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Travels with Grama

Spur of the Moment

Road Trip -May 2016

It's hard to believe that another year has flown by and it's time to head south. The weather in the last month has been so mild, it almost seems that I'm late this year. Not late but it is time to go. I feel like I've been cooped up forever.

I had cancelled out on travelling with Doreen the week before due to work commitments but once that was taken care of, the onset of rain and an unbelievable city-wide traffic backlog determined it was time to go..... NOW.

2016 Spur of the Moment Photo Album

Tuesday, May 17 - Calgary to Las Vegas

Monday afternoon I had read that Doreen had written in her blog that she'd extended her stay in Vegas by a couple of days, leaving Wed instead of Monday. The seed was planted. On the way home, there was not one route to get out of the city that wasn't bogged down and frustration took over. I got home, phoned Doreen, phoned Steve and then Wes jet and left the next day.

For short term planning - it was the easiest, trouble-free flight and customs clearance I've ever experienced. We even arrived 25 minutes early and I was walking into the hotel at the time I was supposed to be landing. The security guards at customs told me Tuesday or Saturday are the least busy days to fly. Memo to self>

Wednesday, May 18 - Las Vegas to Kingman, Arizona

We were up early, packed and on our way by 10:30 but before leaving town we stopped at Quiltique since I had not been to that store. Highways today were I-215, hwy US 95 south, SR 163 to Laughlin, CR 155/Silver Creek Road, and Route 66 (hwy 10) to Oatman and then to Kingman. Google Map

Oatman, Arizona

We took the Silver Creek backroad and connected with Route 66. It's a gravel road but totally passable. We arrived in Oatman about 1:30 and spent a couple hours of visiting and catching up with the Oatman news and meeting the new donkeys. Brenda said that the herd is now down to 11 but by September they will be back up to 18.

One of the main reasons I wanted to get to Oatman was because of all the changes and troubles the poor donkeys have been suffering thru and I was worried this long time historical era might be coming to an end. The trucks that now travel thru this small village are a nightmare and they were supposed to be rerouted but the county apparently doesn't care. In the short time we were there, we witnessed 5 double pup tractor trailers winding their way past the tourists, parked cars and the donkeys. A short time later, they came back again. I guess this goes on all day long.

We arrived in Kingman about 5:30, checked into the hotel and went to IHOP for dinner. We are staying at the Hampton Inn which seems to be a bit better that the other hotels in Kingman.

Thursday, May 19 - Kingman to Bluff, Utah

Highways today included I-40, north on SR 64 through Grand Canyon National Park, US 89, SR 160, and SR 163 to Bluff. After dinner, in the near dark, we drove up and down hwy 261. Google Map

Quilts on 66, Williams, Az

First stop today was Williams, AZ. We found Quilts on 66 and spent about 20 minutes wandering through the store. We both bought some fat quarters. I bought some yellow fabric on sale that looked like it might go well with another project and Doreen bought an appliqué pattern that looks easy. Before leaving town we stopped at the Dairy Queen for milk shakes. Quilts on 66

Grand Canyon National Park

We decided to head north from Williams to pass through the Grand Canyon. We were pleasantly surprised when we entered the Park to find out we both qualified for Lifetime Park Passes for $10.00. This is a tremendous saving given that we have been spending $80.00 a year for a pass. This is the first time we've been through the Park since 2001 - our first year travelling together. We stopped at several turnouts and tried to find the one where we had our picnic. One crow was especially friendly and literally followed us right back to the car. Thought he was going to hop into the sunroof.

Monument Valley

We've read that this portion of hwy 163 is one of the most photographed sections of hwy in North America. As we stopped and looked back and saw all the people wandering across the highway we understood why. What a view. In previous years Doreen and I have stopped several times to take pictures and at one point I even stood up through the sunroof to get a better shot.

Bluff, Utah

We arrived in Bluff around 7:00, booked into the Desert Rose Motel, and went for supper at the Twin Rocks Cafe. There have been a lot of changes since we were here last. First of all the Desert Rose has added a restaurant. The last time Doreen was through, they had added the extra rooms, swimming pool, and workout room. It has obviously been managed well.

Then we discovered more changes at the Twin Rock restaurant. They have enclosed the patio and made it a sunroom addition to the restaurant.

To finalize our day, we drove to hwy 261 and ended up going up and down it in the dark. It was quite spooky. The rocks where I took my mother's picture in 2007 are gone. There is only one new rock at that corner. We are going up hwy 261 tomorrow in daylight so we can take photos to compare with the 2007 picture.

Friday, May 20 - Bluff to Beaver, Utah

Highways today were US 191, US 163 to Valley of the Gods Road, north on hwy 261, west on State hwy 95, State hwy 276, including the Halls Ferry over Lake Powell, to Burr Trail Road (BLM 12000) to Boulder, west on State hwy 12, north on US hwy 89 to Bear Junction, west on SR hwy 20 and north on I-15 to Beaver. Goggle Map

Valley of the Gods

After a brief breakfast of toast and coffee at the Twin Rocks Cafe, we headed out reasonably early for our tour through the Valley. It had rained a couple of days earlier so there was still some water in the washes. Normally we tour this route and might see one or two other travellers but today it was full of tourists, campers, hikers and a few wide eyed "nervous nellies" attempting to circumvent the rough terrain.

Highway 261

After having driven up at dusk and down in the dark last night, you'd think we'd be rather nonchalant about the overlooks, but no such luck. I was still leaning into the drivers seat and gripping the door ledge as if it was going to stop me from falling over the cliff. Doreen doesn't quite understood how I can walk to the edge and look straight down but can't sit in the car and look out the window....actually, neither can I.

August 2007 Two Huge Rocks

There was one new fallen rock at the base of the road where we usually stop for photos. The two massive rocks from prior trips were gone and replaced by a small slab hanging precariously over the cliff and seemingly supported by a small tree. We took a couple of pictures so we can continue to compare the scene on future trips

Once we reached the top of the butte and continued north SR 95, we ran into another unique sight. There were a couple of cows on the road, which we slowed for and suddenly out of the bushes, came the whole herd, followed by 4 riders on horseback cracking a whips and driving them up the highway. They waved us ahead and said the only way to continue was to literally push them out of the way. It is a truly special sight to be at the south end of a northbound cow gently persuading it to get the heck out of the road.

Burr Trail

This is our third trip over the Burr Trail which can only be reached from the south side by ferry - that has it's last run at 2 pm. We made it with about 45 minutes to spare and after an uneventful boat ride, started driving up the highway. Somehow we were preoccupied and sailed right past the turnoff and it was 15 miles later before we realized we were climbing instead of heading into a valley. We pulled a U-ee and drove back to our corner and finally ended up on the right road. There are a couple of switchback climbs on this road that make my knees melt but the scenery more than makes up for the heart palpitations.

Former Sand Dunes - The Sugar Loaf

The Navajo Sandstone outcrop, known locally as the "Sugar Loaf" stands at the western edge of the Burr Trail Road. The large scale cross-bedding pattern of the Sugar Loaf was caused by wind blown deposition of sand dunes that were repeatedly buried and exposed over millions of years. The jointing of the sandstone is the result of cracking related to slowly changing pressures in the rock.

Saturday, May 21 - Beaver to Idaho Falls, Idaho

It looks like our entire today was to avoid the two hour drive through Salt Lake City - and it was. Hwys were I-15 north, west on US 6, north on SR 36 to Tooele, then west on SR 112 and SR 138, west on I-80, north on Nevada SR 233/Utah SR 30, north on Stone-Hollbrook Road, east on SR 38 to Malad, and finally north on I-15 again to Idaho Falls and voilà we avoided Salt Lake City. Google Map

Near Disaster

We were coasting along quietly basically having the road to ourselves when we noticed (about a half mile down the road) a half ton truck coming toward us on our side of the road. We watched as he corrected himself and got back into his lane. Then, unbelievably, he started to drift slowly into our lane again - heading straight at us. Doreen had slowed to about 20 miles an hour at this point and pulled onto the shoulder in preparation for hitting the ditch.

We could see his head looking down. We don't know if he was drunk, sleeping or texting, but he had no idea he was heading straight at us. Just about the time Doreen was going to gun it into the ditch, he looked up and cranked his wheel back to his own lane. He barely avoided the accident by a mere 10 feet. Hope he had to change his underwear when he got home.

We were close enough that I could clearly see the panicked look on his tanned, mustached face. Doreen was too busy trying to avoid the accident to care what he looked like. It is my fondest wish that he had to change his underwear when he got home

In all our travels, we have never been as close to an accident. We estimate that with the angle he was heading and the speed we were going, he would have hit the back left of our car - unless she accelerated and hit the ditch. No matter what, impact or ditch, we would likely have been injured.

Idaho Falls

We booked ahead to the Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites in Idaho Falls. Memories of sleeping in the car reminded us to "call ahead". There is an Olive Garden next to the hotel which was just fine for us. We then spent the rest if the evening updating the last couple of day's posts.

Sunday, May 22 - Idaho Falls to Calgary
Hwys today were I-15 in the US and hwy 2 in Canada - nothing extra. We were in home mode. Google Map
Before leaving Idaho Falls, we went to Target to look for shirts for Steve. We only found one. We left Idaho Falls about 11:30 and arrived home just before 10:00. The rain started just north of Idaho Falls and stayed most of the way home. It was a bit of a shock hitting the cold weather after spending so long in 90° weather.