Fincher's Follies

Yeah… just let someone else host it

Browsing the archives for the Travel category.

Let’s go Florida State!

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Sunset over Southwood

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Enjoying a hearty groomsmen brunch with Josh and the crew at Loveless Cafe.

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Yes, that’s a big pile of pork barbecue sitting on a pancake flanked by scrambled eggs with a side of hash brown casserole.

Living the high life

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Father/Son Trip – Utah, Arizona, and Vegas

Dad needed a vacation and I somehow convinced my lovely wife to let me join him for another one of our crazy guy vacations! Dad had never explored much of southern Utah, and I had really only passed through Zion during one of my college road trips with Bobby so it was time to explore some new territory! Needless to say, this post is gargantuan and extremely picture-laden, so grab that beverage and get ready for the long haul! 🙂

Day 1

We were both up early to head out of our respective locations and met up in Atlanta then continued on to Las Vegas.  Both of my flights were actually early! We had a pretty drive (through many a carved out road).

“Let’s just make the road go straight through that ridge.”

On the way we just happened to stop for snacks at the same exit as the exotic car driving experience. If we are ever back out this way, we’ll definitely have to add that to the activity list!

Checking out some awesome cars

We got to St. George, checked in, then headed to Red Lobster, which was surprisingly jammed for 4:30 in the afternoon. We had the slowest frickin’ service ever, and the only quick thing was when he showed up to spill a beer. 1 hr and 45 minutes to eat an early dinner at Red Lobster!  When we finally finished, we grabbed some beer and wound down at the hotel.

Day 2

Woke up bright and early and drove down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The first of many sunrises seen from the road

We took the Bright Angel Point Trail (very short), which was a crazy little hike along the top of a spine extending out into the canyon so there was a huge dropoff on either side.

The views were amazing, and we timed it perfectly so we just barely beat the crowds.

Dad on the trail

One heckuva background!

Stitched Panorama from the North Rim

A fairly tame (and obviously well-fed) squirrel

From there we headed to Kayenta and had an amazing and scenic drive on the way.  Everything was just so amazing and so ridiculously different than anything in Tennessee or Florida.  We stopped briefly in Kayenta then headed on to Monument Valley. It is a crazy set of HUGE rock outcroppings and was simply spectacular.

One of many views from the road

Creeping up on Monument Valley

Crazy rock features

After we took that in, we moseyed back to Kayenta. After stopping at 3 separate places, we finally discovered that there is no beer/alcohol sold in Kayenta because it is on the Navajo reservation.  This didn’t sit too well, especially with Dad, so we drove back through Monument Valley to Mexican Hat, which was the closest place with beer sales.

Heading back through Monument Valley

We had dinner there, and their alcohol provisions swayed Dad to remain so we ended up staying there and just having a relaxing evening in our tiny little room.

Our cozy little inn in Mexican Hat

It was nice to not have to drive an additional 40 miles after dinner and saved us another 40 miles of driving the next day. While all the views were amazing, one of our favorite moments came after we had settled in at the motel in Mexican Hat. Dad had the following conversation.

Dad: Hello, I was calling to get the wifi password.
Front Desk Lady: Ok, come down and I will enter it for you
Dad: I’m sorry, what?
Front Desk Lady: You need to bring your computer here so I can type in the password for you. If I tell it to you, the maids will get it and they go across the river and use up all the internet.

 

That’s right.  Those dadjum maids use ALL the internet.  And they don’t even have the decency to stay on this side of the river!  The things that go on in this bustling metropolis of Mexican Hat (population: ~100).

Day 3

We woke up early and hit the road to the first lookout that was not too far from Mexican Hat (place close to Muley Point).

Sunrise over Mexican Hat

A fuzzy pic of the rock formation for which Mexican Hat is named

The rivers around here seem pretty busy, what with all the canyon carving and all

We enjoyed a nice sunrise view then continued on towards Natural Bridges National Monument. The map didn’t provide the necessary info for us to realize exactly what was entailed in that little commute.  As you may have noticed from some of the pictures thus far, there are tons of enormous mesas in this part of the country.  Well this drive took us basically right up the face of one of those. They basically carved out a zigzag road right up the face of it so we could get to the top and continue on. It was pretty intense!

Um… Where does the road go?

Oh that’s right. Straight up the side of this cliff!

After that it was smooth sailing until we reached Natural Bridges. It was basically a small loop to drive with short walks out to see each bridge.  Nature creates some pretty amazing things!

Sipapu Bridge

Kachina Bridge

Owachomo Bridge

After Natural Bridges, we moseyed towards Hanksville.  On the way, we stopped at an amazing overlook of Lake Powell, a location I have seen in a few wakeboarding videos.

Now where’d that wakeboard boat go…

After some pics we drove on to Hanksville, had lunch, then headed north to Goblin Valley. What a cool little set of rock formations!

A little trio of goblin greeters

Panorama of all the little goblins

We were both constantly amazed how every turn seemed to reveal a unique and beautiful landscape.

We’re definitely not in Florida/Tennessee anymore

From there it was back through Hanksville to Capitol Reef National Park. We took the main scenic road, then continued on to the dirt road to Capitol Gorge.  It was a pretty fun exploration, and we got out for a nice little hike.  We saw the petroglyphs and where some early settlers had carved their names into the rock.

Off-roadin’!

Exploring the canyon

They don’t look that huge in pictures until you have someone in there for a frame of reference

It was nice to get out and walk around, but when that sun comes out it gets blazing in a hurry! We made our way back through the scenic way then took the main road to panoramic point. Got some pics then finished our drive to Torrey.  Had a nice dinner with some refreshing cold beers, then got settled in for a relaxing evening at the hotel.  Another long, but awesome, day of spectacular views!

Day 4

Today we slept in a bit (by our standards), had a little breakfast at the hotel then hit the road and went through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (which is supposed to be one of the most scenic roads in Utah).

And the scenery changes yet again

But the views remain awesome

Just another day in Utah!

Had some awesome views as we went over a mountain, stopping many times along the way. Continued through towards Bryce Canyon National Park with a stopoff in Kodachrome Basin State Park.

It wouldn’t look too big if Dad wasn’t standing there!

The moon over Kodachrome

On the way to Bryce, we stopped at Mossy Cave for a little hike up the hill to the cave and a little waterfall.  Yet another impromptu little stop that turned out to be pretty rewarding.

One of the few waterfalls around these parts

We then continued on to Bryce Canyon National Park. We did the first few viewpoints at Bryce, then backtracked a bit to hit the lodge for lunch.

Dad! The view is behind you!

After lunch, we continued on to the end of the main road in Bryce, stopping at about every scenic viewpoint that was offered, including some pretty cool ones like Natural Bridge.

Technically, it’s an arch not a bridge. There’s no water running underneath!

One of the many critters we saw on the trip

When we got to the end, we did the Bristlecone Loop hike, saw the bristlecone tree that was believed to be over 1800 years old, then hit the last two big viewpoints.

It might look dead, but it isn’t totally dead!

Yet another awesome view from Bryce Canyon!

Bryce Canyon Panorama

After that we meandered back the way we came then headed to Tropic.  We checked in to the hotel, had a yummy pizza dinner, then settled in for the evening.  Another long day of driving and spectacular views around every corner!

Day 5

We woke up pretty early because we wanted to try to catch the sunrise in Bryce, especially since there is even a scenic viewpoint named Sunrise Point.  There were plenty of other folks who had the same idea, but we made it there at the perfect time and had some spectacular views! I especially enjoyed the fact that it was about 50 degrees with a breeze when we got there.  Needless to say, I was the only one in shorts and a t-shirt while most were bundled up with hoodies/fleeces and such. What a great break from Florida weather!

What a sunrise!

The morning sun really snazzies things up!

Sun peeking through

After enjoying the sunrise, we stopped at Ruby’s Inn (how cool is that name?!) on the way out of town then headed over towards Zion National Park.

You really never know what will be around the next corner!

Once we entered Zion, it was yet another terrain that was just entirely different than anything we had seen before.

Checkerboard

Desert Bighorn Sheep

On the way into the park, we stopped to take the Canyon Overlook trail.  It said it was 1 mile (round trip), but it was a pretty intense hike!

Some places they really had to make a path

Even got to travel through a bit of a cave!

Luckily, we were well rewarded for our efforts.  At the end of the trail was a spectacular view over the main canyon of Zion.

What do you know, another amazing view in Utah!

We made our way back to the car then drove the rest of the way into Zion.

Above that arch is the lookout from the Canyon Overlook Trail

The red roads of Zion

Because of congestion and pollution issues, Zion moved to a bus system where everyone parks at the visitor’s center then you take a bus through the park.

One of our buses had to stop for a little wildlife

We basically followed the guidelines in one of the books we had for a short visit so we hopped on the bus and headed to the Temple of Sinawava stop where the trailhead of the Riverside Trail Walk (2 miles round trip) was located. It was a low-medium difficulty trail and provided some really awesome views as the canyon got more and more narrow.  We saw some wildlife and had a pretty enjoyable hike.

Hanging Gardens

End of the main trail. Those crossing the river were embarking on a much more difficult journey.

These chubby little squirrels were all over the trail and quite comfy with folks walking by

Some harrowing cliffs along the trail

After that hike, we were ready to have some lunch so we caught the bus back to the Zion Lodge.

Pretty nice lunchtime view

We had lunch there, then went on the hike to Lower Emerald Pond, about 1.2 miles round trip.  Good thing I brought my hiking flip-flops! 😉 It was another nice hike that ended at a pretty little oasis-like pool.

Lower Emerald Pool

On the way back, we really started to realize how much it had been heating up. We caught the bus back to the visitor center, finished some needed shopping, then hopped in the car that indicated it was 103 degrees outside.  Quite a shift from our breezy 50 degree morning!

We drove to Springdale, checked in, then ended up at Wildcat Willie’s for some beer and dinner.  Enjoyed chatting with some locals and watching some Olympics, then it was time to pack it in.  What another long and awesome day!  Finishing Zion pretty much finished the planned activities for the trip, but we were sure to be able to conjure a few more entertaining times on Thursday.

Day 6

Woke up and enjoyed the view right outside of Zion.

The sunrise shines on Zion

Then we moseyed towards St. George, but took a detour through Snow Canyon State Park.

Not your every day roundabout

Roadrunner!

Driving through Snow Canyon (though there is definitely not any snow there now!)

Enjoyed even more beautiful scenery, then passed through Gunlock State Park looping back to St. George.

Gunlock Reservoir

Then it was on to Vegas!

Sometimes we literally drive “through the mountains”

We drove a couple of passes down and back the strip, then got checked in to Luxor.

“Luxor” must mean something cool in Egyptian

We got settled in the room, then decided to explore all the craziness.  We grabbed a few beers, did some shopping, then ate dinner are a seafood restaurant there. Dad’s meal was OK, but mine was spectacular. On top of that, this place had a menu item more expensive than anything I had ever seen before, a sampler for $295! Definitely didn’t go for that, but my meal was scrumptious. Afterwards, we explored the Luxor and Mandalay Bay casinos, then settled in to a few more beers. We did a little video poker at the bar so we could say we did some Vegas gambling. 🙂

Beer and Gambling. Sounds like Vegas!

We also stopped a bit to watch one of the active craps tables. It was pretty interesting even though we had no idea what was going on, haha.  Then we packed it in pretty early so we’d be ready to head back in the morning.  Of course, we were helped by being spoiled with all the 3.2% beer throughout the trip (many beers are limited to 3.2% alcohol in Utah). Drinking some regular beer hit us a little harder! 🙂 What a ridiculously awesome trip we have had! Many good times, spectacular views and variety! Another crazy, awesome Father-Son trip in the bag. 🙂

Quite the traveling duo

And if anyone is super adventurous/bored, I uploaded all the pics (~1200 of them) to a collection in my parent’s Flickr account. Enjoy!

Little froggy decided he wanted to be recycled

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This little guy was hanging out in the recycle bin when I was taking out the trash. I hope he found a new home before it was picked up!

Enjoying a cold beer overlooking a rainy Asheville.

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Ruby’s wardrobe is growing!

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I am gonna need a trophy case soon! Hehe

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Starfish!

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