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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tustin, California, United States

    Default The "Great West" Roadtrip has been completed!

    We have returned home from our roadtrip. My brief summary is below, with a conclusion paragraph and stats. Pictures will be posted later on.

    On Saturday, October 14th at 5:10am PDT, my folks and I kicked off from San Juan Capistrano, CA, on our 4500 mile roadtrip through the western plains, deserts, and mountains.

    The original thread detailing the trip can be found at

    ======== DAY 1 ========

    Hey roadtrippers,

    I'm writing to you from Tusayan, AZ, about 3 miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

    We took the I-10 east from home, going through Blythe, CA, stopping in Sun City, AZ (near Phoenix, AZ) to briefly visit with one of mom's friends before heading up the I-17 to see Montezuma's Castle/Well, then through Flagstaff to our current location at 7:00pm. We logged over 600 miles today.

    Tomorrow, after checking out the Grand Canyon IMAX dealie, we'll be kicking around the South Rim all day. I was only here for 2 hours last time. But this time we get 8 hours to get as many viewpoints as possible.

    Next stops will be Monument Valley, Four Corners, and Mancos, CO. I'll be updating again in a few days. Glad to hear any comments or suggestions you may have about the Canyon.

    Happy trails.

    ======== DAY 2 =======

    Mostly checking out all the different points of the Grand Canyon South Rim. Even took the shuttle to the west end (Hermit's Peak) and back, catching the sunset at Hopi Point. Stayed at the Yavapai Lodge overnight, which was decent.

    No thunderstorms at all. Booooooo.

    ======== DAY 3 ========

    Checking in from Cortez, Colorado. (Our connection in Mancos, CO was a flop.) Almost 1200 miles logged so far.

    Left the Yavapai Lodge at 6:30am in order to catch the Grand Canyon sunrise among several points to the east. VERY cold. High 30s, definitely. (South Cali locals not used to that!). Headed out and over to Kayenta, AZ via highway 160 for breakfast. Now I knew that we lost an hour because the Navajo Reservation observes DST while the rest of AZ does not. But I still ended up missing the 10:30am McDonalds breakfast cut-off by 20 minutes. (Grrr...). Had "lunch" instead.

    Took the 163 north to Monument Valley. We did the 17-mile loop inside the park ourselves, which took about 1 hour 45 minutes. The folks were VERY impressed, as was I. After that, continued up the 163 into Utah, over to the 191 and back down into Arizona, passing more monuments (including the Mexican Hat). Continued on the 160 east to Four Corners (my 2nd time in as many years; still love it) and then up to Cortez.

    Next on the agenda is Mesa Verde NP, then through Durango and Pueblo, and up to Colorado Springs for 2 nights. The forecast says snow on Wednesday, and we don't have snow tires. Won't that be fun?

    I'll check back in soon.

    ======== DAY 4 ========

    First thing after leaving Cortez was going to Mesa Verde to check out the cliff dwellings. But because of the time of year, only one cliff dwelling was open for self-tours. It was just as well, because as soon as we left 90 minutes later, it started raining. And it kept raining all the way through Colorado on the 160 East.

    The most exciting thing was going over Wolf Creek Pass, where the rain quickly turned into a blazing snowstorm. Of course, the mom is freaking out, but I am loving it. We got through probably 10 miles of it, and we didn't get stuck.

    From there we headed north on I-25 to Colorado Springs. When we first arrived to the interstate, it was pretty clear. As we moved north to Pueblo, it started raining, and as we got to Colorado Springs, the rain once again turned to snow. This was my first time ever driving in snow, so obviously I'm driving like a total granny (to the dismay of the local Coloradians).

    Staying with friends tonight. We'll be hanging out all day tomorrow.

    ======== DAY 5 ========

    Getting a basic tour of Colorado Springs. Chill day.

    ======== DAY 6 ========

    We left the Springs and headed to Denver, where we had lunch with some of dad's horse racing buddies. Afterwards, we headed all the way up the I-25 to highway 18, north on highway 85, and east on the 16 into Custer, WY. We are in City Hill and will see the Black Hills attractions.

    If it doesn't rain.

    It's supposed to rain.

    And snow.


    ======== DAY 7 ========

    Spent the morning taking a look at Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse memorial, both located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The rain started getting prominent by noon, so we decided to make it a short tourism day and start heading out west through north Wyoming on the I-90 and knock miles out for the next day. We managed to get all the way to Buffalo before calling it a night.

    ======== DAY 8 ========

    It was snowing when we woke up in Buffalo, WY. The Rodeway Inn we stayed at wasn't the greatest so that influenced us to leave by 7:00 am. It was fine because we had the Big Horn range to cross on highway 16. We got over that without a hitch and used the 16 to drive through Cody and up into Yellowstone National Park. We reached the Old Faithful Snow Lodge in mid-afternoon and got settled in. It was still snowing on and off and the roads were very icy. Luckily I learned how to drive carefully in snow back in Colorado Springs, so while all the other vehicles were slippin' and slidin' I was cruising up the mountains without a hitch.

    Tomorrow is a lot of scenery!

    ======== DAY 9 ========

    It was 6 degrees outside this morning.

    Let me repeat that. 6 DEGREES.

    I know for some of you that may be the winter norm, but for South Cali locals, that is described as HOLY BRRRRRRR.....

    Before heading north, we decided to head south into the Great Teton National Park to have a look-see. My folks were here over 30 years ago so it was a nice thing for them to see it again, as well as my first time gazing at the mountains. We went all the way down to the Moose Visitor Center (the only thing that was still open for the season) and did the souvenir/tourist thing for a bit, then we came back around to find a herd of buffalo grazing in the fields. After snapping pictures, we headed back up to Yellowstone and shot pictures of random things like waterfalls, antelope, geysers, etc. I made a point to see the Upper/Lower falls, but the hike to get to them about killed me.

    Again, I didn't have enough time to see everything I wanted to. (I'll have to make visit #3 later) and we exited the park through the north entrance and cruised up highway 89 to the I-90 and headed west to Bozeman, MT.

    I'm looking forward to the next few days, where I get to spend time with my Scottish friend, while my folks stay in Spokane.

    We all need a break from each other. Hee hee.

    ========= DAY 10 ========

    The Super 8 Motel in Bozeman, MT was way ghetto, so we left pretty early and continued west on the I-90, through Butte, Missoula, and Coeur d'Alene, ID before reaching my mom's cousin in Spokane, WA. After dropping them off, I used some back roads to loop back to Lake Coeur d'Alene to stay with my friend. I'll be here for 2 nights. Fun times ahead.

    And thanks for the pics, Mr. Editor :)

    ======== DAY 11 ========

    I was shown around North Idaho for the day. Our destination was Sandpoint, ID, which is about 60 miles south of the Canadian border. Lake Pend Oreille up there was very impressive with the bridges. Unfortunately the haze kept me from getting any outstanding pictures.

    ======== DAY 12 ========

    From Coeur d'Alene, I headed west on the I-90, and after picking up my folks in Spokane, WA, we headed southwest on highway 395, and transitioned to the I-84 that parallels the Columbia river, as well as the borders of Oregon and Washington. We followed this river for about 150 miles until we got to Portland, and let me tell you this was one of my favorite roads to travel. There are railways on both sides of the river, with trains coming through quite frequently. There were also several dams to look at, and various waterfalls on the Oregon side.

    Once we reached I-5 in Portland, we headed south to Roseburg and stayed there for the night.

    ======== DAY 13 ========

    After my dad visited with his cousin in Roseburg for the first time in 60 years, we continued south into California on the I-5, passing Mt. Shasta and lot of mountainous territory. We reached our destination of San Leandro, CA, which is located just south of Oakland, CA. We're staying with another one of my mom's cousins. Nothing to stop and look at today.

    ======== DAY 14 ========

    We left in the early afternoon and backtracked a bit to Fairfield, CA, where we are set up to visit one of mom's friends in Napa, CA tomorrow morning. After checking into the hotel, we headed a few miles up the road to the Jelly Belly factory, where we managed to catch the last tour of the candy-making machines. It was pretty sweet. I bought $16 worth of candy, including the largest jawbreaker ever made. It's probably 5" in diameter. It will take me years to lick it away. Tomorrow, we'll be heading home. I doubt we'll be stopping anywhere. We're all pretty anxious to get back to our daily grind.

    ======== DAY 15 ========

    We got an early start and headed over to Napa, CA where mom visited a friend from her childhood. He, his wife and son, were in the winery business (of course) so they showed us their "warehouse" where they had some juice fermenting. After that, they took us to the more established wineries such as Fransiscan and Beringer, but didn't spend a whole lot of time there. They gave us a bottle of their own wine before we left.

    On the way, I stopped again at the Jelly Belly factory to buy some boxes for my colleagues, as well as more for myself. (My sweet tooth took a beating.) And used the small highway 12 to get to the I-5, and took the last 350 miles home, driving through central California, dealing with the traffic of Los Angeles and going through the familiar commute of Orange County before arriving home October 28th at 10:00pm.

    ======== CONCLUSION ========

    I enjoyed this trip because I was able to get an early start and do extended versions of the things I wanted to do last year. Waking up early and leaving on time is so much better than what I had to deal with last year. My folks and I really didn't get on our nerves too badly, although we had our moments. Every trip group wouldn't be complete without them. All of our goals were successfully accomplished. I would elaborate more but I'm very tired. I will spruce this paragraph up soon.


    Total miles: 4,884
    Total stops: 32
    Elapsed time: 14 days, 16 hours, 45 minutes
    Total states: 11 (CA, AZ, NM, UT, CO, WY, SD, MT, ID, WA, OR)
    Total attractions: 9 (Montezuma, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Four Corners, Mesa Verde, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons)
    Gallons of fuel: 223.65 (21.84 MPG average)
    My own cost: $1,031.16 (this is all my own purchases, plus my 1/3 share of lodging, food, gas, and minivan rental)
    Last edited by Kinless; 10-29-2006 at 10:29 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Should be a great day for lightning tomorrow!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kinless View Post
    I'm writing to you from Tusayan, AZ, about 3 miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. At 5:10am my folks and I kicked off from San Juan Capistrano, CA, on our 4500 mile roadtrip through the western plains, deserts, and mountains.
    Glad to hear you are out there! Should be an awesome day for lightning and t-storms at the Grand tomorrow. Have fun!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France

    Default To see en route

    Hi there!

    on our 4500 mile roadtrip through the western plains, deserts, and mountains.
    Grrr...I am so jealous:-))) I'm sure you'll have a blast.

    Next stops will be Monument Valley, Four Corners, and Mancos, CO. I'll be updating again in a few days.
    If you go through Page on your way to Monument Valley and you have some extra time, you should consider visiting Antelope Canyon (slot canyon) a few miles east of Page (AZ98) on the Navajo Reservation. Although it might not be a good idea to go there if thunder storms are expected because slot canyons are known to be particularly dangerous since they are prone to flash floods.

    I was told that Valley of the Gods near Mexican Hat is a must see. It is a smaller scale version of Monument Valley and it is certainly less crowded.

    Drive safe!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 10-23-2006 at 10:03 AM. Reason: added a photo

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tustin, California, United States

    Default Aye, not this time...

    Ha ha, Gen. I did see Valley of the Gods on the map, and we passed right by it, but we were short on time unfortunately. Our travelling days we really have to haul @$$ to get where we're going and be at our destination before sunset. We did see the Mexican Hat rock formation which was pretty good.

    I'll have to catch the Valley of the Gods next time.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 10-23-2006 at 10:05 AM. Reason: The approach to Valley of the Gods

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