» road tripping
We left San Diego at about 10am to avoid rush hour traffic but we still got caught in a bit of a traffic jam in eastern California due to construction. Our route sent us through Las Vegas which seems like it would be a nice place to pull off the freeway to take a scenic drive past all the casinos but the traffic is always so bad that I end up wanting to get away from the city in the quickest possible way. We had thought this would be a good place to eat lunch but oddly, there aren't a whole lot of restaurants off the freeway in this heavily populated area so we had to settle for Burger King. Neither eastern California nor Nevada offered much in the way of interesting scenery from the freeway but when you leave Nevada and briefly enter Arizona on I-15 you pass through a beautiful canyon that, like Zion, was carved by the Virgin River.

A canyon that I-15 passes through in northwestern Arizona.

We arrived in Zion after dark and got a hotel in Springdale. The next morning was misty and rainy with snow at higher elevations. This was very pretty but threw off our plans of hiking the Narrows due to flood risk. So, we instead drove to Glen Canyon and Monument Valley. This is a pretty long but scenic drive, especially the section from Zion to Page which cuts through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Left: Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon, Arizona. Right: Monument Valley, Utah.

We drove back to our hotel in Zion and the next day we woke up early and spent the day hiking the Zion Narrows, a slot canyon with walls as high as 1,500 feet and as narrow as 30 feet in places.

Left: Me in the Zion Narrows, Utah. Right: Zion Canyon, Utah.

We then headed on for Moab, stopping off in St. George to eat at the finest dining establishment in the area, Chilis (we do not recommend the Chinese place in Springdale). At sunset we ended up driving past the north end of Zion National Park where there is a 5 mile scenic drive. It was amazingly beautiful and I failed to get any pictures that captured it.

Kolob Canyon, Zion, Utah.

The next morning we drove to Dead Horse Point State Park for a quick look and then headed on to Arches National Park. We did two short hikes, one to the Delicate Arch viewpoint and one to the Landscape Arch viewpoint.

Left: Dead Horse Point, Utah. Right: Delicate Arch, Utah.

We then headed on to Colorado which was very snowy and we ran out of daylight pretty quick so we didn't have time to do much but take a quick look at the San Juan Mountains and the town of Ouray.

Left: Mount Sneffels, Colorado. Right: Ouray, Colorado.

We then drove on to Salida for the night. We woke up early again the next morning, went to evil Walmart, and filled up with gas. Seemingly typical things, but little did I know that soon we would be pursued by the police. The pump at the gas station wasn't doing a good job of reading my credit card but it eventually let me pump gas and I made a mental note to go inside to make sure I had paid after I was done. That mental note was lost and I unwittingly "gased and dashed". Hours later I would realize my mistake and Megan would try calling the gas station to no avail. Fortunately we were heading back the same way so I could just stop by the gas station on the way back. The guy was relieved that I had come back and he called off the police. But not before we drove to The Great Sand Dunes National Park on stolen gas and hiked up the dunes a bit. These are the tallest dunes in North America.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado.

Then we drove north to Fraser and things started to get real snowy in Leadville where we stopped off at a Subway for lunch. From there on it was slow driving over winding snow covered roads. We saw one car do a harmless 180 spin on I-70 and one pickup truck that had flipped upside down. That night in Fraser we ate dinner at an excellent Cajun restaurant.

Left: The storm front near Leadville, Colorado. Right: Going over Berthoud Pass near Fraser, Colorado.

The next day we did little but go to a bar to watch part of the Michigan football game and then attended my sisters wedding. My sister of course got married, but the most significant thing that happened that night was that I, along with Megan and my mom, ate raw oysters for the first time. Not a big deal for some, but I hate seafood so it was like Fear Factor for me.

Various reactions to raw oysters, and other shots from the wedding.

Outside, fall had given way to winter.

An aspen tree that kept it's leaves, and snowy trees around Fraser, Colorado.

Sunday we had to drive over Berthoud Pass again which was still snowy but not as bad as before.

Left: The Wild Horse Inn, where we stayed. Right: Back up Berthoud Pass.

We drove on to Boulder to have lunch with Megan's uncle, Rich. He took us on a hike up Green Mountain.

Hiking up Green Mountain, Boulder, Colorado.

We left Boulder around 4pm, starting our non-stop drive to Michigan on I-80 (X-treme Driving!!!!). Megan drove the first 4 hour leg to North Platte (Nebraska) where we ate at an Applebees, then I drove to Omaha. Megan was feeling a bit too tired to drive so I kept going. Thinking back on it seems surreal, cruising across the country in the darkness, trying to stay awake by eating Gummy Worms, Red Vines, and M&M's (thanks Kate & Steve). No traffic jams at this time of night, just truckers. We arrived at Starved Rock State Park (95 miles west of Chicago) at about 7 or 8am and saw the most birds either of us had ever seen fly right over us. We didn't want to hit Chicago at rush hour and the fall color was prime so we took a short hike around the well defined trails.

Left: Bird infestation. Right: Fall color in Starved Rock State Park, Illinois.

We then headed on to Chicago, parked underground, found our way out, strolled through Millenium Park, and went up in the Sears Tower.

Chicago, Illinois.

From there on it was a tough 4 hours to Ann Arbor. The tiredness had set in with me so luckily Megan was able to take the wheel for awhile. We made it to Ann Arbor just after dark, 36 hours since we had last slept and just over 1 day since we left Colorado.

Our first couple weeks: Fall color in Ann Arbor, apple picking, a Michigan football game, Megan and our pumpkins.


< Back to Photos & Trip Reports

» all photo reports from this trip
Cross Country Road Trip
October 16 - 23, 2006
A photo summary of our trip from San Diego to Ann Arbor.
Starved Rock, Illinois
October 23, 2006
Checking out Starved Rock State Park, an area of small canyons and cliffs along the Illinois River.
Arches National Park, Utah
October 19, 2006
Checking out Arches National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park.
Monument Valley, Utah
October 17, 2006
Checking out Monument Valley.
Zion National Park, Utah
October 17 - 18, 2006
Checking out the amazing sights of Zion Canyon and Utah 9.
Chicago, Illinois
October 23, 2006
Checking out the city from the Sears Tower, and strolling through Millenium Park.
Great Sand Dunes, Etc, Colorado
October 19 - 22, 2006
Checking out the Great Sand Dunes National Park, Fraser, and hiking up Green Mountain outside Boulder.
Zion Narrows, Utah
October 18, 2006
Taking a quick venture into "The Narrows" and Orderville Canyon in Zion National Park.
Glen Canyon, Arizona
October 17, 2006
Taking a quick look at Horseshoe Bend in Glen Canyon.