Monday, June 22, 2015

The Road Trip, Part 10: Salt Lake City & Craters of the Moon

*Just a quick note - as the formatting on this blog keeps some of the photographs pretty small. You can click on any of the pictures to enter a slide show, which will allow you to see larger format photographs*

Previous Entries: 

Day 42:
Jackson Hole, WY to Idaho Falls, ID. 88.4 Miles, 1 Hour 44 Minutes.

We left Jackson heading to Salt Lake City - planning a stop in Idaho Falls for the night to break up the drive and buy us one more day before arriving at J's aunts house - who just returned from a trip herself only a day before. We ate some tacos and slept at a Walmart.

Day 43:
Idaho Falls, ID to Salt Lake City, UT. 214 Miles, 2 Hours 55 Minutes.

We arrived at J's aunt's ( we'll call her: C ) house in the late afternoon, unpacked and acclimated ourselves. We chatted for a while and then decided to go out for a bit while J's aunt went and got some stuff for dinner. We went down to Trolley Square, a kind-of-dumpy shopping mall, to check out Tabula Rasa - a stationery story J enjoyed on previous visits. We swung through Whole Foods and made our way back to C's house. We spent the remainder of the evening preparing a nice dinner and relaxing. Towards the end of dinner, C's husband (E) came home. They gave J a birthday card and brought out a cake that C made the night before as soon as she got home from the airport. 

Day 44: 

J was still feeling under the weather but sleeping in a real bed seemed to help. We got a pretty late start to the day - something that seemed to be a theme for us in Salt Lake City. Our first stop was the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. They were in the process of installing a new exhibit so there was really only one gallery open to view. It was over and done with in a matter of minutes. We made our way through downtown a bit to the Joseph Smith building where we went up to the observation deck - or really just the top floor which has some nice views of the city. 

The somewhat lackluster view of the city
We ventured a little further to the Lion House Bakery - where we tried their famous rolls (free if you ask) - which we ate in a beautiful garden behind the bakery. The rolls were indeed good - but the overwhelming creepy (religious) vibe that this area of the city has was a pretty big turn off. 

It was good
Keeping up with the creepy religious theme we went to a sculpture garden - something we both enjoy doing. This one was called the Gilgal Sculpture Garden was mostly creepy religious things. Cool birdhouse though!

Reminds me of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park!
After the sculpture garden and general weirdness of our activities we decided to get a little bit outside of the city and go look for the Old Saltair Ruins. What this is supposed to be is the very last bits of the burnt remains of a 'Coney Island of the West' - mostly broken dishes and burnt timber. We did not find anything that was conclusively the ruins... as the directions we found online were very vague - but as far as we can tell we were there or pretty close, and the views were nice. 

After we were done on our little excursion we retuned met C&E for dinner at a place called Avenues Proper - one of their favorite places. It was a nice, intimate brew-pub type place with good beer and a nicely executed menu. 

Day 45:

A shot of the farmers market, which does nothing to show how great it was.
We started the day by checking out the Downtown Farmers Market. This was one of the nicest I have seen outside of the Capital District. It ran the perimeter of a Pioneer Park with farmers and produce vendors on one half, and crafts/other goods on the remaining sides. There were also food vendors on a path through the center. Everything looked beautiful. We really enjoyed it. Ive said it before - but Ive been routinely disappointed by farmers markets most places we visit (there are obvious exceptions) - as the ones we have become accustomed to in this area are really some of the best I've seen. 

As we were leaving the market we stopped to grab some subs at Caputo's - a market very similar to Cardona's or Roma's. They also had a nice fish market attached to them, accessible from both indoors and outdoors. We enjoyed our sandwiches. After lunch we drove over to check out a chocolate shop - Hatch Family Chocolates. According to C, they are one of the best in the city - and one of the owners studied in Chicago. On our way from the chocolate shop we stopped at a sidewalk sale that was pretty much a dream come true because of my obsession with Reverware. I agonized over buying the lot and shipping it back to New York - but opted out as we were trying to be frugal. 

All of the Revere Wares!
After J pulled me away from the side walk sale, we headed to the Utah Museum of Fine Art. The museum is located on the University of Utah Campus. It has a nice, well curated collection from around the globe. I was particularly taken by the Pacific Islander exhibit - and its display of ritual and war time costumes.
Just look at that mask!
For dinner, we went to Red Iguana with C&E. Red Iguana is a very popular Mexican Restaurant in Salt Lake City - known especially for its selection of moles. There was quite a line, which wrapped around the building, but it moved pretty quickly. When we sat, our server brought us a platter with some chips and a little bit of every mole they offered so we could compare and contrast - this was a great experience. I wound up with the Mole Coloradito - with pine nuts, almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds, ancho, guajillo, and poblano chiles, and mexican chocolate. The mole was served with grilled pork loin. I really enjoyed our meal here - sitting down for a Mexican meal like this, authentic or not,  is not something I do often - as we frequent taquerias more than anything - so it was a nice change of pace. There was a Mariachi band playing in the dining room, something I also havent seen in a while. The whole thing reminded me of drinking pitchers of blended margaritas at La Rondalla in the Mission in San Francisco when I was a teenager.

Killer Neon!
Day 46:
We slept in a bit, so when we got going the only activity we had planned for the day was to visit Antelope Island - an Island and State Park, accessible just north of the city. You drive over a causeway to get to the Island and then you just explore. Its an unusually beautiful place - with large rocky formations, grassland, an enormous amount of wildlife (especially buffalo), and plenty of sweeping vistas. We really enjoyed our time here.
Views like this were the norm on Antelope Island

Im thinking J is annoyed with me about something here

 For dinner we met C&E and a couple of their friends from Rochester, NY at BTG Wine Bar. We all really enjoyed the food (Italian fare like gnocchi, polenta, etc..) and the wine (I think we were drinking Duckhorn). 

Day 47:
We originally were going to leave today but J's mother and another one of her aunts were arriving to visit C&E in the evening so we decided to fart around a bit and stay one more night. We spent most of the day looking for some new clothing (to stay warm in the car). We did make a stop at the Natural History Museum, which seemed like a great museum, and a really cool building - but it was their free day - and Columbus Day - so it was PACKED with screaming children. We were in & out in short order. We got back to the house and chatted with everyone into the evening, talking mostly about our trip up to this point. 

A look into the center of the Natural History Museum

Day 48:

Salt Lake City, UT to Craters of the Moon, ID. 263 Miles, 3 Hours 48 Minutes

We tried our best to have an early start to the day because we wanted to check out Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho, on our way to Boise.  This was a bit of a shot in the dark for us, as we couldn't really find a ton of information about the park - and our Parks of the West book only had one photograph. The detour added a hundred miles to the trip, be we felt like gambling and we had been really enjoying our time spent in parks so far. 

While its pretty hard to compare the different parks in the US Parks System because they are all really very unique - when it comes down to it - I think this was my favorite I have been to. Theres really no way to describe how random and bizarre it is. It is truly like you are on another planet. 

From wikipedia: 
The Monument and Preserve encompass three major lava fields and about 400 square miles (1,000 km2) of sagebrush steppe grasslands to cover a total area of 1,117 square miles (2,893 km2). All three lava fields lie along the Great Rift of Idaho, with some of the best examples of open rift cracks in the world, including the deepest known on Earth at 800 feet (240 m). There are excellent examples of almost every variety of basaltic lava as well as tree molds (cavities left by lava-incinerated trees), lava tubes (a type of cave), and many other volcanic features.

Ill just let the pictures do the talking from here out:
Fish eye of the lava field, at a pull off just east of the park. It goes to the horizon.
The first thing we did was get a cave permit - our first - so we could check out some of the caves in the park.
Views from the North Crater View Trail
More views from the North Crater View Trail
We loved the stark black, volcanic soil

The truly amazing hike up to Inferno Cone Overlook

This is a video I took at the top of Inferno Cone Overlook, its fuzzy and choppy, but it should give you a good idea of just how 'in-the-middle-of-nowhere' this park is.

The paved path through the lava filed, heading towards the caves

J, on the descent into the cave.

A photo, from her perspective
J, for perspective, next to a pile of rubble from a roof collapse.

Another roof collapse. This particular cave did not require headlamps because of multiple roof collapses.

We considered camping for the evening, as we did want to spend more time exploring in the park, but since we were just getting back on the road after a stay in a city, we were short on supply (food) - so we took in as much as we could and then pushed through to Boise.

 From our book:

  • Downtown Farmers Market - Pioneer Park – Sat 8-2, Tue 4-dusk.
    o 350 S 300 W/Salt Lake City UT/84101
  • Curry Friend Chicken – Mon-Wed 11-3 & 5-9:30, Thu-Sat 11-930. Cheap fried
    chicken w curry spices.
    o 660 S State St/Salt Lake City UT/84111
  • Bourbon House – pub, has juicy lucys. 11a-2a o 19 E 200 S/Salt Lake City UT/84111
Free to do:
  • Neighborhood: Sugar House
  • Liberty Park – SLC’s ‘Central Park’
    o 600 W 900 S/Salt Lake City UT/84105
  • Lindsay Gardens – Park in the city’s first neighborhood, next to a cemetery,
    spectacular views of the valley.
    o 417 M St/Salt Lake City UT/84103
  • Utah Museum of Contemporary Art – Tue-Thu 11-6, Fri 11-9, Sat 11-6. $5 suggested.
    o 20 South West Temple/Salt Lake City UT/84101
  • Gilgal Sculpture Garden – 8-8
    o 749 E 500 S/Salt Lake City UT/84102
  • Old Saltair Ruins – 2 miles east of where Saltair is today, just of 180 & sr202.
    Take exit to go to where Saltair is today, on the frontage rd, turn east. Go 2 miles. You will see an old train car w rubble and an old building. Illegal to take artifacts.
  • Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts = free (Mon-Sat 10-3; Fri-Sat 3-6). 1853 Greek revival house; Utahn’s baskets, cradleboards, jewelry, origami, rugs, furniture & spurs
    o 1150 S Constitution Dr/Salt Lake City UT/84105
  • Garden Tour = free (tours Mon-Fri @ 11; Wed @ 7; Sun @ 10:30 / rooftop
    tours Mon-Fri @ 10) 16,500 beddings; pool& fountain; 4 acre prairie rooftop garden with native trees & drought resistant plants
    o 50 W North Temple/Salt Lake City UT/84150 Other:
  • UU Natural History Museum
    o 301 Wakara Way/Salt Lake City UT/84108
  • The Leonardo Contemporary Museum for Science & Culture – Sun-Wed 10-5, Thu-Sat 10-10. $8Students
    o 209 E 500 S/Salt Lake City UT/84111
  • Clark Planetarium – Free exhibits, imax cost $. 10:30-last movie time. - Take a
    trip through the universe; lunar hemisphere; rotating relief globe o 110 S 400 W/Salt Lake City UT/84101
  • Tracy Aviary – 9-5, $6/students
    o 589 E 1300 S/Salt Lake City UT/84105
  • Natural History Museum of Utah – 10-5, wed til 9. $13 adult. o 301 Wakara Way/Salt Lake City UT/84108
  • Utah Museum of Fine Art – Tue-Fri 10-5, wed til 8, sat-sun 11-5. $7/Student o 410 Campus Center Dr/Salt Lake City UT/84112
  • Loveland Living Planet Aquarium – 10-6, $12.95/student o 12033 S Lone Peak Pkwy/Draper UT/84020
  • Hogle Zoo – 9-5, $14.95
    o 2600 E Sunnyside Ave/Salt Lake City UT/84108
  • Wheeler Historic Farm = free / cow milking = $1 (daily dusk-dawn; milking Mon-Sat@ 5; tour Mon-Sat @ 3). 1898 Victorian house; farm animals o 6351 S 900 E/Salt Lake City UT/84121 
  •  Antelope Island – 6a-10p, $10/car. o 4528 W 1700 S/Syracuse UT/84075 

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