Goint south to Jackson and Salt Lake City

After the visit to Yellowstone, it was time to head south, and as we had stayed just outside the northern entrance to the national park, the easiest way to go south, was to pass through the park once again. It was July 4th and our original plan was to go to Jackson, and watch the National Day celebrations there. The day before, we therefore consulted the internet - and found that it would not be possible. All celebrations took place in the morning and the traditional 4th of July parade, commenced at 8.00 am. There would be various other activities with music and performances, but these were all over at noon, at which time, we would not have arrived yet. So the fireworks, was all that were left for us to enjoy - and we missed that as well, but that was due to our own lazyness.

Lonesome cabin in Star ValleyAnyway we left  Gardiner relatively early because we would spend some time in Jackson, doing laundry. We drove south through the national park without stopping until we reached the southern end of the park. Here the road turned to U.S. Highway 89 once more as it is north of the park as well, and then we increased speed from the park's 45 miles to 55 and in some places 60 This meant that we got south rather quickly when we weren't bothered by road works. On the way south we enjoyed the sight of the Snake River valley, here called Jackson Hole. To the east the valley is bordered by the comparatively low, grass-covered mountains in the Gros Ventre Range and on the east by the significantly higher, rocky mountains in the Teton Range. The latter is known as "the jewel in the Rocky Mountain's crown", and the mountains are indeed impressive as they rise steeply from the flat valley floor to about 11,000 feet. Like Yellowstone, Jackson Hole is  about 6,000 feet above sea level, so the mountains protrude almost 6,000 feet vertically. We stopped at a rest stop along the way, partly to enjoy the sight, partly to get a sandwich from the cool box, but chose not to visit Grand Teton National Park. Tina had seen animals and mountains enough :-).

At around 2 pm we reached Jackson where we found the prebooked hotel and where we were accommodated in the only room on the entire trip with three queen beds, so none of us had to sleep together or pump the air mattress. Despite the three beds, the room was so large that there was also plenty of floor space for our luggage. Since we were early, and all 4th of July events were over, we immediately started doing our laundry. The hotel turned out to have a nice size laundry room with eight washers and as many dryers, so we could wash it all at the same time. While we were at the laundromat a severe thunderstorm with lots of rain hit us, which would prove to be the only time throughout the vacation, we had rain in large quantities. When we had completed the laundy, the sun came out again, so Tina spent a few hours at the pool, duly covered in sunscreen. Meanwhile Tim and I relaxed in our room.

We had, by suggestion from Tim, our dinner at the excellent Gun Barrel restaurant, 5 to 10 minutes walk from the hotel. Tim and I ate there in 2010, and on that occasion we had bison steak (from farmed bison). Tim would like to repeat this, as he found that it was the best steak he had ever had. He therefore promised to finance the meal (the restaurant is not cheap), and he even had made a reservation from home several months earlier, so we didn't have to wait for a table (the restaurant is really popular). Tim and I started the meal with bison carpaccio while Tina has a shrimp cocktail. For entree both kids had bison steak while this time I settled for a steak of an ordinary cow. Last time Tim and I finished the meal with a scotch malt whisky, which made some trouble for the poor servers as we wanted it straight with no ice, which none of them, not even the bartender, understood, so they asked us four times if we really meant that, before bringing us the drink? This time I had coffee and we all skipped the whisky.

Onwards to Utah

From Jackson we continued south to Salt Lake City. We could actually drive all the way, staing on the same road. The hotel in Jackson was on U.S. Highway 89 and on it's way south it passes Salt Lake City.

We started the day by filling up the car with gas, and the cool box with ice and water. Later we drove south on Route 89 through the mountains south of Jackson. In the town of Alpine the road splits, with U.S. 26 going northwest towards Idaho and I-15, while Route 89 continues south, and so did we. This route leads through the Salt River Valley, locally known as Star Valley; either named after a word in the Shoshone language, which should mean" The star among Valleys" or more malicious as an abbreviation of "Starvation Valley," because many of the first settlers in the valley starved during the harsh winters. Many of the first settlers in the valley were Scandinavian Mormons, and there are still many names of Scandinavian origin in the valley, and many of the inhabitants are still Mormons. In the valley you pass interesting and populous towns like Alpine with 828 inhabitants, Auburn with 388, Freedom with 214, Bedford with 201, Etna with 164, Grover with 147 and a few others with about 200 inhabitants. The main town in the valley is Afton, which has nearly 2,000 inhabitants! The town is known for having the world's largest bridge built of elk antlers and to get their drinking water from a so called "periodic spring". Such a spring is very rare, as it discharges water at intervals while it stops between these disch
arges. The spring near Afton is the world's largest of its kind. And furthermore Afton is known because Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch had one of their strongholds in the neighborhood. We saw the antlers bridge, but skipped the other attractions of and continued south.

Bear Lake in the distanceAbout 30 miles south of Afton  Route 89 crosses the Idaho state line. The first town you get to is Geneva, which in 2006 had 86 inhabitants. How many inhabitants there are today, I don't know, as the information was removed from the town sign. The next town is Montpelier, known for the 1896 bankrobbery, carried out by Butch Cassidy and two of his men, Elzy Lay and Bob Meeks. The money from the robbery was used to pay for the defence of their fellow villain, Matt Warner, who at that time was arrested. After Montpelier you get to Paris, so we are in an area where cities have French names, even though most of them are named by Mormons who were sent by Brigham Young. Montpelier is actually named by Brigham Young himself after the capital of Vermont, his home state.

From Paris Route 89 continues south, and for parts follows the route of the old Oregon Trail. The route runs along Bear Lake, and here you pass the state line between Idaho and Utah. The lake itself is used as a recreational area with many tourists visiting. Right after the state lone Route 89 turns west and away from the lake through the mountains to the city of Logan. We did too, and it was on this part of the road that is very narrow that we got drive behind a mobile home that certainly wasn't in a hurry and had with a long line of cars behind it. Although there were several pull-outs, he chose not to use any of them, and no one could pass him. A few places it was possible to pass, and a few cars in front of us managed to pass, but we weren't able to pass until we reached Logan.

From here the road continues southwest to Brigham City, where it joins I-15 and continues south. We took the highway all the way to Salt Lake City and drove into the center of town, where we localized a few hotels using our GPS, and already at the first of these, they had a vacant room, so here we decided to stay. After carrying our stuff to the room we went out to look at the city. It was glorious sunshine here at 4 pm and the temperature was around 105, so we only walked the five blocks to the temple square and saw the Mormon Temple and the Meeting Hall (from the outside) and the Tabernacle (from the inside). We walked around the temple grounds for a while and then went back to the hotel. Later we had dinner at an Italian restaurant as Tina was tired of American food, and would like to try something else.

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