1,364 Miles in 34 Hours over Labor Weekend
With the better half going a mile high for the holiday to visit with the family, I decided to set out on an adventure all my own…
The plan was, to drive a single manned mission to the Grand Canyon, by way of Phoenix, continuing towards the Wahweap campground on Lake Powell to camp out in my car for the night. Then home through Vegas. The idea was to have it all done before the end of Sunday.
According Google Maps, the route I had planned out would take just about 22 solid hours of driving and would take me 1,364 miles over the great land. Having been to only Vegas, out of the four stops, this was a trip I was truly looking forward to. But at the same time, with so many miles and so little time, I knew this trip was going to be more about the logged miles behind the wheels, than the destinations.
Friday night, packed up the supplies and hit the sack. Pack light, is always my plan. Really the only things missing from the photo are, change of shirt, socks, and underwear, blanket, pillow, and the notebooks and writing tools. And the other plan was to stay self sustained. So all the food you see there, is all the food I ate over the next 34 hours, with the exception of one planned stop. And I did. I also compiled a 274 song play list. 17 hours 51 minutes of hand picked tunes. The only time I wasn’t listening to it, I was listening to those amazing Avett Brothers.
You know when you were a kid, and the night before something really exciting you could not fall asleep, no matter what? Guess who never grew out of that. After a few hours of sleep, shower and a pot of coffee brewed, 5am and I was out of here. On the road, straight shot to Phoenix. Did I turn the coffee pot off? F#ck it, I’ll find out when I get back.
Sunrise somewhere between Beaumont and Cochella.
The idea was to eat at either Waffle House or Crackle Barrel, both of which hold their most westward position in the land of a mythical bird, reborn from the ashes. A flip of a coin and I was headed to the House that Waffles built. Four minutes off the mark, I arrived at 10:34am.
Apparently Phoenix did not get the plans on what a Waffle House should look like on the outside. Wasn’t all that excited about the fact that it wasn’t spot on.
But it turned out that everything else was, A-OK.
Now time to B-line it straight to the Grand Canyon. Hit a little traffic on the outskirts of Phoenix, lost about an hour. Not to bad, considering it was the only traffic I hit all weekend. But, it was 112˚ outside the car windows. When you hear those desert dwellers tell you, “Yeah, its a 112 degrees, but its a dry heat, its not as bad.” Bullshit, you can have that weather.
I was looking at 228 miles and 3.5 hours of driving to the South Rim. Once I was outside of the desert and climbing some elevation, this was a gorgeous drive. And I got to see some cloud juice, which was very refreshing since we don’t get to much of that in California.
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The home stretch…
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And I was there. Wasn’t quite Ranger Smith, but this wasn’t quite Jellystone Park either. Still, she was nice enough to take this photo for me. I can only imagine how times the gate rangers are asked for this.
Had to stop and snap this one…
They were doing control fires all over the park. So you would be going down the road and see a cloud of smoke and a small fire.
I parked my car and walked up to the rail.
It was absolutely breath-taking. Couldn’t really talk or think of anything for the next, not to sure really how much time I spent here, I think it was an hour or more.
Here is a larger photo for you to enjoy.
The canyon, created by the Colorado River over 6 million years, is 277 miles (446 km) long, ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles (6.4 to 24 kilometers), and attains a depth of more than a mile (1.6 km). Nearly two billion years of the Earth’s history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. More facts.
I kept trying to find different angles and other subjects to get in the shots, to really give some perspective on how massive this hole in the ground is.
I really would have liked to spent more time here, day dreaming and loosing myself to the hole. But, I had time to keep. I had to try to get to the campsite which was 140 miles and close to 3 hours away, before dark. Time for the rubber to meet the road again… It didn’t help that I mis-read my directions and looped around the whole canyon and back to almost exactly where I was. It was the only directional mistake of the journey, it was a costly one.
Highway 64 East.
What’s that on my left?
After the 64 East, it was onto 89 North. This was a very spectacular stretch of highway. The Marble Canyon was on the left and the Echo Cliffs and Painted Desert were on the right. Paired with a nice session of The Avett Brothers, I really enjoyed this stretch.
All along the stretch of 89 North were these pull offs that had Indian art stands. They were joined with these pronto booths, set up waiting to sell hand made jewelry and pots to passing journeymen and tourists. It is a good thing I stopped at the one I did, as it was close to 5pm and they all looked closed. This one was closing up as I parked. I felt bad for pulling up and taking photos, so I paid $2 more than the three I should have for a bracelet for the better half.
89 North was a very long span of road. And was starting to take longer than I thought to get into Page and onto the campsite.
The sun was starting to set faster than a batch of quick-dry ‘crete and I was getting incredibly low on gas, at the same time I was getting brilliant MPGs. I really wished I could have stopped to take a really nice photo of this sunset, but that aint f#ckin’ happening. I was more concerned about if I was going take a leak in a water bottle.
There was this hue of purple in the sunset and parts of the desert that was just incredible. It was very vibrant but smokey at the same time. Pure mind tricks I think. I didn’t even get any purp in my sunset photos.
And yes I did have to eliminate the pressure of my bladder in a water bottle. Thanks to some jackass in a Mustang that blew past me going well over 100 miles per hour, things got a little jittery. Thanks a lot shit-head. I’ll be looking for you.
With a brief stop in Page to fill up, I arrived to the campsite well after dark and just as the grounds’ store was closing up. Able to get a site, the sweet young lady refused to sell me any fire wood, as they were “all closed up.” After asking her for a few pieces just to cook my dawgs, she suggested I drive all the way back to Page’s Wallmart for some tinder. Son of a…
Got back, set up shop, cooked some dawgs, and cracked the ‘Weisers. So very relaxing, I slammed down 3 dawgs, 2 without buns, sat and gazed up into the stars for a good 3 or 4 hours. I really got lost here. Maybe it was all the driving, I think it was around 7:30 or 8 when I landed, so that put me on the road for close to 13 hours. I literally sat in my chair and looked up at the stars drinking beer for a few hours, and I have no idea what I was thinking about. Other than, wondering if I was going to get abducted by UFOs. Anyhoot, hit the sack in the car and slept like a baby for the next five and half hours.
Woke up at 5am just in time to snap a couple nice sunrise photos.
Even though I was set up pretty close to the RV’s and night was a little loud with all the wanna-be-James-Taylors in the park with their guitars and whiskey voices. The morning was quiet and crisp. As I was taking these beauts, seemingly all alone in the early hours, I was taking one of these shots and I heard a very unique reverberation in the air. I looked around and to my left about 75 yards away was a black bird flapping through the crisp morning air. It was just something to really enjoy out here in the middle of nowhere, being able to hear a bird flapping its wings as it flew through the air.
Now, this is where the story starts to suck a little and I get a little embarrassed. If you were a true hawk-eye with a good attention to detail, you would have noticed that there was one other thing missing from my supplies shot. MY CAMERA BATTERY CHARGER. Couldn’t really tell you how pissed off I was, especially since in my car, I have a 115V outlet that loves the charger. I did however have my Lomo 35mm self contained fisheye with 4 rolls of film. I am planning to do a little project with the photos from the film. So all was not lost for the rest of the journey in the image capturing department.
With no camera and no visual proof of the rest of my journey, I figured I should summarize the remainder of the journey.
The drive North through Utah in the early morning was beautiful. No one on the road besides me and some truckers pulled off to the side for some shut eye. Nothing really to exciting to report, with the exception that I almost slammed into two vultures feasting on some crisp road kill. Barely missing them by swerving into the other lane as they were flying away. Other than that, just a really calming drive enjoying the early morning sun and crisp cold air.
After popping back into AZ I stopped at 2 N. Pipe Springs RD. Pipe Springs, AZ and got some amazing Native American art in the form of greeting cards. I’ll have that art up soon. Really awe-inspiring stuff.
I think 3 N. Pipe Springs road was a good 50 miles or so away, but it did hold homage to the Mark Twain Inn. I was able to get some more juice out of the visual memory device to get this one… I really wished I had some juice for some photos in the Hurricane Valley, that was some stunning stuff there.
Other than that, I just pushed on through to the land of sin. For a quick stint at a very common stomping ground of mine in Vegas.
You win again Sahara, you always do. After loosing forty quick to Black Jack, I whipped out the reserve and lost some of that on the way to returning the original eighty that I entered with. That was close, time to leave. Ohhhh shit, wait, there is a seat at the single deck black jack table. The game I really wanted to play, and what the hell I am on a run, I couldn’t loose. SHIT! Out sixty quick. New dealer, you always win with new dealers. Better double the ante. What the, out the other twenty. On to the reserve ten dollar bill in the wallet. Gone. Shit. One more man, one more. I can make this run. Its early. WIN! See, I knew I could do this, let it ride Vick, let it ride. Say, that’s a strange accent for being from Vegas. BUST, 23. Shit. That’s it, I lost more than an hour in Vegas.
So it was, straight shot through the desert, onto Rancho Cucamonga and on home. One stop for gas and that was it. Polished off the beef jerky, the rest of the water, and the gold fish. No traffic. I guess that’s what happens when you leave Vegas at 11:30 in the morning on a three day weekend.
With a little bit of weird road rage/antics from some yuppy LA types outside Rancho Cucamonga, it was a easy sail home. Once again the temperature hit the 112s. And for, pure shits and giggles, I rode home with the windows up and the AC off. Watching the outside temp gage slowly settle around 87. Still not to sure why I did that.
So there I was, home. Right around 3 in the afternoon on Sunday. 34 hours later and over a thousand miles behind me with millions more in front. I was home.
Heavy eyelids and sluggish movements, I stepped out of the car, grabbed a few things and headed in through the front door and straight for a wash, beer, beer, and tried for a nap. That wasn’t happening. Maybe it was because I was thinking how I could have gone longer and further. Or maybe its because I was to busy mapping out, in the thought box, the next trip.
North, towards Big Sky Country.