Out West

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We headed west on July 19, 2003 to attend our son’s wedding in Las Vegas, NV.  I-70 continues to have numerous construction sites but once across the Mississippi River, the speed picks up.  The Colorado National Monument, outside Grand Junction, CO, provided a view I had not seen before.  Of many ridge top views, one of the striking sights in the late afternoon sun was Independence Monument.  In the background is Grand Junction, CO.  From Grand Junction, we took a scenic back road, CO 141, on into Utah across the La Sal range and crossing over the northern end of Lake Powell via UT 95.  In sharp contrast from my last visit to the area, the Colorado and Dirty Devil Rivers were both way down, due to the drought over the past several years.  The marina was far back from the river’s edge and required extensions to reach the Colorado River/Lake Powell edge.  The entire light colored area used to be underwater and part of Lake Powell.  The Dirty Devil River, which pours into the Colorado River at the north end of Lake Powell, was down to a trickle. Past Lake Powell, at the junction of UT 95 and UT 24, is Hanksville, UT.  A gas station’s store was hollowed out of a sandstone mountain.  The owner indicated they used many cut sticks of dynamite to do the controlled hollowing of the mountain.  When you enter the store, you can see some of the work as you pass through a wall to the restrooms in the rear. Then it was on to Bryce Canyon National Park.  I had originally intended to do some sunrise shots of the canyon but a weather front had moved in overnight and thick clouds greeted my sunrise visit.  A look at Inspiration Point however can make up for the disappointment.  It was still overcast but the beauty of the view still showed through the poor lighting. Being the Bryce Canyon experience was a little disappointing, the visit to Zion made up for it.  Zion National Park was bathed in sunshine.  However, the Virgin River flowing through Zion showed the results of the previous night’s rain up by Bryce Canyon and the Cedars.  On my last visit to Zion, one could drive all the way to the rear of the canyon.  No more can you do this.  One must take a tram through Zion’s vistas.  Only folks staying at the lodge may drive up to the lodge area.  At the far end of Zion, where the tram makes its turn-around are the Narrows.  Here the canyon walls are much narrower, but still as majestic.  One can walk trails through the narrows. Amy Smith and Alexander Sablan were married on July 26, 2003 at the Viva Las Vegas Chapel, Las Vegas, NV.  Charles Smith led his daughter down the aisle. The Sablan side of the aisle.  Others in attendance included friends and W.O. Wright employees. The Smith side of the aisle. The announcement to the world via the chapel’s marquee. Amy and Alexander Sablan -  May the Lord bless their marriage.  A proud mother with her married son. Two proud mother’s with Amy. After the wedding, we set out for the Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming.  Again, I was looking for a morning view of the Tetons.  I was not disappointed this time.  The morning was beautiful with just a little hazy.  Standing on the dam creating Jackson Lake, the view of the mountains and their reflections in the lake were just what I wanted. Farther south from the dam is a side trip through Jenny Lake.  From the road you get a good view of what is called the Cathedral Group.  These peaks include the highest - Grand Teton. Above and east of Jackson Lake is Signal Mountain.  The view from Jackson Point, near the top of Signal Mountain, provides a vista which includes all the peaks in the Tetons and a panorama of the surrounding lakes. Heading east, into Nebraska and along the Oregon Trail, is Scotts Bluff National Monument.  Oregon Trail wagon ruts remain and can be viewed near the visitors’ center. The area can best be appreciated by driving or hiking up the Monument for a panoramic view of the Oregon Trail as it goes through the pass.  The pass at Scotts Bluff was not on the original Oregon Trail route but was a new route established when the US Army made it west and shortened the trail by rerouting it through the pass.  The pass runs just left of the bluff with the tunnel. East of Scotts Bluff by about thirty miles is one of the enduring sights for the travelers on the Oregon Trail - Chimney Rock.  When the “Chimney” was sighted, one knew the plains were over and the scenery would soon be changing.  The “Chimney” is starting to lose out to nature, just like all rock formations.  It is now considerably shorter than when the folks were on the Oregon Trail.  Another rock also losing the battle with nature is Registry Cliff outside Guernsey, WY.  Registry Cliff is where the travelers on the trail carved their names and messages into a cliff to pass information on to following wagon trains. Farther east on US 26 is Ash Hollow State Park (east of Lewellen, NE) where one can view more ruts of the Oregon Trail.  Also located along the fence posts are cowboy boots.  No one recalls why the boots were placed there or when, but it had to be since US 26 was built.  Several hundred cowboy boots have been placed upside down on the posts.  Charles Kuralt, in his periodic “On the Road” series, did a story on the Lewellen cowboy boots. A close-up of one boot - still showing some of the artwork. Our last area to visit on our return trip was the Amana Colonies of Iowa.  The colonies no longer are communal in nature but the folks continue the traditions of the colonies.  Amana appliances are now made by Maytag, employing colony folks.  Seven villages make up the colony: Amana, East Amana, High Amana, Middle Amana, West Amana, South Amana and Homestead.  A typical home with artwork and garden is shown and located in Middle Amana. This farmer’s barn is typical of small farms.  Larger barns, without the top protrusion, can be seen in other colony villages. In Middle Amana is Lily Lake where the large yellow lotus lily blooms.  The lilies were just starting their blooming season.  The lake is about 160 acres and is used for ice skating during the winter. In a South Amana barn is a museum of miniature buildings typical of late 19th century Amana, other Iowa villages and farmsteads. The miniatures are all to scale.  Henry Moore, the creator of the miniatures passed away in 1958 and his son, John Moore, continues the work.    John Moore is a retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant and was a cargo aircraft loadmaster when he was on active duty. A view of the details in a miniature barn.