The first day of our crazy road trip started off like any other. Everything packed up & off we went. The first day of our trips are always about distance. Putting distance between us & our lives back home. Washington state is beautiful. The lush green backdrop is a constant reminder of how lucky we are to live in such a vibrant environment. The Pacific Northwest is amazing, hands down. However, if we don’t make it out of Washington on the first day of a road trip, it simply feels like we’re cross border shopping. So we moved like bandits on the run from the law. Making it all the way down into Oregon that first night.
The first hiccup of our trip has to be the moment our “new” GPS decided it would be awesome to crap out on us. It was back to reading a map for me & navigating old school. Having searched the map for a worthy camping site close to the Idaho state line, we saw a state park sign for Anthony Lakes in between La Grande & Baker City OR. Enjoying the 20 mile drive up to the park, we came upon fields of cows who were more than willing to pose for photos & seemed to enjoy the attention. Once we were on the drive up the mountain into the park, we both remarked how similar this felt to Yosemite, but on a smaller scale. The mountain tops were blanketed in mist making the whole drive up there both beautiful & mystical. After arriving atop the mountain we were surprised to see it was a popular destination. We managed to snag a spot away from the groups of families. We then went for a quick walk around the area & found ourselves surrounded by crisp air & vibrant colours. The peak itself, Mount Ireland, was stunning. After a while, what I thought was a campsite we did not want to intrude upon turned out to be one of the lakes, we hiked down to the water to take in the living postcard before us. Every angle was an amazing photograph. There were a few people quietly enjoying the lake, fishing & taking their own photos. Devon picked up some discarded fishing line so it wouldn’t become a hazard to the wildlife. Then, we heard the distinct sound of a base being tuned up. Apparently, there was a wedding reception starting up. With that, it was back to the camp site.
Devon set up the site while I walked down to the camp site host for a bundle of firewood. We enjoyed a quiet dinner with the crackling of the fire pits seemingly in unison. A rather nice lady from the site across ours came over to introduce herself. She saw that we were Canadian and wanted to say hello. A fellow Canadian, we ended up having a lovely chat with her & quickly fell for her beautiful rescue German Shepard. The next morning, I walked over & gave them the remaining firewood we were unable to use up or take with us. Their dog was super sweet & quiet playful. Just seeing her made us miss our Jacke Boy that much more. We said our goodbyes, gave them some advice on travelling back home up to Victoria & started out for the day. A quick stop in historic Baker City OR for coffee & then it was on to Boise ID.
I’ve never been to an REI but I can tell you this, after stopping at the one in Boise, I really want to go back! The employees are so nice, and the product selection is varied & far more cost effective than the items back home. We also stopped in at Whole Foods for some much needed food supplies for our cooler. From there it was on to Salt Lake City, Utah. The drive through Idaho went faster than it has in prior trips. I wish I could tell you that the scenery on the drive through Idaho is unreal but the reality is far more bland. We spent more time watching the roadside for deer than the landscape itself.
After high fiving having crossed into Utah, a state of calm washed over us. It truly feels like a vacation when we hit Utah. The drive through this section is breathtaking as you see the land change colours before your eyes. After consulting the map again for the exit to Antelope Island, Devon saw a sign for it & we started in on our next adventure. Making our way through the small town of Syracuse we found ourselves at the entrance for the Great Salt Lake State Park on Antelope Island. Paying for our entry & campsite, Devon almost drove off in a mad rush to just relax after having driven for 10 hours straight. The park ranger handed us our booklet & our campsite pass then we drove into the park. Devon remarked that the drive in seemed eerily reminiscent of Tsawassen and the drive to the ferries. The first thing we read about Antelope Island is, of course, the antelope that inhabit it, as well as the bison. There are roughly 500-700 head of bison that call the island home. The road ahead forked and we picked the left hand road because Devon read that the bison like to hang out near the water. Not 5 minutes into the drive down this road were we met with 5 bison chilling by the roadside, grazing. The biggest smile took over Devon’s face & it looked like she would cry. These creatures are so massive & gentle. They meander with not a care in the world. We stopped the car, put on the hazards & took as many photos as the bison would let us. There were three to the left of the road on the lakeside & two more to the right of the road. A giant bison lumbered slowly across the street not 5 feet from our car. Both of us slack jawed & awestruck while furiously clicking away on our cameras, the bison had no worries about our presence and took his time crossing the road. I looked over & I felt as though Devon would burst into tears, her eyes reddening, her voice shaky with excitement. We waved at these beautiful creatures, said our thank you’s & made our way down the road a bit more before turning around and heading back down toward the turn off for the campsite. We were assigned campsite #18 and as we drove up into the Bridger Bay campground Devon saw a bison in the distance and quipped, “I’ll bet you he’s at our spot.” Truer words never spoken. As we circled around the site, looking for #18, we slowly pulled up & there he was, sitting there, like an official welcomer to Antelope Island. There he was, this gorgeous animal enjoying a dust bath not 15 feet from our site. We stopped the car, grabbed our cameras and took a handful of pictures of him as he lay there, enjoying the weather. We took a few shots of the sun setting as it tangoed with the low hanging clouds creating this crazy halo above us. Looking back at the bison, he would stay there all night, as if to say, “I get it, we’re cool.” These mammals made peace with mankind long ago & now they live in harmony with the land while we get to share in their beauty. I think that he hung around all night because he knew that we needed him to be there. We appreciated his presence and will continue to be grateful that we got to share his energy all night long.
We set up camp, made a fire & ate beans as our meal while quietly enjoying the bison laying within 20 feet of us. Laying down for the evening, I could not wipe the grin off of my face & I wondered why I was so happy. The moment we set foot on the ground there a calm energy washed over me & stayed the whole time we were on Antelope Island. I kept sitting up, looking for the bison as darkness fell all around. Though hot all night it was a peaceful sleep. We arose the next morning, our new bison friend had moved on. Devon was awoken by a magpie sitting on the post next to our car. He cheerily chirped & sang her awake. Once up for the day, we made a BioLite breakfast of coffee & peanut butter & banana sandwiches. There were several pheasants visiting the surrounding sites. Curious little birds, they walked about looking for food. After packing up, we decided on exploring the island a bit before leaving. We ventured down the roadway & back down the road that first took us to the bison. Sure enough, they were there again. We waited as they marched on past us. This time they galloped past, then settled down & calmly walked across the road. We grabbed a few more photos then carried on our way down the island to the Fielding Garr Ranch. A working ranch for over 100 years before stopping operation in 1981, in modern times, the ranch house is still the oldest building on its original foundation in Utah. We took the self guided tour around the ranch. I enjoyed the simplicity of the 100 year old blacksmithing equipment, while Devon wasn’t much impressed with it having being raised on a farm. Her grandfather had a dairy farm & understood the inner workings of it all while I had to stop & read about everything. She humoured me & let me read each display while she tried to say hello to the horses in the corral. Once we were finished with the tour, it was back into the car & back on the road into Salt Lake City for the most amazing vegan buffalo sandwich I have ever tasted.