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  1. #41
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,834

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    DAY 36 - CEDAR CITY UT to HOME - 480 mi, 9-3/4 hours

    Rise and shine at 4 am MDT this morning. We were actually ready earlier than our planned 5:15 departure time, but by the time we went across the street, bought ice and loaded the big cooler, it was right at 5:15 when we left.

    It was still dark when we took off, but you could see light starting to come up. Arriving at St George not quite 45 minutes later, it was just getting light and the Cracker Barrel was just opening. We were their first customers. Hubby had a tall stack of pancakes and bacon, while I had the Good Morning Breakfast and Multi-grain toast. What we've found on this trip is that iHOP and Cracker Barrel are our breakfasts of choice. Oh, we took advantage of the motel breakfast a number of time, but after awhile, you want something cooked just for you, and sorry to say, hotel waffle maker mixes are not exactly tasty (to us).

    The Virgin River Gorge was as pretty as ever, and the river was really flowing. That didn't surprise us since we'd heard that Zion closed part of the park including Kolob Canyon because of the flash flood danger. Pictures of the Gorge area will follow.

    Next stop was just north of Las Vegas, at the Chevron station on the Moapa Paiute Indian Reservation. At $3.12/gallon, we knew we should “top off” before heading home. Sacramento recently raised taxes on fuel, with a whopping 30c per gallon raise for diesel, so prices have gone over $4/gallon in most places in CA.

    The first of the traffic issues started in Las Vegas. Slow. Stop. Go. Go fast. Stop. Go.

    The traffic was lighter from there down to about Victorville. We were rather surprised, since we'd taken a chance on lighter traffic by NOT leaving at midnight like we sometimes do when departing from southern Utah. However, right after Victorville, as we started to head down from the Cajon Pass Summit, traffic came to a creepy crawl, for miles, all the way past the exit for CA-138. Apple Maps blamed it on a morning accident, but there was also evidence of construction.

    We thought we were okay until we got to the junction with CA-91. Once again, we came to a stop, then crawled all the way down to Temescal Canyon Road. Fortunately we could get off the freeway there long enough to make a pit stop. Apple Maps said it had been an accident, but we only saw evidence (again) of construction.

    Thought we were home free again, though we'd already wasted 30 minutes crawling in traffic, when we came to a halt again in Lake Elsinore. What's going on?!?! There was no evidence of an accident or anything like that on Apple Maps this time. We crawled from Lake Elsinore to Rainbow Valley Road, 23 miles, taking more than 45 minutes to do that.

    Thankfully, from there on home, it was soupy but moving. When the express lanes started, hubby got in them.

    Arrived home at almost 2 pm, about 75 minutes later than we expected. Ugh. But everything at home looked great, just warm. We turned on the AC. We unloaded the truck but are taking our time unpacking suitcases, etc.


    Donna

  2. #42
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,834

    Default Photos - last day

    LAST DAY'S PHOTOS

    Bear in mind, all these were taken with an iPhone that desperately needs to be replaced.

    Entering the Virgin River Gorge area, which is located on I-15 in the northwest corner of Arizona. There is BLM land there, with a small campground and picnic area.
    IMG_6643

    We were driving through this area in the early hours of the morning. The sunlight vs. shadows from the mountains makes it hard for wearing sunglasses.
    IMG_6648


    There are times when you feel like 4 lanes and a median strip are being squeezed between the rocks/mountains. They are!
    IMG_6650

    One travels along the Virgin River for a few miles, sometimes being able to see the River. There have been flash floods upstream, closing Kolob Canyon (Zion) and the Narrows (Zion), so there was quite a bit of water here.
    IMG_6657

    Leaving the Canyon and coming onto the raw AZ (then NV) desert, you could smell the recent rain.
    IMG_6664

    Coming into Las Vegas, first traffic jam of the day. These jams are the main reason why one should *never* plan a trip using electronic mapping travel times, nor should they plan hour-by-hour for their trips. Apple and Google Maps are great for trying to figure out WHY traffic is so backed up, though they aren't infallible.
    IMG_6665

    Now, we are moving along and northbound is jammed up. Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay is the main reason for the picture.
    IMG_6668

    Jam #2, top of Cajon Pass. You get my drift.
    IMG_6669

    Jam #3, between CA-91 and Temescal Canyon Road:
    IMG_6673

    I did not take a photo of Jam #4. By then I was sick of traffic jams, as you might expect! I just wanted to get home!


    Donna

  3. #43
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,834

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    We've been home well over a week now, but I've never posted our summary. Our Colorado daughter and her family arrived two days after we got home, as they had tickets for San Diego Comic-Con long before they moved this past winter. They simply made arrangements for work vacation and with us. So I've been a bit busy, following a couple of grandkids around our house, taking them to the park, etc.

    They drove here and back to CO in a loop. They took I-25 south to I-40, then the Payson cut-off to I-17 to I-10, where they stopped to see family in the Phoenix area. Then came to our house via I-8. They traveled in 3 days -- Denver to Albuquerque, Albuquerque to Phoenix, and Phoenix to San Diego. Then to get home, they took I-15 to I-70, overnight at Cedar City. They *loved* that drive, and the two grandkids did very well on that 600 mile day.

    Reflections on our own trip were not too numerous. This time around, we were very happy with the accommodations that we chose, mostly happy with our food choices, and super happy with our fuel mileage and the ability to find cheap(er) fuel.

    For lodging, this was about the first trip where everything was pre-booked except the last two nights. We did that to have far more control over what was in the room, on the property (pool was required, fitness center was a nicety), in the area, and of course, the price. Our most expensive room averaged $129/night including the taxes, but it had a full kitchen. Our cheapest room was the one that I booked 2 days ahead, on the fly, in Farmington, MO, at $66, and that was a Choice property.

    For food, we ate at a mix of local places, local chains, and national chains. We still struggled with that bit about too much food (and it's difficult to take a "to-go" box with you in an ice chest) and the unknown calories. Still, I was grateful to have only gained 2 lbs in 5 weeks, of which I am now at a quest to lose again. It was easier to choose a healthy meal at the chains, honestly, because their nutritional values are posted online.

    When you carry a cooler, you have to do one of two things: figure out how you can get those "blue ice" things re-frozen, or just buy ice every traveling morning. Most hotels don't want you to fill a cooler with ice from their machine, due to the supply-demand issue. We ended up buying ice, which ran a total of $30 into the budget. In retrospect, almost every single motel room fridge had a place for blue ices to refreeze. Some freezers were larger than others, however.

    For us, the biggest budget expense was Lodging, followed by Food, then Fuel. Gas Buddy was our most used app, as it allowed us to plan for better fuel stops. I'd budgeted at $3.25-$3.50/gal and we only got close to that once. (I should add: this is for DIESEL.) That was in Cedar City, UT, at $3.29, and at home, $3.38 (but that was at the military base, home is running $3.69 these days). Our least expensive fuels were at Camdenton, MO ($2.74/gal) and, thanks to being given some Kroger points, $2.69/gal in Centennial, CO at King Soopers (it would have been $2.99/gal).

    On the way home, we also discussed where we're going on next year's *short* trip, and then last night, my husband brings in the atlas and says, "so where should we go on our next *long* trip?!" That would be in two years.


    Donna

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Australia
    Posts
    158

    Default

    Great to see you had a good trip Donna. Enjoyed reading. loved the pics. Trying to get idea's for our forth coming trip. :)

    Keith

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