Saturday, July 30, 2011

Monsoon season in Arizona? Really?

Hi everyone,

We woke up in the Grand Canyon to two different yet equally fascinating events.  The first event was the discovery of elk wandering through the campgrounds. Obviously they are quite used to humans since they just hung out, eating whatever scrungy food they could find.  In fact, they’re obviously used to stupid, moronic humans since every last one of us who saw this band of wild animals traipsing around grabbed our cameras and started snapping photo after photo of them. Carol reminded us that while elk are herbivores, they had big nasty antlers and could turn and charge at you whenever the mood struck them. It was at this point that we ushered the kids away and hoped the elk would leave and bother someone else.  But we still got lots of great pictures!!!

Shortly after that the rain started.  And not just some sweet little rain.  I’m talking about driving rain that sent us into our tent and had me cursing that I ran out of time last night to apply the tent sealer.  Apparently, it’s monsoon season in the Arizona desert.  What?! Monsoons?!  I thought those happened in SE Asia not in Arizona and not during my perfectly planned vacation!

We hunkered down in the tent for about 30 minutes.  When it became clear that we might be stuck with this all day, it being monsoon season and all, we decided to go into Tusayan and see the IMAX movie we ran out of time for the previous night.  The movie was kind of campy but the scenes of the canyon were beautiful and so were the times when the film made you feel like you were flying through or over the canyon itself.  This was a good thing to do during the rain and it had significantly lightened by the time we got out.

We hit the Bright Angel Trail as scheduled for the day.  We hadn’t even seen the canyon in person yet so you can imagine how excited we were when we pulled up to the rim to begin our hike……and we couldn’t see a darn thing.  The fog/clouds were so thick you could barely see two feet into the canyon.  I thought I would cry.  Instead we put on our backpacks and began the hike. We must have gone about 1/10 of mile when the whining began.  “We can’t see anything, let’s go back.  I might fall off the edge of the trail.”  My son’s diatribe lasted for another ¾ of a mile before we couldn’t take it anymore.  We decided to eat our packed lunch along the trail.  We found a nice spot with some good sitting rocks.  We watched hikers go by in both directions and even saw a few good views of the canyon as the fog would thin out here and there.  One thing I will say about trips like these is you have to know your families’ limitations.  Apparently ¾ of a mile was my son’s for that day.  We turned around and walked up the canyon.  The walk wasn’t bad.  One thing about hiking in bad weather was that it was cool and cloudy.  We barely needed water and no one broke a sweat.  If my son had been more willing, we could have done the 3-mile round trip hike easily.

We made it back up and had the obligatory ice cream that was promised at the end of the hike.  Carol, our campsite neighbor, had innocently mentioned this to my kids and my son had fixated upon this.  We tried to use this as incentive to hike further with no success.

Once we finished our ice cream, I suggested we take the Hermit Trail Shuttle to see the different sights.  The weather was clearing up and we hoped we might get some better views.  The shuttle was one of those things I had scheduled for the previous day that we ran out of time for.  It turned out to be an excellent idea.  We stopped at various points along the way and were treated to some amazing views.  The shuttles came regularly enough that we moved easily from one stop to the next.  When everyone had enough, we caught a shuttle going in the opposite direction and ended back at the lodge where we parked the car.

We decided to go to the restaurant we had missed from the night before – The Coronado Room.  My daughter and I had the elk and it was really good.  Tender and perfectly made, we were treated to a great dinner. My husband, on the other hand, had the prime rib which wasn’t very good.  That great roasty part was salty and ruined.  However, we all had the mashed potatoes made with smoked gouda and green chiles. That was really good.  I couldn’t taste the smoked gouda but the green chiles were flavorful and added an interesting dimension to the potatoes.  My son was relegated to the Kids menu which was typical and boring.  I wanted him to share with us but he said he was fine with spaghetti and sauce.  Geez, this was a meat place, they should have had some interesting elk or buffalo meatballs at least.

We came back to our campsite and spent some time chatting with our friend Carol and then went to bed.  The clouds had mostly parted and we got to see an incredible view of the night sky that we never get to see in our light polluted town. It was a great day.

Tomorrow: Off to Zion and with some good luck and some bad luck and some frozen yogurt.

Still alive and at the Grand Canyon

Hi everyone,

I know you haven’t heard from me in days and probably believe my husband’s post that I was eaten by an elk.  No worries – I’m alive!  We haven’t had internet for days and I’ve been too tired at night to even write anything.

So I don’t overwhelm you all, I’ll still break down the posts into each day and make them separate posts.

Where did I leave off?  Oh yes, we’re about to leave our air conditioned hotel for the ruggedness of the wild…..

The drive to the Grand Canyon was long but okay.  We stopped at the Hoover Dam for a quick look.  With the ongoing drought in the Southwest, there wasn’t much to see.  In fact, my husband mentioned that on two separate occasions he saw women crying – supposedly due to the tragedy of the drought.  I think it was the lack of good parking.  Most spots require you to walk up or down a staircase which means you have to walk it the other way at some point.  There’s a new bridge that routes the highway away from the Dam in case you don’t want to see it. What this means is that you take the old road from Nevada into the Dam and then instead of continuing on through to Arizona, you have to go back the way you came and then go over the big new bridge.  It’s stupid but I guess they want everyone to experience the new bridge.

One thing I’ve definitely learned is everything takes three times longer than you think.  By the time we reached Seligman, AZ to eat lunch at the Road Kill Café, it was already 3:30 and everyone was yelling they were hungry.  I wouldn’t let them stop sooner, insisting we had to eat there since it was on my list.   Before I mention what it was like, has anyone seen the Cars movie?  Remember Radiator Springs?  I swear, we drove through the inspiration for that town.  The people there say it’s really Peach Springs about 35 miles away but I don’t believe them.  Maybe they’re embarrassed to be the focus of a Pixar film for kids but Seligman is right on Route 66 and, well I’ll have to post some pictures and let you be the judge.

Now for the Road Kill Café.  First off, all those great names for dishes like the Swirl of Squirrel and the Splatter Platter were just names.  My kids were so disappointed ( me too).  We were looking forward to various bits of meats made to look like they had tire tracks running through them.  No such luck.  This was just a regular hamburger joint.  I will say that the “Skunk” dish, really jalapeno poppers, were delicious and the highlight of the meal.  Crispy on the outside and yummy cheesy on the inside with a juicy (my daughter is making me use that adjective but it’s accurate) jalapeno pepper that wasn’t too hot and had lots of taste.

All was not lost.  I did get a mug that says “You Kill It, We Grill It”.  And while that was patently untrue, it still looks dang funny on a mug.

A few hours later we arrived at the campsite at the Grand Canyon.  We couldn’t see the canyon yet and my husband was yelling at us all to get the tent up before we lost daylight.  Luckily we had a great campsite neighbor – always very important.  She lent us a hammer for the tent stakes.  Apparently our tent mallet wasn’t in the tent bag.  She lent us her lighter so we could get our lantern lit.  She also showed us where the bathrooms were. Thanks Carol!!

No one was hungry for dinner since our road kill lunch filled us right up.  I think we just ate some dry boxes of cereal, if memory serves.  It was much cooler than we expected so we dressed warmly and went to listen to the Ranger Program.  I usually have an awesome sense of direction but it was totally baffled by the complete darkness of the park.  I kept taking us in circles and could not get my bearings.  After passing the same buildings for the third time, I conceded defeat and let my husband figure out where we were going.  Much to my disgruntled pride he found the outdoor amphitheater and we arrived only ten minutes late for the Ranger’s talk on the various levels (strata) of the canyon walls, what they were made of and how they were formed.  I thought it was fascinating and could have stayed for the whole hour.  My family had other ideas.  My son fell asleep, my husband looked like he was nodding off and my daughter, after determining that the Ranger wasn’t hot nor were there any hot guys in the audience, kept asking to leave.  We woke my son up, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible, and quickly guided him out of the amphitheater before he woke up long enough to inquire where he was in his too loud for indoors, outdoors, or loud stadium voice.

Thus ended our first day of camping at the Grand Canyon.

Tomorrow: There’s a monsoon season in Arizona.  Really?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Full day in Vegas

Hi everyone, (adding photos later)

Our first full day started off around 4 am when my son decided he was no longer tired. Dammit.  I talked him back to sleep – or rather I talked to him until I fell back to sleep.  He woke me up again several more times until I gave in and told him to play with his Dsi in the bathroom. Ugh…

Remember when I mentioned we’re not buffet people?  Well we are coupon people and we had coupons for the buffet – kids eat free – so we forced ourselves to get in line with the sea of humanity streaming into the buffet and grabbed some plates. The buffet was pretty good although they didn’t have any strawberries in the fruit section.  Who doesn’t have strawberries in the fruit section?  Isn’t there some unwritten law that all buffets should have strawberries?  Other than that we all liked it!

After that came Wal-mart. Oy. I do have to say that the Wal-mart on Charleston Blvd is very impressive.  It’s very clean, the people are extremely helpful and they all understand and speak English fluently unlike the crappy Wal-mart where I live where you could have a heart attack and die in the middle of the store and no one would help/notice/or be able to understand your pleas for an ambulance.

The site to store method worked like a charm.  Everything I ordered was there and Jill, my amazing Wal-mart helper, brought it all out for me, did all the paperwork and even took care of two returns when we realized we only needed one cooler instead of two and 6 pillows instead of 8. But holy cow, it’s a good thing we got the bigger SUV.  It is filled to the gills with all our stuff.  Poor Dan can’t see out the back window.  We keep praying we won’t hit anyone.

We got almost everything else we needed, too, but we held off on the food. We decided to wait until tomorrow or Tuesday.  There isn’t a lot of room and we’re worried we can’t keep the food cool enough. I have to say, this whole camping thing is starting to feel overwhelming.  I hope we haven’t bit off more than we can chew.  I guess we’ll see…..

Next we hit the strip and walked through The Venetian and Caesar’s.  OMG, you’ve never seen anything like these places.  They both have these huge, very upscale “malls” for lack of a better word inside of them.  The architecture is over the top with sculptures, fountains, and ceilings that look like the sky and change the time of day every 30 minutes or so. The highlights were seeing the gondolas in The Venetian and the circular escalators in Caesar’s.  We walked so much our feet, calves and tushies were sore.

Once again we didn’t dine at the specified location.  Gilly’s was in Treasure Island where our show was but they had a lot of young women in skimpy clothing getting ready to ride a mechanical bull.  While my husband found this exciting, the rest of us did not and we chose to go to Kahunaville instead  - mainly because we had a coupon for this place.  It’s a Caribbean-style joint also in Treasure Island.  The food was good enough and the prices are what I’d expect from a “moderately priced” restaurant in a Las Vegas hotel/casino.  I ordered the coconut shrimp special and it came on wooden skewers sticking out of a pineapple top.  Pretty cool.  The kids shared a Hibachi shrimp and chicken dinner.  I’m so proud of them.  The kids menu had 4 crappy things on it and when I suggested they share an adult meal, they jumped at the chance.  No chicken fingers or mac and cheese for my little foodies.

The best part of our day was the Cirque de Soleil Mystere production we saw this evening.  It was absolutely incredible and a great choice for the kids. The show was funny and the acrobatic feats were beyond description. What these performers can do with their bodies defies explanation. While the story line was perplexing, it didn’t matter. The sheer entertainment made that unimportant.  If you are with your children and looking for a show, we all recommend Mystere whole heartedly.

Tomorrow we leave the comforts of air conditioning, electricity and real beds and head for the canyons.  Wish us luck!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

We're here!!

Hi everyone,

We made it!  This is no small feat considering that at every moment until the plane takes off I’m contemplating running up and asking to get the heck off.  But I held my tongue, bit the bullet and spent 4+ hours alternating between panic and a nervous resignation that there’s nothing I can do so I’d better suck it up and pretend I’m just fabulous. I think I was mostly believable for the kids. Unfortunately as we’re landing both my son and I were overcome with nausea and wanted to vomit.  This feeling lasted for quite some time.

On the happier side, check out the pictures I snapped from the plane of the kids enjoying the flight.  We kept trying to figure out what we were flying over – once I calmed down enough to look out the window.  We figured the plane took a southerly route since we were treated with an amazing view of the Grand Canyon.  My picture doesn’t do it justice but take a look.  Considering we’ll only be seeing a small section of the canyon when we visit, it was a great opportunity to see almost the whole enchilada.

It’s always stressful when you travel, especially when you’re flying and half your family is nauseous and one of the remaining half is coming down with a migraine.  But we persevered and went to pick up our rental car.  If you remember, I decided to go with a smaller name because the prices were far more reasonable and they weren’t charging me the drop off fee. Now Las Vegas airport has a bus you take to the car rental hub.  All of the car rental places are in this one place.  So you can imagine my panic when we get off the bus, enter the hub and I don’t see a Fox Rental desk.  

 Luckily I have my handy dandy notebook (like in Blues Clues!) and I check my confirmation e-mail.  I read a few paragraphs down and see that there’s yet another bus we have to take to get to Fox’s since they are off site.  My son and I suck it up and all four of us get on the Fox’s shuttle and travel about 2 miles down the road.  Bill, our very nice driver, tells us how the other major rental companies, if you ask them where the Fox counter is, will tell you that Fox’s is about 20 miles away and that they just missed the shuttle which won’t be back for 2 hours, but they (the major company) would be happy to rent you a car.  Meanwhile, because Fox’s is off site, they don’t have to charge you a whole bunch of taxes and fees that these other guys do, running about 30% less than the major guys.  I saved even more. Yes, we did have to take another bus and yes I did have to stand in line, BUT
they were out of my standard SUV and upgraded us for free to the large size with no fuss.

We then looked for some lunch because it was now past 2 o’clock EST and most of us were hungry.  We found an interesting looking “Nevada Style” pub called Steiner’s.  We learned what “Nevada Style” meant when we walked in and they informed us they didn’t serve children.  We weren’t hungry for children but left immediately since we didn’t think it fair to make the kids sit and watch us eat. We were exhausted and hungry and went to the next nearest restaurant, Chili’s. Not exciting but it did the job.

Then we headed for the hotel.  We got to drive down the strip – very cool!  I’ll get pictures for the next post. We saw the Luxor pyramid, the fountains in front of the Bellagio, the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty from the NewYork, NY hotel and lots of people.  Our hotel, Circus, Circus, is just beyond the busiest part of the strip.  Check in moved quickly and we were in our room in no time.  Upon which we promptly fell into bed and took a 2 hour nap.  This was the smartest decision we made all day.  It refreshed us, got rid of the nausea and headaches, and prepared us for staying up late since even 8pm was going to feel like 11pm.

One last note.  We didn’t go to the Hawaiian fusion restaurant.  I did my least amount of research on Vegas and didn’t realize that Roy’s was out of the price range we wanted.  I pulled out the laptop and we found a local Italian restaurant that got very good reviews – Nora’s Cuisine.  It wasn’t fabulous but it was still good.  My daughter’s spaghetti and meatballs were as delicious as advertised and my son’s pizza was also very good as was the really garlicky garlic bread. The cannolis were yummy – we brought those back to the room to eat – we should have ordered only one instead of two because they were large.  My dinner was okay – I had the orange roughy fish which wasn’t bad but they served it with a big glob of angel hair pasta which was inedible.  My husband ordered a pasta dish with chicken, artichokes and capers which he said was good but nothing special. He said he’d return if in Vegas again.  I don’t know if I would.  I would make a reservation next time, though, because that place was packed.  They seated us right away because we were willing to sit in this little area along the kitchen.  Very noisy but we’re with kids so I didn’t care.  Also, this meant no one forgot about us!

More later – Our first full day in Vegas.  Everyone up around 5-6am.  Getting used to the time change!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Time to go!!

Hi everyone,

Well it’s the night before we leave and I’m running around like a chicken with her head cut off. Gross imagery, sorry.  I’ve been packing all week but somehow we’re all crazed, looking for all those last minute items, and getting yelled at by my husband for forgetting that liquids must go in the checked bags, not the carry-ons. Sheesh, I liked traveling so much better before the terrorists.

I’m watching my husband pack his carry on bags and I’m marveling at the amount of technology he’s smooshing into these things.  We have two laptops, one IPOD, one video camera, a regular camera, GPS, 2 Kindles, 3 cell phones and all of the cords and chargers that go with them.  “It’s all needed,” I just heard my husband explain.  I wonder what the pioneers did when they went on vacation? 

I’m giving a special shout out to the three people who are actually admitting to reading this blog.  Thank you Elaine, Ivette and Betsy for being my three biggest (and only) fans.  I love you guys!!!

So I don’t have time for one of my usual brilliant breakdowns of our next destination so I thought I’d post our itinerary.  Upon looking it over I noticed that it’s incredibly detailed.  You’re all going to think I’m nuts or just incredibly well organized – and nuts.

Here it is:

Shipping containers to Circus Circus
C/o Andrea and Dan Gallant
Arrival date: July 23rd
2880 Las Vegas Blvd S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Day one – Saturday, July 23 -  Arrive at Las Vegas
Pick up car – Fox’s Rental Car – print off confirmation
Check into Circus Circus Hotel and get sent boxes
Pick up stuff from Wal-Mart

Dinner – Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion – 620 E. Flamingo Road – 702-691-2053 – Reservations recommended

Day two – Sunday July 24 - Full day at Vegas
Breakfast – Use coupons for breakfast
Go to lots of shops and sightsee

Dinner – eat at Gillys Las Vegas in Treasure Island
Show – Cirque du Soleil – Mystere.  Print off confirmation sheet and bring to box office. Show starts at 7:00pm.  Must pick up tickets before 6pm at box office – can pick up any day, any time as long as it’s at least an hour before show.

Day three – Monday, July 25 – Travel from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon – 5hrs
Breakfast  - quick in Vegas
Fire restrictions for Grand Canyon – no wood burning fires.

Drive one hour to Hoover Dam. Stop and Visit.  Follow directions to Dam.

Lunch – Road Kill Café, Seligman, AZ - 502 West Highway 66, Seligman - (928) 422-3554

Get to Mather Campground in GC South Rim and set up camp.

Take bus ride to Hermit road shuttle and take that bus for lots of great views.

Dinner and IMAX in Tusayan
7pm reservation at The Coronado Room - 100 Highway 64 Best Western Grand Canyon Squire Inn. Tusayan - (928) 638-2681

IMAX – ½ hour shows every hour on the half hour until 8:30

Day Four – Tuesday, July 26    

We’re responsible for 3 meals.  Must pack lunch.

Take shuttle to Bright Angel Trail and hike til Three and a half mile marker.  Less if needed.  Eat lunch on the trail.

Chill out for the afternoon.  Visit visitor center.  Buy food for dinner and cook.  Must use stove.

Do either Twilight Zone Family Program –check visitor center for dates and times
Campfire program – Sage Loop Campfire – in our campground - ??Not sure if will occur due to fire restrictions.

Day Five – Wednesday, July 27    
Drive from Grand Canyon to Zion National Park – Call first thing to reserve “ride with ranger” tour for next day at 9am - 435 772-3256

Stop in Cameron, AZ for breakfast/lunch at Cameron Trading Post – Navaho Tacos or Navaho tacos with egg.  Breakfast til 11am and lunch starts at 11am
466 North Highway 89
Cameron, AZ – 928-679-2231

Lunch in Kanab, UT at Nedra’s Too – Chicken chimichangas w/ white jalapeno sauce; machacas –

Set up camp at Ferber’s Campground in Springdale, Utah
479 Zion Park Blvd. Springdale, UT. 435-772-3237

Go to Park – Visitor Center.  Take tram to last stop and do Riverside Walk (1 ½ Hours).  Then take tram to Weeping rock and do trail (1/2 hour)

The Whiptail Grill for dinner – 445 Zion Lodge, Springdale, UT - (435) 772-0283
 - Goat cheese chili relleno and spaghetti squash enchalada.
Dessert – gift shop of Bumbleberry restaurant for bumbleberry pie. – 97 Bumbleberry lane, Springdale, UT. - (435) 772-3224

Day Six  - Thursday, July 28

Ride with a Ranger Tour – 9-11am – be there by 8:45.  Find out where to meet.

Visit Zion Human history museum or Nature center
Have lunch at Zion Lodge – nothing special but keeps us on site.

Do Grotto Trail/Upper and Lower Emerald Pool/Kayenta Trail loop

Go back to campground for swimming – do Virgin River Tubing – leaves from our campground.

Dinner – Gun Barrel Steak and Game House – St. George – Fav of locals – ONE HOUR AWAY – 1091 N. Bluff St, Ste 1400, St. George – 435-652-0550 – Reservations(?)

Day seven – Friday, July 29th
Leave for Bryce Canyon – 2 hours
Breakfast at Park House Café – serving breakfast til 12-1.  Lunch and dinner, too. – 1880 Zion Park Blvd, Springdale.

Set up camp – Sunset campground

Take free shuttle around Bryce Amphitheater route – get off at stops to see sites. Go to Visitors Center to get list of Geology Festival events and nighttime events.

Dinner – Foster’s steakhouse in Bryce City – 1150 Hwy 12 – prime rib, garlic chicken and pie

Day eight – Saturday, July 30th
Breakfast at camp
Hike – Queens/Navajo combo loop with Rim Trail

Lunch – either at Bryce Canyon lodge or pack it.

Take Rainbow Point Shuttle to Rainbow and Yovimpa Points.  Do Bristlecone Loop Trail

Chill and comeback to Sunset Point by 5pm for Ranger-Led Rim walk.

Dinner – either 45 min drive for Café Adobe in Hatch or ask for good local place or cook.

Day nine – Sunday, July 31st

Drive from Bryce to Capitol Reef – 2 hrs 45 min

Set up camp – SandCreek RV Park – 540 Hwy 24, Torrey, UT – 435-425-3577.

Lunch in Torrey - ?Capitol Reef Inn and Café
Hwy 24 into Capitol Reef – take rt to Panorama and then Sunset Point.  Go back and go to visitors center.  Look for any goings-ons.  Drive and do Hickman Bridge Trail.  Go back to Visitors center and go down Scenic Drive.  Pull onto Grand Wash and hike to Cassidy Arch.  Go to end of Scenic Drive and take Capital Gorge and hike trail to “The Tanks”.

Dinner – Drive to Boulder 45 for Hell’s Backbone Grill or Café Diablo in Torrey (rattlesnake?)

Day 10 – Monday, August 1st
Drive to Heber and hang with the Shimazaki’s – 4 hours

Breakfast at Mom’s in Salina, UT (1 ½ hours from Capitol Reef) – gotta have the scones.

Continue to Heber.

Day 11 – Tuesday, August 2nd

Go where Shimazaki’s recommend.
Have lunch at Bruge’s – 336 W. 300 S. (Broadway), SLC – 801-363-4444.

Enjoy Birthday!!!

Day 12 – Wednesday, August 3rd
Heber to Arches National Park – 4hours

Lunch – Westwinds Truck Stop – Best Country Fried Steak – Green River - Conveniently located on I-70 just off on exit 164

Go to Visitors Center – see what evening programs there are

Drive thru to Devil’s Campground and set up – stop along the way for the sites.

Do Broken Arch and Sand dune Hikes
Delicate Arch (at sunset?)

Dinner – Buck’s Grill House – Moab - 1393 N Highway 191, Moab, UT 84532     TEL: 435-259-5201
Duck, elk, etc.

 Day 13th – Thursday, August 4th
Arches to Grand Junction, Colorado

Delicate Arch – if not done previous day
Drive out to Windows Section – The Windows Trail and Double Arch

Lunch – Milt’s Stop and Eat – Moab – burgers and fries and shakes -
356 Mill Creek Drive
Moab, UT 84532
(435) 259-7424

Drive 2 hours to Grand Junction.

Arrive Double Tree Hotel
Hang out, swim, etc.

Dinner – Rockslide Brew Pub – unless someone can suggest better.

Day 14th – Friday, August 5th

Drive from Grand Junction to Denver – 4 ½ hours.

Stop for lunch in Evergreen, CO (4 hours).  Tins Star Café and donuts – BBQ and Apple fritters. -
28025 Colorado 74
Evergreen, CO 80439
(303) 679-1155

Hotel – Courtyard by Marriott – Airport

Find place to ship our stuff.

Dinner – Buckhorn Exchange – reservations recommended – 303-534-9505 –
1000 Osage Str. • Denver, CO 80204

Day 15th – Saturday, August 6th - Fly home!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Zion National Park - Yay!

Hi everyone,   

Countdown to vacation – 1 more day!  We’re all packed – I insisted we give each of the kids their own suitcase despite my earlier plan to have them share.  Why, you ask?  Because the only suitcase big enough for them, besides the biggest Dan and I were already using, had all of their clothes squished in together.  There was no way they’d both calmly and nicely go through this thing and gently find what they needed.  All of their things would be flying everywhere, they’d be fighting about whose underpants were touching whose shirts, and my son would be cringing each time he had to see my daughter’s bras.  It just wasn’t worth the $25 savings.

So on to Zion National Park.  We’ll break camp early and head up to Zion.  We’re stopping in Cameron. AZ for breakfast/lunch/brunch at the Cameron Trading Post.  They are known for their Navaho Tacos. 

If we make it before 11am we’ll get the taco with an egg on top.  Otherwise, just the taco.  Apparently Cameron Trading Post used to be a much smaller, homier place called…. Oh, crap, I can’t find the comments that explained about this place.  I believe the people who ran this place lost their lease or something so they opened up a much bigger, touristy spot at this current location.  Well, I’ve been reading that the giant Navaho tacos are TDF, so that’s where breakfast is going to be. BUT, we can’t eat too much because we have to stop a few hours later in Kanab, UT at Nedra’s Too for something called machacas (no clue what this is) and chicken chimichangas with white jalapeno sauce. It’s a day in foodie heaven – Dan will be pleased.

Remember what I said about not staying at any campground that doesn’t take reservations? Well, the campground at Zion National Park doesn’t take ‘em so we’re not staying “on site”.  Instead, we’re staying in the nearby town of Springdale.  Springdale is the big town just outside the park and it’s got plenty of hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, etc.  The Ferber Campground looked very reasonable and the hosts have been very friendly so far.

Once we’re done setting up camp – this is our second time and hopefully will go a bit faster – we’ll take the shuttle to the Visitor Center where I want to register for the Ranger-led tour for the next day. Since I did my homework and visited the National Park’s web site, I know there’s a shuttle that goes right from Springdale into the park.  The shuttle ends near the Visitor’s Center at which point there’s another shuttle system that goes through the park itself, stopping at many different trail heads and views spots.  We’re going to take the shuttle to the farthest spot and do the Riverside Walk for 1 ½ hours, hop the next shuttle and go to the Weeping Rock trail and hike that for ½ hour.  Why those trails? Both are considered easy, first of all. The Riverside Walk will take us to the beginning of the Narrows.  I’d love to do the Narrows but it’s a strenuous hike done nearly all in the water with swift currents - it’s too dangerous for my young son.  The Narrows path takes you through an amazing gorge cut out by the Virgin River.  The sites are supposed to be amazing. With the Riverside Walk, we’ll at least get to see a portion of it. The Weeping Rock Trail was recommended by other travelers.  It’s a short walk but you see these little “falls” of water.  It looks like the rocks are crying – hence the trail name.

We need the walking because I have yet another dining experience planned. Our dinner will be at The Whiptail Grill in Springdale. Nice and easy since we’re staying there. We’ll be sampling the goat cheese chili rellenos and the spaghetti squash enchiladas plus anything else that looks yummy. But wait, there’s more! Dessert! We’ll be rolling out of the Whiptail and heading over to the Bumbleberry Inn for their famous bumbleberry pie.  Bumbleberries are pretty much whatever berries the bakers have available to throw together.  I’ve heard it’s good but not worth the price so we’ll do what one fellow traveler suggested.  We’ll go to the gift shop and buy some there.  If it’s not too far, we’ll walk it back to the campsite and eat it in our tent, all snuggled in our sleeping bags on our cots. Ah, just like home. Okay, not really.  First, I’m not doing anything that might attract any more bugs than necessary.  Second, I hate crumbs in bed.

The next morning we’ll all be lamenting mommy’s wonderful idea to take a 2-hour Ranger led shuttle tour because we have to be at the Visitor Center by 8:45 am. Hopefully we’ll make it.  Our new-fangled cell phones have alarms on them, don’t they?

After our tour we’ll grab a quick lunch in the park – nothing fancy today – and hit a few more trails.  I found a cool combination of easy and moderate trails that form a loop – Grotto trail/Upper and Lower Emerald pool trails/Kayenta loop (see pages 6 & 7 of the park newspaper).  They should add up to a 2 ½ - 3 hour combined hike.

Once we’ve finished those trails, we’ll head back to the campsite and take in some tubing on the Virgin River.  There’s supposed to be a tubing company there whose take-off point into the river is adjacent to our campground.  I didn’t even realize our campground was near the river!  Anyway, it’ll be a nice cool break from the hiking.

I have a great place lined up for dinner but it’s an hour away.  The Gun Barrel Steak and GameHouse is in St. George’s Utah, headed back toward Las Vegas, believe it or not.  I’ve chosen this place because it’s supposed to have great meats and fish, including their mixed grill which offers an Elk chop, Buffalo BBQ rib and a choice of either beef or buffalo prime rib.  My carnivorous mouth is watering just thinking about it. But all of this will depend on how exhausted the driver (my husband) is after an afternoon of hiking in potentially very high heat. If he’s too pooped to party, we’ll ask around about another fine local establishment that serves great meaty fare.

That’s all for Zion.  The next day we’ll be off to Bryce Canyon.

Tomorrow – final farewells before we leave.  I’ll post our full itinerary so you can follow us along on our trip.  I’ll try to post each night so you can hear how it’s going and if we’re surviving without killing each other as my 12 year old insists will happen.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Grand Canyon - finally

Hi everyone,

Got all our clothes put aside and washing the rest of the ones we need.  Starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, sort of. Now my biggest thing to deal with is the nagging fear that always sets in a few days before I have to fly.  I’m a horrible flyer.  I used to be able to hide it from my kids because I don’t want them to learn my fear.  Unfortunately, the last time I flew it was without them.  I saw this as a license to let my fear run wild and they saw mommy in full-blown panic mode. Brilliant.  Now my son is worried, too.  Good mommy.

Anyway, after we get our fill of road kill for lunch (see yesterday’s post) we’re on to the Grand Canyon.  We’re camping at the canyon, in the National Park itself.  There’s the North rim and the South rim, each with campgrounds.  The South rim is far more popular.  It’s on the Arizona side, the Grand Canyon Village is there and lots of hiking trails, etc.  The South rim campground is the Mathercampground.  They take reservations which they strongly recommend you make, especially during the summer tourist season. I will only stay in a campground that takes reservations. I repeat – I will only stay in a campground that takes reservations.  Think about it.  You’re tired, with KIDS, in an area that you’re unfamiliar with. Do you really want to start looking for alternative campsites because you’re too late for your first choice? Not for me, baby.  I made my reservations several months in advance.  Of course I changed my reservations when I changed our route only a few weeks ago and they were still able to accommodate me, but that’s not the point. The point is unless you don’t mind potentially camping by the side of the road, choose a campground where you can reserve your spot and give yourself one less thing to think about.

Another recommendation I can whole-heartedly make is to visit the national park’s web site.  That’s where you can learn about everything you need to plan your visit.  They even have a tab called “Plan Your Visit”. I found the campground that way and booked it on-line through the site. Most of the National parks that I looked at had a park newspaper on their site. That’s where all the best information is, especially for hiking and any touring you want to do.  Usually there’s an overview of the park and a map and list of all the trails, divided up by Easy, Moderate, and Strenuous. It’s so important to know what you’re getting into before you start heading down a trail. And it’s important to remember that not all trails loop. So before you keep going for a few more miles, realize you have to walk those same miles back.  We’re going smack in the middle of summer so we’ll probable melt or spontaneously combust. 

There are Ranger-led programs/hikes.  However, they often occur on specific days and at specific times.  If you don’t happen to be at the Grand Canyon on a Tuesday at 8:00am you’re SOL for that program. So you’re better off planning most stuff on your own.

This is how our days at the Grand Canyon are scheduled – roughly.
We’re going to have about a 5 hour drive with a stop for lunch. (yeah, yeah you know this already)  When we arrive at the campground, we’ll need to set up camp.  I anticipate this first set up will be the longest and most difficult. 
After that we’ll be heading off to the Hermit road Shuttle to catch some great views. See map below.

These shuttles are another great thing many of the Southern Utah parks have to offer.  They are continuously running buses that stop at lots of great views and trail heads.  We can only hike a few trails so these shuttles are perfect for getting in those extra awesome sights. The Hermit Road Shuttle will give us the chance to see more of the canyon off to the West moving north. We can get off wherever we choose, see the great views and then take another shuttle to the next stop.

For dinner we’re going into Tuscayan, which is the closest real town to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  There are a fair amount of restaurants in Tuscayan, nearly all of which are considered over-priced and touristy according to the reviews I read. I’ll repeat this several times, but if you’re going to choose a restaurant, see what others have to say about it.  I look at Urban Spoon, Trip Advisor and Chowhound. Note: almost no restaurant has a perfect record.  There’s always someone who doesn’t like a place for whatever reason.  Not to mention, restaurants sometimes have bad nights.  Maybe the chef had a fight with his wife, or the waiter was up all night partying, or the hostess is an idiot but she’s the owner’s niece.  You never know.  I figure as long as 90% of the comments are really good, I can consider it.  After all, 90% and above is an A.

I chose The Coronado Room in Tuscayan for dinner.  This is a much nicer and more expensive restaurant than I would have preferred but my selection was extremely limited.  The reviews for everything else were so bad, I didn’t want to waste my time. Besides, The Coronado Room has elk and buffalo.  This meets my criteria of food we don’t usually see. 

As a treat before or after dinner, we’re heading to the IMAXtheater in Tuscayan for a really cool 47 minute movie about the Grand Canyon.  My husband looked at me quizzically and asked why we were seeing a movie about the Grand Canyon when we’re actually at the Grand Canyon. Because it’s IMAX, baby! A screen six stories high with 12,000 watts of thunderous digital surround sound. Ya gotta see it.  Besides, it’ll be fun and we’re on vacation.

The next day we’re hiking the Bright Angel Trail.  I chose it because it’s popular, there are several places along the trail to get water, and because it’s long enough that you can make it a short, medium or long hike depending on where you decide to turn around. If it’s disgustingly hot and the kids are whiney, we can turn around and start walking back.

We’re cooking at the campsite this night. My husband is an awesome cook and he loves campfire cooking.  Have at it honey!

Hopefully we’ll be able to do either the Twilight ZoneFamily Program or the Campfire Program tonight.

My husband complained that my posts are too long.  So I’m stopping now.
Tomorrow – Zion National Park

Monday, July 18, 2011

Grand Canyon - well not really

Hi everyone,

OMG, we’re leaving in 5 days! So much stuff to do! I’ve got to get my clothes and my husband’s clothes together to see what needs to be washed.  That’s today’s big chore.

To continue where I left off, we’re leaving Las Vegas and traveling to the Grand Canyon.  We’re taking I-93 and stopping off at the Hoover Dam. According to the web site, the highway used to go over the dam itself.  Since 2010, however, the highway was rerouted and takes a southerly route.  If you want to see the Dam, you exit the highway and follow the old road that leads to it.  From the confusing explanations, it looks like you park and then walk over the dam. You and your car get searched – yippee – before they let you through. Then you have to go back the way you came to pick up I-93 in Nevada again.

One cool thing I want to mention. You definitely want to buy the Annual Interagency Pass if you’re going to visit a bunch of the National sites.  It’s only $80 and is good for a whole year.  It’s good for all national parks, national forests, bureau of land management sites, bureau of reclamation sites and fish and wildlife service sites. Ok – I get the national parks and national forests, but bureau of reclamation sites? Really? Well, it just so happens that the Hoover Dam is one of those reclamation sites.  Who knew? Go back and click on the link I made with the Annual Interagency Pass words.  Which reminds me – I hope you’ve all noticed I linked a lot of sites to key places.  I thought they’d be underlined but they’re not.  Make sure you move your cursor over key words (names of parks, hotels, restaurants, etc.) so you can visit their sites.  You wouldn’t want me to have wasted all that time for nothing, would you?

After our stop at Hoover Dam, we’re continuing on to Seligman, AZ for a stop at the Road Kill Café for lunch. Check out the link.  Who could pass up a place that serves Highway Hash, Swirl of Squirrel, and Splatter Platter?

 As I mentioned in my very first posting (which I know you all read – you’ve been loyally reading everything I write, I just know it), my husband was only on board with this trip if I delivered plenty of awesome road food. He’s a definite foodie.  While he likes really good food, he’d rather eat interesting food such as the aforementioned Swirl of Squirrel. So a large part of my research has been finding great local places with dishes we can’t get in our native state of Virginia. All I can say is that southern Utah, where we’re spending the bulk of our time, is practically devoid of anything interesting.  This is not to say that cool, local places don’t exist, there just aren’t many of them and they’re not always that close to where we’re staying.

Finding restaurants is an art form in and of itself. I went to the ever-popular  It’s an interesting web site with tons of road-food listings and a forum to pick up even more suggestions. When I looked here, there were very few places for southern Utah.  In fact everywhere I looked there was very little positive regard for restaurants around the canyon sites.  But do I give up – never! But mostly because I was desperately trying to avoid hearing the complaints of my husband and children who I’m quite sure would turn on me and make me their next road food meal.

I’ll be happy to mention all of the places we’ll be going and then reviewing them for you once we’re actually there so we can see if all the hype about each place was earned.  Again, I looked for places with good local cuisine that was family friendly and not too expensive.  We’re camping and with the kids.  The last thing I want is some hoidy-toidy white linen restaurant that I have to look clean for.

It’s later than I thought right now so I’ll write more about the Grand Canyon tomorrow and about Zion, too.  I’m seeing that it may be time to actually go on this crazy vacation before I get to tell you all about it. So I’ll step it up and get moving.

Tomorrow – The Grand Canyon (yes, really, this time) and Zion National Park

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Getting nervous....

Hi everyone,

Less than a week until vacation time and I’m starting to panic.  I’ve Xeroxed everything I can think of and put it all in an organized binder.  I have our itinerary, all of our campsite reservation confirmations, our car rental confirmation, our airline confirmation, copies of the Google maps to every location, maps of the national parks and directions to some of the restaurants we’re going to. All of this in one binder and I probably won’t need half of it.  But we’re going far from home and I just feel more secure having it all with me.  Especially because, dammit, I put so much time and effort into planning this trip – I don’t want to forget anything.  I know I’m starting to sound crazy and yes, even a tad hysterical, but I just had a fight with my 12 year old daughter over the clothes she can pack.  I swear I don’t think that girl has one pair of matching socks anywhere in her clothing repertoire.  And now she tells me none of her bras fit except for one.  I just bought her three more about a month ago.  WTF? Okay, focus , focus.  Oh wait, before I calm down I actually overheard my husband saying to same daughter that she needs to get her stuff in order because he’s getting really worried we won’t be ready on time for this vacation.  WHAT?  Maybe if he’d actually lift a finger to help he could relieve his deep concerns. We may never get on this trip because I may kill them all before next Saturday.

Okay, I promised to talk a bit about Las Vegas.  There’s only a bit to tell. I was told there are all these great deals for hotels if you don’t stay on the strip.  This hasn’t been my experience at all and I used all those advertised budget travel sites – Expedia, Travelocity, etc.  After not seeing the rates I wanted – and I wanted something under $79 per night for all 4 of us – I decided to check out the rates at Circus Circus hotel and casino.  I remembered going there when I was on my whirlwind teen tour I mentioned in my first entry. They had a lot of carnival-style games for kids and they’re just about on the strip. I was pleasantly surprised when I put in my dates and came up with a total of $119.25 for the 2 nights with breakfast included.  Yeehaw.  Booked it!

So after we land in Las Vegas, pick up our car and get our stuff from Wal-mart, what should we do?  This is the only stop I left unplanned.  I know we’ll go to the strip with the giant mall.  We’ll make our way through the giant casinos and see the awesome water display in front of the Belaggio.  I did want to go to a show, though.  Hmm, what to see when you’re in Vegas and with your kids?  I decided on Cirque de Soleil.  They have a family show called Mystere
 which they perform in the Treasure Island casino/hotel. It looked really cool from the web site so I booked it.  I’ll let you all know what we thought afterwards.  Note, you have to pick up your tickets no less than an hour before the show so I thought we’d get to Treasure Island, pick up the tickets and then have dinner there.  We’re going to Gillys BBQ or the pizza place – we’ll see what we’re in the mood for. No buffets - we're just not buffet people.  Ok, we did check out the buffets in Amish country but that'll be another trip blog.

We’re staying in Vegas from Saturday until Monday morning when we leave for the Grand Canyon.  More about that stop tomorrow!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Las Vegas - Part one

Hello everyone,

So today I promised to write about Las Vegas and I will but in the context of “what the hell was I thinking?”  You know how some things sound really great in theory but when put into practice, well, not so much?  I’m realizing that camping across Utah is presenting far more logistical issues than I anticipated.  As you know from reading my first few entries, we’re flying into Las Vegas and renting an SUV to carry all our camping gear.  Ah, but how to get the camping gear to Las Vegas and the SUV.  We can’t exactly bring it all on the plane. Especially since the airlines now charge a stupid $25 per bag.  Sheesh, highway – or rather airway – robbery.  The company I work for ships items everyday and has a working warehouse and shipping department. I figured I’ll just ship everything from there.  Well, what does “everything” entail? Right here came the first problem.  I can’t tell you how many days it took me to pin down my husband, and not in the fun way, to make a list of what we need to bring.  We decided we’d buy some things in Las Vegas. This is how I discovered that Wal-Mart exists in the desert. My husband insisted on buying lightweight sleeping bags for summer camping despite my insistence that nighttime is actually very cold in these National parks with temperatures dipping down into the 40’s.  But don’t listen to the wife who does the research and can pull up the facts and figures. And who cares that the wife and kids are usually cold at night even when we do camp in the middle of hot and muggy summers? No, we are buying the Coleman Clear Lake 50-degree sleeping bag for warm weather camping all because the man is terrified of sweating at night.  Actually he’s terrified of sweating at night and having to throw back the sleeping bag, thus making him vunerable to snakes and scorpions.  Which brings me to our next purchase – sleeping cots. I’m actually happy about this purchase because I, too, am not fond of the idea of snakes, scorpions and other creepy-crawlies that exist in the desert.  We’re not buying a new tent, though – we’ve decided to use our current one since it’s served us well – so I’m hoping the cots will actually fit in the tent.  My husband was supposed to set it up, get the measurements of the cots and then see if there’s enough room for all four of us.  However, he never got around to it, preferring instead to “wing it”.  If there’s not enough room for all four cots, he’s the first one on the floor!

So the stuff I actually shipped included the tent and all its parts like the fly and the tarp below.  If you tent camp and you don’t put a tarp down first, you’re asking for leaks.  I also shipped the one polar fleece sleeping bag lining we have, our lantern, cooking gear like knives, a percolator, two pans, spatulas, and some other stuff I can’t remember at the moment.  I also packed our very important tent fan/light. You hang it up in the tent and you get light and air!

What we’re buying besides the aforementioned cots and sleeping bags are camp chairs, a camping stove, pillows, a funky cool Pack-away camp kitchen and some coolers.  We own most of these things already but it’s too expensive to ship them and we needed some new stuff.  Like pillows, for example.  They were cheaper to buy at $10 for a set of two then ship our own.  We needed a new camp stove and I liked the Pack-away kitchen.  That darling folds into it’s own case so we can ship that back home easily.  Food and incidentals we’ll buy when we go to the Wal-mart to pick up the stuff I ordered.  While I truly try to avoid Wal-mart at all costs, there are times when it’s unavoidable.  They have this awesome Site to Store shipping option where they’ll send whatever you order to whatever Wal-mart you choose. Cool, huh?

Okay, so by now you’re thinking I’m pretty organized, what could I possibly be bitching about?  Well, because I ordered over $500 worth of stuff at Wal-mart which I’m eventually going to have to ship home, along with the original stuff I shipped out today. And, I don’t have my amazing co-workers from our shipping department to help me out, just my husband.  He’s a great packer and all but packing a suitcase and packing boxes for shipping are 2 different things.  Now he calls me today to see about donating some of the stuff in Denver so we don’t have to ship it home.  Really? He doesn’t want to take the camp chairs or cots home!!  Okay, camp chairs are like $10 a pop but we could really use a few more.  And cots are useful for more than just camping – and they cost a lot more than $10. Whatever…….  At this point, with only a week and two days until we leave, I’ll be happy if all our stuff arrives on time and in one piece!

Okay, tomorrow I’ll write about Las Vegas and the fascinating things I have planned :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Choosing the right route

Hi everyone. Today’s post is about the route we’re taking to get the maximum sites seen. As you know from reading my last post – you did read it, right? – I chose a West to East route.  Let me include a map so we can all follow along.


This isn’t exactly the Google map I was using but I can’t figure out how to copy the Google map onto a document – or onto anywhere.  Anyone? Anyone? 

In a fairly close range, you can see Zion National Park, The Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches National Park and Glen Canyon (not pictured on this map but if you see Lake Powell in Utah, that whole lake/river area is part of Glen Canyon.) I figured we’d arrive in Las Vegas on a Saturday, spend the rest of the day there and the whole next day, then travel Monday with a full visit day the next day at our first stop and then travel the day after that.  So big driving days would only be every other day. This would make our vacation two weeks long.  Luckily we both get enough vacation time to make this work.  Quite frankly, if you’re taking a sightseeing vacation, two weeks is definitely the way to go.

Before I proceed I want to mention that there are very few main roads/highways through Southern Utah/Northern Arizona.  As the crow flies, getting to some of these places should be easy.  They’re not.  I wasn’t prepared for that.  I grew up in the Northeast where there are multiple highways to get to the same place.  You have but to choose the one with no accidents or traffic jams.  Although these days that task is far more challenging.  But I digress.  Keep this notion of few highways in mind as I explain the insanity of the first route I selected.

My so-called straight line was originally going to start at Las Vegas and then go northeast to Zion National Park.  I had been trying to decide whether to go to the Grand Canyon before Zion and then go up and across but I chose Zion first, then the Grand Canyon and then back up to Bryce.  More of a zig zag than a line.  My reasoning for this was because I’m trying to keep driving time to a minimum.  It’s only three hours from Las Vegas to Zion but about 6 hours to the Grand Canyon.  And the route from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon is rather crazy.  I’m going to try and get that map for you from Google so you can see for yourselves.


I did it! 

Well this looks far more out of the way on the larger view. But it still takes 5 hours (for some reason I had written down 6 hours in my notes).  Look at the easy ride to Zion from Las Vegas:

Pretty straight forward, right? Therefore, I chose Zion first, then the Grand Canyon and then back up to Bryce.  And I continued all my planning, campground reservations, etc. based on that choice.  About a week ago, I started second guessing myself.  Was this really the best way to go?  Zion and Bryce are so close together I should really do them in a row, etc.  The deciding factor was when I took a look at the route from Zion to the Grand Canyon and back up to Bryce.  It was pretty much the same route coming and going:

This is Zion to the Grand Canyon. 

And this is the Grand Canyon back to Bryce.  It’s the exact same route to just north of Kanab.

If we’re going to be doing that much driving, I don’t want to take the same way twice. So after much deliberation and driving my husband completely nuts (what do you think, hon? Which way would be better?  Are you sure?  Do you think I should just leave everything the way it is? What do you think? Honey? Honey? Are those earplugs in your ears?) I changed our route.  As it turns out, we’ll have an extra sight to see.  By going south out of Las Vegas we’ll pass the Hoover Dam.

That wasn’t the last change I had to make in our route.  After Bryce I had us going to Capitol Reef which is an easy 2hr 45min drive. Next was a trip to Glen Canyon to Lake Powell, another 2 hr 45 min drive, or so I thought.  I had never heard of Glen Canyon before. I googled it, of course, and saw fabulous pictures of Lake Powell and beaches and a lodge.  Great, I thought.  We’ll be there on my birthday and by then we’ll have had enough of camping and hiking.  We can stay at the lodge and swim in the lake and in the pool. I’m in heaven and patting myself on the back for such a smart idea.  Ah the best laid plans……

The lodge was more than I wanted to spend so I decided we’d camp at the campgrounds across from the lodge. The lake is right there and I thought you could use the pool at the lodge but I can’t find it mentioned anywhere now. There are lots of water activities including boat rentals, jet skis, kayaks and cruises.  All I wanted to do was sit by the pool or on the beach and chill. I knew the kids would feel that way, too.

Weeks go by, the campsite is reserved, the restaurants are decided and I pay a visit to the Lake Powell site to look for an interesting boat tour.  I click on a map and notice that the Wahweap campground isn’t in Lake Powell, UT. It’s in Lake Powell, AZ, a 5 ½ drive. Not to mention there would be another 5 ½ drive up to Arches National Park after Glen Canyon.  Holy cow (that’s not even close to what I really said) what a ridiculous and stupid mistake.  I keep checking and rechecking with the fervent hope that if I do this enough, somehow this mistake will disappear and all will be right with the world. Once again I’m practically in tears, convinced I’ve ruined our vacation.  I could say that I’m not usually this dramatic but that would be a lie.

I needed a new option. I consulted my handy dandy Google map of Utah which I can now show you thanks to my husband showing me the “snipping tool” on my computer.  I highly recommend it.


Capitol Reef National Park, which is the previous sight before Glen Canyon, is only 4 hours from Salt Lake City and roughly the same back to Arches National Park.  That hour and a half savings is enough for me to consider rerouting us North for a change of scenery and a hotel.  It’s my birthday, dammit, and I want a hot shower and a comfy bed.  We also have friends who visit their parents every summer in Salt Lake City so I contacted them to see if they’ll be around to hang out with.  Not only will they be there, but their parents have invited us to stay with them. How cool is that? We’re very excited to visit, especially because the house we’ll be staying in is 11,000 square feet.  No, I did not misplace my comma.  I have no idea what a house that size looks like.  I’ll be sure to take lots of photos and post them!

We’re hoping they’ll show us the sights or at least recommend the best ones to see.  On the food front, this detour will send us through Salina, UT, home of Mom’s Café which is a Mecca for Road Foodies.  (more about that later)

So here’s a map of the whole trip:


A – Las Vegas
B – Grand Canyon
C – Zion National Park
D – Bryce Canyon National Park
E – Capitol Reef National Park
F – Salt Lake City/Heber
G – Arches National Park
H – Grand Junction, CO (last minute change to stay here instead of 2 nights at Arches)
I – Denver, CO

I look at this now and see so many other ways I could have done this but it’s 2 weeks until we leave and there’s just too much to do to consider making any changes.  The better, circular route would have been Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon to Glen Canyon to Arches to Capitol to Bryce to Zion and back to Vegas.  Oh well.  May others learn from my mistakes :).

Next – Las Vegas