Published: February 3rd 2006October 15th 2005
Sorry it has taken so long to send out another update, but here it is, and after a few comments, I will make it shorter than the last..ok not really. When I last wrote we had arrived in San Diego to hang with our friends Forest and Erin. We had a great time and did some Geocaching in Balboa Park and visited the San Diego Art Museum. On Wednesday morning (September 21) we headed over to the Phoenix/Tempe area to meet up with our friends Michael and Zaida.
In AZ we did a lot of hanging out with our friends, swimming, eating, went to a Diamond Backs baseball game where they renamed the stadium, and did a lot of relaxing. We visited a dueling piano bar name the Big Bang and had a great time when our friends Sarah and Lindy requested them to play Benny and the Jets, and the band pulled Heather and me on the stage while they played it and had us dance under a flashlight…fun times!
We decided to head up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on Monday, but as soon as we headed out of Phoenix, our
A/C quit working in the car. I thought maybe we were low on Freon and continued to drive north to Sedona (which is a beautiful, yet strange area). Once there my car decided that it didn’t like us anymore so we drove to Flagstaff where we were stranded for a few days while the car was fixed. What should have taken one day to fix, somehow took these mechanics 3 days, but I am not bitter or anything…
Once the car was drivable (yes they didn’t actually fix it, just made it run) we drove to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, bought ourselves an annual pass for all National Parks (cheaper this way since we were going to visit 5 or so parks) set up tent and went to watch the sunset. After dinner we pulled out our crazy creek chairs and stared at the stars for over an hour. This was the first time in a long time where it was so dark (no moon) that we could see the Milky Way. The sunset was so nice, we decided to wake up early and watch the sunrise. We went out to the view point and we
felt as though we were in a different country…we were the only English speaking people there! We enjoyed the ohhs and ahhs of the people watching the sun, headed back to camp, ran a couple of miles and then found some showers.
After we were all clean we hit the road NE to Page, AZ because I wanted to show Heather Lake Powell. We enjoyed the views of the Colorado River and Glen Canyon Dam and decided since we were so close we would drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We arrive about 10 minutes before sunset, parked the car and ran to the view point to watch another sunset. After the sun went down we went to find camping, but the site was full! We asked a Ranger where to go and he said that it is all National Forest outside the entrance of the park, so you just have to drive ¼ mile off the main road and you can camp anywhere you like…free! We liked that. We found ourselves a cozy little wooded area, set up camp, cooked us some Boca Bratwurst and Sauerkraut, and then went to bed around 8:30pm. (Mary and
Larry, we now understand why you get to bed early on your canoeing trips!)
During the middle of the night, my feet and legs were really cold and I was confused because I am always warm. I woke up at 5am and realized I didn’t zip my side of the rain fly up and so I went to close the fly and realized that the feet of my sleeping bag had frost on it…frost in Arizona? Well I couldn’t go back to sleep so I woke up to find our tent was completely frozen over and our car was a frosty white…brrrr! So I pulled my stove out and heated up some water and made some hot cocoa. After the sun rose, it started to warm up, we found a nice area where sunlight was breaking through the trees and hung up our tent to defrost.
From here we headed to Zion National Park. It is hard to explain Zion because it is a lot of rock cliffs, but it was a great park to visit with many great hikes and we recommend it to anyone. After hiking 10 or so miles over the course of the afternoon,
we set up camp and went to bed. The night before we didn’t get that much rest because of the cold and were looking forward to a good night sleep, but that didn’t come. A big wind storm came down through the valley and we were getting blown every which way all night long. So instead of sleeping we laid there and just listened to the wind making sure we weren’t going to blow away. After wrestling with the wind in the morning to put our tent away we headed about 80 miles to Bryce Canyon National Park.
We originally didn’t intend on visiting Zion or Bryce NP, but our friend Phil in Los Angeles (Go Angels!) said that we definitely had to visit Bryce and I am glad that he did. It is a park that is about 20 miles in length and it is just a large valley filled with rock formations that are called Hoodoos. They are rock/sandstone spires that vary in size, but I can’t explain, so you will just have to go there (Or look at the picture to the right). We took about 150 photos here because it is such an amazing anomaly
of nature. After watching the sunset, this time camping, we found a cozy little spot and slept the whole night! We woke up early to watch another sunrise and it was amazing.
It had been a few days since we had seen a shower, but they had them at Bryce. You have to put money in a slot like a washing machine at a laundry mat to get the water on. It was $2 a person and I knew we had some change, but not $4 dollars worth. So I asked the local store if they knew where I could get some money and they said the closet ATM was 25 miles away, not going to drive that far for some quarters! When I returned to the car I found Heather counting out all the change she had and what we could find in the car…it came out to $3.90! A dime short, but I reached in my pocket and hidden in the corner was a dime!!! I remember shouting…”Sweet! We can shower now!”
From Bryce we head to Arches National Park. It was about 250 miles away, but the scenery on the whole drive was amazing. I
had been to Arches back in 1996 when I had my German exchange partner in the US, and was excited to see it again. In a book on National Parks I read while stranded in Flagstaff, it said if there is one National Park that you want to camp in, it is Arches, but you have to get there around 7am to register for a site. Well we arrived around 3pm, so the site was full. We asked for an alternate area and the ranger at the booth told us to ask the guy in the visitor center. So we stopped in and right when I went to ask the ranger, a fellow from Salt Lake City was informing the ranger that he had to leave and would no longer need his site. So I tapped the guy on the shoulder and said…hey buddy I need a campsite. So he told the ranger never mind and I threw him a little cash for his site and we had a place to camp in the park and it was amazing!
We did a little hiking that night, and then we woke up to find we were covered in sand! The
wind picked up that night and it is a sandy area at Arches, and the sand was so fine that the wind blew it under our rain fly and it went through the mesh windows and all over us! I knew it wasn’t good when I would close my mouth and my teeth would grind from the sandy grit! After cleaning the sand out of the tent and on us, we did about 8-12 miles of hiking saw some spectacular sites and headed out around 5pm. I asked Heather which National Park was her favorite and it was a toss up between Bryce and Arches. You really can’t compare the two because they are both so different and both spectacular. From here we headed to Price and got a room for the night.
We decided we didn’t want to drive that far the next days so we made a stop in Salt Lake for the next night to visit my Aunt Kathy and her family as well as my Aunt Suzie and Cousin Morgan. Not too many coffee shops in the area, actually I couldn’t find a single one. From there we stayed at my parents house in Idaho
Falls for a couple nights to do some laundry and drop off some items that were in the car, then we visited with our great friend Alan in Boise for the weekend. Every time we visit Boise it is like a small high school reunion for me because I always run into about 20 people I went to school with, so that was good to see some old friends, but most of the time we just relaxed and cooked some good food. We did go out to the Funny Bone Comedy club and saw some funny acts, well I was laughing a lot, but that could have something to do with the Stella.
So we are now in Seattle for the weekend, I had a great birthday on Tuesday and we have visited some great friends while here and watched many movies. Our trip was over 5,000 miles, but only felt like 100, and we were on the road for about 40 days and still wish we were driving! If anyone hasn’t toured the West Coast or the National Parks in the Southwest, we highly highly recommend it! Hope everyone is doing well and talk to you all sooner
Ben and Heather
There are more photos below