|My dearest children,
Our "Wild West Tour '02" all began when Great Grandma and Grandpa Stutz sold their farm to the city of Provo. It is to be developed into a park. It was a generous and sound move, as the lots around the farm are going for up to a $1/2 million an acre. We wanted to see the farm one more time before it was developed and/or grandma and grandpa could no longer 'entertain' visitors. Our friends from Ann Arbor, Marc and Mindy Schlossberg, had also moved to Eugene, Oregon, so we thought we'd be adventurous and drive all the way to the Pacific. I am brave (considering most parents with a 5 and a 3 year old wouldn't dream of this kind of trip), but I am not crazy. I found great fares on flights from Portland. Our plan was to drive out as a family and the three of us would fly back. Dad would get some peace and quiet and drive the truck all the way back. The plan was a gem and, as I sit here two days after our safe arrival in Rochester, I am glad we undertook it. We'll start from day ONE:
Grandpa and Grandma on the farm, in a photo
from a news story about the development of Stutz Park
|June 31, 2002 - Day One. We left Rochester at 10:00 am with a dirt lawn just seeded. Dick and Amy had said they would water for us and our hopes were to return to an emerald lawn. We had spent the weeks before this trip killing the weeds, leveling the lawn, fertilizing and seeding. In good spirits, we drove all the way to I 80 via 35S. Just north of Des Moines, we stopped for a lunch. We stopped at a wayside, ate, and enjoyed a run through a nice meadow area. An hour later, we trooped back to the truck and drove to Eugene Mahoney State Park between Lincoln and Omaha, NE. We set up tent in a sterile State Park and walked to a wood gazebo overlooking a pond. You guys played in the duck boats there and got your energy out. We made bratwurst over the campfire for dinner and hit the hay early. It was hot and we were able to keep the cover off our tent. You guys thought it was pretty neat being able to sleep under the stars.||
Old Glory was everywhere this summer
|July 1, 2002 - Dad and you guys played at the park while I took down camp. We hit the road (with the promise of one new toy a day with good behavior). We had packed a slug of books and toys and you were pleasantly occupied most of the driving. After two hours (averaging 85 mph), we stopped in the middle of Nebraska (what a LOOOOOOOOOOOONG state!!) in North Platte, an historic village that celebrates Wild Bill's Western Show. We all stomped around a very nicely done county museum. There was a train that would run if you put in a quarter. Breck loved that. You both enjoyed climbing on the huge train engine and ringing the bell. It was a hot day, so we were all relieved to hit the A/C of the truck. We had thought we'd camp that night in western NE, but after a family chat, decided to drive the extra two hours to Cheyenne, WY and get a hotel. I called for reservations and it was available. It had a pool, which was our primary force for the two hours of additional driving. This was our biggest day of driving on the trip and you guys were great. We got to the hotel, ate dinner at a McD's (Lilo and Leilani doll toys which were a hit the rest of the trip) and spent the rest of the evening in the pool (which was gross and dirty - but you guys were too young to notice or care). The spa was broken, but at least warm and clean; we spent most the evening in there.||
We encountered many long stretches of empty highway!
|July 2 and 3, 2002.
We had a short drive today because of the extra driving we did the day
before. We had reservations to camp in the Flaming Gorge Recreation
Area, but a huge forest fire detoured us by about 30 minutes. We
ended up picking a new spot - Skull Creek - which was beautiful.
We put up camp, ran and played and enjoyed the lovely Flaming Gorge Area.
We ended up here two days we liked it so much. We saw deer, rabbit,
snake and chipmunk in the campsite and four male bighorn sheep by the highway.
We had rounded a bend and there they were - sitting and munching grass.
We have some great photos. We had taken the Geologic Turnout Drive
and stopped at a stream. You guys got naked and ran and played in
it. It was COLD, but I think your nerves went dead after awhile,
so you didn't mind.
The rock formations were stunning. The canyon was a marvelous purple/ochre color. There was a rustic resort near our campground. They had a lake with rental boats, a fishpond and ducks. We spent all morning there feeding the ducks, watching the fish go ballistic in the pond and rowing around the lake. We did some short hiking tours around the Gorge's rim, as well. Some kids who had stayed at our site previously had left some rocks built up to look like a 'fort'. Time had knocked it down, but we spent one afternoon building it back up. The weather was pleasant and we enjoyed pancakes, burgers and chicken on the grill.
The campsite was quiet (the Ranger told us most had canceled reservations even though it was the 4th July because of the fire), rustic and very pleasant. Your guys took out all your McDonald's toys and built dirt and stick houses for them. You were filthy, but I waited to 'wash' you down (with drinking water from the plastic bottleJ) until just before leaving for Vernal, UT.
Red were the rocks in both Flaming Gorge and in the Badlands
|July 4, 2002 Happy
4th!! We drove the short distance to Dinosaur National Monument in
Vernal, UT today. Dad had spent time here when he was a boy and remembered
the stegosaurus statue in the front. He and I had passed through
when we went west for Karla's wedding, too. Memories brought us back
with you two. We had breakfast at a cute country inn in Vernal and
then drove to the monument. Breck was really crabby and fussy the
whole time, but we didn't know why until later: you had a scorpion bite!
We don't know when it happened, but Uncle Craig said the red marks and
swelling on your foot were scorpion marks. We spent the morning at
the monument. Alea and Dave enjoyed the hour presentation with the
park ranger. I held Breck and walked around reading all the placards.
It hadn't changed much since we were last there, though I took more time
to read the info this time and learned a lot. The focus of the monument
has shifted from studying the dinosaur fossils to studying the other fossils
to ascertain what the environment was like. Neat stuff. It
was very very hot. We had to take a little trolley from the parking
area to the museum, which everyone enjoyed. We bought
some post cards and hit the road for Provo. We wanted to be there
by late afternoon to enjoy fireworks and family.
Dinosaur National Monument in Vernal, UT
|We made great time while the kids slept. We enjoyed, as always, the scenic beauty of Provo Canyon. We arrived at Grandma and Grandpa's around 4:00 pm. Grandpa Joe and Karla and boys were already there. Alea ran off to play with the boys right away, but Breck's foot kept him in my arms most of the afternoon and evening. Blanche, Rob and Boyd showed up around 6:00 pm. We had never met Boyd and the kids took to him like ducks to water. Craig, Perky and family brought over dinner about 7:00 and we enjoyed time with them. Dad and Alea stayed up for fireworks, though the pickings were pretty slim because the fire bans were strictly enforced. There was a fire up in the mountains just east of the house and we could see the helicopters dumping water from the balloons and airplanes dropping their flame retardant. Breck was down early with me that night.||
Happy 4th of July! Dave stopped at Mt Rushmore on his way home.
|July 5 - 7, 2002 We spent the next few days in Provo with Grandpa and Grandma. We hung out with Karla and Rob and families, played a lot in the pools, drove around in the tractor, played basketball, ate huckleberries (and pie), watered the orchard and hiked down to the stream. It was so nice to spend quiet time with the folks. We also hit a few 'things-to-do" in Provo: the Natural History Museum (where we saw a reptile presentation and you all touched a snake and an iguana), the Dinosaur Museum (with a T-Rex skull and teeth at kids' level), hiked to a 'cave' behind the LDS Temple, and cruised the downtown art fair. It was a very wonderful four days with Grandpa and Grandma Stutz.||
Glorious sunsets the entire time