Pambling Roads~~Idaho to Utah
Pambling Roads continues as we explore the western U.S.A. Our travels this time takes us from Idaho to Nevada, and then onward to Utah. We met so many different people from all over the world. It was absolutely one of the most memorable trips so far.
Sleep Inn was clean and comfortable. However, we did have a problem that was not rectified by management. The people above us were very noisy. The first night we didn’t say anything. Honestly, I think it was kids jumping around or maybe some very heavy footed people. We expect some noise, it’s just natural when you have a large group of people staying in hotels. These people above us were very, very noisy, to the point where we finally said something. We weren’t getting any sleep. Not sure if management went and said anything to them because the noise and banging didn’t stop.
It was over the 4th of July holiday. We pulled up some chairs, grabbed a couple glasses of wine, and enjoyed the celebration. From the hotel room we were able to see a few different towns in the distance celebrating with fireworks.
They didn’t ask us how our stay was when we checked out. I’m guessing they already knew and didn’t want to hear it?
During our usual tours of the area, getting a feel for the town and the directions we need to go we were driving down one road and saw this house. Wow, it was a replica of a castle. I made hubby turn around so I could get some pictures of it.
Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area
If you are involved with bird-watching or just enjoy it as an occasional hobby and are in the Snake River Canyon area, this is a great place to go. We saw countless different species of birds from falcons, eagles, hawks, and many we could not identify. The Snake River Canyon was probably the largest one I have seen so far and it did not disappoint us in any way. Absolutely beautiful.
Swan Falls and Swan Falls Dam
They have tours at the dam but tour times are very limited. It was closed when we were there. There were a decidedly happy group of people fishing in the area. It was lunchtime and we picnicked in the Swan Falls area with a breathtaking view. We saw a few boat and noticed a launching area.
Canyon Creek Restaurant
This was a restaurant we ate at on the 4th of July. It was located at another hotel (Shilo Inn). I have a few stars next to the restaurant with a note that says it was good. I wish I had thought to write more. It is common for me to write notes to myself, if it wasn’t good food or good service I put a “no” next to it and I avoid mentioning them in the travel articles. This did not have any note like that at all. So I’m going to recommend them as a good place to dine.
Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho
The Shoshone Falls are considered the Niagara of the West. There is a nice park with a trail that leads to the canyon rim. (Evel Knievel jumped there.) There are a few overlooks where people can get great views of the falls. The Falls are not as wide or vast as Niagara Falls. However, it is a deeper drop. It has a 212 foot drop and is 900 feet wide.
In comparison Niagara Horseshoe Falls is 170 foot drop and 2200 feet wide (Crestline). The American side of Niagara Falls is 70 to 100 feet deep and 850 feet wide (Crestline).
West Wendover, Nevada was a “rest” stop. We drove through Nevada and stopped in Wendover, Utah which is right on the border. I stood on the border with my left foot in Utah and my right foot in Nevada. However, it was quite interesting. I think the only reason why the town exists if because of gambling. That’s okay, all towns need a reason to thrive.
Wendover Will welcomes you and the Bonneville Salt Flats
This is well known in the racing world where they have races on the salt flats. For as far as we could see it was white salt sparkling in the sun. Wow, it is something we will probably never see again. It amazes me that the earth has places like this. The Bonneville Salt Flats is part of the Great Salt Lake Desert.
The World Famous Hat Tree!! Tribute to the Pony Express.
Ely, Nevada (pronounced E-Lee)
We stayed at the Best Western across from a beautiful park where we walked in the evenings after our days touring the area. The people there were friendly and pleasant to be around.
We stopped at the Visitor’s bureau in Ely and spent some time chatting and visiting. We left feeling satisfied and happy with the suggestions we received. We were armed with a handful of great information from Meg and followed through with her recommendations.
On one of the nights we stayed in Ely we dined at the Silver State restaurant. Amy was our server and she was right on target. Great service and great food.
Nevada Northern Railway
The Nevada Northern Railway has train rides on a steam locomotive. A few of the tours are theme based where you may be able to enjoy a Wild West show, dinner, or a haunted ghost train ride. We took a tour of the shop where it is a functioning shop with machinists and mechanics repair and maintain the trains. The museum was closed both times we were there and were not able to see it.
We took the Wild West Limited with an entertaining skit that everyone enjoyed.
We spoke with one of the employees, Wally, who was a retired nurse and now volunteered to work on the train. He was absolutely awesome, patiently answering all of our questions. There was a couple from southeast Texas, Jaive and Mary, that we had a wonderful visit with talking about several topics including antique cars.
Copper mining is still a big industry in the Ely area. We could see the trucks dumping their loads from a distance. It was fascinating watching them back to the edge and drop everything into a mountain of dirt. We had mixed emotions. We understand what the detriments of mining but those mountains of dirt and soil that the trucks were dumping had multitudes of different colors in them and it was a beautiful sight.
Lane City is a ghost town about three miles from Ely. We walked through the area. There’s a church and several homes and a handful of mine shacks where the miners stayed while they worked their mine claims.
Renaissance Village in Ely
We had a general idea of where the village was located but had a few wrong turns before we found it. When we arrived we learned that it was closed and was open on Saturdays only.
Historic Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall
Walking into the Hotel Nevada is like walking into a museum. There are displays, memorabilia, and relics around every corner and on every wall. Dinner was delicious and the service was just as grand. We did gamble but don’t hold your breath to hear about our winnings. We didn’t spend that much and didn’t expect to win anything.
We missed the White Pine County Public Museum. If you can stop by and check it out.
We went up to Garnet Hill and decided to do some scouring of the area. We dug around, broke some rocks and wasn’t having much luck. A family from a nearby town was up at the top with their children and showed us what to look for and the easiest ways to find them. Once I knew what to look for I found a couple. One of the teenagers came over to me and handed me one she had found. It was a pretty good size stone, a very dark stone with glimmers of dark red. I congratulated her on her findings and handed it back. The girl said for me to keep it, she will always have a chance to find more and I was just visiting. I was thrilled and gave her a good healthy hug.
After the family left, my husband found a few more and we were happy. We found our gems. Just as we were leaving another couple pulled up and asked if we had any luck. The couple were from California and enjoyed coming to Garnet Hill especially after it rained. We soon learned that after it rains, Garnet Hill is easy pickings.
Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park
This park is mainly used for hiking and has some tables for picnicking. However, one of the unique features is the beehive shaped structures they have near the entrance. The structures were used as ovens to produce charcoal from pinyon pine. The charcoal was used for smelter for the gold mines at Ward. The coned-shape kilns were very large, thirty feet tall and twenty seven feet in diameter. There are a few still standing.
Willow Creek Trading Post and General Store
Located near the Ward Ovens, we stopped by the trading post. We purchased a few things and had a great conversation with the family who runs the business. They had buffalo on the backside of their property and gave us permission to go over there and see them. They also sell buffalo burgers or will sell live buffalo, and meat by the pound or whole.
Cave Lake State Park
Cave Lake is a short jaunt from Ely. The park allows hiking, fishing, camping, picnicking, and fishing. The lake was breathtaking…and cold.
There are trails for hiking and warnings. There are predator animals there like mountain lions, and bobcats, etc. There were mixed emotions on my part. I wanted to see a mountain lion but would prefer it to be a very distant sighting. We saw many different birds, a few deer tracks but did not see any other large animals.
Leaving Ely we drove to Great Basin National Park but didn’t stay for very long.
Navaho Lake, Utah
The park is just outside of Cedar City, Utah.
Mt. Carmel, Utah
Wow, Utah drivers are really dangerous drivers, pushy, and rude. It wasn’t just one incident, it was almost every driver. We noticed how they drove practically from the moment we crossed the state line. Speeding, passing multiple vehicles on double lines into our oncoming lane, talking on the cell phones, swerving back and forth. I even saw one man texting while he was passing us! Another truck was in front of us tailgating another car so badly that they pulled over, onto the side of the cliffs with no guard rail, to let them pass.
However, the worst story of our Utah adventure that is still very prominent in our minds. (I don’t think I want to ever go back to Utah and I would not recommend people to vacation here unless they do not plan to do a lot of driving.)
The Royally Obnoxious Ford Lady: we were going through the curves and cliffs of Zion National Park and this one lady in a Ford escort type car kept tailgating us and beeping her horn, waving her hand at us to hurry. It’s not like we could pull over - there were very high cliffs and very winding roads. She was so close to us we could not even see the grill on the front of her car. We were doing the speed limit and my husband is not going to take a chance and drive faster than recommended. We don’t care how many times you blow your horn and flail your hands around. It’s not like we were going two miles an hour. The speed limit said 20 mph on the curves and that’s what we did. When she finally passed us when we turned off to go into the visitor’s center…there was no license plate and just some piece of paper stuck on the window. We reported her dangerous driving to one of the rangers at the visitor’s centers desk but he said there really wasn’t much that could be done about it.
I wanted to leave right there and then. I had no desire to go driving around high cliffs and mountains with rude inconsiderate and pushy drivers from Utah but my husband talked me into going on the tour shuttle bus.
Zion National Park
We took the tour bus and then left immediately after we were finished with the tour on the shuttle bus. Zion was absolutely gorgeous, however, it was not worth the terrifying ride to the visitor center. There are more than enough parks like Zion that are friendlier and just as pretty.
This time I was behind the wheel driving and it wasn’t much better, just not as bad as Royally Obnoxious Ford Lady. It isn’t like we aren’t used to driving in mountainous areas. We have quite a bit of driving experience in all sorts of terrain. We do not recommend visiting Zion National Park if you are driving.
I repeat, I would not recommend driving through Zion National Park. Even the beauty of the park was ruined for us by that rude and obnoxious lady and the rest of the rude drivers. Leaving the park wasn’t any better, it just wasn’t worth the white knuckling fear of someone back-ending us on high cliffs and pushing us over the edge.
This part of Utah was not a very good stay for us. The hotel that we stayed in was very disorganized. It was our first bad experience with a Best Western Hotel. The room was dirty, the beds unmade, bathroom wasn’t cleaned, so we went back to the front desk and they gave us another room.
Then the next day, they didn’t change the sheets. Yeup, you read that correctly. They made the bed without changing the sheets when it was requested to change them. I called the front desk and made them bring me new sheets. The young girl who was obviously not from housekeeping, brought me new sheets -- wrong size so we had to call the front desk again. Then she brought me another set of new sheets, apologizing because she was not familiar with the rooms. I thanked her and made the bed myself.
The restaurant attached to hotel had slooooooowwww service. The food was good, but it was flagrantly obvious that none of the restaurant staff were happy working there. Everyone frowning… ugh.
The gift shop attendant - frowning - hotel front desk clerk - frowning - maintenance worker – frowning. We now call it the town of the perpetual frowns. We could not wait to get away from all their negativity.
Beautiful Beautiful Utah
Traveling down Hwy. 89, we saw a really cool-looking house that was built into the mountain. As we were traveling through Utah to Arizona we experienced the typical Utah drivers – pushy and rude.
***What we highly recommend in Utah:
Coral Pink Sands Park and the Moqui Cave.
There are two major exceptions in the very southern portion of the state! You can go in from Arizona and not have to bother with the rest of the rude Utah residents.
Coral Pink Sands State Park
This desert is gorgeous. We scared something underneath the stand, not sure what it was, but we heard it hit the rails when it ran. We did trek out onto the dunes, walked about a half mile and then turned back.
Awesome people working there, very friendly and courteous. It is a great park with camping spots for those who want campsites and RV spots as well. There are picnic tables, outdoor grills, and ATV rentals and tours. Inside the visitor center/gift shop they have a display of different sands from all around the world. We chatted with the employees and they were very receptive to our desire to learn about the park and the history of the area.
They let us take a small cup of the coral pink sand for a souvenir.
We met a couple near the stands who were also on vacation and enjoying the park. They were from Arizona, taking a fun run-away weekend mini-vacation.
Wow!!! Family owned and operated, Moqui Cave is a decent sized sandstone grotto cave with a museum filled with antiques, early pioneer and Native American artifacts, dinosaur fossils, and footprints in rocks. There is a magnificent, breathtaking display of fluorescent rocks. Visitors can learn about history of the area and the Chamberlain family.
Their gift shop is wonderful. I wish their website was current because there were a lot of things I would like to purchase and have them mail to us. This was a great place to go for kids and adults.
We chatted with Mr. Chamberlain and just absorbed all the wonderful stories and history he was willing to share with us.
I must admit that Utah is breathtakingly gorgeous. The beauty of the state is overwhelming.
Sad to say: Our last stop in Utah was at a fast food restaurant. Even the customers there were unhappy and frowning. One lady was looking at people as if they were the devil’s spawns. I just didn’t see the majority of Utah residents as being happy. We decided that we don't like all the negativity we saw in Utah, do not want to return, and do not recommend people to vacation there. (Except for Moqui Cave and Pink Sands Park, they were awesome.)
Thank you for taking the time to read about our adventures traveling the United States. It has been a great adventure, meeting the Americans, and meeting people from all over the world.
Have you been to any of the places I have mentioned? Do you have stories to tell as well? Share with us, we want to hear all about it! Take advantage of comment section below and tell us your stories.
Have a good moments day,
Next stop: North Arizona
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