In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on!


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Western Adventure 2011

We've been back in Brockport three weeks since returning from this summer's Western adventure in and about Idaho Falls, Idaho with our daughter Donna and her husband Jonathan. As always (click here for posts detailing previous visits), we had a marvelous time!

Hill Aerospace Museum

As we did last year, we stopped at Hill Aerospace Museum near Ogden, Utah on our way north to Idaho Falls, after Donna and Jonathan picked me up from the airport in Salt Lake City on Saturday August 6 (Melany went out a week before I did, so she was already there). The girls detoured to a nearby fabric store while Jonathan and I explored the museum (who do you think had the REAL fun?) I got some terrific photographs, this time of planes that didn't make it into last year's collection:

Here is Jonathan standing beside a Vought A-7 Corsair II,
a carrier-based subsonic light attack aircraft
that served the Navy during the late 1960s-80s.

You can see Jonathan at the extreme right,
below the wing of a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress,
long-range, subsonic strategic bomber that began service
in the 1950s and is still in use today.

Here's Jonathan standing beneath the nose
of another m
onster aircraft, the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II,
a heavy-lift military transport plane that served
Air Force during the 1950s and early 1960s.

Inside the museum, the nose of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress,
the premier Allied heavy bomber of World War II.

This is something you may not see anywhere else:
a full-scale model (made for a movie) of the
first atomic weapon,
nicknamed "the gadget,"
that was detonated at
the Trinity Test Site
in New Mexico on 16 July 1945.

The Farmers' Garden

On Sunday, after church, we went to visit Donna and Jonathan's friends the Farmer family--and are they aptly named! After a delicious dinner, we toured the extensive and stunningly beautiful gardens behind their home, complete with waterfalls, a fish-stocked pond, fruit trees, a large greenhouse, and thousands and thousands of flowers!

Donna and Melany in the Farmers' garden.

Fort Hall Replica

On Monday, we drove south to Pocatello, Idaho and visited the Fort Hall Replica. This is a full-size, faithful reproduction of the original Fort Hall built in 1834, which became an important trading post for the mountain fur trade and then for emigrants going west along the Oregon Trail (a few miles further up the Trail they had to make the fateful decision whether to take the north fork toward Oregon or the south fork toward California). As a matter of fact, before our vacation I had started reading an excellent book about the fur trade called Across the Wide Missouri by Bernard DeVoto--and at the time we visited the Fort was right in the middle of the book's discussion of the Fort's history!

A view of the Fort Hall Replica's interior.
It wasn't
a particularly big place, but "in the day"
would have
been crowded with people and animals.

Another view of the Fort Hall Replica's interior.
The building in the center was where most of the formal
"trading" was conducted.

This wagon, displayed at the Fort, is of the actual type
that carried most emigrants west along the Oregon Trail.
It's much smaller than the big "Conestoga"-type wagons,
often depicted as used by the pioneers in movies, that usually carried freight.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

Tuesday night we attended a delightful picnic put on by alumni of Brigham Young University-Idaho (which Donna and Jonathan both attended), then strolled over to a nearby stadium to see a game between the Idaho Falls Chukars (a "chukar" is a kind of partridge found in the Rocky Mountains) and the Casper, Wyoming (you know what's coming) Ghosts. The teams belong to the Pioneer League, a rookie league that's part of the Major League Baseball farm system. We must bring the Chukars good luck, because they won this game just like they did on our 2010 visit to Idaho Falls! And the most memorable moment of the night wasn't on the field: Jonathan and I each won a drawing for a prize from Deseret Books! We picked them up in the stadium gift shop, and I was astounded to get a book that I had just recently found out about and wanted badly to read, The Miracle of Freedom: Seven Tipping Points That Saved the World by Chris and Ted Stewart. A delightful evening indeed!

The Chukars warming up.

Aside from Jonathan and I winning prizes, this
was the night's most dramatic moment--out at home plate.

Yellowstone National Park

On Wednesday we drove to Yellowstone National Park and took the North Loop, instead of the South Loop which we had focused on in previous visits. Not far into the park we stopped to stretch our legs (having driven over two hours from Idaho Falls), opposite a high bluff overlooking a creek.

And there we encountered the little follow (gal?) below, who seemed to be looking for a handout or leftover--it's a marmot.

"Did all these people come here just to see me?"

One of the first major sites we came to was Norris Geyser Basin, an otherwordly expanse of steam vents, geysers, and hot acidic pools.

Norris Geyser Basin

A few miles further up the road we came to a place called Artist Point, from which we beheld the Lower Yellowstone Falls. What a spectacle! The water of the Yellowstone River plunges more than 300 feet into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which itself is up to 1,000 feet deep.

Lower Yellowstone Falls from Artist Point

Lower Falls and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Donna and Jonathan at Artist Point

Further on we came to Mammoth Hot Springs, an area even more like an alien planet than Norris Geyser Basin. Here, hot water from the springs flows over the surface in rivulets and pools, and deposits calcium carbonate--a white, chalky mineral--in such copious amounts that it's formed terraces down the side of a hill that look like frozen waterfalls. The mineral and the hot water that leaves it thick everywhere choke the life out of any trees that try to grow here. I'll just let the camera take over for a moment to give you an idea what this place is like.

The rest our drive was through seemingly endless, and beautiful, hill country.

The rest our drive was through seemingly endless, and beautiful, hill country. One thing often seen in this area are buffalo--or "bison," as they're properly called.

Here's what one of these enormous, fearsome creatures looks like up close and personal--the picture was taken from just inside the car window! (I'm cheating a bit here; this photo was actually shot on our 2007 visit to Yellowstone, but is making its first online appearance--I couldn't resist!)

Playmill Theater

After leaving Yellowstone Wednesday evening we stopped for dinner in the town of West Yellowstone, Montana, and then attended a presentation at the Playmill Theater of the musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. It was a lot of fun, if not quite as delightful as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which we saw at the Playmill last year.

Temples and Temple Square

Whenever we're in Idaho and Utah--from which our plane left for home on Saturday--we enjoy visiting the sites associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). Of course, that includes the Church's beautiful temples, including the new Rexburg Temple in Rexburg, Idaho, where Donna and Jonathan attended college at BYU-Idaho.

Rexburg Temple

Statue of the Angel Moroni,
atop the Rexburg Temple

Before we left for home from the Salt Lake CIty airport, we visited Temple Square in Salt Lake CIty--always a setting for marvelous pictures!

There were 75 weddings at the Salt Lake Temple
on the Saturday we were there--if you look closely,
you can see one of the couples in the lower right corner
of this picture (I didn't notice them till after I
took the picture!).

This side view of the Salt Lake Temple
was taken through a large window
from inside
the adjacent Visitors' Center.

17 Miracles

It's hard to overstate the crucial role the Mormons played in American history and settlement of the West. On Friday evening we all went to a showing of the film 17 Miracles, a beautiful, well-acted, and heartrending film about the Willie and Martin companies of Mormon pioneers, who pulled wooden handcarts across the American plains in 1856 toward the Salt Lake Valley, and were caught in the mountains of Wyoming in October, when winter came early and with a vengeance. Before they were rescued many died, and there was much suffering and much discovery of what faith, hope, and love really mean.


Melany and I tasted a little adversity of our own on the flight back home, when bad weather in Chicago held up our flight there from Salt Lake City, and we had to spend the night at O'Hare airport because our connecting flight to Rochester left about 20 minutes before we landed. After seeing what the Willie and Martin companies endured, what was a little inconvenience like that?

If you've never traveled out to see the great American West, this should definitely be on your "bucket list." Seeing places like Yellowstone, the Teton Range, the Snake River Valley, and Temple Square are priceless, unforgettable experiences. Melany and I are so thankful that Donna and Jonathan have made it possible for us to have them. Thank you both, again!

Idaho sunset


Anonymous said...

The photos of your Western trip are OUTSTANDING! The bizarre 'frozen waterfalls' in Yellowstone are really something to behold, as are the photos of the awesome Falls of the Yellowstone River. I think some of these photos could be turned into postcards, or even a calendar? Thank you for sharing your trip; your description feels like one is really there!

It's A Wonderful said...

What a fabulous trip! Yes, your photos are beautiful! You guys sure see a lot while on vacation...that's what staying with "young folk" will do for you. Keep you on your toes and moving! Thanks for the posts, I felt like I was right therer with you!

Donna said...

Come back! We had so much fun and it thrills me to see how much fun you had. The Chuckers need you to come back! (they have won a few games, but not enough!) We love you and can't wait to show you around Kentucky!