Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Salt Lake City --- Her Time, His Time, Our Time

Roger here... The opening picture is of the welcome to the Salt Lake City Olympic site at Park City, Utah.

What a wonderful place --- more about that later.

Our very visible site -- Closest to the transit train -- Perfect!  -- D.
Her time, his time, our time --- the theme of this post from Salt Lake City.  Our home for six nights was the Salt Lake City KOA.  It was directly across from the Salt Lake City Rapid transit trains (very convenient for Dianne).  The park was very nice, but it was not necessarily in the greatest neighborhood.  Our site, out of more than 1000 sites, was the most visible from the street (North Temple Avenue).


Early morning -- On my way to the library --
Rarin' to go!  -- D.
When planning our trip to Montana and the Canadian Rockies, Dianne asked if we would be traveling through Salt Lake City.  She is avidly into genealogy.   The LDS Family History Library near Temple Square is recognized as the best place in the country for genealogy research.  We have already stayed near Salt Lake City once to slake her thirst from our pasts.  My response was, "Uh, we could, I suppose, if you want."  So much for that. 

Waiting for the doors to open!  (With other genealogy nerds) -- D.
This is the Family History Library in the Church of Latter Day Saints complex.  We are not Mormons; however, we must acknowledge their role in helping all of us find our roots.  Dianne spent the vast majority of our Salt Lake visit in this building.  It was heaven to her.  

I took this picture of the rapid transit train that took Dianne to Temple Square directly from our RV park every day except Sunday.  The transit system here is a role model for what many of our cities lack --- amazingly convenient and economical.


 Except for the end of this section, there will not be many pictures, but there will be stories.  This was mostly problem-solving time for me.  

The first task...  During our time in Montana, while cleaning my ears in the morning with a Q-tip (I know you are not supposed to do that), I felt an ear-ache type of pain in my right ear.  That was weird.  I have not had an ear ache since I was a kid.  When I opened my hearing aide container, I noticed that the plastic dome that covers my right hearing aide (right side of picture) was not attached to my hearing aide.  Crap, it was in my ear canal.  It might have been in my brain!  I had pushed it further in with the Q-tip..   Dianne looked, but could not see it.  (I wasn't about to go blindly poking around in there -- D.)    I looked it up on the internet and read all the urgings to go to your audiologist to have it removed.  My audiologist was Costco.  I called Costco in Salt Lake City and was told that they could not help me.  They told me to go to an Insta-Care.  I found an Insta-Care near the campground that copied my Medicare Card (we will see).  They had never dealt with this before, but they did have a visual of it and assured me that it was not in my brain.  The doctor was not able to remove it with instruments, but her assistant was able to finally flush it out with water.  Whew!  By the time we were finished the doctor and her assistant knew everything about me and our travels.  The doctor asked if we had eaten at the Red Iguana Restaurant, urging us to do so.  

The second task...  We have been experiencing intermittent problems with the cord that connects our electronic signals between our motor home and our tow car.  Everything has been working except the right turn signal.  I investigated the purchase of a new cord and contacted Blue Ox (the tow system we own) two times.  The local Blue Ox dealer does not stock electrical cords (what?). He told me to contact Camping World which I did.  Camping World has Roadmaster connections (a Blue Ox competitor), but did have a cord that might work.  I drove 20 miles there, bought the similar cord, and drove 20 miles back.  It did not work.  What now? (the theme of August).    I was able to return it the next morning after another forty miles of driving.  

Our neighbor at the KOA was there to do missionary work for the many, many, many, many homeless people in Salt Lake City.  Ralph from South Carolina is a really nice guy.  He offered to look at our cord, and reconnected several of the connections.  The right turn signal still did not work; however, the morning of our departure, it did work.  We need to get back to Texas so I can work with the local Blue Ox dealer to figure this out.  I gave Ralph a small donation to help support his mission (before we discovered that the turn signals were now working).  He was so genuinely grateful.  I must say that this was one of the best feelings I have had for a while.  Paying it forward really is a good thing.  I am still feeling well about it.

The third task...  

Sidewalk view near Temple Square
My iPhone has not been behaving for a while. Months ago, while we were still in Texas, my email icon stopped allowing me to retrieve email.  The local Verizon rep had no recommendations for me (other than to update my software --- which did not work).  A few weeks ago my phone refused to allow me to send photos to emails.  Crap.  I needed to find an Apple Store in a big city.  Salt Lake City might have been the answer.

There was an Apple Store at the beautiful City Creek Center Mall across from Temple Square.  

I took the rapid transit system to the mall and arrived at the Apple Store when it opened.  Two technicians (both of them great) could not solve the problem with my phone unless they kept it to do a complete reboot (which might have lost all of my data.)  Evidently the problem is with the microprocessor.  They did their best, and I appreciated it.  What now?  I will wait until I can upgrade in January.   

 The good news... I had a delicious omelet at the mall (I love omelets).  I was able to walk around Temple Square, observing the magnificent architecture (I love architecture).  

LDS Temple

The fourth task....  Wiping the dead bugs off the motor home windshield --- didn't happen.


Most of our "our time" at Salt Lake City was enjoyed with friends.  

Ken and Kathy are neighbors from Retama Village.  Kathy discovered that they would be at the KOA in Salt Lake City during the same time frame of our visit.  We enjoyed a happy hour with them and two of their neighbors.

After drinks we joined them at the Red Iguana (recommended by my new Insta-Care doctor, and our Retama friends Bob and Linda) for some delicious Mexican (actually pre-Mexican Aztec) food.  

Mole sauces (pronounced like ole') were the specialty of the restaurant.  Plates of samples were brought to the table before we
ordered so that we would not make a mistake.  It was a delicious meal with great people.

We waited for a half-hour outside for our table.  Not too bad.  We were surprised to find a crowd still waiting outside when we left at 9:00 p.m.  

More friends...  One of Dianne's good friends from elementary, middle, and high school was Vicki.  Vicki and her husband, Steve, moved to Park City after retirement.  What fun it was to see them again.  

After spending some time with them on the deck of their beautiful home, they took us out to lunch in Park City at the Bistro.  Great food.  Perfect weather.  Wonderful friends.  You always know good friends when comfortable conversations begin within a minute of the reunion.

We knew of Park City because of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic games.  What a beautiful town in an amazing setting.  In winter, ski lifts transport skiers to the slopes from the center of town, or to town from the slopes for a lunch break.  

After lunch Vicki and Steve took us to the top of one of the local mountains on a road that is closed during the winters.  Nice view, huh?

The next stop with Vicki and Steve was a definite highlight.  Their daughter is the marketing manager of the Olympic Training Center --- I have such good memories of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.  Park City has maintained all of those venues.  Park City has actually maintained them extremely well.

Dianne took this picture of one of the Olympic bobsleds at the museum.  We actually saw one of the bobsleds sliding down the track --- not sure what it was sliding on, but it was movin'.

I must say that the swimming pool was the highlight of the Winter Olympic Site.  Swimming pool you say?  Absolutely!

It was a hoot to watch climbers ascend the climbing wall that arches over the pool.  The guy in the white shorts made it about half-way up before dropping into the water.

The climbing wall was fun, but the activity that gave me goosebumps was the ski jumps that dropped skiers into the pool.  After executing their single, double, or triple jumps these Olympic hopefuls dropped safely into the pool on their skis.

Check out this short 8-second video:


 Anyone know what this is?  

It is a frisbee after too many catches and thrashes from Bandido.

He is soooo good about sitting, staying and waiting for the throw.  He is great at anticipating where he can catch it in the air.  He is not so good at treating it with respect.

Good Boy!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ghost Town Side Trip - Virginia City, Montana

Dianne here -- Roger asked me to write this blog entry because -- let's face it -- he's just not that into history.   If you feel the same way, you may skip this blog entry; I promise Roger will be back next time!

From Bozeman we took a slight detour to Ennis, Montana for a two-night stay at Ennis RV Village.
We have mountain views out every window (which also means no tv signals).   The sites are spacious and the place is well-managed with a good feel to it.  

They have mowed a series of trails through the grass prairie at the edge of the park which our doggies have enjoyed. We enjoyed them, too, with views like these:
It really is Big Sky country!

The ever-present herds of cattle reminded us that we are indeed in Montana... 

The haze on the mountains is from the fire currently blazing in West Yellowstone.   We don't smell the smoke, but it makes for hazy views and colorful sunsets.

Our main purpose for visiting Ennis, Montana was to drive over the mountain (in the car) to tour Virginia City.   Virginia City was formed during the gold rush in the 1860s.  Within weeks thousands of prospectors and fortune seekers had settled into the town.  
Wooden sidewalks throughout town.

Here's a street scene as the town appeared in 1878:

And a portion of the same street today:  You can make out the cupola of the courthouse on the left in both photos. 

Virginia City was even the capital of the territory for a period of about 10 years, before the capital was moved to Helena.

As with most boom towns, it eventually fell on hard times and suffered from neglect and ruin.   In the 1940s, a wealthy couple named Charles and Sue Bovey, who shared an interest in history and ghost towns, visited Virginia City.   While there, they witnessed some of the wood being harvested from the historic buildings and used as firewood by the few remaining residents.  They began buying up the dilapidated buildings and began much needed maintenance and repairs to save the town from further ruin. 

 Virginia City is now maintained by the State of Montana, and has been designated a National Historic Landmark operated as an open-air museum.  

There is much more to see and do than just walk around the town.   Unfortunately, our schedule brought us here on a Monday -- bad planning, because several of the restaurants, shops, and performance venues are closed on Mondays (we found out after arriving).   If you plan better than we did and come on a day other than Monday, you can take in a variety of plays, music performances, and a comedic show called the Brew House Follies, which had come highly recommended to us.  (They normally do perform on Mondays but we happened to hit the day of their charity golf tournament.)

A nearby restored town, Nevada City, features costumed interpreters to narrate life as it was back in the day.   There is a short open-air train ride there from Virginia City.   We skipped it because we discovered that the interpreters are not there on Mondays.

Even on Monday, there was plenty to see to keep us busy for several hours.  My favorite shop was Cousins Candy Shop.  As a kid, whenever I had change in my pocket, I promptly blew it all on candy.   

In this awesome candy shop, you could pick from a huge assortment of unusual and/or old favorite types of candy, fill a bag, and just pay by the weight of the bag.   I was like the proverbial kid in a candy store!   One candy I did not pick was a clear yellowish-colored tequila-flavored sucker, complete with worm inside.   The worm looked a little too realistic to me (I still think it was a real worm).

One very interesting shop included authentic vintage styles of clothing that could be purchased, along with a display of dress patterns in authentic antique styles.   This brought back memories of when our older daughter, Robyn, was in high school and had a part in the play "Look Homeward, Angel."  She needed an Edwardian dress, which I sewed for her using a vintage pattern like these that I'd found on vacation in St. Louis.  

If you have a hoop skirt, I know where you can purchase a petticoat.   It took up so much room in the shop that they hung it from the ceiling!

They even sell old-fashioned bonnets.

In addition to the gift shops, there were many buildings which simply housed displays of antique furnishings and merchandise, like the buggies and fire wagon above, and the one-horse open sleigh below:

I found the old general store especially interesting:

I loved the old display bins for coffee, spices, and teas. 

 Then there were the usual canned goods....

One building housed a vintage display which had an entire inventory of men's and women's undergarments at one end of the counter....

and women's hats, bags, and old doll heads at the other end.  The curators must have come upon an entire old inventory, because they were obviously authentic goods in original packaging.

I placed my camera lens right on a display case to capture this inventory of antique hair pins and combs:

Once you've outfitted with undergarments, there is a complete store display of men's clothing...

Most of the buildings retained their original tin ceilings...

Here's another vintage photo showing a long stone  building with arched windows.

And the same building today....

One building housed an interesting display of old arcade machines, including nickelodeons...

Music machines and fortune tellers....

The mercantile contained an interesting display of fabrics and staples.   I could almost imagine shopping there in pioneer days....

 A small post office was tucked in a corner of the mercantile...

 Roger has a weakness for good ice cream, and he had read about a shop in Virginia City with homemade ice cream:

We knew we were in for a treat when we saw the old fashioned ice cream churns humming away on one side of the shop:

It was every bit as good as it looks!

The bigger one is mine, by the way, "almond joy" flavored, with lots of chocolate and coconut bits.
Roger had cookies and cream, filled with lots of Oreo cookie chunks.

After dessert we stopped for lunch at Bob's Homemade Pizza -- also delicious.   (That's where I found the old photos of the town.) 

  Then after lunch, Roger wanted to have a beer in the Bale of Hay Saloon, "Montana's Oldest Watering Hole" according to their menu. 

It sounds like we did this in reverse order...dessert, then lunch, then drinks but, hey, we're retired and we can do whatever we want!

One last stroll back down the street and we were done.  

Next stop -- Salt Lake City, where I plan to spend quality time at the Family History Library.   Roger is looking forward to several days where he'll be "free as a bird."