road trip Archives

Displaying road trip Archives 10 to 20 in the order they were posted


Best laid plans of fatman and hobbling often go awry

(Posted 20:30:04 on 26th February 2009 by Mr O)
Thank goodness for Google and free in room wi-fi otherwise we may have had quite a detour on today’s journey. In fact we ended up with our shortest day of the trip time and distance wise. I’d logged onto the Grand Canyon website to get a weather forecast so as to gauge what to wear when I noticed something about the Northern Rim being closed. As our plan was to head to the Northern Rim, our original plans were a tad scuppered.

Luckily we had plan B, the Southern Rim which is where we headed. Just before we got to the Canyon proper we were swayed by the signs for the little Colorado river canyon, which was free to get a look at but half killed both of us clambering down and up the rocks to get a view.

We entered the park and paid our $25 (which is better value than the crater at $15 each) and had a chat with the park ranger on the entrance gate. We explained our change of plans and she said that the Northern Rim wasn’t technically shut, as long as we were prepared to trek 42 miles on cross country skis or snow shoes we could get to the visitors centre that way. Wow, an American with a sense of humour, probably rarer than the canyon itself.

We stopped off at the Desert View viewpoint and wandered our way down, and to say it was spectacular is doing it an injustice, it really is a wonder of the world. It is one of those things you have to do once in your lifetime. Of course, what we hadn’t really thought about was how the altitude and the walking around was going to affect us. Ok so we all know that Fatman and Hobbling are not the fittest of superheroes but you’d have thought even we would have been able to handle a bit of wandering around at 7000 ft.

We drove on to the next view point and took some more photos, and repeated this for the next couple. After that it began to get a bit samey. Don’t get me wrong, it is fantastic and you do get different perspectives but one rock does began to look very much like another after a while.

We decided to head for the visitors centre in the hope of free cake. When I was on the net in the morning finding out about our change of plans I noticed that today was the 90th anniversary of the opening of the Grand Canyon national park and that they were holding a celebration and were opening a new visitors centre. When we entered the park we were given an invitation for the opening ceremony with the promise of free cake. When we got there, there was no sign of a new visitors centre or free cake. We had envisaged us getting caught up in a media circus and appearing on TV and websites around the world, but that was just our imagination running away with us.

We did make the mistake of parking in the disabled parking area at the visitors centre. Ok so it gives you better access to the centre itself, but if you want to then get to see the canyon itself from there, it’s a nasty up-hill trudge. Worse still when we did get there, a bus load of Mexican school kids turned up so we had to fight our way through them to get some decent pictures.

We had timed our visit well, there was quite a lot of snow laying around still which made for good pictures, but we were just outside the time from when the tourist shuttle buses started, which meant it was a little less busy and we were able to get access to more of the park in our own car without having to jump on and off the shuttles. That said, by the end of the road, we were both shattered from all of the walking and decided to call it quits.

Next was our decision as to where to stay, we had Williams which was only an hour away or Kingman about 3 hours away. Given our previous experience in Kingman that wasn’t tempting, but we didn’t think we’d find anything in-between plus anything further past Kingman would take us back in the wrong direction. Our mind was made up when we both started feeling tired on the drive out of the park so Williams was our destination.

As you can tell from the above blog we ended up in a Best Western in Williams but it is far enough away from the interstate and nowhere near the railroad. The better news was that the restaurant in there was really good. I had one of the best deserts I’ve had in ages, a three layer orange, raspberry and lemon mousse, exquisite. So although we only covered 150 miles today, it was a good day all round.

I think a visit to the North Rim and Zion National park is in order next time I’m over in the summer. Just the damn dam to do tomorrow and then on into Vegas. Viva Las Vegas.
1 comment
Dave W
27th February 2009
The apple pie at Castor will never be the same.

More bathroom notes

(Posted 19:23:29 on 26th February 2009 by Mr O)
I think I can out do Rag's three knobs tonight. We are staying in another Best Western, but this is more like a hotel rather than a motel. If you don't believe me, see how many different items were lined up in the bathroom.

We have volumising shampoo, volumising conditioner, shower gel, body lotion, mouthwash and a coconut lime verbena moisture-rich cleasing bar infused with real coconut extract (why they couldn't just say soap is beyond me).

Hot, Cold and ....?

(Posted 06:41:05 on 26th February 2009 by Rag)
Although it initially seemed disappointing that we'd left the trains behind, I was excited this morning with the new bathroom challenge. Having mastered the knob pulling of previous showers and the disabled shower of Kingman that Mr O mentions above, this one simply left me wondering how to get turned on?

More shower shenanigans

(Posted 06:06:20 on 26th February 2009 by Mr O)
Don't worry, this post won't leave you with stomach churning mental images.

It was something I forgot to mention about our hotel rooms in Kingman Tuesday night. We'd both been given the disabled rooms (not that the rooms were disabled but they were for disabled people). I hadn't realised this until I walked into the bathroom and wondered why someone had left a sled propped up in the bath and why someone had let the local high school shop class loose with their metal work practice. Ok so it was a wooden bath seat and half a dozen grab rails, but you get the picture.

I thought nothing more of it until the morning when I stepped in and turned on the shower only to find that the stream of water only reached as high as my bol, as high as my mid-riff, obviously designed to work if you are sitting on the bath seat, not if you are standing over 6ft tall. With a bit of twisting I managed to get the job done but nothing is ever straight forward is it?

And The Bands Played On

(Posted 06:05:53 on 26th February 2009 by Rag)
Well, I have to say, there was a real fanfare about my birthday as we rolled into Tuba City to spend the night. That said, it was almost disappointing not to spend the night alongside a train line. Instead we stayed somewhere more like a proper hotel and went out for a decent meal. Rather than cardboard burger, I tried a Navajo Roast Beef wrap (as we're on an Indian reservation and this was the local food), which was really good. The best bit about it was that it came with chili cheese baked beans - I'm Popeye the sailor man - toot, toot! Maybe that's the reason the town is called Tuba City.

Yesterday was another big day of driving. We detoured a little to see the meteor crater, but decided not to pay the admission price (as Mr O mentions above). Instead I took this photo of a mountain in the opposite direction.

If you're interested in what the crater looks like, here's a picture I downloaded off the Internet.

We drove though the petrified forest which was somewhat confusing as there weren't any trees there and nothing looked scared at all, so we decided not to stop and to press on to four corners. Four corners totally lived up to all expectations being a monument to where the four states touch surrounded by gift shops. What more do you need?

Yellow Pages

(Posted 21:25:53 on 25th February 2009 by Mr O)
As an aside. It seems like I am not the only one who turns to the Yellow Pages (or equivalent) when staying in a new town. Although I shouldn't have to justify it, let me explain, you get maps of the area, you can find out where the nearest restaurants and shops are, plus you can laugh at any funny names or ads (hence Richard Liquor in Beloit).

There, are you happy now, I'm not a freak, well not that big of a one anyway, I urge all of you fellow Yellow Pagers to own up and join my new Facebook group.

Tuba Smarties

(Posted 21:17:45 on 25th February 2009 by Mr O)
Today being Rag’s birthday we decided to take it easy, when I say easy I mean of course that we had our earliest start of the whole trip. It’s a bit easier when there are just two and neither of you need to spend half an hour doing “the crossword” after breakfast before heading off. So we’d packed up and were set to get away at half 7, well that was the plan until I lost the car keys. Not sure how I did it, but somehow I’d put them in the back of the car and had slid Rag’s case over the top. At one point I was about to trawl through the bin as I’d throw some stuff away whilst waiting for Rag to finish packing. Anyway, keys found we were on the road and had made our way to Flagstaff by just after half 9.

For some reason I’d had this vision of Flagstaff of being a desert town, how wrong I was, it was in fact a mountain town with loads of slow. In fact it was probably one of the nicest towns we’ve visited, maybe we just didn’t see the trailer parks, or it could just be genuinely nice. Anyway we stopped off at McD’s and had a celebratory birthday breakfast and to use their wi-fi (which didn’t actually work properly).

Next we headed off down the I40 towards Gallup when we had our second closest encounter with the Authorities in the last couple of days. I was doing *ahem* a little over the speed limit as was the car alongside me when we both saw a Police car in the central reservation, we both applied our brakes but as we drove past we saw the car join the carriage way and I’m sure the other guy was as nervous as me as he tucked in behind and we both were glued to the limit. As we saw the car drive past we knew we were safe as he pulled in the pick-up just in front of us, obviously he’d infringed just before us and the cops had already decided on picking on him. Still not sure how it works if I can get pulled over, but let’s try an avoid that. Our other brush came yesterday morning quite early. We were approaching a section of the interstate where it was filtering into one lane for a border patrol when all of the cars were jumping into the one lane early so I decided to barrel down the inside of all of them (perfectly legitimately) when a car from the other lane pulled out in front of me and stopped, out stepped an official of some sort who flashed a badge at me and pointed into the other lane. I’m sure it was just some jobs worth who was late for his work, but we complied and left it at that.

Anyway once we’d cleared the pulled over pick-up we continued on our way when we saw signs for the Meteor Crater, not knowing what it was but realising it was only a few miles off the beaten track we headed for the crater. We got to the visitors centre only to find it was $15 to get in. As you will know by now, we don’t really like paying for anything and decided this was too steep. I’m sure if we’d wanted to stay and make use of the guided tour and movie theatre then it may have been worth it, but not for just a couple of pictures, and that was $15 each!

After Gallup and a slight detour for a missed turn, we headed into out next new state, Colorado, ok so we only did about 10 miles there but we visited it and rolled into Four Corners. Four Corners is the only point where 4 states intersect with each other. Ok so this cost us $3 each to get in, but we decided as we’d driven 1,000 miles extra to get this far we paid up and went in. It was as expected, just a plaque with the four state names around it. As you can see Rag didn’t know which state he ended up in but at least he looked happy.

After Four corners we headed East yet again and decided to push as far as we could. We did get a bit nervous when the road ran alongside the railway for a while given our previous encounters with motels next to railroads but fortunately that peeled off and we ended up in Tuba City 650 miles later. We did ask, and it is pronounced like the musical instrument.

Tomorrow yields the last big thing on our list, the Grand Canyon, I suppose you can’t get much bigger than that. Happy Birthday Rag.

Fatman and Hobbling ride again

(Posted 08:56:09 on 25th February 2009 by Mr O)
Yes the dynamic duo are back together again facing possibly their most formidable foe - a Motel six within a couple of hundred yards of the railroad. Yes it’s those pesky railroads again that may be the undoing of our heroic adventurers. This is after a day of 11 hrs on the road covering over 600 miles with only a few brief stops.

Our first stop was at Ocean Beach, San Diego in yet another new time zone and another new state. At this point we completed our coast to coast in just under 4,000 miles and 8 days on the road. I guess we could have achieved this in a lot less time if we hadn’t have stopped at all the places we did, but that was the point of the road trip. I am talking all past tense here, but the road trip continues if only a couple of men down.

We dropped Beavis and Butthead off at their car rental place outside of San Diego airport, waited to make sure all was ok and went off on our separate ways. Although we are going to be in the same hotel in Vegas as them from Friday night, I doubt we’ll see them until Monday as we’ll be at the races both days and they will either be trying to find somewhere to watch the rugby or be on a 24hr bender. We actually waved them goodbye on the interstate as the wind blew in their hair and showed off John’s bald patch as we took photos and then we split off as they went downtown into LA, we did our best to avoid it.

A good 5 hrs later we hit Lake Havasu city for London Bridge and I have to say this was yet another disappointment for me. For some reason I had imagined a bridge in the middle of the desert with nothing around it so as you could see the bridge from all angles, a true folly, but no, they are actually using it to connect the mainland with an island in the lake, we actually drove past it without realising before seeing the signs. We parked up and took a couple of pictures from along side, and I am sure if we had arrived earlier and had more time it would have been worth hanging around, but we wanted to make some more progress before calling it a day so hit the road again.

We made it as far as Kingman before calling it quits but as I took a slight wrong turn we ended up heading out of the town into what we thought was the middle of nowhere but we saw a whole load of houses and businesses in the near distance, but these were not showing on the map we had. I managed to turn around after about 6 miles and we managed to check into the Motel 6. Unfortunately the place is full of Belgians (not that I have anything particular about Belgians) but they have booked out all of the rooms within wireless internet range so I am having to type this offline and will upload in the morning. However, just as I was unpacking the car I happened to look across the back of the car park and saw a train, and then I heard it. It brought back memories of Cordele on night one, but hopefully after all the driving I’ll be tired enough not to notice, either that or we’ll be on the road at 2 am. All things being well we’ll make 4 corners tomorrow for Rag’s birthday.

As I type this I have just finished my bread roll and processed cheese dinner as Rag eats his Philadelphia and bagel dinner a couple of rooms up, we certainly know how to live. Oh and I looked in the Yellow Pages in the room (a habit I need to break) and the lights we saw were not Area 51 but Santa Claus, yes there is a town in Arizona called Santa Claus.
25th February 2009
Ah Motel 6,,,,brings back fond memories of Formula 1 in good old Pboro,,,,especially "by the hour"...... lol
25th February 2009
And just what is the Yellow Pages obsession?? I do the same ! and can't work it out either....but I guess it beats Gideons and a candle....
Mr O
25th February 2009
As an update what we saw was not Santa Claus but more of Kingman (Google Maps to the rescue). What can I say?, I was lost and it was dark. Oh and the entry above was posted from McDonalds over Breakfast in Flagstaff

Happy Birthday To Me

(Posted 06:43:04 on 25th February 2009 by Rag)
First I feel the need to thank all the BNSF train drivers for tooting your horn to say happy birthday to me. Seriously, you didn't all have to do it, but it was a nice touch and you all did. Every one of you.

Now, for anyone who doesn't understand, there are massive freight trains (we clocked one at a mile and a half long) that move stuff around the country. The biggest we saw had seven engines on it, but the normal configuration is three or four with two at the front and either one or two at the back. The picture below is of one I took more or less on the California / Arizona border.

So, these beasts honk their horns every time they pass through a town and their horns are loud enough that you can hear it above a car stereo. Now, I'm not saying that our hotel was close to the track, but the 2:30am passed through my bathroom and the driver of the 3:15am lent out the window and nicked one of my pillows.

So, you've probably got the point that it wasn't the best night's sleep. OK - back to the day. We started in Yuma and made the run to the coast to say that we'd done the coast to coast bit. We achieved this mid morning:

And then headed for the airport to drop off two of our party. The drop off went without a hitch and we said our goodbyes:

I reckon that's it for seeing those boys on this trip. After we dropped them off, we cranked up the tunes and hit the road travelling more without them than we have with them. With the stereo blaring heavy metal full blast, the car was half as noisy as it was before the split. For some strange reason the annoying whining noise in the back of the car had gone.

The last thing the boys were doing was to try and find a pub where they could go watch the rugby. It appears their current plan is to go on a seven day bender for the rest of the holiday and watch the rugby - so pretty much the same as having a long weekend in Grantham then.

We managed to pass through Lake Havasu City on our way to take a quick look at London Bridge - and no, it wasn't bought by mistake. That said, it was another one of our truly underwhelming sights along the way.

It's about time we hit the road again to make our way up to four corners. I think this is particularly apt as it really does mean that I don't know what state I will end my birthday in.
1 comment
Mark W
26th February 2009
So, Grantham is just like LA? That's really put me off visiting Grantham.

Shower shenanigans

(Posted 07:30:06 on 24th February 2009 by Mr O)
I always make the same faux pas when I travel to the US. I never pack shower gel thinking that I'll be ok as the hotel will provide that kind of thing.

Well they do and they don't, usually it's just shampoo and a bar of soap. Always being in a rush I think that the shampoo will do for all over. That is fine until they provide combined shampoo and conditioner. Knowing what that does to the hair on my head for the rest of the day you can imagine what else it does.

I'll leave you with that thought over your dinner.
Mark W
24th February 2009
Yeah, thanks for that.
25th February 2009
Yeah ta for that....need some "straighteners" for your curls ?

Displaying road trip Archives 10 to 20 in the order they were posted