Roadtrip SW USA...Snow Canyon Utah

Published: March 21st 2015
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Roadtrip SW USA...Snow Canyon Utah.

No one told us USA had invaded Canada...yet Homeland Security in Toronto made it clear they had...serves us right for avoiding the news while travelling.

Lucky I had stopped talking or he would have carried out his threat that I would never enter the USA again.

Talk about catching us by surprise.

Even so, I couldn't help snapping my disgust...that he had made her cry.


So began our foray into the USA...kicking off with a roadtrip through Utah, Arizona and Colorado...ending at the snow charged chateau of Home & Away for some homestay USA hospitality.

A polar vortex from Canada had followed us...caught up with us good and proper.

Resulted in snow in some areas for the first time in many years...and we were there!!!

Buckle up...'tis quite a ride.


USA has invaded who's in charge?

Up at 5am for 6am of grapes, blackberries, chunks of apple, rockmelon & watermelon from our hotel...another with pastries...asked for two breakfast packs...thanks a lot.

Into the lines at Toronto Airport...United Airlines to St George, Utah via Denver...cargo baggage easy as.

Bit harder to go further.

All those entering the USA staggered at a gate as to what time their flights leave. So together with a pile of others we had to wait.

So we ate our box of grapes, berries and fruit and having so much we shared them around.

When we got the go ahead directed down a about 6 bits of fruit left...can't eat another thing..."You'll find a bin down there" we were told.

Next were massive lines to the passport checks which was about 10 metres before the security scanners.

Handed the usual customs declarations which we filled in as we waited..."No" to all the usual questions.

When we got to the head of the line approached the USA Customs guy and handed our passports and declarations and he processed Denise first then me.

"Where is there a bin please? I have some fruit to throw out" as I showed him the remains in the breakfast box.

You'd think I had produced a bomb...or pulled the pin from a hand grenade.

He froze...stopped in his tracks.

"Have you made a false declaration?" he asked.

Making one feel welcome since 1492

"No. I just want to know where the bin is. I want to throw out these bits of fruit before I go through security."

"This is the U.S. border. Are you verbally amending your Customs Declaration?"

"No. I am asking where is the bin. I was told it is somewhere around here. Is there one over there?" pointing to the security scanners ahead.

"You have entered the USA and have made a false declaration."

" there a bin back there?"

"No. There is not."

"Where is it then?"

"There's one over there" he said pointing to the security area ahead.

"Thanks" I said as cheerfully as I could...somewhat mystified why he couldn't tell me that earlier.

He then whacked big yellow stickers on both our passports and said "Go there" pointing to an ominous enclosed area.

We entered there...and the Homeland Security guy in there was twice as big...but not as "friendly" as the first as it turned out.

"The guy back there said there is a bin here. I want to throw out some fruit" I said nonchalently as I handed him our passports.

"Have you made a false declaration? he said coldly.

"No" I said.

"Yes you have" he snarled. "We don't accept liars in USA."

"I'm only asking where the bin is" noticing the air in the room was getting decidedly chilly.

"Have you made a false declaration?"

"No I have not."

"Yes you have."

"I have not. I am not taking fruit into USA. I am going to throw it out before I go through security scanning. Where is the bin please?"

"This is not a rubbish disposal service" he barked. "You have made a false declaration."

"No I haven't."

"Don't you say another word. I can stop you ever entering the USA again."

We eyeballed each other. If I offered him a grape he probably would have flattened me.

Time ticked on...looked at my watch. Our Denver flight not far away. Gotta get out of here.

Denise started panicking.

"There is obviously a misunderstanding. We thought there was a bin where we could throw out the fruit and some pastries we got from the hotel." she said.

"Don't mention we also have pastries" I thought.

"I'm not interested where you got it. We don't accept liars in this country" he snapped at Den.

"Well sir. What can I do to rectify the situation?" Den asked softly.

"I could fine you $300 and make sure you never enter the USA again."

He then tried to force Denise to say we had made false declarations...even offerred we could amend them in front of him.

No way that is going to happen. Do that and he's got you! We are not that stupid.

Eventually he amended our declarations himself and crossed "yes" to the fruit question and he said "Yes I have fruit"...and handed us our passports.

He then took the nearly empty breakfast box...and dropped it in a bin immediately behind him.

So there was a bin!!!!

"And the pastries are OK" he said handing them back.

"You are lucky I am not fining you $300. Be on your way."

Denise turned and the tears started to flow...getting out of there.

I got to the exit...checked myself. This has delayed us 20 minutes.

"I didn't know USA had invaded Canada" I wanted to say.

"This wouldn't happen in Australia" I wanted to say...but remembering what happened when I said that in LAX on a previous trip I thought better of it.

See my blog LONG WAY TO PATAGONIA...Battling Homeland Security with a necrotic leg

"I hope you are happy you made her cry" I called out to him as he looked up and smiled.

But I wasn't smiling.

Delays. Delays there's a polar vortex coming

Then into an interminably long line for security. Passengers for various destinations pushed to the front of lines, ours included. Running to our least 20 others behind us.

Slept all the way to Denver arriving in heavy snow.

Our 11.10 am flight to St George delayed so did not board until 12.30pm. Then we sat in our cramped seats to 2.30 pm while they de-iced 30 planes ahead of us!

Arrived in St George, Utah at about snow here...icy wind cutting the air.

Collected our Dodge Durrango...let's get out of here.

But the vehicle was empty of petrol so our papers were so can get gas over there.

Couldn't help but notice the scenery...vistas of red and pink cliffs...tumbleweed beckoning me.

So I got out of the car and started snapping away.

The most incredible pain...I'm not getting out of the car without gloves again.


Seven Wives Inn

After our torturous day...what a delight to stay at this 1842 colonial mansion...the home of the famous Mormon, Brigham Young across the road...the Painted Pony for an incredible meal washed down with the best of Napa Valley wine.

The friendliness of our waiter...the warmth of Vanessa at the Inn...changed our perceptions of the hospitality of Americans...the hostility of Homeland Security a dark hole now concealed.

And everywhere we went after that the warmth of the Americans cheered our cockles...gotta love 'em.

We can now echo "God bless America" and really mean it.

Snow Canyon

Due to our late arrival the day before we decided to check out Snow Canyon State Park just north of town then get to Zion National Park.

Had a feeling TBers may not be familiar with the former so determined to check it out.

Located in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, Snow Canyon S.P. was established to protect the desert tortoise.

What one finds is the setting they say for Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, the Electric Horseman and Jeremiah Johnson.

Vistas of sandy desert framed with vivid orange and yellow striated walls...petrified sand dunes...white outcrops seemingly out of place with the reds and oranges...contoured rocks as if the giants of yesteryear stroked the ground this way and then that.

No rhyme or reason for how or why they did that.

We started at Jenny's Canyon with its monoliths looking on.

Lava Flow Trail where black basalt chunks remained from volcanic eruption.

Petrified Dunes Trail that mesmerized us as we traversed its lips and edges of Navajo sandstone...readying to glide into its gorges and back again.

Our fleeting visit passed 5 hours and we are only getting started.

Snow Canyon State Park may be Utah's best kept secret...never heard mention of it before.

But the vistas of purple, red, orange and white Navajo sandstone punctuated by black lava flows is out of this world.

Time to head towards Zion National to dally longer but better not.

And as we entered Zion it was dark...and it started to snow.

A deer wanders

First night in Zion
onto the road...sidles to the side of our car looking in.

The snow is falling harder...blanketing the road.

The deer cocks one eye at us and wanders off.

It's New Years Eve.

What has the New Year in store for us?

Don't know about you...but I can hardly wait!

Relax & Enjoy,

Dancing Dave

Additional photos below
Photos: 54, Displayed: 28



St George, Utah

21st March 2015

Welcome to the US of A!
I'll never forget arriving in Seattle from Taipei. Most of the passengers looked like they were going to a Chinese Grandmother convention. One of them attempted to carry a half full bottle of water through the TSA checkpoint. The TSA sprang into action and began screaming at her- in English- to put the bottle down. She obviously didn't understand and looked panicked that she was going to the Gulag. Didn't stop our trusty TSA from continuing to scream and call for backup. I've never been so embarrassed to be an American. I suppose you could have been bringing in terrorist grapes or perhaps Granny was trying to take over the country with a half empty bottle of water, but I think they could change their approach to "welcoming" obvious tourists to America!!!!1
21st March 2015

Welcome to the US of A!
In any other place you chuck out your water, pieces of fruit etc before you enter security scanning machines. But in Toronto the USA guys thought I had already crossed the border notwithstanding I was still in Canada...wouldn't tell me where the bin was. Extraordinary. Where first impressions are often so important I do find the cold welcome somewhat disconcerting. C'est la vie. At least this time they didn't lock me up!!! Enjoy the pics. The coming blogs all in snow!
21st March 2015

The good old U S of A.
A mans gotta know his limitations.
21st March 2015

The good old U S of A.
Good advice Bernie but...I don't know my limitations. Ya see, travel has got me so I feel we can do anything we set our minds to. And let's face it...we can!
21st March 2015

an uneaten grape that could not find a bin, could cost $300 and no entry into US! That grape could as well have been harvested in California! Maybe you can have you grape and eat it too as long you mark Yes on that form! And all this in Toronto airport!
21st March 2015

Can have your grape and eat it too
Do I feel a poem coming on from you Hem? If I hadn't tolerated the TSA abuse maybe I'd have been lamenting "Here I sit broken hearted...didn't throw out my grape...and saw my plane departing!"
21st March 2015

Many of our Homeland Security personnel are an embarrasment to our country...
they get a little power and go power mad. I've heard similar stories from other foreigners, including diplomats. I'm glad that the real Americans made up for it.
22nd March 2015

Many of our Homeland Security personnel are an embarrassment to our country...
'Tis a pity Bob as the real Americans from all walks of life we met were delightful. Hope you like the pics from your SW USA that I present. Your backyard I know but to us sensational.
22nd March 2015

Sorry to laugh.....
.... at the distress of the airport security but it made me howl with laughter at the inept way in which they deal with something so simple as a bin! Note to self - do not let the mammoth take snacks with him when we head that way!
22nd March 2015

Sorry to laugh
Note to self Jo...Don't and I stress don't ask an American where the bin is. Obviously has a different meaning in that part of the world!!!
22nd March 2015

Assholes abound
I'm never sure why they instruct them to be so evil. It makes no sense. I'm sad this rudeness is the way people start off in this wonderful country. Never resist the call of a good tumbleweed. Glad you enjoyed your explorations. You painted wonderful word pictures and we were right there with you absorbing the colors of the canyons. Beautiful. Never leave the car without the gloves!
22nd March 2015

Right there with you absorbing the colors of the canyons
Thinking of you guys MJ and your overwhelming welcome in our blues cruise section of the trip when telling the story of the invasion of Canada...hoping 'twould not make you sad. Yet nothing like a good story I say. last a comment on the colours of the canyons that excited us like little kids finding treasures. The vistas on this roadtrip blew our minds. Hope my pics can do it justice.
23rd March 2015

The Good ol' US of A
As far as I can remember, the US Border Patrol have treated guests to their country this way. Never quite sure what the point is or what they are trying to prove...I am sorry that you and Denise had to go through that...I do hope the rest of America made you smile!
23rd March 2015

The Good ol' US of A
Yep Sean & Erin. We are still smiling about our road trips and the good folk we met. Hope you get your country back!
23rd March 2015

... I'm stunned by they ineptitude of the border controls of USA. Makes me think of all the videos of Law Enforcement gunning down people over there. I wonder if Law Enforcements aren't what's most dangerious in that nation... oh well, good pictures at least!
23rd March 2015

Hi Per-Olof...great to hear from you. We were stunned too. Considering this is my second non-welcoming brush with these guys for no justifiable reason who obviously get off on having power trips and other comments indicating these are not isolated has to wonder. But the countryside was stunning...the locals as welcoming as could be...more than compensating for the *** who thought they'd invaded Canada! Keep following...our adventures were amazing!
27th March 2015

I am so ashamed that you experienced this. Sadly, those are the type of people who are often attracted to such positions, but to give some hope, I have met the rare, kind TSA officer, I just hope that the latters numbers start increasing. I also think that it is scenarios like you encountered and the very strict visa process that many countries are starting to do reciprocal visas -- a bit of the golden rule. I’m so glad that you also encountered warmer, welcoming souls the rest of your trip and hope to show you some true American hospitality if you ever come our way!
27th March 2015

Hope to show you some true American hospitality
You are on Michelle. Sorry we couldn't come by you guys this trip. Had entre in KL...very much hoping we can get together for another course.
9th April 2015

The TSA "Welcome"
Well as you can tell I am catching up on some reading at last. What an unpleasant experience! Mostly I've been ok when travelling to the States, but some of those power-mad officials have nothing better to do than torment tourists. When I travelled back to NZ from the Yucatan in Mexico I thought I would break up my journey with a 3-day stay in San Francisco. I had to fly from Cancun via Houston airport and those horrible people grilled me for ages - "why are you going to San Francisco"? "Why such a short trip? It's a long way to go for 3 days". I offered to show them a map to tell them where NZ was and explain the trip but that didn't seem to go down too well! I'm glad it all ended okay for you both, and the hospitality of the real Americans made up for it!
9th April 2015

The TSA "Welcome"
I'm amazed you also have received a callous TSA welcome Rachael. Yet when I got locked up in LAX on my way to Patagonia for putting my boarding pass through the scanner with my passport, I must say the TSA reception as we left Toronto was somewhat less of a surprise!

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