Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dinosaurs Almost Extinct at Hogle Zoo!


Zoorassic Park is in its final days.  If you have not yet been to Hogle Zoo to see the animatronic dinosaurs, you are running out of time!  The dinosaurs will be gone after August 31, 2011.  So, just in case you can't make it to the zoo in the next few days, here a few highlights!

Baby Styracosaurus

The baby styracosaurus calls to his nearby mother.


The dilophosaurus sprays water on patrons.  On a hot day like today, the spray was definitely welcome, and people waited in the "spray zone" to cool off.  The baby dilophosaurus sprays too.

Crazed Dilophosaurus waits to spray people.


This kentrosaurus differs from a stegosaurus because of the shoulder spikes.


This parasaurolophus is thought to use it's "horn" shaped head to project noises.


Did you know allosaurus is Utah's State Dinosaur?  (Did you know Utah had a state dinosaur?--Well, now you do!)

Tyrannosaurus Rex

While many of the dinosaurs in this exhibit are built on a smaller scale, T-rex was made full-size.  Note the large feet to support its bulk.

T-rex - could you outrun him?

Tyrannosaurus Rex

We had to admit when that big head moved and made threatening noises, it was a bit unsettling to think about how it would be to meet a live Tyrannosaurus Rex.  Hogle Zoo has 13 different dinosaurs positioned around the zoo.  Unfortunately, I couldn't photograph them all for you, but hopefully this will give you a taste of "Zoorassic Park."  It was fun to have the dinosaurs for the summer!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Stagecoach Inn

The Stagecoach Inn in Fairfield, Utah

The Stagecoach Inn is across the street from the commissary museum at Camp Floyd State Park.  This inn was (obviously) a place where stagecoach passengers could stop and stay overnight.  Sometimes Pony Express riders stayed here as well.  The inn was built by John Carson in 1858. He and his wife raised 9 children in the three rooms for the family in the northeast wing of the building.

One of the Carson family rooms at the Stagecoach Inn.

This is a beautifully kept building.  All of the rooms are furnished, and there are interpretive signs on the walls. After leaving the CampFloyd commissary museum, park employees sent us across the street to explore the Stagecoach Inn on our own.  This inn is a real treasure!

Dining room

Guests ate their meals at the inn.  Breakfast cost 25 cents, while lunch and dinner were 35 cents each.  Quite a mix of stage coach passengers, drivers, and Pony Express riders would have eaten in this room.

The reception room.

Arriving guests gathered in the reception room.  Later, when teachers boarded at the inn after the construction of the Fairfield school, this became a study room.  John Carson had rules for those staying at his Inn.  No drinking or gambling were allowed.  (Maybe he thought the saloons in Fairfield provided enough of that). Instead, activities like music, reading, and square dancing were available for guests at the Inn.

Guest room at the Stagecoach Inn

View of another guest room.

Guest rooms had beds, wash basins, and some form of storage cupboards or dressers for clothing.  They actually looked quite comfortable.

Gentlemen's Washroom

The gents got their own washroom at the Inn.  There were no such niceties for the ladies.  Perhaps guests were predominantly male, or perhaps providing facilities for women was not genteel.  It does make one wonder if the women were just expected to stay hot and sweaty, or if the men really needed a bath!

Men's "toilet" from the washroom

Bullet hole in the wall.

One of the guests was cleaning a gun that went off one night at the Inn.  The bullet traveled through the wall of his room, and through a narrow hall into another guest's bedroom.  Fortunately, that guest had just lain down for the night, and was not injured.  The holes remain in the walls.

Bullet hole in Stagecoach Inn wall.

Make sure you explore all of the guest areas to find these bullet holes in the walls if you go to this wonderful inn.  West of the building is a park area with picnic tables and restrooms.  The Stagecoach Inn is included in your fee for the visit to Camp Floyd State Park.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Visiting Camp Floyd State Park

 Commissary Museum at Camp Floyd State Park

Nothing really remains of the old Camp Floyd.  However, this small state park in Fairfield, Utah, is worth a visit.  Camp Floyd was built about 1858, and was occupied until the soldiers there were recalled to fight in the Civil War in 1861.  President James Buchanan sent over 3000 soldiers to Utah to suppress a rumored rebellion, now referred to as the Utah war.  Camp Floyd was built in the aftermath, partly so the soldiers could keep an eye on the Mormons.  The result was an army encampment that made the population of Fairfield swell (it was temporarily the third largest city in the state).

Area where Camp Floyd once stood --cemetery is south of here.

Today, the only things that remain from the original camp are the Commissary building (now the museum), and the Camp Floyd cemetery.  The cemetery is undergoing a bit of a remodel.  Research indicates there were more headstones than people buried at the cemetery, so a project is underway to remove all old, inaccurate headstones, and place the correct number of  headstones in the cemetery.  Since there are no records indicating who was buried where, the headstones will not have names on them.  A plaque will be installed to list those who are known to be buried there.  (A fire obliterated the original wooden headstones).

Bullets are some of the artifacts on display.

The museum has a lot of information in a small space.  We watched a 10-minute DVD segment about the history of the Utah war and Camp Floyd (including interesting tidbits like the fact that the Mormons burned Ft. Bridger).  Then we wandered through the exhibits.  There are old photos on the display, and informational signs.  Display cases contain artifacts excavated at the site of the old Camp Floyd.  There are bullet casings, a bone toothbrush, dishes, coins, and more.

Opening exhibit at the Camp Floyd museum

Photo at the museum indicated Fairfield had 17 saloons at one time, and was known as Frogtown.

The displays are designed to give you a feel for camp life and they detail activities, living conditions, and more about the lives of the soldiers stationed here.  Some local areas are named after the soldiers who explored in their free time, including Simpson Springs and Soldier Hollow.  There is a model at the museum showing the layout of the original camp.  Several of the soldiers stationed at Camp Floyd went on to become Civil War generals.  One of these includes Albert Sidney Johnston (of "Johnston's Army" fame).

Detail from a display listing Civil War notables who served at Camp Floyd.

Civil War display at Camp Floyd.

Park employees are helpful in answering any questions.  After your visit to the Commissary museum, they will direct you across the street to the Stagecoach Inn (a personal favorite!).  There is a small gift shop at the front of the museum that has Civil war themed items, books, and a few snacks.

Children and teens of Scout age (boys or girls) can earn a patch while they are visiting Camp Floyd by filling out a few pages in a little workbook.  The answers are found in the museum and nearby Stagecoach Inn.  The patches are available at a minimal cost.  There is also a geocache site at Camp Floyd.  A pavilion and park area west of the Stagecoach Inn offers a shady spot for a gathering or picnic lunch.  For details on Camp Floyd State Park, driving directions, and the various activities offered throughout the year, click here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Art of Camp Cooking - Dinner

For our camp dinners this summer, we really went with the tried and true.  The first night we roasted hot dogs over the campfire, and then made s'mores.  The second night we made foil dinners and dutch oven dessert.  We seasoned our hamburger and divided it into patties at home.  Then at camp, we only had to slice vegetables and assemble the dinners.  We used potatoes, carrots, green peppers, and onion.  Assemble everything on your sheet of foil, season as desired, and fold the foil into a packet.  We double-wrapped ours.

Putting together a foil dinner

We started a fire to prepare coals before putting the dinners together.  Our fire was very hot, and the coals actually died out rather quickly (apparently the type of wood you use matters), so we ended up using some charcoal we had started for the dutch oven dessert.  Then, of course, we had to start more coals for the dutch oven, but one of the fun things about camping is changing your pace of life and not being on the clock, and just rolling with things as they come up!

Getting coals ready for cooking

Cooking the foil dinners on the coals.

We cooked our foil dinners about 20 minutes per side.  You can hear them steaming and sizzling when they are getting done.  Mine turned out great!  No raw hamburger or crunchy potatoes this time!

One of our campers shows off his foil dinner.

A large salad balanced the meal.

Before eating our foil dinners, we made a simple dutch oven dessert.  This cobbler requires hardly any preparation.  First, we opened 2 cans of pie filling (we chose raspberry).

Starting the dutch oven dessert - pie filling

Adding the cake mix.

We then added a box of white cake mix.  After that, we poured a can of lemon-lime soda (I used Sprite) over the whole thing.  Pour slowly to keep fizz at a minimum.  Then we cooked everything in the dutch oven.  We used about a 3 to 1 ratio of top to bottom coals...7 -8 coals on the bottom, 21 - 24 on the top.  Our dutch oven is a 12 inch "deep" oven, so with a shallower or smaller oven, you could probably use fewer coals.  This dessert took about an hour.  Turn the lid and rotate the oven a couple of times while cooking.

Dutch oven dessert cooking while the foil dinners finish in the firepit.

Raspberry cobbler - dig in!

It was great eating a warm cobbler by the campfire.  We even had whipped cream to top it off.

Note:  heat water and clean your dutch oven after use.  We scrubbed ours out with a bristly brush and hot water, then put it back on the coals until the water evaporated.  Afterwards, coat your oven with a thin layer of cooking oil while still hot.  This keeps it seasoned for the next use. 

Happy camping!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Devil's Kitchen in the Morning

Devil's Kitchen in morning light.

The Devil's Kitchen on the Nebo Loop Scenic Byway (near Nephi, Utah), is a great geological site.  These conglomerate rock formations stand out in their deep red color against the green trees and shrubs.  It was interesting to visit in the early morning hours.  Besides the ubiquitous cows on the highway, we saw several deer.  Watching the light spread over the small canyon was a visual treat.

Early morning at Devil's Kitchen.

The morning sun gave Devil's Kitchen an ethereal quality.  It seemed almost misty, although it was only the rays of sunlight.

Mt. Nebo in the distance.

The morning sun lit up the eastern slope of Mt. Nebo.  From an overlook, we could see the ridges in front of Mt. Nebo contain the same red conglomerate rock that forms the Devil's Kitchen.

View from the Devil's Kitchen overlook.

Tree at the overlook.

I loved the way the sunlight highlighted the twists and turns of this wonderful old tree.  Devil's Kitchen is a great place to stop if you get the chance.  It is beautiful at any time of day!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Art of Camp Cooking - Breakfast

This year on our camping trip we decided to go with simple, traditional camp cooking.  Our son introduced us to a breakfast we hadn't tried at camp before:  omelets in a bag (big shout out to his Scout leader!)  I was a bit skeptical, not really wanting to eat something with the consistency of powdered eggs, but this was a simple, savory breakfast with almost no clean-up.

Omelet in a bag - step one

First, prepare your omelet ingredients.We had diced ham, chopped chicken, onions, green peppers, cheese, and salt and pepper.  Everyone assembles their own customized ingredients into their individual quart-sized plastic freezer bag.

Add your eggs!

After you put in your ingredients, break an egg or two into your bag, and mash it up until the egg and all ingredients are mixed together.  (Don't get shell in your bag, unless you want your omelet to have extra crunch!)  Squeeze all the air you can out of the bag, seal the zip opening, and then put it in a pot of boiling water.  We boiled our water on a Coleman camp stove. Check your bag once in awhile, and swish it to other spots in the pot so that  it cooks evenly.  (Sorry, I didn't time how long this takes, but allow several minutes...the eggs are thicker cooking them this way).  You can cook several omelets at once.

Remove your cooked omelet from the bag.

When your eggs are the consistency you like, remove the bag, empty it on a plate, and enjoy your "breakfast burrito!"  These were very delicious, and I think we'll do these at home on the stove on those mornings when everyone wants an omelet at once.

Voila!  Omelet from a bag.

Breakfast is served!

I don't know what it was about this cooking method, but the flavors from the onions and peppers really permeated the omelet, and it was delicious!  Besides, everything tastes better outdoors.

If you are concerned about cooking in plastic bags, you may want to read up on it.  Here is one link that might be helpful.  I think the risk of a once-a-year bag omelet is worth it for the convenience and taste!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Devil's Kitchen

Tucked away on the Nebo Loop Scenic Byway not far from Nephi, Utah, is the Devil's Kitchen Geologic Interest Site.  The red rock seems incongruous with the green forest, but as you drive the byway, you notice that a lot of the mountainsides are made of the same materials.  One of the wonderful things about Utah is the large areas of exposed geology.  Note that the Devil's Kitchen faces west, and is backlit by the morning sun.  We returned later in the afternoon to get these photos.

Conglomerate Rock Formations, Devil's Kitchen, Utah

This overlook is nicknamed the "mini-Bryce Canyon", and you can see why.  However, it only takes a few minutes to realize instead of weathered sandstone, these formations are conglomerate rock.  You can see the mixture of other stones in the formation, as if  someone mixed gravel in red mud and then sculpted with it.
The Utah Geological Survey site has interesting details about the geology and formation of Devil's Kitchen.  It also indicates there are 34 places in the United States with the moniker Devil's Kitchen, and three of them are in Utah!  (I don't know why this name is so popular.)  At the overlook, read the signs to identify shapes such as the Saddlehorn.

The Saddlehorn

If you are traveling north on the Nebo Loop Scenic Byway, you will see a sign indicating a "Point of Geologic Interest" about 500 feet before the parking lot for Devil's Kitchen.  From the parking lot, follow the paved trail leading to the overlook.  It is about 200 yards through shady forest, and is wheelchair accessible.  This point is at about 9000 feet in elevation, so you may notice the altitude.

Picnic Area at Devil's Kitchen

There are three picnic tables tucked back in the trees, and a vault toilet at the trailhead.  There are no other facilities, and like many other places along this route, there is a "if you pack it in, please pack it out" policy, so if you picnic, please take any garbage out with you!

If you face west from Devil's Kitchen, you get a great view of Mt. Nebo

We enjoyed driving the Nebo Loop Scenic Byway, and stopping for sites and hiking along the way.  At Devil's Kitchen, my husband even took time to paint.  Look here if you'd like to see more information about his painting experience that day!

Painting at Devil's Kitchen