Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Atlanta to Vegas to Utah & Parts Beyond...

Brenna and I parted ways with the kids and headed for our second trip to the canyons of Utah.  I must express my sincere gratitude to the family members that helped watch the kids and allowed us to escape for the week.  It is great to have family that is willing to help out like that.  Nathan, our compatriot for the second time on these trips, was already in Vegas trying his best not to lose all his bicycle rental money.  We were going to get the rental car and pick him up on the strip and head north from there.

Last year’s Moab trip had stuck with me as some of the best fun I have had, but we didn’t want to go and do the same things again even though we couldn’t have possibly covered all the trails there even with another week of mountain biking.  

Instead, we decided to head to the southern part of Utah where the Virgin River has carved an awe inspiring canyon through the sandstone creating Zion National Park, and there is also mesa-top mountain biking everywhere you look.   The trip would be less focused on riding the bikes than the Moab trip, but riding mountain bikes would still be a major part of the activities.  (I know, that’s a big surprise…)  Hiking the Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon would make up for the rest of the adventures.
The brown line is the path of the tornado from Tuscaloosa in the distance
to Birmingham hidden by the engine.
After flying over the awful scar that a tornado left on the land between Tuscaloosa and home, I forced Brenna to watch mountain bike videos on the plane until we began the bumpy descent into Vegas and the flight attendant gave me a sour look for still having my iPhone out.  

(Perhaps she was really just trying to save Brenna from having to watch one more teenage guy all hopped up on Red Bull jump over some impossible ledge on a zillion dollar mountain bike.)  

As a side note, the Red Bull Rampage was filmed across the street from the house where we stayed.

Either way, we landed in Vegas shortly.

I was noting the mountains around the city since I had never been there before, and Brenna was noting that most people on the plane would probably never even see the mountains once they were in the clutches of the glittering wallet vacuum that is the Vegas strip.  To wit, she remarked that I was pretty weird, and well, she would know.  We’ve been married for 13 years and hanging out together constantly for 16 years now.  I know she absolutely loves me since, for the second year in a row, she has spent our anniversary not in some cushy vacation spot with fruity drinks, but out in the dirt and grit of the deserts scaring herself on a bicycle and climbing steep winding trails.
30 second timed exposure and a camping headlamp...

We rented a Jeep last year and never really used it as an off road vehicle, so we rented a bright red Toyota Corolla this time and planned on putting a bike rack on it.  We ended up really using it as an off-road vehicle and put it through some spots that it was never designed to go.  As weak as the engine was with 85 octane gas, and a 35 mph headwind heading through the Great Basin, we could have used some of Toyota’s unfortunate trademark “Unintended Acceleration”.    

Storms over the Great Basin as we head north to Utah.

We entered AZ and were almost immediately out of it again.
Unlike most illegal aliens...

I had planned on stopping a couple of hours into the drive from Vegas to Hurricane, Utah to look for “The Crack”.  

Ok, That's enough now...  Quit giggling...  Yes you...  You know who you are...

It is a split in a large rock expanse that you can squeeze and contort your body through, and once we found it, it was loads of fun.  Brenna looked a little uncertain, as we descended into this narrow slot, but she put on her happy face and did it anyway.  For someone who looked pensive at the outset, she looked like she was having some good fun by the end of it.  

Nathan on the other hand, was quite at home, and immediately bounded up the walls and clamored over everything he could find.  

Nathan and his impression of a flag.
--Note this is hard to do--
I wasn’t too far off that level of behavior…except I’m old now.

I don't act all that old most of the time though... Just ask Brenna...

The house in Hurricane was a cool little apartment that we stocked with food to save some cash.  Below is a panorama that you can scroll around to see the house and the mesa’s surrounding the house.  

The mesa top behind the house was restricted since it is one of the two supersonic sled test facilities in the world.  It’s used for ejection seat tests.  I was told that the sled can achieve Mach 3, and I’m positive I would never want to eject at faster than the speed of sound much less 3 times that.  A test would certainly be neat to see – from a safe distance.  
Heavenly I tell you, simply heavenly.  Which is good, since the world was Raptured while we were out there and unfortunately, we were all left behind…along with everyone else.  

Oh…nevermind then.  Perhaps Rev. Harold had read his version of the King James incorrectly.
We got settled in and chatted with Monte, the owner of the place, and got some good ideas of what and where to go while we were out there.  If you are ever inclined to go out to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon, give a thought to staying with Monte and Bonnie.  They are great people and have a great place to make home base.

Next up – Riding the sidewinder and we discover that Zion has actually been transported to the Pacific Northwest for the day.

1 comment:

Rick said...

So was Nathan inspired to grow his hair out after taking a liking to Brad Cooper in the Hangover II?