Well, I got back from my big three decade birthday trip across the Southwest.
Well, went up to visit family in San Diego.
Me and my Gairma went on one heck of a fun trip. Five straight days of driving across the Southwest, and photos along the way. Saturday 3/30: Left San Diego.
- Stopped in Poway for Breakfast and picked up apples and oranges from the farmers market in Poway. Got to see the small gauge railroad up there.
- Went up from Poway to Santa Ysabel, stopped off to have the famous Julian Apple Pie.
- Went from Santa Ysabel to Ranchita to cross over the mountains into Anza-Borrego State Park. In Borrego Springs we went to see the "superbloom," which had happened due to unseasonal rains in the desert. We got there and got to see all the desert flowers blooming before the desert caterpillar plague consumed them all. [A little eerie to hear the crunching of caterpillars eating up the landscape all around you.]
- Went down to the Salton Sea, via Salton City, very sad and depressing. [The Salton Sea is a massive super-fund site. Beautiful but no swimming in the toxic and poisonous water. Cheapest real estate in all of California $2,500 for multi-acre lots.]
- Went up to Mecca, Thermal, and Coachella caught I-10 running to Blythe.
- Crossed into Arizona, went through Quartzsite, got off onto Hwy-60 at Brenda, Arizona. Stopped off at Buckaroo's General Store...awesome burgers must recommend. [However, will note: if you go off highways, make sure to bring maps since cell service is spotty and app functionality for smart phones will be limited. We spent 2 hours in the parking lot here, trying to make reservations in Prescott and Prescott Valley. Found out that both Springbreak for that region was on and so was the Snowbirds fleeing the heat, so no vacancies in that area. Made reservation in Wickenburg up the road.]
- Raced up Hwy 60 to Aguila to get to Wickenburg, Arizona before it was too dark. [Strange to find towns like Hope with only a church on the road, and massive RV parks catering to the Snowbird travelers. Also even more weird when two towns along the route have both Pearl Harbor and 9/11 Relic Monument/Museums in the middle of no-where.]
- Arrived in Wickenburg in the dark and was wowed by the lit up downtown and checked into hotel. [Note Arizona doesn't exactly follow daylight savings time, which will cause some problems later in Page, Arizona.
Sunday 3/31: Left Wickenburg.
- If you want a very nice stay, chose corporate hotels; or local family owned ones with good reviews. Franchise hotels are a bit dicey. We had broken windows, cracked ceilings, a shower that pranked us every few seconds with temperature changes, and horrible breakfast options.
- Backtracked to the Wickenburg Airport, [A night its just off the road, and angles down into a valley weird visual effect.] Drove back up into town looking for Coffee. [Fun Fact: Wickenburg is Cattle-Drive/Rodeo Town for Cowboys that also caters to Snowbirds.] We left just as they were finishing up a Western Festival. Really Cool Town, I do recommend a visit; just find a good hotel please first. XD.
- Left Wickenburg to Congress [Fun Fact Arizona uses a rather surprising amount of roundabouts vs. intersections. Its actually less stressful than having to stop and watch out for crazy drivers.] We get on the Hwy 89.
- We realize going towards Yarnell, we are going up a mountain side. [Mountainside #1]
- We cross a massive alpine valley from Yarnell, through Peeples Valley, to Wilhoit. Find ourselves staring at another Mountain Climb. [Mountainside #2] During the Ascent something happens to my 8GB SD chip, found out later it was a programming error. But, I assume I have major issues and stop taking photos after a certain time in the mountains nearing Prescott. We came out of the mountains into the Apple Creek Valley heading into Prescott, its absolutely beautiful and gorgeous family owned motels up there. [Absolutely Pissed did not take any photos.]
- Irritated about my SD chip issues, stop in downtown Prescott for directions to a Best Buy, ends up at Office Max, buys two, two. 128GB SD chips, no running out on this trip! Mwa ha ha. [Only used one.]
- Backtrack to Prescott, take photos of the town.
- Leave Prescott to Jerome, Arizona via Hwy-89A. Say, hello to another hairpin turn mountain road. [Mountainside #3]
- Enter Jerome, Arizona. Jerome is a rather unique town in the United States formerly a mining town, and situated on a cliff, main street starts at 5000ft, and also probably one of the highest elevation main street fire stations I have seen.
- We stop off and eat at the Grand Motel, about 5100ft elevation, when you enter Jerome you actually go under it. Wow, old Hotel. It actually is reasonably priced for about $160 a night. Worth it for the view. Oh, and the bathrooms for the restaurant; they have an absolute insane view from the Hotel looking towards Sedona across the Valley. [A throne with a view. XD.] Left the Grand Motel visited a local Rock and Gemstone Shop.
- Left Jerome down, a hairpin descent road and then crossed the valley to Sedona.
- Arrive in Sedona, visit the airport on a nearby Mesa, and take photos of the surrounding scenery, and then visit the Chapel up there.
- Leave Sedona, we have to get to Flagstaff by dark. We go via the Oak Creek Canyon. Its about 5:00 local and its twilight in the canyon; literally dark.
- Drive through Oak Creek Canyon, have to ascend yet again, another hairpin road. [Mountainside #4] Oh and we are noticing more snow and ice up here. Great....
- Arrive in Flagstaff, and check in.
Monday 4/1: April Fools yipee, fighting off a bout of altitude sickness after crossing four mountainous climbs. Left Flagstaff.
- Left Flagstaff went around Humphrey's Peak via. Hwy-180. Its kind of weird around Humphrey's Peak. Alot of the side road in the National Park are still closed and small towns and villages deeper in the park are still cut off, lots of fire-damage is still visible from a couple years back. Then on the backside of Humphrey's Peak you shoot out into basically the Australian Outback.
- Reach the crossroads of Hwy-180 and Hwy-64 in Valle.
- Sees an antique plane on the roadside. Checks it out.
- Finds the Planes of Fame Museum Grand Canyon Extension in Valle, Arizona. And they are setting up catering for the cross country antique car racers. Spent sometime and had alot of fun. All kinds of unique and unusual aircraft were around for refurbishment. MiGs, DeHaviland Vampire, JSDF P-80 Shooting Star, and a rare flying Bf-109G with its original DB-601 engine. And I found the boneyard outback. Photos galoore. When we left the antique cars were just arriving.
- Heads toward the South Rim of Grand Canyon from Valle via Hwy-64. [Fun fact: Hwy-64 parallels the South Rim of the Grand Canyon til Tusayan.] Antique Cars are passing us going to Valle and the Planes of Fame Museum.
- Arrives at the El Tovar Hotel complex on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Grand Canyon Village, where all the major Presidents especially Teddy Roosevelt visited. Got some pictures, and did check out the Trans-Canyon Telephone Line, and Trail...how in the world does one cross the Grand Canyon in a day on foot? Well there are guys who do it apparently...RUNNING.
- Leaves El Tovar and Grand Canyon Village to Desert View and the watchtower there. Got a photo from almost all of the windows.
- We book it from Desert View to Cameron to get on Hwy-89 to Page, Arizona.
- Arrived at Page, checked in.
- Tried to figure out this tiny town, in which supposedly alot of Hollywood movies like the classic Planet of the Apes was shot here, and Evel Knevel tried to cross the Grand Canyon, and yet even the locals can't figure out. Found a cool restaurant. Steer-89 had some Navajo Fry Bread with Hot Honey infused with Chili's, and a Navajo Burger on Fry Bread.
Tuesday 4/2: Page Pandemonium, left to Zion National Park.
- Okay, one little backtrack. We had to last minute register for the Lower Antelope Canyon Tours the night before. Because the locals are confused and giving weird directions. Although our helpful chef/waiter of the Steer 89 called Robbie [A Navajo, and a good cook too] and he was very helpful to us. So we are set for the 9:15 tour.
- We arrive at Lower Antelope Canyon check in at 8:45 but nearly end up going in early. Well, we wait and we get an awesome guide. Clint. Photos galore.
- We decide to visit the Lake Powell Marina and take the Antelope Canyon Boat Tour. The Lake is down 180ft. Really Really Low. But the side canyon that the Marina is in is over 400ft deep! While waiting for the tour, we have a stop at the Restaurant on the Marina fun stuff. Boat tour was interesting, although the low water level did not allow us to go alot further than when the water is high.
- One note: if you are in the Page, Arizona region be forewarned. It gets wonky with time. Most of Arizona doesn't adhere to Daylight Savings Time. And different Cell Providers are on different sides of Lake Powell. Factor in that the Navajo Nation has its own time system as well. And things can get a little zany quick. My Gairma and myself literally had an hour diffence between our phones while we were sitting right next to each other!
- Checked Out Glen Canyon Dam, which created Lake Powell, before heading up the road to Zion National Park.
- We passed through Big Water, which used to be an extension of Lake Powell in its backyard now gone now.
- We drove through Kanab to Mt. Carmel Junction to get on Route 9 to come into Zion National Park from the East through the Tunnels.
- Coming Down Route 9 into Zion via the Eastern Tunnels is absolutely beautiful, well until you find yourself on one lane washed out on one side roads.
- Came down through the winding roads into Springdale, and checked in at the Zion Park Motel. Really Cool Place.
Wednesday 4/3: Zion National Park and Departure
- Spent time in Zion National Park and Springdale for a day very beautiful town and landscapes. Took the scenic bus tour up into the major Canyon Stop of the Park.
- Left around 3:00P.M. Mountain Time after raiding up and down in Springdale, Utah all the towns art and rock shops.
- Exit Zion across to Hurricane and St. George, Utah. Driving on Hwy 15.
- Passed through Las Vegas without stopping, for the life of me its a weird town. Why would it even be on the map is a good question for me.
- We made a mad dash across the Mojave to Barstow, California. Checked in.
Thursday 4/4: Barstow to San Diego.
- Left Barstow, don't pick a hotel on one side of Route 66 in Barstow. It's close to a rail yard.
- Went up to San Bernardino Valley via Hesperia. We actually drove into clouds and rain. Everything was in bloom.
- We went down 15 to Chino, to see the Chino Planes of Fame Museum. It was a really fun place, should have spent some more time there on the way back.
- We arrived about 5:00P.M. Pacific time in San Diego, after various visits of family haunts on the way down.
All in all it was a fun trip. I have tons of photos to sort through and post.
Its been a blast.