Zion to Bryce: Glorious Detour

Day 32: Friday, May 31, 2013
Start: Springdale, UT
End: Bryce Canyon City, UT
Miles Driven Today: 187
Total Miles: 4,737

Today was a driving day, moving from Zion to Bryce Canyon. Leaving Zion and going to Bryce was as breathtaking as the trip in. Given that we drove in around 4pm and left around 11am…the landscape was vastly different. The light made the area look so very different; or perhaps we were less in shock as we drove through the incredible vistas. I do think I took more pictures of Zion today than I did yesterday!

Highway 9 Out of Zion

Highway 9 Out of Zion

Majestic views on Highway 9 in Zion

Majestic views on Highway 9 in Zion

Checkerboard Mesa - Zion

Checkerboard Mesa – Zion

Striations on the sandstone in Zion

Striations on the sandstone in Zion

The trip was only about 2 hours long primarily up Highway 89. We needed a few groceries and personal items, so we decided to drive down 89 to Kanab (the largest town around) and pick up the needed items. While it was about a 35-mile detour, we were in no hurry today and the drive was beautiful.

After we left Kanab, we motored up Highway 89. We passed a few small towns that consisted of trading posts and rock shops or a few small houses and businesses. Many of the road-side businesses were shut down…a sign that ‘recovery’ is relative.

Highway 89 skirts the Dixie National Forest, and since we couldn’t check in to our next hotel until late, we decided to detour through the Forest. We took Highway 14 to 148 and then through 143, making a loop through both the Dixie National Forest and the Cedar Breaks National Monument. It was a great detour. We climbed to over 9,000 feet and saw the temperature drop from about 70 degrees to the low 50’s. At the peak, we encountered some serious remaining snow banks! What? We passed Navajo Lake and Panguitch Lake, saw an Elk ranch (with a paddock of Elk).

Cedar Breaks Vista

Cedar Breaks Vista

View from Cedar Breaks Scenic Byway

View from Cedar Breaks Scenic Byway

Panoramic view from Cedar Breaks

Panoramic view from Cedar Breaks


Snow on the Cedar Breaks Scenic Byway (approx 9000 feet, 52 degrees F)

Today's open road

Today’s open road – Route 48 to Panguitch

As we were on the way down the mountain, we saw what we thought was Bryce; it was, in fact, Red Canyon. We later drove through Red Canyon on our way to Bryce.

Red Canyon

Red Canyon

Red Canyon, Utah Arch

New meaning of drive-through at Red Canyon

Today’s drive was beautiful, memorable and vastly diverse. We went from high desert to dense forest and back to sandstone and rock. It was a great discovery drive and a beautiful day.

Of course, the dogs thought that the best part was attacking Tom after we got to the hotel.

When Dachshunds attack

When Dachshunds attack

Tomorrow, we’ll explore Bryce Canyon. We’re thrilled to see yet another natural wonder. Grand Canyon, Zion and now Bryce. What a trip!!!

Touring Zion National Park

Day 31: Thursday, May 30, 2013
Visited: Zion National Park

We spent the day exploring Zion National Park.

Unfortunately, the park doesn’t allow pets on its shuttle system and only one of the trails is pet-friendly. So, we decided to board the girls at Doggy Dude Ranch just a few miles out of town. We’re glad we did. The three-page questionnaire and the detailed questions the owner at the Ranch asked us spoke volumes. Had our two girls been more socialized, they would have had a grand time chasing other small dogs around the outdoor play area, complete with doggy pool. However, we explained the issues with Jasmine and Juliet (especially the sensitive tummies), and they were more than happy to keep the dogs in the house. This is not your ordinary boarding kennel.

With the dogs safely and (somewhat) happily housed at the Ranch, we parked back at our hotel and hopped on to the Zion shuttle. The shuttle system for the park is fabulous. One shuttle goes back and forth through the town of Springdale, enabling park visitors to leave their cars at their hotels or in open parking lots outside the park. The park itself has very little available parking, so this makes great sense. Inside the park, the most picturesque road in the park is ONLY accessible by park shuttle during the busy summer season. Given the lack of parking and the impact of cars, this makes great sense. So, we got to the park and then hopped on the park’s scenic shuttle. All of this is provided at no cost (aside from park admission).

Yesterday’s views were just a precursor to the natural beauty we saw today. From the Virgin River to the Court of the Patriarchs, from Weeping Rock to the Temple of Sinawava…we drank in the beauty of this geological wonder. Here are just a fraction of the photos we took.

Tom and Mahgrit - Court of the Patriarchs

Tom and Mahgrit – Court of the Patriarchs

Zion National Park

Zion National Park – It’s all sandstone

Majestic canyon at Zion

Majestic canyon at Zion

Zion National Park - Carved by water and wind

Carved by water and wind

Virgin River - Zion National Park

Virgin River – Zion National Park

This canyon was carved by Virgin River

This canyon was carved by Virgin River and continues to evolve over time

Love the colors, unusual formations

Love the colors, unusual formations

Mahgrit at Zion National Park

Mahgrit at Zion National Park

Butterfly at the Virgin River

Butterfly at the Virgin River

Mahgrit tires of the paparazzi

Mahgrit tires of the paparazzi

Zion Panorama

Zion Panorama (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

We left the park around 1:30 or 2:00 and headed for lunch. We tried MeMe”s Cafe…recommended by the Doggy Dude Ranch people. This little cafe is known for their crepes. We tried the triple berry crepe with vanilla yogurt and Nutella. WHOOP! Tom had never tried Nutella before. What kind of deprived life has this man led? We also had steamed rice, veggie and chicken teriyaki bowls; we balanced healthy with…um…well, everything was yummy!

Triple berry and Nutella Crepe at Meme's

Triple berry and Nutella Crepe at MeMe’s Cafe

After lunch, we picked up the dogs. They were happy to see us, but it was clear that they weren’t negatively impacted by the Dude Ranch. Everyone was happy, including the persistent Jasmine (pet me…Pet Me…aren’t you going to PET ME?).

Many moods of Jasmine

The many moods of Jasmine. Okay, the ONE mood. PET ME!

It was a fabulous day, and we are kind of sorry that we didn’t book more time here. But we’re off to Bryce Canyon tomorrow…perhaps we’ll be equally enthralled with Bryce as we have been with the Grand Canyon and Zion. After Bryce, we believe we are going to go through the forests and green spaces of Utah, up into Wyoming to the Tetons and Yellowstone. After that, we’re contemplating going back down through Colorado and sprinting across the plains to Tennessee. We have up to three weeks more to meander across the country. We’re really not sure how we’re going to spend the time. But we do know that whatever we decide to do…it’s going to be yet another great adventure…

Zion National Park: A ‘HOLY COW’ Moment

Day 30: Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Start: Flagstaff, AZ
End: Springdale, UT
Miles Driven: 263
Total Miles: 4,550

Today was an absolutely incredible day. We have seen so many amazing sights thus far, but today’s roads and vistas just blew us away.

There are so many beautiful places in this country, and I really consider Tom and I lucky to be able to see so many of these gems in this trip. We’re now a month into the journey, and we are neither tired of being on the road nor particularly in a hurry to return home. Yes, packing and unpacking is a pain. But the daily discovery of the wonders in our country…this is the trip we always dreamed of.

Anyway…on with today.

We started out going up Route 89 from Flagstaff. As we motored along, we started to see some incredible vistas. Little did we know that these views were just the beginning of a spectacular day.

Route 89

Route 89 – One of today’s open roads

A little while in to the trip, we saw a sign for Tuba City. We decided to make an impromptu stop there, and we were glad we did. While the vistas from Route 89 were great, Route 160 to Tuba City went through the heart of the Painted Desert. Rich red mesas and rock formations surrounded us. And a few miles down 160, we saw a sign for Dinosaur Tracks. Again, we decided to make a detour. And once again, we weren’t sorry.

We pulled up to some impromptu roadside stands and parked. We were immediately greeted by a young man, Dale, who began talking about the area and the incredible fossils there. We saw our first fossilized footprints in a matter of moments. Dale told us about the history of the area, showed us different areas of interest and different fossils and wowed us with the sights. The ‘guides’ work only for tips, so we gave him some cash and thanked him for his great tour. It turns out that this area could be one of the largest dinosaur track sites in the country. Judging by the hand-painted sign and the humble stands, it’s a pretty well-kept secret. Again, the road less travelled…

First dinosaur tracks

A few feet away from the parking area, you see your first tracks

Tom compares prints

Tom compares prints

Fossilized partial dinosaur skeleton Dinosaur Tracks

Fossilized partial dinosaur skeleton

Tom vs T-Rex

Tom vs baby T-Rex. T-Rex would squish Tom in one step!

Our guide Dale

Our guide Dale

Back on the road, we wound through some incredible country. High mesas, red canyons, massive rock formations, open prairie…we saw it all. Then, we reached the Glen Canyon area and the bridge over the Colorado River. Again, another unplanned stop…and another spectacular view.

Colorado River - Glen Canyon

View from the bridge across the Colorado River in the Glen Canyon area (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Back on the road, more wonderful views…more jaw-dropping moments like this:

Scenic View


We then made it to Utah! Of course, the first town across the border was Kanab. And as you may know, one of my favorite animal sanctuaries is in Kanab. Thus, our next unplanned stop occurred at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

Utah State Border

Utah State Border

If you’ve ever watched the National Geographic Channel’s show “Dogtown,” then you’ve seen Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. They rescue, rehabilitate and adopt out animals from cats and dogs to horses, pigs, goats, rabbits and birds that may have been otherwise euthanized. Aside from their notoriety from the TV show, Best Friends is also known as the rescue organization that took in the Michael Vick pit bulls. Unfortunately, we were too late for a tour. But we did get to see the incredible canyon that is home for these animals and we got to chat with the people working at the sanctuary. And of course, Jasmine and Juliet were MORE than welcome in the visitor’s center and gift shop!

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

We soon said goodbye to Route 89 and hello to Route 9 to Zion.

Welcome to Zion National Park

Welcome to Zion National Park

Getting to our hotel in Springdale meant driving through Zion National Park. And all I could say when I saw the landscape was WOW!





And of course, as we were driving with our jaws on our laps, we were brought back down to earth by a local resident. He made us chuckle as he stopped traffic so he could go eat the flowers on the OTHER side of the road.

Munch Munch

Mmmm…those flowers look goooood!

We used Tom’s National Park Senior Pass again (FREE ENTRY FOR LIFE!) and reached our hotel. It’s by far the nicest La Quinta I’ve seen. And what a spectacular view from our balcony:

View from our balcony

View from our balcony

We walked to dinner–we’re close to everything. Tom had to try the Polygamy Porter (Why Have Just One?).

Polygamy Porter

Polygamy Porter – Why have just one?

It has been a long day of driving and “Holy Cow” moments. Tomorrow is promising to be even more inspirational! Of course, all this activity has just exhausted the girls. Juliet is particularly tired due to her digging through the doggie bag in the back seat and ALMOST breaking into the kibble bag. This little girl is going to be trouble…


ZZZZ–All tuckered out from being bad!

Albuquerque Day Into Night

Day 25: Friday, May 24, 2013
Visited: Albuquerque

Today was a sight-seeing day as well as a night out for us. We have been spending so many days out sightseeing and driving that we haven’t done much in the evenings. In fact, we haven’t watched a single sunset since we started this journey. Tonight, we decided to remedy that situation!

We started the day (late) in Old Town. Peppered with galleries, boutiques and souvenir shops, Old Town is a quaint historical district with a huge plaza, church and stores galore. It was a hot and dry day, and we spent much of it in the sun. The pups were in their stroller, once again eliciting interest and chuckles as we walked along the busy streets.

We had lunch at the Back Street Grill, a tiny little restaurant (a little more than a stand) in one of the back alleys around Old Town. The food was fabulous–Mexican Pizza, Pork Tacos with mango puree and Mole sauce and fresh and zesty salsa and guacamole. Fabulous! Unfortunately, all I remembered to take pictures of this morning was a tub of turtles next to the Rattlesnake museum, the dogs and our lunch. 🙂

Mexican Pizza at Back Street Grill

Mexican Pizza at the Back Street Grill. Delicious!


Tortoises. Nuff said.

Flirty dogs

Jasmine and Juliet were especially flirty today. Even Jasmine, who is usually shy, came out of her shell to look around!

We spent a good part of the day in Old Town and then went back to the hotel to take care of the dogs and get ready for dinner. (I did find time to shoot down to the local scrapbook store and take a look! :-))

I made reservations at the High Finance restaurant at the top of Sandia Peak. We drove over to the base of the mountain, passing the Sandia Casino on the way. We first had a quick drink at the Mexican restaurant at the base (yummy Coconut Margarita) and then took the tram up to the top. Even though the day was hazy, it was a dramatic and breathtaking view. I didn’t feel nervous…being enclosed in the gondola was fine. But it was a 2.7 mile trek up to the summit–a whopping10,387 feet! We got to the top and took in the view. It was about 60 degrees up top, while at the base it was still in the high 80’s!

Sandia Peak Tram

Sandia Peak Tram

Going up!

Going up!

Happy couple!

Happy couple!

Sandia Peak Panoramic View

Sandia Peak Panoramic View (CLICK TO VIEW LARGE VERSION)

We got to the restaurant, and after a hassle about our reservation (GRRR), we were seated a few minutes later. The food was okay, but the view was fabulous. Let’s face it…people don’t come to the restaurant for the cuisine. The Green Chile Beef Stew (soup) was pretty good.

High Finance Green Chile Beef Stew

High Finance Restaurant Green Chile Beef Stew

We watched a spectacular sunset and then headed down the tram to the base. It was getting dark, and we once again had a breathtaking view–this time of the twinkling lights of Albuquerque below.

Glorious Sunset at Sandia Peak

Glorious Sunset at Sandia Peak

Albuquerque at night

Albuquerque at night

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the Sandia Casino. One foot into the front door and we were hit with the heavy smoke. Ick. The casino was bustling with people and was mostly comprised of penny slots. But given that a max bet is generally a dollar or more…it’s not really ‘penny’ slots! We stayed a few minutes (aka $40) and went back to the hotel.

Tomorrow, we’re kenneling the dogs and heading to Acoma Pueblo. They have a craft fair and native dancing for the Memorial Day weekend; we’re really looking forward to experiencing this pueblo!

Bandelier National Monument and the Road to Albuquerque

Day 24: Thursday, May 23, 2013
Start: Taos, NM
End: Albuquerque, NM
Miles Driven Today: 183
Total Miles: 3,539

We left Taos today after a great few days. Taos itself has a bit of small town charm, but we really loved its proximity to some beautiful country.

Today's open road

Today’s open road on the way to Bandelier National Monument. Stunning vistas and sky!

ET Phone Home!

ET Phone Home! Dishes at Los Alamos.

We had originally planned to visit Bandelier National Monument yesterday, but since it was about half-way to Albuquerque, we decided instead to visit on our way. It was a smart choice! Luckily, the weather (and a shady parking lot) allowed us to keep the pups in the car while we were hiking the main trail at Bandelier; otherwise, we would have had to take turns walking the trail and, as Tom put it, they would have had to send a search party for me after I froze in terror on the way down. Hey, I can’t even climb a ladder without getting dizzy.

We snaked through some pretty country before arriving at Bandelier. We were also fortunate to get here before Memorial Day Weekend. Tomorrow, they stop allowing people to park on the property; instead, visitors must park at the closest town (White Rock) and shuttle into the park. Of course, dogs aren’t allowed on the shuttle. Our timing couldn’t be better!

Arriving at Bandelier National Monument

Arriving at Bandelier National Monument

Before we arrived at the Visitor’s Center, we stopped at a scenic overlook. It was deserted. But in mere minutes, there was a sudden horde of people at the edge of the bluff! We’re such leaders!

Scenic overlook at Bandelier

Scenic overlook at Bandelier. (CLICK FOR LARGER PIC) When we pulled up, this vista was deserted. In less than five minutes, about 15 people followed us in. Lemmings!

The trail started with a Kiva and the ruins of the Tyuonyi pueblo. The canyon itself is Frijoles Canyon, and were populated with Ancestral Pueblo people (once identified as Anasazi, which is now an outdated term).

Frijoles Canyon

Frijoles Canyon

View of the pueblo ruins

View of the pueblo ruins

The trail then wound up to the cave dwellings. The Ancient Pueblo people were on average 5′ to 5’6″…still large for the size of these caves. The people also built dwellings on the outside of the caves…often several stories tall. This was a fascinating place and well worth the visit! On the way up, the rock formations were fascinating and really beautiful.

Beauty in the rocks

Beauty in the rocks

Oooh! Scary caves!

Oooh! Scary caves!

We also loved the view from the caves down on the valley. However, I was getting a bit dizzy. I have no idea how these people scaled these walls, dug these caves and made a home in the side of a canyon!

View from Frijoles Canyon

Panoramic view from Frijoles Canyon cliffs. (CLICK FOR LARGER PIC)

Tom climbed up a wooden ladder to look into the cavate (official for cave room). He wanted to take a picture inside. This is the result.

Technical difficulties

Tom had, um, ‘technical difficulties’ when taking a picture of the cave rooms. Hahahahaha!

After we left Bandelier, we drove back through Santa Fe and onto the Turquoise Trail. Going through Santa Fe’s business district was a reminder of how lucky we’ve been with our open roads and lack of traffic. It was a bit of a rude awakening, and we were glad to hit the Turquoise Trail. We stopped briefly in Madrid, but we found parking to be sparse, and it was then too hot to leave the pups in the car.

We motored on to Albuquerque and arrived at our hotel. We’re now chillaxin’ in the room. The pups are totally exhausted from their hard day of riding in the car. Strangely enough, the wind started whipping us around when we got here, including pelting us with sand and rock. Welcome to Albuquerque!

Jasmine and Juliet

Jasmine and Juliet love the Drury. The paparazzi…not so much.

Jasmine and Juliet

Oh, riding in the car is SO exhausting!

Tomorrow, we’re going to explore Albuquerque and then have dinner at the High Finance restaurant at the top of Sandia Peak. We’re going to dine and then watch the sunset. Even in all the beautiful country that we’ve toured, we haven’t spent a lot of time out at night. This should be a lovely view. Saturday, we plan on going to Acoma, and Sunday we plan on visiting a few more sights as well as checking out the Art & Wine festival in town. It should be a nice weekend!

Santa Fe: Relaxation Day

Day 20: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Location: Santa Fe, NM
Miles Driven: None

Today was another day of relaxation for us. We haven’t driven anywhere since arriving in Santa Fe. It’s a great walking town, and we are loving it!

We started the day with a long walk down the Canyon Road arts & crafts district. It felt good to have a nice long walk (walking off all that green chile stew), and we took the pups along in the doggie stroller (short legs, long walk…nope). As usual, we attracted a lot of attention.

Canyon Road has some fabulous galleries. While we were out early for a Sunday (most of the places opened at 11, some at 10), the outdoor art was spectacular. Almost all the galleries had statues.

Street art

Street art on the way to Canyon Road

Dragon on Canyon Road

Dragon on Canyon Road

Relaxation Day

Aaaah…Relaxation Day!

Rock chair

Rock chair. It’s MUCH more comfortable than it looks!


This one’s for you, Sydnee!

Reading arch

Reading arch

We worked up an appetite (duh) and once again decided to dine at Tia Sophia’s. Some old friends of Tom’s, Hans and Marge, joined us at brunch. As Tom described in his blog post, he hadn’t seen Hans and Marge in 23 years! We had a great chat and a great brunch.

Sunday Special at Tia Sophia's

Sunday special at Tia Sophia’s: Chorizo, potato and scrambled egg burrito “Christmas” style (red and green chile sauces)

Marge, Tom, Mahgrit and Hans

Marge, Tom, Mahgrit and Hans–great brunch with great people!

After brunch, I went for my spa treatments. I had a lovely Shiatsu massage and a pedicure at the Nidah Spa at the hotel. All I can say is…aaaaaaaahhhhhh! When I got back from my pampering, I found Tom and the pups napping on the couch. It seems like I wasn’t the only one with a relaxation day!

Everyone had a relaxation day

Everyone had a relaxation day

To top off our day of relaxation, we sat by the fireplace at the Agave Lounge at the hotel and had drinks and appetizers. The Kobe Beef Sliders were exceptional!


More relaxation!

The reason this post is a day late is due to the travel complications from Memorial Day Weekend. We were originally planning to stay in Flagstaff, but due to its proximity to the Grand Canyon…well, let’s just say that staying at the EconoLodge would have been the same price as Santa Fe’s Eldorado hotel. NOT. So, we were up until 1am, rejiggering our travel plans and making reservations. I’ll create a separate post for today’s travels…and travel adventures!

Santa Fe Art Day

Day 19: Saturday, May 18, 2013
Location: Santa Fe, NM
No travel today!

Today was the first day in weeks that we haven’t packed up and moved on. We’re spending a couple of days in Santa Fe, seeing the sights, eating way too much food, and just enjoying ourselves. Like we haven’t been doing that all along the way…

Our plans today were focused around the museums and galleries in Santa Fe. Our hotel is full of local art, and this is the first item that I really liked–a display of Kachina dolls.


Start of our art day–Kachinas at our hotel

However, before we started our gallery tour, we had to have sustinance. Our pet sitter showed up a little before 10 a.m., and we were soon seated at our restaurant of choice–Tia Sophia’s. Tom chowed on the daily special–a chorizo and potato burrito, covered with a green chile sauce. I had the green chile stew and some eggs. I do have to say that Tom’s meal was exceptionally good; mine was less so. The green chile stew at the Blue Corn Cafe kicked butt. This one, not so much. Sorry, but we ate so fast that I didn’t get photos! 🙂

After breakfast, we headed to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. It was museum day there, and we were given a package of post cards of her home in Abiquiu as a special gift. Sweet! I had been expecting skulls and flowers; I was surprised to find out and see that O’Keeffe’s first love was abstract art. We watched a fascinating biography of her life and viewed her artwork. While the exhibit and the museum was much smaller than I expected, it was still quite special.

Georgia O'Keeffe Quote

Trees: Georgia O’Keeffe Quote

O'Keeffe Landscape of New Mexico

O’Keeffe Landscape of New Mexico: “Her” Mountain

O'Keeffe Skull

O’Keeffe Skull–one of only two skull paintings at the museum

O'Keefe Kachina

O’Keefe Kachina

O'Keeffe Kachina

Another O’Keeffe Kachina. I see such personality in these!

Portrait of O'Keeffe

Portrait of O’Keeffe by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, gallery owner and photographer

After the O’Keeffe Museum, we headed to the Santa Fe Museum of Art. There, they had an exhibit of New Mexico art from ancient times to today. They considered the arrow heads part of the artistic landscape; they required significant skill to make. This Kachina was my favorite piece of art…again, the personality of the Kachina spoke to me! They also had a very odd video art exhibit; it was…unique.

My favorite Kachina

My favorite Kachina. Isn’t it great??!!

The museum was housed in a fabulous building. The entrance to the exhibits were through a lovely courtyard with this fountain:

Fountain at the Santa Fe Museum of Art

Fountain at the Santa Fe Museum of Art

It was a very beautiful and temperate day in Santa Fe. Reaching a high of only about 70 degrees, it was mostly sunny. We did some people watching in the central Plaza. It was a beautiful Saturday, and there were many local artisans with booths all over the Old Town area. It really was an ‘art’ day!

Beautiful Santa Fe Plaza

Beautiful day at the Plaza

People watching

Great people-watching day!

One of the other things I was really excited about was visiting a bona-fide Rubber Stamp store! Rubber Stamp Art has really died down, mostly due to the use of digital art and the focus on scrapbooking that the craft industry took in the last decade. But there it was–Guadalupe’s Fun Rubber Stamps on Don Gaspar Avenue!

Guadalupe's Fun Rubber Stamps Santa Fe

WHOOP! Rubber Stamp Store!

I had a great chat with the gal at the store, Lea Daugherty. Of course, I couldn’t leave without some stamps to play with!

On our way back to the hotel, we encountered a great little band of street musicians. Alas, we couldn’t stay long because we had to get back to the room to rescue the pups from the DOG SITTER!

Street Music

Street music at Burro Alley

Yes, we hired a dog-sitter. We were going to be out all day and we didn’t want the pups to suffer. We found a pet sitter service that came out to the hotel and stayed with the dogs, took them out for walks, etc. It was worth the money for the peace of mind!

Pre-dog sitting

Our sweet cherubs (pre-dog sitting!)

Tomorrow, we’re going to do some more art gallery touring. I have a pampering session booked at the spa in the afternoon. Now that’s what I call a vacation! 🙂