Sunday, October 14, 2007

Yellowstone, Salt Lake City, Arches, Grand Canyon, oh my.

The last four days have been pretty crazy! After Vancouver, we realized that we really didn't have enough time left to do everything we wanted before our scheduled flight date to Japan. We had always figured that we could just change our flight date since our around the world ticket is flexible like that. But it turns out we can't change any flight dates until after our first international flight... So we've been rushed to get through everything.

We left Canada in the afternoon, and stayed at a motel in Ellensburg, east of Seattle. Then we made the 7 hour drive to Butte, Montana, leaving us a couple of hours away from Yellowstone National Park. The scenery through Idaho and Montana was fantastic! Lots of mountains, rivers, and brightly coloured trees. Butte was a funny but nice little town, surrounded by mountains, and all of their oil rigs were lit up with red lights. Very odd. We camped at the KOA campground and were quite cold through the night. Nicole's emerging cold got worse unfortunately.

Yellowstone was pretty cool, but quite stinky! :) We visited the Mammoth Hot Springs, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Lake Yellowstone, Mud Volcano, and the Old Faithful Geyser. The Mud Volcano area was definitely the most stinky. Mmm sulfer. We saw a substantial amount of wildlife along the way, lots of elk and bison, some deer, and even a coyote! Lots of magpies and other birds flitting about as well. We stayed in a beautiful historic hotel in West Yellowstone. Cheap and very cozy.

Then it was off to Utah! It was 5 hours to Salt Lake City, then we drove east to Park City, home of the Sundance Film Festival and the 2002 Winter Olympics. Pretty little town with a Historic Main Street. In heading south out of the town, we ended up rising a couple thousand feet, and then descending along a dirt road through a completely birch forest. Time consuming, but quite pretty. Once back on main roads, we carried on south to Green River, a sketchy little town, about an hour north of Arches National Park. The motel we stayed at was equally sketchy, but cheap. We survived the night at least. :)

Nicole wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible so we got up at 5:30am and made it into Arches before dawn. We found a few photo opps and by chance, found our way to the Window Arches, about 10 minutes before sunrise. We walked up through the north window and found a spot were other professional photographers were. Just in the nick of time. It was beautiful. The red rocks lit up as a brilliant orange. Jason had a similar experience at Ayers Rock in Australia but was equally impressed now. As the sun rose, we ventured on to Balanced Rock and the Delicate Arch. The entire park was absolutely phenomenal. Easily our most impressive experience of the trip so far. Unfortunately due to our time constraints, we only stayed a couple of hours, but we definitely plan to come back.
* Please note, these are definitely our coolest pictures yet. :)

The drive to Grand Canyon National Park took us 5 and a half hours through impressive canyons and cool geological formations. Our first views of the canyon were from Desert View on the east side of the park on the South Rim. We stopped again at Grandview Point before carrying on to Grand Canyon Village. Went to the Visitors Centre and found out that the cool new glass viewing platform over the canyon isn't even in the park. It's closer to Vegas, much to Jason's chagrin... But the shuttle bus took us to Pima Point which yielded great views of the Colorado River, and was a nice spot to watch the sun set. What a day! Sunrise at Arches and sunset at Grand Canyon. Can't get much cooler than that.

We ended the day by driving to Flagstaff for the night. Which finally brings us to yesterday, in which we drove for 7 hours or so via Phoenix and along the Mexican border to San Diego. Mountains here and there, some sand dunes, a lot of cacti, but mostly boring. Being a Saturday night, we couldn't find parking anywhere near the HI San Diego Downtown Hostel, so we had dinner and saw Michael Clayton (movie). Nice hostel though. We stay two nights here before heading back to LA. Looking forward to heading to Japan!!

Yellowstone Pics | Park City Pics | Arches Pics | Grand Canyon Pics


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