Out West 2017! Moab

We only had one day for Utah and I wanted something on the way to Denver so I chose to visit Arches in Moab.

If you ask people who have visited Moab whether Canyonlands or Arches is better the answer will be 1/2 and 1/2 like what happened to me. So I chose one and I was utimately happy with my choice.

We arrived early at Arches National Park and obtained a map. We were up for a hike and there were many trails to take. Ultimately the Devils Garden Trail is selected.

Devils Garden had a rating of both easy and difficult. It appears that the first part of the trail is the easy part and you can turn around if you don’t wish to go on (1.9 mi/3.1 km roundtrip). We chose to go on past that as far as we could (5.1 miles/8.2 km).

Start of Devils Garden Trail
We got to see our first arch

The first part was pretty easy dirt paths that were well defined.

Then we come to the first sign that this isn’t no ordinary trail. All I see is stones that go straight up.

Up those rocks you go

I am officially scared at this point. I have hiked many times but I only have one past rock scrambling experience and that was scary for me to complete (Hiking in Mohonk).

I see people of all ages going up and down that rock; even a guy with a baby on this back. If they can do it then I can do it. I hike up to the top.

Looking back

Once over the first obstacle it continues on with more mini-hurdles to get over until eventually you get the view of more arches.

View from the other side of the arch
narrow passage ways
More obstacles for me to get up and over

We went over these rock formations that I can only describe as “trust the process” rocks. There are a few cairns but cairns don’t tell you that there is not a quick drop at the other end of the rock formation. You must trust the process and just move forward. There is always a (semi-safe) way down.

And finally the “dong” photo. It is actually called Dark Angel.

Yes I am a 40 something woman with the humor of a 12 year old boy

Shortly after the big rock it was time to go back. There was a “primitive trail” to go back but I figured the regular trail was enough work so I went back the way I came. Those rocks were much easier now that I knew what to expect. It was a lovely day at Arches. I feel like wonder woman now! I recommend a visit.

Out West 2017! Arizona

Our day in Arizona is a long one. We started early from the grand canyon to head north to Page, Arizona. Today we were going to see some really cool natural wonders.
First up is Upper Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon you can walk through.
We meet in the tour office and they take us in a back of a pickup truck a few miles away to the canyon.
These canyons are formed when water rushes through them time and time again. Luckily we are in the dry season so there is no reason to fear this visit.
After we finished our antelope tour we thought we would stop for some authentic Mexican food.  It was pretty underwhelming but at least we got in a full meal and dessert before moving on.
Next on the agenda is the Horseshoe Bend. You’ve probably seen it in travel articles and instagram. It really is that pretty in person.
Next on the agenda was supposed to be Monument Valley on the way to Moab. Unfortunately since it was late fall we lost our sun and lost our opportunity to see it.
I loved my trip out west so much that I am sure I will be back on that side of the country some day in the future. No reproductions of Forrest Gump today…..

Out West 2017! Grand Canyon Day 2

Day 2 of the grand canyon I wake up early to get those sunrise photos. I am out of photo practice so my photos don’t come out that spectacular. Luckily my subject matter is beautiful just on its own. After photos I go back to my cabin and get ready. After breakfast it is time to go Day 2 of hiking in the canyon. I am prepared with the appropriate layers today.

Today’s trail is Bright Angel trail and it is very near to our cabin. We hiked down into the canyon like we did the day before, this time going further down.

This squirrel kept trying to steal my banana. He was quite aggressive.
A couple times for the hike we had to move away to give room for the people coming up horseback. To go all the way down is not a day trip. There is lodging below, if you are lucky to get a booking. Hiking back is a day’s work and rough so many travel back by horse.

Magnificent views

After returning back I reward myself with a margarita. And we decide to check out the bar in the lodge. It is a not the best entertainment act they could have booked there. But it was nice to relax with some drinks.

The next day we are off north to see some more natural wonders. We stop for some more morning viewing of the canyon.

The grand canyon really is “all that”. I cannot believe it took me so long to visit. November seemed to be the perfect month to visit. It is fairly warm with cool evenings and mornings and no snow yet to worry about. I highly recommend that time of year

Out West 2017! Grand Canyon Day 1

Next stop on our road trip is the Grand Canyon. Yes, it is amazing as everyone says it is.
We spent two days here and splurged a little and stayed on site. I wanted to make sure we had as much time as possible to get at the Canyon.

We drove up from Flagstaff that morning and it took about an hour and half to arrive. We had some time to hike a little before checking into our lodge Bright Angel Lodge.

We started with the South Kaibab Trail. It seemed like an easy day one hike to do. It was fall but still very warm in the sun. I wish I would have worn shorts and a t-shirt.

We hiked down to the recommended day hike stop, Cedar Ridge. There were bathrooms and some room to eat some snacks with a spectacular view.

This is also the trail where I lost a friend the previous year. In an unfortunate accident she fell below. I took a moment to remember her and her sparkle. Her name is also unfortunately in the book that chronicles all the canyon deaths.

Out West 2017! Get your kicks on route 66

One of my favorite Depeche Mode songs is their remake of the song Route 66. 
Route 66 always symbolized an idyllic road trip. The song lists all these towns that you will see along the way. For my road trip out west, I had a chance to take route 66 along some of my route. I didn’t get to hit many towns listed in the song, and we left too late to really enjoy lots of daylight hours on the road, but it was still and interesting trip.
First there is a stop at the Lake Mead Recreational area to get a good look,

Then we stopped at an old time-y gas station. It had closed just before we arrived since it was already getting late. I snapped a couple pictures and got back on the road.

The rest of the drive to Flagstaff was dark and isolating. It reminded me a little of the latest season of Twin Peaks, kind of creepy. But we made it to Flagstaff safely for the night. We had a little time for local craft brews and pizza before calling it a night. We are heading to Grand Canyon the next day.

Out West 2017! Extraterrestrial Highway

During my road trip out west I had a couple days to hang with my aunt in Nevada. We had no set plans but somehow we ending up talking ourselves into taking a drive to go to see Area 51.
I drove and we really didn’t know where we were going so we sort of followed directions going north.

The scenery was other worldly. I felt like I was on another planet. It was a long drive but we finally see a sign so we know we are on the right track.

At this point our phones are useless. It is just miles and miles of roads. We look for Area 51 but all we see are dirt roads to “nowhere”. When we arrived back to my aunt’s house that night we discovered that one of those dirt roads was probably the way to Area 51. There is no signage.

We stop at a little alien town along the way, it could be creepy at night.

It was fall and the sun was starting to set early. Those roads were scary during the day so we decided to turn back to get to civilization before dark. It proved to be a very healing trip. My cousin (my aunt’s niece) passed away earlier in the year. One of her favorite recent trips was down this highway. We were able to think fondly of her as we passed the signs.

Out West 2017! Heading to Vegas

A big trip of the year is heading west for my birthday.
I started in Las Vegas to visit my aunt and ended in Colorado to visit my friends.
We had many stops along the way.

While in Vegas I got my fill of Babystacks Cafe with 2 separate visits. Needless to say it was very good but probably very unhealthy.

Lolo Rick’s Adobo Fried Rice

Red Velvet Panckes

Huevos Rancheros

White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut

I took a vist down to Freemont street.

Not being a big gambler, we just chose to try an old fashioned vegas buffet. It was terrible but when in Rome (or Vegas).