A Travellerspoint blog

January 2013

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.
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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.
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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)

SW Winter Trip: Day 2

Arches NP, Monument Valley, Flagstaff

sunny 20 °F

Both Chris and I are terrible sleepers, so we were up at 6:30am. We headed for the BF room next to the front desk. They had waffles, oatmeal, cold cereal, toast, donuts plus hot/cold beverages. I chose oatmeal, waffles, hot chocolate. Chris went with the waffles, yogurt, coffee. After BF, we cleaned up and were on the road back to Arches by 7:30am. We drove straight to the Landscape Arch trail-head and got ready. It was really cold, 4 F (-15 C) according to my car. We both had good parkas and I had gloves, but my ears were taking a beating. I pulled the collar up as far as possible and started hiking. I had a cortisone shot for my knee right before Christmas, so my knee was not hurting like it has been for many years. When we got into the sunny part of the trail, it got better. Still cold, but at least we were in the sunlight. Landscape Arch is probably the best known arch in the park. There were only 4 others on the trail at 8am so we felt we had the place to ourselves. We got our shots and started back.
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There are 2 other arches on the way back. We never did hike over to them in the summer, so we got off the main trail for Pine Tree Arch. Nothing special but worth a 10 minute detour. Same with Tunnel Arch. A few shots and we headed for the car. It was good to get out of the cold and warm up after about an hour of walking. We stopped at Skyline Arch for a few shots and then on to Sand Dune Arch. It is a narrow canyon and not sure it is worth the effort. You can walk under it very easily and it is probably the lowest arch we saw. We agreed that we had enough photos of Arches and we headed for the Visitors Center.
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We passed on it yesterday and both of us needed the restroom. We did not go into the VC this summer, so it was worth some time to walk through it. Nice gift shop, small museum, Ranger Desk. 10 minutes and we were ready to hit the road again.
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We headed back to Moab, loaded the car with gas and headed for Monument Valley. We stopped at Wilson Arch on 191, about 40 minutes South of Moab. Got out to stretch and pop a few photos. The snow makes it more interesting than our summer photos. We hit Monument Valley around 2:30pm, paid the $10 entrance fee and headed down the loop. The road is dirt, but is in decent enough shape to take my Avalon over it. Just go slow and you won't have any problems. At least in winter. Maybe after a rain it might make sense to take the tour. Not the day we were there. However, we were disappointed how little snow was left. It had been 3 days since it snowed and most of it was gone by the time we got there. We spent about an hour, stopped for a few shots and headed out. We did stop at the MV Visitors Center for a bathroom break and tour the gift shop. I decided to help the Navaho's out and bought a travel coffee cup, $10. I will use it for hot chocolate in the room tonight.
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We left MV and started driving for Flagstaff. Unfortunately we were heading almost due West on 160, driving straight into the setting sun. It was a real chore to see the road. The sun was below the sun visor and I was using my hand to block it. Not fun I can tell you. Finally 160 turned enough South that the setting sun was not a problem anymore. We hit Flagstaff about 6pm and were ready to eat. Chris voted no on Denny's so we picked Pizza Hut. Large pizza plus salad bar was $8 each. Chris went to Univ. of Oregon and they were playing in the Fiesta Bowl against K-State. We watched the game while we ate and just relaxed after a pretty long day of driving. Oregon crushed K-State, so Chris was happy. Next up was to find a room. There were several motels around the Pizza Hut, but all were close to $100. I thought we could do better than that so we kept driving on 160. We saw the Luxury Motel stopped to priced it. They did not have many guests so the lady was willing to bargain. She quoted us $50 with an AARP card. The room was not nearly as nice as the Super 8, but good enough. It had wi fi so Chris was happy. He spent the next couple of hours editing that days photos. I showered, watched some TV, read my book and called it a night at 10:30pm. Day 2 of our winter adventure was over.

Posted by vegasmike6 19:38 Archived in USA Tagged parks Comments (0)

SW Winter Trip: Day 3

Grand Canyon NP, back to Vegas.

sunny 20 °F

Chris did not sleep very well and turned on the lights at 6:15am. He likes to shower in the morning, gets him going I guess. Since the Luxury Motel does not have BF, we were out the door about 6:45. We drove straight to Grand Canyon NP. We hit the entrance station just after 8am, showed my Senior Pass, got our maps and headed for the Visitor Center. Closed. It does not open until 9am. We walked to Mather Point. Just a 5 minute walk from the VC. Plenty of snow on our side of the canyon. Nothing on the North Rim side as it gets direct sun most of of the day.
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We got what we could and hit the VC at 9am and talked to the Ranger. We decided on heading to Pima Point, stopping at the overlooks along the way. We saw 3 deer just off the road as we approached Trailview Overlook. They were on Chris's side, so I handed over my camera. There was plenty of snow on our side of the canyon, nothing on the North Rim side. Got a good shot of the Bright Angel trail below us. Next up was Powell Point. Out for photos, on to Hopi Point, then Mojave Point. It was now apparent that all the overlooks would be the same. Snow on our side, nothing on the North Rim side. Chris was a bit discouraged that there was so little snow. We agreed that we had all the photos we wanted of the canyon and started back to Vegas.
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I stopped at the Planes of Fame Air Museum at Valle. I thought it was worth a photo and stopped for a minute. We made it to Kingman before stopping for a bathroom break and gas. Chris figured up our expenses and I owed him $20. It cost me about $130 for 2 nights lodging, food, gas. Not bad for 3 days of driving through the Southwest. We hit Vegas around 3pm and mom was glad I was home in one piece. Our 3 day SW adventure was over.

Posted by vegasmike6 00:04 Archived in USA Tagged parks Comments (0)

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