Depending on what time (Pacific) it is when you read this, Susie and I are:
a) asleep, or perhaps stirring, in our Mesquite resort hotel;
b) enroute to, or hiking in, Zion National Park in Utah’s southwest corner;
c) bargaining with some Native Americans for jewelry; or
d) on the road to Kanab, a hop, skip and jump from the Arizona line.
We’re spending the week revisiting national and state parks we first visited in 1994 as well as some areas we missed that first trip because there’s just so much in southern Utah. Not sure why it took us 15 years to get back….
Since we’ll be in small towns, I doubt there’ll be much Internet access and even when there is I’ll probably be too tired to get online. So all I can offer enquiring minds, until we return and I post the photos on my travel website, is our itinerary. (You may want to open this vicinity map, which opens in a new window, to spot our destinations.)
Our journey began Friday, when we drove to St. Augustine to hang out in the Historic District and then comb the two outlet malls at I-95 for July 4th weekend sale bargains. Izod / Bass / Van Heusen / Geoffrey Been e-mailed me a $10 rewards coupon to use with their big holiday sale. Izod’s is “entire store 50% off plus and an additional 10% to 30%”; Bass is 40% off storewide. And, Izod sent me an “addtional 20% off” coupon and Bass sent me an “additional 40% of a single item” coupon.
Normally, we rent a car to drive to and from Jacksonville, since the incremental cost compared to airport parking is well worth the Southwest credit I receive for two rentals. But the $25 rate I’m used to was not available, maybe because of the holiday. After checking with some of the airport hotels, I found one that lets us leave the car there for free for the first week and then it’s just $5 a day.
Driving my car over is better for this trip; we don’t have to worry about what we buy in St. Augustine since we can leave all that in the trunk. Even though it’s a two week trip, we’re still traveling with just one rolling carry-on each, and a big tote bag for the “loot” we buy. I smile when I see other travelers schelpping their luggage in an airport. We’ll have to do a load of laundry at the end of the first week, but that’s no big deal.
Saturday, we arrived in Vegas right around noon (Pacific) after a five hour non-stop SouthWest flight from Jacksonville. First stop was our favorite Filipino restaurant (Pinoy-Pinay), where we enjoyed pancit (rice noodles with bits of veggies and meat), lechon (roast pork) and other popular standards. Properly fortified, and after stopping by a Filipino bakery and an Albertson’s to pick up some “supplies”, we drove the 75 miles to Mesquite, a few miles short of the Arizona and Utah state lines.
For a town of less than 20,000 there’s a good number of casinos to serve the Mormons in southwest Utah (because there’s nothing in northwest Arizona) and we had stayed at one of them (The Oasis) last trip. Since it was July 4th weekend, the rates were fairly high so we stayed at Falcon Ridge, where hotels.com gave us a $55 rate, a nice discount off the $100 listed at the resort’s website.
Today, we’re spending most of the day hiking at Zion before driving to Kanab. Our home there for two nights is the historic Parry Lodge, where many western movie stars stayed during filming. (The set from Clint Eastwood’s “The Outlaw Josie Wales” is in Kanab, at Frontier Movie Town.) Coral Pink Sand Dunes Park is nearby.
Monday, we’re driving a long loop which includes the north rim of the Grand Canyon. We’ve been to the south rim but missed the north rim on our earlier trip to this area. From the Grand Canyon, it’s east on 89A to Page then back to Kanab on 89 west. This route takes us through the Paria Plateau with the Vermilion Cliffs.
Tuesday, we drive north along 89 and then Scenic Byway 12 to Tropic, just east of Bryce Canyon. We spent only one afternoon amongst the Bryce “hoodoos” during our earlier trip and wished it’d been longer. We only had time for one hike down into the canyon (Navajo Trail) and then it began snowing (in early October!) just as we returned to the top. So we’re spending two nights to make sure we hike enough in Bryce.
Thursday, we continue north along Scenic Byway 12 to Torrey, outside Capitol Reef National Park. It’s only about 90 miles but I expect it’ll be an all-day drive; there’s a lot to see since this is the Escalante / Grand Staircase area. We missed Anasazai Indian Village State Park last trip, but won’t this time. Our home in Torrey is the Sandstone Inn, which looks to be quite nice from their website‘s photos.
Friday, we begin our return to Vegas by taking the scenic route to Cedar City, which we’ve not visited before. Cedar City bills itself as “Festival City” and it’s easy to see why from their schedule of events.
Saturday, we return to Vegas Saturday for six nights’ R & R. After initially reserving rooms for a very good $49 a night at the Flamingo, (ground zero of the center Strip) thanks to a promo from the casino’s Total Rewards program, I rebooked a much lower rate from a special “48-hour sale” e-mailed to me by hotels.com. How much lower I won’t say because the price is what you expect for a flop house. OK, OK…. $30!