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There and Back

The best part of being alone is being able to find yourself in the middle of nowhere. I love to go places but I especially like the getting there and the leaving there. Most people are always in a hurry to get to their destination or to get home from wherever it is that they have been. I know, I’m weird but I love to find those in between spaces that call out, in their beauty, to have someone stop for a minute and gaze in wonder. Sometimes, a place that you have driven past a hundred times which may never catch your eyes might be lit up in the last of the evening’s light or the horizon might be layered with clouds and a dark, stormy sky or sometimes, the weather changes the scene so drastically that a usually boring and desolate spot might just become breathtaking.

I drove Isaac to a hockey tournament in Jackson Hole, Wyoming over the weekend with my continual Pentax companion at my side. Most times, Isaac just snoozed through my stops and u-turns and other times he just watched curiously at his mom’s odd behavior but he knows me and never complained. Not once. Not even when I pulled off the freeway on the way home and started taking photos of a cow grate or when I ran ACROSS the empty interstate. At the Idaho/Utah border, he pointed out the Welcome to Utah sign and asked why I didn’t pull over to take a photo of it? “Oh, I only take pictures of the ones with the skier on it” I replied and he, of course, understood. Because he is my little hockey playing, mountain ripping, patient little angel. So, because what am else am I to do with photos of off-ramps, cabins, bridges, cows, odd nativities and a temple, I will post them on my little corner of the internet for you to enjoy.

One of my U-turns happened in Randolph, Utah. I drive through this town several times a year and have noticed the Wilford Woodruff home before but the cheesy, plastic nativity grabbed my attention and I flipped the truck around for a better look.

This old cabin is currently being used as the tourist information center. The cabin was an eyesore and run down however, instead of tearing the home down, the townspeople decided to fix it up and it was restored in 1992.

The building was originally divided in half like a duplex, with one of Woodruff's wives, Sarah Brown Woodruff, living in one side and Woodruff's eldest son and his family living in the other side. The building was undivided when the next owners, another polygamist family, moved in and has been left undivided in the restoration. Interestingly enough, there really wasn't a great reason for Wilford to move to Randolph other than his eldest son, David, loved horses and wanted to farm and ranch. Woodruff also loved the outdoors and loved to hunt and fish. His family lived here from 1871 to 1876. During this time, he was an apostle for the LDS Church and spent little time here. He visited occasionally to see Sarah and visit and help organize local church members or to spend time in the outdoors. Sarah did not like living in Randolph but she did what she could to help educate others and administer to the sick. She missed Salt Lake and Wilford's first wife, Phoebe, who was like a mother to her. she buried her last child in Randolph, Utah and almost died herself during the childbirth. When Woodruff went into hiding because of the laws against polygamy, she moved away to Smithfield to be with family.

Randolph is a small ranching and farming community near Bear Lake, Utah. It is not an affluent area and this little nativity, perched beneath a piece of plywood and surrounded by bales of hay reflects the humble beginnings and surroundings of a hardworking people who likely, have little but love much.

LDS Temple in Star Valley, Wyoming

I left Salt Lake early Thursday morning because of severe storm warnings that were being flashed across every news outlet in the Salt Lake Valley. My goal was to get through the section between Alpine and Hoback Junction before the heavy snows started falling. The skies in Star Valley were hinting of impending snow and the temperatures were below zero. I had a little bit of white knuckle driving over Salt Creek Pass and then pretty decent driving over the flat, snow packed road that connects several ranching communities in Star Valley but meanwhile, I was getting more and more nervous about the icy road that was sure to follow past Alpine. When I caught sight of this beautiful, new temple rising from the farmlands, I immediately felt a calming peace that reassured me that all would be well. I love this valley and I think it is amazing that a temple has finally been built where it was once only imagined. Elder Moses Thatcher of the Quorum of the Twelve first came to the valley in the late 1870s, looking for a suitable location where colonizing Latter-day Saints could settle. Looking over the beautiful valley, he declared, "I hereby name this valley Star Valley because it is the star of all valleys." I do believe that he was right.

I can't even begin to imagine the struggles and hardships of our early church members. The Baker Cabin is the oldest surviving home in Star Valley. Anna Baker and her 12 year old daughter built it one summer while the men in her family were contracted to help build a road. She had been surviving in a lean-to and a tent with her family through the harsh Wyoming weather.

Anna took great care in the construction of this home. It was the first home in the valley to have shaker shingles and she built the home so that the logs dovetailed in the corners like fine furniture (See pictures) and she finished around the windows. This was rarely done in those times on the frontier. It is absolutely incredible that a woman who had lived a fairly comfortable life in Cache Valley could not only survive in a place like Star Valley but create such beauty.

This iconic red, steel bridge is one of the most historic landmarks in Jackson Hole. It was the original bridge that connected Jackson to Wilson but after WWII ended, the US experienced a boom and tourism increased in the Jackson Hole area. Because the bridge only accommodates a single lane of traffic, it was replaced in 1959 and moved to this location. It is magical, covered in snow.

I tried to stop once or twice where the views of the partially frozen Snake were extraordinary but the roads were so icy that it would have been unwise. You know it is cold when the river is steaming because it is warmer than the air!

Jackson Hole is a land of cattle and cowboys. How about these beautiful Highland Cattle braving the weather and a lonely deer bounding across their field?

On the way back I was going to caravan with a couple of hockey dads but as I was speeding through Idaho hitting speeds WAY over 80, I had to finally ditch them. The clouds and the snowy fields and mountains were just breathtaking and I had to slow down and enjoy the world flying past. I added a few minutes to our drive but it was absolutely worth it. The Idaho scenery was spectacular and I am so glad that I slowed the pace.

This picture was taken just west of Blackfoot, Idaho, a town that I have probably disparaged once or twice. I have a good friend who grew up here and so this is for her. Blackfoot can most definitely be gorgeous!

A lonesome ranch exit caught my eye and oh my, I love these shots!

I couldn't help these last few images. My heart was pitter pattering, I just love the world so much!

If you know where the camera is for this shot, then you know I am probably not the smartest cat on the block but hey, there wasn't a soul around. Trust me.

This little reservoir is almost ready for a hockey game!

The sun setting outside Downey, Idaho

I hope you enjoyed the photos from here to there and back again. Slow down and don't be in such a hurry next time you hop in the car to drive somewhere. Much love, R

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