Friday, November 21, 2014

Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and Nevada 2014

In September we went out west for AJ's job. I mentioned it here, but I am finally getting a chance to really go into the trip. It is picture heavy, so be warned.

We left Florida really early on Friday September 19th. It was D's first time on a plane and I haven't flown since I was 12, so I am counting as a first flight. It cracked me up that we looked like tourist heading home with D's backpack. We had gotten it at Disney Property Control with Courtney before we left because he needed a backpack and fell in love with this one.

First look at an airplane up close.

Strapped in and ready to go.

Our view above the clouds.
State 1

We had a layover in Denver and the temperatures were dropping as we headed to Utah. We landed in Utah that afternoon and drove up to Idaho for the weekend. We used Idaho as a base camp while we explored Wyoming and Montana.

State 2

On Saturday we headed to Wyoming. I really wanted to go to Jackson Hole. Wyoming and Montana are the place I flew to when I was 12 and I really wanted to see everything again from an adult perspective. So, we headed north from Idaho Falls. It was COLD! We knew it was going to be, but it went from chilly to literally freezing and it was wetter and colder the further north we went.

We found a Sinclair gas station and had to get pictures with the dinosaur.

It was so cold and wet I didn't want to get out to get the picture.

Ready to roll.

This was the temp when we left Idaho Falls.

State 3.

We ate breakfast in Jackson Hole. It was the absolute worst breakfast we had ever had. I was scared that it was a sign of how the day was going to go. Thankfully, it wasn’t. We left the restaurant and headed towards the Grand Tetons. The game plan had been to just go to the Tetons and then head back to Idaho Falls. That didn’t happen. To drive through the Tetons we had to buy a park pass to both the Tetons and Yellowstone.  

On the way to the Tetons.

Where I flew into before.


We stopped at a couple of streams and a dam to get out of the car for a little bit. Again it was cold, but I wanted to put my foot into a stream. Again, reliving things I had done before, but it was fun! I about froze because I took my jacket off at the stream, but AJ and D had a good time skipping rocks.

We  decided drive through the Tetons since D was doing great in the car, and when we got to the boarder of Yellowstone we decided to go to the visitor center because it wasn’t that far away, even with the close distance D fell asleep between the boarder and the welcome center.

As we were driving through I was really surprised to see how little growth has returned since Yellowstone burned in 1988. When my family was out there in 1993 it was still just burned stumps. This time it was better, but the effect of the fire is still there. There are still burned stumps everywhere and while there are small trees now, it is a scarred area.

Well, we found out at the welcome center that Old Faithful was going to go off again in 45 minutes. We were about 25 minutes away. Ok. We are this close and AJ really wanted to see Old Faithful, so we head towards it. We got there in time to get lunch-ish. The food was really good. We had been expecting “theme park” food. It wasn’t, but they did have theme park cups.  I got a new coffee cup and AJ got a normal theme park cup.

After seeing Old Faithful we headed home, the long way around. We went northwest and headed to West Yellowstone and then back down to Idaho Falls. We drove down “the longest main street” in the country.  Even though we were in the car the whole day it was a lot of fun.  No one was grumpy about being on the road, we talked about a lot of things, and D was really intrigued about having a map, his binoculars, and a compass to navigate us.

Not a MOOSE!

State 4

I am just amazed at how different everything looks out there. It is flat, but not Florida flat, flat in the clouds. The colors of the clouds are amazing. I thought about tweaking and editing the pictures in this post, but decided that the colors didn't need to be tweaked and sharpened. They just strike me every time I see them as they are.

Sunday we went Ziplinging in Idaho Falls in the morning.  D loved it! All we heard for the rest of the day and frequently since then is that he wants to do it again. That afternoon we went to Hot Springs, Idaho. That was a weird and different experience. I am glad we did it, but I don’t think it is my thing. Being in hot water pools is counter-intuitive to me.  We did have a yummy lunch and get ice cream there, though. 

Sunday night we were in Layton, UT. That was our base camp while AJ was at work that week. D and I would take AJ to work in Ogden. It made a great location. One day we went to a Children’s Museum. We went to a dine-in movie theater one night.  Movie prices are ridiculously cheap out there. We had dinner and a movie for all three of us for $30, and it was in the nice recliner chair movie theater.
He finds Legos anywhere.
They had a mock rodeo set up and he rode the bull for 8 seconds, and then got bored.

Astronauts are hard to keep still.
One day D and I went to the Ogden LDS temple. I have wanted to go into a temple for YEARS! Growing up with Stine and her family and their LDS culture left its impression. I have heard about the beauty of the insides for so long and I was so glad to get to see it. It was amazingly beautiful. The work and detail and materials used were beyond words. They didn't allow pictures inside the temple, but I did get some outside. The reason it was open to the public was because they had just finished renovations and it hadn't been rededicated yet. I am really glad I got to do this.

It was really bright.

Mini Christus statue

Enjoying the reflecting pool.

One afternoon after we picked AJ up we went to an air museum. It was on an airforce base and they kicked us out at 4:30, so AJ didn't get to see everything he wanted to, but he did get to see some of the planes.

 Later we went to this awesome themed restaurant. It was a total “I found a groupon and it seems like an interesting experience” restaurant.  Oh my word! This place was great. It was western themed, and being in Orlando we are used to themed restaurants, but this has to be one of my favorites. We ate in a covered wagon! All of the tables were covered wagons and it was nice to have some privacy. The middle parts of the restaurant were all set up as western scenes.  I know it sounds cheesy, but I loved it. The food was also really really yummy.


Another afternoon we grabbed fast food and headed off to Nevada. We didn’t have any expectation of getting far into Nevada, but we did want to cross the state line. We did make it to a small town and had ice cream while we wandered around; even though it was a small town it still had a casino. No, we didn’t go in.  It was a dramatic change of scenery between Ogden and Nevada. The mountains gave way to flat flat flat space, the salt flats. 

It is a great location for a salt company.

State 5

Smoking Cowboy Welcome Will

Also home to the GROSSEST bathroom ever.

It was crazy windy.


This isn't the sand you were looking for.

I love this picture.

On Friday night we headed to Salt Lake City. We were going to fly out crazy early on Sunday, so we wanted to spend one full day in Salt Lake. We wandered around Temple Square for most of the day. We ate in the basement of the Lion House. It is a LDS restaurant that is a quick service place. It was really yummy even though the didn't serve any drinks with caffeine. This was something we kept forgetting. 

The rest of the day was spent wandering through the museums at Temple Square. I went to the Family History Center for my mom and AJ took D to run around. By the time I was done looking D was fast asleep in the car.

... to see the temple.

The GIANT room sized Christus.

We wore him out.
Sunday morning we packed up the car and headed to the airport. We were in for a long day of flights because time changes killed us. We did get to see some of the equipment AJ's company makes. This was cool because I am only used to seeing them in the holding area at the plant, but to see them in use was neat. The Orlando plant builds the big tractor units and the sister plant in Ogdon builds the walkways/ jetways to the planes.

I wasn't ready to leave and I was ready to be home all at the same time. Looking all the stuff we packed into the trip it seems like we were out there for a long time, but it was 8 nights and 8 days on the ground.  AJ and I are still debating if we officially were in 5 or 7 states - we had layovers in Colorado and New Mexico to possibly add to Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and Nevada. All in all it was a great mix of a work trip and a family trip.