Monthly Archives: October 2012

Day 16: Sunday, September 30 – Yellowstone to Jackson, WY

  • This morning started off with a visit to the ranger first aid clinic.  It seems that Glenda was bitten by bugs/spiders while sitting at the desk in our hotel room.  What??  The medical professional on duty prescribed benadryl, ice and the usual.  OK, that is done.
  • Worked our way out of Yellowstone toward Jackson, Wyoming and the Grand Teton National Park (yes..wait for it….another STAMP!!).  Glenda mentioned that the translation of the Grand Tetons is Big Tits so we will, of course, refer to it from now on as the B.T.  Before exiting Yellowstone we had time for one more loop around the geysers and other hydro thermal features and one last facial at Thumb Geyser Basin.

  • We hit the B.T. only 5 miles or so south of Yellowstone yet the landscape already looked different.  More fall foliage, dramatic mountains (B.T.’s) springing up from the lake.

  • Hit Jackson proper (population about 1800) and looked for a hotel.  Found this leather chair, buffalo, manly-cigar-type of fancy hotel that had a room with 2 giant king beds.  So here we are.  Headed back out in search of moose.  Sorry to say, no moose yet but more incredible bison herd sightings.  Beautiful dusk lighting too!

Jersey Junction

It seemed like again there would be no Jersey connection but we finally met a fellow restaurant patron dining at the bar next to us.  Terry lives in Vermont, has lived on Montana and other places.  Terry worked hard to come up with his Jersey experience bypassing, thankfully, his several times on I-95 in refinery world, and landing on a bike race he competed in through Harriman State Park and the Palisades.  He mentioned a beautiful view of NY and the Hudson and had a pleasant memory of it all.  Yes, a pleasant Jersey experience!  We rest our case.

Theme of the Day:  Gorgeous scenery

Up next: Jackson again and the search for a moose sighting!!

Day 17: Monday, October 1 – Jackson, WY

  • By some miracle this morning we actually were up and in the car by 7am–shocking–we know.  But we were determined to have a moose sighting.  Armed with directions to moose territory given to us by our waitress, we aimed for sunrise moose viewing. At first no luck but we drove further into the B.T. Park and encountered a bear.  So adorable.  Then further on we hit the jackpot with a moose and her baby (just missed her husband, Bullwinkle).
  • On our way back we looked for Mr. Beaver and couldn’t find him but we found his handiwork and his friend.

  • Back into Jackson for a walk about Town Square and some shopping.


Sue and Glenda getting into the western theme!!

Sue’s mom and her friend getting into the western theme circa 1953!!

Jersey Junction

In our shopping, we met a store clerk who was born and raised in Clifton, NJ then Pompton Lakes, NJ.  She married and moved to Lynbrook, Long Island and then decided to bolt to the far west in 1970 with her 2 kids and a sawed off shotgun in tow.  She left her Harley dealer hubby to follow and set up their new life 15 miles outside of Jackson.  She now shows no signs of her former Jersey or LI life…not even an accent is left.

We also met a very friendly store clerk originally from Minnesota with a good friend here in Jackson, an artist, from Maplewood, NJ….a close enough junction.


Theme of the Day: Photo Safari

Up Next: Salt Lake City and Sue’s friend Nancy!!  wooo hooooo!!

Day 18: Tuesday, October 2 – Jackson, WY to Salt Lake City, UT

  • Started off the day with a visit to the Jackson Emerg-a-Care clinic to treat what turned out to be Glenda’s infected, black fly-bitten, index finger. Ick!
  • Medical issue taken care of we hit the road south to the SLC home of Nancy and George Janes, Sue’s buds from Short Hills. We drove through 3 states and an ever-changing landscape; tiny towns with a whole lot of nothing in between. This ride made us really see so many different colors everywhere. Here they are:


blue and peach










Jersey Junction

Yay! A self-evident Junction; we stayed with transplanted Jersey people. Had a great dinner, discussed Mormon Utah, and learned that the Mormon caffeine ban does not apply to Coca-Cola because it is a cold beverage and the ban seems to be on warm drinks only. Whatever. Nancy and George love it here and they are now confirmed Utahns (yes, that’s the term). Many thanks to them for a great stay.

Theme of the Day: Colors – all along the way, starting with a visit to Dr. Blue (really, that was his name :))

Up Next: Eureka, Nevada

Day 19: Wednesday, October 3 – Salt Lake City UT to Eureka, NV

  • Great accommodations at the Janes Inn.  As usual, we took the full 3 hours to organize ourselves for departure.  Nancy left for work, came back – surprise we were still there!  She was unphased, gracious and perhaps a little worried that we would never leave 🙂
  • Hit the road– the back roads, in fact, ultimately America’s loneliest road: Rte 50 to Eureka Nevada.  First we crossed Utah and the great expanse of Salt Lake and these weird salt/mud flats.  Once in Nevada, the loneliest road pretty much describes it.  About 200 miles with only 3 towns in the whole stretch.  Again, a whole lot of nothin’ in between.  Coming from Mormon Utah and entering the “anything goes” Nevada (we were corrected in the welcome center as to the correct pronunciation..that’s Ne-va-da not Ne-vah-da. OK!!) was quite the contrast.  From no caffeine, booze, smoking, gambling, etc to prostitution, smokin’, drinkin’ and gambling everywhere – even the gas stations.  Wow!!  Pictures from the road: 

Morton Salt Factory, UT

Really Big Tires!!. UT

Strange Ball Statue, UT

Along the road , NV

Pony Express Stop, NV

Along America’s Loneliest Road


  • Arrived in Eureka, crossed to the Pacific time zone here and crossed into another world as well.  Pretty sure this is the most remote place we will stay in.  We are in the Best Western here and our fellow travelers and fellow diners at the one local eatery are quite the sight.  Here is who we saw: mine-working, dusty, steel toe boot clad, giant mountain men; a pair of older toupee-wearing gay motorcycle men; a gray-haired local couple holding holding hands and saying grace before dinner; a table of Mexican workers; a possible Euro tourist with fancy shoes; a hipster with a cap, weird rubber shoes and a most unusual pair of pants that we swear would fit in at Williamsburg, Brooklyn now; a pair of men who seemed to be on some sort of business trip…what business there might be for them around here we haven’t a clue;  a couple of local men wearing both belts and suspenders.  All in all, a whole new world here.



Jersey Junction

We have driven some 4,000 miles away from Jersey only to find ourselves in the Newark Valley.  Somewhere in between Ely, NV and Eureka, NV lies, yes, Newark.  Here’s a picture.  Does anything look familiar?  Can you see the Rock in the distance?



Theme of the Day: Empty spaces

Up next: Tahoe, perhaps.


p.s. We forgot to mention when we were in Wyoming that Wyoming is the largest producer of bentonite in the world.  Bentonite is the major ingredient in cat litter.  We left the cat litter capital of the world behind.  Just sayin’.

p.p.s. Glenda had Tater Tots for dinner 🙂


Day 20: Thursday, October 4 – Eureka, NV to Reno, NV

  • Last minute decision to try Reno – “The Biggest Little City in the World” just because we have never been there and don’t know a thing about it.  First we hit Hickison National Forest along route 50 (the loneliest road in America).  A short hike led us to great views of the valley and petroglyphs.  

Today’s wildlife sighting: lizard




Glenda at the Hickison Overlook

Sue at the Hickison Overlook

  • We stayed on route 50 and headed to Austin, NV pop. 300.  We stopped at the Austin post office for stamps and were treated to quite a long conversation with a local.  He started the conversation by asking us about the postal rates–perhaps we looked like USPS employees?  And as the primarily one way conversation rambled we learned he is not an original local.  He called himself a” prune picker” aka a Californian.  But he has been in Austin since he graduated high school and he has definitely had many years on him since then.  He did recommend an alternate route off of Highway 50 that turned out to be a good recommendation.  We stopped for lunch at one of the two restaurants in town, looked in a rustic gallery/jewelry shop and drove off past our new friend and a woman sitting in front of a store on the main drag.  He gave us a big wave on our way.

** Here’s where he really endeared himself to me–discussing how his wife finally kicked him out after he told her one too many times that her hair was too short and her ass too fat.  He said this while comparing her hair to mine but tried to smooth it over by indicating that my ass wasn’t that fat.  He also mentioned that he had been hit on the head 3 times at his work which may have contributed to his unchecked outbursts.  Maybe.

Wildlife sighting:antelope

Salt flats


  • We continued on our way through Fallon, home of the US Navy “top gun” Air Station.  We saw a plane flying around there too.  We also passed by Sand Mountain, a giant sand dune sprouting in the desert not far from the Navy Air field.  We are always crunched for time and I’m sorry to say we missed both the Red Light Prostitution Museum and the Bra Chandelier in Virginia City, NV.

Sand Mountain

  • Made it to Reno and checked into one of these casino hotels with bargain rates.  Still a lot of casinos here are abandoned–we are looking at an abandoned high rise hotel from our window.  Similar to the towns along route 50, it’s a boom and bust situation–silver, gold, lead, gems mined created booms in the 1800’s and early 1900’s but it was over in a flash.  Looks like Reno may have experienced some of the same.

Jersey Junction

Back to our talkative “prune picker” who also taught us another term: “rubber tramp” for one who sleeps in his car, meaning what he did after the wife threw him out.  He mentioned that one of the 300 souls who live  in Austin is originally from Jersey.  Amanda is Portuguese and may be from Newark (he didn’t recognize the town name but we figure it’s a good guess).  But how she ended up here in Austin NV?  Who knows?  We didn’t get to meet Amanda but she’s out there!!

Theme of the Day: Boom and Bust

Up next: Lake Tahoe

p.s. Shout out to Nevada bureau of tourism…the lady at the welcome center gave us a CD to listen to with info about Nevada.  It was really good and informative about these little towns along the old Pony Express route.  Best thing we got from any of the states so far!!

Day 21: Friday, October 5 – Reno, NV to South Lake Tahoe, CA

  • First things first. Last night we tried to see Glenda’s elbow on the CBS show “Elementary” but, sadly, we tuned in too late.
  • Casino breakfast with all of the crazy gamblers so we had to drop a couple of ten spots in the slots after breakfast. We were regretting our missing the Red Light Museum yesterday so we decided to head to Virginia City. And we were not disappointed. This is an old mining town kind of left as it was. Somewhat Disneyesque but the lower, rougher version for sure. So glad we came here! We wandered down the old-fashioned main street to the Mandarin Garden Inn – home, downstairs, of the Red Light Museum. Here was a treasure trove of information and exhibits from the swinging late 1800’s in Virginia City’s boom mining days – prostitution in full swing.

post-breakfast gambling

Virginia City

Bucket of Blood Saloon

museum entrance

Sue with the Old Keystone Head Frame

  • The trip to Virginia City was 7,000 feet up a windy, scary road. Now, back down on the other side, through Silver City, Carson City and, ultimately, to South Lake Tahoe, CA. A new land full of pine trees and the big, beautiful lake.

Lake Tahoe

  • Based on a friend’s recommendation, we headed to Pichetti’s wine tasting on the main drag of South Lake Tahoe. Good wine and our hostess, a former flight attendant, was friendly and chatty, another new BFF.


  • Back to our “green” hotel and off to dinner at the local golf course (our flight attendant/wine hostess’ recommendation). Nice outdoor tables with a view of the golf course and the lake. Here is our picture taken by a tipsy, former, 1970’s, casino photographer’s helper (so she said). We think she thought we were a couple (look at the hand pose).
Jersey Junction
Today we bring you three (say it again), three, junctions. First, at the Red Light Museum, did you know that 3 out of the 6 brands of condoms exhibited from the late 1800’s-early 1900’s were made in Jersey? Yes! Circle Rubber of Newark, NJ, Gems of Haskell, NJ and Smithies of East Newark, NJ. Plus, we think more of the brands may have been Jersey based as well. We’ll research and revert.

antique condoms

Second, our happy flight attendant/wine hostess has flown out of Newark many, many times. First thing out of her mouth was, “I like New Jersey! I’ve been to the shore. I love it!” Plus, she was generally cool, we discussed politics and she referred to us as Thelma and Louise, unprompted, and gave us a hug goodbye.
Third, our hotel clerk? From Piscataway, New Jersey. Things are ok here in South Lake Tahoe, CA but he is already looking to move out. The California schools, according to him, not so good compared to … Jersey.

Theme of the Day: Red Light, Green Light

Next Up: Yosemite National Park and a stamp 🙂


Day 22: Saturday, October 6 – South Lake Tahoe to Yosemite

  • Mini shopping and gambling before we get on the road to Yosemite.  The road to Yosemite is mostly up and up and down and down and up again and winding all around.  Seemed like it should only take a couple of hours but it’s really more like 6 all told.  As we were crossing into CA from NV there was a checkpoint all cars had to pass through.  They asked us if we were transporting fruits, veggies, plants or pets.  Hello??  We have now been through maybe 12 states or more (and Canada too) and have never been asked this.  What could we possibly be bringing in from Jersey that CA didn’t already have??  If anyone knows anything about this, please let us know.  Stopped for lunch at Nicely’s diner in Lee Vining, CA, a real old school diner.
  • We made it to the East Entrance of Yosemite and wow!!  What huge granite mountains face us!! We wound our way to the middle of the park first and then ultimately to our hotel closer to the South Entrance.  En route we saw many sites:

Their Jackets read: Dykes on Bikes… a happy group had just posed for pics

  • We took in the movie about Yosemite at the visitor center and then drove toward our hotel.  We stopped first to view El Capitan, the big iconic granite rock face.  We saw several groups of climbers scaling the face of El Capitan.  This can take several days we were told and the climbers must carry loads of equipment, food, water etc.  They apparently sleep on the rock face hanging on there somehow.  Sound fun???

Climbers in red along the crevice.

Jersey Junction

We finished snapping photos of El Capitan and walked back to our car where a couple of climbers were packing up their truck.  The husband noticed our Jersey plates and admitted he was originally from Princeton.  He was so nice, filling us in on things to do in the park.  His wife answered Sue’s many probing questions on the details of rock climbing including the climbing up and down plus a short discussion of the bathroom situation and waste removal.  The husband drew maps for Glenda on how to travel through the park and other interesting things to see outside the park.  Such a nice, friendly couple!  Of course he was from Jersey!!!

Theme of the Day: ROCK n Roll

Up Next: Another day in Yosemite!

Day 23: Sunday, October 7 – Yosemite

  • So, who knew Obama’s visit to Bakersfield would affect us? After breakfast, we took the shuttle bus from our hotel to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. We were the only passengers. About half way up, the bus broke down. Apparently all the good Yosemite buses were sent to Bakersfield for the Obama people and Yosemite was left with the dregs. No problem – go Obama! The driver somehow resolved the hybrid’s computer problem and we were back on our way.

on the bus…

  • We arrived at the Mariposa Grove and had a view of a few of the huge sequoias from the bus. We hiked through the grove and saw even more spectacular trees. Glenda’s personal favorite was the California Tunnel Tree and Sue’s was the Grizzly Giant Tree.

California Tunnel Tree

Sue and the Grizzly Giant

Glenda with the roots of the Fallen Monarch

Big tree

More big trees

  • Here are some tree stats:
       – some of the trees are close to 2,000 years old
       – they can grow as high as 300 feet – taller than the Statue of Liberty
       – the biggest (e.g., the Grizzly) can be 96 feet in circumference; the diameter of a branch of the Grizzly is 7 feet – bigger than all of the non-sequoias in the grove
       – the California Tunnel was cut in 1895 as a tourist attraction and it’s still a draw here today. There won’t be any more tunnel trees cut because of current conservation philosophy.
  • We are now pseudo-experts in pine tree bark and cones. Here is a pine cone still life – enjoy!

Pine cone still life

Do you recognize this body part from the TV show “Person of Interest”?

  • The giant sequoia produces the smallest pine cone – who knew?
  • For an afternoon hike, we decided to explore the Wawona Meadow. What poor signage Yosemite people! We were launched up a steep road incline for miles – only to turn around and go back to square one and find the Meadow road, soft and flat, was on our left. We managed to go half way on this path for some wildlife sightings: blue birds, mule deer, yellow-bellied marmots – but no bears or bob cats.

Beautiful blue bird

Buck Mule Deer

Yellow-bellied marmot (okay, his belly isn’t very visible but it was very yellow)

Jersey Junction
So much of this Yosemite reminds us of Jersey (ha ha). From the granite mountains (think “the Rock”), great big lakes (think Hopatcong), to the giant pines (think Pine Barrens). You get it. But especially those giant Sequoias — we have them on the GSP — we call them cell towers.

Jersey cell tower?

Day 24: Monday, October 8 – Yosemite, CA to Death Valley, CA

  • It’s a long way to Tipperary (Death Valley) so we were determined to get up and on the road early. Problem is it takes 2 and 1/2 hours just to exit the Park. Ok. So, we made it out and headed to Death Valley, another national park. Yes – another stamp! Forgot to mention that, of course, we got a stamp at Yosemite, too. Glenda is so happy.
  • Beautiful landscapes along the way – more little towns with nothing in between.

from the road…

not sure what all the black lumps are…

Yikes! Gas is pricey here.

  • As we descended from the 9,000′ height of Yosemite’s mountains to the sea level (and, in some places, below sea level) of Death Valley, the temperature rose as high as 103 degrees and the landscape changed dramatically again. We arrived in the Mojave Desert and all the fantastic colors and all the sand dunes that go with it. Again, it’s a long drive through Death Valley to get to our hotel (which is also in the Park).

Dunes and mountains

Temperature at 4:30 pm (it went up later to a high of 103!)

  • Now we are deep into the Valley of Death and we stopped at the visitor center for the movie and to get advice on where to go next. Our ranger recommended the “artist’s loop” and a view of the landscape at sunset. So, there we went.

Colored mountains


Blue mixed into the mountains too

on the ridge at sunset


  • The desert is a magical place.  No animal sightings here but we did see a monarch butterfly.  At the visitor center we met a young woman with a William Smith hat on.  She graduated a few years ago and was here with her mother.  They traveled here after attendng a wedding in Vega.  Go Herons!!
  • We are staying at an in-the-park hotel, one of two in the whole 3.4 million acre park.  There are 2 restaurants and 1 bar here so we headed to the bar.  Here we met Joe and Charlie who are on a boys’ dirt bike/motorcycle adventure from the Grand Canyon west to Yosemite and Southern Cal where Charlie lives.  Joe is from Boston, complete with the accent!.  We are heading where they have been and they are heading where we have been so we exchanged travel info.  Here are Joe and Charlie with their dirt bikes loaded on the truck.  Charlie also introduced us to reader glasses with LED lights on the side..perfect for map reading in the dark.  A must have!!!!

Joe, bikes, Charlie

Charlie, Glenda, Joe

Sue looking otherworldy (to match the landscape)

Jersey Junction 

We checked into our Furnace Creek Ranch hotel to be greeted by Cam from Kentucky who, upon seeing Glenda’s Jersey license, said “oh Joizee” with a bit of a Kentucky accent.  He  seemed to know this pronunciation as well as how Jersey people dress from TV.  When pressed, he revealed he had never actually been to Joizee but had once stayed in Phillie overlooking the river to Camden probably.  What is it with everyone knowing Jersey from TV?  We need a new Jersey role model…please!!!!

Theme of the Day: Dirt, dust, sand, pebbles, rocks…oh my!!

Up next: Vegas




Day 25: Tuesday, October 9 – Death Valley, CA to Las Vegas, NV

  • We were looking at only a 3-hour trip today. So we spent the morning at Death Valley – which is surprisingly alive with busloads of tourists, a pool, golf course, a couple of restaurants and the ever colorful and changing scenery.

Swedish biker “chicks”

  • Hiked the Golden Canyon trail – beautiful colors – and then back for a dip in the silky smooth, warm pool. Temps today got up to 103 degrees.

  • Before leaving the Valley of Death, we had to venture to the lowest point in North America – Badwater – 282 feet below sea level. Since we have been living at 3,000 feet above sea level, Sue was very concerned about the bends. Needless to say, we were very careful coming back from our plunge – bends free!


  • Back on the road for the 2 1/2 hour jaunt to viva Las Vegas. Our GPS freaked out in the middle of State Line Road, just beyond Death Valley Junction. She (our GPS) would have us take a sharp right into the middle of the desert – no road in sight. Fortunately, Glenda’s (the navigator’s) brain decided not to direct us into a desert field and we pulled over instead to regroup. A minute later a great big tour bus came by. Ok. We followed the bus through Pahrump, NV. Say what?

empty road…

And they make fun of Weehawken???

Pahrump’s greeter

wildlife crossing

  • Viva Las Vegas! Staying at Ceasar’s Palace. Hard to believe earlier this afternoon we were in the desert and now we are in tacky Sin City, just a couple of hours away. People watching here is as good (maybe better?) than taking in the dramatic desert or mountain sites – just harder to take pics. Here are some people/things we saw:

Sue’s shoulder with fake Bono

Busloads of Chinese tourists

Bellagio fountains doing their thing

  • So far, gambling not so successful but we have manana.
Jersey Junction
After 3 weeks eating meat and tater tots, we chose to eat at the sushi bar.  Here we met Rohan from Bridgewater, NJ, originally from Calcutta.  Rohan told us his father got one daughter married off, put one daughter and Rohan through college in the States all on his gambling winnings (mostly lottery).  So although Rohan is not a gambler himself, he sent us his father, Bala’s, good luck.
Sadly, not effective yet, but we have manana.

Glenda, Sue and Rohan