Return to Woodland Trails, pt. 2

Bryce Canyon was another “must-see” place on our trip north.  We stayed at Ruby’s Inn, which had a shuttle running to all the observation points.  The gal driving the shuttle was very knowledgeable and humorous, and made the tour a lot of fun.  Bryce Canyon is everything it’s advertised to be.  Beautiful and magnificent, and while not as large as the Grand Canyon, Bryce should still be on every travel list.  Interestingly, the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon are both part of the Grand Staircase, encompassing several parks and geographic areas.

Utah has 5 major national parks with lots to see.  Unfortunately our schedule didn’t let us check out any of the others, but we plan to return another day.  So, after 3 nights at Ruby’s, we headed north toward Salt Lake City.  We stopped 2 nights in Fillmore, Utah, to have the truck looked at.  We had an issue with overheating in the mountains and the service garage replaced a thermostat.

We stayed at the Salt Lake City KOA which was adjacent to the shuttle train pick-up, making it easy to see the city.  First on the agenda was going to Temple Square to listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in practice.  They have practice on Thursday evenings open to the public, since the actual performances on Sunday in the Temple are open only to members.  While waiting for the doors to open we found a shady place to sit and were approached by a member who asked who we were and why we were there.  She indicated her husband was the leader of the Utah mission teams and invited us to join them.  We were ushered to the rooms beneath the tabernacle where the director of the choir was meeting with about 25 couples from all over Utah.  We then were led to the rooms where the music is kept and the choir has their robes.  Following that we were taken up to the main floor of the tabernacle to listen to the choir’s rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In”.  What a treat!  We thanked our friends and made our way back to the campground.  Altogether a great evening made even nicer by the friendliness of 2 strangers.

The following day we toured the state capitol building, as is our practice whenever we visit a capitol.  Beautiful building and grounds, high over Salt Lake City.  It seems everywhere we go, we run into genuinely nice people and Salt Lake City was no exception.  If you are wondering, we didn’t see the lake.  Since the Great Salt Lake has no inlet from any other source, it has somewhat dried up in the past few years and tends to smell, or so we were told.  So we passed on it.

Mary didn’t seem to be getting any better and really tires easily. Beginning to doubt Desert Fever.

From Salt Lake City we headed east toward Rollins, Wyoming.  We had considered going north to Yellowstone but not trusting the weather that early in Spring made us go east instead.  Rollins was just a stopover on the way to our next big stop, Mount Rushmore.  One night in Rollins then we stopped in Lusk, Wyoming, at BJ’s Campground.  At 20 sites it is the smallest RV park we have stayed in yet, but it turned out to be one of the nicest.  Clean, wide sites in a quiet neighborhood and the owner was a delight.  We had further issues with our truck and she directed us to a mechanic who was right next door.  We stayed 2 nights and got part of our truck problems solved but there was nothing bad enough to delay our trip so the next day we headed for Custer, South Dakota,

Usually when you think of Mt. Rushmore, you associate it with Rapid City.  In reality, Custer was very close to both Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse memorial.  We had been talking about Mt. Rushmore for 3 years since we have summered so close, so finally we made it.  It is truly a truly amazing sculpture, particularly in light of the tools they had in the 1930’s.  It really is a must-see!  For someone like me that has a bit of vertigo, I can’t imagine lowering down the rock faces by rope, day after day, but those men got it done and created a lasting tribute to arguably our 4 greatest presidents.

We toured the Crazy Horse monument which, like Mt. Rushmore, is being carved from a mountain.  Eventually it will depict Crazy Horse atop his pony with his arm raised in a pointing pose.  So far all that is done is his head and they run buses up to it.  It is being privately funded so it will be a few more years to complete.  Interestingly, the face is actually a composite created by recollections of other chiefs who knew Crazy Horse, since no actual photograph of the chief exists.  However, they say it is pretty close and as a monument to native Americans, it will serve well.  There is also a very well done museum that features, among many other things, an account of the Battle at Little Big Horn from the native American perspective.

Next was our trek across South Dakota to Mitchell.  We passed on Wall Drugs this time since I wanted to get back to Minnesota for Mary.  She was feeling pretty tired and weak, and I wanted to get her to a doctor.

We did spend 2 nights in Mitchell and saw the Corn Palace.  It is now an auditorium where basketball can be played but the outside is completely covered in murals constructed entirely of corn.  And it is changed regularly for different seasons and events.  Pretty cool.  We also tried to attend to that other nagging issue with the truck but we have an appointment in Detroit Lakes once we get back to finally get things fixed.

Once in DL we made an appointment for Mary and got her in.  Wow!  Her blood sugar was through the roof and the doctor told her it was diabetes!  The good news is she is on a program to correct it and is well on her way.

We are back at Woodland Trails or as Mary says, “Home” for another season.  Closing in on the end of 3 years and still loving it!

Return to Woodland Trails

We decided to return to Woodland Trails Resort in northern Minnesota once again, for year #3.  At this point, it’s almost like coming home – familiar location, beautiful setting on Strawberry lake, lots of friends, and great people to work for.  Each year we say we are not coming back since we want to travel, but WT is a good place to relax and get grounded.

Leaving Tucson on April 17th, we headed for Prescott Valley for a few days.  We stayed at the Fairgrounds RV Park which turned out to be one of the nicest parks we have stayed in.  Nothing in the way of activities but it was clean, had large sites and it was well located to see the area.

Our first side trip was to Sedona.  There was 2 routes, one was over the mountains, the other around the mountains.  On recommendation of the park office, we took the mountainous route.  Wow!  Picturesque with a lot of switchbacks, it was reminiscent of the road to Mt. Lemmon in Tucson.  It was a bit of a “white-knuckled” trip but  beautiful all the same.  We ate lunch at a very nice restaurant in Sedona, the Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill which had great views of the surrounding red and gold hills.  The restaurant was filled with unusual but beautiful artwork made from glass and framed like a picture.  After finishing our tour of Sedona we traveled back home, this time the long way, around the mountains.

The next day went went to Prescott, which we actually liked a bit better than Sedona.  We ate lunch downtown then went to the Chamber of Commerce office for some area information.  What a coincidence – the Chamber director was the same person who was director back in Rochester Hills, Sherri Heiney!  We had a brief reunion and she told about the area and that she and her husband John had realized their dream of moving to the Prescott/Sedona area and really love it there.  Nice to see her again.

Mary found a couple nice bead stores to restock her supply.  She is really getting good at designing and making jewelry.  (Actually, good enough to have her own website at  Check it out!

The next day we were on our way to one of the most anticipated stops on our trip, the Grand Canyon.  Mary had never been there and it had been about 64 years since I was there, so we were excited to see it.  We stayed in Cameron, about 45 minutes east of the canyon then made the trip the next day.  We sort of hit the “perfect storm” of visitors since we were there on a Saturday and it was Earth Day.  We did finally find a place to park, and the trip was definitely worthwhile!  We stopped at Navajo Point and Mather Point, what a view!  If you haven’t been there, put it on your must-see list.

The only damper was Mary feeling tired rapidly from what we thought was an allergy or maybe Desert Fever.  Whatever, we hope she snaps out of it soon.

Tomorrow it’s on to another high point on our trip, Bryce Canyon.