Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Travel Tales: Akron to LA 2014 - Day 6

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
We woke up with the plan to hike into Bryce Canyon. The car was covered in ice and that did not bode well for a hike since we were not adequately dressed for such low temperatures.  We did not want to put ourselves in harm's way and I did not want to be rescued a second time from Bryce! We decided to continue to our next stop south where the weather was much warmer.

We arrived in Zion National Park early in the morning and were happy we made the decision to arrive at that time. We went on a few hikes and were able to find parking for the first half of our visit. By the middle of the afternoon, the traffic was heavy. Finding a parking place at the various viewpoints was extremely difficult. Driving the road was challenging. Visitors would create their own parking places along the road and sometimes driving by those cars was stressful. We were at the park on a day when the shuttle was not running. During the summer and on weekends and holidays the rest of the year, motorists cannot drive through Zion. They must take the shuttle. At first I was glad that we would be able to take the car, but I soon realized why the shuttle was necessary.

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
Zion is a beautiful park and is more developed than the other Utah parks. That aspect brings more visitors to the park. Attendance at the other park and been low that week, so when we encountered the crowds at Zion, I sometimes felt like we were in a new section of DisneyWorld. I prefer the solitude of Canyonlands and Arches.

Since we were leaving the park earlier than we anticipated, we decided to continue on our journey to Los Angeles which was six hours away. Traveling on the day before Thanksgiving was not the best of ideas, but we would try to get as far as we could. Even if we got in late, we were excited by the aspect of avoiding another night in a hotel. Since we were prepared for horrendous traffic in LA for the holiday, we were amazed that we had no traffic at all. The perfect end to a perfect trip. For those who have not had the experience of touring the national parks of Utah, make the time at some point to have the pleasure of doing so. The trip was one any traveler would treasure and we intend to return to explore the parks again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Travel Tales: Akron to LA 2014 - Day 5

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
Early in the morning we headed north on US 191 from Moab to Interstate 70 where we would travel west for a few exits. We went south on 24 to Capitol Reef National Park. This was our third park of Utah's Majestic Five or Utah's High Five. These names are given to the five national parks of southern Utah. After spending some time in that park, we drove south on Scenic Byway 12. We will always remember that road. Although the scenery was beautiful, we found sections of the road scary to drive.

The road reached an elevation of 9600 feet for a mountain in the Dixie National Forest. When we came down from the mountain, we found we had to go over rocky terrain. At one point we had to travel over a section of the road that was just the road itself. No guard rails or shoulder were on either side - just the drop-off. We just stayed in the middle of the road and prayed no RV would be coming up the mountain. Even though the road was challenging, the scenery was amazing.

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
We arrived at Bryce Canyon National Park and were able to check in early to the hotel just outside the park. Bryce is one of my favorite national parks and we agreed it looks like a fairyland from some viewpoints. I have been to this park four times and I love it every time I visit. The red and beige rocks of Utah are here, but the added splash of the green from the pine trees makes this a colorful place to explore.

In the summer Bryce is a very hot place to hike. One summer when I was hiking, I had to be rescued because I became severely dehydrated. That was not the case in November. We hiked around the edge of the canyon through the snow and were able to visit all the viewpoints we wanted to see. Windy conditions brought the temperature even lower and we were freezing. We planned to hike into the canyon the next morning.

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Travel Tales: Akron to LA 2014 - Day 4

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We had a restful night at the Red Cliffs Lodge and were going to stay there another night. Today was Canyonlands National Park. Many many years ago I visited the southern section of the park, so I was excited to see the Islands in the Sky. The beauty of this park was unbelievable! We loved hiking to Mesa Arch. Some people would stand on the arch, but we thought it was too windy to attempt that feat. The cold weather was a factor in keeping the crowds small. A vacationer from Salt Lake City told us his family always visits the park just before Thanksgiving, but this year he found the weather colder than in other years.

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
Some vistas of the park were similar to those of the Grand Canyon. Other sections reminded me of the Petrified Forest. We were amazed at how one park could have so many different aspects to it. As we were visiting Canyonlands, we saw several snow storms in the area, but we did not have to deal with driving through them. They seemed to stay in the La Sal Mountains.

After visiting Canyonlands, I have to say it is one of my favorite national parks. On my cross-country excursions, I have driven on I-70 through Utah many times. I have marveled at the desolate countryside and wanted to drive through it. Driving through this park shows travelers the embarrassment of riches the state of Utah has in regard to incredibly beautiful scenery. I was very happy to finally have the opportunity to explore this land. I plan to return as soon as possible.


(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Travel Tales: Akron to LA 2014 - Day 3

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We left a very cold Farmington and drove west to Shiprock. A snow storm was swirling around the rock, but fortunately we had to turn north. We could see various patches of snow coming down on the desolate area. It was incredibly beautiful. We were lucky that we missed every single storm. We had one area where snow was on the road, but Utah's plows dealt with the accumulation immediately.

We arrived in Moab that morning and decided to drive through Arches National Park. We had a perfect day for visiting the park which had just a few dozen visitors. The sky was blue with a few clouds and the La Sal Mountains had snow on them. I have visited Arches in the summer, so I had never seen this aspect of the park. We were bundled up for the cold and made wise choices in regard to what we would and would not do. We hiked the short trails, but we did not consider it safe to travel trails with ledges on the mountain sides. The wind was just too intense.

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
After spending the entire afternoon at the park, we decided to leave to travel to our hotel while it was still daylight because that drive was going to be amazing. We wanted to do something different with our two nights of accommodations in Moab, so we decided to stay at the Red Cliffs Lodge. To get there we had to drive Scenic Byway 128. Between two sets of towering red cliffs were the Colorado River and Scenic Byway 128. At mile marker 14 was the lodge which looked like a ranch and was located on the edge of the river.  A winery was also located on the property. Horses grazed in the pasture and a creek ran through the land to the river. The area was amazing.

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)