Wednesday, October 28, 2009

So when last I left off I had barely gotten any sleep in 2 days and I was freezing my ass off at a truck stop...

October 3, 2009 630 AM

After fueling up I set my sights on Arches National Park in Moab Utah a short 59 miles away. Onward, upward and without a last look at Green River I was on my way. Arriving at Arches around 710am I was able to fully enjoy the sunrise over what can only be described as a slice of the best that America has to offer. After a drive around the park for some incredible picture opportunities I stop at the fiery furnace for a 9am tour. By now the air had warmed up considerably and it was now in the low 80s. The tour was incredible, it was a mix between some hiking and easy rock climbing. Our park ranger/tour guide was awesome, she was able to answer everyone's questions and gave us a lot of really cool information about the park and Utah. I met lots of interesting people from all over the western US. Around 1230pm the tour finished and I set out on my own for another hour or so. I would have liked to have explored further, but I was getting tired and it was getting hot and I still had a significant amount of driving to do. Around 130pm I started off for South Rim Grand Canyon Arizona. My Route was 191S to 163S into Arizona, 161W to 89S and finally 64W into Grand Canyon Park, my final destination is Mather Campground. I was feeling quite awake when I set off and I made frequent stops to the fun whole in the wall tourist traps, including Wilson Arch, Hole-in-the-wall Utah, Mexican Hat the San Juan River, San Juan County Navajo Reservation, Monument Valley State Park and Kayenta Arizona. Around Tuba City Arizona I started to get not sleepy, but physically exhausted, plus I was extremely jealous of all the motorcycles on the road. I was very excited when I saw the sign for Grand Canyon Park 25 miles ahead. I saw the most incredible sunset soon after turning onto 64W. After passing the sign for Grand Canyon National Park I began to look for Mather Campground, except all I saw was Desert View Campground. I figured Mather just had to be a bit further down the road, silly me. Another 25 miles later I reach the actual Park and the campground is still at the end of the park. By this time its 830pm (1130pm my time) and I can barely keep my eyes open to see the raccoon, road runner and mountain lion that have crossed the road. WTF!!! A friggin mountain lion? I didn't even know those were out there. I fully expected deer and coyotes, but never a mountain lion. Made me think of how brilliant I was for wanting to camp outside. I finally arrive at the station and thanks to my brilliant planning (or lack there of) I don't have to pay for parking, but the campsite office is closed, what the hell I'll just got to my campsite and check in inthe morning. There was a full moon out which was fantastic, I didn'y even need a flashlight to put the tent together or to cook up food. I had planned to get up early to watch the sunrise over the canyon, but the forecast showed it would cloudy, for my own sanity I just planned for extra sleep. I finally crashed around 930pm and then slept like the dead for 11hrs straight. The coma sleep was so deep that I didn't even here the wind or the feel the tent shift all night. Needless to say when I awoke the next morning to a quarter inch of sand and dust covering EVERYTHING I was surprised. More to come...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Southwest Road Trip

As many of you know I recently set forth on a classic American tradition known as the roadtrip. My plan was to fly into Vegas, pick up my rental car, drive through to Maob Utah, then hit up the four corners monument, move on to Grand Canyon South in Arizona and finally end up back in Arizona. I planned the trip for four days and timed everything out to cram as much as possible into the short time I had. First off I was an idiot. Yeah I gave myself four days but that was including the travel time from Boston to Vegas and back again so it was really only three days. Also I didn't count on the many things that could (and did) go wrong when your driving through the vastness known as the southwest. I'll take your through each day and add pics. I will also say that if I could sum up my trip in one word it would "exhausting".

Day 1 October 2, 2009 5:00 AM

I awoke at 5:00 AM to catch the bus and T to Logan airport. Unfortunately my roommate and I planned trips simultaneously so I was unable to get a ride to the sirport from her. Arriving at Logan at 645 AM I have a lovely around the corner line to wait on to check my frame pack in. When I finally get to the counter the pleasant so helpful (insert sarcasm here) attendant tells me I need to put a bag around my pack. She says "it's down there" waving here hand in the general direction of the entire airport. When I try to ask for more specific directions she suddenly no longer speaks english just gossip to her follow attendant. After wandering for about 10 minutes I fianlly locate the stupid bags and grab one for my pack. Meanwhile the next guy online has shoved aside my stuff and taken over the counter. So I wait politely until he is done and then check my bag with the native of gossipland, who informs me I must start the process all over because the right tags didn't print, whatever, I get out of there finally. The plane ride to LAX was uneventful mostly because I slept the entire time. I did wake up to see a view of the Colorado rockies and then again as we descended into california to see the Hollywood sign. After a quick switch of planes I am now off to Vegas. When we were leaving California I got to see the pacific ocean and the beaches, very nice. Finally landing in Vegas I get my rental car, hmmm more like a rental can on wheels, whoever thought the KIA Rio was a good idea for a car had a great sense of humor. Next stop is Walmart for supplies (fuel and food) everything those stuffed shirts at the FAA wont let you bring on board a plane (haha J/K). Oh and a quick stop at the liquor store since I am not keen on drinking Utah beer. Finall get on the road at 430 pm. Originally I thought I would be ont the road by 330 pm giving me almost 3 hours of daylight driving for the longest leg of my journey Vegas to Moab. Its friday and I'm stuck in traffic, WTF? Everyone should be headed into Vegas for the weekend not out to Utah. Very odd. Anyways I layout a plan of action to drive straight until its gets dark and then to stop for dinner and gas. I'm hoping to atleast get into Utah by the time the sun has set. My route starts at I-15N through Nevada then a bit of Arizona and then into St George Utah. My plan is to stop in Cedar City Utah before the switch to I-70E. I didn't even make it into Arizona. The sun sets and I'm only in Mesquite Nevada. I decide to stop every 2 hours for gas and a stretch, but the mroe I drive it becomes every 1 1/2 and then every hour and finally I start stopping at every rest stop just to stretch. I keep thinking the KIA's engine is going to burn out since its starts whining every time I hit 70, btw the speed limit is 75mph. I am straining just to get it to go 80. Also it has terrible gas mileage, I was burning through a quarter of tank every 50 min. After I hit I-70E I start getting really tired. I'd only gotten maybe 3 hours of sleep the previous night and I only got 4 hours the night before that since I had to drive Elsa and Andy to the airport at 5am. The towns have gotten further and further apart and I realize I'm not going to make it to the campsite tonight. As I pass Salina Utah Around 12am my time 10pm local time I decide to pull into the next rest stop and sleep for a few hours. This is a common occurence out west that you'll see many cars pulled into a truck rest stop sleeping. However the next rest stop I see is quite literally in the middle of nowhere. For saftey sake it seems a good idea to stay at a rest stop in a town. Of course little did I know Salina is the last town on I-70 until Gren River 115miles away. So 2 hours later I finally pull into Green River which consists of a truck stop, gas station and train depot. I crawl into the back seat for a snooze with a sleeping bag and pass out. about an hour later I wake up cramped up in the back seat of the tiny KIA Rio which is small for me, to give you an idea, I toss for a while and the temperature gets lower and lower and at one point int the night hits 32 degrees. Well I'm in a 0 degree Mummy bag so I think I'm all set, except that in order to fit in the back seat I have my feet up against the glas soaking up all the freezing cold air until my body actually starts shaking form cold. Around 615AM I give up and continue my drive to Moab Utah. More to come...