Antelope Island State Park, Utah

Antelope Island

Antelope Island

When we travel, we’re always looking for new experiences. Nothing could be further from the tropics than Antelope Island in Utah!!! The only thing similar to the tropics is that –  it is an island. When we heard that Antelope Island was a prairie grassland with over 40 fresh water springs, brine shrimp, brine flies, pronghorn antelope, free-range bison, mule deer, bobcats, coyotes, owls, hawks, falcons, porcupine and badgers, we just had to see it for ourselves. The Great Salt Lake provides about 90 percent of the world’s supply of brine shrimp cysts. Brine shrimp are used in laboratories for testing the toxicity of chemicals. Antelope Island is a state park which used to be privately owned until 1969 when the State of Utah purchased it. The island’s shore is mainly flat containing beaches, plains and mountains. The mountains reach an elevation of 6,596 feet. Antelope Island is known as the Basin and Range located from the Wasatch mountains to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Antelope Island consists of  28,000 acres, 15 miles long and 5 miles wide. In the picture above you can see all of the salt surrounding the lake.

Drive along the narrow, two-lane road which connects the Mainland to an island. Park your car, get out and walk on it. It crunches with each step and you will observe millions of brine flies buzzing around you. Sounds appealing, right? Nonetheless, it is an experience like no other.

The Fielding Garr Ranch is located on the east side of the island. Guides take tourists out on horseback to view the bison.

Smelly Salt Lake

Smelly Salt Lake

Why does the Great Salt Lake smell so bad? When visiting the Wasatch Front you will be taken aback by the ever so pungent rotten egg smell, especially on windy days. The rotten egg smell is actually hydrogen sulfide which is created when bacterial sulfate reduces.  The Great Salt Lake is a hyper-salinity (high salt content) environment.  Sewage facilities on the Great Salt Lake unload their liquid waste into the lake. Ewwww! The bacteria is busy working to decompose waste products as well as the bird, brine fly, and brine shrimp waste. The brine shrimp and flies actually have a purpose, aside from annoyingly buzzing around your body, they eat the algae and bacteria which keeps the smell down. The other reason for the intense, unpleasant smell is due to the brine fly casings, brine shrimp and decaying algae that wash ashore and sit in the heat.

Enjoy hiking? There is a 3-mile Lake Side Trail which is accessible from Bridger Bay Campground. The trail follows the beach around the northwestern tip of the island to the camping area on White Rock Bay. The trail is spectacular at sunset.

Free-range Bison

Free-range Bison

“The amazing herds of buffaloes which resort thither, by their size and number, fill the traveler with amazement and terror” ~ John Filson in 1784

Bison crossing the road

Bison crossing the road

Seeing the bison in a picture, just doesn’t have the same effect as in person. The animals are massive! Bison are extremely tall, way beyond the height of a vehicle and a mature bison bull can weigh up to 2 thousand pounds!! It is a little unnerving when they walk or run toward your car. We were in an SUV and I was still very nervous when the bison came close by. In the picture to the left, you can see how tall the bison is in comparison to the vehicle.

Bison were introduced to the island in 1893. Known as the Antelope Island Bison Herd, they have proven to be a valuable genetic pool for bison breeding and conservation benefit. The bison thrive on Antelope Island due to the dry, native grassland. Bison are the most famous residents on the island. In 1897, twelve animals were brought to the island and today they account for 550 – 700 bison! Each year the health of the animals is accessed.

Antelope Island is made up of alluvial (loose sediments) plains with prairie grassland on the north, east and south of the island. Antelope Island has some of the oldest rocks in the United States, older than the Precambrian rocks at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Salt Lake surrounding Antelope Island

Salt Lake surrounding Antelope Island

Antelope Island is surrounded by the Great Salt Lake. The lake is extremely salty, with salt levels reaching as much as 25% of the lake. You won’t see any fish, just Brine Shrimp which become food for the birds. As you can see in this picture, it is so bright that it’s almost blinding. Antelope Island has a dry heat, dry air and it is extremely bright. Don’t forget to wear your sunglasses!

Fees for visiting Antelope Island

Entrance fee: $10 per vehicle up to 8 people

Senior entrance fee (Utah residents over 62 of age): $5 per vehicle up to 8 people

Bicycles and Pedestrians: $3 per person

Commercial Groups (over 8 people per vehicle): $3 per person and $5 per bus

Educational Groups: $1 per person with prior reservation

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A Wonderful Evening at Postcards Cafe, Kauai

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Coconut Caramel Sundae

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” ~ Julia Child

This year, for our anniversary, we wanted to indulge in a new dining experience. After ten years of living on Kauai, we had not been to Postcards Café in Hanalei. We had heard rave reviews about Postcards Café, which opened in 1996, but had not yet experienced it for ourselves. Many people describe Postcards as a vegetarian/vegan restaurant with amazing seafood options. The majority of the entrées are vegan, void of any eggs or dairy along with several gluten-free options. In addition, you will not find meat, poultry, or refined sugar on the menu. One thing for sure, Postcards Café is known for their impressive prepared and displayed seafood. All meals include several organic side dishes which are island-grown and organic. Postcards is a fine dining experience with a local café feel. If you appreciate ingredients such as fennel, coconut, roasted beets, truffles, leeks, mirin, teff tortillas, tomatillos, Kaffir lime, Shitake mushrooms, cashews, and pumpkin seeds, then Postcards Café is sure to please.

Postcards Cafe

Postcards Café

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”
~ George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman    

Lanai seating

Lanai seating

Start off the evening with a romantic, scenic drive to Hanalei town.

Indoor seating

Indoor seating

Drive along the Hanalei river on your right and just as you come into the little town of Hanalei, Postcards Café will be located on your left hand side. Just a blink and you will drive right past it. Make your way through the white, wooden arch located at the entrance and find yourself at the plantation cottage lanai surrounded by tropical plants swaying in the breeze.

When dining out, we always look for unique features. Postcards Café is a quaint restaurant displaying great use of their small space. With three options for seating, customers may dine on the outside lanai with mountain views amongst the tropical plants, inside with an intimate ambiance and a plantation feel, or on the screened-in lanai facing the town of Hanalei. We had the pleasure of sitting inside as a wedding reception was taking place. We felt as though we were part of the reception, listening to the father’s speech and toasting with the bride and groom.

Monchong with Macadamia Nut Butter

Monchong with Macadamia Nut Butter

“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”
~ Julia Child

The wait staff is highly knowledgeable about all of the fresh ingredients in the entrées. Our server went over the fresh fish of the day and the various ways to have it prepared. She recommend the Fresh Island Fish entrée grilled with macadamia nut butter. The fresh fish is prepared either grilled or blackened with macadamia nut butter, herbed citrus or peppered pineapple sage. The vegetables are beautifully prepared and displayed. I don’t know what I was more impressed with, the fish or the vegetables. It is not often that I dine someplace and rave about the vegetables served on the side. There were three vegetables sides served with the fish, generous portions. My favorite was the mashed sweet potato, fluffy, rich and creamy. Monchong is a firm fish which can be dry if not grilled properly. It was grilled to perfection and the char flavor was evident. Monchong is a great protein option as it is low in saturated fat and sodium. It is rich in niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and selenium. I ordered a lovely glass of Pinot Noir with the Monchong and it went very well together.

For the entrées choose from Fennel Crusted Lobster Tail, Fresh Island Fish, Fusilli Pasta with Shrimp & Fish, Wasabi Crusted Ahi, Tandoori (Indian), Teff Tortillas layered with Grilled Vegetables, & Thai Coconut Rice Noodles with Kauai Shrimp Broth. Okay, now you choose!!

Wasabi Crusted Ahi

Wasabi Crusted Ahi

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.”
~ Julia Child

Wasabi Crusted Ahi not to disappoint! We order the ahi seared medium. The fish was so moist that you could cut it with a fork. The wasabi cream sauce was not too pungent, albeit you would need to be fond of wasabi. It was not spicy hot, rather a smooth kick with each bite. The herb crusted, warm tomato slice was very different and complementary to the seafood. We choose the jasmine rice option over the mashed potato. Bliss….

The Chocolate Volcano

The Chocolate Volcano

“A party without cake is just a meeting”
~ Julia Child

The picture really says it all, no words needed. The dessert menu is out of this world, offering scrumptious items such as The Chocolate Volcano (made with pure organic cacao) pictured above, Lilikoi Mousse, Chocolate Silk Pie, Coconut Caramel Sundae (pictured), and the Banana Bliss served with sorbet. Hands down, the Coconut Caramel Sundae is one of the most uniquely delicious desserts I’ve ever had, made with coconut-crusted macadamia ice cream and salted caramel sauce. I wish the caramel sauce were for sale. It was thick, but not gritty and the macadamia nuts mixed in the caramel was OTT (over the top) amazing. The sauce on the Chocolate Volcano dessert plate was to die for. I wish we could have tried all of these desserts. Postcards Café is open daily for dinner starting at 5:30 p.m.

We will be visiting Postcards Café again very soon and will be sure to post the pictures!!! Enjoy

Best seat in the house

Best seat in the house

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
~ Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

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Hale Centre Theatre

Hale Centre Theatre

Hale Centre Theatre

“To enter a theatre for a performance is to be inducted into a magical space, to be ushered into the sacred arena of the imagination.”
~Simon Callow, Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World

Let me preface this post by saying ~ theatre is my passion and therefore, as a family, we try our best to see all that we can see!!!! One of the first things I do when booking a vacation, is check to see what plays & musicals are showing in the area. Arts, culture, history and museums can always be incorporated into your travels. Our kids have toured Antoni Gaudí structures in Barcelona, countless cathedrals & castles in Europe, walked the coliseum in Rome, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, explored a Spanish fort dating back to 1640 and sat through hours of musicals.

When we booked our trip to Salt Lake City this summer, we decided to research the local theatre. That is when we stumbled across Hale Centre Theater.  We looked at the dates that we would be in town and noticed that Mary Poppins would be playing, so we booked our tickets and we were on our way.

History of Theatre ~

Theatre dates back to classical Athens in the 6th century BCE, starting out as a type of ritual for the purpose of entertainment. Theatre involved the use of costumes, masks and performers. Eventually, these acts evolved into theatre and the element of ritual was left behind. Theatre really began in Athens and included three types of drama, which are categorized as tragedy, comedy, and the satyr play. In the 3rd century BCE, theatre moved on to ancient Rome and took on a new art form, which included festival performances, nude dancing, acrobatics, comedy, and the tragedies of Seneca. In the 1500’s burlesque and comedy crept into theatre. There are references to theatrical entertainments in China as early as 1500 BCE. During this time, the Shang Dynasty was introduced involving music, clowning and acrobatic displays. The most famous morality play of medieval drama was Everyman in 1550. Interestingly enough, there was an end to the medieval drama in 1547 due to the weakening of the Catholic Church, which banned religious plays in many countries including the Netherlands, Papal States, and Paris. Golden Age Theatre took place from 1590 to 1681 when live theatre started up in Spain. Remarkably, 10,000 – 30,000 plays during the Golden Age are still considered masterpieces today. The 20th-century theatre is when political & epic theatre was introduced such as Theatre of Cruelty and Theatre of the Absurd.

Hale Centre Theatre

Hale CentreTheatre

HCT stage

HCT stage

At Hale Centre Theatre, ticket prices were unbelievably inexpensive at $32 per adult and $16 per child. Children under age 5 are not permitted, which I greatly appreciated. We could enjoy the musical without listening to screaming kids or babies crying. Don’t let the prices fool you, the stage is state-of-the-art, modeled after Cirque du Soleil, with multi-leveled moving floors. The first thing we noticed, as we took our seats, were the 40-50 Mary Poppins umbrellas hanging from the top of the stage. The set is completely magical! I expected a small-town community-type theatre, but was pleasantly surprised with the facility. The seating is ideal, providing optimal views from all seats due to the tiered, circular layout. I found the theatre to be quite similar to the theater at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas where Le Reve is featured. We actually sat in the last row at Mary Poppins, due to booking last-minute, and we had a perfect view. The furthest row is only 32 feet away from center stage.

Hale Centre Theatre offers season ticket passes for $173 per adult, $96 per child age 5-11, which includes entry to all productions. The 2014 season line up is Mary Poppins, She Loves Me, Catch Me If You Can, A Christmas Carol and Is He Dead? 2015 will be showing: Ghost the Musical, Over The River & Through The Wood, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Oklahoma!, and Big Fish.

The theatre has 75 minute tours available M-F fr, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. which provide interactive, behind the scenes experiences which include live auditions, a review of careers in theatre and performances by the participants – all free of charge! At the end of the tour you will be able to participate in a live performance.  Groups must be a minimum of 25 and maximum of 80.

“If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; but if you really make them think, they’ll hate you.” In short, entertainment fulfills our expectations. Art, on the other hand, makes no compromise for public taste as it inspires us to consider life’s complexities and ambiguities. Art is the opposition testing the strength of societal and cultural values-values that are thoughtlessly adopted by the mass of individuals living unexamined lives and all who cannot imagine a different way of seeing life.”
~ William Missouri Downs, The Art of Theatre: A Concise Introduction

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“In theatre, the main objective is to make the art happy, not the audience! If you have to choose between the audience and the art, always choose the second! You must know that the audience will constantly pull you down; resist it and fly at the heights like an eagle!”
~ Mehmet Murat ildan

Hale Centre Theatre~

Hale Centre Theatre, named after Nathan and Ruth Hale,  opened on July 12, 1985 with the show I Came to Your Wedding. In 1992, the theatre presented the Broadway musical, Brigadoon. In an effort to improve the sound and stage of the theatre,  in 1998 the doors opened to a newly renovated, 42,000 square-feet in West Valley City, Utah with the performance of Thank You Papa. Hale Centre Theatre has a 12-month production schedule and hires actors for more than 350 roles each season.

“Now one of the largest and most respected community theatres in the country, Hale Centre Theatre in West Valley City’s success could be called a triumphant ending to this fabled story; yet, the founders continue the legacy of Nathan and Ruth Hale, adding new acts with their continuous ideas, innovations and improvements.” ~ Quote from the company website

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“When a show ends, for a few days, my body sizzles with leftover energy, like a tree in the wake of a lightning strike.”
~ S.M. Stevens

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