Vacation Time: Wrap Up

Nine days passed quickly and before we knew it, we were back home December 15 at around 9:00 PM.  I had missed posting about day two and day three. So I will summarize here day two and day three along with day seven through day nine.

Day Two, December 23, in Las Vegas went in a blur.  The day was spent mostly resting after a tiring  fourteen hour drive from San Jose, California to Las Vegas, Nevada on day one. Normally it should not have taken more than ten hours. We had a good dinner at Mount Everest India’s Cuisine in Las Vegas. Lines were long and the place felt little cramped but the food was delicious.  I will definitely recommend the restaurant to any one looking for alternative to buffets on the strip.  After dinner we went to see a Ka, a Cirque du Soleil show at MGM Grand. It was a grand show but I must have slept through much of the show as I remember my daughter nudging me continuously during the show trying to wake me up. I just crashed after coming back to hotel.

Day Three, December 24,  Christmas eve, drove from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon via Hoover Dam. It was a bad decision.  Traffic to Hoover Dam was terrible.We had been to Hoover Dam before but my two younger kids had no memories of those visits during their childhood.  We lost more than three hours of time and due to Arizona being one hour ahead of Nevada, by the time we arrived in Grand Canyon it was already evening and we missed viewing sunset over the Grand Canyon.  So we ended up having an early dinner at the Yavapai Lodge restaurant and retiring early to ensure not missing sunrise over Grand Canyon. Glad that we did it as we were rewarded with incredible sunrise view next morning.

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Sunrise over Grand Canyon, December 25, 2018

I posted already about day four through day six, so I will continue below with a summary of day seven through day nine.

Day Seven, December 28, started bright and sunny at Bryce and bitterly cold.  Our rental car did not have a scraper, so we had bought one on our way  to Grand Canyon.  It came handy as the windshields were completely covered with thick layers of ice.  We were planning to leave Bryce early to Zion National Park but by the time we left our hotel it was nearly 11:00 AM. The road from Bryce to to Zion National Park is incredibly beautiful.  Nearly every turn on the road presents travellers with vistas that can only be carried in one’s heart.  Camera can not do justice.  I am sure that if the creator is not a cruel one, I will have another chance in my next life to visit Zion again. One visit, no one life, is not enough.

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We entered Zion National Park through the east entrance and drove along the scenic road to the visitors center at around 2:00 PM.  Parking lot was full and signs posted asked cars to be parked in town ( Springdale ) just beyond the south gate. Luckily we got a parking spot just near the visitors center as some one left .  We took the shuttle to the last stop on the forty minute shuttle ride to Temple of Sinawava. It was a pleasant ride with grand vistas. After getting down from the shuttle, we took the trail along the Virgin river to the narrows. As we did not rent equipments to walk on the river ( also that it was freezing cold and late in the day), so would leave that to our next visit.  It was magical.  As we did not want to miss the last shuttle and face the daunting task of walking back six miles to the visitor center in dark and freezing cold, we reluctantly trekked back to the shuttle stop and drove to our hotel in Springdale just outside the south gate of Zion National Park.  After dinner at a Thai restaurant ( many of the restaurants in Springdale close for winter for two months from January to March), we called it a day as we had planned some long hikes the next day.

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Virgin River

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Icicles hanging on the cliff walls- reminded me of  a Shakespeare sonnet “Icicles hanging on The Wall” – a poem from my high school textbook

Day Eight, December 29, I got up early as I wanted to go to the park to view sunrise over the majestic canyon.  Alas, my family members prefered the warmth of a comfortable bed over the cold morning. So I was left to satiate my wish with the view of sunrise from the hotel walkway.

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After breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and drove the short distance from the hotel to the visitors center and took the shuttle to The Grotto.  We did a short hike to the picnic area and then went to the Emerald Pools.  These hikes were not very strenuous but some portions of the trail to Emerald Pools were icy.  At shady areas, icicles were hanging to the walls and in places where sun rays had heated the cliff walls sufficiently, ice melt water was streaming down the walls.

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We finished our Zion trip with a hike up Watchman Trail.  The elevation gain on this trail was three hundred and eighty four feet. However by this time in the afternoon the sun was up and the heavy jackets we were wearing made the hike up quite uncomfortable. The view of the valley below including the town of Springdale was majestic.  We bid adieu to Zion in late afternoon to Las Vegas for the last part of our trip but left our hearts at Zion.

Day Nine, December 30, Time to return home.  Dropped my son at Las Vegas Airport for his return to his workplace, packed and started our journey back to San Jose.  Completely uneventful return trip except for a stop at Barstow for lunch.  The fake railroad station, Barstow Station, that houses many fast food restaurants inside look alike railroad cars is intriguing but the food is same as other franchises.

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As we were driving down California 46 to Interstate 5, we were greeted with the view of a magnificent sunset.  By the time I managed to get a picture from the back seat of the car, sun had already gone down the horizon.  It was an appropriate end to our trip with my last sunset photo of 2018.

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All photos taken by author.  Equipment: Canon XSI and Panasonic LX10, except the sunset photo that was taken by my cell phone.

Vacation Time

Out in vacation till the end of the year. I had high hopes of writing a travel diary and sharing with my blogily. But the travel gods had other plans. They wanted to spare a few readers I had the misery of going through the dreadful prose I write. So here enters technology. Slow internet speed makes it a struggle to download and attach photos with my post and upload it to WordPress in the little time that I have for myself during the vacation duties. It becomes quite frustrating at times. So my dear readers, I will try to post when I can.

Happy Holidays to you all. Have a wonderful Xmas with your family and a great 2019.

Before I let you go will like to share a little tidbit about our travel yesterday. For our travel we had booked a Dodge Durango. Unfortunately when we went to pick up the car what we got was a Infinity QX 60 with only 39 miles on the odometer which was great. What was not great that the cargo space in the Infinity was much smaller compared to the Durango. We had to repack all our luggage resulting in a late night the day before the trip. That escalated to a late morning start and encountering heavy holiday traffic and a trip that was supposed to be about nine hours drive ended up being a fourteen hour drive. In the very beginning of the trip, a portion of the highway that would normally be a forty minute drive ended up being a two and quarter hours drive forcing us to stop at the first available rest camp to answer nature’s call speeded up by cups of early morning coffe. It was restful to say the least and scenery was terrific.

San Luis Reservoir, Dec 22, 2018

Around 5 PM we stopped near the intersection of Highway 99 and Highway 58, still about four hours drive from Las Vegas as per map. After feeing up gas and some coffee and drinks for ourselves we started with high hopes of arriving Vegas by about 9 PM, still decent time. But horrendous traffic both at highway 58 and Interstate 15 kept on pushing back the arrival time. After about three hours of driving and Vegas still about three hours ahead it became apparent that we will need to stop somewhere. By that time the river of red lights from 5mph cars in front of us was becoming quite monotonous. Only saving grace was the beautiful full moon over the Mojave desert. But that also became an issue as it became quite apparent that relieving oneself by the road size will result in good exposure. Few brave souls however had done just that braving the bright full moon. By the time we got to the first rest camp on I 15, parking lots were nearly full. The line from the rest rooms (not sure why it is called rest room though ) were snaking out to the parking lot. One young guy in front of me in the line was shivering like crazy, dancing an odd dance move stanging on one leg and then the other. The poor soul was trying to control coming out on the open. A few good hearted people advised him to go find the nearest dark corner but he ignored. Actually he had number two coming. Thank God that he did not go out in the line but it was a terrible sight to behold.

Without much further ado and no more near calamities, we arrived Vegas by about 11:30 PM and got to our rooms past midnight. To hell with sight seeing plans for Sunday, it was off to bed we go (of course after a little late night sojourn, what would be a trip to Vegas without that).

Vegas at last, Dec 23, 2018