Friday, August 18, 2017

Olympic Village, Park City, UT

Site of the 2002 Winter Olympics, it is now used for training Olympians and is a major tourist attraction.  Adventuresome visitors can do some of the things the pros do, bobsledding for one.  There's a good museum highlighting many of the past and present greats, and the local and national history of the event.  Below, you see some of the ski outfits worn over the years.  The outfit modeled on the far right is the latest style in casual after-ski wear.

The vertical cross is actually a skier doing acrobatics before splashing into the pool.  They slopes are sprayed with water before just before the skier starts down.  The pool is placid until a skier is coming down the slope, then the water is agitated with water jets or compressed air.  I assume this makes for a softer landing, fewer injuries, maybe more like snow.

I'm gonna give the guy (or gal) below a 9.5, went a little crooked on the landing.

Below is the snowboard acrobatics area.  Again, everything is sprayed with water before the launch.  Jumpers land on this huge inflated balloon/mattress.  The person in the air (middle left) is kinda hard to distinguish due to the background.

Jordanelle State Park, UT

The Park is about 30 miles east of Salt Lake City, near the town of Park City, site of the 2002 Winter Olympics.  Our campsite overlooks Jordanelle Reservoir.

Medium rare steak + single malt scotch + idyllic setting = Happy Camper.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Museum of Idaho

This is an infrared image of Trish and me.  Note the big smiles.  Would it be untactful to point out that the taller person seems to have a considerably larger brain?  Probably.  Forget I mentioned it.

The Museum of Idaho in Idaho Falls has a good NASA exhibit and, of course, local history exhibits, both well done with lots of interactive displays for children.

Trish and I rode this cycle thingy, one of several devices used on the space station to work out, trying to counteract the negative physical impact of zero gravity.  You're strapped in so you don't float away, and as you pedal, it goes in circles like a centrifuge.  If you're prone to dizziness, better skip this one.

Above and below, a typical dry goods store/drugstore of about 100 years ago - about the size of an average bedroom.  It bears an uncanny resemblance to the stores I frequented in Egypt in the early 80s.  These pix were taken in the Idaho history exhibit portion of the Museum.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Idaho Falls

 Idaho Falls, population 60K, is located in the southeastern part of the state, about 75 miles due west of Grand Teton NP.  57% of the people are Mormon so it comes as no big surprise that there's a magnificent Mormon Temple here, shown in the picture below, apparently sprouting out of my hat.  Indeed, their temples are magnificent, built to some of the most demanding specs ever.  I toured one in Portland, briefly open to the public just after construction was completed.  Impressive!

The falls are man-made, providing a 19' drop to power low-head hydro turbines.  Low-head hydro dams have several advantages over massive concrete dams.  They're easier, quicker and cheaper to build; silt buildup isn't a major problem; and they don't require mountainous or deep canyon locations.  They can be built just about anywhere there's adequate water volume.

This is the Snake River, and the City has done a great job of making it an attractive centerpiece.  There are paved walking/cycling trails on both sides, lots of grass, trees, topiary and sculptures.


Friday, August 11, 2017

The Best Laid Schemes.....

T: The water pump isn't working.  Are the valves set to 'dry camping'?

Me: Yes, and the fresh water tank is 3/4 full.

T: Well, it's not working.

Me:  I'm not gonna mess with it now, will check it out when we get to our next campground.  I'll reconnect the city water hose for now and fill a water jug to manually flush the toilet until we hook up to city water at tonight's campground.

T:  Okay.

We're breaking camp in Ketchum, ID.  Next stop: a one-nighter at a campground 20 miles east of Idaho Falls (IF) on the road to Grand Teton NP, where we plan to spend 4 nights.  Later, at the IF campground, I check hoses, valves, filters; everything looks fine.  

Diagnosis: death from unknown causes.  No evidence of - nor reason to suspect - foul play by a party or parties unknown.  Suicide is strongly suspected but no note is found.  

So, we need a new water pump.  It's under warranty, just need to find a RV service shop that can do the job while we wait.  Trish gets online and finds a place in IF that does warranty work on Grand Design RVs - a lucky find because precious few RV shops are authorized to do warranty work.  Many states have only a couple factory-authorized service shops.  Yes, very lucky find.

Next morning we return to IF, arrive at RV shop, and ask the service manager to check out the water pump the same day.  RV service shops are typically booked up several weeks advance, and drop-ins screw up the schedule.  He reluctantly agreed, but said he didn't know when they'd get to it, would likely be after lunch. We sat around for 5 hours, finally pulled out of the shop at 2:30 PM with a new water pump.

Our best laid schemes have gone askew.  We have to spend the night in IF, which means we won't beat the weekend rush to the first come-first serve campground in Grand Teton NP.  We decide to bag Grand Teton and spend 6 nights in IF.  Never had a burning desire to tour IF, but here we are, ready to sample Idaho Falls' greatest attractions, which will no doubt blow us away.  Oh Boy!

"The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew," is an excerpt from To a Mouse, a poem by Robert Burns, 1785.

More recently (1937), John Steinbeck quoted Mr Burns, and titled a novella, Of Mice and Men 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ketchum, ID

Ketchum is one of our favorite summer stops, been here several times.  Drop dead beautiful scenery, cool architecture, moderate summer weather and good friends Gary and Nancy to hang with.  They have a lovely home in LHC where they spend the winter.

I've done previous posts about the Ketchum-Sun Valley area (5.31.14) but haven't really covered the history.  Now, the rest of the story.

Sun Valley was developed in the 30s by Averell Harriman, CEO of the Union Pacific Railroad, governor of New York, and twice-defeated US presidential candidate.  He was an avid skier and wanted to build a ski resort similar to those he'd seen in Europe.  Ketchum was selected and, through clever promotion, it quickly became a mecca for the rich and famous.

The first chair lift, above, was built here.  Not just the first chair lift in Idaho or the USA.  No.  The first in the entire world!  An engineer got the inspiration for the chair lift design from the conveyor system used to load banana boats.  Nowadays, chair lifts and gondolas are commonplace in many countries.  And, they're not just used for skiing anymore.  Mountain bikers use them a lot in the warmer months, using lifts designed for carrying bikes.  Most ski areas now have numerous bike trails.

Trish and I planned to take the gondola up to the Sun Valley restaurant and have lunch there but had to bag it.  Too much smoke from wildfires.  Not much sense of paying for a ride up the mountain if you can't see squat when you get there.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Pierce, ID

A man named Pierce discovered gold here in 1860.  That started a mini gold rush that quickly attracted 6000 people and Pierce became the first town in what is now the State of Idaho.  The rush didn't last long and the rushers moved on after a couple years.  The current population is about 500.

I 'discovered' the place 104 years after Mr Pierce, spent the summers of '64 and '65 here, working for the Forest Service.  Back then, the Forest Service had lots of seasonal employees, mostly college students, from all over the country.  Most of the guys were housed in 4-man tent camps scattered around the forest.  Typical camp had 2 crews of 7-10 men each, a camp boss, a cook and a couple of cook's helpers - college girls.  Unfortunately, the coeds weren't selected for their looks.

This dorm-style building, which housed the Pierce crew, was where I lived in '64.  In '65, I was in a tent camp.   We were required to wear hobnail boots, aka calks, in the forest but had to remove them before entering any building or they'd rip the floor to shreds in short order.  NO CALKS signs were posted at every door; I liberated one of the signs and it's been hanging in my den ever since.

The building is still in use, mostly offices, a few bedrooms.  The office below was my bedroom.

I really enjoyed those 2 summers, made lots of friends, fell in love with the mountains.  No way could I ever again be happy living in the Midwest where I grew up: boring topography, high humidity, mosquitoes galore, frigid winters.  Go west, young man.