s open road.

Today's open road

Today’s open road – what a fabulous view from that ranch house!

When we got back to Flagstaff, we walked around downtown. The shops mainly cater to the younger crowd at Northern Arizona U (right next door to our hotel). We scoped out restaurants and decided on something unexpected–Hawaiian plate lunches at Aloha Hawaiian BBQ! Yay!

Dinner? Without me?

Dinner? Without me?

Chicken Katsu, BBQ Chicken, Spam Musubi at Aloha Hawaiian BBQ

Chicken Katsu, BBQ Chicken, Spam Musubi at Aloha Hawaiian BBQ

Loco Moco at Aloha Hawaiian BBQ

Loco Moco at Aloha Hawaiian BBQ (Rice topped with a hamburger patty, gravy, two fried eggs and some macaroni salad)

Tomorrow, we’ll be driving for around 5 hours to reach our next destination–Zion National Park. We may stop in Kanab at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary if time permits. Dogtown has been one of my favorite rescue organizations for a very long time. I’m not sure if our pups will like Dogtown…but it will be interesting to see how they react!

Today, we crossed off yet another items on the ‘bucket list.’ And it was well worth the trip!

Santa Fe to Taos, New Mexico

Day 21: Monday, May 20, 2013
Start: Santa Fe, NM
End: Taos, NM
Miles Driven Today: 91
Total Miles: 3,144

Today we said goodbye to Santa Fe and hello to Taos. After re-jiggering our travel schedule, we’re staying three nights in Taos. This way, we can go see the Rio Grande Gorge, the Taos Pueblo, the Earthships, local museums, Bandelier National Monument, Ojo Caliente and Abiquiu and not have to rush.

We decided to take the High Road to Taos on our way up (thanks for the tip, John and Barb!). This was a spectacular drive through both scenic desert and mesas and through the Carson National Forest. People think of New Mexico as dry brush, but it’s spectacularly beautiful.

New Mexico open road

New Mexico open road

More open road

More open road

For the last few days, we’ve seen the same couple at breakfast. We’ve exchanged a few pleasantries. This morning, they stopped by to say goodbye and told us about their trip up to El Santuario de Chimayo. As we were driving up the High Road, we saw the sign for El Santuario. We stopped at this lovely (and still active) mission. There were as many people worshiping as there were tourists viewing the lovely main church (the artwork inside was so wonderful) and the grounds.

Door at El Santuario de Chimayo

Door at El Santuario de Chimayo

El Santuario de Chimayo garden

El Santuario de Chimayo garden

At the edge of the parking lot, a couple (Arthur “Lowlow” and Joan Medina) was selling chile powders, lavender and sage. We bought some chile powders and started chatting with the sellers. They grew their own chiles and made the powder and were in the process of joining a co-op of certified growers of both Chimayo and Hatch chile peppers. It seems like genetically modified seed has been infiltrating the Chimayo and Hatch growing fields, and these small growers are trying to keep their plants pure. Arthur is also an artist, and their Lowrider cars are famous! I wish we could see his art! There will be a website soon (LowLow’s Lowrider Art Place).

Joan Medina

Joan Medina and her homegrown goods

Before we left Chimayo, we stopped at a Chimayo woven good store. Traditional native designs are created using giant looms. The pieces, from rugs to sport coats, are quite striking in their intricate designs and quality. We loved the work and the loom room!

Loom rooms

Loom rooms

After we left Chimayo, we started to climb higher into the mountains. We then hit an art district with a number of small galleries. We stopped at a co-op gallery in Truchas where I got some brilliant glass art jewelry by Barrie Brown.

We snaked our way through Carson National Forest. The vistas were fabulous…and definitely not what I expected in New Mexico!

Through Carson National Forest

Through Carson National Forest

Vista in Carson National Forest

Vista in Carson National Forest

What a view

What a view!

When we finally reached Taos, we were a bit disappointed by the end of the ride. We tried to check in to the hotel, but our room wasn’t ready. We headed to the “Old Town” area of Taos (nothing like Santa Fe, I’m sorry to say) and walked around for a bit.

We checked into our hotel, the Sagebrush Inn. Walking into the room was…alarming. It had this odd, “you don’t want to know” smell to it. Whomever wrote glowing reviews of this place on Yelp and TripAdvisor must have been employees or paid reviewers. I was afraid to sleep on the bed.

We were hungry, so we decided to get out of the room and get some dinner. More Yelp-ing yielded the Downtown Bistro. We were looking for some salads, and this was one of the only restaurants that seemed to have some fresh green salad alternatives. We headed down to the restaurant and were greeted warmly by the chef/owner. When he opened the door (we got there at opening), I was on the phone with the hotel in Albuquerque that mucked up our reservations. He politely waited for me to finish, and welcomed us in.

We chatted about our travels and hotel woes, traveling with dogs, etc. He was very friendly and nice. We were seated, and we ordered our salads and a bowl of Red Chile soup. The soup was, in one word, exquisite. A superbly flavorful and spicy broth was peppered with little morsels of meat. We told the chef how much we were enjoying it, and he came out with MORE for us. Really! The salads were fresh and crisp and the balsamic dressing was perfect. It’s hard to do simple. A salad may just be a salad, but perfect greens, a balance of flavors and a really beautiful dressing…hard. We’re definitely going back before we leave. Sorry, but I was so into the soup that I forgot to take a picture of it!

We were chatting with the waitress (who was giving us tips on where to go and what to see) and we told her that we had to find a doggie daycare place for the pups when we were visiting Bandelier. She told us that her sister was a dog sitter and promised to give us her number. A couple of minutes later, she was back with a cell phone with her sister on the line! We chatted for a few minutes, and soon we were talking about our hotel. She gave us a recommendation on another place to stay (Hotel Don Fernando), and we stopped by on the way back to the smarmy Sagebrush Inn.

The front desk guy was great. He let us see a room (roomy, not fancy, but CLEAN), and then gave us a rate that we couldn’t turn down. We went back to the Sagebrush, packed up and moved. To the Sagebrush’s credit, they didn’t charge us for the room and apologized for the issues we had with the room.

So, here we are in our nice room. We’re looking forward to a couple of days of sightseeing. We’ll then head to Albuquerque, where we’ll stay through Memorial Day weekend. We’re planning a day trip to Acoma, seeing Old Town and Sandia peak, visiting the Petroglyph park, and just chilling. I’m sure there’s a shop or two that might interest me.

Once again, the people we have met have made the trip special. Okay, the spectacular scenery has been great as well!

Santa Fe: Relaxation Day

Day 20: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Location: Santa Fe, NM
Miles Driven: None

Today was another day of relaxation for us. We haven’t driven anywhere since arriving in Santa Fe. It’s a great walking town, and we are loving it!

We started the day with a long walk down the Canyon Road arts & crafts district. It felt good to have a nice long walk (walking off all that green chile stew), and we took the pups along in the doggie stroller (short legs, long walk…nope). As usual, we attracted a lot of attention.

Canyon Road has some fabulous galleries. While we were out early for a Sunday (most of the places opened at 11, some at 10), the outdoor art was spectacular. Almost all the galleries had statues.

Street art

Street art on the way to Canyon Road

Dragon on Canyon Road

Dragon on Canyon Road

Relaxation Day

Aaaah…Relaxation Day!

Rock chair

Rock chair. It’s MUCH more comfortable than it looks!

Bunny

This one’s for you, Sydnee!

Reading arch

Reading arch

We worked up an appetite (duh) and once again decided to dine at Tia Sophia’s. Some old friends of Tom’s, Hans and Marge, joined us at brunch. As Tom described in his blog post, he hadn’t seen Hans and Marge in 23 years! We had a great chat and a great brunch.

Sunday Special at Tia Sophia's

Sunday special at Tia Sophia’s: Chorizo, potato and scrambled egg burrito “Christmas” style (red and green chile sauces)

Marge, Tom, Mahgrit and Hans

Marge, Tom, Mahgrit and Hans–great brunch with great people!

After brunch, I went for my spa treatments. I had a lovely Shiatsu massage and a pedicure at the Nidah Spa at the hotel. All I can say is…aaaaaaaahhhhhh! When I got back from my pampering, I found Tom and the pups napping on the couch. It seems like I wasn’t the only one with a relaxation day!

Everyone had a relaxation day

Everyone had a relaxation day

To top off our day of relaxation, we sat by the fireplace at the Agave Lounge at the hotel and had drinks and appetizers. The Kobe Beef Sliders were exceptional!

Relaxation

More relaxation!

The reason this post is a day late is due to the travel complications from Memorial Day Weekend. We were originally planning to stay in Flagstaff, but due to its proximity to the Grand Canyon…well, let’s just say that staying at the EconoLodge would have been the same price as Santa Fe’s Eldorado hotel. NOT. So, we were up until 1am, rejiggering our travel plans and making reservations. I’ll create a separate post for today’s travels…and travel adventures!

Santa Fe Art Day

Day 19: Saturday, May 18, 2013
Location: Santa Fe, NM
No travel today!

Today was the first day in weeks that we haven’t packed up and moved on. We’re spending a couple of days in Santa Fe, seeing the sights, eating way too much food, and just enjoying ourselves. Like we haven’t been doing that all along the way…

Our plans today were focused around the museums and galleries in Santa Fe. Our hotel is full of local art, and this is the first item that I really liked–a display of Kachina dolls.

Kachinas

Start of our art day–Kachinas at our hotel

However, before we started our gallery tour, we had to have sustinance. Our pet sitter showed up a little before 10 a.m., and we were soon seated at our restaurant of choice–Tia Sophia’s. Tom chowed on the daily special–a chorizo and potato burrito, covered with a green chile sauce. I had the green chile stew and some eggs. I do have to say that Tom’s meal was exceptionally good; mine was less so. The green chile stew at the Blue Corn Cafe kicked butt. This one, not so much. Sorry, but we ate so fast that I didn’t get photos! 🙂

After breakfast, we headed to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. It was museum day there, and we were given a package of post cards of her home in Abiquiu as a special gift. Sweet! I had been expecting skulls and flowers; I was surprised to find out and see that O’Keeffe’s first love was abstract art. We watched a fascinating biography of her life and viewed her artwork. While the exhibit and the museum was much smaller than I expected, it was still quite special.

Georgia O'Keeffe Quote

Trees: Georgia O’Keeffe Quote

O'Keeffe Landscape of New Mexico

O’Keeffe Landscape of New Mexico: “Her” Mountain

O'Keeffe Skull

O’Keeffe Skull–one of only two skull paintings at the museum

O'Keefe Kachina

O’Keefe Kachina

O'Keeffe Kachina

Another O’Keeffe Kachina. I see such personality in these!

Portrait of O'Keeffe

Portrait of O’Keeffe by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, gallery owner and photographer

After the O’Keeffe Museum, we headed to the Santa Fe Museum of Art. There, they had an exhibit of New Mexico art from ancient times to today. They considered the arrow heads part of the artistic landscape; they required significant skill to make. This Kachina was my favorite piece of art…again, the personality of the Kachina spoke to me! They also had a very odd video art exhibit; it was…unique.

My favorite Kachina

My favorite Kachina. Isn’t it great??!!

The museum was housed in a fabulous building. The entrance to the exhibits were through a lovely courtyard with this fountain:

Fountain at the Santa Fe Museum of Art

Fountain at the Santa Fe Museum of Art

It was a very beautiful and temperate day in Santa Fe. Reaching a high of only about 70 degrees, it was mostly sunny. We did some people watching in the central Plaza. It was a beautiful Saturday, and there were many local artisans with booths all over the Old Town area. It really was an ‘art’ day!

Beautiful Santa Fe Plaza

Beautiful day at the Plaza

People watching

Great people-watching day!

One of the other things I was really excited about was visiting a bona-fide Rubber Stamp store! Rubber Stamp Art has really died down, mostly due to the use of digital art and the focus on scrapbooking that the craft industry took in the last decade. But there it was–Guadalupe’s Fun Rubber Stamps on Don Gaspar Avenue!

Guadalupe's Fun Rubber Stamps Santa Fe

WHOOP! Rubber Stamp Store!

I had a great chat with the gal at the store, Lea Daugherty. Of course, I couldn’t leave without some stamps to play with!

On our way back to the hotel, we encountered a great little band of street musicians. Alas, we couldn’t stay long because we had to get back to the room to rescue the pups from the DOG SITTER!

Street Music

Street music at Burro Alley

 
Yes, we hired a dog-sitter. We were going to be out all day and we didn’t want the pups to suffer. We found a pet sitter service that came out to the hotel and stayed with the dogs, took them out for walks, etc. It was worth the money for the peace of mind!

Pre-dog sitting

Our sweet cherubs (pre-dog sitting!)

Tomorrow, we’re going to do some more art gallery touring. I have a pampering session booked at the spa in the afternoon. Now that’s what I call a vacation! 🙂