Search This Blog

Monday, July 6, 2015


The early morning start was not quite as bad as I had anticipated. A four o’clock alarm gently woke us from our deep sleep and I went into auto-pilot.  At half past the hour, we locked our back door and met my German neighbour in our car port.  His flight was at 7am but he appreciated a ride to the airport, albeit an hour earlier than necessary.

The trip, that was booked the previous weekend, was rather impromptu, as the 3rd day of July was deemed the ‘day off in lieu’, and we realised that we were going to have a three day weekend.  It was a chance to go to Idaho and claim State 49!  Although insisting he was not competitive, Dana has been threatening to take off when I am in England, and land in Utah, if only to drive out of the airport to the nearest town, and back again!  The travel plans for the 4th July weekend, meant that we landed in Salt Lake City, drive to an hotel in Wyoming and have my birthday dinner in Fish Haven, Idaho!  When originally discussing plans for a trip, Boise had been our target, but it was too far away from the illusive state to allow Dana to equalise! 

Being TSA pre-approved, for reasons I do not intend to question, was an amazing advantage, as we were able to ‘jump’ the queue for security, which went beyond the ‘zig zag’ line, and past two of the ticketing counters, to the entry doors.   Arriving an hour before our flight would not have given us enough time to get through, had we not had the little tick in the corner of our boarding passes.  

Once through, we went in search of my mid-flight croissant, but the one place that sells them was not yet open.  I opted for a cheese filled something that was sort of pastry in appearance.  Dana then saw the rather delicious freshly made sandwich options, so we opted to have the former a little later.  We boarded the plane and headed towards our ‘exit row’ seats.  I had a nagging feeling after I made my seat selection, in row 12, as when there are two rows of exit seats, I always opt for the second row, as occasionally the configuration of the plane is slightly different, but this time, selected the one in front.  I almost cried when Dana plopped himself into the seat and started involuntarily chewing on his knees!  However, despite my apologies, he was not unhappy and prepared to endure the agony for two and a half hours!  The exit rows were 13 and 14, and as the doors closed, I asked if it would be possible to move back into the empty seats one row behind us.  The stewardess took an intake of breath, looked at my husband’s front teeth now firmly embedded in his leg joint, and agreed that this would be acceptable.

Having the extra space certainly made the two hour flight far more enjoyable, although the window was not accessible.  I was happy to crochet in my extended space, and I only dropped the ball (literally) of wool, under the feet of my neighbour, once!  We landed about five minutes before the time we departed Austin, due to the two hour time difference in Phoenix, Arizona!  

The layover in Arizona gave us just enough time to collect our bags, which had been ‘gate checked’, and our thoughts!  For the first time, in recollection, my bag was the first to be put on the walkway, and Dana’s was second!  We walked the several miles (or so it seemed) to Terminal A, and sat for a couple of minutes before our ‘group’ was called.  We had been awarded seats with extra leg room, albeit across the aisle from each other.  I sat next to a couple from Houston, and Dana sat next to a contortionist!  The young girl in the window seat, in his set of three, went to sleep, and the very limber, slight, middle aged woman, in the middle seat in his set of three, started up a conversation.  Ever the gentleman, Dana was very polite, but I could see by his body language, that the chatter was slightly out of his comfort zone.  She was reading a book that, in her words, best showed her how to achieve her goals by ‘feelings’.  I was trying very hard not to laugh, when she lifted her legs and tucked her feet behind her ears.  Not sure as to whether this was to gain his attention, Dana caught my eye, and dipped his head in her direction.  I continued to crochet!  It was reminiscent of the women knitting while the executions were being carried out!  Twice the exercise routine was played out, and each time Dana looked rather uncomfortable! 

With one woman in the bathroom, and one a would-be circus performer, the stewardess opted to take her seat and not be concerned with any possible consequences.  Admittedly, the gold medallist contender for the 1972 overall Olympic gymnast was not breaking any rules.  Her seat belt was fastened, and her seat back was in an upright position, as were her legs!

 We exited the plane and headed to the car rental area.  The line was almost as long as the one for security in Austin!  As each person, arrived at the area, they looked at the desks and then at the line, and contemplated where to stand.  The smiles, and nods, silently said, “Yes, this is the queue”.  One gentleman was not impressed and almost ‘melted down’ in the middle of the circle that had formed past the ‘zig-zag’.   It took about thirty minutes to reach the front, and after declining the several extra insurance options, a paid upgrade, and refuelling of the tank, we walked to our Nissan Versa!  Although comfortable enough for me, the seat did not quite go down far enough for Dana, but he made several standard adjustments so that he could ‘fit’.  Out of the airport we drove, and headed towards the Great Salt Lake.  It would appear that the ‘tide was out’, and it was not quite as visible from the road as we had hoped.  As we had an hour’s drive to our hotel, we chose not to travel further in the hope of seeing more water, but found an ‘authorized vehicle only’, turn along the highway. 

The scenery was spectacular, mountainous, and colourful.  The drivers were not so spectacular, as each time we indicated to pull out and overtake, so the car in front pulled out and slowed down.  It was rather odd.  It appeared to be more efficient to wait for a  large space and just slide over, rather than give anyone the advantage of knowing our next move!  The road reduced to one lane, due to construction, and we made a mental note to allow more time when returning to the airport on Sunday. 

Eventually, we crossed the border into Wyoming, and drove to Evanston, where our hotel was located.  I say hotel in the loosest of terms.  Not as bad as the living accommodation we encountered in Orange, Texas, on our first trip to Louisiana, it was not quite what we were expecting.  We knew it was going to be basic, but not quite as sparse!  We checked in, and were greeted by a nice couple, one behind the counter, and her significant other sat in the chair in the reception square.  I can only imagine he was there to ask her where she had put his clean shirt, as he failed to have one on his back, or alternatively, he had just come to the surface of the coal mine that was beneath the building, as his boots and trousers were covered in black sooty substance.  However, they were very welcoming!  We were given a ‘better’ room than the one originally allocated.  Compact as it was, with four hangers suspended from a wooden pole in the corner, (I assume the wardrobe – goodness knows what options the less ‘superior’ room had,) and a chest of drawers with drawers that did not speak to the chest, it was clean.  The towel rail was over the sink in the bathroom.  Not connected above, but in pieces sitting over the sink.  As I could not see a screwdriver, or drill, I assumed that maintenance were due to take care of this, and it was not a ‘do it yourself project’ weekend getaway room!  We did have a coffee maker!  No cups, but I was sure we could procure a couple from the breakfast room! 

After unpacking as much as the room would allow, we headed out for lunch.  Our plan was to eat our main meal in the afternoon, and go to a movie in the evening.  We drove a few minutes down the road to another hotel which purported to have a rather extensive menu.  Although the choice of food was prolific, the service was slightly slower than a crawl.  We started to see a pattern. We were not in a hurry, and chose to enjoy the culture that the town appeared to enjoy.  When in Rome….! 

Lunch was delicious, when it finally arrived.  The salad bar had the most scrumptious French onion soup, and Dana said his chowder was equally as good!  We ate above and beyond what we should, and headed back to the park which was opposite our hotel, and enjoyed a long walk along the river.  There were a variety of little animals running back and forth, and lots of magpies!  The elk were not in sight, but buffalo roamed the hills.  Once again, the scenery was so magnificent, everything else paled into insignificance.  We agreed that this was the perfect spot to stay, and we could quite easily work with four hangers, and did not need a towel rail!

As with everything in the small town, the cinema was ‘quaint’. From the outside it looked like a small hardware store, despite sporting four theatres.  A total of three cars, including ours, were parked outside.  As we entered, the foyer appeared to be in the middle of a renovation project (perhaps they had left our hotel room to complete this project) and we were just about to walk out when a lady came to greet us.  The concession stand was the next room and we were asked what movie we wanted to watch.  Surprised by the absence of people, I asked what time the movie stated and half expected her to say "Well you are here now .....".  However, to while away the time, we were treated to a history of the staff.  A young man, operating the drinks dispenser, was a native of Utah.  He much preferred Wyoming, not least for the people, and the driving.  Being that the staff to customer ratio was two to one, we listened to their stories, with all agreeing that when we go back, through Utah, it should be noted not to put on a turn signal as if the person in front knows you are going to overtake, they will slip out in front of you and slow down! We thanked them for their advice, announcing that we had already been victim. 

The theatre was basic.  Several chairs had black wrapping around them, either denoting royalty or that they were broken, the latter being the more likely.  With about five minutes before liftoff another couple entered the theatre.  I smiled and said it was getting crowded, and they may not find two seats together.  Fortunately, they appreciated my humour!  When the fifth person arrived, the projectionist thought it was time to roll!  There were no adverts, nor previews.  When they said the movie started at 7:25pm they meant the movie (not the programme... they do not have programmes) started at 7:25pm. The lights went down, the opening scenes came on the screen, and the concession stand staff walked down the aisle, inspected something at the side of the screen, and then discussed it.... right in the centre of the screen.  I could do nothing but laugh. 

San Andreas was highly entertaining.  Lots of special effects, believable storyline, but (obviously) very 'Hollywood'.  We left and noted that four more cars were parked in the lot.  The decorators were still sorting out their equipment, and we thanked the staff for an amazing evening before being back to the hotel.

Saturday was my birthday!  I took my cards, that had been 'hidden' in my case by Matnee, and went to the breakfast room. I needed no more than toast for breakfast, so the lack of anything else on the 'continental' buffet did not concern me.  We went for an early morning walk to the park, and spotted several more little creatures, which apparently are a cross between a squirrel and a mouse, (affectionately known by the locals as 'squeakies',) magpies, a woodpecker, and watched the buffalo climb the mountain.  The elk were still on the missing list.  Richard 'face timed' me, which was a lovely surprise, and then Matnee did the same!  Technology at its best!  We walked along the path, climbed the cliff, then when I felt as if I was going to fall off the edge, we headed back to the car, and then to the room.

Attempting to check in, for our flight the following day, was a bit of a challenge.  We were unable to secure seats and I had to control my need to control!  After failing miserably, I finally gave up.  We left the hotel and headed towards Idaho!  The scenery was, again, magnificent.  State 49 was collected!  Dana took the obligatory photograph, and we walked back to the car.  "Shall we just turn around and go back to the park?", I said, with a very straight face. The look of aghast came across my husband's face, and the little boy that is hidden very deep down, came out and said, "But I haven't crossed into Idaho!"  I laughed, and said, "I know, and again, I have one more state than you!"  The joke was accepted, and we drove past the sign, across the border and headed north, with the plan of looping around and coming back down south to Fish Haven, where we had reservations at a very nice looking country club overlooking the lake.  As the booking was for five thirty, we stopped for coffee and pie at around half past two.  I enjoyed the most amazing slice of stawberry and rhubarb!  The pastry was divine, probably because it was home made, and the flour, no doubt, milled in the area!  Up the mountains we drove, and down through the valleys we continued.  I could imagine the Indian chiefs overlooking the reservation on one side, and the cowboys tilling the land on the other.  Eventually, we reached our destination.  The view from our table was, indeed, spectacular.  
the Bear Lake looked inviting as the sun shone towards the end of the day.  We ordered, and ate a sumptuous meal.  Despite the emphasis on it being my birthday, when Dana booked, there was no note made.  When he mentioned it to our waitress, she insisted I have a dessert.  Although I was rather full, I accepted the kind offer, and Dana and I shared a piece of 'home made' carrot cake, which was surprisingly included on the bill!

We took a couple of pictures of the view before leaving the club and drove down the drive.  As we turned the corner on to the main road, the Utah sign welcomed us.  Our journey took us along the lake for most of the way, and then we watched the topography change as we neared the border of Wyoming.  It had been a fabulous day, and I was not ready to 'turn in'.  We returned to the hotel, and as we were discussing how to end the evening, I heard the 'tell tale' sound of fireworks.  Hoping to see some bright multi-coloured flashes, I walked to the front of the hotel, and stood in the car park.  The display surpassed anything I could have imagined. Matnee had promised to make a special effort for me, and I was not disappointed!  I am not sure how many 'launch' sites there were, but by the time Dana joined me, we counted thirty.  It was almost a 360 degree show, that went on for hours.  As it appeared to slow down, so it restarted.  We had a magnificent view, and watched as the incredible fountains of light lit the sky.  Although we went in after two hours, the 'bangs' and 'whistles' continued well into the night.  

I had decided on the trip back from Idaho, to attempt to check in again, once we returned to the hotel, despite not being able to secure seats.  It occurred to me that seats may be provided after check in, and it appeared that this was the case.  Thankfully, we were given economy plus seats on the longer flight, and we had been pre-checked again!  This proved to be advantageous, as again the line for security was very long.  We had enjoyed our piece of toast before leaving the hotel, and drove through the mountains for an hour before dropping off the car.  

There were no gymnasts, acrobats or contortionists on the flights. The flights were on time, and smooth.  Sitting in the airport at Salt Lake City, we enjoyed a cup of coffee, and finally ate our cheese pastry.  It was very good, and we agreed that fresh, it was probably fantastic!  Landing back in Dallas, Texas, we had a late lunch, and then took the 30 minute hop home.  We arrived back in Austin just before 7pm, and drove to our condo.  It did not take long to unpack, and we settled down with a nice cup of tea, and some television.  

Next week will be very interesting.  My neighbour whom we gave a ride to the airport, will be away for another week, and I have promised to feed his cat!  I am not a cat person.  I am not an animal person, but they seem to like me!  With another trip behind me, and having only one state left to conquer, (or at the very least visit,) we now have to attempt to work out how to get to Alaska in a three day weekend.  Once we have a plan, I shall divulge our strategy in ...... another story!

No comments:

Post a Comment