Our Tour of the Northern United States (page 4)

June 4

Four GenerationsAfter a good night's sleep in Sheridan we made the relatively short, 360-mile drive to Helena, MT.  This was a stop I had waited years to make.  I was adopted by my step-father at age 3.  Since I have no memory of my father, my step-father was always DAD (and still is).  To make a long story short, 20 years passed before I saw my father again.  I met him in Kodiak, AK and my grandfather in Bellingham, WA in 1992.   This trip to Helena was to meet the rest of the family as well as to allow all of them to meet Joanne.  Most of them had not seen me since I was a toddler. 

    Our greatest pleasure was in meeting my great-grandmother.  She's celebrating her 90th birthday next year.  So we're planning to return to Helena in the spring.  We spent Memorial Day Weekend with them and continued our journey Tuesday morning.

Our next day was 500 miles to Salt Lake City, UT where we visited with some cousins.  I first met them in 1989 and I had seen them only once since then.  I've been in contact with them ever since.  The trip was long overdue.  I think my wife really enjoyed our stay there.  I was still wiped out from my head and chest cold, retreating to bed each night at around 8 or 9pm.  That gave her plenty of quality time with "the girls," something she has not had much on this trip.  We stayed two nights.

                  Great Heart The highlight of our stay was visiting the Timpanogos Caves.  Being at an elevation of 7000 feet, we definitely got our share of exercise with this cave.  The hike was about 1-1/2miles with a vertical gain of over 1000 feet.  To make matters worse,we got to make the climb in the rain.  The cave was very much worth the climb.  The Timpanogos Caves were the most beautiful yet.  There were several large formations.  But the most spectacular ones were the smaller, crystal formations.  

Like the Crystal Cave in MO, the formations were close and personal; plus the presentation was superb.  The Timpanogos Caves are definitely worth another visit.  Next time I'll bring better photo equipment.  Our trip continued the following day.  Of course, the weather was wonderful.

June 10

All of this driving is beginning to get tiring.  Our next leg was 530 miles to Denver, CO.  Our primary focus was to visit my step-sister, Terrie.  It was good that this was our longest scheduled stop.  We used the four days to rest and relax. I had reached the peak of my head and chest cold.  It may have grown into mild bronchitis.  But now it's tapering off nicely.  We visited several friends in the Denver area.  Among them was a family that we met in Alameda, CA.  It had been over six years since the last time I saw them.  We went to church with them and spent the day at their home.  I also got to see another Coast Guard friend, John and his wife, Lynn.  He got out of the Coast Guard in 1991, got married,and moved to Denver.  I had not seen him since he left the Coast Guard.  We had barbecue and visited "Redrocks," an amphitheater that's built into dense red rock formation.  The acoustics must be very nice during a concert.  

Left: Orange Butterfly, Sea Horse, Waterbug with
                  eggs, Bee Hive.Balancing Rock. We also managed to squeeze in the new Star Wars movie and the subsequent shopping associated with seeing a movie in a mall. We visited the "Butterfly Pavillion" on our last day. There was a huge collection of insects, spiders, and other creepy critters. They also had a few small aquariums with samples of sea life.  The most spectacular part of the visit was the arboretum with tons of plants and thousands of butterflies. There were also several breeds of box turtles present, but we didn't see any of them. Terrie was a little concerned that we didn't get to see as much as we could have, but we were able to get some needed rest. We left the next morning and visited "Garden of the Gods" park near Colorado Springs. Garden of the Gods is popular for its many rock formations. We could have seen much more, but wanted to get to our next stop before sunset. "Balanced Rock" is pictured.

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