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First road trip during Spring Break 2003 April 26, 2003

Posted by MM in Travel.
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Well, strictly speaking, it was not our first trip in the USA. When we lived apart, we flew to visit each other during some breaks and went on a road to Washington DC before. And in the spring of 2003, it was actually a very hard time for both of us. I was in the third semester of my master program. J just graduated and had no job yet. We had no money, no job and live really poorly. J was in great pressure. Although he tried not to show it, yet I could feel that a person’s anguish is not solvable by only love and care. However, I still need to do something to cheer both of us up – so we planned to have a road trip.

We planned to drive to Las Vegas (Nevada), then to Salt Lake City (Utah), then to Grand Canyon (Arizona), and then back to home (San Diego, CA).
San Diego to Las Vegas = 331.90 miles, estimated 5 hours and 25 minutes
From Las Vegas to Salt Lake City = 425.06 miles, estimated 6 hours and 55 minutes
From Salt Lake City to Grand Canyon = 524.22 miles, estimated 12 hours and 7 minutes
From Grand Canyon to San Diego =
Place to stay:
Las Vegas hotel $64
SLC motel $104 for three nights
Camping $60 for Bryce Canyon (one night) and Grand Canyon (one night)
Total for place to stay: $228
Total estimated driving distance is 1836.83 miles (estimate by J as 67 gallons) – $134
Budget for place and transportation is $362
(We went beyond that, as the following will explain)

The following are some notes that we dropped down during the trip (Warning: it might be boring!):

7:29 am (PCT) take off from 533 Edward St., El Cajon City to go to Las Vegas!
Begin our one week trip!! YEAH!! : )
Jia drives first (mileage 86279)
(Note: since we were really poor at that time. We didn’t want to spend money to rent a car and drove my poor little Huyndai Accent red car straight down the trip – which we regretted later for we needed to change the clutch and brake after the trip and the money for that equals to renting a car! But it does prove that actually the little red car is reliable in a way.)

After 120 miles, we went over a mountain (Hespios), and the plants looked very different
150 mile, Apple Valley

After 160 miles, at Barstow (pump 7.5 gallon gas)
10:15 am change to AM drive
187 mile, first sign of Las Vegas showing up
213 mile, reset – 60 mile away from Las Vegas, mountain, dry, catus,

12:35PM arrive Balley’s 332 mile

In the evening in Las Vegas, we went to see the music fountain
Went to see a show – it was not exciting – only topless (:P)
Gambled – missed two chances not to lose a lot, and finally lost $42 (Note: we had a 777, but won nothing!! How much it sucked!! The only reason and lesson we learned – it depends on how much you bet on – different bets have different win sets! However, it still sucks very bad for it is a 777!!)

From Las Vegas to Salt Lake City
3645 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV, 89109 – 150 W 500 S, Salt Lake City, UT, 84101
AM drives
From LV 85 miles – oasis resort (only $19/day)
Gas $14.43
J drives
120 miles “go through” some bare mountain – it is very exciting to drive the mountain way
AM drives
180 miles see the big trees (乔木) but they have got new leafs yet
take the 222 exit for gas $14.70
Salt Lake City gas $12.53

Salt Lake City
Temple Square
Spiritual Center of the Mormon Church
Mormon war
Brigham Young: Mormon prophet, 143 men, 3 women, 2 children, 70 wagons, 1 boat, one cannon, 93 horses, 52 mules, 66 oxen, 19 cows 7/24/1847

(Note: ok, I couldn’t figure out why J dropped down the following
Temple Square
Salt Lake Temple x can’t eater
Liberty Park
Shopping Trolley Square
Crossroads Plaza

7:45am from SLC take off mileage 87246
on the night of 04/02 (the last night we spent in Salt Lake City), it snowed heavily – there were a thick load of snow on our little red car. WOW!!
We headed south about 20 miles and the snow was much thinner
However, after 45 miles, the snow was thicker even than where we stayed
Gas $11.54

From SLC to Torrey, UT = 220.35 miles, estimated 4 hours and 36 minutes
From Torrey, UT to Bryce Canyon = 113.37 miles, estimated 2 hours and 46 minutes

Highway 12 Scenic Way
Dixie National Forest
Fislilake National Forest
Bryce Canyon National Park
Snow Canyon State Park
Zion National Park
(Note: I guess the above places were written down by J before the trip to pick a place to stay)

UT 12:
Section 1: Red Canyon to Escalaute – colorful drive “hoodoos” Fairyland Canyon
Section 2: Escalaute to Torrey – Hotel-in-the-rock Road
Boynton overlook
Boulder Valley
Hell’s Backbone (we tried to drive in the dirt road to see Hell’ s backbone. When we came across a small muddy place, we gave up – there is no way to drive the little red car in that kind of place – we need to have a SUV and four-wheel drive. I am still glad that J said we should go in for the car might be stuck in the mud. Sometimes I am too fearless and can’t think about the bad endings. It was really a pity that we didn’t have a chance to see it.)
Homestead Overlook
Actually for most of the overlook, you still need to drive on a dirt road 4-10 miles to see it. They are not just “by” the road – to see a great view, you still need to pay for it – your time, driving, and a good car.
We drove 356 miles and arrived at Bryce Canyon at 4:30pm
We reserved a camp site and J tried to assure me that it would be fine (he had an experience camping overnight with his schoolmates in Long Island, NY and it was cold too during the night). Remember, we were really poor at that time and we didn’t have money at all to live in a cheap motel for the whole trip. That is why we tried to save money as we could and decided to live in a camp ground. (Now that we looked back, those really some memorable days we had.) We went to Jacuzzi in the camp site and tried to get ourselves warm before we went into our camp – it was cold even standing outside even at 4 pm. J gave me his duck down jacket to put under my sleeping bag and we both wore all the clothes we had. I was tired and went asleep when I was warm (maybe around 7pm). However, at around 11 or 12, I felt cold and woke up and I heard J was turning around a lot. I asked him whether he could sleep, and he said no. We were really cold and went out in the car and start the car and slept inside with the heater on – of course we left the window open a little bit – don’t want to get ourselves killed. Well, it was not comfortable at all to sleep in the little red car – it was too small and with the heater on, it was really dry. We were really tired for all the driving and traveling. But we still woke up every once or twice per hour. J was worried about the gas tank too, he kept checking the gas-meter when he woke up now and then.

in the morning J wrote:
7:25 am take off for Grand Canyon
We survived freezing night
(Note: it was 24 °(F) that night)
Bryce Canyon gas $7.92 take off at 7:30am

From Bryce Canyon (UT) to Grand Canyon (AZ) = 227.94 miles, estimated 7 hours and 13 minutes
Actual: from Bryce Canyon to Grand Canyon plus traveling in Grand Canyon about 314 miles

When we drove to Grand Canyon, we tried to cancel our reservation on the camp site there – we figured if it was the same temperature at Grand Canyon as at Bryce Canyon, we would have to sleep in the car again, which was very tiresome. However, since it was the reserved day already, we couldn’t cancel it.
It was marvelous to see the Grand Canyon – it was a good day we arrived there – it was clear and sunny. It is a great view to see on earth – very unusual and spectacular.
We were kind of disappointed to know that it took at least 2 days to hike down to the bottom of Grand Canyon and come back up to the cliffs. I am not sure but I don’t think there is a way that you can drive down to the bottom or near it and walk to there. You have to hike down and hike back up. It was a tough hike – long distance, unpredicted weather, dry, thin air, and high altitude. We didn’t think we can go down and come back up within one day (nice judgment this time, J)
Grand Canyon – South Rim – 6,790’ Elevation Apr.3-5, 2003
Sunrise at around 6:11 and sunset at 6:53, high temperature at 56 (F) and low at 26 (F). Average Precipitation .04 in.
Grand Canyon – Bottom – Phantom Ranch – 2,570’ Elevation Apr.3-5, 2003
Sunrise at around 6:11 and sunset at 6:53, high temperature at 78 (F) and low at 51 (F). Average Precipitation .02 in.)
It was Cabin in Phantom Ranch – however, when we tried to plan the trip, it was too late to reserve a permit to stay down there and no space available

Hiking in Grand Canyon and Going back to Home
3:10 pm take off from Grand Canyon to home
pump gas at Shell $10.00 (for 4.35 gallon)
$10 gas at a no-name trade post
at 167 mile finally see a big city (at least it can be called city) Kingwen (can’t read J’s hand writing) after a long time driving in “canyons”
gas $24