August 6-12, 2012 – Cache Valley, UT
We left Garden City on Monday morning and drove through Logan Canyon and into the Cache Valley where the Logan River meets the Little Bear River. Cache Valley is an agricultural mountain valley that extends more than 50 miles in Utah and Idaho.
We are staying at another Camperworld membership park, Hot Springs Park, just a few miles south of the Idaho border. This park has large sites with grass, although with the hot dry weather the grass was not very green.
The park is along the Malad River and has a natural hot springs. The pool averages 95o in the winter and gets up to 108o in the summer. They have two hot tubs, one is 105o and one is 108o. There is a 9-hole golf course and 70 acres of ATV trails on the property. We are looking forward to soaking in the pool and hot tubs.
An interesting feature of this park is that the natural hot springs is one of the few warm water deep scuba certification sites in the western US. There is no open diving allowed but they offer scuba classes from October through mid May.
The weather here has been hot and dry – in the mid to high 90’s. We are thankful for power so we can run the air conditioner!
One day we went to Brigham City and drove their “Fruitway” – a two mile stretch of highway that has many fruit and vegetable stands selling local produce. It is just the beginning of peach season so we got some really good peaches. We also bought some local blackberries, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash and green beans. We are always happy to be able to buy fresh, local grown produce.
We also spent a day in Logan where we visited the American West Heritage Center – a 160-acre living history center dedicated to preserving the history of the Old West from 1820 to 1920.
We visited the 1917 Jensen Historical Farm where Mrs. Jensen was cooking lunch and baking cookies on the wood stove. The house was fully furnished with items from the early 1900’s. Out by the horse barn we found these two Belgians waiting for Mr. Jensen to harness them to the plow.
After walking past the train ride and pony ride, we came to the Millinery Shop and Woodwright Shop. The Millinery Shop was not open but we did visit with a couple of woodworkers in the Woodwright Shop. They showed us a number of antique woodworking tools and how they were used. Rex enjoyed talking woodworking with these two gentlemen.
The Livery Stable, Mercantile and Opera House were closed so we walked over to the Mountain Man/Shoshone Camp. We met a mountain man who showed us his trading post and told us about trading with the Indians. Unfortunately, there were no Shoshone in camp today.
Our next stop was a Pioneer Settlement where the pioneer family was living in a make-shift tent until they could build their cabin. Down the river a short ways was a dugout and a cabin that their neighbors were living in. We arrived just as the women were fixing lunch over the camp fire.
After touring the grounds we went into the welcome center and enjoyed their historical displays as well as the very welcome air conditioning.
We enjoyed the heritage center and interacting with the volunteers dressed in period costumes – we only wish we would have visited when more of the center was staffed.
After a nice lunch in downtown Logan, we visited Cox Honeyland, a honey business owned by the same family since it was founded in 1929. We were able to watch bees at work through a glass observation hive while a very nice employee explained it all to us. We bought some really good flavored creamed honey to spread on our toast. Our next stop was Gossner Foods, a family-owned company founded in 1966 by Edwin Gossner, a cheese maker from Switzerland. He came to Cache Valley to start a cheese business because he felt the conditions here were similar to those in Switzerland. We bought some really good cheese and a delicious ice cream cone.
On the way back to the RV Park we stopped in Smithfield at the Smithfield Implement Store. This farm and ranch supply store was founded in 1914 and was purchased by J.M. Roylance whose son runs it today. Their philosophy is “stack it deep and sell it cheap”. If you need it they have it – everything from Dutch ovens to western clothing to tools to kitchen gadgets. We enjoyed wandering through the store to see what all they sold.
We were able get the kayaks wet while we were here. Friday morning was overcast and cooler so we took the kayaks to the Wetlands Maze in Cutler Marsh on the Little Bear River. We put the kayaks in at Cutler Marsh and paddled along the North Marsh Canoe Trail about 4 miles to the Benson Boat Ramp. We were able to paddle upstream as the river was flowing very slowly in this marshy area. Without the trail being marked you could easily get lost in the maze of giant cattails. This is a very popular bird watching area. We saw White Pelicans, Great Blue Herons, Common Egrets, and Western Grebes, along with geese, ducks and a variety of shorebirds. There were a lot of large carp swimming around on top of the water – we could see their back fins above the water and were able to get very close to them before they dove for deeper water. We came upon a couple of small islands where these White Pelicans were relaxing.
When we got to the Benson Boat Ramp the weather was starting to look menacing so after a short rest we headed back to Cutler Marsh. We thought it would be easier paddling back downstream but were surprised that it was not any easier than coming upstream. We made it back to Cutler Marsh before the rain but did get sprinkled on while we were loading the kayaks onto the Jeep.
We enjoyed our trip on the Little Bear River and were glad that it was not as hot today.
Saturday morning we headed to the Golden Spike National Historic Site about 40 miles west of our campground. On the way we stopped at Marble Park – a park of sculptures created by Boyd Marble from old scrap, tools, and farm equipment.
This piece in the center of the park is a Utah history timeline.
We thought this teeter totter was very unique and it really works, before we left the park a couple of kids were riding on it.
We liked this sundial made from a mill stone, steel implement wheels and parts from a harness.
This was a very unusual park and we were impressed with the creativeness of Mr. Marble.
We next visited the Golden Spike National Historic Site. We viewed a short film at the visitor center on the history of the transcontinental railroad and how difficult it was to build. On this site on May 10, 1869, the final spike was driven completing the transcontinental railroad. The Central Pacific Railroad laid 690 miles of track from Sacramento, California and the Union Pacific Railroad laid 1,086 miles of track from Omaha, Nebraska (a total of 1,776 miles of track) to meet here in Utah.
We were fortunate to visit during their Railroader’s Festival and we got to witness a re-enactment of the driving of the last spike. Two brightly painted shiny locomotives, Central Pacific’s Jupiter and Union Pacific’s No. 119, pulled up to the one-rail gap left in the track.
After a golden spike and a silver spike were symbolically tapped, a final iron spike was driven to connect the railroads and the transcontinental railroad connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean was completed.
We really enjoyed this re-enactment and the volunteers who participated. We had a lunch from a sandwich truck while listening to the Utah Fiddlers – great BBQ and great music!
A short distance down the road we stopped at the ATK Rocket Garden. ATK/Thiokol was founded in 1929 and is the world’s largest producer of high-technology solid rocket motors for space, defense, and commercial uses. They produced the giant solid rocket motors for NASA’s space shuttle program as well as motors for many of the military’s missiles. The Rocket Garden is a display of many of their motors. The largest one in the back lying horizontal is a space shuttle reusable solid rocket motor. After being used during lift off, these motors would fall into the ocean where they were recovered and transported back to Utah to be rebuilt and used in another shuttle mission. In front of the reusable solid rocket motor is a LGM-30A Minuteman I motor and a Trident C-4 missile motor.
We enjoyed our stay here at Hot Springs Park and surrounding area. We did not use the pool and hot tubs as much as we would have liked because the weather was too hot and it didn’t cool off at night until just before the pool closed. We did have some smoke a couple of days from fires burning in southern Idaho.