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9/18/08 3:45 AM

The alarm is ringing. Which morning show am I doing today? Make it stop!!! What IDIOT books a flight at 7:10 in the morning? Oh that's right, the woman I
married. Love ya!

So we scramble like eggs, and get everything ready to go, and at 5:15, we're on our way. Ironically, later than I'd be leaving if I was doing a morning show, so it
was a very relaxing 90 minutes. Yeah.

The flight to Philadelphia was rather uneventful. In fact, it's a quick flight from SYR to PHL - I'm not even sure we left the ground, but we got there. Left 5
minutes early arrived 20 minutes early. So, we got off the flight at gate C26 and started heading toward gate A16, where our next flight was to leave, according to
our boarding passes. "Should we check the big board?" asks Phil. "No, there'll be more closer" says the lovely woman who booked a flight for 7:10 in the morning.
So we get to the gate, and there is no gate. A16 is a pillar in the middle of the end of the A terminal. Boarding a plane through that gate would require a plane
to land on the roof of the airport. So, we ask and our flight is in the B terminal. Plenty of time, and there was food on the way. Oh and more coffee.

The flight to LAS took off nearly 30 minutes late. We boarded on time, but apparently everyone in Philly commuted to work via airplane and traffic was pretty heavy
on the runways. Yet, we still got in 20 minutes early. It's like they budget in lateness into their schedules. This was a much more interesting flight - flying
over the east, you hit a "city" every 5 minutes or so. Then you hit the plains, and the cities start coming every 10 minutes or so. Then you hit the mountains, and
you hit..Denver. You see more life flying over the moon. In fact, that's what it looks like with the vast stretches of reddish-colored rock. Until you hit the
desert. Then it's vast stretches of nothing, followed by a cactus, followed by nothing. Then you land in Las Vegas.

Nevada, for the record, does not have a handheld cell-phone ban. FYI. We looked it up on Alicia's iPhone after I got 2 calls from Wayne and answered them. We were
on the way to California at the time, where I could not have answered the calls on the handheld phone. But it wouldn't've mattered, since the phone wouldn't've
worked. But, more on that later.

Back to Vegas, we stayed at the New York, NY hotel, resort, casino, and amusement park. Seriously, they have a roller coaster in the front of the hotel, located
right on the strip. We didn't try the roller coaster, but we did go for a walk down the strip, and seeing some of the porn-peddlers who stand out there with very
explicit placards strapped to their backs, I now see why they call it the "strip".

The hotel is shaped approximately like the state of New York. Except, they added on a theatre, and had to fill in the eastern half of Lake Ontario and a small
portion of Ontario and Quebec. But in spite of protests of "eh?", plans went ahead and it's a very nice hotel. One part of New York is oddly missing in the design,
though. New York City. Go figure.


It was a casino night. We fell asleep at 4:30 in the afternoon, and woke up at 7:30. I was so well-rested, that I was CONVINCED it was 7:30am and we had wasted an
entire night. Alicia asked "what are we doing tonight?" and I couldn't quite process the question, so I actually went to the window, opened it and saw it was dark.

In the casino, I decided it would be a blackjack night, and after walking around finding just the right dealer for the occasion, sat down at a table filled young
people from England, Australia, Canada or some other British speaking country and won $80. Would've been more, but I had to take a push on a blackjack. Better than
losing I guess.

By this point in the night, Alicia had attempted to push open a pull door and pull open a push door. They really should put those signs in bold face or italics or

During our stroll down the strip, we were drawn to the Bellagio by loud music blaring out of their speakers, and fountains swaying in choreographed motion to the

Breakfast in the morning was very cool. It was nice because there was no door to have to open so we had no problem getting in. We ate at the "America" restaurant,
and their decor is very cool. On one wall, it's a wooden flag, other walls have various state advertisements, then right in the middle, on the ceiling, curved down
to the floor toward the back of the restaurant was a giant wood-carved United States. We enjoyed our breakfast under Kansas. Well, it might've been Oklahoma, but
either way, we were in the midwest, and I kept noticing that if it broke through, wouldn't it be just awful to be killed by one of those states.

After breakfast, I convinced Alicia to play $1 on the slot machines, since she hadn't yet. After losing that she decided that $5 would be more fun.

2 minutes later, we headed for the car, and took from the parking garage, figuring these would be pretty good

The road to Death Valley leads through Pahrump, Nevada. We spent a good half an hour trying to figure out why I had heard of Pahrump, and eventually, thanks again
to the iPhone, found out that it was used in an episode of the short-run NBC dramedy "Studio 60", starring Matthew Perry and some other people apparently not cute
enough for Alicia to remember. She tells me it might've been intended as a mini-series. I think it was intended to be a full-season show, but they were dumb and
tried doing 2 different shows about Saturday Night Live. Seriously? Come on people. Anyway, we are currently having a heated argument over this point, and it
might seriously fracture our marriage. Nope, we're fine. Moving on. Here are pictures from Pahrump's brothel museum.

Past Pahrump, about 150 miles before the next populated area, we eventually got to Death Valley. We wanted to text everyone we knew to tell them, but uhh, cell
phones? Nope! Nowhere in the park. Actually, technically we did get a blip of coverage at one point, but it wasn't solid enough to actually place a call.

This is what the entire trip to Death Valley looks like, except for the parts which are more deserted.

Death Valley National Park actually includes 3 valleys and 3 mountain ranges. Once you get over the first range, you enter Death Valley at the Furnace Creek
visitors center. It was hot.

It was so hot, I wanted the air conditioning to myself, so I left my passenger by the side of the road.

I pointed into the field and told her she could find a nice home.

Or perhaps a hillside property

After a long heated argument (actually it wasn't the argument that was heated, but rather the desert), I agreed to be left by the side of the road.

We did not get a picture of the sign that you see before going up the Panamint Mountains, but it reads "AVOID OVERHEATING. TURN OFF A/C NEXT 20 MILES". They must
be serious about it - there is radiator water stationed every 4-5 miles. We enjoyed the A/C during that stretch, but there were points when the car just absolutely
positively would not get above 40 mph. Since I don't know enough about cars to know what to do with radiator water, I chose not to push it.

During this stretch, we were not privy to cell phones, but thankfully our rental car came equipped with an XM radio. If not for that or the laptop full of mp3s in
the backseat, we'd've had to actually talk to pass the time. Thank you XM.

We finally arrived at Panamint Springs, which is basically the last of 3 "resort areas" in Death Valley travelling west. It's about 40 miles west of Stovepipe
Wells, which really should be the westernmost resort. Because there isn't a whole lot out west so we had to drive 40-90 miles each time we wanted to do something.
The cottage we rented was very nice (except for the cold water being a little slow) - it had WiFi (but no phone, go figure) and DirecTV, so we were not cut-off from
the world.

Nice cottage - living room, 2 bedrooms, closet, refrigerator, and deck area. Of course, you can't really use the outdoors at night because of the bugs, or during
the day because of the heat, but early in the morning, it was very nice. We were also about 1500' up I'd guess, so it doesn't get to 107 degrees there.

At the restaurant, they had a cactus. Alicia thought if she squeezed it, she'd get orange juice.

It was bright in the sun.

Here are some of the pictures we (and apparenty others) took...

I wanted to go for a swim, but the water level was a little low.

Someone STEPPED on the desert.

Flood walls

Toward the end of the first day, we decided not to waste the last bit of daylight and drove to Titus Canyon. Nice road - not paved, but also not the worst we'd see
- we were able to average about 15-25 mph. We got a few pictures from near the mouth of the canyon.

The sun sets over the ... mountains. There are too many there to keep track of which range was which.

I found a slide!

Alicia searched for bats.

Queen of the world!

As day 1 came to an end, I asked Alicia to hand me my regular glasses as it was getting dark. Alas, they were back at the cottage. Remember the whole 40-90 miles
thing? Guess who couldn't drive back. I offered advice, though, to not worry when the car got to the stretch of road where it wouldn't go above 45 mph. After 5
minutes of trying to calm her down - she was panicking because she couldn't keep the car at 55mph, we got out of that stretch, back to 55 mph and all was right with
the world.

The restaurant at Panamint Springs was nice, but didn't feature a tremendous amount of variety or speed. In fact, I think if we asked them to go faster, they'd've
had to drive 40-90 miles to do so. It took 15 minutes to get drinks and an additional 45 minutes for food.


Stupid alarm. Every freaking morning it rings. I'm on vacation, who wants to hear an alarm? Well, when it's going up to 107 degrees in the afternoon, you try to
do as much as possible in the morning. As it turned out, we didn't do a heck of a lot. We started the day taking the long (probably 75 mile) trip to Ubehebe
Crater, a large hole in the ground, caused by an eruption of steam and rock about 1000 years ago.

Ironically, we thought we would never get a picture of the two of us there, since Death Valley is a LARGE park, and it's slightly off-season. Only the Germans, a
few French people, and 2 crazy honeymooners from upstate New York were in the park. Well, as luck would have it, a local happened to be heading up to Ubehebe to
relax and was able to take a picture for us.

Here's a view from the top.

Up the hill a way is the Little Hebe crater.

The air was fairly thin up here. The main crater was up about 3000' and then a fairly vertical walk to Little Hebe

Here's the view of some of the smaller craters from the top of the hill (at least as far as we chose to go)

Walking 1/2 mile is easy. Walking half mile on powdery rock is not.

Wildlife is pretty sparce in the desert, especially during the day, but we did happen to see this little critter. He's a little camouflaged, but he's dead center in
the picture.

Just a short drive down the road, we drove to Scotty's castle. There we found a pay phone and I was finally able to check my voicemail so I could stop annoying
Alicia, as I had been for 2 days. I had no messages. In the gift shop/snack bar, we had muffins, then walked up to Scotty's grave and took more pictures.

Scotty wasn't home, so Alicia sat outside and posed for a picture next to a Joshua tree. She has become obsessed with Joshua trees.

While here, we found a bathroom. It seemed harmless enough, but when I flushed the urinal, I walked across to the sink and it seemed like the urinal had been
flushing for quite some time. I turned around to see it was overflowing. I felt like I was back at work. The water, though, started to flow quickly across the
bathroom. In a moment of panic, thinking the water would touch my shoes, I ran as fast as I could for the door. And I got outside in time to watch Alicia once
again try to pull a push door. In fact, she pulled on it twice before finally giving in and pushing, which allowed her to exit the bathroom. In fairness, this door
had a pull handle on both sides. Or so she says. She knows she can tell me that and I would not go into the ladies room to verify it.

From here, we drove back to Furnace Creek for lunch.

It was nice and cool on Saturday - the temperature had barely gotten to 100. Of course, we had to stand there for about 10 minutes waiting to take the picture. It's summer, there are no visitors to Death Valley, yet SOMEHOW, out of nowhere, a bus pulled up. And it wasn't just a bus full of a few people. No less than 500 people got off this bus, and each walked in between me and Alicia. At one point, I noticed there was going to be a small break in the crowd. So I told Alicia to get ready, and sure enough, one of the women noticed that there was a thermometer and absolutely HAD to take a video of it. IN FRONT OF WHERE WE WERE TRYING TO TAKE THE PICTURE. After the last of the 500 people had gone in, we took the picture and left. Somehow after all that time, the picture seemed less interesting, but we had planned to take and damn it, we were going to take it. So here it is. I hope you enjoy it. To get the maximum effect, please set your computer in the middle of the road and don't look at it until at least 100 cars have gone by.

We had lunch at the Furnace Creek Ranch restaurant - 49ers Cafe. Quite the yum. And they are constantly coming around filling water glasses. People must get thirsty. It was so good we decided we'd go there for breakfast the next day.

There are quite a few pictures from the next stage of the drive.

Along the way, we found a little hiking trail and decided to walk up it. Nice view

We took a nice leisurely 10 mile drive through Artist Drive, and walked in a dry riverbed, before driving down to Badwater. A LOT of pictures here... sorry

Then it was down, literally, to Badwater, the lowest elevation in not only the U.S., but in the whole western hemisphere, 282 feet below sea level. That fact can be found in a picture, but we thought we'd tell you anyway. It's like a beach... only with no water.

OK, maybe there's some water, but it's bad. Very salty. I much prefer pepper, but found this interesting anyway.

Then we took a walk down what looks like a trail of snow and ice. It's actually a LOT of salt, in a thin layer over a very large basin of water. You can see from a few holes punched into the ground that it's maybe 5" of salt on top of the water, but it's so thick it stays solid. They actually recommend you don't walk on the salt basin on a hot day. But fortunately it was only 107

Here's the sign we promised

And we really make that sign look gooooood!!

From 282 feet below sea level, here's a look up at where sea level actually is. The next picture is a closer look at the sign

Pictures from the ride to Dante's View.

I let Alicia drive a little way. More like I was too tired, but anyway.. we survived, in spite of her driving. The break gave me the opportunity to take a picture of what cell service is like in Death Valley

Dante's View is 5490' above sea level - quite the climb from 282' below. Of course, it's by car, but the roads are very windy so it's not an easy drive - speed limit is 20mph most of the way. Once up top, though, the view is awesome - it's like looking down at a giant lake, but there's no water in it. This picture is down over 5700' to Badwater.

And across to the next mountain range.


Great views across the valley here

Sometimes it's fun to stand on the edge of a cliff.

Here's a view from where I was standing for that picture. One step left, then about 50' down

More great views from atop a tall hill.

Alicia went up a hill to fetch a pail of water. It was a big hill.

Onward we go ... almost sunset. The brochure said Zambriski Point has a great view of sunset. So off we went. On the way, some science lessons.

Alluvial fans. Can you say alluvial?

Random scenery from the trip to Zambriski point. Again, nothing is close and usually involves at least a 20 mile trip.

There was a hot girl in the next car. I hold up my wedding ring to show her I'm available.

On the trail up to Zambriski point...

It's not as high up as Dante's View, but it looks it relative to the parking lot

Cool pictures all around

They were right about the sunset.

Death Valley is nothing but a hole in the rock.

...and lots and lots of mountains.

After that, it was a dark drive back to our cottage at Panamint Springs. We stopped and had dinner at Stove Pipe Wells, which turned out to be very good, but the service was still not exactly what we hoped for. They were a little short staffed, but fortunately the waitress was smart enough to put in our order ahead of the big party. It was bringing the check that seemed to be a difficult task for her. Most places added in a 15% gratuity. For a party of 2? Seriously? I mean I normally go higher than 15 on the total with tax, but if you want to include a flat 15 on the pre-tax total, by all means, save me a few bucks. After all, we're Jewish. Good thing we didn't tell the Germans, as we were very outnumbered.

We filled up the tank before heading back to Panamint Springs. Gas was $4.230. Yes, I said NO TENTHS!!! Granted, it's $4.23, but we could have gotten it at Panamint...

Welcome to California.

We would have blogged that night, but after waiting for the check and then driving 40 miles in the dark, we were exhausted. And by we, I mean me, Phil. Alicia wanted to blog, but since I have the password, she was out of luck once I fell asleep, which took about 4.3 seconds.

The next morning, we wanted to get at least something done. So we drove to Furnace Creek for breakfast.

Remember that stretch of highway where the car could overheat? Well, it's because you're climbing 5136 feet.

Remember, Furnace Creek is 190 feet below sea level. Thought you caught me with a mistake, didn't you? But, anyway, there are good views from up there.

Coming from this direction, you do that climb over 9 miles. Then you go downhill for the next 17. It's very fuel efficient to be able to coast. If it wasn't for all of the turns and dips in the roads, the car would easily top 200mph coasting down. Fortunately, there are many turns and dips, which pretty much keep things around 50.

Anyway, we arrive at Furnace Creek, and SURPRISE! The cafe opens for lunch and dinner only. Apparently only Panamint Springs and Stovepipe Wells are open at breakfast time. Not wanting to drive back 20 (or 57) miles, we went into the general store, found cereal, milk, bananas, and oh yeah, COFFEE!! Then, off to enjoy our last day in Death Valley. We drove to Natural Bridge, which is a 1.5 mile drive down a very poor unpaved road. Maximum speed was 20mph on the first few feet that are paved. Average speed somewhere around 5mph. I think the surface of the moon has less deep craters than that road. Once we got there, though, it was time for a 1/2 mile or so hike to the natural bridge. Fortunately, it was only 11:00 and Death Valley isn't that hot.

A good portion of the trail was shaded, so it was kind of nice, but the first few feet are enough to probably scare some people away since there is no shade whatsoever. Well, there probably is when you hike at a sane time, like sunrise, but at midday, nope, no shade. There are plenty of places to hide, though.

The Natural Bridge

The water authority was nice enough to turn off this waterfall so Alicia could stand in it. Granted, they turned it off a few thousand years ago, but still, they knew.

The bridge is not the end of the trail, it's a long canyon. Many people probably give up at this point because they've seen the bridge. Losers.

More dried-up waterfalls = more pictures!!

Alicia got tired of me taking pictures of waterfalls, so she decided to leave me.


Some pictures from in the canyon

At the end of the trail is a pile of rocks. Being the experienced rock climber that I am, I couldn't resist.

Alicia covers her mouth in disbelief that I survived the climb.

I was HOW HIGH??

I wasn't going to try the next wall.

I also survived the climb down. Actually, it was a few slides and a jump, but I got to the bottom. We were on the way back, when the whole mountain threatened to crumble. Alicia offered to hold it up.

One more chance to climb a rock before we go.

The natural bridge on the way out.

Is that a giant bat?

Turns out, no. No it wasn't.

But we found some French tourists who were willing to take a picture. For the second time in a row, the husband deferred. That's the husband of the couple we asked to take the picture, not me.

Back into the sun.

The view from the mouth of the canyon

There was another trail. It couldn't've been more than 105 degrees, so we decided to stroll down it.

Without getting into the exact science, let's just say that the processes that cause mountains to form and break up are, "pretty cool". Here's a sample

The parent rock.

Then, it was time to leave...

So long, Death Valley

Then, it was back to Las Vegas. The road, of course, leads through Pahrump

More Joshua trees

...and nice shots from the car


When last we checked in with our heroes, they were about to enter the Red Rock Resort, Casino, and holy cow awesome hotel. I knew I married Alicia for a reason (she suggested I put that). When we were picking out rooms, we were trying to stay away from the cheaper/dumpier rooms. And by we, I mean she. We came across this one hotel, though, which just looked like it didn't fit in the $80 range - it was a 4-star and showed awesome views, both of the canyon and the strip. We had planned to stay off the strip one night, so we decided to look into this one. They had one room available at for $80 a night. So we checked their website, and immediately confirmed we were right - it did not belong in the dumpy section - rooms were booking over $200/night. But what we saw at was not available. What do we do? After reading the fine print again and again, we booked at confident that if it was an error and this room wasn't available, we'd be entitled to a refund, or at the very least a credit toward a replacement room. Well, we got the confirmation, and sure enough when we walked in, our reservation was in the system. One look said this was not your average $80/night hotel. In fact, the reception desk clerk confirmed the room would go for $180 if we walked in then. What did we get for $80, you ask?

A marble tub.

with an LCD TV

...double marble sinks

A pocket door to the toilet. Perhaps comode is more appropriate for a high class room.

42" LCD TV (look right, it blends with the wood)

The reflection of the guy taking the picture was included at no extra charge. Anyway, onward...
Closets with an automatic light when the door was opened

Oh, and the closet was in sort of an "extra" part of the room so as to not cut into the "living area"

We were hoping for canyon-view with a view of red rock canyon, but the only thing available was strip-view. We tried taking pictures of the strip at night, but through a window got a bit of reflection so they're not worth posting. But we were quite happy with the view of the strip.

A little while after we got settled in and cleaned up after walking around in the heat of Death Valley, we were greeted by a knock at the door. Housekeeping was coming to turn down the bed for us; since we were there and didn't need the bed turned down right then, she left us the candy.

Almost made losing $81 in the casino seem worth it...

Note our current net is -$7

The hotel is setup where there are a few suites that open from the main hall, but most of the rooms are paired off in mini-halls. We were in room 16137 -16th floor, room 137. Cool desert decor in the background.

...and cool ceiling light fixtures

...more cool desert decor. But yes, we had a LOOOOOOONG walk down the hall.

Sadly, we didn't get to take advantage of the pool, but check this thing out.

Even the elevators were nice. And I don't like elevators.

How about that chandelier over the bar (the hallway on this level overlooks a massive bar below).

We highly recommend the Red Rock Resort, Casino, and Spa for anyone who doesn't mind staying a few minutes off the strip (about 10 miles). They do have shuttles to the strip, but they don't run very late, so if you do a show or late night gambling, you're on your own. Just make sure you win so you can afford the cab ride back.

Or pick out a nice brothel to crash at.

Then it was off to Utah!

I like Nevada.

Remember how we mentioned Death Valley involves a lot of driving because nothing is close together? Well, it's a good thing I/we like to drive... We got the car with about 160 miles on the tripodometer, and rolled it soon after Vegas.

We have since driven another 250+ miles.

I'd never been to Arizona.

I've still never stopped in it...but it's got more nice views.

AND, it's got Joshua trees. We were in the state for all of 30 miles and Alicia started scouring the real estate section.

Perhaps we could live on a big mountain?

"Hey, we're almost in Utah. Get ready to take a picture. What did you say? Oh!"

Before calling my voicemail in Death Valley, it had been quite some time since I used a pay phone. Are they really so expensive they need credit card slots???

We were at a Flying J just across the Utah line for gas, drinks, and cleaning of a lemonade spill. With all the trucks around, I thought this might be the ideal time for Alicia to learn the proper way to hitchhike

For the record, you want your thumb to point in the direction you want to go. Apparently, she's hoping to get picked up by the space shuttle.

Now, back to the scenery.

And the Virgin water tower welcoming me to town. How could we not get a picture?

A few towns later is Rockville, Utah. Population 247, and Tree City USA

Getting to the bed and breakfast we're staying at required going through Zion National Park. Here my silouette observes an archway in the rock.

This distant tunnel is actually a ventilation opening for a 78 year old tunnel carved into the rock that we had to drive through to get across the park. The tunnel is wide enough for 2-way traffic when that traffic is regular-sized, but we had to wait almost 15 minutes to get through the tunnel because an RV was coming through westbound. The tunnel is also not lit.

Oh, let me take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the fine folks at Hertz rental car for giving us a car with XM Satellite Radio. Death Valley? HA! We enjoyed the 70s, 80s, and 90s on the XM radio while occasionally scanning for FM and AM signals for the fun of it. No radio, no cell phones, no nothin'.

Having said that, XM did not come in well on the approach to this tunnel thanks to being in the shadow of a mountain. Ah well, at least this park is near a town so we had FM. And, waiting to get into the tunnel, we got a few pictures

Back to the open road...

We decided to take it easy the rest of the day. Travel days were nice, but trying to get anything done after the long drive just would make enjoying it difficult. So, what better way to relax, unwind, and get away from it all, than to lay down on the bed and check e-mail

We are staying at the Arrowhead Bed & Breakfast in Mt. Carmel, Utah, which is a small town somewhere between Los Angeles and St. Louis. Here's our bathroom:

Actually, by Utah standards, it may be a medium size city. It takes almost 35 seconds to drive from one end to the other. Unless there is a cow in the road

Cows LOVE having their pictures taken. However, they get very agitated if you take too long. These lovely folks were posing happily and I couldn't get a good handle on the iPhone (we didn't have the main camera for this particular excursion...a.k.a. dinner). After about 30 seconds, mommy cow let out a loud huff.

After I was done with the picture, she went back to letting baby cow have dinner.

We asked the innkeeper who told us a few places we might want to try for dinner. She recommended Buffalo Bistro as a "unique" place, where the guy who runs it is a character. Well, say no more!


So on we go with more of the Buffalo Bistro. We'll let the pictures say it.


In addition to having cool signs, this bistro had cool (and excellent tasting) food.  Such as ...  cornish game hen with Ron's special "wooster" sauce


...and ribs.  But not just any ribs.  Buffalo and wild boar ribs!

The small bones on top/right are the wild boar, and the thicker bones below and to the left are buffalo. 


I also enjoyed a 1st Amendment Lager with my ribs.  OK, I enjoyed 2.

They have someone who cleans around the tables, but it's not really necessary

We mentioned Ron, so we might as well let you put a face with a name.  Here we caught him on his way to the grill after adding some Coors light from the tap to the sauce.  We actually have to wait quite some time because he added A LOT of Coors Light to the sauce.

We would like to add Buffalo Bistro to places we recommend. 

We also caught the sunset on our way out.

Oh, and also on the way out, it occurred to me that polygamy is legal in Utah.  So I asked Alicia to take a picture of me with my new second wife and she was more than happy to oblige.

She actually said I'm not good enough for the mannequin.  Ouch, harsh.

So, then it was back to the B&B for a night of relaxation.  We stopped at a little diner in Orderville (population approximately 0) for ice cream.  They had good ice cream.

The next day it was off to Bryce Canyon, about an hour drive from Arrowhead. You can enjoy the drive with us...

At our first stop at Bryce, we found a me-lookalike and had to take a picture.

Sorry for blocking the view. Here it is, unobstructed

A look down...

We found some birds bringing new meaning to the term necking

Then they saw us taking the picture and decided they hate each other

Birds are much more tempermental than cows. Oh yeah, these pictures were from Ponderosa Point

Sadly, they had no salad bar. But, they have more great views

Alicia was REALLY looking forward to the all-you-can-eat

Off to

See the hoodoos? We do!

Hoodoos are those things that look like poles sticking out of the ground. These are rocks with hoodoos in them...

And this is a hoodoo in the middle of nowhere

From left to right, Alicia, Phil, hoodoo

A view across the parking lot. Here you get your first glimpse of our car. We'd like to thank my mother for loaning us her car for the trip. Yes, it's the silver Hyundai Sonata toward the right. The point of the picture was probably the scenery, but we thought we'd talk about the car instead.


Then off to Natural Bridge. Not to be confused with the place we went in Death Valley, Natural Bridge. This one formed differently. And it's not as hot, being about 8700 feet higher

There's the bridge. Technically, it's not a bridge; it's an arch. The sign says it could collapse at any time, but it did not while we were watching it.

Phil reads. Go Yankees.

Of course, while visiting the national parks, safety is their ultimate concern.

Be careful, please. You may burn to death. Proceed with caution.

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey! Also, here it is, your second view of our car, with its Connecticut license plates, and (as of now) an extra 1600+ miles on it.

8629 feet just isn't high enough, so we continued to drive up.

They call it Farview, because... well, duh, you can view far.

I paid a few trees to give Alicia bunny ears, but you can't trust trees

Phew, the air was pretty thin up at 8800 feet, so we dropped a bit

And we decided to hike, and take pictures...Lots and lots of pictures. Note that Alicia picked up a new sweatshirt. We packed for Death Valley, forgetting that southern Utah at 8000' above sea level MIGHT be a little cooler...

Then we took a quick stroll, and took more pictures

Then after that brief hike, we decided to hike some more. It was a great hike because it went down about 400' in elevation.

Still going down...

...and looking up...

...and down

My rock!

We walked down THAT???

I'm scared...

Big canyon

Apparently she was scared of me

But still wanted to come looking for me

Things are looking up!

Not out of breath, but hiding between a rock and a hard place

See the hoodoos? We do. It never gets old.

Alicia made me promise I wouldn't work. Yet somehow, hiking to Wall Street was ok. I see how it is.

It should be noted, for the record, that she has done more work than I. I didn't have time to work, what with posing next to a Ponderosa Pine tree and all. Note that this, too, did not offer an all-you-can-eat buffet, but it did smell of vanilla (some smell like butterscotch, too)

Someone created a rock garden

See the hoodoos? These are white. Thought I was gonna say we do, didn't you?

In Utah, state law prohibits trees from growing straight up, so they all twist

The trails at Bryce (at least once you get off the main loops) aren't paved. But they come with free ledges

And we all know by now that when we see a ledge, SOMEONE is going to be posing for a picture from within one

More pictures along the trail...

Don't believe we really hiked? We came from Sunset point (1.4 miles away), walked to Sunrise point (another 0.8 miles to go). Of course, we parked at Sunrise, so we had to first walk TO Sunset point, but by main trail, that's only about 0.5 miles (might be a sign higher on this page, I've already forgotten)


I see you

See the hoodoos? We do!

Some trees take obeying the state law to whole new extremes

So there we were, at the bottom of the trail. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to tell us that you have to walk back up too. I thought they'd come pick us up in a cab or something.

Cool hoodoos

The following picture was taken by one of the few English speakers we encountered on the trip. He (and his wife) are from Australia, or do a REALLY GOOD Australian accent. We didn't ask which.

The guy was a character. Alicia tried to run in front of a 500' drop and started to slip, but caught herself as we all looked on laughing. He said if she'd fallen, he'd've taken a picture.

A few moments later, we came to a very short opening. Being the caring wife that she is, Alicia warned me to "DUCK", to which the Australian responded "QUACK QUACK"

Do I need to say it? Really?

Another view of that sunken ship, but this one from much lower elevation

The sun was bright. You can't tell from the pictures, but we wore sunscreen

A hoodoo that looked like it was floating

Looking across the canyon

Looking back down from where we climbed up

One more view across the canyon

What, don't believe we were there? Here!

That was on the way out. Very nice park. So nice, they even have an airport

We didn't feel like hiking anymore through Bryce, having seen the best views, but it was still early enough in the day, so we stopped at Red Canyon, which was right on the way back on US-89. They call it red canyon because the rocks are red. Please don't confuse this with Red Rock Canyon, across from where we stayed in Vegas.

There's much more to come... But we have tickets to see Wayne Brady tonight, so we must get going. But be sure to check back; we'll finish the blog this weekend.