Thursday, October 21, 2010

Southwest Roadtrip - Part 1

I've been wanting to start posting photos from my trip for a while now, but without internet at the new house, it's a lot more time consuming. This post will cover the first leg of the trip. Jackson, WY to Zion National Park, to San Diego, CA. At the beginning of this trip, I started to keep a rough journal of my life. I've realized over the years that I don't have a great memory and I forget a lot of details. I think that's partially why I enjoy taking photos.

I drove out of the Jackson town limits on Friday, September 24 at about 6:30am. It was dark out, the first of many mornings I woke before sunrise. This was the first real trip I've gone on alone. While it does make some situations more stressful, it is nice to do whatever you want, when you want. There is no waiting, no compromises, and no restrictions due to pets.

I spent the entire day in the car, all 633 miles of it. In the late afternoon I arrived at the Northwest entrance to Zion National Park, Kolob Canyon. I was able to do a little exploring before heading down to Virgin, UT and eventually to the Kolob Reservoir to set up camp.

I had planned to camp in the primitive Lava Point Campground, but I missed getting the last site, most likely because of an unnecessary detour from misreading a sign and the car overheating. Luckily, I knew of the reservoir only a few miles away. I barely made it before sunset.

Driving out the next morning is when I realized that I had climbed 4,500 feet to get to the reservoir. If I had known that driving in, it would have made more sense as to why my car overheated.

I spent all of Saturday exploring Zion. I took the shuttle up the canyon and stopped at most of the stops along the way. I did a small hike at the Emerald Pools and walked to the entrance of the Narrows, but it was too hot to do anything strenuous. 96 degrees! I also drove to the East entrance of the park through the mile-long tunnel. It was curvy with "windows". Apparently a huge engineering feat for it's time.

I was told of some BLM land not far from Zion that was free to camp on, right on the Virgin River. I set up camp early and spent the evening relaxing. Splashing around in the river was refreshing after being in the heat all day.

I woke up early again on Sunday and drove to Grafton, a nearby "ghost town" before sunrise to take some photos. I decided that I would spend the early part of the day hiking up the Narrows of Zion Canyon. I was on the shuttle bus by about 8:45, high of the day was expected to be around 98 degrees with a water temperature of 59 degrees. 0% chance of rain.

The Narrows were amazing. Probably one of the coolest hikes I have done. It was just different. You're literally hiking up a river. I think I spent about three hours in the Narrows. I made it through the section called Wallstreet before deciding to turn around. This section is about 20 feet wide with 1,500 foot walls on either side. Absolutely insane. If you look straight up, you can only see a small sliver of light. I would have liked to go further, but I wanted to get back on the road.

I spent the afternoon driving to Las Vegas, three hours in 105 degree heat. No AC in the Benz. I wasn't planning on staying in Vegas overnight, but I had to get my phone fixed, it had been broken since the first night. I wasn't too keen on being on the road alone with no phone.

On Monday, I continued my drive to California. This day was hotter. Five hours in 105-113 degree heat. Absolutely miserable. Actually, probably the most miserable drive I've ever done. My phone shut off several times due to overheating. I drank over 200 oz of liquid during that drive. Opening the windows only let in more hot air. I was literally driving an oven across the Mojave Desert.

I made it as far as Riverside, CA before having car problems. This is where the fun began. I spent hours waiting for a AAA tow truck in what started as 112 degree heat. Originally, I was told 45 minutes. It turned into a nightmare of phone call after phone call and at one point waiting on hold for 30 minutes. Eventually I got picked up around 10:30pm, 6 hours after the first call.

Luckily, my parents have a family friend living in Glendale, CA, just outside of LA. I spent two days in Glendale at "The Queen's" place. Did some exploring with the kids, hung out with the boxers, and checked out her collection of old Mercedes. It's funny how it was still 90-95 degrees, but after the previous day, it felt cool enough to wear jeans and shoes.

I ended up paying a lot to get the car going, but Serge's Automotive did a great job. After being fixed, I could barely recognize the Benz as my own car. It doesn't vibrate like crazy anymore, it isn't nearly as loud as it used to be, and it's shifting pretty well.

I took off for San Diego around 7 on Wednesday evening. The drive took about 2.5 hours. Not bad at all. Got to Ryan's place sometime around 10 and spent Thursday exploring San Diego and looking for a surf board. Went out for some birthday drinks Thursday night in North Park and woke up early on Friday to head to Baja!

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