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Trip report (v.long) Vegas to S.F

Bedford,U.K
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Trip report (v.long) Vegas to S.F

This report is probably too long to be a thread on here, but what the heck, as I’m not back for a few years, so if you fall asleep, save a bit for another day.

I’ve been to the western parks for few years now as I love natural and scenic wonders and did what I thought was my best 2 weeks ever solo doing a Grand Circle last year. Can’t do beaches as I get frustrated and it doesn’t relax me the same way as just looking at a sight with awe.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g143057-i1449-k495…

Trip_Report_Solo_Grand_Circle_2_16_Nov-Zion_National_Park_Utah.html

https:/…

This time I took my 64yr old mom, who wanted to keep me company as well as seeing what all the fuss was about every time I come back home and force feed my photos and videos on everyone. Now, I’ve carted 3 generations to these parts before including a niece and after a few days they start to grate on me, as they get bored. Too many red rocks! Why don’t they see the same stuff I see? I haven’t got the energy or patience to cater for so many so thought it would be a breeze with just mom. Told her lots of walking involved. She normally walks 3 miles each day into town and back for shopping so is quite fit.

Plan was 2 and half weeks (saved up what’s left of my works holiday, nothing left till March) and get everything done that I love as well as doing all the things I’ve missed out on before. Last year covered a lot around Page, M.V and Moab, and also G.C and Bryce so they were off the radar this time (or so I thought). Yosemite and PCH and S.F were definites for this year in my one-way travel from Vegas.

Don’t do foodie stuff at home or away anyway so restaurants etc are non-existent. Mom has a gluten free diet so it was always going to be difficult to get fed unless we fed ourselves. I am surprised as we have Asda here which is part of the Wal-Mart group so I told my mom not to bring any food with her since Asda is where she gets all her food from in the UK so Wal-Mart would be more than sufficient. However we found it really difficult and I felt for her at times, but we persevered. You’d be surprised how gluten free requirement in meals can be stressful when trying to sort out a meal for the night. Luckily, most our stops had microwaves and refrigerators.

Car – Nissan Versa with Alamo. This is compact believe it or not otherwise the choice was a Fiat 500!!. What’s Economy then? Last year I had Chevy Cobalt on economy. Versa it was then.

One of my faults is that I military plan. I know where I am every day and what I’m doing, so I am a squeaky bit proud that I planned 2700 miles and ended up doing 2670. Can’t believe that 50-60 miles or more were on dirt road, some expected, some not. Definitely will get an SUV or 4x4 next time.

I’m a budget traveller but was surprised how accommodation was about much more expensive that my last year’s visit in Nov. I paid more than double for accommodation in Hurricane than I did last year, and Springdale was booked out. Did I miss something happening in October in the US? However they were all fine with very comfy beds.

Uden, The...
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1. Re: Trip report (v.long) Vegas to S.F

Great pics Axel and your TR is not too long at all. Glad to hear you had such a nice trip and you are right. Prices went up a lot last years but as we never make reservations we always bargain us to a lower price. October is a great month for a visit and we never had problems to find lodging. What dirtroads did you drive? Don't think you'll need awd for Silver Reef, Grafton and the Moki Dugway. Not even for Monument Valley but high clearance would have been better there.

Tet

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2. Re: Trip report (v.long) Vegas to S.F

Sorry Tet, that was the link to last year's. Postings going up later.

Uden, The...
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3. Re: Trip report (v.long) Vegas to S.F

Wait for that.

Bedford,U.K
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4. Re: Trip report (v.long) Vegas to S.F

2nd Oct – Paid £100 ($155.00) for a 100-mile drop off at the airport as it was a school day and wife could not drop off. Arrived on time with Virgin to Vegas. Collected car at the rental center and all running smoothly. Got a few bits and bobs from Wal-Mart and finally got to ABVI ($32.00) on Tropicana. 2 mins to check in. Park outside the door with views over MGM. Got my $10.00 phone card which would last my whole stay so I could ring the little poppets at home. Me and mom had a rest for a bit before walking the Strip to Belagio and back. We were well tired and fast asleep by 9pm.

Similar to last time, I was wide awake by 1am and by 3am we had both left.

3rd Oct – En–route to Zion. Taking advice from T.A members, we stopped at St.George to pick up snacks and food items (forgot store name but did good selection of gluten free items) before heading off to Snow Canyon St Park. Never been here before and was a worthy stop. Loads of joggers and bike riders at an early hour that surprised us. Took the short walk to the sand dunes and caught a bit of fresh air.

Had gone to Silver Reef last year so as it was on the way, passed through again. This time I was a little less impressed and my mom didn’t really get it. Never mind, I told her we’ll see some other ghost towns later on.

Then straight to Kolob Canyons. Weather was great, and would be for my entire trip. Did the middle fork Taylor Creek to the double arch alcove. Few people about but not many. Loved the hike. Had read up before about water levels but had expected a trickle of a stream, and it was. End up crossing over 2 dozen times or more and the reward at the end was nice. Surprised at how big the alcove was. Mom really enjoyed this and was always a few steps ahead of me.

Back to Hurricane for our stay at Comfort Inn $68. Then food shopping again. Just how much food do we need?

4th Oct – My long awaited (well 11 months) return to Zion. Got mom prepared and told her what to expect for our Observation Point trek, confident that yesterday’s workout proved quite tame for her. Drove up the canyon in the car last year, but this time rode the shuttle, so park at the visitor centre.

Proved a very hard day. Weather was great again but after Weeping Rock, the trek up was painful for mom. The switchbacks really did get to her and I thought we’ll continue anyway but at a full days pace as I really wanted her to get to the top. (already posted re this hike). The views were worth it at the end and I know my mom felt the achievement of getting to the top, even if she did ask “are we there yet” over hundred times. I did feel a bit guilty putting her through it.

5th Oct – Checked out and headed back to Zion. Mom was going to pass on any walking today so she sat around the river reading her books. I was full of energy due to the difficult walk yesterday when 2 mismatched hikers are walking together. Was looking at the view from A.L one hour after setting off from the Grotto. Everything as I remembered and certainly much easier than first time round. Took mom up and down the canyon in the shuttle, but I think it was more for me as I knew I’m not coming back to this beautiful place for a few years.

En – route to Kanab and went via the Coral Pink sand dunes. Didn’t go right into the entrance as there’s a parking lot a little bit before with the dunes just there. It was a little bit pink too, and the sand very fine, almost like dust. Was still too early to check in at Aikens Lodge $70 so drove about 40 miles up the R89 to the turn off for the Wire Pass trail. Knew the next 8 miles were going to be bumpy and sure they were. No cars or trucks passed and my mom questioned if I was going the right way. I even doubted myself but finally we got to the parking lot and there were about 20 cars.

Walked through the dry bed wash before getting to the first slot. Got incredibly hot that day, even for early Oct. Mom couldn’t make it pass a large boulder blocking the route which had about a 6 foot drop. Made it up to the confluence then turned back.

6th Oct – Left early and headed to the N.Rim. Didn’t initially plan on doing this as I’ve seen the S.Rim 5 times but as it was so close, wanted to see the different perspective. And it was different and was so pleased we came. Just did the rim trails and drove out to Cape Royal. Love the general tinge of greenery everywhere. The location of the lodges is great for the lucky few. Was back at Kanab at 2pm after quickly stopping at Le Fevre overlook and kicking my heels. Mom was going to walk around town so I decided to shoot off to Bryce. Was here last year but was freezing all day and thick snow on the ground. Although lovely, I wanted to see it again in glorious sunshine. I’m glad I did, but was probably the shortest ever staying visitor at Bryce – about 45mins. It was worth it thou, I promise.

Back to rest for our early start to D.Valley.

pics

https:/…

Uden, The...
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5. Re: Trip report (v.long) Vegas to S.F

Thanks Axel. Link to the pics didn't work for me. For Observation Point. I've read there's a shuttle to the summit so you can walk down from there. Didnot do myself. Sorry you missed the cookies at Jacob Lake Inn on the way to NR.

Lewes, United...
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6. Re: Trip report (v.long) Vegas to S.F

Yet more bedtime reading!!!! Keep it coming ..... and thanks for posting. Haven't tried the photo link yet.

SWT

Bedford,U.K
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7. Re: Trip report (v.long) Vegas to S.F

https:/…

Uden, The...
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8. Re: Trip report (v.long) Vegas to S.F

Thanks. You have a pretty mother Axel and you're not bad yourself either !

Bedford,U.K
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9. Re: Trip report (v.long) Vegas to S.F

7th Oct – Left early from Kanab. As we’d be out in the sticks for the next few days, ended up doing grocery shopping at St.George and at Vegas again. Good job I’d brought a cooler box with me. Took R389 via Fredonia. Wanted to see what Death Valley had to offer since it was my first time so planned on going straight to Ubehebe Crater so went via 95 to Beatty. Beatty is a lot smaller than I expected so a good job we did our shopping when we had the chance.

Had about a half hour stop at Rhyolite, which is well worth the pass through. Then drove down the Daylight pass, which is about a 4300ft elevation drop. Wow. The road to the crater from the junction is probably the smoothest I’ve driven on and I’m sure is well travelled by motorbikes for the curves and undulation of the road. Again ive heard mixed reviews about Ubehebe but I found it fascinating. So much so I thought id be brave and go down. Boy, I felt like a child giggling as I ran down and within a minute or two, I was at the bottom unexpectedly slowly cooking like a lobster. I didn’t take any water and it was sweltering. Don’t go down if you’re not prepared for the climb back out. Its next to impossible as you scramble up the loose dirt.

Was a long day so drove straight to Furnace Creek and checked in by 2pm. Had a walk around the grounds which is really an oasis and nicely done, before soaking in the great pool. Took some nice evening shots as the sun sets around the surrounding mountains.

8th Oct – Zabriskie Point for sunrise. Wow, wow, wow!! I got to hand it to Mother nature who must have had a bit of fun here. So strange and colourful for 360 deg views. There are times when you don’t have to say anything, just look. Was too early for mom so a nice time for solace. Went back to pick mom and straight to Badwater basin before the sun had started its daily shift. You really need to do most sights early here. Walked about half hour out into the salt flats. Keep any eye out for the ‘sea level’ marker in the mountain behind the car park. Bumpy but easy dirt road to the Devil Golf Course. Do as they signs suggest and actually look at the formations close up, fascinating. Normal route back takes you on the Artist loop, which again is a fun drive. P.S we did start walking the Golden Canyon but unfortunately gave up after 10 min, I can’t even remember why. Artist Palette is great but make sure you get up close and personal.

Back to F.C and had to put a squirt of gas to get us out tomorrow. Even at $6.50 is still cheaper than here in the UK so no complaints from me. Then into the visitor center for a nose around. Pool time again and then a few hours of just resting. Probably the first proper resting time we’d had so far in this trip. As the day was closing in, left for sunset at Dante’s View. The 20 Mule Team Canyon was en route and worth the smooth dusty road. Dante’s was just like every photo I’d seen of it and was an impressive sight. Geography was my favourite subject at school and there’s a nice alluvial fan down below. You’d need to walk along the rim to get nicer shots than the one before and should allow at least an hour. For me thou, Zabriskie Point just pips Dante’s View as the best sight in D.V. Actually best for my whole trip.

9th Oct – Busy day in store. Checked out early for sunrise at the dunes. Probably walked out 25 mins before reaching a suitable viewpoint. Little bit chilly but soon my shoes and socks were off, doodling in the sand taking photos every few minutes as the lighting changed. Like the little footprints of the critters all around like car tyre (sorry, tire) marks. Missed out on Mosaic canyon as we weren’t up for the dirt road as was probably still too early. The drive out of D.V was one of my highlights. (As per Tet) magnificent photo opportunities a few miles before Lone Pine of Mt Whitney. Took the W.Portal Rd out to Alabama Hills. What a quirky place with rounded clumps of rocky hills with a spectacular backdrop of the Sierra Nevada. I’d googled it beforehand about driving straight through and coming back out on the 395 further up, but man, that was a long, bumpy, dirt track that id thought would never end.

Manzanar next and again, very surreal and fascinating. Watched the movie which clarifies the situation of the time. Couldn’t see the point of the self drive really as there was nothing on view except empty lots. Definitely a don’t miss sight thou. Straight to Bishop to top up fuel and groceries. Theres a Vons and Kmart at the end of town.

Now, I had the Fish hatchery lane near Mammoth scheduled as I wanted to see the hot springs and where the hot tub and others were and thought it would be fun to stop. But I missed the turn and before realising was on my way into Mammoth Lakes. One for next time, I suppose. Anyway, Mammoth Lake was far bigger and developed than I had thought as I drove en route to Devils Postpile. My annual pass was accepted here. Short easy walk to the Postpile which is a bit like the Giants Causeway in Ireland/ Staffa in Scotland. Make sure you walk to the top of the pile, mom stayed down below. It almost like a broken puzzle with pieces scattered everywhere.

Checked into the quirky, non-manned Gull Lake Lodge $125 at June Lake. Nice for our needs as it had a full kitchen with new appliances and a new bathroom. Cant put my finger on it, but it was just weird. Brief stop then drove the scenic loop out to Mono lake.

Loads of people here and we stayed for about an hour walking the various points on the mile or so, loop trail. Again, didn’t fail to impress. But left before sunset as we were well tired.

Long awaited Yosemite tomorrow, yay!

pics

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Uden, The...
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10. Re: Trip report (v.long) Vegas to S.F

You did a lot in a short time. The road to the hot springs is just before Bishop on ypour left but you didn't miss much. Neither by not doing the drives in Manzanar. Actually only the cemetary there is worth visiting and the visitor center of course. Did you stay at Furnace Creek Inn or Ranch? Zabriskie really is a highlight but often busier than Dante's View. We sat at Dante's View several times for the magnificent "sounds of silence".

I would not even think of running down Ubehebe Crater but you are much younger ;) Glad you enjoyed the photostop. You were lucky you could drive to Devils Postpile yourself. It must almost be closing time there.

Tet