Friday, October 9, 2015

Reviews of the Road Trip to Yellowstone

Bears at Elk Antlers Inn
This was really a ‘trip down memory lane’ because we visited many of the same places I had visited as a graduate student then later as an instructor in field ecology. This trip, however, was different because on previous visits we had camped, and cooked our own food. We stayed in some nice places and ate some really remarkable meals. For information about my rating system, see Reading the Reviews.

Where we stayed

Four Carrots
Top L to R: Bath 1, Small Bedroom
Bottom L to R: Large Bedroom 2, Bath 2
The Elk Antlers Inn (501 S 6th St, Thermopolis, WY 82443, 307-864-2325) is an older property that has been turned into a funky place to stay. There are a plethora of bears and antlers decorating the front of the hotel and lots of western, sports, and wood décor in the rooms. The people running the place are very nice and will work with you to make sure you get the type of room you need. There is a small refrigerator and a microwave in each room and several free bottles of water. In the office there are coffee, tea, and free snacks. The internet is a bit weird to get on, but once on, it works very well. 

The Quality Inn (3430 W. Loop 289, Lubbock, TX, 79407, 806-780-4000) was a lovely
L to R: Bedroom, Bath
place to stay. Everything was good, including the internet! Breakfast was acceptable, with coffee, juice, hot food, pastries, and cereals. I was told at check-in that if customers booked using their website rather than a more generic one, they would be asked what type of amenities they’d like in the room, particularly if a handicapped room or shower accessible room was preferred.

Three and one-half carrots
L to R: Bedroom, Bath

The Oak Tree Inn (1170 W Flaming Gorge Way, Green River, WY 82935, 307-875-3500) is a newer property on the west side of Green River. The beds and pillows were comfortable; rooms were large with enough plugs to charge things, although you may have to unplug the clock to get a plug close to the bed. It’s a clean place with a microwave and small refrigerator in each room. Our only complaint was that in both rooms the showerheads needed changing. Our shower had an odd arrangement of spraying so that parts of your body were dampened while other parts were flooded. Vince’s room had a drizzle of water no matter how high you turned on the water. People on the desk are polite, but rather reserved. Rates are good for what you get. The free breakfast was at Penny’s Diner (see below), an old Denny’s Diner, that has been renamed. The allowance for breakfast is generous; you can choose one of two large breakfasts or you can apply $7.95 to anything on the menu. There are two women running it who do everything. 

Yellowstone Condos (114 Main St, Gardiner, MT 59030, 701-770-3177) is nice if quirky.
Top: Master bedroom
Bottom L to R: Bedroom, Bath
Only one room has air conditioning; thankfully it’s the bedroom. The rest of the rooms have heaters; this tells you about the weather in Gardiner. Everything looks new and works. There is a complete kitchen with a dining area, a living room, one large bathroom and two bedrooms. The owners were nice enough to give us the password for the laundry room, but their equipment is way short of industrial grade. It took an hour for the entire cycle of wash and the dryers don’t cut off automatically. The internet works fairly well once you figure out just how to get online; the instructions, while grammatically correct are not accurate.

Three Carrots

The Anglers Inn (265 N Millward St, Jackson, WY 83001, 800-867-4667) is an older
L to R: Bedroom, Bath
property with nice rooms, but only double beds; they move anytime someone breathes. There is only one trash can and the internet does not work well at all. The shower was fine. The lady who checked us in was very nice. There are maps in the room, but with the hotel located only a couple of blocks from the square, it’s difficult to get lost. This is a good location from which to visit Jackson on foot. Take advantage of the phone numbers listed in on the map and make dinner reservations if you want to visit any of the restaurants on the square. The rooms at this hotel are over-priced, but so is everything else in Jackson. 

Days Inn (1120 S 1st Street, Clayton, NM 88415, 575-374-0133) is certainly not worth
L to R: Bedroom, Bath
$110/night, but it’s one of only two places to stay if you don’t camp. The hall of the hotel has a peculiar smell to it. The lady at the desk was very nice and moved us to the first floor when I asked her for an accessible room. The rooms have two queen beds, a microwave, small refrigerator, a set of drawers, and a desk. There is ample space in this room. There are also two trashcans ~ hooray. The bathroom is good, but the shower is only worth a 2.5 out of 5. Beds are comfortable. Vince says he doesn’t have enough light by which to read.

The Silver Saddle Motel (215 Manitou Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829, 719-685-5611) is
L to R: Bath, Bedroom
an older property in Manitou Springs. The rooms are clean and fairly large and the beds are comfortable. I’m not enamored of the internet service; if more than a few people are on, you get kicked off. Breakfast at the hotel was mediocre. There were boiled eggs, sweet breads, a waffle maker, apples and oranges, cereal, juices and coffee. Fine, it was free. The location is close to the free tram that runs into Manitou, although there is usually enough free parking that taking a car downtown is easy enough.

The White River Inn (219 E Market St, Meeker, CO 81641, 970-878-5031) is very nice. The rooms are well appointed and come in two sizes: one size for small/single person and one
Top L to R: Bath 1, Small Bedroom
Bottom L to R: Large Bedroom, Bath 2
for larger folks. There is an accessible room available on the ground floor. For once we had plenty of places to plug things in to charge and there were plenty of trash cans, facial tissue, towels, light, etc. There is also a microwave and a small fridge. The television actually comes with a guide so you know what channel is what. The bed moves when either of us moves. The lady who runs the place is very nice, accommodating, and funny. The only downside is that she can’t make the free internet work for more than a few seconds at a time.

Two and one-half carrots

Pikes Peak Inn (626 Manitou Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829, 719-685-5616) is an elderly
L to R: Small bedroom, Large bedroom
property. We had a two-bedroom suite. The small bedroom was airless, although it did have a window that would open, and tiny. It had a refrigerator and microwave, a set of shelves, an end table with a lamp and a double bed. The closet was an inset in the wall; you have to stretch the lamp cord across the closet doorway to plug it in. The main room was nicely large with an entertainment center, a desk, two side tables (top drawer works, the other three are fake), one easy chair, a bench, and a desk chair. The phone works, but there are no instructions for how to call out, to other rooms, etc. The bathroom is small; the toilet doesn’t work particularly well, the other closet is in there; the shower has good hot water. The king bed wiggles if you even breathe funny. The rooms are clean; the people running it are nice. There are smoking rooms, and people smoke outside of the no smoking rooms so the smell wafts in. There is no vent in the bathroom, but there is a window for ventilation. There were facial tissues in plain sight in the room, but I didn’t see them for two days. The internet speed is very good, although the owners didn’t tell me the password on check-in, and with no information on how to call the front office that closed early, I had to wait until the next morning to get online. 

What we did

Four carrots

None of the sites we visited were any less than outstanding. The natural environment was 
Jenny Lake Lodge Fireplace
beautiful, the museums well done, and the tours informative.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West (720 Sheridan Ave, Cody, WY 82414, 307-587-4771) has really expanded. There are now five parts to it: Buffalo Bill Museum, Plains Indian Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum (old to modern plus sculptures), Cody Firearms Museum, and Draper Natural History Museum. It is very well done. The ticket is good for two days and if you take your time you’ll need that long. Really interesting displays plus well-spoken and knowledgeable docents are available in all of the areas; there are also regular free tours in each museum. An outside area is devoted to more sculptures, plants and special presentations such as the one they were currently doing about raptors with the actual birds there. You can also do an hour or half-hour horseback ride and tour. There are discounts for seniors and for veterans. See Towns along the Road for more information.

As we expected, Capulin Volcano National Monument (46 Volcano Rd, Capulin, NM 88414, 575-278-2201) was lovely. At the visitor’s center there is a nature walk with informational cards that tell about the plants and the rocks. There is also a small museum that is worth a visit. At the top of the volcano you can see the four lava flows and take a two mile hike around the top or a one mile round trip hike down into the crater. Generally, there is a ranger available to explain what visitors are seeing. See On the Road to Yellowstone for more information.

Garden of the Gods Park (1805 N. 30th Street, Colorado Springs, CO, 80904, 719-634-6666) is a great place for a nice walk. The popular features, such as Balanced Rock and the Overlook, attract a lot of tourists, so keep that in mind when planning your visit. You may get a chance to watch people practicing rock climbing or to see rabbits, mountain goats and deer. None of the critters seem too bothered by the tourists. See Colorful Colorado for more information.

Grand Teton National Park (John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, WY, 307-739-3300), along with the road up to Gros Ventre  and The Mormon Row are certainly worth  finding the roads to get to these sites. Depending on the time of year, there may be oodles of wildflowers and people stopped to take pictures of them. See Cold Mountains, Sliding Trees and a Lot of Hot Water - Part 1 for more information.

We took the Pikes Peak Cog Railway (515 Ruxton Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829, 719-685-5401) and it was a lovely trip. As usual the announcer was silly but informative. We were hoping that the clouds would clear, but they didn’t. However, it was fairly clear all until we got to the top. It wasn’t nearly as cold as we thought it would be. The trip down was equally beautiful. It’s an expensive trip, but worth the cost. During tourist season, the ride is crowded, so it is wise to book early; at other times of the year it’s significantly less crowded and just as pretty. Make sure that you are there at least 30 minutes early to get a good parking place even if you have pre-paid for parking. Also be sure to take water on the train; altitude sickness (dizziness and nausea) is a possibility. There is less air at the top of the mountain, so you need to move slowly, very slowly. The donuts are good; the hot chocolate is passable. See Colorful Colorado for more information.

Quarry Exhibit Hall - Dinosaur National Monument (Jensen, UT 84035, 435-781-7700) has been improved since I was there in the 1990s. There is a gift shop with some informational displays and a movie that has been dummied down from what it was years ago. The exhibit, itself, is still well maintained with some nice informational panels and several rangers to answer questions. There is a place that you can touch the actual bones. You have an option of riding the cart up or walking; your choice will be dependent on the temperature. While this is the high desert, it gets very hot very quickly and the sun is blistering. See Diggin’ Dinos for more information.

We drove up to Jenny Lake and took the hour scenic cruise with Jenny Lake Boating (Jenny Lake, WY, 307-734-9227). Our guide was very knowledgeable and had a good sense of humor. He did his best to make sure that everyone got to see what they wanted and to take all of the pictures they wanted. It was a warm day and the views were spectacular. The boat was well set up so that everyone was comfortable, including those with limited mobility, and could see what was being talked about. We were allowed to stand when the boat wasn’t in motion, but unless you’re in the front of the boat, this isn’t necessary. See Cold Mountains, Sliding Trees and a Lot of Hot Water - Part 1 for more information.

Yellowstone National Park (John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, WY, 307-344-7381) is spectacular; from the mountains to the geysers, to the glacial features it’s lovely. The only two down sides are the numbers of tourists with their lack of manners, and the road construction. Things are different from what I remembered from the 1990s; some geyser features are gone due to the earthquake but some new ones have formed. The bison are around, and there are some herds of elk, but we didn’t see a moose or a bear. In any case, stop at every turn off and take all the hikes you can. The scenery is remarkable. Do not assume that just because there is a wheelchair sign that there are not steps or that the site is completely accessible; things are open to a point, then you just have to go with what is actually open. For more information see Cold Mountains, Sliding Trees and a Lot of Hot Water – Part 2.

What we ate

Four and one-half carrots

Top L to R: Salmon, Salad, Menu
Middle L to R: Pasta, Wine
Bottom: Pork chop
We had dinner at The Raven Grill (220 W Park Street, Gardiner, MT 59030, 406-848-7600) and it was fabulous. The only downer was the salad which was uninspired. Dave had a pasta dish that was remarkable. Vince had a huge pork chop that was well prepared with what he thought was an excellent sauce (I thought it was salty). Chef Phil Curry created a salmon dish that I actually liked. The yellow squash was served in a Sambuca sauce and the potatoes had gruyere cheese with a touch of nutmeg. The salmon was roasted with citrus beurre blanc. It was an amazing meal. Our server, Joyce, was excellent; she knew exactly what was in each dish and what special dishes the chef had prepared. 

Our lunch at Wines of Colorado (8045 US-24, Cascade, CO 80809, 719-684-0900) was
Top L to R: Spaghetti, Menu
Middle L to R: Buffalo Burger, Pulled Pork
Bottom L to R: Carrot Cake, Reuben
outdoors by the river. It was a great temperature and the food was a treat. There is a wine tasting bar that you can visit for free samples before you go down to eat so that you know what you want to drink. If you don’t eat there, then there is a charge for the tasting. Dave and I liked the Pikes Peak Riesling; Vince had the Pikes Peak Riesling/Merlot blend. Bek had a buffalo burger; Christine had spaghetti and meatball, Dave and Vince had a Reuben, and I had the pulled pork with roasted green peppers. We shared a HUGE piece of carrot cake among the five of us. It was all wonderful.

Four carrots
Top L to R:Hamburger, Menu
Bottom: Onion Rings, Reuben
Irma Hotel and Restaurant (1192 Sheridan Avenue, Cody, WY 82414, 307-587-4221) was an interesting place, particularly with the popularity of the buffet. Dave had one of the best Reuben Sandwiches he’d ever eaten and the Irma fries were good, too. Vince had a BLT that he really liked and his onion rings were very good, as well. My ‘small’ burger was well done with good meat and cheese. The sweet potato fries were actually ripple wedges and were excellent. Service was fairly slow but we had an entire pitcher of water on the table ~ a really good idea. 

Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que (1230 N 7th Avenue, Bozeman, MT 59715, 406-586-0597) and it was a good choice. Dave had a brisket plate with a cornbread muffin and potato salad. He
Left T to B: Brisket, Burnt Ends
Right T to B: Menu, Charred beef burger
said it was as good as what he gets in Texas. Vince had a charred beef burger with cheese and a side of slaw; he liked it. I had the best of the lot: Burnt Ends that are actually the caramelized ends of a brisket, cut into tiny chunks and coated in their medium hot sauce. My side was grilled pineapple; I was really happy with my food.

We had lunch at the Fishing Bridge snack bar (Yellowstone National Park, WY, 307-344-
Top L to R: Cheese sandwich, Menu and Dave
Bottom L to R: Chicken sandwich, Cheese burger
7311). This is a snack bar from the early 1900s, complete with the red-topped stools that are bolted to the floor. Our server, Jared, was excellent. He did a super job in a very busy situation, along with trying to make folks who didn’t speak much English feel at ease ordering. Vince had a grilled cheese sandwich with a salad that he said was good. Dave had a chicken sandwich with fries that he liked. I had a very good cheese burger with fries; the fries were crispy and the burger was prepared as I liked. We had a good meal with an efficient and personable server!

Jenny Lake Lodge Restaurant (Jenny Lake Rd, Moose, WY 83012, 307-733-4647) is not a cheap place, but the food, service and ambiance were absolutely worth the cost. Vince
Top L to R: Watermelon salad, Wine, Menu
Bottom L to R: Angus burger, Chicken tortilla soup
had a chicken tortilla soup that he said was very good. Dave had an Angus burger that he said was excellent; the fries weren’t particularly crisp. My grilled watermelon and goat cheese salad with nuts was very good. I wish I had made sure that there was no spinach as I did with the shallots. The waiter said that everything was prepared to order. I had a glass of Riesling that was pretty good, too. Views out the windows were marvelous.

We gave the Meeker Hotel and Café (560 Main St, Meeker, CO 81641, 855-878-5255) a
Top L to R: Omelet, Menu
Bottom L to R: French toast, Fried eggs
try for breakfast. The one waitress was run off her feet, but still did a great job. Breakfast was really good and for a change I could get a small enough portion. My French toast and bacon were well prepared. Vince and Dave had regular portions that were plenty. Vince had fried eggs with bacon and hash brown potatoes; Dave had an omelet with hash browns. Cost for breakfast was reasonable.

Breakfast at the Uncle Sam's Pancake House (341 Manitou Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829, 719-685-9525) was substantially better than I expected. Vince had a pancake as big
Left T to B: Pancake, Bacon and eggs
Right: Uncle Sam Bear
as his head, along with eggs and sausage links that he said were very good. Dave and I had scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and hash browns. They were good, but nothing outstanding. The service was excellent.

At The Virginian Lodge restaurant (750 W Broadway, Jackson, WY 83001, 307-733-2792)
Left T to B: Chicken, Roast beef
Bottom T to B: Menu, Chocolate cake, Ribs
Vince had a half rack of ribs that he said tasted good but didn’t have much meat. The vegetables were well done and the slaw was good. Dave had the ‘Half Roasted Chicken’ that he said was excellent. He thought that the vegetables were good, also. I had the pot roast with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy plus broccoli and carrots. It was very good, tasting like the food we had when I was growing up. We topped it off with a slab of chocolate cake that was just enough for three. It was really moist and sweet.

Three and one-half carrots
Breakfast at Adam's Mountain Café (26 Manitou Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829, 719-685-1430) was not what I expected. This is a healthy food restaurant, so you won’t find 
Left: Eggs with Turkey sausage
Right To to B: Pancakes, French toast
bacon or anything that isn’t organic. However, Dave said that his pancakes were very good and Vince said that his Orange, Almond French Toast was excellent. Everything comes with a fruit garnish, except the turkey sausage that comes with spinach. I had an egg and the sausage. They were fine. Prices were high because it’s all organic.

Black Bear Café (111 N 5th Street, Thermopolis, WY 82443, 307-864-3221) is a good
Top L to R: Giant muffin, Coffee cup
Bottom L to R: Omelet, Eggs Benedict
place for breakfast. Their selection is huge and you can order breakfast all day. The waitress we had had a good sense of humor and was quick to refill coffee. Dave had eggs Benedict that were only okay; evidently poached eggs are beyond what cooks can do. Vince had a two-egg omelet with sausage. The sausage was good and the rye toast was of the swirled variety. I had the Gourmet Muffin with eggs and bacon. The muffin was the huge and was full of cinnamon and sugar. The eggs were fine and the bacon was crispy. None of us could finish our food. The price was half of what we’d been paying in the Yellowstone area.

One morning we ate at Bubba’s Barbecue Restaurant (100 Flat Creek Drive, Jackson, WY 83001, 307-733-2288). The service was good, and the food was passable. Vince had
Left: Waffle
Right To to B: Coffee cup, Musesli
Swiss style Muesli that he wasn’t all that impressed with. He said that it was good, just not what he had in mind. His fruit was freshly prepared rather than frozen. Dave had two pancakes the size of hubcaps. They were good, as well. I had the pecan waffle that was loaded with nuts, but a bit tepid rather than being hot enough to melt the butter. The coffee was good.

The Hotel Eklund (15 Main St, Clayton, NM 88415, 575-374-2551) was an interesting place. It was in the dining room of an old hotel (no lift so we won’t be staying there this
Left T to B: Meatloaf, Chile relleno,Tacos
Center T to B: Santa Fe Steak, French fries
Right T to B: Menu, Fish and chips
time). I had a fairly good pinot grigio; Dave had a beer. Vince got fish and chips. The fish was flaky and the French fries were so good that Dave and I stole everything Vince didn’t eat. Dave’s Santa Fe Steak was from the meat that they used in a chicken fried steak and he wasn’t too impressed. The cheese and red sauce covering it were fairly tasteless. I got the taco plate using pork as the meat; I also ask for a side of their green sauce. The green sauce was tomatillos and jalapenos with some ground meat and it was pretty spicy. It even took Vince by surprise. Dave said it was substantially better than his red sauce. My tacos were New Mexican rather than TexMex, so they were fairly heavy on the red lard, although not at all spicy. The meat was well done and the lettuce/tomatoes were fresh. The beans were straight ahead red; the rice had red sauce and it was pretty but not spicy. I added the green sauce to everything and used the French fries to cool off my mouth at the end of the meal. I did like what I ate. The place was slammed because of the rain, I think, and the increase in people staying overnight and wanting dinner; the waitress said they didn’t expect a crowd. The service was a bit spotty, although polite and with a sense of humor. On our way back into Texas we stopped for lunch at the Ekland, again, and the food was good. Service was very slow. Dave had a chile relleno- taco plate with green sauce; he said it was very tasty. Vince had a slab of meatloaf and some mashed potatoes; he really liked the meatloaf and said that the potatoes were well prepared. I had chicken strips that were a bit overcooked with some tasteless gravy. However, the French fries were wonderful: crispy outside and soft inside and served hot.

The Iron Horse Bar and Grill (200 Spring Street, Gardiner, MT 59030, 406-848-7666) is a fairly strange place. When you come in you’re in the bar, and they really would prefer to
Top L to R:Buffalo burger, Cold Smoke Beer, Menu
Bottom L to R: Shrimp, Elk burger
serve food on the deck outside; I think that’s because there is no air conditioning inside. We all had a Cold Smoke beer that was interesting, but not something I’d go out of my way to get. I had coconut shrimp that were pretty good. Dave had an Elk Burger that he said was okay, but sort of dry. His sweet potatoes fries were really good so Vince and I had to grab a couple. Vince had the Buffalo Burger, agreeing with Dave that the meat was a bit dry. Service was good and the prices were a bit high.

We had lunch at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel restaurant (1 Grand Loop Rd, Yellowstone
Top L to R: Ravioli, Logo
Bottom L to R: Bison burger, Roasted beet salad 
National Park, WY 82190, 307-344-7311) rather than the lodge because the lodge has a cafeteria rather than a restaurant. Dave had a Bison Burger with mushrooms and cheese that he said was good; Vince had lobster and seafood ravioli that he really liked. I had a roasted beet salad that although I ordered it without onion or spinach, had spinach. The beets weren’t thoroughly roasted, but were good, as were the walnuts, the dressing, and the goat cheese. Service was fairly good, with two ‘water boys’ doing a lot of the fetching that the waiter was too rushed to do. It was fairly pricy.

Las Fuentes (530 Arapahoe Street, Thermopolis, WY 82443, 307-864-2695) serves New Mexican food with all the heat you can stand. They have an outside seating area, but you
Left T to B: Chips, Burrito, Shrimp enchilada
Center T to B: Margarita, Taquitos
Right: Menu
cannot be served alcohol there. There is an upstairs dining room, but we sat downstairs and watched the waiters run (literally) down and up the stairs. The chips were okay, the sauces were completely bland or medium spicy. Dave had a medium burrito that was huge. He asked for mild/medium green sauce that was very good. Vince had a shrimp enchilada that was covered with cheese and a hot green sauce. He finally got a sauce that he considered hot. The Margaritas were tasty but ‘weak’; the Piesporter Riesling was cold and sweet and yummy. I had taquitos with chicken and an avocado/ranch sauce that was hotter than I liked, but just right for Dave and Vince.

Places to eat in Meeker are scarce, no matter what the internet says. If you don’t want fast
Left T to B: Lasagna, Penne Pasta, Side Salad
Center T to B: Wine, Penne Pasta
Right T to B: Menu, Salad bar
food or take-away, your choices are limited to Ma Famiglia, an Italian restaurant and the Meeker Café. For dinner we chose Ma Famiglia (410 Market St, Meeker, CO 81641, 970-878-4141). They were nice enough to make my pasta with white sauce rather than red because the red had onions. I had crispy chicken with penne pasta and some garlic bread. Even the senior portion was too big. Vince had the same thing but with marinara sauce and a salad. Dave had the salad bar and lasagna. While the service was good and the salads were good, Dave’s lasagna had too much mozzarella and not enough ricotta. Both Vince and Dave said that the red sauce was okay. The white sauce was good with a touch of lemon. The garlic bread was actually dinner rolls that had been split then buttered with slivers of garlic on top then toasted. Vince and I thought they were good; Dave wasn’t impressed. The merlot Vince had was good. I had a very acceptable white zinfandel and Dave had a good pinot grigio. Our total bill was about $50 which was a bit high.

The free breakfast at Penny’s Diner (1170 W Flaming Gorge Way, Green River, WY 82935, 307-875-3500) was included when we stayed at the Oak Tree Inn (see above).
Top L to R: Bacon and eggs, French toast
Bottom L to R: Bacon and eggs, Menu
Penny’s Diner is an old Denny’s Diner that has been renamed. The allowance for breakfast is generous; you can choose one of two large breakfasts or you can apply $7.95 to anything on the menu. Food was good and there was a lot of it. Vince had hard fried eggs, bacon and toast; Dave had soft fried eggs, bacon and hash browns; I had French toast and bacon. The coffee was very good.

Top L to R: Burger, Roast beef, Menu
Bottom L to R: Reuben, Milkshake
We had a bite of lunch in Vernal at the 7-11 Ranch Restaurant (77 E Main St, Vernal, UT 84078, 435-789-1170). Dave had a milkshake that he said was acceptable, but it was obvious that it wasn’t made with real ice cream. Vince had a patty melt that he said was respectable; Dave’s fish sandwich was good, as well. My ½ sandwich of roast beef and Swiss cheese was very good; the fries were good, also. This is a funky place with a ‘gift shop’ next to the restaurant. Most of the stuff in the shop was tourist ‘junk’. Service was good but the cost was a bit high.

Sidewinders American Grill (945 W Broadway, Jackson, WY 83001, 307-734-5766) was a good stop for lunch, partly because there is ample parking. Vince had a burger with
Top L to R: Arugula salad, Menu
Bottom L to R: Brisket, Soup and burger
mushrooms and Swiss cheese along with a cup of onion soup. He said it was very tasty. Dave had a brisket sandwich that he didn’t like the texture of, but the fries were excellent. I had an arugula salad with sautéed pecans and lemon; it was excellent. A gentleman saw Vince’s World War II Veteran hat and paid for our lunch, however, the prices in the menu were reasonable. Service was passable.

Three carrots
The Antler Pub and Grill (107 Hellroaring Street, Gardiner, MT 59030, 406-848-7536) is in 
Top L to R: Taco salad, BLT, Menu
Bottom L to R: Pear salad, Poppers
a nice setting overlooking the mountains. It’s actually a bar associated with a hotel; you have to walk upstairs since there is no elevator. Our waitress was very nice and efficient. The food was fine. They had some great ideas for very good food, but the result was not actually prepared with any pizazz. Dave had a BLT with lots of B and not much LT; his side of sweet potato tots was quite good. Vince’s taco salad was, again, passable but nothing special except for the relish that came with it that was so hot that even Vince commented on it. My pear and brie with pecans salad was acceptable but nothing special. The waitress’s idea to combine the huckleberry vinaigrette with the bleu cheese dressing was excellent. Our appetizer, the jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese, then breaded and deep fried were good and well prepared, but the huckleberry jelly served with them was only marginally tasty. Costs were in line with what we got. 

The Bunnery Bakery and Restaurant (130 N Cache Street, Jackson, WY 83001, 307-733-
Top L to R: Chocolate croissant, Coffee cups
Bottom L to R: Bacon and eggs, Biscuits and gravy
5474) is open for breakfast and lunch, as well as having breads and pastries to take away. I had been craving a chocolate croissant and this was the place to get one. Vince had bacon and eggs; Dave had biscuits and gravy. We were all satisfied with the food, although the service was very slow and not at all attentive.

Lunch was at the Crystal Park Cantina (178 Crystal Park Rd, Manitou Springs, CO 80829,
L to R: Chile relleno, Menu
719-685-5999). I had a chicken enchilada. Because I have an onion allergy they had to work hard to make the dish; they added a bunch of extra cheeses and some sour cream. Dave had a regular chicken enchilada with green sauce. He said that it was very good. Vince had chili relleno and really liked it. He said that it had a bite to it. He also got the green sauce. He and David had two bowls of the red sauce ~ I thought it was alright but with a strong tomato flavor. It cost extra for an additional basket of chips and a second bowl of sauce. Although we had different foods, they all looked alike when brought to our table. Prices were a bit high.

Dawson’s Family Restaurant (1709 Avenue F NW, Childress, TX 79201, 940-937-6070) has, at lunch, both a buffet and a menu from which to order. The waitress was super nice
Top L to R: BLT, Menu
Bottom L to R: Club, Salad
and run off her feet; she still did pretty well. Vince’s salad was the winner as far as looking and tasting good. My BLT was just fine, not outstanding but not horrible; the French fries, which were supposed to be ‘good today’, were soggy and a bit pasty. Dave’s club was passable. The tea was weak, but there was a lot of it.

The Red Canyon Café (128 Broadway Street #1, Eagle, CO 81631, 970-328-2232) is a
Top L to R: Salami sandwich, Red Canyon
Bottom L to R: Hot sauce, Club
small walk-up café with a tiny seating area inside and not much more room outside. The people behind the counter were friendly and efficient. Dave had a club sandwich on ciabatta bread. It had chicken, bacon, ham and avocado, as well as lettuce and tomato. He said it was very good. Vince and I shared a salami and provolone on ciabatta bread with lettuce and tomato. It was lovely. For the two sandwiches, one soft drink and two cups of tap water, the price was $20. I thought this was really high.

There are actually four places for breakfast in Gardiner: one doesn’t open until 9:00 AM, the other has nothing but street parking and the street was torn up the entire time we were in
Top L to R: Muffin and sausage, Muffin sandwich
Center: Waffle
Bottom L to R: Oatmeal, French toast, Eggs and muffin
town, and the third was a buffet. There are a couple of places you can get coffee and a nibble to go, but nothing else to sit down and order a meal. This is why we started most of our days at Rosie’s Bistro (206 W Park Place, Gardiner, MT 59030, (406) 848-7035). The food was mediocre and on the first morning the only person there was rushed off his feet and although nice, couldn’t service everyone properly. My breakfast sandwich (egg, bacon, English muffin) was dry as a bone; Vince’s muffin and sausage were the same. Dave’s muffin and eggs were alright. The second morning, the food wasn’t any better, but our waitress from the Raven Grill (see above) came to work and service was substantially better. In general, any bread product was doughy. Dave’s eggs were hard rather than medium. There never was any dressing for the breakfast sandwiches. However, Vince said that the oatmeal was pretty good.

Two and one-half carrots
Sometimes, when you’re tired of searching for places to eat you give a chain restaurant a try. Usually I like the offerings at Applebees (4025 S Loop 289, Lubbock, TX 79423, 806-785-4025); however in this case it was a poor choice. We went specifically for the soups. After we had ordered, the waiter returned to tell us that none of the soups were available. Vince had the pot stickers that were horrible. Dave had some French fries and chicken strips that were edible. I had a Caesar salad and a dessert shooter that were passable. The server tried very hard to make the best of a less than sterling experience.

We ate at the China Garden and sports bar (190 N 5th E St, Green River, WY 82935, 307-
Top L to R: Egg rolls, Menu
Bottom L to R: Sweet and sour chicken, Hot and
sour soup
875-3259) because of the menu shown on the internet; however, what was on the internet menu was not what was on their menu. Vince and I had egg rolls that we should have split. They were served with hot mustard and ketchup with a huge side of rice. The rolls were pretty good with lots of pork and vegetables; there was no duck sauce. Dave had sweet and sour chicken. He said that the flavor was pretty good, but the chicken chunks were larger than he was used to. He said that the fried rice that came with it was awful. Service was good.

One morning we chose to go into Yellowstone National Park for breakfast at the Mammoth Terrace Grill (1 Grand View Loop Road, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190). While the
Left: Breakfast sandwich
Right T to B: Sign, Biscuits and Gravy
view out the windows is nice, the offerings are fast food and not particularly good; at least the servers were efficient. Vince and I had biscuits and gravy; Dave had a breakfast sandwich. The coffee was not re-fillable.

Two carrots
If you don’t have reservations for dinner in Jackson during tourist season, be prepared to wait in long lines. Since we didn’t want to wait, we decided to have dinner at Pizza Hut (180 Powderhorn Lane, Jackson, WY 83001, 307-733-8550). The restaurant wasn’t overwhelmingly busy but the service was horrible. Dave had broccoli cheese soup; he was the smart one. Vince and I split a pepperoni/mushroom pizza with asiago cheese on the crust and balsamic vinegar drizzled over the rest. The pizza was a good idea but the actual pie was not prepared particularly well. Neither Vince nor I had a comfortable night after eating this food. 

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