Sunday, September 25, 2011

3417 Miles

We just rolled in last night from our trip. 3417 Miles in 15 days.
It was a wonderful trip, we went so many places and saw so many wonderful things. The only thing bad was that we didn't have enough time. We would have to have taken at least a month to cram everything in. The itinerary was like this:
First day, a short trip just to get used to being on the road. First night at Paradise Point State park. It may have been a Paradise at some time, but not recently. The park is maybe 30 yards from the freeway, so all night it was listening to semi's putting on the jake brakes. It would have been a nice place except for the traffic noises. The other thing was that Mrs A got stung by a hornet withing five minutes of our arrival. For some reason, hornets like to sting her. But she isn't allergic or anything, so it wasn't too bad. Got our first chance to use the on-board air conditioning, and it was great. The temperature outside was in the 90s, so it was great.
The second day we went up the gorge of the Columbia, with our main stop at Maryhill Mansion. It is this incredible Art Museum out in the middle of nowhere. After the museum we stopped off at Stonehenge, a scaled down model for the original, which was built as a memorial to the seventeen young men from Kittitas County who lost their lives in the First World War. The drive from there up the Columbia Gorge was nice, but it was incredibly hot. That night we stayed in the campground at Immigrant Springs in Oregon, a stopoff on the old Oregon Trail.
The next day we went up to Craters of the Moon in Idaho. Craters is the biggest lava flow in the contiguous United States. It was very bleak and fascinating. Splatter cones, lava tubes and all sorts of lava formations. That night Mother Nature put on quite a light show, in the form of a lightning storm. Lots of cloud-to-cloud lightning, It didn't rain very much, but was real entertaining.
The next day we just went as far as Twin Falls Idaho, grabbed lunch and booked a room at Shilo Inn. The room was incredible. We wanted to get cleaned up because the next day we were stopping in at Brigham City to see our son Rick and his wife and their kids.
The visit was nice. We took them all out for dinner at a BBQ place. It was supposed to be great, but I wasn't impressed. I do better ribs at home.
Next it was off to Zion National Park. We had two nights and days there. It was a great couple of days, other than the fact that the thunderstorms followed us, and we dodged them both days. We never got caught in one, but we couldn't take the hike up the Virgin River. The canyon is so narrow that you have to hike right up the river, and it was in flash flood status. But we saw some beautiful country and went on a couple of very nice short hikes. We went into town for dinner and had some very good pizza and split a bottle of wine. So far we could not have a campfire because of the dry conditions.
The following morning it was off to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. The campground was great, and they allowed camp fires, so we got to grill some burgers over the fire for dinner. Nothing like food grilled over the campfire. We hiked about a mile out to Bright Angel point. The view was 3,000 feet straight down and ten miles across to the other side, and the hike back was right along the rim of the canyon. It was cool there temperature wise, but I had packed some warm clothes, so we were OK.
Next it was off to Bryce canyon for a couple of days. We stayed at the Best Western Hotel in Bryce city. We got a room with a Jacuzzi in it, right next to the pool. Very nice, but the food was marginal at best. We caught the shuttle out to Bryce Point, elevation 8300 feet. We hiked the trail down to the bottom. The down part was fine. The back up part was a little more challenging. I was surprise at how well we managed the hike back up, but there were a lot of stops. "We will make it to the next switchback, and then take a rest." Lots of rests, but we never got really winded. Some very incredible scenery.
Off the next morning to Capitol Reef. We weren't able to get a camping spot, so we had to backtrack and get a room at Best Western. I was not impressed with the room, and they wanted to charge us $7.95 for breakfast. No thank you. After we checked in, we drove up Capitol Wash, which was about 20 miles. The drive was well worth it. The walls of the canyon slowly closed it until they shut the road down. Back in the 20's the road went all the way through, but it is closed off now. For dinner we went to a restaurant right across the road from the Motel, and it was a real surprise. I had a steak with a cranberry demi-glaze. It was Divine. The best steak I have had in a long time. The dressing for the salad had never seen the inside of a bottle. Out here in the middle of nowhere was a world class chef. I would like to take a couple of days just to explore the menu.
The last stop on this portion of the trip was Arches National Park. When I was making the reservations for the trip, the campground was booked full, but I kept checking back a couple of times a day, and eventually got a one night reservation. I really wish we could have stayed longer. The campsite was really great, and a trail took off from right next to the campsite. We took a real nice hike off into the desert, but there were a couple of other hikes I would have loved to take, but we just didn't have the time, because it was time to head back home.
Next day, it was back to Brigham City for the night.
Then get up and head for home We made it as far as Baker City for the night. An average place. Then the final push for home. One note: Do not ever go to The Hungry Redneck Cafe. As a counterpoint to the best steak I have had in years, they had the worst. So tough I could not even cut through the gristle with a steak knife. Amazingly, the soup of the day was clam chowder, and it was very good. The final push home was long and tiring, but it was good to pull up in front of the place and get out. It was so good to sleep in our own bed.
As a little aside, I managed to lose the gas cap to the Westy along the way. At first I made a make-shift one out of a Coke can, but when I tightened it up, one of the tabs off, so I used a piece of plastic wrap and a couple of zip-ties, and it worked great. Of course the Westy has a very unusual size of cap, so they didn't even list a cap at the local NAPA stores. Hope I don't have to get stuck using plastic wrap for too long.
So the trip was a complete success. Too short, but long enough that we were really glad to get back home.
And tomorrow I have to go to work.

Friday, September 09, 2011

I BE Trippin'

In my spare time the last couple of days, I have been figuring out our trip. The plan is:

Day 1 Home to Paradise Point State Park
Day 2 Paradise Point to Emigrant Springs
Day 3 Emigrant Springs to Craters of the Moon
Day 4 Craters of the moon to Brigham City to see family
Day 5 Brigham City
Day 6 Brigham City to Zion National Park
Day 7 Zion National Park
Day 8 Zion National Park to North Rim, Grand Canyon
Day 9 North Rim to Bryce Canyon
Day 10 Bryce Canyon
Day 11 Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef National Park
Day 12 Capitol Reef to Arches
Day 13 Arches to Brigham City
Day 14 Brigham City
Day 15 Brigham city to somewhere
Day 16 Home

With no side trips, that is 2889 miles.
We do not have reservations at several of out destinations, but that's OK. We'll figure something out.
I pick up the Westfalia tonight. I am anxious to see how all the improvements turned out. Added heat, air conditioning and refrigeration. Updated electrical system, new pop top canvas and headliner, new batteries. new windshield, new rear bumper, new antenna. This will be a heck of a break-in trip.
I can't wait.