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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    10,748

    Default Highways of Happiness ! [Yellowstone]

    Introduction.

    Having not long returned from our latest adventure I thought I would start a trip report to help me recollect the trip and unravel the days that have past and of course, to share our journey with others. [Thank goodness I kept a diary !] The trip took us on a journey of over 3800 miles in 15 days on the road [19 in total] and saw us drive from Vegas through the Great Basin into Idaho and on to Glacier NP. This was more or less the turn around point where we started to head south via Yellowstone NP and into Southern Utah before returning to Vegas. Six States, 7 National Parks plus plenty of other places were visited along the way. Of the 3800 plus miles only, 240 of them were spent on Interstate and half of those Interstate miles were spent on I15 travelling back from Utah to Vegas.

    In the past we have travelled by RV, [see below] our preferred choice, but as it was just the two of us travelling this time, finances decided that it would be by car and a mix of Hotels, Motels and cabins. I felt when planning this trip we were close to the limit of what we would find comfortable for us and I wasn't wrong. Although 'only' averaging slightly above 250 miles per day [road trip days] most days were 10 to 12 hours plus from door to door with stops and sight seeing. The days remained fun and fairly relaxed though and we had a blast !!

    The beginning.

    Our journey started with a trip to Heathrow airport. I much prefer to fly from Gatwick just because of location. Heathrow is on the notorious M25, the London Orbital which is often referred to as the 'Biggest car park in Europe' thanks to it's congestion. It didn't help that our flight departure time meant 'check in' was around 9am, which would have put us in the heart of the morning rush and could have doubled our journey time from home on the south coast. I decided to check airport hotel prices but was not very hopeful of finding something sensibly priced. I was quite surprised to find some good value hotels near the airport and booked into 'Jurys Inn' near Terminal 4 for just £49.50. Our son dropped us off there the night before and we had a nice relaxing meal and a good nights sleep followed by a 10 minute cab journey the following morning to the airport. A lot less stress and it helped in coping with the long flight ahead.

    The flight was delayed 30 mins but they made up half of that time in the air and we arrived in Atlanta in good time for our connecting flight. A smooth transition and we were on our way to Vegas. We cleared customs and made our way to the nearby airport hotel, the Best Western McCarran Inn. They offer a free shuttle bus service, but rather than trying to find it's location and wait, we jumped in a cab. We were just too tired after 20 hours or so of door to door travel, but so pleased to be back !!

    Tip for anyone flying out from England who might consider an airport hotel. If you are booking transport to the airport from a hotel use a local taxi firm. Firms advertising as 'Airport cars/services' were charging £25 to £35 for the same ride that cost £12 in a local cab. [You also have the option of the 'Hopper bus' that stops at many hotels and goes to the airport terminals at a fixed price of £4 per person. We thought it was worth the small extra amount to go direct and in comfort.]

    Previous trips. San Francisco loop [RV] and Denver loop [RV]

    More to follow.....

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Really looking forward to it.

    Just as I was getting into this, it says 'more to follow'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    ... but so pleased to be back !!
    Know the feeling..... Love the title.

    Lifey

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Day 1. Fun in Vegas.

    Friends we had yet to meet.

    After a slightly unsettled night, [nothing to do with the comfy room, it was the body clock playing up,] we started the day with a wonderful Continental breakfast they provide at the McCarran Inn. I had arranged to pick the rental car up at 11:30am, but I gave them a call to see if I could pick it up earlier. Fifteen minutes later we were on the free hotel shuttle bus back to the airport and then on the 'Rent a car' shuttle bus to the car rental office. All airport car rental firms are under the same roof, it's a huge place [like a shopping Mall] where you just find the appropriate office to collect your car. I had read reviews of huge queues and long delays from people collecting cars, but we didn't experience any of that. Maybe that's an advantage I hadn't thought of when deciding not to pick up the car when we landed, as it was late and we would be tired. Most people probably collect when they first arrive, causing a surge of customers to head for the rental counters when they first land.

    It was a quick and simple process and we were told to walk into this huge car park and take our pick from the appropriate class of car. The keys were in the car and all you had to do was drive it to the barrier and check out. Us and another couple arrived at the same time to find 2 cars remaining, a Mitsibushi Galant and a Mazda 3. We ended up with the Galant and was pretty happy with it, although I started to wish we had taken the Mazda after having to write the make and model of the car at every hotel we stayed at for parking security. lol Hmm, that was the last 2 cars in that class, maybe I missed out on a free upgrade by collecting earlier.

    We took the car back to the hotel and decided to walk to the Strip. We could see the Mandaly, Luxor and MGM from our Hotel and they didn't look that far, we forgot how big they are ! Getting across the busy intersection was not a lot of fun and then the walk was open land [for now] and by the time we had made it to the MGM building in 100F heat we were roasted, despite the Locals reminding us that it's a cool day in Vegas.

    We then walked from New York to Paris [only in Vegas !] via lots of Hotel Lobbys that we looked around and used to cool off. We the went to the Fashion Mall, where Lezli had to go with the shopping list she had been given by the family, we then had lunch before getting a cab back to the hotel.

    A day on the Strip.









    We freshened up back at the Hotel and were really looking forward to our meeting with Mark and Megan, [co-founders of RTA] friends we had yet to meet. After a number of years communicating in the 'Virtual' world it was great to finally be meeting them in the flesh, and it was a real pleasure to do so. We met in the hotel lobby and we were on our way for a tour of Vegas as the Locals know it, they are both so knowledgeable about their hometown. We was shown the 'Boat sculpture' in the City centre, [yes, apparently Vegas has one ! ] which only a local or a lost tourist could find ! Next up we were drinking Cocktails and chatting away in the Mandarin bar on the 23rd floor with great views of Vegas as the sun dropped and the City lit up.

    Cheers.




    (Left to right: Lezli, Dave, Mark & Megan)

    We finished our Cocktails and Mark and Megan took us back to their pad for a BBQ and some 'Whuffing' fun with Manny and Michael. [Hi guys] That's exactly what I thought, what is 'Whuffing' ? The answer is here. It was close to midnight and Mark and Megan kindly offered to drive us back to our Hotel, on the way we got to see other parts of Vegas that we would not otherwise have got to see. It was a great night with wonderful sights, great food and good fun, but what made it really special was the company. Thanks for putting up with us crazy Brits Mark and Megan !

    Tomorrow we hit the road...........
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 09-28-2013 at 12:17 PM. Reason: added a photo with Lezli in it

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default First day on the road.

    The Great Basin.

    I woke about 5:30am despite going to bed fairly late [darn body clock] and started to plan the day ahead while Lezli slept. After a shower and another really nice breakfast it was time to pack up the car and get on our way. Despite Ethel's best efforts [Lezli's name for the female Tomtom voice] to get us straight on I15 we ignored her and drove the Strip up to the Stratosphere tower before cutting across. It was 10am by now and the plan was to follow US93 all the way to Kalispell over the next 4 days.

    It wasn't long before we exited I15 onto the Great Basin Highway [93] and into Lincoln county, where our first stop was Caliente. We admired the 'Mission revival' style Rail Depot [as it's described] before having lunch in the Knotty Pine bar - come - Diner. It was good enough for the local Sheriff[s] so it was good enough for us. The chicken and cheese Quesadillas were delicious and by American standards, offered a reasonable cup of tea !

    Caliente Rail Depot.



    We had hoped to of had more time to visit the Boxcar museum, but time was marching on.

    We continued a little further North and soon arrive to Cathedral Gorge State Park. We loved it here as we made our way in and out of the various paths through the rock cuts
    and admired the rock formations. We were the only people here at this time and it made it extra special, a wonderful place.





    After exiting the park and heading north, there is an overlook just a couple of miles or so up the road which could easily be missed. We stopped again and had a little walk down the steps for a look from a different angle. I almost stepped on a small snake on the way down and as I startled him, it startled me !

    Cathedral Gorge overlook.



    Back on the road again and we were soon in the charming old Mining town of Pioche. It was not always described as charming, in fact it was known to be the baddest town in the west where the gun ruled it's lawless streets. History states that it was so bad, 72 people died there before the first death by natural causes ! The cemetery has it's very own 'Murderers row', an area that contains the graves of 100 murderers. It was all quiet the day we rode into town, Thank goodness !!

    One of the stores has a pair of seating benches outside, on one side of the door one is marked 'Republicans' and on the other side, one marked 'Democratics'. A sense of humour, I hope.

    Pioche.





    We left town and headed for a drive through Echo canyon State park and had planned to loop through Spring Valley State park, but Ethel [GPS] had a bit of a 'wobbly'. It was a nice drive through the canyon and past Echo canyon Res. but it was a pretty remote area and the roads weren't signed. Ethel would not even navigate a route back to Pioche without insisting we need to go on unmade roads and she kept asking us to turn right into a random field or ditch. The time was getting on so we just turned around and headed back the way we came and skipped Spring Valley. It was around 5pm when we got back on US93 and made our way to the Border Inn near Baker for the night, a couple of hours or so away. It was a nice drive alongside the Wilson Creek Range and Shoshone valley to where 93 joins US6/50 and over Sacramento Pass, boy it's good to be on the road again !!



    We arrived at the Border Inn, so named because it is located right on the Nevada/Utah border and can claim the bedrooms are in Utah and the dining room/bar is in Nevada. We had a nice evening meal and turned in for the night. The building looked nice and promising from the outside, but the room was not so welcoming on the inside, a bit dull, dark and a little musty. We renamed it the 'Borderline Inn' as it would be borderline whether we would stay here again given the chance.

    Arriving to Border Inn at sunset



    Todays mileage = 355. Av speed = 54 mph. Returned 31mpg
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 03-29-2014 at 11:21 AM. Reason: Removed broken map link

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Just to set the record straight!

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    City Centre, yes, apparently Vegas has one !
    Just wanted to clarify, so no one thinks this is an actual city center of Las Vegas. City Centre is the name of a themed casino property -- namely a fake downtown city -- not to be confused with a real place. Also, City Centre is not located within the city of Las Vegas. In fact, none of the famous Las Vegas Strip is located in the city of Las Vegas. The famous Las Vegas Strip is located in unincorporated Clark County.

    Nice to see you using the maps to plot your progress! You could add the RTA attractions to your map if you wanted to...

    By the way, the most interesting part of Pioche to me is the ski lift-style ore tram line, to see a photo of that -- look at this article I penned a few years ago....

    Hey! love that sunset photo -- Nice other photos too!

    Mark

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
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    Default Great artcicle.

    Mark.

    Thanks for the clarification and the added photo with Lezli included.

    I enjoyed reading your article.

    Dave.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 09-29-2013 at 02:01 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Day 2. Into Idaho.

    Wheeler Peak and Bonneville Slat Flats

    We started the day with a great breakfast at the Border Inn and were soon on our way to Great Basin NP, first stop the visitor centre. We had a look around and purchased our NPS annual pass for $80 as it would work out better value than paying individual fees throughout our trip. We didn't have the time for the Lehman caves tour and the Wheeler scenic drive and chose Wheeler Peak, I had actually decided this long before we arrived. It was a great drive and as we went up the road got twistier and steeper with great views of the peak above and valleys below. We stopped at a viewpoint on the way up [Mather I think] before reaching the end of the road.

    It was a beautiful morning



    The journey up Wheeler Peak scenic drive was fantastic !



    We parked up at the end of the road and started our walk to Stella Lake. We had both walked at these elevations before on previous trips with little to no effect, but this time we were both panting a little and were a little light headed. Perhaps it was the heat, which we hadn't experienced at 10,000ft, maybe we're just getting older !

    We took our time through the forest and alongside the creek and soaked up the views along the way to the lake.





    Stella Lake with Wheeler Peak.



    Heading back down to the car was a much easier experience and our heads seemed to clear with every step. We got glimpses of wildlife along the way including Chipmunks and a Gaggle of Geese [mum and 7 or 8 young] as well as deer among the woods and drinking by the creek.



    It was on the way down Wheeler peak that I discovered the Mitsibushi Lancers weak spot. The auto box only had a low gear selection and not a choice of gears. This meant having to come down the 12 mile hill at 20mph with the engine and box screaming [I presume it was first gear] or work the brakes a good part of the way. The brakes done their job but I prefer to have the engine assist.

    It was then back on the 93 heading over Connors pass at 7700ft towards Ely and running north near the Humboltd- Toyabe Nat. forest. At Lages Station we took US93A over White horse Pass towards Wendover and the Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway. I had read it described as just a massive expanse of flat land and not much else, but I just had to go. I was surprised to find a lake there when we arrived !!





    It made for quite a sight and although I thought unusual, it wasn't until we went into the Salt Flats Cafe that I found out how rare this was. There was a Speed meeting due to take place at the weekend that had to be cancelled, I was told it was only the second time this had happened in 30 years ! Apparently a number of afternoon storms had developed over the last few days and caused the flooding. After a really nice lunch, during which I studied the photo covered walls of past world beaters and club meetings alike, we were on our way once again. We drove through the casino town of Jackpot [ a popular spot with southern Idaho gamblers who can cross the State line to get their 'fix'.] at sunset and arrived in Twin Falls at our Super 8 motel at around 9pm. As it was late we rounded the day off with a 'Papa Johns' Pizza sat on a bench with a soft rain starting to fall.

    Twas a good day !

    Todays Mileage = 427. Av speed = 56mph. Returned 34mpg

    Total mileage = 782.

    Next...... We continue through Idaho to Darby.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 03-29-2014 at 11:02 AM. Reason: Removed broken map link.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default A very rare sight indeed!

    Nice to see the RTA RoadTrip Attractions on your map.

    And really interesting to see water at Bonneville! And the average speed ticker you are maintaining.

    Mark

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default With the engine running.

    And the average speed ticker you are maintaining.
    For anyone wondering, the average mph is from the cars computer and calculated for every moment the engine is running only. Most of the 56mph average over 427 miles was carried out at around 70mph, so you can see how a relatively short drive into Great Basin NP and through towns can eat into your average speed.

    By comparision, with stops, lunch and sightseeing etc, that particular day we were on the road for approx 11 hours to cover the 427 miles, an average of under 40mph by the clock, if that makes sense. In other words, leave time and don't try and cover to many miles if you want to sight see folks !

    Another picture of the expanse of water covering the Salt Flats.



    Dave.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default A once in a lifetime view (for most of us)

    That is the most amazing photo of Bonneville, I've ever seen!

    Wow.

    Mark

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