Category Archives: 2013 Eight States Trip

2013 March 6 – Zion National Park, Utah (Part 1)

Not long after we crossed the boundary into Zion National Park in southwest Utah, I realized I had a problem.  Every turn in the road, every twist of the head would bring into focus another amazingly colourful rock bluff or hill; or an interestingly-shaped stone pillar.  Within a mile or so of our drive through the park I had taken dozens of photos.  Now, in the age of digital imagery this is not a major problem, since you don’t have to pay to get them printed, but it did create a great deal of photos to go through and choose what to keep.  This too, is not a big problem if you are at home with all the time in the world to go through them, but back in 2013 I was not writing a blog, I was posting each day’s photos on Photobucket in the evenings for family and friends at home.  Which, with hundreds of photos to go through in the hotel each evening made for some late nights, or skipped uploads.  Not a big deal except for my CDO tendencies. However, having decided to go back to our trips (before 2014 when I began my blog) and write about them, I encountered the ‘so-many-photos’ problem once again.  I have tried to scale down the pics, but I am very aware there are still many photos in this blog – as there will be in the posts about all of the National Parks we visited in southern Utah.  I apologize in advance.  Feel free to scroll through them quickly.  I loved all the colours and lines and shapes so, to me, every photo I have selected is interesting.  You don’t have to fake the same interest.  I will never know the difference; and I wouldn’t blame you anyway.                                               Checkerboard Mesa

We drove the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway from the east entrance into the center of the southern part of the park and then went north on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.  In the summer months the Scenic Drive must be taken by shuttle buss, but because we were there so early in the season we were able to drive the 10 km (6.2 miles). The beginning of the trail – up the rock face.  Thank goodness for handrails.From the first turn on the trail we could look back to the road and the tunnel we would be going through once we completed our hike to the Pine Creek Canyon Overlook.

                              The route is not for the faint-of-heart.You have to admit, the view from the overlook is worth the hike. (The image above is a vertical stitch – I took about five photos vertically because the view was so deep, and then stitched them together. You really get a sense of the length of the valley and the height of the surrounding cliffs.)The trail has some roughly-defined sections.  I would not want to tackle this bit if it was wet.

 Once we were back down we headed through the long tunnel and up the many switchbacks to the Scenic Drive junction.

Our first stop along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive was the Court of the Patriarchs.         From left to right; Mt Abraham, Mt. Isaac and Mt. Jacob.  To be continued….

2013 March 5 – Grand Canyon, AZ to Kanab, UT (Part 2)

We left Grand Canyon through the East Entrance Station and headed up Highway 89 towards Kanab in Southwest Utah.  Not too far along the road we came to the Navajo Nation Gorge.  The band has a huge craft market in the parking lot during the summer, but since it was still early spring there were only a few vendors set up.  The walk along the gorge was hair-raising: a very uneven and rugged trail right along the edge of a VERY LONG drop. If you look closely at the photo above you can just make out the muddy water of the Colorado River cutting through the gorge.                Layers, and layers, and layers of cut-away rock. Whatever you do, do not go past the railings along the path.  It is a long, long way down.I wondered quite often during those days at the Grand Canyon, and again at the Navajo Gorge, “What on earth did the first scouts think when they encountered these massive slices in the earth?”  It must have been very daunting to try find a way around them in such a dry and barren land.

Highway 89 North takes you through the Painted Desert, a section of very aptly named hills and bluffs.              Multi-layer ribbons of colour in rock.  Totally cool! After crossing the Colorado, the road climbed the Vermilion Cliffs  We were driving along, and came around a corner and off to the side of the road was a huge wide space where lived “The Cliff Dwellers.”  Some of these massive boulders are the size of a tiny house. We pulled over at an historical marker commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Domínguez–Escalante expedition, which was a Spanish journey of exploration conducted by two Franciscan priests, Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante (for whom Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is named), to find an overland route from Santa Fe, New Mexico to their Roman Catholic mission in Monterey, on the coast of northern California. Domínguez, Vélez de Escalante, and Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco, acting as the expedition’s cartographer, traveled with ten men from Santa Fe through many unexplored portions of the American West, including present-day western Colorado, Utah, and northern Arizona.

I have no idea what all the numbers on this bluff refer to.  Might be interesting to check it out.

We spent the night in Kanab, just outside the boundary of Zion National Park.

2013 March 5 – Grand Canyon to Kanab, Utah (Part 1)

We spent our second day at the Grand Canyon touring the eastern part of the South Rim.  We took the Park Shuttle to Yaki Point and worked our way back to the Visitor’s Center where we had parked our car after checking out of the hotel. The shuttle picked us up and took us to Pipecreek Vista. From Pipecreek Vista we walked the Rim Trail back to the Visitor’s Center, collected our car and drove along Desert View Drive, with stops at Grandview Point, Moran Point, and Lipan Point.

The Visitor’s Center and Watchtower at Desert View near the East Entrance to the Park.

                In some ways the photos just look phony.

Looking down on the Visitor’s Center from the watchtower at Desert View.  The watchtower was a mini-museum featuring Navajo art. We exited Grand Canyon National Park at the East Entrance and headed north along Highway 89 toward Kanab, Utah where we were to spend the night before embarking on our journey through the five National Parks in southern Utah.

2013 March 3-5 – San Diego to Grand Canyon

When we returned to San Diego after our cool and wet cruise to the Hawai’ian Islands we headed up the old coast road through all the little oceanfront towns, one blending into the next, and spent the night with our friends in LA that we were unable to visit on our way south.  The next day we drove across California to Kingman, Arizona. Then we headed east via a section of Route 66 through Seligman. We arrived at the Grand Canyon in plenty of time to spend most of the day seeing the sights.  We entered through the South Entrance Station, parked at the Visitor’s Center, and walked over to Mather Point. Yavapai Point was further down the same trail so we wandered over. It is quite amazing how different the canyon and the rock formations look from one spot to another.  I kept thinking, during the day; enough photos already, but I still never quit.  I guess I was just warming up for the parks in southern Utah.  This little guy was obviously used to people being close by.  We went back to the car and drove to the end of the road past the Village and then walked the canyon rim trail to the end at Hermit’s Rest.For the crazy and intrepid, there is a trail to the bottom of the canyon.  The sun was getting low by the time we reached Pima Point.One of many sets of white water on the Colorado River.We met a lovely tawny Great Dane at Pima Point.  He was a cuddler.

At Hermit’s Rest there is a small hut that, in the summer, hosts a snack bar. There is a shuttle bus, the only vehicle allowed on the Rim Trail, that will take you back to the parking lot.  We were happy to hop aboard.  We picked up the car, drove to our hotel and settled in for the night.

John, for some reason, felt the need to do an ‘infinity shot’ in the hotel bathroom….

2013 February 16 – March 2 – Cruise to the Hawaiian Islands

We had headed to southern California to escape winter in BC and decided we would like to get a bit warmer than a California winter so we booked a 14-day return cruise out of San Diego to the Hawai’ian Islands.  The weather was lovely the day we set sail.  And the weather was lovely two weeks later the day we returned to San Diego.  All of the days in-between were rainy and cool!  Every single day!  So much for getting warm in Hawai’i!  It was the first time I was ever happy to get off a cruise ship.  Absolutely crazy.It seems to me that half of the world’s ports have a three-masted schooner tied to a berth.  They are all over the place.  I love them though.

We have been to Hawai’i several times and have been to all the must-see tourist places so we did very little on the cruise and in the ports.  After four days at sea we docked in Hilo, on the wet side of the Big Island.  We have spent quite a bit of time on the Big Island and have been to Hilo several times.  We just walked into town from the port – and this was the only three or so hours of warm sunshine we had.  I actually got a bit of sunburn on our walk.  It took over an hour to get into Hilo, we walked the length of the main street and then walked back to the ship, arriving just as the sky opened for a torrential rain storm.

The only island we traveled around was Maui, as we have never stayed on that island, and have previously only seen Lahaina.  We rented a car and did a drive around the north west ‘thumb’ of Maui. We spent a month on Kauai a few years ago, so that island we have pretty much covered as well and felt no need to do anything but take a walk.

The last port was Honolulu on Oahu – a big city with a famous beach. Sailing away – Diamond Head is a very recognizable point in Honolulu.  And, then it was back to San Diego.

2013 February 14-16 – Las Vegas, NV to San Diego, CA

We left Las Vegas a day before our time-share week was up because we needed some time to make our way to San Diego before our round-trip two week cruise to Hawai’i departed on February 16.

First though, we drove east into Arizona to visit Hoover Dam. Some massively large fish we could see in Lake Mead from the top of the dam.From Hoover Dam we backtracked a bit, back to Boulder City in Nevada and turned south on Highway 95 to Blythe, CA where we spent the night. Along the way we traversed a section of the famous Route 66 which made John happy. I asked John to take my photo out in the middle of the nowhere and as I walked into the desert John suddenly made the sound of a rattlesnake behind me.  I jumped about 4 feet!  He laughed of course.  I was not impressed.

Driving along the southern boundary of California we passed through the Heber Dunes State Recreational Vehicle Area.  There was rolling sand dunes on both sides of the road as far as you could see.  Many people in off-road vehicles were zipping up and down the faces of the dunes having a great time. We watched them for awhile before continuing on our way to San Diego; where we spent the night before boarding the Holland America ship MS Zaandam the next day.           There is certainly no shortage of rocks on those hills.

2013 February 8-13 – Las Vegas and area (Part 4)

On our final full day in Las Vegas we again drove out of town; and went to explore Red Rock Canyon.                   This is the view from the Visitor’s Center.                   This big guy was in the Visitor’s Center.  The canyon is very popular with rock climbers and it is quite common to see helicopter rescues of people who have fallen while climbing up or clambering around on the rocks.

I put the green smudge on the rock climber in the photo on the right. You can just make him out in the photo on the left if you know where to look.

I loved all the shapes and colours in the rocks – and here, there was such a definite line between the light, almost-white, and the brick red.
            How do plants grow in solid rock? Slowly, I guess.                      Lots and lots and lots of nothing out there.The next day, February 14, we checked out of our unit – a day early -to give us time to drive to San Diego for the departure of our 14-day Hawai’ian cruise.

2013 February 8-13 – Las Vegas and area (Part 3)

We began our second day of walking the Las Vega Strip at the gorgeous Venetian.  We had been in Venice the previous spring and I was amazed at the number of well-known sites in Venice that had been incorporated into the hotel and grounds.  The main building is a mini-replica of the  Doge’s Palace.  The affect was spoiled somewhat with the large posters hanging down the front facade advertising a Tim McGraw/Faith Hill concert but the building looked just like the palace otherwise.   Below  is the Doge’s Palace in Venice and the tower at St. Mark’s Square. Above, Rialto Bridge in Venice, below ‘Rialto Bridge’ in Las Vegas.The tower at St. Mark’s Square in Venice and the tower at the Venetian.

 In Venice, the Rialto Bridge is no where near St. Mark’s Square, but on the Vegas Strip you can condense all the elements into one beautiful complex.

Even the two towers at the canal entrance to St. Mark’s Square have been duplicated at the Venetian.

We were unable to take photos inside the Doge’s Palace but the inside of the Venetian looked just like it!

As you can tell I loved the Venetian.  It was by far my favourite resort in Vegas.The Mirage is across the street from the Venetian.  Further down the strip is Paris – my second favourite casino.  Once inside you feel like you are walking down some quaint little streets in Paris under a lovely blue sky.  At night the lighting changes so it is ‘night’ on the streets of Paris in Las Vegas.  It is pretty easy to forget you are inside a large building as you wander the cobblestone ‘streets.’

The Luxor was really neat; a massive black pyramid sitting among the palm trees.

 The Luxor was showcasing the “Bodies” exhibit.  We were very tempted to get tickets and check it out but we had tickets to go up the Eiffel Tower at Paris after dark and didn’t think we had enough time.

         The main entrance to the resort is through the Sphinx. The lovely strings of lights in The Cosmopolitan and the fountain playing at the Bellagio.

We made our way back to Paris as the sun was setting and had some gorgeous views of Vegas from the top of the Eiffel Tower. The two-day walk down both sides of the Strip completed our exploration of Las Vegas.  We don’t gamble, but we did take in two shows: Donny & Marie and Cirque de Soleil “Beatles: Love.”

2013 February 8-13 – Las Vegas and area (Part 2)

We took a couple of days off and rested in the condo then spent two days walking the Las Vegas Strip.  We went down one side of the strip one day and the other side the next.  We checked out almost every casino/hotel/resort, and in the process wore out our poor feet. The Strip is LONG.  Caesar’s Palace is huge!  The complex covers several blocks.           What’s not to like about a diamond encrusted horse?The inner garden at the Bellagio has changing themes. When we were there  it was the Chinese Year of the Snake so the garden had lovely floral Chinese children and a Junk and a big snake with lucky coins.

New York, New York, from the outside, looks like a multi-building street.  They also have a fun-looking roller coaster than encircles the complex.  No expense is spared on these gambling, shopping, hotel, concert venues.

I was disappointed with the interior of Excalibur.  I expected it to be lavishly decorated in a knight’s theme, but, other than the main hallway entrance the rest was pretty subdued, and without much in the way of knights or princesses in towers.  I love the outside though.Excalibur was as far as we walked down the one side.  The Strip is longer still, but the large casinos stop about here.  There are more located in other areas around Vegas, but the main, well-known ones line the Strip.  The next day we walked the other side.

2013 February 8-13 – Las Vegas and area (Part 1)

It is only about a four hour drive from Escondido to Las Vegas, so we didn’t have to stay anywhere overnight between one place and the next.  Childhood heroes of mine.  I loved Roy Rogers and Dale Evans – and Bullet, the German Shepherd Dog, and Trigger, Roy’s gorgeous Palomino horse.The next day we drove out of the city to the old ghost town of Calico and spent a pleasant afternoon wandering around.
Calico was a mining town and several of the area’s mines are nearby. Also a section of the old railroad is still in operation on a short loop track for tourists to have a ride. The ‘beer bottle’ house is now a pet shop full of all-things-dog.After a good time being immersed in the “Old West” we headed back to Vegas and a lazy day at the condo.