Category Archives: Great City

Still a Great Destination

Before we left on the cruise to Alaska, Ruth & I spent 3 nights in one of our favorite destinations, Vancouver, BC. It was a troubled visit and a couple from Memphis whom we met in Seward on their way to Denali had spent some time there and were fearful of it. They stayed close to their hotel, told us horror stories about changes to their adopted city in Tennessee that has caused its abandonment by their children, and had trouble understanding why we liked Vancouver so much. We tried to explain why it was a typical big city. Our purpose in going there ourselves was to visit old attractions we love, enjoy our first international outing since COVID struck, and see what’s new there.

The old attractions we tried to visit in Vancouver didn’t work out. The Bill Reid Gallery that we had loved before charged for seeing its main exhibit, so we just visited the gift shop. I wrote about this half-Haida jewelry designer and artist/craftsman who has a gallery near the classic Georgia Hotel after our last visit to Vancouver on November 7, 2019. We planned to revisit the VanDusen Botanical Garden but didn’t. We hoped to see the new exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery but didn’t make it past its lobby because its plan to open in a brand new facility has been held up due to funding issues. We did, however, spend a day in Stanley Park, eat at our favorite restaurant in the entire world, and spend time in Queen Elizabeth Park.

We never made it to our favorite market but discovered Famous Foods instead, which Ruth especially loved. Our old hotel had changed ownership. That created problems for us, and we re-saw the hotel where we had so much fun with Ruth’s cousins. We ate at Nordstrom’s and checked out some new attractions like Jericho Beach, Prospect Point, and the Cypress Mountain Lookout.

Our ship left from the downtown Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal that plans to become more active, and I photographed the famous Lion’s Gate Bridge from some new angles as we passed under it.


Towns Named Moscow

I almost gave up on towns named Moscow, but then I got intrigued and decided to write about them. There are supposedly 26 of them in the United States. All but one claim not to be named after the Moscow in Russia near which Vladimir Putin is said to live in a billion dollar house. Only one Moscow, the one in Idaho, has a respectably large population. Most of the Moscows are unincorporated, but a quick survey indicates that about 3,000 or more Americans live in a town named Moscow somewhere. The Moscow in Vermont is said to be a suburb of Stowe, a noted ski resort. One man claims to have visited all of the towns named Moscow.

The Moscows that seem to have a population of more than 500 are in Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and the state we are about to visit, Pennsylvania. Moscow is an actual town near Scranton. There is a Moscow Mills in my home state of Missouri. It’s a town of more than 2,500 people on the Cuivre River near Troy. It is said to have changed its name to avoid there being 2 towns named Moscow in the state of Missouri. Like many towns in this state, it has a historic water mill. By the way, locals call it the Quiver River.

The Moscow in Idaho is a town of more than 25,000 people. It is near the Snake River and the town of Pullman, Washington, and has a number of tourist attractions because it’s a university town. The University of Idaho maintains an arboretum and botanic garden. Visitors like to see the Appaloosa Museum, the McConnell Mansion, its very popular repertory theater, and Moscow’s many outdoor attractions.


Thanksgiving and Christmas in Utah

I wrote about our hike along Highway 190 in Cottonwood Canyon, UT after a sumptuous breakfast at Silver Fork Lodge and Restaurant, a venerable place to eat in Cottonwood Canyon that is highly recommended, under the title “Winter Hike to Donut Falls” way back on December 27, 2021. This road continues on south of downtown Salt Lake City to 2 ski resorts, Solitude and Brighton. Both probably have snow by now. Cottonwood Canyon is justifiably a great tourist spot that is popular with both bikers and hikers and is highly recommended to all travelers who venture east on Highway 190. There are 7 hiking trails in this area, but Donut Falls is one of the more popular and very scenic.

Another day we headed east on Highway 189 north of Provo where Brigham Young University is and re-experienced Sundance that Ruth & I had not been to for many years. Highway 189 winds through Provo Canyon. We stopped at Bridal Veil Falls, a local landmark with a Native American legend to recommend it but found road construction a problem so did not linger. Sundance, which has grown and prospered since we last visited, is 13 miles from Provo. The Sundance resort is in the Timpanogos Wilderness area and even more scenic for travelers than Cottonwood Canyon. Those who continue on Highway 189 eventually go north on 189-40 and bypass Park City and the colorfully named town of Hideout.

Above Sundance we attempted another trail called the Stewarts Cascade. It takes hikers 1.9 miles to another scenic waterfall in this Wilderness area. It is an excellent and very popular day hike for families that traverses land dotted with fir, oak, maple, and aspen trees. At one point those on the trail are crossing an avalanche area. Some of us including me did not make it all the way to this waterfall. This is one of the most used hiking trails in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, and it weaves through land owned by the US Forest Service, BYU, and Sundance. In some places bikes are not allowed, and ziplining is possible here in the summer months.


Most Visited Attractions

On-line Newsweek’s top 25 tourist attractions in the United States include Pike Place Market in Seattle, Venice Beach in the LA area, and Lincoln Park in Chicago. These are all worthy places to go but not in my top 25. Hoover Dam is.

I vowed never to write about much visited places, but today I’m breaking that promise because while in Las Vegas Ruth and I went to Hoover Dam for the first time. We have been to Las Vegas many times without going to see this dam, but we had additional time and headed for Henderson. There were thousands of people there to see it, and I quickly learned that it’s impossible to see this structure without spending money. The minimum is $10. I saw lots of big prices for tours to see Hoover Dam, but most of the others were doing exactly what we were doing, seeing it as cheaply as possible. The $10 was for parking. Part of the lure was the fact that Lake Mead is at a historic low.

Hoover Dam was constructed between 1931 and 1936. It cost 240 million dollars to build. There were 100 deaths associated with its building. Today it’s the most visited dam in the world.

Hoover Dam has not had a perfect history. Due to high winds in 2006, its South Tower buckled and collapsed. It has been holding back Colorado River water since 1935 and is largely responsible for the boom that is Las Vegas. Lake Mead, the center of a large national recreation area, joins with another dam holding back Lake Powell upriver is the Glen Canyon area. Both lakes are at historic lows and there has been some talk about getting rid of one of these dams.

Lake Mead, which does not provide the water for the Bellagio water show, is at its lowest point since Lake Mead filled. We were told that the lake is down 100 feet, but the man who told us this pointed out that there is still plenty of water in both lakes.

A break in Hoover Dam would cover 10 million acres with water. This water would be 1 foot deep and flood the towns of Laughlin and Needles.

Ruth and I both noticed that the water in Las Vegas smelled in our hotel room at first, but the odor went away eventually. The barrel rider in Kanab, UT told us that her town could support a population of 35,000 easily with water that already exists.


Floyd Lamb Park

There are major tourist attractions in North Las Vegas. This time there we discovered Floyd Lamb Park. It’s at 9200 Tule Springs Road and well worth the $6 entrance fee we paid. Floyd Lamb Park is characterized by 4 small lakes and is definitely an oasis in the Mojave Desert. Most people claim that it is worth finding and they wish they had known about it a lot sooner. We went twice.

Floyd Lamb Park’s size is disputed. Estimates range from 2,000 down to 680 acres. In a desert setting, this park is locally known for lush vegetation, considerable wildlife, and as a noted picnic spot. It’s opened from 9 to 5 pm in winter and from 8 am to 8 pm in the summer from April to September. We wandered around for a long time, and it was alive with locals having a good experience playing sports and having a barbecue.

Floyd Lamb Park was once home to Tule Spring Ranch where many mammoth bones have been found. It is 20 miles from the famous Las Vegas Strip. Prospector Jacob Goumond bought the land to develop a private retreat for his friends but it evolved into a place for prospective divorcees. Mostly women came for a 6 week residency, which was very short by national standards, in a city known as a marriage magnet. Jacob grew alfalfa and ran a dairy farm here. He died in 1954 and the city of Las Vegas bought it 10 years later and turned it into a park to honor a state senator.

The original buildings mostly remain as do the swimming pool and a gazebo. Peacocks wanders around as do geese and ducks. The buildings mostly have a ranch-like character. On the property are 4 small stocked lakes where there are many picnic tables and the lucky catch rainbow trout. The catch limit is 3 fish and you won’t believe you’re in the Mojave Desert.

This is not to be confused with the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument that is nearby. I will write about it another day. I was told that a new visitor center is being built that will turn these attractions into a major must-see for Las Vegas visitors.