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Wednesday June 28, 2006

Having done nothing at Bryce Canyon yesterday (save visiting Sunset Point - which because of the current orientation of the Earth doesn't look really that interesting at sunset) I decided that I should spend the morning exploring. First, though, I had breakfast courtesy of a very nice family camping next to me. Thanks!!!


After that I was off exploring Bryce Canyon. I road the scenic drive as I usually do, stopping at most of the scenic overlooks. I also got out and walked to a few of the overlooks that are farther off the road. Bryce Canyon is a really interesting national park. It's a place that I'd definitely like to come back to and spend some more time sometime in the future. The canyons are filled with vivid colors and hoodoos (pillars of rock). It's amazing! Not only that, but they have a shuttle service (which I didn't use) as well as nice campgrounds and nice people. Plus the elevation is a bit higher, not to mention most of the park is in a Ponderosa Pine Forest - making the temperatures pretty cool. By and large it's a really nice park. The entrance fee is considerably higher than previous parks ($20) but since I have the national parks pass, I got in "free." The pass has pretty much paid for itself at this point.


My time at Bryce coming to an end I decided that I should check out Zion National Park briefly along my way to the Grand Canyon. So, after an hour or two of driving, I arrived at Zion. Zion's pretty interesting as well. There are two tunnels that you have to drive through to get into the actual park area - one of them is small, but the other is 1.1mi and pretty cool. From talking to one of the rangers it turns out that there was actually a fire happening in the park at my time of visiting, though it was in an area not visited by anyone except a few backcountry hikers. Zion too has a shuttle service - this one a little more strictly required than Bryce's. You have to ride the shuttle if you want to go down the scenic drive - they don't allow regular vehicles. That was okay with me though, it gave me a chance to rest some more. Though I did get off once and hike a trail that led to the Emerald Pools. The upper emerald pool was really cool, and the hike to get there was pretty strenuous (albeit relatively short). I of course took some pictures.

The scenic ride over, I was off to the Grand Canyon. It was, admittedly, later than I had hoped it would be. I made it about two hours away from the Grand Canyon before nightfall began. Being the stubborn person that I am, though, I drove all the way to the canyon. Once there I realized all of the campgrounds were full (bah) and backtracked 30 miles to an RV park where since it was now 12am nobody was around. I just pitched my tent and went to sleep, not really caring if I got in trouble.

June 29, 2006 10:31 am

Well it's morning. I found the RV office and paid for last night - they didn't care. I'm now sitting in my tent getting caught up on my journal. I also went through and fixed some spelling errors and other minor mistakes (some of them were pretty stupid, as I'm sure you noticed). If you see any others, send me an email and let me know. Maybe someday I'll fix it ;-). It's about 7:30 am here (I'm in yet another timezone) and I've been up for probably an hour now. My tent is covered in little ants, which is really annoying. I keep knocking them all off and they keep coming back. I'm sure it'll make teardown interesting.

Since I arrived under the cover of darkness I haven't seen anything related to the Grand Canyon yet. I'm looking forward to it :-). Incidentally I'm at the South Rim, even though I've heard the North Rim is better. The reason for this is because the North Rim is basically on fire. It's currently inaccessible. Oh well - I'm sure it will still be very impressive. On that note I'm off!

June 29, 2006


The Grand Canyon is amazing. It's so huge! I had a great time today, though the weather was threatening for most of the time. Thankfully although it rained probably 10 miles away from the rim, it stayed dry at the actual canyon. And, as it would turn out, I ended up getting into the campground at the national park this evening as well.


I started out my day by heading over to the backcountry office, where I inquired about getting a use pass to pitch my tent somewhere in the park (at that time the campground was full and the lady had told me to come back in an hour or so to see if any spots had opened up). The ranger had an even better suggestion - leave the park and enter the national forest, where camping is free and no permit is required. Fully intending to follow his suggestion I next asked what he thought I should do given a day at the park. He suggested I hike along the rim trail, ride the shuttle bus along the rim the rest of the way, and then head down another trail into the canyon. I did the first two, and they ended up being amazing. Sadly, I didn't actually hike down into the canyon since it really did look like it was going to dump rain.


As you may have guessed, though, I was able to get in at the campground in the park. There I setup my tent and relaxed for the remainder of the evening. At one point I headed down into the small town south of the entrance (I should mention I came into the park though the east entrance and drove along the rim for probably 25 miles to the south entrance area) to get food and call family. I don't get cell phone reception in the actual park (imagine that). Oh, the view of the canyon was slightly obscured by a rather dense haze courtesy of the fire burning near the north rim. It didn't really make it any more difficult to see from my standpoint, but I imagine the pictures won't be that great. It was still awesome in person, though!

June 30, 2006


Today once again went relatively well. I departed the Grand Canyon around 8am and headed west to the Hoover Dam. Once I got there I realized that it was ridiculously hot (like 110 - seriously) and instead of getting out and walking around (there was also holiday traffic in the area - it was pretty ugly) I decided to continue on to Vegas. Once I arrived in Las Vegas I checked into the MGM Grand (thanks again Dad!!!), one of the biggest hotels on the strip. It's huge! It has everything too - a casino, restaurants, 8 pools, *everything*. They claim to be their own city, and they pretty much are.


Upon arrival in Vegas I noticed that Phantom of the Opera was playing at the Venetian. So, after getting situated in my room and eating a really good dinner at the Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill (my waiter provided some great suggestions on what to do - thanks again!!) I went to get tickets. It was *awesome*. I missed the first 7-10 minutes because of timing issues, but I forgot all about that during the next two hours. The performance was amazing - definitely one of the great highlights of this trip so far. I took a few pictures before getting yelled at and told that cameras were not permitted (no, I didn't have my flash on). Bah. Regardless, it was a very memorable experience.

Phantom over, I walked back to the hotel and saw the sights along the way (Vegas is insane). Once there I hopped on my motorcycle and cruised along the strip for an hour or two people watching. It was interesting.

When I got back to the hotel I realized it was midnight and that I was really tired, so I decided to take a nap. I set my alarm, fully expecting to get up in another hour and continue my endeavors. But, as it turns out, I was actually really tired. I continued sleeping until morning, and well here I am now. It was probably for the best - I have more traveling to do today (I'm on my way to Death Valley National Park) and getting caught up on some sleep was nice for a change. More later!