February 11th, 2007: It’s been a pretty nice three days – sunny, calm, and not all that cold, though it dipped down to about -37° the night we got home from out tour. Quite a few people around as it’s the beginning of spring break for some of the kids. Lots of snowmobiles, too.
We were pleased to learn that Connie and Gary Schmidt have re-opened the Beach Café. They are open daily from 9 AM to 7 PM, and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights to 9 PM. Also, that they are fully licensed. On Wednesday, February 14th, Valentine’s Day, they have a special on from 4 PM to 8:30 PM: three supper specials with a full salad bar and a variety of desserts. Full menu is available as well. The word is hardly out, yet they have a surprising number of people dropping in for coffee or a meal. Yippee!!! I hope it works out well for them!
Last Report, we were spending the night at Flagstaff, AZ. We got up bright and early Sunday morning and headed for Grand Canyon. There were a few people around, but it wasn’t crowded as it has been other times we have visited. The light was fine for photos, so we took lots. We had lunch at Bright Angel Lodge, with good food, good service and reasonable prices. Surprising, for such a popular resort! The Lodge also had a viewpoint on the Canyon so we got a few more photos.
Away down in the bottom of the canyon we could see a trail, and at the end of it a black dot. I donated a quarter to one of the telescopes set up along the viewpoint, and could see that the black dot was a group of people and donkeys, or mules, a few miles away from us and almost a mile lower down. As I watched, a man broke off from the group and came walking toward us, and then the telescope shut down. A lady told Doreen that her husband had walked down into and across the canyon and should be back in a couple of hours, so that must have been him. Hardy soul! Apparently he does it a couple of times a year.
The bus stopped at another viewpoint, too, where there was an interesting watchtower, very scenic in itself.
We went through beautiful scenery all the way to Kanab. We didn’t stop at Glen Canyon Dam, but could see that Lake Powell was much lower than we have ever seen it, possibly a hundred feet below the top of the dam.
On Monday, we traveled west from Kanab, around the edge of Zion National Park, which has some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere, but time didn’t permit us to go into Bryce Canyon. We did stop at a place called Big Rock Candy Mountain for coffee, to the dismay of the proprietress who wasn’t expecting us at all. She did well, though – managed to get coffee made and cups found for a hundred people in pretty good order, and in good humour. I took some pictures of the mountain, but there was a lot of snow on it so the colors didn’t show very well.
We had lunch at a truck stop south of Salt Lake City, then went directly to the Tabernacle Square where we had a sort of tour – or call it an attempt at brainwashing! I don’t think many of our group were impressed.
We stayed at Salt Lake City for the night, in the very comfortable Baymont Inn, with an excellent selection of eating places close by. Likely the nicest room we have had.
From there, it was a three day run for home – Butte on Tuesday night, Lethbridge on Wednesday night, and Tisdale Thursday night. No stops for photos, though we did get a few on the bus, and at our windup banquet in Butte. We took over 600 photos on the trip and are going to put the best of them on a CD as a slide show for fellow passengers. That will keep me out of mischief for a couple of weeks!
We have been on a number of bus tours – half a dozen of a couple of weeks or more duration, the rest less than a week – and have never been on one that left us unhappy. I’m sure I say this after every trip, but this must rate as the best one we have been on. Our bus was smooth and comfortable; our driver, Randy, was always calm, cool and careful and congenial. He kept the bus spotless, despite some wet weather. Our tour hosts, Carol and Bill Spencer, were capable and friendly. The big difference on this tour was the congeniality of the passengers – they were great! Upbeat, cheerful, co-operative and fun to be with. I have never seen such a great bunch of people with not a sour apple in the bunch. Every day was like coffee break at Greenwater!
Our tour directors had managed to have an on-board geology expert – Professor Don Gendzwill of the University of Saskatchewan was prevailed upon several times to explain the different rock formations and colours we passed and how and when they were formed. It made fantastic scenery much more interesting!
The lowest gasoline price we saw was in Montana, at $1.99, equal to about 61 cents Canadian per litre. Highest was in southern Nevada at $2.72 per US gallon, equal to about 84 cents Canadian per litre. (assuming 3.8 L/US Gallon and an exchange rate of 85%.)