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Day 19 – Las Vegas

Today was very relaxing, just what I needed after a few weeks of driving around, chasing sunsets and not getting enough sleep. I woke up around 8am, had some breakfast at the hotel and got reasdy. First  stop was Kolob Canyon, the not so crowded part of Zion NP. I think I saw about 5 cars on the entire 5-mile scenic drive, so a very nice change versus the Disney Land like region in the main canyon. I spent about an hour there, stopping and taking photos, others were preparing for a picnic or a hike. Around noon I got a quick bite to eat in St. George. I also hopped into the Best Buy to check out the prices on some tech stuff and I bought myself a shiny new iPad Air 2.

Eventually I got to Nevada and since it was too early to checkin at the hotel, I made a quick detour at Valley Of Fire. I’ve been here a couple of times before, so I didn’t spend hours there, but it was still nice to drive through. I made a stop at Atlatl Rock to stretch the legs and met a guy from Florida, visiting with his son. They were having some fun with the chipmunks/squirrels there, I got a few good shots!

Around 3pm or so I arrived at the Cosmo, which was in the news a couple of days ago because of a fairly big fire at the Pool. But they already put up some walls and the pool is reopened. The lady at the frontdesk hooked me up with a nice room on the 59th floor, overlooking the Bellagio fountains. The rest of the day I just spent at the hotelroom and the casino, I had some roomservice, I played some slots and watched the fountains doing their thing.

Tomorrow I’m also here, but I’ll be staying at the Bellagio next door, really looking forward to that! I’ll also be returning the rental car tomorrow, by my calculations I’ve driven about 4000 miles in the last 3 weeks. That’s about 6400km, which comes down to 200mi/320km a day on average, pretty good 😋

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Day 18 – Zion

Today’s post is going to be a long one. I had some breakfast again, showered, got some gas for the Jeep and was on my way to Springdale, UT. The drive up there is mesmerising, every frigging time! UT12 is probably one of the most beautiful roads to drive on and still, the american drivers just don’t get it. I haven’t mentioned it before and I probably should have, but this is not something that only happened this trip, it’s been like this every time I travel to this country.

US-drivers obey the speed limit and drive in a relatively calm matter when they’re in a city, but once they get out of that city, it’s the wild wild west out there! Even when you’re already driving 10mph above the speed limit, almost all of them feel the need to tailgate you and to push you to speed even more. Some of them also have really strange behaviour, they will follow you for miles, then tailgate you on a passing lane (why?), to eventually pass you in a no passing zone. Others, while waiting to turn on the main road or highway, will even wait for you to get past them, before eventually turning up the road themselves (although they had like a mile before I was even close to passing them by). After they get behind you, they will tailgate you, which causes you to speed, which causes them to tailgate you even more. It truly makes no sense what so ever and I’m also convinced that a lot of these drivers would fail the european driving exams. It’s like the majority of the drivers out here got their licences for free in some all-you-can-eat contest. Remember, this is not a local thing or a single occurrence. This has happened to me on every trip, in every state, it is a mentality issue that’s inherent to this country. There is simply no way you can drive on the speed limit (or even roughly around it) without someone tailgating you, it’s utterly frustrating. After a lot of interactions with the numerous morons on the road here, I finally made it to Zion National Park. It’s funny that the same drivers then become the most dedicated and slow drivers in the world, they will even drive 10mph UNDER the speed limit! Just erratic and annoying driving behaviour, there is no consistency.

I drove through the park, stopped numerous times and since it was around 2pm, I thought I’d check out the hotel. I knew I was way too early to checkin, but the clerk was very nice and since my room was ready, he checked me in anyway, NICE! When I got to my room, there was some sort of animal on the wall next to my door. When I got closer, it moved! It looked like some kind of lizard, I guess it’s a bearded dragon? Anyway, I got settled, updated the blog, uploaded some pictures and got some dinner in town. By 5pm I decided to take the shuttle into the scenic section of the park. The shuttle is mandatory, since vehicles are not allowed here from March till November. Only in the Winter months can you drive your car up here and it’ll also have to be a weekday. This is why I have a love/hate relationship with Zion NP. I love it for it’s beauty, but I hate it for it’s shuttle system. Don’t get me wrong, there are a million reasons why a shuttle system works up here for the majority of the visitors. But simply put, I’m not a fan. I love a National Park where you can just drive around, stop, take pictures, visit the next viewpoint or do a hike. But if you feel like you’re in Disney Land, it’s not a National Park anymore. Last week I also heard that Arches NP was thinking about implementing a shuttle system, since the summer months are extremely busy and a lot of people don’t get to do certain hikes like Delicate Arch for example. The parking lots for these hikes are usually full during the day, don’t even think about parking there 2 hours before sunset. But yeah, to come back to my hate towards shuttle systems in National Parks, I’m going to give you an example. If you would like to visit Big Bend in Zion, it would take you about 10-15mins take the shuttle from your hotel to the Theatre, then you would have to walk to the shuttle stop at the Visitor Center, from there on it would take you another 40mins on the Park Shuttle to the Big Bend shuttle stop. That’s about 60mins in total, and don’t forget, you have to do that again on the way down the canyon. If you would then walk around the river for half an hour, that would make it a 2,5 hour trip for one stop in the park. A lot visitors won’t mind this at all, but for people like me, it’s just a big waste of time. The only solution for this park in particular, is staying at the Lodge in the park itself. You could take Park Shuttle and be at any shuttle stop relatively quickly, but the rooms in The Zion Lodge are usually sold out well in advance. So, to conclude. Although Zion is extremely beautiful and offers a variety of different things to do, the shuttle system takes away a big part of the experience for me. Parks like Yosemite are also very crowded and they also have shuttles, but they still let you go to certain points in the park after certain hours. If you want to drive your car up to Glacier Point, fine, just do it after 4pm. I think that something like this would help a lot of for people like me here in Zion. But for now, there is simply no legal way to go up there after sunset to do your thing.

Anyway, enough ranting for today. To sum up: I stopped at a few shuttle stops, walked around, took some pictures and headed back to town around 8pm (since I had to make the last shuttle back to town). In the end I didn’t really spend a lot of time in the park, mainly because of the shuttle times. Tomorrow I’m going back to Vegas, but first I’ll make a stop at Kolob Canyon, the Northern part of Zion NP. And yeah, cars are allowed there since the majority of the crowd is in the main canyon.

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Day 17 – Bryce Canyon

 

So, I had a very long drive ahead of me today, it took me about 5 hours to drive from Moab to Bryce Canyon. Around 3pm I arrived and immediately visited some viewpoints.  I also checked in into the Lodge and had some dinner. The lodge is fine, but no wifi or tv in the room, so you need get out to entertain yourself :-)

For sunset I hit all the major viewpoints, including Rainbow Point, which is the last one on the map. I got some really nice sunset and star pics, which I edited and uploaded from the lobby. It’s now around midnight, tomorrow I’m headed to Zion NP!


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Day 16 – Moab

Today I didn’t really have any big plans, it was probably going to be a mix of several parks. I slept in, had breakfast and around noon I decided to head out to the Needles section of Canyonlands. I visited some viewpoints, took photos and after a few hours I got back to Moab to get some dinner before heading out again for sunset. For sunset itself I decided to go for Arches, it was surprisingly calm there. I had a lot of time for photos and to look at some arches, really nice.

Tomorrow I’ll be at Bryce Canyon NP, I have a long drive ahead of me!

 

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Day 15 – Moab

Today I had to the View Hotel, so sad! It’s just nice to wake up with a great view, have breakfast with a great view and relax with a great view haha. Anyway, I had some breakfast (which was really good) and checked out around 10am. First on the agenda was Valley Of The Gods, a 17-mile dirtroad that brings right between the buttes and mesa’s. It took me about 1,5 hours to complete, just on a nice and slow pace. Around noon I stopped for gas and some drinks at a gas station in Mexican Hat and drove on towards Moab. My plan was to visit the Needles section of Canyonlands today, but it was already early afternoon when I got to the junction. For some reason I didn’t feel like it, so I think I’m going to do that tomorrow.

Around 3pm I got to the hotel and I must say, this is a true gem in Moab! Everything is brand spanking new, clean, nicely decorated, spacious, etc. You get a fridge, microwave, Directv on a nice big Philips LED TV, free wifi, breakfast, etc. I checked in, settled in and just before leaving for sunset, got some food in town. I visited Dead Horse Point first and stayed there throughout sunset. After sunset I headed into Canyonlands itself, which was remarkably “empty”. Normally you see a couple of cars leaving or entering the park, but tonight it was dead silent. It truly felt like I was the only human being in this gigantic national park. I shot pictures until 11pm and called it a night.

Tomorrow I’m also here, but I don’t have any real plans. I’ll just wing it :)ischiadavedere

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