June 2001 Utah & Yellowstone Trip

Our family June trip took place because a Great Uncle of mine passed away in Salt Lake City. He had turned 100 in February and he had lived a great life. He taught me to drive a Jeep when I was 8 years old on a private road many years ago. He was one of my favorite Great Uncles so I decided that we should attend his funeral. Our 831 mile drive from North Bend to Salt Lake City took 13 hours and 21 minutes.

The next day we attended my Uncle Lynn S. Richard's funeral in Salt Lake City. The funeral had a surprise guest speaker: President Gordon B. Hinckley, our beloved prophet and leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was wonderful to see and hear him speak in person. He is a very powerful speaker. Here he is with his cane leaving the funeral, with his wife ahead of him in red.

We saw President Hinckley again later at the Brigham Young 200th birthday celebration.  He is over 90 years old: how does he do it all?

The next day we visited the Church's new Conference Center. It is a huge building, holding 24000 people: a Boeing 747 could fit inside! Notice that there are no large pillars to obstruct people's vision. The usual podium and seats were gone this day as they were reconfiguring it for concerts, dancing groups, etc.

The pipe organ is smaller than the one in the Tabernacle.

From the roof of the Conference Center one can see Temple Square. Here the Joseph Smith Building (formerly the Hotel Utah) is on the left, with the Salt Lake Temple on the right. This temple was completed in 1893, and the new Conference Center is built out of the same granite quarry with matching stone!

It took 40 years to build the Temple without power tools.  What a project!

On the top of the Conference Center are gardens and these interesting skylights which bring some natural light into the building. I like their neat pyramid shapes.

Skylights are important to those of us that live in the Pacific Northwest.

Later on Saturday afternoon was our family's annual Richards reunion. Here my Uncle Phil (brother of my Uncle Lynn who just passed away at age 100) is hosting a huge BBQ and he insists on doing all of the cooking for everyone! We had a great time at Mount Aire where "Phil's Hill" is.

This is 84 year old Uncle Phil at the Ranch Exit found up Parley's Canyon on I-80 just east of Salt Lake City.  His hamburgers are great!

We took time to visit an out-of-the-way Army base west of the "point of the mountain" halfway between Salt Lake and Provo. We used to bring the kids here 10 years ago to play on the tanks and jeeps. They still enjoy it today!

They sure are growing up fast!  Left to right: Brigham (8), Joshua (9), Andrew (13), Rachel (12).

Here is Joshua on his favorite vehicle at the base.

Joshua likes to be moving.  The Army base allowed him to run, climb, and run.

Rachel liked running around with her brothers even in the stiff breeze.

Rachel likes rabbits more than jeeps.

Brigham liked this old Army ambulance/jeep.

This Jeep was made by the AM General Company, i.e., the Hummer folks.

Andrew enjoyed being a tank gunner.

Andrew likes to quote Kelly's Hereos lines while doing this...

I love to see Mount Timpanogos, 11,750 feet tall. It is a great welcome to Utah valley, an hour south of Salt Lake City, the home of Provo.

Mount Timpanogos, elevation 11,750 feet: hard to believe I climbed it once back in 1975!

Provo has grown a lot, now with a population of over 105,166, up from 50,000 in the 1970s. We love to visit Provo since Beth and I both attended Brigham Young University here. There used to be an old BYU Academy building on University street around 7th North which was old and falling apart. They have completely revamped it and are just completing it as a new Provo City library! It was quite a shock to see it as we drove down University because the trees have been taken down. We also had a good time visiting the Provo City cemetary.

The new Provo City Library building built where the old BYU Academy building was.  It is a replica of the former resident.

The next day we went to Logan and on to Bear Lake which is partly in Utah and partly in Idaho. Bear Lake is quite large (check a map), and the colors were spectacular: they rivaled any Carribean clime for range and beauty. We decided we were going to move to Bear Lake.

The colors seen at Bear Lake were as pretty as any tropical ocean!

Moving on into Idaho briefly and then into Wyoming we came to Star Valley, with the beautiful towns of Smoot (pop 182), Afton (pop 1818), and Thayne (pop 341). Afton claims the largest antler bridge in the world, shown here.

Afton is the big city of Star Valley, with 1818 people.

A very strange sight in Afton was this old-style horse-drawn hearse! We have no idea if it was in use, being prepared to be used, or if it is just a tourist curio. It felt like the wild west, in any case!

A horse-drawn hearse!

We stopped at a great little spot for the night in Thayne, situated in the beautiful green Star Valley. The Cabin Creek Inn has 19 log cabins, each with 2 queen beds, 1 couch that pulls out to another queen, a bathroom with jaccuzi tub, and a kitchen with microwave and refrigerator. We arrived just before the season starts so we got the whole cabin for $60 for the night! It includes an extended complimentary breakfast which besides boring cereal and muffins includes pancakes and french toast! We went across the street and bought a bag of groceries for our dinner and enjoyed the sound of the brook that was just outside our window. Very, very pleasant. We decided that it was HERE that we wanted to live.

I like the green and pine look.  Here we see Josh admiring it too.

The next morning after a great sleep, we arose (37 degrees out!) and prepared to see Yellowstone National Park. Here we are on the porch of the neat little cabin.

These cabins are kits.  The lumber costs about $10,000 for one cabin.

Yellowstone was cold and it actually snowed on us a few times. We went first to see Old Faithful, the famous periodic geyser, which came 4 minutes early today.

Our viewing ran for 3 minutes and was itself 4 minutes ahead of schedule.

We had a great time looking for wildlike in the park. We saw many buffalo, elk, deer, and moose. We saw one coyote, and one grizzly bear. We almost saw a mother grizzly and her 2 cubs but the rrangers prevented that. The one grizzly bear we did see was sleeping about 300 yards away.

Here are some buffalo in the Hayden Valley. 30-75 million buffalo lived in the early 1800s in the US. By 1900 there were less than 300 animals, and 21 were taken to Yellowstone to save them. There are now 4000 wild bison in Yellowstone park, and there are now approximately 150,000 bison in public and private lands in the U.S according to this.

Bison bison weighs 700-2200 pounds.  Beefalo are 3/8 bison and 5/8 domestic cattle and are not shown here.

It was neat to be driving most of the day in a caldera at high elevation crossing the continental divide over and over... what a geologic wonder! Here is the best view of the park: the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone's lower falls, taken from Artist's Point.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, lower falls, as seen from Artist's point.

We spent the next night in West Yellowstone, Montana. We had a fun dinner at the Three Bear Restaurant there where an acting troupe came into the restaurant and sang and made merry trying to get us to come to their theater later in the evening. We didn't, but it made one wonder if that is what used to happen in the old west... The next morning we went and saw the Hebgen Lake, where many of our Richards family cousins have cabins. It was here that I learned to drive that jeep 34 years ago. I decided I wouldn't mind living there either.

We left for home and drove up through Big Sky Montana, and then on I-90 hit Butte, and Missoula. It was another long day of driving: 12 hours 50 minutes for the 778 miles. Once we got to the Columbia River, we felt like we were almost home. We decided by this point in the trip that North Bend (pop 4746) would be a great place to live, for now.

The Columbia River has an Inter-Tribal Fish Commission at http://www.critfc.org/

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Created:  12 Jun 2001
Modified: 13 Jun 2001