Utah Trip Summer 2014
Day 1 (Aug 30th)
We woke up at 4am for an early flight. We had a 2 hour delay in Atlanta, but still made it to Salt Lake City by 12:30pm. We picked up our rental car and Rob took us to see some of his old stomping grounds in SLC. We stopped by one of the houses he stayed at while in college and the woman who now owns it came out and talked to us. She was really cool.
Quick comment on the flight: It was great. We were just us in tow side seats and they had video consules in every seat back with free in flight movies, games and other cool stuff. It passed quickly as we watch Godzilla.
Anyway, we went to several of his old apartments and saw how much everything had changed. He took me to Artic Circle (one of his go to places when in college), we had lunch there and then headed up to Utah University. We shopped a little in the University shop and walked around campus a bit. It is a really cool campus with mountains all around and lovely grounds and
buildings. Rob was amazed at all the upgrades and changes since he was there in the 90's, even his old dorm was gone, with new ones in it's place. We went over to the cool campus library and went inside to check it out. It was there when he was there, but was being renovated around the time he left, so it was a lot different.
After the University, we drove around taking pictures of the city; The Mormon Temple, the State Capitol building, the overlooks, etc. Rob took me to a playground near one of his old apartments. It looked over the city, had spongy rubber for ground cover and I loved it. We played around a little there, the finally left the city.
We went down to Murray, where he lived for awhile after college. It was a nice town with a nearby park and bike path. We left there and drove to Nephi where we found a Best Western with a pool and jacuzzi to stay at for the night. We ate, swam in the pool a little, then turned in.
Day 2 (Aug. 31st)
We headed off toward Capital Reef early in
the morning. We had a nice drive over in the rental car, that luckily for us, had a moonroof. It really came in handy at Capital Reef with it's high red rock canyons towering over our heads as we drove the 10 mile scenic drive. Capital Reef really exceeded our expectations with mind blowing views at every turn. Really pretty. We drove the 10 mile road and even went down the Grand Wash side road, which was truly amazing. We then went on up to see the ancient petraglyphs that we had heard about. Very cool.
We left Capital Reef and headed back to the town of Torrey to eat lunch. We ate at a nice little deli, Castle Rock Coffee and Candy shop and also tried some of their hand made chocolates. At the deli we each had truffles and bought some candy bars to take with us with exotic flavors like Juniper Berry and Marsala. So yummy.
We picked up the scenic route 12 out of Torrey and headed toward Bryce Canyon. I cannot say enough about the beauty of that drive. There were so many things to see, we were on overload. We had to
make several stops to get pictures along the way.
We got to Ruby Inn by 5pm. The hotel was crowded and unimpressive, but ok enough. In the future, I think I would opt for the Best Western that was just across the street from it. It was close to Bryce Canyon, though, so we drove on up to the canyon to catch the sunset. We walked around the rim a bit and took lots of pictures. It is truly amazing. We waited until the sun set to see the canyon in full shadow and took even more pictures. While there, we met Amy and Sue, two sweet sisters from North Carolina. Good Christian ladies. We had a nice chat with them.
We ate at Ruby's buffet for dinner and included a lovely bottle of Reisling wine before we retired for the evening.
Day 3 (Sept. 1st)
We got up early and ate breakfast at the buffet before heading up to the canyon again. Amy and Sue had suggested we take the 3.4 mile hike into the canyon from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point. Before the hike, though we wanted to check out Inspiration Point, so we
drove up to the trail head and climbed the very steep trail almost to the top. We decided to conserve our energy for the main hike, so we came back down just short of the main peak and headed back down to Sunset Point.
Rob bought me a hiking stick at Ruby inn and I don't think I would have made it down Navajo trail at the start of the hike without it. It was really steep going down into the canyon, with sharp switchbacks winding down through Hoodoos to the canyon floor. It was truly spectacular though. I really like the brave trees that managed to grow tall in among all the stone. The entire hike was really the best I had been on, with cute fat little chipmunks along the way and breathtaking view on all sides. It was totally worth the sloping climb back out of the canyon, even if my legs were burning by the end. 😊
We left there, and continued on the Hwy. 12 to the 89 and down to Mount Carmel Jct. where we had booked a room at the Thunderbird Lodge. We had a nice, big room and the hotel
had a pool which we got into right away.
Before arriving at the hotel, we found a German bakery where we stopped for lunch. I had an Italian Sandwich and Rob had ham and cheese. We ate our Castle Rock candy bars afterward. Very delicious. Who knew that Juniper Berry went so well with chocolate?
We headed up to Zion National Park, arriving there around 5pm. We drove into the grand park all the way to the canyon floor. The road includes a mile long tunnel built in the 1920's. We stopped at the Visitor's Center to get ideas on what trails to hike later. We decided to go ahead and hike the Rim Trail, which was rather short. It was back though the tunnel to the other side where the trail began. The guide book called it an easy hike, but I would have rated it more moderate. There were narrow ledges to traverse and lot of rock cut steps to climb, but the view from the top was pretty awesome. I was really exhausted by the time we came out though.
We got back to the hotel around 8pm and had dinner at the restaurant
at the Thunderbird. The sign outside bragged that they were the home of Ho Made Pies, haha. Rob tried a local beer called "The Devestator". It knocked him for a loop with just one beer. That along with the pepperjack with jalepeno burger he ate, he was on fire. 😊
We decided to soak a bit in the hot tub under the stars before heading off to bed.
Day 4 (Sept. 4th)
In the middle of the night, I had a severe leg cramp. I was in the bathroom and could not move. Rob had to come rescue me and massage it out. It was a sign that I had not been replenishing the electrolytes lost while sweating on the hikes. I was drinking plenty of water, but what I needed was Gatorade, so after breakfast, Rob made sure that I got some. It helped a LOT.
We headed into Zion by 9am and caught the shuttle at the Visitor's Center. It is the only way to get to most of the trail heads, as you are not allowed to drive to them. We got dropped off at teh Lower Emerald Pool trailhead. We both walked
up to the Lower Emerald Pool where an outcropping dripped water into a pretty little pool. It was a lovely hike. Rob went on up to the Middle Emerald Pool trail that overlooked the Lower one, while I went back to the Lodge where we were dropped off. I took some nice pictures of the canyon while I waited.
When Rob got back, we both had some ice cream to cool off then caught the shuttle on up to the Weeping Rock trailhead. It was a short, but steep climb and really worth the effort. The view of the valley from the large overhang was amazing. When we got back down, we caught the shuttle to the end of the road. We got some pictures there and then went back to the Visitor's Center.
We left Zion and headed to Page, AZ around 2pm. The drive was really pretty and we got into Page by 5pm, even after stopping at Kanab for lunch. We relaxed at the very nice Best Western at Lake Powell for a few hours then decided to head over to Horseshoe Bend in order to get there for sunset. I had forgotten that there
was a bit of a hike from the parking area to the overlook through fairly deep sand. My tired legs complained the whole way. It was totally worth it though. The totally unhendered view was spectacular. We had missed the actual sunset due to the hike, but it was still quite lovely and we were able to get some pretty amazing shots. I can't believe that there is no handrail or anything blocking the sheer dropoff there. Makes for some cool shots though. 😊
By the time we hiked bach out, we were both exhausted. We rested a little in the room, then went out to swim a bit and soak in the hot tub at the hotel. It was very nice.
Day 5 (Sept 3rd.)
We didn't have to be anywhere too early, so we took our time getting ready. We ate breakfast at the hotel, then hung around there for a bit.
We left for Antelope Canyon around 10am fro our 11am tour with Meghan, our guide. She was great, very helpful and patient. The Lower Canyon (that we toured) was stunning. We took lots of pictures. It was nice and cool down in
the canyon, but was very top when we came out. Rob had said he was feeling a little off that morning. We figured it was due to the heat.
After we left there, we drove over to Lake Powell Marina. It was a 1/4 mile walk down to the restaurant from the parking area in the hot sun. And it was a rather steep slope, so I was glad to hear that there were shuttle back up the ramp. We had our lunch at the floating restaurant and then checked out the gift shop. There was a small swimming platform outside so I waded in it while we waited for our shuttle back to the top.
The car was baking hot when we got back up there, we had to crank the A/C on high. I wanted to see more of Lake Powell, so we drove down to the boat ramp. Satisfied there there were no good places to swim, we headed back toward the hotel.
Rob started getting even sicker and I figured it was from all the heat, so I drove at quickly as I could to get back to the hotel. I stopped briefly
to get some Pedialyte for him along the way. He was pretty sick, but with a little rest, some Pedialyte and crackers and plenty of A/C he got feeling better. He even felt up to going for a swim and out to eat later in the day. But after all of that, we decided to turn in early.
Day 6 (Sept. 4th)
We got up early to get ready to head to the Grand Canyon. When I woke up, I was feeling a little off, it was then that we though that maybe it was the tap water in Page that was making us sick. Still not sure. Could also have been all the heat.
When we left Page it was overcast. The drive was not very scenic, so we listened to Narnia books along to the way to pass the time. It was raining when we got to the Grand Canyon but only a little bit. We stopped first at the Tower. The rain brought out the smell of the Juniper berries, and the whole place smelled wonderful. Despite the rain and overcast sky, we could see the canyon pretty well. I was hoping that Rob
could see it in the sunlight in all its full color beauty.
We drove down to the Grand Canyon Cafe for lunch. Where there I said a little prayer for sunshine, so Rob's first time at the canyon, he would be able to see its true grandness. By the time we finished eating, the sun was out!
We could not find a place to park to see the Native show we wanted to check out, so we just explored the train village a little and then went back tot eh Rim to walk around it and take pictures. We did that for over an hour. It was so gorgeous, brilliant colors and great views.
On the way out of the park we passed a huge elk. It was so majestic. We then stopped to watch an IMAX movie about the canyon just south of the park and then we went on down to Williams. We were pleasantly surprised to find that Williams is a historical town along Route 66. We checked into our beautiful Best Western hotel nestled in the mountains then headed next door to Kicks restaurant. So we really did get our "Kicks" on Route
Back at the hotel, we sat around the fire pit with some other patrons. We enjoyed a little wine and good company. We chatted with a couple from Ottawa, a couple from Belgium and a man from New York. We stayed close to the fire, as the night in the mountains was chilly. The stars were pretty though, as was the moon.
Day 7 (Sept. 5th)
Our last full day of vacation. We ate breakfast at the hotel, which was very good. We went into Williams to check out the historic town and buy some souvenirs. It was a fun little town on Route 66 with a train depot for trains headed to the Grand Canyon.
We left at about 10am for Las Vegas. We finished the Narnia book we were listening to along the way. When we got to Hoover Dam, I was blown away by all the changes since 9/11. The road didn't even cross over the Dam anymore!! Downtown Vegas was grown up a bit more since I was last there too. We got to our hotel at the Luxor by 2pm. It was so big and packed that there was a
line for check in. We were lucky enough to be directed to another area for faster check in. Our room was on the 16th floor of the pyramid, with an amazing view of the city.
After settling in, we were anxious to go swimming as it was 104 degrees in Vegas. A dip in the pool was much needed. It was packed, with half the huge pool blocked off for a Gay Pride celebration that they were having at the Luxor. We managed to find a nice spot to swim a little. We didn't need to stay long, for as soon as the sun went down, it cooled off quite a bit.
We changed in our room and then headed out for an evening in Vegas. We ate at the buffet, then walked the skywalk between hotels to the Mandalay Bay casino as well as the Excalliber which were both attached to the Luxor. We then came back to the Luxor to gamble a little, neither of us won anything. 😊
We stopped at the Aurora bar for some drinks, then walked around a little more. We decided to take in a true "Vegas-style" show. It was
fun. We finally got back to our room at midnight.
I forgot to mention that we did go out earlier in the day to check out Gold and Silver Pawn where they film Pawn Stars. The line outside wrapped all the way around the building and it was really hot outside, so we decided not to try to go inside, but I saw the outside of it! 😊
Day 8 (Sept. 6th)
We watched the sunrise from our room, then drug ourselves out of bed to get ready to fly home. We returned the rental car and checked in at the airport, had breakfast then flew home. Nice trip.
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