Rigby, Idaho

Day 656

     Rigby was founded by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1884 and incorporated in 1903. The community was named after William F. Rigby, a prominent early settler and member of the Church.

     Rigby is most famous for being the “birthplace of television”, a title the city can attribute to a high school student named Philo Taylor Farnsworth. 

     Philo Taylor Farnsworth was born August 19, 1906, to a Mormon couple then living in a place called Indian Creek, Utah. In 1918, the family moved to a relative’s 240-acre ranch outside of Rigby, Idaho. It was here, while attending Rigby Highs School, that Philo (who names their son Philo?) drew up his first blue-prints of a television.

     If you can remember ALL these TV shows, you are REALLY old:

Rexburg, Idaho

Day 655

     Thomas Edwin Ricks, born on July 21, 1828, in Western Kentucky, was a prominent Mormon pioneer who founded Rexburg, Idaho in March, 1883

     We visited the Tabernacle there

     Eventually, the Mormon’s no longer build Tabernacles, this one is now owned by the City of Rexburg, and is used as a community meeting center. 

Technical Stuff:

Brigham City, Utah to Rexburg, Idaho:  197.3 miles

3 hours 58 minutes

9.4 MPG

Diesel: $3.28

Lehi, Utah

Day 654

     A group of Mormon pioneers settled the area now known as Lehi in the fall of 1850 in the northernmost part of Utah Valley. It is named after Lehi, a prophet in the Book of Mormon. Lehi City was incorporated on February 5, 1852.

     Thanksgiving Point is a nonprofit museum complex and estate garden founded by Alan Ashton, co-founded of the software company WordPerfect. In 1994, WordPerfect was sold for nearly a billion dollars. After the sell, Alan purchased farm land in Lehi, Utah and gifted it to his wife Karen on February 14, 1995 (aah!). The name for the project, Thanksgiving Point, was chosen to express gratitude. The complex consists of museums and gardens, and is the host of the annual Tulip Festival, which is going on now. 

     We went to the tulip festival where they had over 280,000 tulips in more than 150 varieties. 

      They had 10 different areas, including this impressive Italian Garden

     There is snow in the mountains, but tulips here.

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Utah

Day 652

     Bear River Refuge is a wetland oasis in a desert for wildlife. It lies in northern Utah, where the Bear River flows into the northeast arm of the Great Salt Lake. In the 1920s, due to the loss of marshes and huge bird die-offs from botulism, local individuals and organizations urged Congress to protect this valuable resource in Northern Utah, and in 1928, the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge was created.  The purpose of the refuge is to serve as a “suitable refuge and feeding and breeding grounds for migratory waterfowl”.

     Tidbit of Information: Although 3 main rivers enter the Great Salt Lake, there is no exit, other than evaporation.

     What did she see?

     Canadian Goose

     Northern Shoveler


     White Pelican

     Mule Deer – because of their ears



     Yellow Headed Blackbird

     This common black crow followed me home

     can I keep him?

Promontory, Utah

Day 642

     On September 8, 1942 the “undriving” of the last railroad spike was removed from the train tracks at Promontory Summit, Utah. The steel was needed for the war effort. The once thriving community of Promontory was now a ghost town. But I get ahead of myself.

     Let’s jump back 73 years to May 10, 1869 at exactly 12:47 P.M. That was when the last rail was laid and the “golden spike” driven to complete the first transcontinental railroad. The Union Pacific Railroad building from the East and the Central Pacific from the West, met at Promontory, Utah Territory.

     There was much fanfare and speeches. Telegraph lines were hooked up to broadcast the event around the Country. The honor of driving the spike would go to the two rail barons who had spearheaded the rail building. Leland Stanford, former Governor of California, and President of the Central Pacific Railroad, and Dr. Thomas Durant, Union Pacific Railroad Vice-President. Governor Stanford stepped up, took the maul, swung …….. and missed. Then Dr. Durant took his turn ……… and also missed. Finally, the crew bosses for each of the railroads took up the mauls and completed the tasks.

     The spike was made of gold and was ceremonial only. After the dedication, the spike was removed and replaced with real spikes, the only thing remaining is a plaque.

     We took a hike along the old railbed, called the Big Fill. There was a sign that remained you: “Rattlesnakes have the right of way.”

     Because of politics, no decision had been made by Congress as to where the two raillines would meet. By the time the decision was made it would be at Promontory, the railroads had already built rail-beds around the area.

     Rail-bed is the base on which the rail ties and track are actually laid. The bed is created by blasting through the mountain rock or building a bridge or fill in the land in the low areas. The trail we hiked today, about 3 miles round trip, was a circular route in which you walked on the rail bed of each railroad, the Central Pacific who decided to fill in the low area, and the Union Pacific who build a trestle.

     The fill is 500 feet long and 170 feet high. 

     The trestle was abandoned when the Central Pacific got the contract for this area, and therefore deteriorated and is no longer in existence.  

Antelope Island, Utah

Day 641

     There are no Antelope on Antelope Island, in The Great Salt Lake, Utah. In fact, there are no antelope in North America, just like there are no buffalo, they are only found in Africa.

     They are pronghorn.

     The first white man to see the Great Salt Lake was Jim Bridger in 1824 while on a trapping expedition. In 1843, explorer John C. Fremont, with his guide, Kit Carson, led an expedition to map the Great Salt Lake. Pronghorn, which Fremont called antelope, roamed the island, and therefore Fremont named the island Antelope.

     Boy, was the song: “Oh, give me a home where the Buffalo roam
Where the Deer and the Antelope play;” really got it wrong. 

     Nevertheless, there are also Bison on Antelope Island.

     We both hiked and drove around the Island. 

     The Mormons used the Island to graze cattle in 1848, with Fielding Garr building a ranch on the Island that was used until 1981. 

     Both the Bison (I guess they should call Buffalo Bill Cody, Bison Bill Cody) and Pronghorn roam free on the 43 square mile Island, the largest of 10 island in the The Great Salt Lake.

     Barbara found the bison fur to be very soft. 

     (That Bison was not happy when she tackled him to the ground to get that sample.)

Brigham, Utah

Day 640

     Brigham City lies on the western slope of the Wellsville Mountains, in Northern Utah. This area was first explored in 1850 by Mormon pioneer William Davis who then brought his family here in March, 1851.

     Lorenzo Snow, born April 3, 1814 and who would later serve as the fifth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1898 until his death, was chosen by Brigham Young in 1853 to lead settlers to this site and foster a self-sufficient city. Snow directed both religious and political affairs in the settlement, eventually naming it Box Elder in 1855. When the town was incorporated on January 12, 1867, the name was changed to Brigham City in honor of Brigham Young.

     Tidbit of Information: Snow’s cousin was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Let’s face it, you would have never known that if it weren’t for me (nor would you care, right?). 

     Brigham Young gave his last public sermon here in 1877 shortly before his death.

      You can’t go to a Mormon city without seeing the Tabernacle and the Temple. The Tabernacle is the community center. It is open to the public. This picture is from the pulpit of the Box Elder Tabernacle:

     The Temple is a place of worship. Non-Mormon’s are not permitted admittance: 

Technical Stuff:

Cedar City, Utah to Brigham, Utah: 299.6 miles

5 hours 34 minutes

10.3 MPG

Diesel: $3.10

Zion, Utah

Day 637

     We decided to hike Zion Canyon, located in southwestern Utah, near the Arizona and Nevada borders. The canyon has numerous waterfalls, which we wanted to see, walk under, and then hike to the top of one.

     The hike is labeled as moderate, 4 miles round trip. The hiking trail follows the Virgin River along the canyon floor, and then hike up the walls to the waterfalls.

     At this point you can actually walk under the falls. The wind was blowing and water was being sprayed out. Since it was now getting warm, it was refreshing. 

     Mormon pioneer, Isaac Behunin, built his cabin here in 1863. He named the Canyon Little Zion, the Old Testament reference to a “place of safety or refuge”. In time the Canyon became known just as Zion Canyon.

     The hike up was getting to be a little more than moderate, but the scenery was spectacular.

     As we continued up, we should have heeded the warning of the insects:

     The lizards looked at us as if we were crazy:

     This has become definitely more than moderate:

     We finally reached the top of the waterfalls:

     Although the mountain went higher, we could not:

     We left our climbing spikes home. But the view was impressive:

Cedar City, Utah

Day 633

     We are heading north to Montana to meet the other RVer’s who will be joining us on our 3 month trip to Alaska. However, there are snow capped mountains ahead. Not a good sign.

     Cedar City was originally settled on November 11, 1851 by Mormon pioneers and is located about 250 miles south of Salt Lake. They were sent here to build iron works, as there are vast iron and coal deposits in the area. They named this area after the abundant local trees (which are actually junipers instead of cedar). Cedar City was incorporated on February 18, 1868.

     So, do you know what this is? Hint: it is called The Deseret Alphabet.

     For my fire-friends, how does this “fire engine” work?

     Went to the local museums. Saw this Ore Shovel,

     But it was in a bad position for the photograph, Barbara was kind enough to move it slightly.

Technical Stuff:

Las Vegas, Nevada to Cedar City, Utah 178.5 miles

4 hours 14 minutes

9.4 MPG

Diesel: $2.98

Hoover Dam, Nevada and Arizona

Day 632

     Hoover Dam is located on the Nevada/Arizona border in the Black Canyon. Back at the turn of the century (I guess I now have to specify which century, that is from 1800 over to 1900) the melting snow from the Colorado Mountains forms the river of the same name. The river passes through 7 states before exiting in the California Bay. Some years the water was so much it flooded the entire California lowlands, and other years the river dried up before reaching there, causing sever droughts. The Dam was the solution, but the 7 states could not agree on how to manage the water.

     Finally, in 1921, Herbert Clark Hoover, Secretary of Commerce, had a conference with all the states and the Boulder Dam Project was created. The Dam was originally going to be built in Boulder Canyon, but later it was determined Black Canyon was a better choice, nevertheless the Project name remained the same. In fact, after the Dam was completed in 1936, it was called Boulder Dam until the name changed to Hoover Dam in 1947.

     Tidbit of Information: On March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed a law that made “The Star-Spangled Banner,” based on an 1814 poem by Francis Scott Key, America’s national anthem.

     I would give you all the statistics of the Dam, but I see you are becoming bored. 

     We took a tour of the Dam.

     We saw the generators that turned water into electricity

     The Dam is not one poured piece of concrete, but hundreds of poured blocks of concrete that are interlace with each other. On the inside you can see where they are joined. Each is identified. 

     Sensors are placed throughout the Dam to detect movement.

     You can see where the inspection tubes are located in the Dam walls. 

     Water does not flow over the Dam. To turn the generators, water goes through passages at the base of the Dam, thru the generators. During flooding of the river, there are spillways on each side of the Dam for overflow. Water usually goes no higher that the middle of the Dam.

     To build the Dam the Colorado River had to be diverted. When the Dam was competed it took the Colorado River 6 years to fill the reservoir behind the Dam, named Lake Mead, the largest man made reservoir in North America and named after Dr. Elwood Mead, a world-renowned water and irrigation engineer, who worked on the Dam project and died shortly after it’s completion.

     In taking a tour of the Dam, we went to one of the air-vent holes in the center. Here is the vent hole from above,


and where I looked out from it.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Day 630

     We spent the day in Las Vegas. We did all the touristy things: saw the fountains at The Bellagio     As well as the spring gardens there

     The flamingos at the Flamingo (those are live flamingos)

     The chandeliers at The Cosmopolitan     The gardens in the Aria     We walked the Strip at night to see all the lights

     However, what I really wanted was a picture of me with a Las Vegas Showgirl. But, Barbara said NO, so I let her walk by 

Technical Stuff:

Tuscon, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada: 270.8 miles

5 hours 33 minutes

9.3 MPG

Diesel: $2.70

Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, AZ

Day 628

     The Global Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, is the largest museum of its type in the world. The Museum, which opened in April, 2010, was founded by Robert J. Ulrich, former CEO and chairman of Target Corporation. 

     The Museum features exhibits and instruments for every country in the world, with over 16,000 items in it’s collection, of which 6500 are on display. 


     Like this Alphorn, from Switzerland 

     The exhibit for each section features a flat screen high-resolution video showing local musicians performing on native instruments. We listen to the performances through a wireless guidePORT and headphones that are activated automatically when an exhibit is being observed. There are about 250 of these exhibits. As you approach the exhibit, the guidePORT automatically picks up the sound signal, as you walk away it drops the signal and picks up the signal for the next exhibit you approach. Now that was cool. 

     You can see the instruments, and watch and hear them played in the video.

     The oldest object in the museum is this Paigu (goblet drum) from Shaanxi, China. Made around 4000 BC.

     The skin of an animal would be stretched over the rim and tied to the hooks on the side. No video of this being played. 

     Let’s not forget the Gong, from Tibet:

     Wasn’t there a show about that?

     From Israel, they had the Shofar, the only biblical instrument continuously in use since ancient times. 

     Some countries I never heard of, like Cameroon, in Africa:

     For each Country they had a map of it’s location, the actual instruments, and the video. They had every Country in the World, including North Korea. 

     There were also sections devoted to specific types of musical instruments, like bag pipes, accordions, harmonicas, violins, pianos, Saxophones, trumpets, etc.

     For the gallery of the United States, they had exhibits on music from different regions, like Appalachia and Cajun, as well as styles of music: Folk, Blues, Jazz, Bluegrass, Country, Rock & Roll, and of course, Taiko.

     Then there was a gallery on mechanical instruments, like music boxes and this nickelodeon:

     So put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon. 

     Let’s not forget the universal instruments, like the air guitar and whisky jug:

     Going through a museum like this makes you realize how much you don’t know about different countries and the people that inhabit them.

     Well, it is time to go, big kiss to all of you:

Goodyear, Arizona

Day 627

     In 1917 the Goodyear Tire Company was looking for a climate to cultivate cotton for vehicle tire cords. They bought 16,000 acres here, in Arizona, and named the place, what else? Goodyear. 

     Ultimately, Goodyear sold the land for housing developments. The town became a city in 1985. Although today it does not seem much of a city. 

Technical Stuff:

Tucson, Arizona to Goodyear, Arizona: 147.9 miles

2 hours 51 minutes

11.4 MPG

Diesel: $3.09

A Walk in The Sonoran Desert, Arizona

Day 626

     Being from a metropolitan area on the east coast, the only cactus I see are in stores and television. Spending the day walking in the Sonoran Dessert in Arizona, I saw over 100 different cactus. Some I know the names of, some I don’t. Of course, the one we are all most familiar with is Saguaro

     Here are some of the others:

     I don’t know what this one is called, but it had the unique design of having water drain down to it’s stem:

     When we got to the mountains,

     we saw big horn sheep

     We saw hummingbirds

     and even one in a nest

     Sorry for those having snow

Tombstone, Arizona

Day 624

     Edward Lawrence Schieffelin was born on May 27, 1847 in Wellsboro, PA. He became an Indian scout for the railroad in the Arizona Territory. In 1878 he  determined “there’s gold in them thar hills” and decided to become a prospector. Upon hearing this, his friends reminded him that Geronimo and his Indians will kill any white man they encounter and the only rock he will find out there will be his own tombstone. He struck it rich. When word got out, the place was swarmed by prospectors, and he named the developing town “Tombstone”. 

     Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp was born March 19, 1848 in Monmouth, IL. Earp lived a restless life, moving constantly from one boomtown to another. He was at different times a gambler, an associate of prostitutes, an accused horse thief, a teamster, buffalo hunter, bouncer, saloon-keeper, brothel keeper, miner, boxing referee, gunfighter, and, occasionally, a lawman. He was accused of fixing a fight he was refereeing. He was arrested for stealing a horse, escaped from jail, sued twice, and was arrested and fined three times for “keeping and being found in a house of ill-fame” just during the year of 1872. 

     We best know Wyatt Earp from the TV series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, in which he was portrayed by actor Hugh O’Brian (born Hugh Charles Krampe on April 19, 1925). Unfortunately, none of that was true, including the fact that Ned Buntline gave Wyatt a gun he designed. Sorry. 

     Wyatt Earp and his brothers came to Tombstone in 1879 to mine for silver and gold. They filed a claim on October 21, 1881 and built houses for themselves in Tombstone. Wyatt’s house is still standing. 

     Wyatt’s brother, Virgil, was Deputy US Marshal in Arizona at this time. The Clanton’s were outlaw cowboys who were at odds with the Earps. They also got into an argument with the Earp’s friend “Doc” Holiday. John Henry “Doc” Holliday was born exactly 95 years before me on my birthdate, August 14th, in Griffin, Georgia.

     On October 26, 1881, at a few minutes before 3:00 p.m., they came looking for Doc to kill him, and the Earp’s if they got in their way. 

     The O.K. Corral was owned in 1881 by John Montgomery. The previous owner of the corral was named Kindersley, so over time people started to refer to the structure as “the old Kindersley corral” and eventually “the O.K. Corral”.


     The gunfight actually took place on the vacant lot next to the corral, by Fry’s photographer’s shop,which is why it is called the Gunfight AT the O.K. Corral and not IN the O.K. Corral. Doc Holiday had a room above Fry’s shop, and the Clanton brothers were on their way to kill Holiday, when the Earps’s steped in.

     Owing to the fallout and bad publicity from the Gunfight (Wyatt and his brothers were labeled “murderers”) he left Tombstone on March 19, 1882. 

     We did take a stagecoach ride around Tombstone.      Well, it is Saturday night, bath night. 

Biosphere, Sonoran Desert, Oracle, Arizona

Day 623

     We traveled through the Sonoran Desert to see Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona. So, who knows what happened to Biosphere 1?

     Biosphere 2 is a research facility used to study ecosystem processes under controlled conditions. It started as a self-containing space-colonization study in which 8 people lived here for a year to see if they could be self sufficient. The facility was air tight for living in a hostile environment.

     Eventually, after the experiment, funding ran out and the facility changed ownership a number of time. Now it is owned and run by the University of Arizona as a research facility. I assume the initial experiment was a success, but could not find  any further information. Construction of Biosphere 2 began in 1987 and was completed in 1991.

     It houses a rainforest, savanna, ocean, mangrove forest, a coastal fog desert, as well as the sphere for human habitat and agricultural areas. 

     Things you don’t think about: As you can see a large part of Biosphere 2 is glass.

     Since this is a sealed unit, compensation must be made when the Arizona sun heats up, though the glass, the air inside. When the air expands, it could blow out the windows, when the air contracts in the cold desert night, it would cause an implosion. The solution was two dome-shaped “lungs” beyond Biosphere 2 which are connected to the main structure by tunnels. They allow for the air expansion due to changes in pressure inside the structure. 

     We went inside the “lung” and actually witnessed how it work. Pretty amazing. 

     Today, the University is studying the use of Greenhouse Habitat Modules for use on Mars.

      NASA is planning the exploration and landing on Mars in 2033. That is just 15 years away. Those future Mars explorers and now in high school.