August 8, 2022
I promised I would do some cool stuff with my time off this week and that we did. Ever since I verified that Buffalo Bill lives here, I was resolute on meeting him. This turned out to be an easy goal to achieve. We went to his restaurant for lunch at the beginning of the week and just after we ordered, he sat down at the table next to us and struck up some pleasant conversation. I wanted to tell him that we knew who he was and we were fans, but I didn’t want to out him to his other customers. We figure anyone famous who moves here has the intent to disappear. At the end of the meal I told him we were fans, but it seemed that he thought I was referring to the food as he thanked us and introduced himself. Obviously, we already knew his name, but I didn’t clarify. Maybe when we go back we will meet him again and if he is friendly and his place is not too busy, I may ask for a photo.
We went for a drive through Boulder, Utah and took our time, stopping to take photos. We also visited the Anasazi State Park Museum which is a great bargain at $5/person. We browsed some exceptionally old artifacts, Native American artwork, watched a short video on the history of the Native American people in this area. They had a reproduction of the pueblo homes and a pit house that they lived in as well as an area that archeologists had discovered there of old pueblo dwellings. After the museum we drove halfway up Boulder mountain on a different route (following Rt. 12). It was a beautiful area filled with meadows and Aspen groves. Cows are free ranged all over the mountain so occasionally we had to wait for them to get out of the road for us. I even saw some cowboys show up to herd a few that had wandered astray. They had large whips that they cracked in the air to make the cows move. It was fascinating to watch. Boulder also has some fun animals made of natural materials in town.
Perhaps the most notable thing about this day was the stop we made at a tiny grocery on the way home. We were in search of a couple of simple items like bread and paper plates, but we found a true treasure when we looked into the ice-cream freezer. We found Choco-Tacos! For those of you who don’t know, Klondike recently discontinued these, but word must not have hit this remote part of the country yet. Later in the week, I read in the news that due to demand from people on the internet, Klondike will no longer stop making this wonderful product. I’d like to think we had a hand in this delightful turn of events.
The next day I agreed to go to Wal-Mart with a friend. This was about a 2.5 hour drive each way so we left in the morning so we could make some stops at all of the scenic overlooks along the way. The drive took us over a lovely mountain and through towns with many pastures and fluffy animals and cliffs of Navajo sandstone. We also found some very nice mountain reservoirs as well as an abundance of free campgrounds. We decided it would be an excellent place to come back to for camping this summer. Since going into a big town takes all day we agreed to grab some items for neighbors. This was the vape store in Richfield, UT. I enjoy their business name.
I do have some exciting news about a certain contest I had been participating in, but I have to wait before I can say anything publicly…more on that next week. The big adventure this week was our trip to Mars. Well, it was Mars-esque. We make a trip out past Capital Reef National Park to Hanksville, UT. We were in search of great photos at the Bentonite Hills we had seen photos of online with spectacular colors of chinle/badlands features as well as the Factory Butte formation we had seen in many photos. We ended up finding the Mars Desert Research Station along with Factory Butte. We did not see the great spectrum of colors we expected in the Bentonite Hills so I suspect we just haven’t found the right location yet. We agreed that we will definitely come back here though and next time we will bring the dogs and camping gear so we can stay there overnight. The Mars Desert Research station is a place where a group of mostly volunteers live for 8 months at a time in order to study what life on Mars might be like. It is a perfect location as it is very remote and is a perfect Mars analog. They have a greenhouse, living quarters, engineer station, two observatories, and it is all connected by tunnels. They are designed to be completely self sustaining while they are there carrying out various missions. When they go outside to operate the rover, they generally wear space suits. Stuff like this is so neat. I don’t know if I have the mental fortitude or specific skills to join this team though. We were not able to enter or tour the facility as letting in the public would totally mess with the nature of the experiment. Though, there is not currently a team there, we did see one vehicle parked outside so we didn’t try to venture too close. I obviously played with some colors and skies in some of these shots in order to help add drama.
The whole drive leading up to this place was also spectacular. I got another chance to drive through the mountain with all the cows roaming around. We drove past Capital Reef and noticed that there’s a whole large part of the park we have yet to explore so we will be going back there soon as well. We saw this super cool mountain with a picture perfect cabin in front of it.
Factory Butte is the name of this rock formation. The land all around it is crazy looking and beautiful. Just past it along Rt. 24 is Swing Arm City which is an infamous area for off road vehicles. We will capture that on a future trip and I will tell you more about it once I have photos to accompany my tale. We hung out viewing Factory Butte at sunset. Luke sent the drone up for awhile and captured the most amazing photos of it. I may just have to learn to fly the second drone so I can have photos like that too.
At the end of the week, we popped our first tire on a dirt road we travel on frequently with no problems. It was bound to happen eventually and luckily we had a spare. There will be no off roading for us though until we get a new set of tires. Thankfully, we were due for new tires soon anyhow.
Jennifer MacNeil is currently traveling the US with her husband and two dogs. She loves to have adventures, explore, meet fascinating people, and see amazing places. She strives to learn every day and spread kindness to others. She documents the journey through her photography and blog to share with others.