Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Catch Up Time...Not!

Every holiday has high points and low points. We had planned for our high points to coincide with short stop off's at various places along the way. At other times, we are just staying a night somewhere before moving on. The previous 2 days were spent arriving in Jackson Hole, Wyoming then touring around Yellowstone National Park. Today we left Jackson and headed into Utah to a town called Vernal. Yesterday I was completely overloaded with experiences from Yellowstone, many of which I intend to relate in the coming day's blog posts. Today was a transition day as we head towards the landscapes marked by the Colorado River in southern Utah and northern Arizona. However, today turned out to be quite interesting in its own respect.
Tourist shopping in Jackson Hole. This bronze carved chess set costs a mere $12000 US
We spent the morning breakfasting and schmoozing around the shops of Jackson Hole which is a typical tourist trap in the shopping respect. As a town it reminds me somewhat of Queenstown in New Zealand. In the late morning we drove south out of Teton National Park and toward Utah. We were lucky because it was just one road so the navigation wasn't difficult. The road, US-191 is a bizarre mix of landscapes. In the north, the mountain valleys following the Hoback River are absolutely spectacular. Apparently, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said that the Eastern entrance to Yellowstone from Cody, Wyoming was the most beautiful drive in the World. If it's better than the southern road in, then it goes on to my bucket list of things to do in the future, because the southern road, through Jackson, and toward Utah is amazing.
Sculpture at Museum of the Mountain Man

Battle headdress artifact, Museum of the Mountain Man
After leaving the Teton National Park, the landscape changes to a surreal emptiness as it crosses high plains country. Around here we stopped in another tacky sounding museum which turned out to be remarkably good. In the town of Pinedale, Wyoming is the Museum of the Mountain Man which is an educational centre, and repository of artifacts relating to the trail blazers of the American West in the early 1800's. Men like Jedidiah Smith who was the first to cross the Sierra Nevada, and to travel overland into California. A short look in the door turned into about an hour of fascinating discovery for Caroline and I.

We left Pinedale continuing south, and after some more sparse plains, hit the most amazing scenery where Wyoming meets Utah. When you cross the border, along US-191, you are in the middle of Flaming Gorge Park, a stunning rolling countryside with lakes, rivers and mountains of various colours. It is also a natural wildlife area with Antelope, Elk, Mountain Lion, Bobcat, Mustangs running free among many other animals. We saw lots of deer, but not much else on our drive through. The park runs almost into Vernal where we are stopping for the night. Vernal itself is situated on a paleontologists dream, with fossils and dinosaur footprints found near here. Tomorrow, we will be passing a town named Dinosaur!

Sunset over Flaming Gorge where dinosaurs once roamed

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