February 09, 2014

Salt Lake to Tucson

Press HERE to see a slideshow
of our trip from Salt Lake to Tucson.

Betty in Temple Square
IMG_5832: Temple Square
In the Tabernacle
IMG_5827: In the Tabernacle
The Facebook Campus
IMG_0077: Facebook
San Luis Reservoir
IMG_0080: San Luis Reservoir
San Xavier Mission
IMG_5836: San Xavier Mission

It seems like forever since we left the mid-west, but it has only been a month. The morning the we headed out it was 5 below zero. We drove almost 200 miles south and it was still below zero. Then we were heading west. Another 200 miles and it was much warmer and by the time we were in western Nebraska, it was about 30. Sometimes people ask why we travel so much. It is all about the weather.

The next day we were Salt Lake City. We have never spent any time there before and this seemed as good a time as any to take a look around. The best thing about the area is the mountains to the east. They are stunning to view but they trap smog. The air quality was not very good. We would guess that further south in Provo the lake might add a bit of beauty to the area. But the Great Salt Lake is not all that great or beautiful.

As we drove into the city we decided to go to Ogden and then drive south. We visited a museum there. The best part of the museum was a collection of several hundred Browning rifles and hand guns. But the rest of the city was not very interesting. Since it was late we drove south to where we were staying with a couchsurfing host.

The next day we drove to the center of Salt Lake City. For some reason we decided to take a look an old trolley depot that has been converted into some lovely commercial space. Unbeknownst to us, this was the place where people could buy tickets to the Sundance Film Festival, which we did not even know was beginning that day. We got a catalog of all the movies, but there was nothing we wanted to see that day and we were leaving the next day. From here we drove down to Temple Square. The square is very beautiful and the commercial area across the street is a site to see. We only went in to the Tabernacle at Temple Square. It was a great oval shaped building with fantastic acoustics. Only the most devout Mormons are permitted entry into the temple, so that clearly left us out.

After visiting the city center we had quite a bit of time on our hands, so we decided to drive to Park City, home of the Sundance Film Festival. It is about 40 minutes outside of Salt Lake with most of the travel on an interstate highway. Once we got close we slowed down almost to a crawl at times with all the traffic headed for the ski areas and the film festival. There was NO place to park in the town, which was a pity because from what we could see, it was a very nice town. So we head back down the mountain and arrived at our host's home just before dark.

We headed out at 5 AM the next morning. All was fine until we were 50 miles west of Salt Lake, when thick ribbons of fog obscured the roadway. Still we pressed on - some time slowing to 30 mph as we made our way through the fog. Eventually, the fog dissipated and as we entered Nevada the sun began to poke its way above the horizon. It is a long way to the bay area and we pressed on past deserts, rock formations and little mountains. Finally in the early afternoon we passed through Reno and then we were winding our way up to Donner's pass then down the mountain through Truckee and Sacramento. Soon we turned south about 50 miles west of San Francisco Bay and we angled toward San Jose. It was almost dark by the time we were coming around the south end of the bay. If not for the traffic we were less than 30 minutes away, but the traffic forced us off the freeway. Finally, we arrived at Dain and Marleta's home in downtown Palo Alto.

We had a lovely visit, lasting more than two weeks. When we got there Dain was recovering from the flu, a flu that hung on for most of our visit. That is to say, Dain got to stay home during most of our visit, even though he worked most days from home. We got to eat out at some of the local restaurants and Betty cooked some of Dain's favorite meals, like beef stroganoff and chicken enchiladas. Although we did not do a heck of a lot, just hanging out with them was enough. They visit us once or twice each year and it is just not enough time to suit us.

We got to spend an afternoon with Betty's brother John. His friend Matt and Suzanne were over and we spent a wonderful afternoon in his backyard, chatting and munching on goodies. We love him and we love to spend time with him.

Betty and I played tennis once. We did some walking, mostly to get groceries. We saw the movie Nebraska, which we liked so much that we can recommend it to anybody whoever lived in a small farm-town in the midwest. The dialogue and the setting just blew me away. They really nailed it.

The second week Dain went back to work. He usually rides his bike, but I gave him a lift on those days. His health still wasn't up to speed. The next day or the day after he was off again, because of a reaction to his medications. On the day before we left, we spent a hour or so in the afternoon on the Facebook campus. It is like a little city, with dining areas, restaurants, coffee shops, a bike shop, a bank and so much more - truly amazing.

We got up early and packed our gear in the car. We left room in the car for for three to sit, because Dain's bike was on the Facebook campus. He was finally going to ride it home that evening. So, with hugs and kisses we left him at the entrance to Facebook.

Panorama of San Luis Reservoir

With Mary at Coyote Bar

Panorama of San Xavier Mission

Then we were headed for San Diego, well actually Vista, where my cousin Mary Cox lives. The drive was not all that interesting. We stopped at the San Luis Reservoir in order to take in the view. We stopped for lunch at Harris Ranch. By late afternoon we were in the Los Angeles area. We were caught in the afternoon rush hour, where we crawled along. It felt like we were in a parking lot. The traffic added an hour-and-a-half to our journey. It was dark by the time we got to Mary's. After a short rest went out for a bite to eat.

On Saturday, Mary, Betty and I visited Christina, our landlady of two years ago. She is such a cute bundle of good looks and boundless energy. We got to spend a couple hours with her talking about our families and our lives. From there the three of us drove into Carlsbad for a brief walk along the ocean. Then it was to the Coyote Bar for some drinks and some blues and rock. It was a lovely day.

Sunday was Superbowl Sunday. Betty and Mary set about mixing and baking several dozen cookies. They were delicious. We brought them with us to a Superbowl Party hosted by Mary's friend Lise. The food and drink at the party was outstanding. We got to meet a great bunch of people. The game was kind of boring. I cannot ever remember there being such a blow-out in the Superbowl. So, not long after the second half started - we started back to Mary's home.

It is way too seldom that I get to see my cousins. If I am lucky we see them every couple of years. The last time was at my Aunt Tiny's funeral. So, we try to make the most of it we we are in California.

On Monday, we drove to Sun City. We were couchsurfing with a great couple, Bob Hilton and Mary Ann Lemley. They were really wonderful hosts. We could not have asked for a better reception. The next day they showed all around the city and we got to see several golf courses and recreation centers. Betty says that she is done with extensive travel and wants to find a place to return to every winter. So, this Sun City stop was for her and she took full advantage of it.

On Wednesday, while I was getting our car serviced, Betty was out with a realtor all morning and then some looking at properties. I am not happy about this turn of events, but I guess I will have to live with it. I like Sun City a lot, especially the rec centers, but I hate the desert. So, I guess it is up to me to find a place to stay every winter that we can afford and is not in the desert. So, I will be looking in California and the gulf coast for a place that suits me. If I cannot find one, then Arizona will be our future winter home. So, that is why we are in Tucson today. I like this area better then the Phoenix area. The air is cleaner, but it is more expensive.

So, tomorrow we are off to Mexico, the last of our serious winter travel.

Posted by bill at February 9, 2014 06:34 PM