Friday, September 21, 2007

The Long and Winding Road: Part 2

Onward after Bryce, we hightailed it to Salt Lake City where we spent the night next to an Air Force Base. Early to rise, I took the helm and drove from SLC to Idaho Falls. We eventually passed through a mountain town named Jackson Hole and into Grand Teton National Park.

My boss's boss is what the Natives call a National Park Expert and he told me that Grand Teton was named by French fur-trappers who noticed the three most recognizable mountain peaks looked like large bosoms. Oh those hornorific French bastards.

We didn't spend any time in the Grand Boobs. We simply drove right through it to the southern entrance of Yellowstone.

Yellowstone is freakin' huge. There are several spots of touristy interest, but they are all spaced out very much; so much that it requires an hour plus drive just to see these places. It was getting dark, so we made one small stop at... where else... Old Faithful.

When we got there, the glorious geyser was just about ready to blow. They have seats around the entire perimeter, but there was not many people at all. When it finally blew, we snapped many pictures and Tricia Takanawa even gave a live report.

After, we were starving and poked into the Old Faithful Lodge for dinner, which was not very good but not bad. When we were ready to head on out, we found that it was pouring outside. Ellvin Kelvin pulled the car up and we headed very scarily down the mountain to our hotel in West Yellowstone. But seriously, we were all on edge for that drive because visibility was nil and Ellvin Kelvin was driving sorta briskly.

So the next two days, we conquered the park. We visited the Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Falls, Lower Falls, Upper Falls, Grand Prismatic Springs, and honestly, there wasn't that much to see for a place so big. In order to enjoy Yellowstone in all its glory, you need to do some camping and hiking, but it was too wet for that during our stay.

After a heart attack scare involving Grandpa K and an eerily shivering cold Grandma K, we left Yellowstone much to their enjoyment and drove a whopping 10 hours through Casper and Cheyenne. I was at the helm late at night and took us to within 80 miles to Denver, our destination, when we thought it best to find a hotel to rest at. Otherwise, we would have strolled into Denver at around 2am with nowhere to go.

The first hotel we tried had no vacancies. And the lady at the front, who was flirting with a cleaning guy, was nice enough to tell us that there were absolutely no hotels in the area with rooms available. Our best bet, she said, was to head back 20 minutes from the direction we came from and check a no-name motel.

"Piss off, fatty," replied I and Father Routes and I wheelbarrowed outta there.

We jumped back on the highway towards Denver and pulled over at the sight of the next cluster of hotels. We pulled into a Comfort Inn and boom! were hooked up with the last room for $90. And whatta room it was! It was like staying at the White House. And whatta cliffhanger!

To Be Continued.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Long and Winding Road: Part 1

Holy Hecuba, we're back! And I've been trying to find the time and energy to write a trip report. Keep it on the downlow, but I put together a huge hardcover photo album with iPhoto. I had worked on it nonstop for three days till 1:30 in the morning and sent it off to the printers Wednesday night. I think it came out just swimmingly and as a 31st anniversary gift for my parents, I think they'll eat it up.

But enough sentimental crap, let's get on to what happened on the road trip!

We departed on the night of Saturday 9/1 a little after midnight. There was a little skirmish over who would stay awake with Father Routes for the first part of the drive. Because I had taken a nap earlier, I opted to be in the passenger seat. More than half way to Vegas, Father Routes got tired and I took the wheel with Mother Routes shotgun. It was about 2am at the time so I myself was starting to fall asleep, but Mother Routes and I were talking enough to keep me awake. I drove the 140 miles to Las Vegas and pulled over at a gas station to refuel, where I also switched off with Ellvin Kelvin and slept till we arrived in Zion National Park in the morning.

Zion is a fairly big sized park (well from as much as you can see). They've got a terrific shuttle system that takes you to each hiking trail and point of interest destination. Unlike the horrid buses at Mammoth, these trams come every 5 minutes or less to each stop, so it's extremely easy and desirable to hop off, see something, and hop back on.

Ellvin Kelvin, Timotei, and I went on many hikes. Two of them consisted of a short walk up a paved cement walkway. Hardly a hike, but they took you to two of the most interesting areas: Court of the Patriarch and Weeping Rock. We also did some real hikes. The first was a 2 hour hike up and down a dirt path to The Emerald Pools. Sounds cool right? Well these hikes got pretty tough in spots with no shade all to see... little ugly boring ponds.

The other hike we did was the Riverside Walk, which was a simple, but long, trek down a flat path alongside a river. At the end is a bunch of dirty children playing in a riverbank. If you go on from where we ended, you can see some caves, but you'd have to cross the water.

So in doing these simple one to two hour hikes, we felt we were ready for something really ambitious. Zion had a "strenuous" hike to Angel's Landing which consists of going up really high, through difficult switchbacks, and even through a narrow path through a huge elevated boulder. Since it is estimated to be a five hour hike, we weren't able to conquer it the day we were there, but we plan on returning specifically for Angel's Landing within a year.

But next it was on the road again to Bryce Canyon National Park. The following morning, the plan was to make it to Sunrise Point to witness the sunrise over the canyon. That was the plan, but what really happened was I woke up late and Ellvin Kelvin took literally 15 minutes to put on his contact lenses (that just weren't working for him). Then, after hauling ass to pick up Father Routes and the Grandparents (we had to stay at separate hotels), we learned that the Granny K's weren't even awake yet. So Father Routes left them to sleep and ran out to the car, but soon learned that he forgot his ID needed to enter the park. So he ran back and realizing that he had forgotten to grab a hotel key, he knocked furiously for a Granny K to open the door. Meanwhile, the rest of us are cursing because we could see the sun quickly rising over the horizon. After another five minutes, he ran back down and we hauled ass again into the park and up to Sunrise Point. We grabbed a parking space and ran as fast as the wind could carry us to the viewing area. Many people were leaving already and when we got there, the sun was already well above the horizon. Everything wrong that could have happened that morning happened. We literally missed it by a couple of minutes. Out of breath and disappointed, we took pictures anyway and decided to just tell people we saw the sunrise.

But things would turn out better on our hikes, we thought. The sun was out and the sky was crystal clear when we made our way down the canyon. Bryce Canyon is beautiful! The rockwork is phenomenal. We began the hike at Sunrise Point, made our way down to the Queen's Court (where I bowed to Queen Victoria), and then up the Navajo Loop to see Thor's Hammer. That's when it started to rain and lightning! Fearful that we'd die, we kept shelter in a narrow pass between tall rocks; though the charred dead trees didn't provide any comfort.

When there was a break in the storm clouds, we headed off to complete our hike to Bryce Point. We crossed through to Peek-a-Boo Loop (a horse and hiker trail) where we would take half way and then detour through to Bryce Point. It started to pour again, but thankfully the lightning didn't return. After 1.5 miles of freshly laid horse crap, the saddest most disheartening moment of the trip came when we walked up to the Bryce Point trail with a giant "TRAIL CLOSED" barricade.

After screaming many obscenities under the pouring sky, we literally ran back up and down the trail in 10 minutes. When we finally got out of the canyon at the top of Navajo Loop, the rain stopped, the sun returned, and a bunch of new hikers made their way down the trail. We were muddied and exhausted and drenched, but drying off. And even though the hike didn't go as planned and lead to much frustration, Bryce Canyon was awesome and my favorite National Park I've ever visited.

To Be Continued.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Greetings From Utah!

Gor-reet-tings puny humanoids.

I know it's been a long timeish, but you have to believe me that I've been busy. Firstly, we eagerly anticipated Ellvin Kelvin's homecoming. I even planned to have a countdown. But he arrived too quickly and well, he's back.

Then news came at work that my area will be extremely busy in the next two years. Fo' sho. And that I am assigned two projects. Timotei is assigned his first.

But before thinking of that, we are on a Fa.R.T [Family Road Trip]! I meant to write about this before our departure date, but it came much too fast. We are in Utah right now. We left on Saturday night, drove all night through Las Vegas, and ended up in Zion National Park for some hiking adventures. Then straight on to Bryce Canyon to spend the night and we hiked Bryce earlier today. Now we're in Salt Lake City at a Days Inn.

Our experience with hotels has been mixed. At the Bryce Canyon View Lodge, two of the biggest old pricks checked people in. Seriously these people were the very definition of asshat. Our group split up and Ellvin Kelvin, Timotei, Mother Routes, and I ended up 7 miles down the road to a place called Americas Best Value Inn & Suites, which obviously does NOT sound at all pleasing. But Jebus, the staff was incredibly friendly (all of them), the room was decent, we had a continental breakfast, and did I mention the staff was awesome (not to mention attractive)? It seemed like a Mom and Pop operation, but I can't be sure.

The Days Inn we are at currently also has a crabby rude staff. I guess the ABVI&S staff was an anomaly.

I will have more details about our trip when I return and am able to post pictures. You won't want to miss my hiking trip reports. I swear, I could start an entirely new Misfortune Cookies saga...

FaRTing on Utah,