Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mesa Falls Scenic Byway, Part 1

With a longer than expected stay in Idaho Falls due to our broken window replacement we decided to go on a sightseeing trip that is longer than we normally do. We have gotten into the habit of half day trips not day trips and the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway was a full day trip. We will break our adventure into two parts so as not to be too long or boring. Part 1 deals with our drive there and Lower Mesa Falls and Upper Mesa Falls. Part 2 will deal with the Inn at Upper Mesa Falls and the Harriman State Park and a great place to eat which you have to try.

We had previously mentioned how cold and rainy and windy it was in Idaho Falls. Turns out we were lucky as the area north of Idaho Falls where we were heading, including the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, got snow over the Memorial Day weekend. Here is how the Grand Tetons looked along our drive along the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway with a fresh coat of snow. It felt so strange to see snow capped mountains and wearing shorts and t-shirts.

We next came across the Lower Mesa Falls, a viewpoint that is accessible a short walk from the parking lot.

We then came across the hit of the drive, the Upper Mesa Falls, about 1 mile from the Lower Mesa Falls. What is neat about the Upper Mesa Falls is that the walkway is right next to the Henrys Fork of the Snake River before it cascades over the falls.

Continuing on the walkway you arrive at the top of the falls.

There was so much water flowing over the 114 feet high, 200 feet wide falls that a rainbow was always present while we were there.

Further down the walkway you get a better view of the falls which is the second largest undisturbed falls in the Columbia River System.

We are so lucky to live this lifestyle and be able to see just how great and beautiful this country is. We owe our freedom to those we honored on Memorial Day as we are the land of the free because of the brave. We should honor them everyday, not just on Memorial Day.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Movies and Genealogy

It has been cold and rainy here in Idaho Falls the last few days with overnight lows in the mid 30's and highs in the mid 50's so we haven't done much. We did get out to see a couple of movies, The Avengers and Men in Black 3. Our movie rating scale is based on our Netflix ratings; 5 - loved it, 4 - really liked it, 3 - liked it, 2 - did not like it but finished, and finally the dreaded 1 star - did not like it and did not finish it.

We really liked The Avengers, even more so than Men in Black 3.

The Avengers get together only when needed in an emergency. It was good to see the actors that have played some of the Marvel characters also appear in this movie and we must say they finally got someone that could play The Hulk, Mark Ruffalo. It was a fun time with a movie with lots of action so we give it 4 stars.

While Men in Black 3 was good at times it kind of dragged.

We liked all the characters but it could have been better. Josh Brolin did an uncanny job as the younger Agent K and was the highlight of the movie. With all time travel movies you must suspend belief as you enter the show. All in all we liked it and give it 3 stars.

We also have been taking advantage of the LDS Family History Center which is about 5 minutes from our park. We are making a lot of progress with finding our ancestors.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Monday, May 21, 2012

Added new gadget - Bob's State Maps

We have sold our soul to Google, there we admitted it!! We have an android phone and tablet, we use Google's Blogger, Google Docs, Google Maps, GMail etc. As mentioned in the posting on desktop/laptop vs tablets Bob keeps track of things to see and places to eat in both Google Docs and Google Maps but quickly ran into a limit of 200 items on one Google Map. Bob likes to look at a state map while planning our travels and if there are a lot of markers he may adjust our trip. If there was more than 200 items on a map you had to advance the page which made it difficult to remember which maps had more than 200. The first workaround was to have multiple maps like Arizona - 1st 200 and Arizona - 2nd 200. This wasn't ideal so Bob kept looking for an alternative.

He found one with that solves the 200 limit. So Bob is now working on adding the states, starting first with the ones that we will be visiting next. The gadget is located on the left of our blog towards the bottom below our Followers and above the list of blogs that we follow, showing here:

Eventually all the states will be a channel on We thought it might be interesting for our readers to see what info Bob has collected. The neat thing about the interface is once you launch the map in the upper right corner you can enter a location, say Idaho Falls on the Idaho map, and it will zoom to that location. You can mouseover any marker and see what that marker is. There is a reset button just below that if you would like to see the entire State again. The neat thing for the map generator is that you can add entries to Google Maps to your hearts content and all will end up on the same map. Also a daily feed can be set up so changes made will be no more than a day old.

Over time we will be adding more google maps to mapchannels. We would welcome any favorite spots to add to a map that we have missed.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Friday, May 18, 2012

Attention Green Chile Lovers

Green Chile Hollandaise, we are not kidding. We saw a very unique menu item at Cedric's Family Restaurant in Idaho Falls and Bob just had to try it, a Southwest Benedict. What is a Southwest Benedict you say? Well a Southwest Benedict is potato pancakes instead of an english muffin, topped with pork carnitas instead of ham and then guacamole and cheese. Then topped with an egg and smothered with the aforementioned green chile hollandaise. This dish is a winner and should be on any green chile lover's list of place to visit. Here is a view of Cedric's Family Restaurant so you won't miss it.

Wanna get sconed? We had previously blogged about how good the scones were at Cedrics and we just have to mention them again. Scones are an option instead of toast and yes you should get scones every chance you can. Here is a look at what their scones look like.

Here is the t-shirt that everybody there wears.

We have eaten at a lot of great places but the sheer genius of the Southwest Benedict and the decadence of the scones make this one of our favorite finds since we began full-timing almost 3 years ago.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Yellowstone Bear World

We finally made it to Yellowstone Bear World after our earlier trip when it was closed and we are glad that we did. There is more to be seen than just bears as the site included bison, elk and a rare white elk, moose, mountain goats, deer, turkeys, petting zoo, amusement park and the requisite gift shop.

We have to admit that it was hard to get a good picture even at 5mph to get the right zoom and focus especially after we were told the black bears like to crawl into the bed of pickups. We just got our new cover and we were not about to take chances so we did not stop or roll down the windows. There are almost 50 bears at the site including some bear cubs who were removed from their mother at 6 weeks to protect them from the older males who would have killed them. Here are the bear cubs.

Here is the rare White Elk which are so rare that 1 in 6 million exist in the wild. An interesting fact is that the elk's antlers are the fastest known growing cells in the world and can grow up to 2 inches per day.

The American Bison is North America's largest animal.

Not really goats but members of the group known as goat-antelopes is the Mountain Goat.

But we came to see bears and did we ever. We have a lot more mental pictures than we took due to the difficulty in getting the right shot. But we think we did pretty good. We noticed a lot of the top halves of metal culverts that the bears use for shade. Here is a bear in one of the culverts.

Here are more bear pictures. The first one thinks our truck bed looks appealing :-)

If we had left when we had planned to with no broken window incident then we never would have seen this great place. Photos from this visit have been uploaded to in the Idaho Falls set.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo'

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Something We Don't Normally See

Being originally from the Midwest and now from Texas and we have been in a lot of Wal-Mart Supercenters but this is something we did not expect to see. This is from a Emergency Food Preparedness display in the Idaho Falls Wal-Mart.

We were surprised not only that the display was in a Wal-Mart but also the variety. Here is a complete kit.

Butter powder, whole eggs, wow!!

Bob once went on a fly in fishing trip to Canada and to reduce weight they bought some powdered items but they insisted on real butter. Real butter helped the powdered potatoes, not sure what powdered butter on powdered potatoes would have been like.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Friday, May 11, 2012

Window Update

Window repair went badly so now we are getting a new window; that is the good news!

The bad news is that it takes 3 weeks to get a new window. We will be extending our stay at the campground as we wait for the new window. The really bad news is that we will have to cancel Bob's fishing trip in Canada. We should be able to be back on our planned itinerary after the fishing trip barring any future issues.

There are a lot worse places to spend almost an extra month so we will be OK. We already have mentioned a couple of things that we would like to do including Yellowstone Bear World and the Legacy of Flight Museum in Rexburg. There are great places to eat also.

Wherever we are are we sightsee and eat, Idaho Falls is great on both counts.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tautphaus Park Zoo

As our stay in Idaho Falls is hopefully coming to an end the weather of course warmed up nicely, in fact the forecast was for a high of 80 yesterday so we figured that would be a great zoo day. After a great breakfast at Cedric's we headed to the Tautphaus Park Zoo. We have maintained our Friends of the Zoo membership at the Kansas City Zoo to support that Zoo which we like a lot and also for the Reciprocal Zoo program which gives you discounts on the entrance fee. It used to be free entrance but a lot of Zoos have started charging half price entrance fees. We were very surprised when it was free admittance.

The Tautphaus Park Zoo hosts Idaho's largest wildlife collection and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Highlights had to be the flock of threatened African penguins showing here. 

What we cannot show is the another highlight, that being the newborn wallaby babies. The fence interfered with our camera focusing so we ended up with a blurry mess. Speaking of camera issues sometimes when you take a photo through glass you end up with a reflection. Now we normally don't like to clutter our blog with photos of ourselves but this time we just could not resist. Here we are reflected in a glass partition, our day at the zoo.

Of course we had to get a photo of the big cats, this time lions sleeping.

You could say it was raining cats and dogs as here is the New Guinea Singing Dog. New Guinea Singing Dogs are named for their distinctive and melodious howl, which is characterized by a sharp increase in pitch at the start and very high frequencies at the end.

Well that wraps up our visit to the Zoo. All photos from this visit have been uploaded to in the Idaho Falls set.

The End

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Winter Hours

We had quite a day planned yesterday, the first day that was going to be nice enough to do outdoors activities. First we were going to Yellowstone Bear World, a drive through wild animal park about 20 miles from our location. Depending on how long that took we were next going to the Teton Flood Museum in Rexburg, about 5 miles past the bears. If we were not too tired we were going to hit the Legacy of Flight Museum at the Rexburg airport.

When we decided to head north we knew were in for cold temperatures and possibly some places not being open. We guess we forgot that when we made our plans. We checked the web site for Yellowstone Bear World on the tablet and missed that it was closed and would not open until May 12th. Luckily the bears were just off of the main highway from Idaho Falls to Rexburg so we were not delayed at all so we then headed to the Teton Flood Museum.

The Teton Flood occurred on June 5, 1976 and had this happened now in today's 24 hours news cycle this event would be more well known. Neither one of us remembered this happening despite the magnitude of this event. There is a 20 minute film in the museum that is amazing. Here are the details in a nutshell.

Just 8 months after the earthen Teton Dam was completed there was a catastrophic failure resulting in 11 deaths and over 13,000 cattle and other livestock because of a poor design. The canyon walls were too porous and let water through the canyon and then into the dam collapsing the dam from within releasing 80 billion gallons of water initially creating a 10-12' high 1 mile wide wall of water down the Snake River plain. The dam was also not designed for enough capacity. The snow melt from the previous winter created 4 times the amount of water expected. The flooding spread to 10 miles wide and 120 miles down the valley.

Here is a photo of the collapse:

The flood occurred midday thus providing some notice in the valley contributing to the relatively low death total. The waters devastated the town of Wilford which was the first town hit. Then Sugar City was hit and it was almost completely destroyed. Further down the plain the damage was less but still significant in Salem, Hibbard and Rexburg. Idaho Falls had 24 hours notice and sandbagged the Snake River and limited the flooding damage. The total estimated damage, in 1976 dollars, was over $1 Billion. If that happened today this would be nonstop coverage on many networks across the globe instead of a few mentions on network news outside the immediate area.

In addition to the Flood Museum there are other displays that includes may pioneer relics, depicting the lives of early pioneers, an Idaho opal/agate collection, North American animal head collection, World War I and II items and much more. It was a really neat museum. Here is a moose head from the collection.

We next wanted to go to the Legacy of Flight Museum but we thankfully asked and it is closed for the winter so we headed back to Idaho Falls and had lunch and then walked along the Falls. We sat on the benches looking at and listening to raging waters and contemplated just how lucky we are, not even places being closed can shake our inmost calm.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sunset Crater National Monument (2nd)

A little bit of blogger weirdness here, we got feedback that our font size was a little small so we went in an increased the font size on a few entries. When we were increasing the font size on the Sunset Crater entry we noticed that the text looked like this

so here it is retyped in the larger text size. If we deleted the old entry the comments would be lost so we have preserved the original one without the text. Because of this weirdness this will be the last entry where we will go back and increase the font size.

While in Arizona we had the pleasure of visiting the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument just north of Flagstaff, which may be one of the least known best attractions in Arizona, at it was to us. When you think of virgin lava fields that you can drive or even walk through Arizona probably doesn't leap to the top of your list. But it should because here you will see some of the most exposed lava fields in all of the continental United States that is to this day just recovering from the eruption over 900 years ago.

Sunset Crater is a volcanic cinder cone and is the youngest in a string of volcanoes that formed the nearby San Francisco peaks and was the largest vent of all the eruptions. The date of the eruptions that formed the 1,120 ft cone has been placed to be around A.D. 1085. The Sunset Crater eruption produced a blanket of ash covering an area of more than 810 square miles and forced the temporary abandonment of settlements of the area inhabitants. To this day the volcano has only partially re-vegetated, with pines and wildflowers. Legend says that 19th century explorer John Wesley Powell named it Sunset Crater because of the rim of red and yellow cinders suggested a sunset.

What we liked about Sunset Crater was that you could walk right through the lava fields and see just how slowly the area is recovering. This completely blew us away as this was in Arizona. We have seen evidence of volcanoes elsewhere but those areas are much more overgrown. Here are some photos of Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Monday, May 7, 2012

New blog look

Having some time on our hands in our holding pattern we decided to spice up our blog adding more color and a new feature. We appreciate your feedback on the readability and overall impression. We tried to move the static elements currently on the left side of the blog to the right side but the formatting options in the template designer made it difficult.

We also added an e-mail link if you would like to follow our blog by email. It is on the left near the top, just enter your e-mail address and click 'Submit'. Here is what it looks like.

We will be trying to center our pillow photo because it being on the left is just annoying. Any tips on this will also be appreciated.

Thank you for being a reader and please provide your feedback.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Sunday, May 6, 2012

In a holding pattern

We have been in kind of a holding pattern the last few days while we wait for the window to be delivered. The weather has also kept us in a holding pattern, the forecast has been for rain just about every day and with temperatures barely in the 50s with wind gusts also in the 50s that has kept us just doing inside things. We did make a couple of visits to the Family History Center, one of the 4500 sites world wide associated with the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The center has terminals that you can use just like the library and some reference materials not the millions of documents and fiche available in Salt Lake City. The access that you can get to the paid web sites and the staff there that is always ready to answer questions or provide tips on searching makes this a very good place to research genealogy.

We of course have ate out and we can recommend Smitty's Pancake and Steak House and Cedric's Restaurant both local places and both very good. The German Pancakes at Smittys and the scones at Cedric's are well worth the trip.

The weather looks better for next week so we will maybe visit the Teton Flood Museum in Rexburg, the Zoo in Idaho Falls, and Yellowstone Bear World.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Status of using tablet

Yesterday was another high wind day in Idaho Falls so we ate out and walked the Grand Teton Mall. Rick from 'Rick and Paulette's RV Travels' recently blogged about the desktop/laptop vs tablet issue so we thought we would share our status of using a tablet as promised earlier. We recently bought an Asus Eee Pad Transformer for Bob in addition to the Kindle Fire for Jo. Bob also has a smartphone, an Android Droid 3 from Motorola.

We got the detachable keyboard which works good when we want to type a blog entry or a long email, although it is smaller and it is taking some getting used to. When we are playing games or reading email and typing short responses or reading books we can just detach the tablet from the keyboard and use the onscreen keyboard.

Like we said the tablet for blogging works pretty good but we are having trouble adding photos - get some screen flashing but cannot select photos, this is why some previous posts have been photo free just after we got the tablet. You can also only get so much in the text block when blogging which has helped to shorten some of our postings. Al from 'Travel with the Bayfield Bunch' recently posted some blogging tips here which included shorter posts making it easier to read and we try to adhere to that but sometimes the area has so much to offer we try to cover everything. We have gone from one big report on an area to breaking into a post for each particular visit we made while in the area. This has help to shorten our posts but there is still a lot of info on some of the sites that we go to. There are also some web pages that don't work well on the tablet's browser but we ran into that before where some sites would need Internet Explorer instead of Firefox so web page compatibility is not a new issue.

Bob keeps track of what to see in both Google Docs and Google Maps and the tablet works real well for Docs and pretty good for Maps. There are free apps for word processing and pdf reading so that is covered too. We honestly can do about 90-95% of what we want to do with our tablets and Bob's smartphone. Having the same apps on the phone as the tablet means that we will always have the info at our fingertips even if we don't have the tablet with us. Buying the tablet has allowed us to get rid of one of our laptops so now we have just 1, the two tablets and a smartphone. Since we still occasionally use the laptop we are not sure about switching away from Quicken for our finances as we are creatures of habit and it would be a fair amount of work to get everything switched over. One area that the tablet is best at hands down is when we want to got outside the tablet is much better for ease of reading, in fact we never took either of the laptops outside. Another advantage of the tablet is that with Jo's Kindle most of the books she has are also available on the tablet.

Maybe we are more of a futurist than some but we can see the day when the tablet will replace the desktop/laptop as the main computing device. There are just a few more what you would call desktop applications like Quicken that will soon become workable apps on the tablet and the existing apps will get better and more memory will be added. As far as we are concerned the screen size is OK the way it is now with the enhanced user interface allowing you to zoom by finger tip. But the day that you will no longer need a laptop or desktop is not now, but it is probably 1-2 years away. For now we enjoy what each of the devices do best.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wupatki National Monument

Yesterday had us enduring 45 mph wind gusts and the requisite sand storms in the high desert so we ate out and went to the grocery store and a RV supply store. This gives us an opportunity to post another entry about our recent stay in Arizona.

Also while in Arizona this year we visited the Wupatki National Monument located near the Sunset Crater National Monument which we recently blogged about here and accessible by the same road and a single fee for both monuments. There is a separate visitor center for both monuments. We were asked when we posted about  Sunset Crater National Monument if there were any nearby RV parks and there are two in north Flagstaff less than 10 miles away, a KOA and J and H RV Park, and there are other parks in Flagstaff.

Wupatki National Monument is one of several sites preserving pueblos (houses) of ancient peoples, but unlike the Tonto, Montezuma, Casa Grande Ruins and Tuzigoot monuments where there is only one surviving main building, here there are many ruins scattered over a large area of desert northeast of Flagstaff. The pueblos have a distinctive red color and were made from the thin, flat blocks of the local Moenkopi sandstone.

There are more than 800 identified ruins spread across many miles of desert with Wupatki National Monument.  Five of the largest are close to the main road and these are the only sites currently open to visitors. All the dwellings were built by the Anasazi and Sinagua Indians during the 12th and 13th centuries. The habitation of this region was influenced by the eruption of the Sunset Volcano which we just visited. The resulting ash and lava flows made the surrounding area infertile so the residents moved farther into the desert areas previously considered too dry and barren. For an unknown reason in the early 13th century all the settlements here were abandoned. It is believed that some of the present day Hopi are descendants from the former inhabitants of the Wupatki pueblos.

Here are some photos:



Photos from this sightseeing adventure and for the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument have been uploaded to in the Winslow AZ set. Seeing both the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and the Wupatki National Monument can be accomplished with a single fee and both can be done in the same day and is well worth the time. We did not know that two gems were hidden in plain sight just north of Flagstaff.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Change of Plans

We are staying in Idaho Falls a little bit longer than we had planned, and it is not due to weather. Yesterday while Bob was working on the computer at the dinette and Jo was on the recliner talking to her brother a park custodian was weed eating our site. Out of the blue we hear this bang and then a crackling noise, a projectile from the weed eater had cracked one of the tempered glass windows. We have dual pane windows, luckily the inside clear window was not broken.

Here is the look that Bob saw:

Here is how it looked from the outside:

The park was very apologetic and is paying for everything. The mobile service is billing them directly so we are not involved in that at all which is good. The park did call the mobile service and tell them to overnight the glass so that is good. That's the good news, the bad news is that this glass takes about 2 weeks for delivery so we are stuck here until the replacement glass is received and installed. The only set thing we have is Bob's fishing trip in Canada in mid-June so the impact will be staying a couple days less at each place.

This gives us more time to explore the Idaho Falls area and we have found a couple more restaurants we just have to try.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo