29 September 2007

What Happens in Vegas can Stay in Vegas

We left Cedar City, UT on Monday the 21st. The drive through southern Utah is really pretty, very scenic, it’s hard not to just keep shooting and not really watch the road at all. I wasn’t driving, but I’m still the second set of eyes for things like deer and elk. Being that it’s fall and the rut is in full swing, watching out for animals as big as your truck is a good thing. The original plan was to drive from Cedar City to Vegas, stay an overnight in Vegas and do some touristy crap, then head into Arizona. Here is a picture of Bill and I in the truck, doing what we do. I of course had to include the Hula Girl, she's been neglected lately.

The drive to Vegas was harder than we thought it would be as they had Hwy93 closed to anything larger than a car over the Hoover Dam for construction. Bummer, Bill thought maybe we could fake it and claim ignorance until we passed the big sign with a picture of a truck pulling a travel trailer and big red circle and bar through it. That pretty sums it up. Not only was the drive hard and hard on the truck, with steep upgrades for 20miles at a time, once we arrived in Vegas it became clear this wasn’t a place for us.

We had to gas up at a truck stop before trying to continue. What madness! Getting into the truck stop was hard enough, but getting out was practically impossible. They shuffle the car and RV traffic to a different entrance than the trucks, and you have to try to get out the same way across 4 lanes of traffic with no suicide lane at a major intersection with freeway ramps…AWESOME! Who ever thought up that slice of heaven shouldn’t be allowed to breed, we don’t need more stupid people in this world.

After gassing up and having to drive down the road several miles before finding somewhere safe to turn around with 45 combined feet worth of vehicle, we started heading back to the highway. I’m hoping that by the pictures of Vegas that I’m posting most people who know us understand why we decided to skip this place. This is to say nothing about the RV park (I'll leave it unnamed) that wanted to charge us $60 a night to stay there. Oh, that includes the $8 charge per night for not having a reservation. If we ever decide to 'do' Vegas, it will be cheaper for us to get on board with a travel deal. Cheap air-fare, hotel, etc. I understand that The Strip is probably pretty cool, the Bellagio Fountain is beautiful, and it would be fun to say I played the slots in Vegas. However, my sanity and quality of life are far more important to me than the novelty that is Vegas. Nope, what happens in Vegas can stay in Vegas, I have no desire to be a part of it. We don’t drink, we don’t smoke, we don’t party, we don’t gamble, that pretty much makes Vegas nothing more than a novelty for us, and we don’t need it.

We pushed through Vegas and headed for Arizona. We arrived in Kingman, AZ that same day (the 21st) and set down for a couple of days. I’ll post about that later.


27 September 2007

Catching up on Blogs, Zion and Kolob

Catching up on my blogs. We’ve been out of Utah for several days now, but I still need to post about Zion National Park .

For my money and drive time I really enjoyed Bryce Canyon and the surrounding area better than I did Zion. If you go to Zion National Park you really need to heed the advice of getting there extremely early. If you don’t get there early you have to park in the town just south of the entrance and take a shuttle bus in. Not that it really matters since even if you park at the visitor’s center you still have to hop the shuttle busses around the park.

I understand why they have the shuttle bus system, it cuts down a ton of traffic and carbon emissions and all that, but I’m terrible ok with sitting in a shuttle bus why people sneeze and cough and don’t cover their mouths when they do it. And the body odor, my god, why isn’t hygiene a priority? On top of it all, our last shuttle driver looked like he had enough, I think it was nothing short of a miracle that he didn’t drive the bus into one of the cliffs. Can’t say that I blame him, I got hip-checked a couple of times and tourists were rushing to the next thing to see. Why are people in a hurry to have fun, doesn’t that kind of take the fun out of it? ‘By god I’m going to have fun and I’m going to do RIGHT NOW!!’ Seriously, where’s the fire? I would have loved to have taken the time to walk some of the more extensive trails and paths, but the people just ruin it. I have no interest in hiking a path, no matter how beautiful, with someone on my heels, or someone who doesn’t understand personal space, or the people who walk 2-3 abreast and look at you like you kicked their dog when you say excuse me to pass them. How dare I interrupt their walk, don’t I know the sun rises and set’s on them?

All that aside, the one place in Zion I did actually find very interesting was the Weeping Wall. This is were two different kinds of stone come together and one lets the water through while the other doesn’t so it get’s squeezed out of the wall and makes it look like the wall is a waterfall, but the water doesn’t poor over the wall, it leaks out of it. Scientists have studied the water coming out of the weeping wall and have determined that is was originally rainwater that fell on the top of the cliffs and has taken 1200 years to work it’s way through the stone and come out of the wall. When you walk the path you get ‘rained’ on, it’s really like being blessed, kind of a cool feeling, no pun intended.

We got fed up with the shuttle system and the rude tourists pretty quickly, so we decided to be done with Zion and started heading back to Cedar City. On our way back we passed the entrance to Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park. We took a spin through there and found it to be pretty and peaceful. The rock formations were interesting with the striped uplift areas and the forming arches. All in all not a bad experience, but if we ever return to the area we’ll likely stick with Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks. Or maybe head out and see Arches and Canyon Lands. Who knows where the wind might blow us.

That’s it for now, I have to go through the next set of pictures before I can post more.


23 September 2007

Cedar Breaks to Brcye Canyon

Bill and I have been in Southern Utah for a couple of days now. We’ve seen several of the parks and I’m going to post about Cedar Breaks National Monument and Bryce Canyon National Park.

The day we arrived we spent setting down, setting up, and generally recovering from our drive through the state of Utah from Montana. The following day we drove into Cedar Breaks National Monument. The hardest part of posting about these parks is picking which pictures to show, there is SO much to see in all of these places that there is no way I’ll be able to post it all, so I’ve picked just a couple, it was hard to do. Cedar Breaks NM is a pretty cool place, a little windy too. The temperature at our park when we left was over 70 degrees, as we climbed in elevation it dropped to 50 with wind. Not horrible, but I was dressed for 70's. Cedar Breaks averages 10,000', most of the overlooks were 10,300+. The colors and shapes of the rocks in incredible, they seem to go on and on. The depth of view is also something hard to depict in the photos I chose. Southern Utah is a weird mix of a bunch of different places we’ve been while still being wholly unique at the same time. There are many pull-offs in this park and several trails. We didn’t take the time to walk trails, as we wanted to see Bryce Canyon on this same day.

On our way through the backcountry roads to Bryce Canyon from Cedar breaks, we hit a wild-life-jam, but not the type we are used to. Normally when we hit a wild-life-jam it’s behind lot’s of cars stopped to see something like Elk, Bison, Bear, etc,etc. This was truly just Wildlife jammed up in the road. I laughed so hard at this I almost cried. The funniest part was driving through them, I should have kept shooting, and seeing some them get uppity about us trying to drive through. Also when you rev the engine a little, this is apparently a signal to the males to mount, it was funny. Mostly they just ran along with us for a while and it took us about 5 minutes to drive through them all. And when I say they ran with us, I really mean they kind of pranced, sheep don’t really run. The hardest part was keeping an eye of them to make sure they didn't walk into the truck, or in the case of the one that was peeing while it tried to get out of our way, making sure they didn't mess on the truck. We might have ended up with lamb dinner and wool for my mom to spin if one them peed on the truck. Those of you who know my husband and how much he loves his truck will understand.

Just before you drive into Bryce Canyon, you have to drive through Red Canyon. This is a beautiful place that is listed as a less traveled area, I’m not sure why. If we ever make it back to this area I would love to take the time to walk some of the trails through Red Canyon, what a beautiful place. My pictures really don’t do it justice. The reds, greens, and blues are intense and I just couldn’t get my camera to see it the way I was.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Wow! I have so many pictures I want to post and I’ve narrowed it down to still too many. Gorgeous absolutely gorgeous. Bryce has similar rock and color structures as some other places, but the scale of it is what hits you in the face. When you stand on the rim and look into miles and miles of these rock formations, and it looks like it goes forever, it really puts things into perspective. These rocks are hundreds of thousands of years in the making, what’s my 32 years compared to that?

I particularly enjoyed the Natural Bridge (actually an arch by definition) ,

The Grotto,

and what I call the Tulips. We also had to take a picture of Thors Hammer since it’s a big enough attraction to make it onto the National Parks Map.

I’m going to finish this blog by posting two of my favorite pictures so far. The last stop we made coming out of the park had the sunlight hitting some of the formations just right to get great color and depth. Then I turned around and saw the rock glowing like fire, these pictures come close to showing the reality of it, if anything reality is again more intense, it was really something.

We went to Zion and Kolob today, but I’ll be posting about that another time. It’s almost 9pm and I need to finish this up.


21 September 2007

Montana to Utah

The day before we left Montana we woke up to cooler temperatures and snow on the mountain peaks, we figured it was good that we were leaving the next day since we are currently living in a lightweight travel trailer that I’m pretty sure wasn’t designed to handle snow, let alone Montana snow. This picture doesn't do it justice, I snapped this out of the truck window going 75 mph.

We departed Montana around 8am on the 19th and drove through Yellowstone National Park. As we drove through the park I snapped some photos with our little camera while we were moving. I’m pleasantly surprised by how well this camera did on the move. The image with all the steam and the fence, I don't know if you can see him, but there is a man in the steam surveying the ground. I only snapped a few to have to post here, we’ve been to Yellowstone for the last 4 years and I have many other photos posted on this blog in other months and years. Look them up in the June/July time frames for the past years and you’ll get to see many other photos of the park.

We were also treated to a parade on the way out. We were number 3 in the parade line behind a 5-wheel that was being led by a buffalo. It slowed us down a bit, but was pretty cool to get these pictures. These animals are huge and the only

thing that goes through my mind as we drive past them this close and that slowly is, “please don’t let this be a ‘when animals attack’ moment." Even sitting in our truck, which sits pretty high, you feel small when you pass by these guys.

After the parade, we made it out of Yellowstone without incident. We drove past a ‘wildlife jam’ that was for a pair of Bald Eagles sitting in the trees, they were too far away to shoot and we were towing so it wasn’t convenient to stop.

We were going to stop for the night in Pocatello, ID, but made really good time and decided to push through. I snapped a couple of pictures (going 60+ mph) of some of the fall color we were seeing as we drove. The patches of fall color that were set against the dark green of the evergreens was incredible, but it was also too far away for my little camera to get. This was our first time through this part of Idaho, before we always drove through Couer d’Alene. It was a pretty drive for the most part. Idaho Falls looks really uneventful, but Pocatello looked like a cute place. That’s about all I have to say for our time (a few hours drive) through Idaho.

Into Utah, northern Utah is a dump. I’ve never seen so much pollution and they have a very unique color of pollution. Mostly I’ve seen pollution be grey, brown, and various shades and mixes of grey and brown. Northern Utah has baby-diaper-yellow pollution, it’s really disgusting. I had to pop Sudafed like it was candy and I was still sneezing every 5 minutes and couldn’t really breathe. I tried taking pictures of it, but my camera just couldn’t understand that color so it washed it out. The entire expanse of northern and central Utah is really disappointing, and likely a drive we won’t do again. I’d rather drive through Cali and LA than go back through northern and central Utah. Having said that, southern Utah is beautiful. We are currently in Cedar City (just arrived yesterday) and are looking forward to visiting Bryce and Zion National Parks. The air here is clean, the sky is blue, today it’s going to be 80degrees, and I’m a happy woman.

Well, I gotta go, we are going to go into one of the parks today and I need to get ready.

More pictures coming soon.

18 September 2007

Welcome back to Montana

Yesterday (Monday, 17 September) we drove down into Gardiner to a shop that carry’s the yummiest huckleberry candles you’ll ever smell. They were closed of course, figures. Since we were down there we figured we’d drive into the park (Yellowstone National) and renew our pass. We used to have the Golden Eagle pass, but they replaced it with the Interagency Pass, or something like that.

We bought our new pass at the front gate (north entrance) and drove into the park. Not even 5 miles in we got to see one of the only animals we’ve never seen in the park before and we’ve been coming to Yellowstone every year for the last 4 years. That’s right a family of Bighorn Sheep. We’ve seen these guys in the Badlands, but never in Yellowstone. We sure got to see them this day. When we drove in they were all in the river. On our way out they had started to cross the street and go up the hill. It was really pretty cool.

We continued to drive in, figured we’d make a u-turn at Mammoth and head back home, it was dinnertime after all. But driving up to Mammoth paid off, we got to see a big bull Elk who had just sat down for a rest. The elk are in the Rut right now so you have to be very careful, this guy looking pretty worn out, all that mating I guess, and there weren’t any females with him. They get very defensive when they are with their harem.

All in all it was a very eventful, quick trip into the park. We are going to go in again today and actually drive the park. We’ll pack up a lunch and spend the day there.

It’s SO good to be back on the road.


17 September 2007

Starting From Scratch

So I was going to go through and post images from our time in Florence, OR but I’m losing patience with that. I can’t find some of the pictures I wanted to post and I so don’t have the patience to hunt through the 20-50 discs of images that we’ve collected. I’ve made the executive decision to start from scratch.

This is a new adventure for us, with a new house (RV), and a new way of doing things. So we’ll start over.

We left Florence on the 12th of September and stayed in Portland for a few days to get our bearings and see the guys. While in Portland, Bill and I finally made it to Voodoo Doughnut. This place has been featured on a couple of different travel shows and has become a bit of a Portland Icon. They used to only be open from like 8pm till 6am or something like that for the late-night crowd. Since being featured on TV they have changed that to being open 24/7. I guess that’s the price of fame.

I’ve had doughnuts at Krispy Kreme’s across the country, we’ve even made the drive to Austin, TX (we were in the area already) for Round Rock Donuts. As far as doughnuts go, Voodoo wins just because they are unique. Yes, they do normal doughnuts, but they also get a little bizarre and even they’re normal doughnuts are better than some places. If you’re in PDX and craving a doughnut, check them out.

We departed PDX on Saturday morning and drove through to Spokane, WA. Spent one overnight in Spokane and from there drove into Montana on Sunday. We will be here in our favorite place in MT until Wednesday morning then start the trek south. I’ll be posting as we go. We will be stopping and staying in places we’ve never been before so that will be exciting. I’ve started carrying our ‘little’ camera with me in my purse so we don’t have to have moments of “that’s totally awesome, wish we remembered the cameras”. Our little camera is a Cybershot 7 or 8 megapixels (can’t remember).

Since I don’t have any ‘new pictures to post here, here are a couple of the ‘new’ house. These aren’t shots of our actual house, but pictures that Bill snatched off the internet of an RV that is the same make and model (mostly) as ours. These pictures are also the same interior colors as ours.

That’s it for now, stay tuned, there WILL be more coming soon.