Antelope Island: Horseback, Bison, Antelope and the Great Salt Lake

Posted by on September 8, 2016

**Just a reminder….if you click on the pictures they will be enlarged and easier to view.

We’d been told that Labor Day weekend was going to be the worst weekend of all the holiday weekends.  However, we’d been told that before every weekend so we weren’t too worried.  Good thing we weren’t as we both thought it was pretty mild.  The boat ramp parking lot only filled to capacity on Saturday.  It came close to filling both Sunday and Monday but never quite got there.

The campground was full by Thursday night with most campers staying until Monday.  Check out time is 1:00 pm and normally we have to keep reminding people who it’s time to leave.  This weekend we didn’t have any stragglers…I’m assuming it was because it was fairly chilly (not even 70) so playing in the lake and boating wasn’t high priority.

Oopsie!

Oopsie!

As the mass exodus was gearing up and many of the campers were lining up to use the dump station we had a motorhome pulling a boat passing by our loop on its way to dump when the boat detached from the motorhome making quite the BOOM.  Thankfully, there wasn’t much damage to the motorhome (a bent bumper mostly) and little to no damage to the boat.   We directed traffic and Michael helped them to get the boat trailer tongue off the ground and rehitched to the motorhome and after about 15 minutes things were back to normal.

Finishing up cleaning sites in a nearly empty campground

Finishing up cleaning sites in a nearly empty campground

We found out accidentally that as of Labor Day our loop would now be the ‘Tent Only & Day Use’ area as that area along with the B Loop would now be closed as the season is winding down.  We would have appreciated being told what to expect but that unfortunately hasn’t been the case for much of the summer.  We have less than a week left here at the park so we can deal with it.

The group from Anderson Cove Campground

The group from Anderson Cove Campground

Tuesday evening the entire staff from our campground and the outlying campgrounds and day use areas met for dinner at an area supper club, The Timber Mine.  We were given three options for dinner:  Prime Rib, Teriyaki Chicken or Halibut.  I was good with the prime rib but Michael really didn’t care for any of the choices and was spoiled when they went out of their way to give him a New York Strip.  Our dinners included punch, salad, a dinner roll and dessert and everything was very good.  The big plus was that AL&L (the company we work for) and/or our area managers picked up the bill for the entire group of roughly 35ish people.  Very nice.

The navigation system on our truck has been acting funky for  a while.  The memory card is located in a compartment in the front dash and when the sun beats on it and it gets overheated it won’t work.  At first Michael was able to take the card out, cool it off in front of the air conditioner and put it back in and the GPS would work again.  For the last few weeks or so that doesn’t help anymore.

Last week we took Zack’s memory card out of his truck and put it in ours and we had no problems with the navigation system so we’re kinda thinking that’s where the problem lies.

We took the truck in to the Ford dealer in Ogden and had them check it out and of course it worked just fine there but we explained the problem and Michael showed them a picture of the ‘error’ that we get.  Unfortunately, they weren’t able to help us as they were still working on vehicles from the day before and there were some vehicles from that day ahead of us and we’d have to wait until they ‘got to us’ even though we had an 8:00 am appointment.  We had somewhere to be at 10:00am so we couldn’t wait and will have to try again soon.

The view as we drove across the cause way to Antelope Island

The view as we drove across the cause way to Antelope Island

This week’s day off took us to Antelope Island.  We had a 10:00 am reservation at R&G Horse & Wagon for a horseback ride and arrived a little before so that we could use the restroom and get ready.  We were the only riders and had 2 young ladies that took us out for our hour-long ride.

Sage sharing here knowledge of this beautiful place

Sage sharing here knowledge of this beautiful place

R&G doesn’t do the average ‘nose to tail’ trail ride, matter of fact, Sage (one of our escorts) encouraged us to ride side by side and just kinda do what we felt comfortable with.  For most of the ride we just meandered over the fields, no trail involved.

No nose to tail here!

No nose to tail here!

Sage was a regular wealth of information telling us about the island, a recent fire caused by lightning, showing us different landmarks on the mainland, about the bison round-up coming up in October and lots of other little tidbits.  As we rode closer to the bay of the Salt Lake, Shania (our other escort) pointed out 4 different coyotes in the distance.  Wish I’d had a better camera with me so that I could have gotten pictures.

A beautiful day for a horseback ride!

A beautiful day for a horseback ride!

I was quite proud of myself for being able to get up on Buttercup (poor thing is a boy with that name!) with just a small nudge from Michael and even though I was a bit concerned about getting down thinking my legs might betray me…I did it!  Buttercup stood nice and still for my mount and dismount.  He liked to walk with his face near the tail end of the other horses so that their tails would swat the flies away from his face…goofy thing.  But if I steered him away to walk beside the other horses he did fine but eventually gravitated back to his fly swatters.

At one point, we rode down a fairly steep ravine and then back up again.  I was a bit apprehensive but made it across in one piece even though Buttercup decided to trot down and then up the hill!  The girls reminded me after the fact that I could have pulled on the reins to slow him down but I was trying to remember lean back, push my feet into the stirrups, hold on to my phone and NOT fall off that pulling the reins was the last thing on my mind!

After our ride I noticed that my glasses were gone.  I’d clipped them onto the front of my shirt and had my sunglasses on for the ride.  Crap!  I was gonna have to wear my sunglasses for the rest of the day and wear my old pair for a back up until I could get a new pair.  The ride was fairly peaceful except for that terrifying ravine run and that’s the only place I thought that I might have lost my glasses.

My hero!

My hero!

So on the way back north after leaving the ranch I watched for that ravine as I knew it wasn’t too terribly far and it wasn’t real far off the highway.  I found what I thought was the ravine and Michael being the gentleman trudged through the grass to find the spot where we’d cross over.  I could see him walk down and then saw him appear again on the other side of the ravine but I could tell that he hadn’t seen them.  Then I watched as he walked back down into the ravine and a few minutes later he popped back up at the top of the ravine with his hands up in VICTORY!  Woohoo….my hero!

The ranch house...it's easy to see where the last addition was added on.

The ranch house…it’s easy to see where the last addition was added on.

R&G Horse and Wagon is actually located at the Fielding Garr Ranch.  The ranch is the oldest established ranch on the island and has a rich history.  The ranch has been turned into a museum of sorts where visitors are able to walk through the original homestead (which had several additions with subsequent owners), the outhouses and grounds.

My Texas-born cowboy

My Texas-born cowboy

Michael and I each took our turn at trying to rope a steer Michael did fairly well…maybe it’s because he has Texas bloodline. However, being the city slicker that I am (born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin…I pretty much sucked.  I couldn’t get the lasso to go anywhere but the ground in front of my feet!

Utah Fish Fry by the Great Salt Lake!

Utah Fish Fry by the Great Salt Lake!

I had packed a picnic lunch so after our horse ride we were looking for a place to set up our picnic and came across the Island Buffalo Grill on the northwest shore of the lake and decided to give it a shot instead.  They offered bison burgers, chicken sandwiches beef burgers, fish etc.  After finding out that the fish was cod we both went with an order of fish and fries and were both quite happy with our meal.  It wasn’t quite a Wisconsin fish fry but it was pretty dang good.  We at outside on the patio and enjoyed the gorgeous views and decided that after lunch we’d take the hike out to the water so that we could dip our toes in the great Salt Lake.

About a third of the way to the water, looking back at the restaurant

About a third of the way to the water, looking back at the restaurant

Yikes! Check out all those brine flies!

Yikes! Check out all those brine flies!

The lake is quite low making the walk to the water much further than normal.  It didn’t seem like a bad walk but ended up being further than we thought…about 3/4 of a mile out and back…over sand, rocks, dried up lake bed, etc.  When we arrived at the water’s edge we found the sand covered with Brine Flies that swarmed away as we approached…it was one huge movement and you could actually hear them as they flew away!

Ahhhhh

Ahhhhh

We took off our shoes and Michael rolled up his jeans and we braved the flies and made our way into the water.  I expected it to be a bit chilly but it was actually perfect.  We only went as deep as mid-calf but it was very nice.  There were several others in the water too…some actually swimming and attempting to float.

We checked out the three campgrounds on the island (1 for groups, 1 for tents and 1 that accommodates RVs) and decided we wouldn’t mind spending a few days there at some point.  It’s dry camping but we could handle that for a few days no problem.  We’d definitely wait until this time of year or maybe even a few weeks later.

Stopping traffic

Stopping traffic

Shepherd overseeing his flock??

Shepherd overseeing his flock??

We were treated to the sights of several different animals while on the island.  Bison were introduced to the island back in the late 1890s and have flourished on the island.  They roam freely from here to there and we were able to witness a couple of small groups crossing the highway making way to the lower area near the water where a large herd was already grazing.

And there he stood...staring down a car and our truck

And there he stood…staring down a car and our truck

We sat and watched 4 pronghorn antelope as they came down a hill and the 3 females crossed the road behind us while the male stood sentry watching over them until he too finally decided to cross the road too…but in front of us and another car coming from the opposite way.  He got almost all the way across the road when he decided to just stop and stand there.  We waited for quite a while before for cars started to creep forward hoping to get him to move….he did eventually but did move far onto the side of the road.  Stubborn dude!

We also saw a badger, magpies, lizards, mule deer and an additional coyote to the 4 we saw on our horseback ride as we had one cross the road ahead of us as we drove down the highway.

We had such an enjoyable day on the island (which is really a peninsula!) that we already know that we’ll be going back the next time we’re in the area.  I’m not sure the day could get any better…a beautiful horseback ride, witnessing tons of wildlife, taking a walk to the Great Salt Lake and dipping our feet in, enjoying a yummy ‘fish fry’….but we were able to end the day just a great!

We spent the evening with Zack, Kelsea, Paityn and Cameron.  Kelsea made sloppy joes, I made a peach cobbler-like dish, the guys moved a new freezer Zack picked up from Craigslist and unloaded a bunch of firewood from our truck, Kelsea, the kids and I went for a ranger ride around the backyard, the guys and the kids met one of the neighbors that abuts their backyards AND best of all, we got plenty of love time with Cameron and Paityn.

As of today, we have just 5 more days to work here at the campground.  We’re both in ‘clean up and get ready’ mode…washing windows, sheets, blankets and rugs as well as polishing woodwork, packing and stowing items in the basement etc.

 

 

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