Over a year ago, Katie decided she wanted to go on this Vantage Travel National Park bus trip. Since many of our travel buddies had never visited the “Out West” parks, and since those of us who had were eager to return, we ended up with six of us joining this whirlwind tour. Bob and I have been to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons three times, to Monument Valley once, and to the Grand Canyon once, plus I visited the Grand Canyon two previous times with Brad then Max. However, I’ve never seen the Utah parks so am especially excited about this part of the itinerary. Also, I love visiting the parks in May when tourists are generally few and far between. Both times we’ve been to Yellowstone in May we’ve had snow, so am hoping for some this trip. Travelers I know in the group are Katie, Maria, Marcia, Margie, and Mimi. I invited all my Facebook friends last spring, but there were no other takers.
Vantage is the travel company Katie and I used for our India trip in January. They are bit higher end that we are used to using, but we like their National Park itinerary better than the other options we found. Road Scholar, my personal favorite, only does one week trips and would require at least three different tours to cover the ground we are seeing on this one. Maybe Road Scholar for a Glacier National Park trip in the future as Glacier is certainly in the top five of Bob and my park trips. Some of our fellow travelers in India had been on the Vantage trip we are taking and gave it rave reviews, in spite of the fast pace.
We have assigned our free time options to various “experts” in our group so should have lots to add to the Vantage itinerary. My sister-in-law Kate in Colorado is going to try to catch up with us somewhere in Arizona or Utah with her “Cat Carrier” RV. I’ll fill in the blanks below as we travel along next month. My pre-trip work has involved food – reservations for dinner at Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone and El Tovar at the Grand Canyon. Bob and I have dined at both and found the food just OK but the locations spectacular! Early reservations are a must for both!
May 16, 2016 – Jacksonville – Red Roof Inn
May 17 – fly to Bozeman – Hilton Garden
Five adventurous ladies piled into Marcia’s Dodge Titan after overloading the bed with luggage last night and heading to the Red Roof Inn near the Jax airport to be ready for our 6:30 am flight this morning. In spite of our concerns about the cheap hotel with two weeks of free parking, all was OK. Only one roach spotted. Shuttle driver was on time as was Maria, and three of us miraculously had pre-check. The only minor catastrophe occurred when my boarding pass vanished into thin air as I was getting ready to board. I never found it but discovered you don’t actually need one. By this time I was one of the last to board and discovered someone in my seat. Seems three rows of people had all misinterpreted the row designations and were in the wrong seats. No problem for me, as this left an entire row in economy comfort empty. Of course, I willingly grabbed it!
Uneventful flights to Chicago and Bozman. The Rockies never cease to impress me both from the air and from land. It’s amazing to have a thousand miles of flat plain then whop – there they are!
Arrived to meet Tracy, our Vantage group leader, at the airport and were transported to our meeting point hotel. I’m not sure I’m going to like this single room which was a Vantage teaser to get people to sign up (no single supplement) because I generally need another brain to keep me on track while traveling. This will be a test to see if I can remember what day it is and where my room is located. We change locations almost every day.
Hopped onto a free little bus that took us from our hotel location to downtown Bozman. Following the recommendations of my experienced fishing relatives we had lunch at the John Bozman’s Bistro – perfect spot. Thank you Lucy and the Galland boys. We walked in and out of most of the Main Street shops then returned to the hotel for our orientation session.
May 18 – Yellowstone – Old Faithful Snow Lodge
Breakfast time with a Thai couple who came to Michigan for med school 50 years ago and never left. The wife’s mother is 94 and still lives in Thailand so she returns frequently to visit. (And I thought caring for Mother only 300 miles a way was a challenge.) Also talked with the newlyweds from Vancouver, WA who were both widowed. Now each is trying to show the new partner all the places they had visited previously with their former spouses. Last visit was the lady of the Los Alamos couple. Can’t wait to pick her brain more! She and her husband moved there in the 70’s to work on the atomic weapons programs and never left.
Bus tour begins! Here are some interesting tidbits for me to remember
Montana is the largest producer of organic wheat in the world
Bozman – settled in 1860’s and 70”s – their boom time is NOW! Always family friendly because farmers brought their wives. Gary Cooper graduated from local high school.. Now a “granola” culture in the town.
Trees – cottonwood, aspen, dogwood, Douglas fir, Lodge Pole Pine, Colorado blue spruce
Gorgeous drive through Paradise Valley viewing the snow-capped Absorka Mountains.
Tracy has already proven to be an outstanding tour manager with excellent organizational skills for our group of 33. For example, rotating seats via map, depart bus one side at a time, be in seats at departure time instead of near bus, walks to back of bus for questions, fills water bottles as get on bus, specific directions repeated several times, times in writing for daily schedule
No more floating on the Madison River near West Yellowstone because a family of otters has moved in and attacks people and pets. Lady had eye put out. Dog almost killed. Others?
First dude range in MT near entrance to the park started in 1898 and catered to Europeans who wanted to experience the wild west. Now a Road Scholar place.
Church of Universal Triumphant – cult in the canyon – started on the east coast. Said 1990 world would end so all the people who moved here as survivalists left when the world continued. Still large land owners and not too weird. Their religion is made of the best of the four main world religions. Sounds like an interesting idea!
One of the great things about a tour is transportation is taken care of for you. For example, we stopped at Mammoth at the top of the hot pot terraces and were able to walk to the bottom without ever having to walk uphill. Perfection!
Lunched at the general store and tried not to laugh at the senior lady who was at her first day as a cashier. She was not able to make change for a customer, causing the line to back up longer and longer. She was getting more and more upset. Our six decided to quickly pull out credit cards so she could just swipe and go.
After lunch we drove to Canyon and enjoyed both the lower falls of the Yellowstone and the upper falls. There was still snow on the ground in this area but weather was still nice. Continued on to the Mud Volcano fumaroles including Dragon’s Mouth. Nice short walk.Headed south around Yellowstone Lake and learned the story of the invasive species Lake Trout. These trout are eating the native fish and generally wrecking havoc. In the 90’s the park service offered a $10,000 reward for anyone who could tell them who put the Great Lake invasive trout in the lake. Three years ago the park service discovered they were the culprits. The park service put these trout into some glacial lakes, and fishermen caught them and later released them into Yellowstone Lake after deciding not to cook and eat them. Park service is still trying to figure out how to get rid of them.Yellowstone is the largest geothermal area in the world, in fact, bigger than all the rest in the world combined. Hot pots, fumaroles, and geysers make up the caldera of the huge old volcano. Now Old Faithful erupts less often than before due to an earthquake 6 years ago. Some eruptions are huge and some not so large. Arrived about 6 at the Old Faithful area and were greeting by one of the larger Old Faithful eruptions as we drove into the complex. Perfect timing! Though our rooms are at the Snow Lodge, built in the 90’s, the rooms and lodge fit nicely into the Old Faithful Inn motif. I had made us a reservation at the Inn for dinner at 6:45, so we hustled to get organized in our rooms then off to Old Faithful Inn. The inn was much more crowded than it was the last time I was here in May about four years ago. Guess the 100 year celebration is packing the crowds in. Marcia and Katie set alarms on their phones for the next Old Faithful eruption and ran out to watch minuted before their dinner arrived. The rest of us were satisfied to wait into tomorrow for another viewing, but the viewers did not sacrifice much as the food is not Michelin quality, by any means. My salmon hash was fine, however.Back to the Snow Lodge to do a little work and crash!May 19 – Yellowstone – Old Faithful Snow LodgeHeading down to breakfast this morning I noticed the next eruption time for Old Faithful was in 5 minutes so grabbed four of the five and headed out to watch. Marcia has now seen OF erupt five times and is going for the tour record which was six. Enjoyed breakfast at the Snow Lodge even more due to a beautiful eruption preceding it.Our bus headed North to the Madison Junction following the Firehole River. We stopped at a nice bathroom (tours also know where the good bathrooms are) then retraced our track with the intent of stopping three times for walks. Walk number one was to the Gibbon Falls where we made our colorful photo of the day. Unfortunately a herd of bison were going the same way we were on the road causing a one hour traffic jam. It reminded us of our Hurricane Floyd evacuations with bison added for scenic amusement. These big beasts can run 44 miles an hour and can weigh up to 1000 pounds. We did make it to the Artist Paint Pots, one of my favorite spots for mud pots, and all the rest of the volcanic events.Piece of trivia I learned today was that Tracy’s husband was a fishing guide in Bozman for most of his life. Will pump her for more details when I get a chance, as I know Bob and the brothers will be curious.
Arrived back at Old Faithful Inn in time for our included lunch. We asked the host as we entered what the best thing on the lunch menu was, and three people at the desk shouted bison burgers. Since that seemed quite appropriate considering our bison road delay, we all had them and agreed they were delicious! The caldera chocolate dessert was too delicious to limit myself to only a taste.Our next activity was supposed to be a walk through the upper geyser basin but the rain arrived just as we finished lunch so postponed this and took the Old Faithful Inn tour instead. It was just as wonderful as I remembered it to be, probably because the tour guide has been working in Yellowstone for 28 years and has been doing the tour for 20. She was our guide six years ago. I showed the girls room 228 and 229 where Bob and I and Max plus family had previously stayed. These are the huge rooms in two of the five front dormers of the hotel. Each has three queen sized beds but…no bathroom. We had to go down the hall to the potty and shower. If you ever come to Yellowstone, call a year in advance to reserve one of these five rooms, if possible, to pretend you are visiting in 1904. Marcia managed to see her 8th eruption of Old Faithful just as the tour ended, this time viewed from the inn’s covered balcony. Perfect for a rainy eruption. Stopped in both hotel gift shops and the visitor’s center but could not find what I was looking for. Maybe the Utah parks!May 20 – Jackson Hole – Snow King Resort Old Faithful was nice enough to erupt as we were leaving this morning providing a wonderful farewell to our great time at Yellowstone. We did get to have one more great stop at West Thumb geyser basin. This area borders Yellowstone Lake and is my favorite spot of the park this trip. Though we had light rain we had beautiful steamy photos accompanied by two elk calmly watching use wander around the boardwalks.
We continued south enjoying the snow which had fallen overnight in this higher elevation part of the park. It provided a perfect dusting of the Lodge Pole pine needles. While driving toward the southern entrance to Yellowstone we saw a video about the 1988 fires. The conditions that summer were set for a terrible fire season. There was zero rain during June, July and August and the humidity level was 7%. This was the first major fire in the park since the 18th century. We were told 25%, 33% or 75% of the park was burned or at least affected by the fires. The video of the close calls at Canyon Lodge and Old Faithful were simply terrifying. Having seen “Planes, Fire and Rescue” I was quite familiar with the Yellowstone fires. These forced the Galland brothers to relocate to Canada for fishing that year, and they decided to return with wives instead of fishing poles. Great decision!
Entered Grand Teton National Park about 10:30 and made quite a few stops during the day to enjoy the majestic Tetons and to take hundreds of pictures. Had a great lunch at the Jackson Lake Lodge, the ritsy spot in the park with a huge glass wall for Teton viewing. Saw a moose quite a distance away from the beautiful viewing platform outside of the restaurant. Finally found the PJs for the grands I was searching for in a little hotel shop there. Other wildlife of the day were many elk and a fox which kindly crossed the road right in front of us. A special treat was a stop at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Elk Refuge Center to hear Ken Thomasma, an expert on Sacajawea, discuss her journey with Lewis and Clark. He managed to keep us all spellbound for an hour in spite of the hot temperature in the room. Poor Katie was sitting under hot lamps and almost had a heat stroke, seriously. Bought a couple of Ken’s children’s books and Sacajawea and her friend.Arrived at the Snow King Lodge late afternoon. This hotel is a little bit out of Jackson at the foot of downhill ski slopes. This is a pretty place to stay, especially for winter downhill skiers as the lift begins at the lodge and most of the slopes end there. Hill is considered easy by real skiers but looked quite challenging from our view below. Beautiful western decor including a wall between the bar and dining room composed of rods with belts buckled around them. Mason jar lamps throughout plus the typical lassos, saddles, etc. Staff all in cowboy attire. We took a free shuttle into Jackson and dined at Bubba’s, a local BBQ place recommended by Jason, Margie’s son, who had spent two years in Jackson working 10 years ago. It was not a tourist joint and was packed with local enjoying the delicious ribs. Local color at Bubba’s. After dinner we stopped by the Million Dollar Cowboy bar for a walk through. Margie fit right in with her red cowgirl boots!May 21 – Salt Lake City – Marriott Downtown. Headed south out of Jackson on our scenic route to Salt Lake City via the grand canyon of the Snake River, southeastern Idaho, and Logan, Utah. Highway 89 called the bi-state highway because Jackson provided the money and Idaho provided the man power.Area was explored by a group of men hired by John Jacob Astor – called the “Astorians.” One, Stewart, found a pass though the Rockies near Jackson Hole but kept it a secret for 30 years. No clue why but maybe thought Astor could make money off of the secret pass.Tracy talked about the Mormons as we drive along. Joseph Smith born in Sharon, PA. Moved to NY and family were farmers. Joseph had very little schooling so studied The Bible for educations. At age 14 received a vision telling him not to join any church and at age 17 was visited by angel Moroni who gave him secret golden plates which he translated into The Book of Mormon. He started Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Got popular because you could talk to God directly.Were persecuted due to unusual beliefs. Joseph Smith was killed in Illinois
- Importance of temples – only Mormons of good standing can enter temples
- Plural marriages – FLDS still believe in polygamy
- Prophet and 12 apostles
- Brigham Young set up all towns – true NS – EW streets – everyone must live in town even farmers
- Missionary efforts – trying to be the largest church in the world
- Brigham Young – born in VT and became LDS in 1832. Remained faithful to Joseph Smith and led migration. Died in SLC in 1877 – 55 wives and 87 children.
- Women must have a man to get into the kingdom of god. So men often married sisters, etc. so the souls could be saved. Women generally liked it.
- 1891 – finally passed law banning bigomy to let Utah into the union.
- To be in good standing you must tithe, go to church, do a mission, volunteer, drink no alcohol or caffeine
- Ward – area of Utah or Desseret where you are part of an extended family in the church. Church helps those people in their ward.
- If you are not in the church, you probably won’t get a job in a Mormon business.
- Had the first state art council – arts important and inexpensive
SLC extremely clean – everyone dresses nicely, no tattoos, – do have a smog problem due to location -All cities in Utah designed by Young with streets wide enough to turn around a wagon with a yoke of oxen.Tabernacle – meeting place instead of temple. Most cities have temples now.Along the way we followed some of the Oregon Trail. As we went through the Salt River pass, part of the trail, we encounters a huge snow storm. Glad I’m in a tour bus instead of a covered wagon. Many things in this part of the country are called Salt Something because the mountains in the area are filled with salt. The rivers become salty running through salty hills and end up in the Great Salt Lake. The lake bottom is also salty. Passed Mount Pilliar, the oldest town on the Oregon Trail. Famous because Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid held up the bank here and got away because the sheriff had just sold his horse and bought a tricycle. Of course, he couldn’t catch them.Next along the trail was the Bear River a good marker to let them know they were on the right path. We are now in LDS area, the last area to legislate against polygamy because not in Utah, rather Idaho.Bear Lake was our next stop entering Utah and Logan Canyon. The lake is the largest freshwater lake in Utah and is turquoise in color due to limestone particles in it. This was the site of many fur trading rendezvous where traders trading pelts for whiskey and native women. Rendezvous would last up to two weeks each year.Drove though the Wasach mountain range to Logan for lunch at the Bluebird Restaurant – adorable! Great Salt Lake is six times saltier than the ocean.Arrived at a lovely Marriott next door to the Salt Palace Convention Center which Mimi’s sister managed before moving back to Brunswick. Of course we needed to check it out for her and send a photo. Margie and Marcia, quilters, discovered the annual quilt store market going on in the exhibition area and are now trying to “borrow” a name badge to get in. Took a way through the new Nordstrom’s next to our hotel then joined the group for a Vantage sales reception and dinner. I think we were supposed to dress up, but the best we could do was change our tennis shoes for flats.Salt Palace where Mimi’s sister worked prior to JekyllHad a wonderful couple for NC join us for dinner. Larry, the wife, attending UGA and was with the Red Cross in Vietnam in 68 and 69. She was amazing and kept us entertained the entire meal.May 22 – Salt Lake City – Marriott DowntownOur day began with a performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a unique organization made up of hundreds of volunteers. All are between the ages of 25 and 60 and live within 100 miles of Temple Square so they are able to attend weekly rehearsals and about 75 performances a year. Each Sunday morning they practice to the TV and radio show from 8:30 – 9 then perform live from 9:30 – 10. We arrived in time for about 15 minutes of the rehearsal and were lucky enough to be able to see the large screen of the TV camera in front of us. We loved seeing which shot was actually used on the show. Next up was a guided tour of Temple Square led by a two Mormon missionaries. We did walk up the ramp to “heaven” but no more sales pitch in heaven. Not sure if tour groups are excused from this or if they have stopped all together. One of our guides was from South Africa and sounded exactly like the female lead in The Book of Mormon Broadway play. I kept expecting her to break into song!Salt Lake temple Sea Island quality flowers everywhere in Temple Square This ended our organized activities for the day so we headed to the Beehive House, Brigham Young’s home and office, for another tour by two missionaries. Again no pressure but we were given the opportunity to take home The Book of Mormon and a request for a home visit from a Mormon missionary back home.Following Tracy’s recommendation we went to a huge grocery store nearby for lunch – think Whole Foods on steroids. Was a perfect choice.Decided to have a restful afternoon at the hotel so enjoyed the hot tub area and a little nap. Next headed to the Red Rock Brewery for dinner with Mimi’s nephew Scott, an adorably 25 year old Salt Laker, who suffered through dinner with six old ladies. He was very cute and so nice to answer more of our Mormon questions. He is not a Mormon but has lived in SLC all his life so could give us lost of outsider looking in answers. Plus, we enjoyed samples of the local brew!Red Rock Brewery – only 2 samples at a time and all must finished before you can order more Mimi’s nephew Scott.
May 23 – Moab – Best Western Canyonlands
This morning’s field trip was to the Mormon Family History Center. I was not overly excited about this, as genealogy has never been my thing. However, I did set up an account as https://familysearch.org and began filling in my father, his mother, her father and wham! Immediately lines starting appearing taking Mamaw’s family from Butler County, Ky back to King George Co, VA the to Ireland. Looks like her ancestors arrived in 1670 from Ireland. This could get quite addictive, as there are tons of records here. The biggest difference in this and Ancestry.Com is that things can be changed on the Mormon account and cannot be changed by others on the Ancestry.com account. I can see the group heading to Brunswick to the Family Search Center to use their records and their free access to all ancestry databases, including Ancestry.com Traveled through the Colorado Plateau south to Moab today. Many escarpments formed by two plate hitting each other and rotating clockwise. Parks in Utah part of these escarpments. Wasach Range is the Western most part of the Rocky Mountain change. On our left as we headed toward Moab. One of Utah’s Mormon settlements – all within a wagon ride of one another Provo – home of Brigham Young University, the largest private university in the US. 85% are Mormon, others mainly athletes on scholarships.Lunch in Price, UT – gold mines, outlaws, town for surrounding ranchers.Next stop, John Wesley Powell River Museum dedicated to the trip Powell made down the Green River and Colorado River exploring this part of Utah and Arizona. Last stop, Grand Canyon. The white water parts of the trip brought back terrible memories of my Chatooga River rafting adventure when Tina and I were in a raft that overturned on a big rapids and scared us and our children to death. I think that was Max’s first and last white water rafting trip. The museum was nice but sort of hokey, as illustrated by the giant melon slice in the parking lot. There were animatronics of John Powell telling his story. We thought something was broken as he had only one arm. Well, the man did have only one arm having lost one in the Battle of Shiloh so was not a broken animatronic guy after all.Ride through the high dessert – 3 to 7 inches of rain a year – 3500 to 6000 feet elevation. Snow capped Lasalle Mountains on the east side of the highway. Kokapeli bike trail. Named after famous Mexican trader who had a disease that caused him to have a large member. He traveled from one pueblo to another and spread his seed and was considered an honor to have your wife sleep with him. Moab has wineries with vines planted by Mormons in the 1860s. Mormons put in a ferry to cross Colorado River and made money from this. 1950s found uranium. Tourism mainstay of Moab economy – jeep tours, rafting, horseback riding, bike tours, Most are LDS. Uranium mine next to the river and dumped bad stuff into the river. Stopped this by dumping into trucks and replacing with clean soil. Causes bad water in Los Vegas.Arrived in Moab about 5 and found our centrally located hotel perfect. Kate is somewhere near here in a campground in the hills but decided to wait until tomorrow to find us. We headed to the state wine store to stock up for the rest of the trip, happy hour on the hotel balcony, then dined at Twisted Sistas – wonderful tapas and Utah wine. Not bad at all! Moab – need more photos of this cute down Happy Hour at the hotel May 24 – Arches and Monument ValleyAs soon as be finished breakfast we hopped on the bus to tour Arches National Park. Arches became a national monument almost 100 years ago but had its designation changed National Park in 1971. Our treat for this morning was meeting up with Kate, my sister-in-law, who joined us in her expensive Cat Carrier, also known as an RV. She will follow us for four days. Our group got to know Kate, who lives in Colorado, well last Fall so are thrilled to have her added to the mix. Kate’s pilot seat – Am thinking she might be distracted Arches notes:to be an arch must be 3 feet across at least – landscape arch is the largest at 361 feet – 2000 documented arches here. Erosion caused by rain, water, wind, and gravity. Slick rock – white smooth rock that is actually petrified.Thelma and Louise was filmed in this park.very green in the park which is not typical – flowers blooming – rain last week.Courthouse Rock – filmed a car commercial on top. Wind picked up so helicopter could not get car and girl down. Had to spend the night. Lots of names of formations – sheep rock, 3 gossips, etc. Large faults, erosion, freeze/thaw, Arches caused by salt layer being weak. Faults and fins. Kate’s Cat CarrierBye, bye Kate and the BoysRyan and Martin, our drivers Parade of Elephants was my favorite formation. Stopped and hiked a bit at five different stops. Moab – Uranium capital of the world. Started by Charles Augustus Steen who lived in a cardboard house with his family just after World War ll. Hundreds of minors got lung cancer from the radiation in the mines because they were not regulated. Lunch at Pasta J’s in Moab was delicious. Yes, I’m eating too much on this trip!Area south of Moab not only was home to uranium mining but also is home to over 600 wineries. Our Utah red blend at dinner last night was not bad at all. Left Moab about 1 to continue south to Monument Valley with several stops along the way. Arrived at Gouldings Lodge about 4:45.Navajo arrived in the southwest about 1200 AD. They stole sheep and horses from the Spanish so were great raiders. 1740 Franciscan priests arrived but more Navajo did not convert. Call themselves Dina – land called Dinatha. They own more land than any other tribe in the US. Their bodies do not process liquor well so reservation dry. Spanish came to trade with Navajo because they loved their blankets. Instead of paying for weavings, the Spanish just enslaved the women. Learned silversmith from Mexicans in the area. Spanish stayed 300 years trying to squash their spirit. US government got them on the reservation in 2 years by starving the Navajo to death – burned crops, killed animals, etc. Kit Carson brought in by the army and was also brutal to Navajo. About 3000 did not go to the reservation and hid out near here. After Americans realized there was no gold or silver here, they were allowed to come back. Reservation council distributes land to members. Matriarchal society – women own everything and control all. There is an oil field on the reservation which provides some income. Hogan, traditional home, door on the east of this 8 sided building. Boys marry into the wife’s clan and move in with the in-laws. Hogans are for elders, younger ones in trailers or kit homes. Goulding’s Lodge built in 1924 and started as a trading post. Many movies made here especially John Wayne/Ford movies. Goulding now owned by Navajos.Kate met us for Happy Hour on my balcony overlooking the valley filled with beautiful formations. Face-timed with Bob to share our view so he could relive his two previous visits to Monument Valley, once with Steve and once with Harriet and me. Got sad news that Mimi’s cat had died after 20 happy years but rallied and enjoyed dinner at Gouldings. SunsetMay 25 – Monument Valley – Grand Canyon – Yavapai LodgeMy mental alarm woke me up at 5:15 AM to be sure to be able to watch the sunrise over the monuments from my bedroom window. I have a great photo of Harriet and me working on one of these patios back in our Georgia Virtual days while on a workation with Bob touring Northern Arizona. I think it was my most scenic work spot ever.Hopped aboard our Gouldings Lodge four-wheeled truck-like things but realized Kate was missing. She quickly texted she was waiting for the promised shuttle from her campground. We headed down to a hogan for a visit, and she was delivered as we rebounded. Whew!Our drive through Monument Valley was lots of fun but did have a few strange moments. First, we stopped at an out house for a break, and Maria and I made the mistake of following someone who had peed all over the interior of the shack. Unfortunately, the place was pitch black dark, and we both found ourselves wet from pants to shirt. Yuk. While standing in the sun after lunch to dry off, I was scooped up to do the Navajo two step with the BBQ guy, flaunting my wet back to the entire group! Next Katie found a beautiful green rock. She wet it with water and polished it before proudly showing it to our Navajo guide to ask what type of rock it was. He frowned and said “not a rock.” Katie asked, “What is it?” Answer POOP!Our two hour tour ended in the heart of the valley with a steak cookout. Somehow the hosts managed to cook beautiful steaks, corn on the cobb, beans, salad, and dessert along with fry bread. All was prepared on site, even the bread. All was delicious! Sunrise Gouldings LodgeMore