USA 2006 part 1

October 30th, 2006

This blog will contain daily log entries of our Road Trip USA – see original itinerary and/or actual itinerary. I found it hard to decide on how i wanted to talk about the road trip, and decided on a daily just-the-facts-ma’am approach since my memory aint the worlds best. Colorful commentary will likely be sparse – road trippin’ wears you out, you don’t have much brain power left for the laptop.

Day 1, Monday 2006-10-23 – California

The journey began 1pm. I had just gotten back from Tahoe the night before, was still tired, so getting out the door was understandably stressful. But it felt great to start this trip, my biggest trip of 2006. We basically drove to Yosemite, stopped for a few pics, then busted on thru to the east side of the sierra nevada mountains. We made it to Lone Pine, Cali, near Mt. Whitney, where we slept solid our first night. Pretty uneventful.

Day 2, Tuesday 2006-10-24 – California, Nevada

We awoke with grand mountains at our doorstep. Beautiful. We hopped in the Jetta and zoomed our way towards Death Valley. Along the way we saw 3 jet fighters flying through the canyons – badass. and loud. We winded our way from valleys thru mountains and thru more valleys till we got to the entrance of Death Valley. This was my second time here, first time was in july 1995, and it was much, much hotter, like 110 or 120. This time it was only like 80 degrees. Our first stop was gas and a beer, second stop was the monument to the Borax mine from the 1880s. Then we hit up the visitor center then Badwater, the lowest point in the western hemisphere, at 282 feet below sea level. Lowest point in the world is by the dead sea, at 1312 feet below sea level. After badwater we headed out of death valley, driving thru Artist Palette and Zabriskie point. After death valley we zoomed towards zion,going right thru vegas (except to stop for some sushi – it was decent)to end up crasing in at virigin casino hotel in Mesquite, Nevada near arizona border.

Day 3, Wednesday 2006-10-25 Arizona, Utah

Woke up in Nevada, briefly crossed into Arizona before getting into Utah towards Zion. Right before, we passed a great tourist store in Virgin, Utah. The store was built like a fort, and they had 8 miniature old west buildings, along with sheep, llamas, chickens and a donkey. And yes, i got a picture of me petting the ass. That was a fun hour.

When we got to Zion National Park we hit up the visitor center, picked out a camping spot, then went on a hike to Angel’s landing. I was really jonesing for a nice big hike, and this 5 mile 1500 ft climb hit the spot. It was beautiful climb, fist slowly up, then through narrow passages in a small canyon to a beautiful view of the valley at scott’s landing, then along a narrow and treacherous path to the top of angel’s landing. After that hike we just headed back to our camping spot, grabbed some firewood and beers (polygamy porters), started up a fire and kicked it the rest of the night.

Day 4, Thursday 2006-10-26 Utah, Arizona

We woke up in our tent to freezing temperatures, shade, and strong winds. Fun. We broke camp and headed up the canyon for some more hiking.  We started with the Temple of Sinawava, which was just a short flat walk upstream, then we did weeping rock, where the water seeps out of the canyon walls. After those 2 short ones we ventured into hidden canyon, a little longer and more stenuous hike, but still pretty easy. Like angel’s landing, this one also had sections of walking along dangerously narrow paths on slippery sandstone so they had installed chains for hikers to hold onto. The hidden canyon was a sandy canyon that went on forever – eventually we just turned around and headed out. We left zion before sunset at the east entrance and made it into arizona into a small town called Kayenta.

Day 5, Friday 2006-10-27 Arizona, Colorado

It was nice to wake up in the Best Western after the cold camping experience. They had a nice continental breakfast where all 20 of the people in the room seem to be from france or germany. Also, when i was checking out, a old navajo woman came into the lobby with a basket and spoke to the navajo women working there in what i’m guessing to be the navajo language. It appeared that they were negotiating a price on the basket, with the old navajo woman walking out with $60 for her basket. The womenadded it to an already huge collection of baskets, jewelry, blankets, and other stuff.

Then we hit my favorite part of the trip so far – Monument Valley Navajo National Park. I really loved seeing the mesa’s proudly launching up out of the ground. In the park, we did this 2 hour driving tour in our car where we got to see like 10-20 monuments. My favorite was the mittens, which is the picture used by most when referring to monument valley. After the tour we had an Indian taco at the visitor center – the fry bread was a bit bigger and better than the indian tacos near burningman, but otherwise was just as delicious. The visitor center also had a nice display on the WWII Navajo Code Talkers.

After Monument Valley we drove to Four Corners, where you can be in four states at once – Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. After spending our 2 minutes there, we headed to Durango, Colorado to spend the night. Durango is part old west town, part high-end ski town, part college/beer town. We enjoyed tastey beers first at Diamond Belle Saloon, where everything – the bartender, waitress, and interior (except for the piano dude) – made you feel like you were still in 1880s. Then we hit Lady Falconburgh – which had 38 beers on tap. Mmmm…

Continued in part 2