Well this is a catch up post as this trip happened in 2013. We had always wanted to take a trip out west and see the Grand Canyon and maybe even to Yosemite National Park in California. So we took off and headed in the general direction of Colorado to start with. Our first side trek was going through Omaha Nebraska to do a drive by of Warren Buffets house of course. My wife thought this was a little creepy but I am pretty devoted to his style of investing and have the utmost respect and admiration for the man, so we just had to see his humble house.
Well that’s through my truck window so it doesn’t do it justice, it is pretty humble though considering.
From There we headed west and stayed the night in North Platte Nebraska. Nice little town but it was awful hot. The next day we got up early and headed to Denver where we stopped and had a nice lunch at Chipotle where we ate outside and enjoyed the clear fresh rocky mountain air. It was beautiful. Then on into the mountains where things started to liven up with more beauty and more traffic. I’m not sure what day it was but the traffic heading into the mountains was bumper to bumper for at least an hour. Not a problem though as we were not in a hurry, just happy with all the scenery.
We got to Grand Junction Late in the day, had a nice meal and stayed there over night. In the morning we headed into Utah to visit Arches National Park. It was really interesting with all the rock formations and the red and orange colors.
After Arches National Park it was then on to Moab. Another nice little town that I had no idea was such an attraction. The place was packed with people and campers. Again the air was warm and dry just the way I like it. It looked like a lot of people were there to get on the rocks with there bikes and there modified climbing vehicles. Kind of scary when you look at it. We headed south from there through some desolate country with nothing for miles and miles except small tumbleweed towns with names like Bluff and Mexican Hat. There is not much prosperity in this part of the country. Then by a stroke of luck we ended up in monument valley with its unbelievable rock formations jutting up out of the ground almost like a different era on a different planet. I had always wanted to visit monument valley but hadn’t planned on driving through it on this trip, big bonus.
Our plan was to keep driving through the desert that day and stay possibly in Tonalea or Tuba City, but sometimes these small towns don’t always have places to stay or maybe have the wrong feel about them. So with it not being too late, we continued on to the Grand Canyon. We were on 64 or Desert View Dr. on the south rim and I didn’t realize I was that afraid of heights but when the trees opened up close to the canyon edge it took my breath away, my hands instantly started sweating, and I had to slow down so I wouldn’t have a panic attack. We made it to Grand Canyon Village but stayed in Tusayan, a beautiful small town a few miles south of there, I highly recommend it. The next day we got up early and went to sight see at the canyon edge. Just unbelievable. Judge for yourself.
Then it was on to our next stop Hoover Dam. The whole area before hoover dam is desolate dark rock mountains like nothing I have seen before and the new high bridge you drive on to get to the other side of the Colorado River is really a marvel of engineering. Not sure how they built it but I was glad it had very high side walls so while you cross it the wall block your view from distractions and you can drive safely especially if you have a fear of heights. We then drove down to the actual dam to walk around and it was really odd. There is nothing growing there and the further down you get to the dam and the river the hotter it gets. I didn’t have a good feeling down there almost like you shouldn’t be there, living things don’t go there. But it was amazing to see although the lake was and still is very low which is disturbing I’m sure for residents of Las Vegas.
That night we stayed in Henderson, Nevada and in the morning took off for California via Death Valley. We were thinking, looking at the map, that we would drive straight as the crow flies through Death Valley and maybe stay at this nice little lake (Lake Owens) beside the Sierra Mountains. We figured it would be pristine. Death Valley is quite interesting with town names like Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells and of course 110-120 degrees on a typical day. What we didn’t realize is that you have to cross I believe 3 mountain ranges before you get to the Sierras and that a road on Google Maps that is zig zagging back and forth is really just all switchbacks and hairpin curves. By the time we crossed the last mountain range and saw the Sierras and Mount Whitney in front of us we were a little nauseous and tense. And then we saw Lake Owen, it was dried up completely and the town beside it was consumed by sand. You wouldn’t believe it unless you saw it with your own eyes. So we went to the next town which is Loan Pine for gas and a break and then headed up the road to Mammoth Lakes. After crossing Death Valley, we deserved a nice mountain town like Mammoth Lakes. We stayed there 2 Nights.
Our stay in Mammoth Lakes was one of the highlights of the trip because of the beauty of the area and fresh mountain air. It was unique also in the people there were more of the young surfer dude/snowboard dude and some hiking dudes also. Everyone seamed very laid back, maybe having a job was optional. We wanted to head to Yosemite after that but because of the fires that year the road was closed in that direction so we had to be satisfied with Mammoth Lakes as our final destination before heading back.
The trip back took us on highway 6 through Nevada to Salt Lake City, Utah where we stayed one night before continuing on to Wyoming. I really enjoyed all the natural beauty in Wyoming with the roads twisting through the hills where Antelope roam. Even though we saw quite a few we just never had the camera ready when they were close enough. We stayed the night in Casper before heading to Custer, South Dakota where we did stay a couple of nights. It seams like that whole area is a Harley riders paradise and there were plenty of bikes on display. After that we headed back to our home in Minnesota. All in all just a fantastic trip with hopefully many more to come.