A DAD'S JOURNAL
Week 4- September 19 Week: Making Tracks
On Sunday, we made one more excursion into Rocky Mountain National Park before heading out of Colorado. The kids finished off their Junior Ranger program and we took a hike into the park. Hiking at high altitude was obviously more strenuous, especially when we ran back the last ¼ mile to make sure we made the shuttle back to the main parking area.
We have found that we want to be well settled before sundown in a new campsite, so we left early afternoon for a relatively short drive to the Cheyenne area. This was just a quick overnight stop as we headed on our way to Salt Lake City through southern Wyoming.
Coming into Utah, we were pleasantly surprised to find the mountains dressed in wonderful color. (Brenda had wanted to go east first to catch New England in the fall but that would mean the northwest would be in the spring and many passes are still closed even into summer.)
Monday evening, we drove out to the Great Salt Lake. The water level is extremely low, so we saw a lot of salt flats. Eventually we did make it out to a marina on the south side at sunset. There was a good opportunity for an impromptu science lesson on the Lake’s ecosystem and especially the brine shrimp that are plentiful in the salty water. Leah also took a water sample home to evaporate it. We were amazed by how much salt was left over after the water dried, the concentration is so high.
We had another good teaching opportunity that night. The Mormon influence in Utah is huge. I led a dinnertime lesson on the different categories of cults, especially the pseudo-Christian cults like Mormonism. I wanted to make sure the kids understood how important it is to search for truth in their faith journeys. We drove by the impressive temple square and noted how the impressive buildings and organization were based on what I believe is deception when one looks carefully at the doctrine.
We were on the move the next few days with stops that presented some good teaching opportunities. On the way out of Salt Lake area we visited the Golden Spike National Historic Site where the transcontinental railroad was completed. The railroad had such an incredible impact both for good and bad in our country’s history. We also dropped by the Potato expo as we drove through Blackfoot, Idaho before we stopped for the night in Idaho Falls. It was fun to see a General Mills elevator in town! Again, I can’t say enough how much I have appreciated my career with such a great company.
As we headed toward the Yellowstone area, we made one more side excursion to Craters of the Moon National Monument. The kids’ third junior ranger program was a good science lesson on volcanoes. The young lava fields and cones give you the impression that you are on another planet!
After a lot of traveling, in the first part of the week we were looking forward to settling down in the Yellowstone area. We made it to the northeast corner of Idaho Wednesday night to a beautiful RV park in the mountains by Sawtelle Peak. It turned out to be a wonderful surprise for our stay which would extend over Jenna’s tenth birthday. There was an indoor pool (heaven for the kids) and we just about had the place to ourselves.
We got a bit of a scare that we are running out of time in the Northwest as it had been nineteen degrees the night before and there were traces of snow along a driveway that had been plowed. Fortunately, a nice warming trend was on its way for the rest of the week and the next few days were beautiful.
Settling down for a while was quite nice. It also gave us the opportunity to resolve a computer issue that had prevented us from getting internet access for a few days. We realize how much we rely on the satellite internet system for route planning, weather, communication, etc. I felt like an addict when I finally got my hit of internet again…
After schooling each day, we went into Yellowstone. Besides the impressive geothermal attractions, the wildlife is fascinating. There is now a herd of over 4000 bison in the park and we had some great up close looks. We also saw our first coyote. Thursday night we had a special birthday dinner for Jenna in the park at one of the lodges by Old Faithful.We headed out of the area Saturday with a beautiful drive down the Gallatin River canyon on the way to the Bozeman Montana area.