The past few days have been amazing.
So far I have:
Taken a ride on the ghost train, an old fashioned train in Ely, NV that takes you on a scenic tour of the area. I also had a great conversation with the artist in residence in Eureka. She gave me some tips on what to check out including Leman Caves.
Next I hop skipped over to the Great Basin National Park where I went on a tour of the Lehman Caves. These were really neat. The guy giving the tour was a biology major with a summer job. You could tell he loved it. His tour was actually really polished for someone who just started working at the park.
The Caves were neat because they were like works of art. Each room was more decorated than the last with popcorn looking rock formations, stalagmites (you might trip over them), stalactites (they hang tight to the ceiling) and shield formations.
We camped in the middle of no where off the side of the road between Baker and Milford on the Utah side of the state lines (I stopped and took a picture because it was the first state sign I had run into. I didn't see the one between California and Nevada).
Then we went to Cedar City, which was really neat. They were having Groooooovefest. So, I met up with our host, who was exceedingly nice, and went over to check it out. The musicians were really good. It was mostly some combination of Western/American/Rock/Bluegrass depending on the band. I'll post some clips of it whenever I have better wifi than this Subway I'm sitting in.
Some things to note: Lemonade with strawberries is a fantastic idea. Garlic fries are also highly recommended if you get them in a place that does them right. I don't remember ever seeing garlic fries in Maryland.
Plus! And this is important. I found snowballs in Cedar City. Apparently they moved in a few years ago and set up shop. They don't have chocolate and they didn't have marshmallow, so they still have awhile to catch us to the genius that is Maryland snowballs, but they're heading in the right direction. They do however call them shaved ice, or snow cones. Never snowballs.
Also good to note. People don't know what you're talking about when you ask for a fried egg here, but I'm pretty sure they don't always know what I'm talking about in Maryland diners either. They also generally do not know how to make hard boiled eggs in the diners I have stopped in. One diner cracked an egg into boiling water and let it sit for 8 minutes. Some of them just refuse out of practicality. From now on I order scrambled eggs; they seem to be the same everywhere.
When you get toast around here, they butter it for you before you even get it. No option because it goes without saying that of course you would butter your toast. It comes to you pre-melted onto the bread.
Let's see, what else? I got to sleep in the comfiest bed in the world (each bed is comfier than the last). Our host's daughter thoroughly insisted that I take this stuffed moose and give it to Jesse. She told me to give it to the bald one in the white shirt. We have some envelopes. We were planning on taking a picture of it with Jesse in a neat place and mailing it to her like people do with gnomes.
Then I went back to Groovefest for a few hours and got on the road to Panguitch, UT.
On the way there, there are some gorgeous view points where you can see Cedar Breaks (google it). It's really beautiful. While I was up there at 10,000 feet I ran into the nicest couple, Pat and Maria. They're busy traveling America in a RV. They've been all over and they're heading out the same way we're going next. I can't tell you how nice they were. I told them I'd post the picture I took of them on this blog, but that won't happen for another week until we get wifi. So, if you're reading this, check back! I'll post it eventually. I wanted to mention them here just in case it took me as long as I fear it will.
Now this town, Panguitch, is real neat. We decided to arrive in Panguitch on same night with 10,000 other people. There was a Balloon Festival!!! This is super exciting to apparently just me. Pacella and Snuggles (Jesse, =) ) just slept through the balloon launch.
I want to be a hot air balloon pilot when I grow up. I want to hot air balloon around the world in 80 days. I want to get married on a hot air balloon. In fact, if I could live on a hot air balloon, I would.
So... yeah, the guys weren't as excited as me.
ALSO! Quick note before I geek out over hot air balloons. Mike German (who I have been referring to as Papa Bear; Jesse agrees with this assessment) is thoroughly ridiculous as a person. We were trying to convince him to let us stay in a campground with a shower tonight; he of course refused. So we told him we'd each give him 5 dollars (the amount if would have cost us to pay for a camp ground) if he found us a place with electricity and a shower. Originally the deal was inside with electricity and a shower, but we scaled it back to be equivalent to the camp ground we wanted to stay in.
So, he wanders off with that walk of his. It's sort of a duck walk, stalking his prey, assessing the situation. He looks around and zeros in on a likely candidate. Well, what do you know. He found someone willing to let us camp in their backyard and use the electrical outlet outside their house. This was rather easy because it was a festival and there were a million people to ask. They already had other family from Salt Lake camping in their backyard. He did not find us a shower, they had too many people in their house as it was, so no fives for him.
That hot air balloon festival was awesome. They had all the hot air balloons line main street and they inflated them and lit them up in the night. It was really neat. They also had live music and lots of people milling about.
The next morning at 6:30 they had a hot air balloon launch; 35 hot air balloons taking off into the air at once. I got up to see it, and Mike G. stumbled out of bed to check it out. The other guys stayed in bed. Mike wanted us to walk over because he thought there wouldn't be parking. It ended up taking us a half hour to get over there (p.s. there was parking), I ended up losing him at some point as we got there.
The hot air balloon launch was not a disappointment. It was really great. They had a smokey the bear balloon and lots of brightly colored ones from all over. I want to reiterate my inexhaustible love for hot air balloons and my burning desire to be a hot air balloon pilot. New goal for this trip: ride a hot air balloon. This trip just wouldn't be complete without a hot air balloon ride. I'll see you later boys! I'm flying back to Maryland in style.
Mike G. was not as impressed as me with the hot air balloons. He said he would have preferred extra sleep. My enthusiasm will just have to sustain both of us.
Now we are headed towards Bryce Canyon. You will probably not get any more video updates for awhile because it looks like I will be using Subway free wifis for the next few days at least, unless Papa Bear ups the ante and finds us a free place with a shower, electricity and wifi.
We're going to take a rest day, basically they're only riding for 25 miles today, and check out Bryce Canyon. Then we're off to Escalante, UT for more adventure.
If what I have seen so far is true, Utah is full of festivals. It is the season for them.
Signed most extravagantly,
One Shelly Kessler, Future Hot Air Balloonist