A Travellerspoint blog

Winter in Yellowstone National Park, Day 1

Old Faithful Tour, bison, elk, coyote, geysers.

semi-overcast 20 °F

My friend Chris came back from Thailand Dec. 10th. He commutes, 8 months in Thailand, 4 in Las Vegas. We both saw a National Geographic channel show on winter in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) last winter. He had some health problems last winter and we never could go. I e-mailed him that I would like to go this winter and he agreed. YNP opens for the winter on Dec. 15th, so I picked Dec. 16th-18th. I got online and booked a room at the Stage Coach Inn in West Yellowstone (WY). I used booking.com and I was quoted $59/night for 2 queen beds, BF included. I used booking.com because they allow you to cancel with no penalty up to 4 days before your arrival. If you book with the hotel, you have to cancel within 20 days. I called the Buffalo Bus Company (BBC) and the Stage Coach Inn on Dec. 12th. I had been checking the weather on the Internet, not much snow in WY. Both guys I talked to said to cancel, the snowmobiles were not going out, not enough snow. I cancelled and let Chris pick a date in January. He picked Jan. 12-14th. I called Charlie at BBC and he recommended the Branding Iron Inn (BII). Newer rooms, better BF. I was quoted $69/night for those dates. Stage Coach was quoting $69 as well. I again used booking.com and booked 3 nights at the BII. As the date approached, I called both BBC and BII. Yes, they now had plenty of snow. Plan A was to leave early am on the 12th and drive straight to WY. Chris came over at 6:15am, we loaded up my van and headed out. I drove to Beaver UT, bathroom break and Chris took over. On to Ogden UT, we stopped for petrol. Good news, UT was cheaper than Vegas. We paid $1.92/gallon. I took over and we hit WY at around 6pm MT time. You lose 1 hour time change. Chris went to Oregon and wanted to see the game against Ohio State for the NCAA National Championship. I checked in using my credit card and was assigned room 405. It was upstairs and Chris asked if they had a downstairs room. Since they were only 30% full, they did. The front desk clerk then assigned us room 305. I drove close to 305 and we unloaded the van. We never stopped for food during the 11 hour drive to WY. I had fruit and granola bars, water. Chris brought his snacks for the 11 hr drive. We both can do w/o a real meal on travel day. Chris wanted pizza while watching the game and walked over to a pizza place. They delivered it to the room and we ate pizza and watched Ohio State dominate Oregon. Chris gave up in the 3rd quarter and played on his laptop. I showered, read my book and at 11pm we called it a night.

Both of us are poor sleepers in our own beds, did not get better in a hotel bed. I forgot to bring my own pillows. With the van, I had plenty of room. My bad. Won't make that mistake again. I was up at 6am and headed over to the BF room. It was cold, zero (-15c), but I had my old ski clothes, so I was prepared. Omelets with cheese are in a chafing dish and I picked that plus peaches, toast & hot chocolate. I chat with a snowmobile couple until Chris arrives. I like to shower right before bed, he prefers a morning shower. Chris picks what he wants and by 7:30 we head for the room to get ready. We clean-up, get our cold weather gear on, backpacks with cameras plus snacks and head for the lobby. Chris booked the tour with BBC when we checked in, $120 each with the taxes. There are plenty of seats for the Old Faithful tour which runs everyday. I had booked the Canyon tour for Wed. on the phone when I booked the room. They only go Mon. Wed. Friday to the Canyon, $130 each with the taxes. BBC warned me that the Canyon tour can sell out, so that is why I pre-booked. I get on the computer to check e-mails and wait for the BBC tour guide. Brad shows up around 8:20am. He has a large school bus, seating about 30. We sit as close to the door as possible and he proceeds to the other hotels picking up guests. We head out for YNP around 8:45am. We both had the Senior Pass for our National Parks, but others had to pay $10 entrance fee. You pay BBC when you pay for the tour. Into the park, we are now in Wyoming. Most of YNP is in Wyoming, just a bit in MT & Idaho. First stop is along the Madison River. It never freezes because of all the hot water dumped into it daily by the thermal features in YNP. We get a few frost cover tree shots and then see another BBC bus stopped. A sure sign of something to photograph. Some bison are grazing across the Madison River. Everyone piles off and we try to get our shots. Our first bison encounter. It won't be the last.


After everyone has their photos, we had for Madison Junction. All tour and snowmobiles stop at Madison for bathroom, snacks, to warm up. I checked the temperature, at 10am it was 5f (10c). Madison is around a 15 minute rest stop. Always a good idea to hit the bathroom, it maybe awhile before your next chance. I chat with some snowmobile riders from Atlanta Georgia in the warming shed. It cost them $300/day for: snowmobile, warm clothes, guide. You must have a guide when you enter YNP in the winter, snowmobile or snow coach. No private driving in the winter. Unless you win a lottery system that YNP has set up for those with their own snowmobile. If you win, you must attend a course on safe riding in YNP. None of the people we chatted with were on their own.

After the rest stop, we head towards Old Faithful (OF). The next stop is Lower Geyser Basin (LGB). We get out and Brad leads up to the geothermal features of LGB. It is still cold and we walk briskly to keep warm. Brad tells us about the different hot pools, mud pots, steamers, etc. We are there about 45 minutes and are ready for the heated snow coach.


We are encouraged to shout out when spotting anything worth stopping for. Someone spots some ducks, but not worth stopping for. My shot is through the window. There are elk and bison grazing around the Midway Geyser basin (MGB), but are so far away it makes for a difficult photo. A few bison finally wander close enough for a decent shot. This is the one photo we all want: a bison with a geyser going off. After some time at MGB, we are off for (OF).


I find out that Brad has been keeping track of the time and is trying to hit OF when it is scheduled to erupt. The Park Rangers time each eruptions and calculate when the next eruption will occur. When we get out of the snow coach, OF is starting to erupt. Our tour group fast walks the trail behind the Visitor Center. I start snapping away as I get closer to OF. After OF has stopped erupting, we chat with the ranger about the next eruption. Brad allows 2 hours at OF and the ranger expects the next eruption to occur in about 90 minutes. Chris starts walking the trail and I choose bathroom and movie inside the VC. I chat with the ranger and suggests walking to Castle Geyser, crossing the Firehole River and walking back behind OF for best view. I meet Chris on the trail and we walk by Beehive Geyser. It is sporadic in its eruptions and we don't wait hoping it will erupt. I find some benches to view the next OF eruptions. While sitting there, Beehive goes off. I get some shots of Beehive and while it is going, OF goes off as scheduled. I get many shots and then head for the snow coach. Brad takes a head count and we head back for home.

We spot a coyote prowling around the Firehole River in the Midway Geyser basin area. We all pile out and get shots of him walking towards a bridge. All the animals at YNP have figured out that we are no threat to them. We take photos and stay away from them and they know it. He ignores us and causally crosses a bridge with hikers not 50ft (15m) away. Brad gets us all back on the bus head for Madison. Short bathroom break and we head back to WY. We spot bison walking across the road and stop for them. Along the Firehole River someone spots a red fox looking for mice under the snow. Brad tells us this is a rare sighting. The red fox usually hunts at night. After the red fox sighting we head back for home. Someone shouts out that there is a bull elk by the river and we pull over. We all pile out and the elk poses long enough for most of us to get a decent photo before he wanders back into the trees.

That was our last stop, we leave the park and start dropping off passengers. When we hit the BII, we get out and I give Brad a $20 tip for both of us. The handout on Yellowstone tours suggests a 10-15% tip for your guide. We both felt Brad did a very good job spotting animals, explaining the geothermal features and making YNP understandable. We hit the room, get rid of our backpacks, bathroom and head for the lobby. We ask the front desk clerk for affordable dinner suggestions. She suggests the Slippery Otter Pub across Firehole Ave. We walk over and check out the menu. I see soup & salad for $10, good enough for me. Chris wants french dipped sandwich & fries. We agreed it was a decent meal at a decent price. Afterward, we walk across Canyon St. to check prices at the Subway shop. Basically double Vegas prices. We are quickly finding out there are few bargains to be had in WY, esp. in the winter. Many places are closed until summer. Just not enough customers to stay open. Those that do stay open need to gouge every dollar out of the few customers that show up. Well, that is a bit harsh, but it does feel that way sometimes.

Back to our room, I spot the hot tub sign. Sounds good and I decide to soak before showering. I had the room to myself and had 2 hot tubs to pick from. One was set at 104f (40c) and the other at 100f (38c). I pick the hotter one and last about 15 minutes. I then see that I will have to shower in my room. There is no shower in the hot tub room. I get dressed, back to the room, shower, clean up and watch some TV. Chris fires up his laptop and edits today's photos. At 10pm we were both ready for bed. Day one of our Yellowstone adventure is over.

Posted by vegasmike6 23:50 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Winter in Yellowstone National Park, Day 2.

Day 2. Tour of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Norris Geyser Basin. Home

sunny 20 °F

Day 2.
I had a little better night's sleep, but was still awake at 6am. I quickly dressed for the cold walk to the breakfast room, waking Chris in the process. I went over and had the same as yesterday: omelet, toast, peaches, hot chocolate. Good Morning America was on and I watched until Chris came over. 4 guys on a photography tour came in, we recognized them from the day before. They basically go to the same places that we do, but stay longer. They leave at 7am, our tour starts picking up passengers at 8am. Photo tours charge a set price per van load. If you can get at least 8 to go, the price is about the same as a regular tour. After BF, back to the room to clean up and get ready for the tour. Over to the lobby at 7:30, I check my e-mails. At shortly after 8am, our snow coach pulls up. A smaller van than yesterday, this one seats 14 and Anthony is our guide. They use the smaller vans for the Canyon tour because the Park Service has not approved the larger buses for this tour. The Old Faithful tour is more popular and they need more seats everyday. The Buffalo Bus Company alone has over a 100 seats a day for the Old Faithful tour and there are several other tour companies.

We are the first to load and pick the seats right behind Anthony. That way we can be first off the van at each stop. 6 of us were at the Branding Iron Inn (BII), the rest over at the Hilton. A quick stop at the tour office for paperwork and we were off by 8:30am. Same routine as yesterday when we hit the Park entrance. The ranger checks that all have paid to enter the park. First stop is by the Madison River for the frost covered tress. Anthony tells us that the water vapor from the river is why these trees have much more frost than those away from the river. The Madison River never freezes due to the high volume of heated water that the thermal features pumps into it each day. Yellowstone recorded a low temp of -66f (-54c) a few winters ago and the Madison River never froze. This is why many waterfowl use Yellowstone to spend the winter. They don't have to fly any further South to find open water and a plenty of food. The same bison as yesterday were across the river, grazing on what grass they could find. A few of our tour that had not been in the park yesterday jumped out for a few photos. The rest of us had enough shots of these bison. We stop at Madison for a bathroom break and a chance to warm up or buy a snack. Every tour bus and snowmobile tour stops at Madison, part of the routine.

After Madison, we head for the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Anthony drives straight to Canyon Village, our lunch stop. Chris and I brought our own snacks. Many bought the box lunch offered by the tour company. I had my granola bars and an apple and chatted with others on our tour. Chris was outside getting some shots of the bison laying in the road. I looked for a trash bin after finishing my snack, but could not find one. None to be found inside Canyon Village, not in winter. Not in the bathroom either. You are expected to take your trash back to your van. They just cannot deal with the volume of trash tour groups and snowmobiles generate. Anthony found everyone and we headed out for the next leg of our tour. There is not much to see as he heads for a meadow where animals are usually spotted. I almost fell asleep as did others. Full tummy, warm snowcoach and the rocking of a moving vehicle makes many sleepy. All of us are encouraged to shout out when we spot anything worth stopping for. First up is some swans and ducks on the Yellowstone River. The river is partially frozen as it does not receive the hot water that the Madison & Firehole Rivers do. We get some great shots of the swans and off we go.


A few miles later another shout out. A coyote is hunting for mice & voles not far from the road. We all pile out and try to get a decent shot of the coyote looking for food. He pounces several times as we were watching, no luck that we saw. After the coyote sighting, we arrive at the large meadow were a herd of bison are grazing. One of the photo groups is there before us and we see some serious cameras clicking away. They have tripods and long lenses, real pros wanting National Geography quality photos. I get some I am happy with and we drive to a turn around area and get some scenic shots.

Now we head for the Upper Falls of the Yellowstone. Short walk to the overlook and a great view of the falls and canyon. After everyone has their turn snapping away, we get back on the van and head for the Lower Falls overlook. Same routine. Chris and I are first off, quick walk to the overlook and we get our shots before the others. We all agree that we got very lucky with the weather. It has been sunny most of the day, blue sky, light wind and not that cold. I checked when we left West Yellowstone, 0 (-18c). It was 5f (-15c) at Madison, high for the day was around 30f (-1c). Really perfect weather for mid January.

We loaded up and headed back to Canyon Village for a bathroom break. Now it was my turn to get some photos of the bison laying in the road by Canyon. I get about 70ft from the bull bison and try to keep a road sign between us. On full zoom, I get my shots. Back on the van, we head back. First up is the Norris Geyser Basin (NGB). My knee is starting to hurt but I hike some of the NGB trail. Just perfect conditions, I take plenty of shots of the scenic vistas of the NGB until I see that my batteries are low. I carefully select a few more shots and then my camera goes dead. My fault of course, I did not carry extra AA batteries. I shot over 300 photos in 2 days and that was all the juice 4 AA batteries had. Back to the van, I wait for the rest of the group. I told Chris I was done taking photos and would have to get copies from him for the rest of the tour.


Monument Geyser Basin & Beryl Springs are close to the road. I look at them and Chris takes a few shots. Next up is Gibbons Falls, OK but not very impressive after the falls of the Yellowstone River. After we all get back on the van, we head back to Madison. Bathroom break, snack stop. 4th time at Madison, I just chat with our tour group until time to leave. On the way back to West Yellowstone, we see a bunch of snowmobiles and tour buses stopped. A sure sign something is worth stopping for. We see a few bison, but nobody needs anymore bison photos. Sure enough, we see some bald eagles in a tree. I get out to stretch my knee and will rely on Chris to get good shots of the eagles. After everyone has their shots, off we go to WY.


First stop is the BII and 6 of us troop off. We both thought Anthony did a decent job as tour guide and I give him a $20 tip for both of us.
We hit the bathroom and then head for the lobby. We ask the front desk clerks their advice on where to have dinner. One mentions the all you can eat spaghetti dinner at The Gusher and that gets Chris's attention. We decide to drive over just to fire up the van. It sat all day yesterday and I wanted to to start it up and get it ready for the drive home tomorrow. The Gusher is over by the Buffalo Bus Company office and has a reader board advertising its spaghetti night. In we go and ask about price and what is in the sauce. Bad news for me, meat sauce is the only option. The price was $12, OK by WY standards and Chris decides to go for it. I choose soup & salad for $10. The Stage Coach Inn is right across the street and I walk over to look it over. When we were looking at a winter tour of Yellowstone NP in Dec. I picked the Stage Coach because of price, $59/night. After talking to a tour guide on the phone in early Jan. I switched to the BII. Newer rooms and better BF. The front desk clerk at the Stage Coach told me a room with 2 queen beds was $69/night, same as we were paying at BII. Back to the Gusher, I dig into my soup and salad. An OK meal, there are not that many low cost dinner choices in WY during the winter. Back to the hotel, Chris starts working on his photos, I hit the hot tub again. After a 15 minute soak, I walk back to the room for my shower. One small quibble with the BII is the lack of a shower in the hot tub area. I think most would rather shower right there after soaking in the hot water. Shower, change into fresh clothes, then walk to your room. I shower, watch some TV, read a bit, then take my Tylenol PM and try to sleep. I again castigate myself for not bringing my own pillows. With the Odyssey, I had heaps of room and should have thrown them in the back. Another poor nights sleep, we are up at 6am. Over to the BF room, we load up on omelets, toast, peaches, hot chocolate. We like to steal some fresh fruit for our lunch, but don't have that choice. WY is too far from a real market to have bananas, apples available each day. After BF, clean up, pack and warm up the Odyssey. We are both grateful for the heated seats as it is 2f (-16c) this morning.

I stop at the lobby for the final bill, $243 for 3 nights. $69/night plus the taxes. Add in $260 for 2 tours plus tip, about $70 each in petrol, $30 for 3 dinners and we spent approx. $500 each for our Yellowstone winter adventure. We both felt like it was worth the time/money to visit Yellowstone NP in the winter. I doubt I will ever go again in the winter, but glad it did it while I can still walk to the thermal features. It took 11 hours to get back to Vegas, getting in at 5pm. Our winter adventure was over.

Posted by vegasmike6 12:07 Archived in USA Tagged animals winter Comments (1)

Riding the High Roller

sunny 95 °F

My neighbor Jean had her Michigan friend Diane in for a week's visit. Both were born in the UK, same week, same year. Both married US servicemen and have lived in the US since to 1950s. Diane comes to Vegas to celebrate their birthdays each June. Friends since they were age 8.
Jean asked me to drive them plus our neighbor Alice to dinner and then over to ride the High Roller (HR). Jean had most nights booked with something to do, so Friday became the night for our trip the HR. Our plan was to have dinner at a Bahama Breeze that is close to the Strip then over to the HR. Bahama Breeze was crowded, but we had a nice meal before heading over to the HR. We wanted to be on the HR when it was dark, so we strolled around the Linq shops before boarding at 8:20pm. Cost was $31 for NV residents, $36 for everyone else. It is $10 cheaper before 6pm, but we all wanted to see the lights of the Strip, so we voted to pay the $31.

The Linq Project cost $550 million and includes shops, restaurants, entertainment plus the HR. The Linq started Sept. 2011 and was finished April 2014. There were 3,000 construction jobs when being developed and 1,500 permanent jobs. Diane bought some overpriced souvenirs while we strolled around the Linq shops and waited for nightfall. Perfect weather was a plus. Warm enough for shorts, but not so hot to be uncomfortable.

The HR really never stops, but we found it fairly easy to board. Just step lively when it is your turn. There are employees there if you need assistance. There are 28 pods, each holding up to 40 people. It was not that crowded and they only put 10 in our pod. Same with the ones before/after ours. We saw empty pods go around before dark. A countdown clock tells you how far you are from the 550 ft (167m) top. All of us were snapping off photos as we hit the top and started on the way down. The HR takes 30 minutes to make a full circuit and goes by much to quickly. All 4 of us wanted to go around again, but of course that is not to be. Staff are there to help everyone off. I took Diane's arm and we stepped off. Alice helped Jean off. Certainly not a problem for most, but those with mobility issues might need a helping hand.

I think the Linq is a really well thought out project and should be a huge success. Plenty of places to eat, drink, live entertainment and of course the HR. Plenty of free parking east of the HR. Valet if you don't want to walk from the parking lot. Give it a chance when you next hit Las Vegas.

Posted by vegasmike6 20:51 Archived in USA Tagged hotels Comments (0)


Meeting up with Simon & Lisa again.

sunny 117 °F

I met Simon & Lisa Thomas in 2007 when they came through Las Vegas. It was a serendipitous meeting to be sure. A TP British couple, Allan & Gail had messaged me about touring the Grand Canyon. I met them at Circus Circus and we decided to see some Vegas hotels that first day. We toured Caesars Palace, Forum Shops, Venetian, The Wynn and next up was the MGM Grand. I valet parked at the MGM and we started walking towards the hotel. We saw these very large BMW off road motorcycles and walked over to see what was going on. Not many valet park a motorcycle. Allan saw a British flag on one of the bikes and wanted to chat with some fellow Brits. Simon & Allan started talking English football and I asked Lisa about their logo: 2ridetheworld.com. We found out they had been on the road for 4 years and were going around the world on their BMWs. I took some photos, got their address card. I decided to stay in touch with them and follow their journey. If we had pulled into the MGM one minute sooner we would have never met and I would not know about their epic ride around the world. When I reminded Simon of our first meeting 6 years ago, he said, "it was meant to be." That is probably as good an explanation as any.


After I got the MGM photos on my computer, I e-mailed them to Lisa. We stayed in touch a few times a year until Facebook became popular. Once they were on FB, I started following their journey weekly. When I saw they were coming back to the US, I messaged Lisa that I would treat them to a Vegas buffet if they came back to town. Simon messaged that they were going to give their presentation at the Las Vegas BMW on June 28th. I looked up the Las Vegas BMW Motorcycle dealership and reserved my spot. I messaged Lisa they were welcome to stay at our house while they were in Vegas. She said they were not sure of the plans after the presentation and they would talk to me that night. I went over early and met Simon while he was still setting up the bikes and equipment needed for their talk. It was great to see him again and reminded him of our first meeting many years ago at the MGM. Lisa arrived a bit later and I again offered them a place to stay if they needed it. It was pretty hectic at that time. Greeting everyone, selling T-shirts & photos, signing autographs and getting ready for their digital presentation. We would leave serious chatting until after the show. Simon does most of the presentation but Lisa chimes in when appropriate. The first half was almost an hour and explained why they left everything in England to start this 10 year journey, through Europe, across the Sahara Desert and then down the coast of Africa. Half time break for snacks and cold drinks. Kudos to Kurt at the Vegas BMW dealership for making the event run as smoothly as it did. Simon & Lisa picked the hottest weekend of the year to visit Vegas. We tied our all time high of 117 (47.3) both Sat. & Sunday. We had 4 days in a row of 115 (46.1) or hotter. It was toasty in an a/c car, forget riding bikes in a blast furnace. Wrong time to hit Vegas. Quick note to all TP members. Vegas is HOT!! June, July August. Best months are Oct. Nov. or March, April. Come then and you will have much better time than trying to slog around in 100 (38) plus heat. After the break, Simon took us up through South America, bit of US, back into Russia, Mongolia, India, the islands of Indonesia, into Australia and finished with New Zealand. Great presentation, beautiful photos and video of the countries they have already visited. Questions after the talk, then many wanted a signed T-shirt, then photos with Lisa & Simon. Many just did not want to leave and hung around to prolong the experience. Finally everyone left and I had a chance to talk with Lisa. I asked her if they were going to stay in Vegas a few days and she said they hoped to. I offered them our guest bedroom and they accepted.


BMW provided a room Friday night, so they would come over Sat. They needed some work done on the bikes at BMW, so we figured it would be after 2pm before they came over. That gave me time for my work out, shopping, errands. I got home, held off on lunch as we were going to hit a buffet. 4pm came and Lisa called and told me they were running late. OK, more TV & reading. After 5pm they were ready to roll. Simon has GPS so he could get to our house w/o directions. I ask him to call when he got to our gated community. He called from the gate and I drove down to get them in. It was 117 (47.2) and they were hot & thirsty after a 30 minute ride to our house. With their bikes safely in the garage, they had a quick shower and changed into cooler clothes. None of us had lunch, so we wasted little time heading for the buffet at Boulder Station. 6pm Sat. night is busy time for any buffet so there was quite a line. Simon held our place and I took Lisa over to the Rewards Center. You get a discount on the buffet if you have a Stations Rewards card. They used to allow 4 diners on one card, now only 2. A short wait to register and Lisa had her own Stations Casino card. Back in line and we had time to chat about their journey, Vegas, whatever. Great buffet at Boulder Station, many choices and it won't break your budget. After eating more than we should, we headed for home. They were both tired and did not want to go out on the town. We chatted about their 10 year journey and then off to bed.

Sunday morning I usually take my mom over to Blueberry Hill for BF. My neighbor Jean was supposed to go with us for the buffet, but she had already eaten by the time we were ready to roll. I called Jean and ask her to join us for BF. Jean is from the same part of England as Simon and thought she would enjoy meeting them. We had a very good BF and then Jean drove them to Walmart so Lisa could fill a prescription. Once back at the house, Simon had to get cracking on an magazine article that was due Monday. Since is 117 (47.2) again, nobody felt compelled to get out and do anything. They needed a relaxing day and I had nothing that needed my attention. Sunday is usually an off day for my work outs. Simon worked on his magazine article while Lisa answered e-mails and updated her journal. Both keep daily journals so they can blog about their ongoing ride around the world. Simon also writes articles for magazines to help raise money to continue their journey. At 6pm we walked over to Jean's house as she had invited the three of us for dinner. Jean is a good cook so I knew we would have a great meal. Stuffed shells, salad, Texas toast & wine for them, salad, bread for me. Good company and good food made for an enjoyable evening. Simon had more writing to do, so he and I walked home around 8pm. Lisa stayed for some girl talk with Jean. A little TV, a chat with Lisa , some reading and I called it a night. I found out Monday that Simon stayed up after 2am trying to get the article done.

Monday was forecast to be just as hot as Sunday, another 115 (46) plus day. BF and Simon headed back upstairs to finish his article on his computer. Around noon he had completed his writing and e-mailed it the magazine. I fixed a quick lunch for them and then they started loading up the bikes. 2pm and they were ready to roll. Mom came out to see them off and Jean walked up the street as well. A couple of photos and they rode off into the Vegas heat. They had to go back to the BMW dealer for a new tire before riding down to San Diego. They have several presentations scheduled over the next few weeks in Calif. to raise money to continue their around the world adventure. It was great to see them again, spend some quality time and hopefully we will meet again one day. Safe riding Simon & Lisa.


Posted by vegasmike6 16:11 Archived in USA Comments (2)

SW Winter Trip: Day 1

Las Vegas to Arches NP.

sunny 20 °F

Chris came back from Thailand and we debated where we wanted to go. We chose going over to Arches NP, Monument Valley, then on to the Grand Canyon. We wanted snow on the ground, clear skies and open roads. It snowed in Utah & the Grand Canyon on Dec. 31 and clear skies forecast for the next 4 days. We wanted to watch the bowl games on Jan. 1, so our take-off date was Jan. 2. It was my turn to drive so Chris came over at 6:30am Wed. Jan. 2. Plan A was to drive straight to Cedar City on I-15 and stop for gas. Chris paid for the fuel, I would pay for the motels. We both brought snacks, granola bars for me, candy bars, cookies for Chris. No need for lunch. We decided to drive straight to Arches NP and take as many photos as we could before sunset. We hit Arches NP about 2:30pm and drove to the Landscape Arch trail-head. Bad decision. It was too cold, windy and the trail was in the shadows. We saw a Park Ranger and he advised us that a morning hike made more sense. No argument from us. We drove back to the Windows area and started walking. The sun was still high enough for some decent shots. We hung around until sunset to try and get a shot of the setting sun through Turret Arch. Not really worth the effort was our decision. We took a few, but nothing special. When it was too dark to shoot, we headed out for Moab.

It was pretty cold after sunset, my car thermometer said it was 14 F (-9 C). Pretty cold for Vegas guys. Chris had just come from Thailand, so he was really feeling it. We had not had a real meal all day, so first stop was Denny's. I like BF even at night, so I pulled in when we spotted Denny's. I had pancake & eggs, Chris voted for a burger. Decent food at an OK price. Right next door was a Super 8 Motel advertising $49 rooms. We had stayed at JR's Desert Inn when we were in Arches NP during the summer. Nice big room at a decent rate. We drove through Moab and were going to price JR's. Their sign was off and the door locked. I guess they were not interested in what little trade there was on a Wed. night in Jan. We did check another motel that advertised $49 rooms, but it was pretty run down and no BF. Back to the Super 8 and we checked in. I used my AARP card and the total for 2 queen beds plus hot BF was $53. We pulled as close to our room as we could and unloaded.
Since it was only a 3 day trip, we each had 1 small bag plus cameras. I thought the room was great. Everything was clean and looked updated. Huge TV, fridge, microwave, coffee maker, very nice room. I gave it a good review on tripadvisor. There was a bowl game on, so I watched football and Chris edited the photos he took in Arches. I showered first and called it a night at 10:30pm. Day 1 of our winter adventure was over.

Posted by vegasmike6 22:26 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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