My return road trip to the Southwest would take me through scenery that I hadn’t seen in nearly ten years, and it was just as beautiful as I remember. The first part of my drive, crossing Washington state, is one that I’ve done hundreds of times, and while it’s interesting to see the diversity of the state, it’s scenery that I’ve seen so many times, it mostly passes by the highway without much notice. I spent a couple of nights in Spokane, staying with friends and catching up with others, and it was good to have some time with some of my longest term friendships, one of them coming up on 40 years since we first met in second grade. In some ways it seems like forever ago, and then again, it seems like yesterday. We had some time to take her dog for a nice walk along the river downtown, and the area has changed so much since I left it in 1990. It was great to see a bunch of improvements being made in the park and surrounding area around the river that flows through downtown.
I left Spokane after breakfast with friends, and then it was the long drive east from there, across the Idaho panhandle into western Montana, all the way to Bozeman, which is about a 6-7 hour drive. Western Montana is really beautiful, with all the mountain peaks, lush green valleys, and rivers and streams that run through the land. I had a nice overnight stay at an Airbnb place in Bozeman, and then got on the road late the next morning for the drive to the west side of the Tetons, where I opted to stay on the Idaho side in a little town called Victor, versus the more tourist-filled and expensive town on the east, the well-known Jackson Hole, Wyoming. My Airbnb choice was a house set in a little neighborhood of about a dozen homes, in a green valley with tons of open space all around — a very peaceful and quiet setting to enjoy the area. This gave me one full day to drive over the mountain pass and into Grand Teton National Park, which was as impressive to see again as it was the first time I visited in 2007. I originally saw the ragged peaks of the Tetons in late September of that year, the silver rock making for a stunning contrast with the golden aspens in the autumn sun. This time I was seeing them still covered in snow, with billowing white clouds dancing around the tops, and fields of yellow flowers all in bloom, which made for some great photos.
Then it was on to northern Utah, and I opted for the more scenic route meandered along the Idaho and Wyoming border for a while and then into Utah, coming into Salt Lake City from the northeast, over the mountain pass just north of Park City, where I could briefly see the 2002 Olympic Park ski run from the highway. I looked at some Airbnb options in Park City while I was planning my trip, and all of them were such much more than Salt Lake City that I just couldn’t justify it. So back through SLC, for a one night stay, this time in the 9th & 9th area neighborhood, which was cool. Now that I’ve been to that city a few times, I realize that I had underestimated it. It’s actually much more progressive than I would have thought, and is certainly the most so of any part of the state. It also has some great restaurants, cafes, and shops.
Finally, the time came for the last bit of the drive, from SLC to Kanab, which is about five hours. I arrived back at my friend’s place on Thursday the 22nd, just in time to get set up to begin a two-week house & pet sit for their dog and two cats. I also have been spending some time at the animal sanctuary, and it was great to be back there with all the animals. It’s certainly much warmer than when I arrived in April, with daytime temperatures into the high 90s and low 100s and overnight around 60 degrees.
This week I’m volunteering in some of the animal areas that I visited during my internship, including parrots, bunnies, horses, and cats, and of course a bit more time with the dogs. I’m taking Tuesday off to make sure I’m around for the dog, as they typically are not fans of all the fireworks and noisy human celebration of that day, and I may go see the small town parade that they put on here, and then of course the fireworks that night.
For those in the U.S., enjoy the holiday. And try to remember what true patriotism really means. It doesn’t look like what is making the news these days. We seem to be forgetting the “United” part of our country’s name lately.