On the Way to the Wedding Roadtrip: Reports From Jim — Bryce Canyons, A Long and Beautiful Diversion

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Our road trip across the country on the way to our daughter’s wedding has begun! We’re taking the slow roads, avoiding the interstates, stopping to walk through the little towns we pass through if they catch our eye. For the next few weeks, we will be footloose and fancy free. And then we will be parents of the bride. So, please welcome my husband, Jim, to the blog. Jim is the photographer in the family, and he will be taking pictures and giving updates on the trip from his perspective.

Day 11 – July 25, 2012

A Very Long — But Worthwhile — Short Detour

Today is August 11 (which means the wedding is over — successfully, no runaway bride or groom). I am way behind but the choice to do or to blog is no choice at all for me.

When I last left you we were moving towards Vegas. The drive from Price, Utah was just supposed to be a drive, and a bit of a disappointing one at that.  My plan had been to drive rt 12 through Bryce Canyon and other beautiful sites but our arrival in Vegas would be too late.  Nevertheless Utah presented us many pretty sites, such as lunch by a stream along rt 89.

From Price we took 6 (191) to I 70 (also rt 50!) which took us through the mountains of Manti La Sal National Forest. We left the interstate to take 89 south (where we had lunch by a stream) and I was surprised to see signs for Bryce Canyon.  But Vegas awaits and I drove by the turn off. Then turned around and went back. When would I ever be so close again?  I told Kelly we’ll drive 15, no 20 minutes then turn around. My plans quickly change when I saw it was 17 miles to the National Park Entrance.

As an appetizer for Bryce we drove through beautiful Red Canyon whose color discriminating readers can surmise. There were two unnatural arches to drive though but that did not detract from the beauty.

We pays our money ($25 I think and good for a week, we should have planned to spend a few days here) and enter the park. I am a bit discombobulated and miss the first two scenic turn outs. Kelly soon opens the map we were given and wisdom dawns. We then stop at each viewing spot, walking around taking pictures. Pictures however can not contain the feeling of these places, unless you are Ansel Adams.

But Jim, you missed the best parts of the canyon by driving by the first parts, like Bryce. But the road at the top turns around and I saw each one I had missed, saving Bryce as the amazing topping.

I have no idea how long my 20 minute detour really was, Kelly says at least 4 hours and I don’t doubt her. Some day the rest of rt 12.

Back on the rt to Vegas and I told Mavis (gps) enough of this dawdling, get us that as fast as you can. She turned us around and made us back track (!) to the interstate. At times there were experimental stretches that had limits of 80, which was kind of cool.  The end of Utah was in sight but the transition to AZ took our breath away as we descended down the colorful canyon. It was a rather short stretch of AZ near sunset but an amazing change in geography. Geography changed again when we entered Nevada.  It was a rather boring drive until we were overwhelmed by the lights of Vegas. Overwhelmed is a good word as I was tired and the never ending lights made it difficult for me to find and retain focus.  Mavis told us our exit was soon approaching and we got off and she soon announced “You have arrived at your destination on the right”. Except there was no destination anywhere. About 15 minutes before she had a spasm and lost satellite lock and apparently a bit more. The ministroke cause her to lose the street address of the Excalibur but not the street. So we entered at the bottom of Las Vegas Blvd and cruised the entire strip. Not too bad and pretty interesting except it was late and I was tired. Traffic moved nicely and drivers were polite, I didn’t hear s single horn until much later, and it was mine.

Eventually we got within 2 or 3 miles and traffic slowed. One reason was that I was in the right lane for an eventual right and the Vegas bus kept stopping about a block ahead. Later we found out pedestrians would jay walk and stop turning traffic so we al sat. I moved into the middle lane and all was good until one of said busses decided it was coming over and the fact that I was there didn’t matter. My horn had no impact (gotta buy an upgrade) but I swerved into the left lane between two cars and collision (and squishing) avoided.

If you don’t know Vegas getting to self park is tough (I did think about valet but our packing system, which works so well everywhere else is a disaster in Vegas with too many small bags).

I drive through a valet , taxi and thru traffic way and see a parking lot and start to make a left (no idea if I was allowed in this parking lot but I’d figure that out later). Kelly yells “Look out!” as a car approaches around the curve. I could have easily avoided him and entered the lot but swerved back into my lane. At the end of the road I started to make a U turn then noticed that the road was one way and the confused driver in the other car had been going the wrong way.

Another entrance to Las Vegas Blvd and on to Tropicana and a U turn finally brings me to self park, but no parking spaces. I continue to drive and see a parking garage and find a spot. At this point we have no idea if this is an Excalibur lot or not be we go in.

It is a very hot schlep (it is after 10 pm) to the casino then of course we have to walk our luggage (no wheels) across the casino floor to find hotel registration.  Kelly is not happy, the casino smells of cigarette smoke (we had forgotten that people could smoke inside). Along with the noise and the general bad odor Kelly was not impressed.  We finally found registration and I could not escape the stupid “resort fee” even though we would use no amenities that night.  Then a shlep back through the casino to where we had entered where our elevator awaits. Our floor, lucky 13.

The room smelled musty (It was ok to me but Kelly with her keener senses did not like it). The sheets had holes in them.  We did not like the Excalibur and did not spend another dime there.  But we did sleep.  Until tomorrow when two rubes in Vegas continues…



About Kelly McClymer

Kelly is a writer, a mom, and a reading tutor for children with dyslexia. Plus, she is totally addicted to her iPad. Curse you, Steve Jobs.