Hey Party People, this is Ville here. Taking you on the next part of the adventure...
K.G. and I took a long flight from Croatia, after boxing bikes and going through the hell of trying to check them on an airline that one week prior had gone bankrupt. From Portland, Oregon, K.G. stayed there getting picked up by her sister to help watch the niece and nephew for a week while the parents went to Mexico. I hoped the next plane to Bend and arrived late at night getting picked up by my good buddy and father-in-law, Mango. The very next day after landing in the good old US and A, I was back on the plane heading to Las Vegas. The next 11 days I spent touring the National Parks in Utah, Colorado and Arizona with Mango. This was going to be a Dude's Only trip and we were both pretty excited!
This was my third time visiting Las Vegas and to be honest, I wasn't too excited about it. One time in Vegas is enough. Luckily we were there only because it was the cheapest place to fly to, rent a car, and get cheap drugs. Just kidding about the drugs. After our flight we picked up our rental car, found our hotel and went to bed. No partying for these two hombres.
The next day after grabbing breakfast we started driving towards Utah, we had no plans or reservations but were wanting to land somewhere close to Zion National Park. After 4 hours of driving in the boring desert we arrived to St George, Utah. Luckily for the boring drive we had a lot to catch up after I had been gone biking in Europe for the last 3 months. In St George we booked a room and checked out some local sights before hitting the beds anxious to visit Zion the next day.
Next day we hit the breakfast early so we could get to the park about when it opened, we did good but the problem wasn't we weren't the only ones with that idea. We had a hard time finding parking and ended up parking a half mile from the visitor center and taking a bus to the park. This was my second time visiting Zion, it never disappoints though. At lot has changed in 10 years though, the country is not in recession anymore and the hordes are out and hitting the bucket list with a passion.
To me the best part was seeing how much Mango enjoyed seeing the park, it was his first time there. After hiking few of the shorter trails and feeling like we had seen enough we took the bus back to the car and hit the road again. After leaving the National Park we still got to enjoy some stunning scenery for the next 20 to 30 miles. On our way to our next lodging we stopped at a roadside saloon full of cowboy memorabilia. Mango got to grill his own steak on a massive grill in the main room. In my opinion a smart move from the owner to save on labor cost and make it a unique experience for the clientele. That night we stayed in a motel near Bryce Canyon National Park, just outside the park opting not to pay the $200/night inside the Park Lodge.
Bryce Canyon is another cool park featuring red rocks that look like massive termite hills/towers. We started at the main sights, did a couple of small hikes and chatted with some nice folks from Sweden that were on a road trip through US. Again the ride outside Bryce was beautiful and we stopped multiple times to take some pictures. One of the stops was at a lookout point overlooking a valley full of small canyons and boulders. We read from one of the signs how much dynamite was used to built the road, the amount was astronomical and it sounded almost like the engineers had a fetish on blowing things up. Night was spent in a town that had two motels, gas stations and one restaurant. The restaurant was Subway which made it easier to choose where to eat our dinner and we were able to skip reading Yelp reviews. The guy working at the Subway was a character who entertained us with some crazy fishing stories.
The next day was spent driving to reach Moab and Arches National Park. The drive itself was boring but Mango and I kept the party going on in the car with some good music and Podcasts, that's how old we are. Arches NP again was pretty well stocked with tourists, mainly gray haired ones. Mango and I were able to squeeze in a pretty arduous hike to one of the arches that is located far enough from the trail head that the crowds were minimal. Extremely proud of Mango for pushing and not bitching about it, some of the parts of the trail were pretty sketchy even for me. Staying in Moab was a bit disappointing for what you got for your bucks when it came to lodging. Maybe it's the fact that the mountain biking crowds are there too, adding to the need for lodging with the people visiting the National Park. In Moab I took us to get the Impossible Burger at Burger King, those of you who have never heard of it it's a completely plant based burger patty made so well that it tastes just like meat. After trying it we both agreed that it did taste just like meat, which was a miracle considering that the people who cooked it were having yelling matches in front of the customers and storming out the restaurant. Oh boy!
A visit to Mesa Verde in Colorado was in the plans for the next day after leaving Moab. Mesa Verde NP is a place where the Native Americans who settled the area built their dwellings underneath the cliffs of the canyons, where they were hidden from the enemies above on the plateaus and protected from the elements. We weren't able to visit the ruins since all the tours were booked for the day. For those going to visit, know that you should get there at least a day earlier to book a tour for the next day because it has to be done in person. Luckily, Mango had brought his binoculars and so we were able to inspect the dwellings from the cliffs on the other side of the canyon. That night was spent in the nearby town of Cortez, where we saw multiple trucks full of hunting gear. This made us a bit jealous since Mango and I took this trip since we didn't get any tags for the second year in a row.
The next day we drove through the Monument Valley with a plan to get as close to Grand Canyon when coming from the East. We got as far as Tuba City, located inside a Native American reservation and called it good.
Grand Canyon never disappoints, the sheer size is just absolutely humbling! Our first stop at The Canyon coming from the East was the Grand Canyon Tower. Mango really enjoyed and admired the architecture and building technique that was used to erect this structure that blended well with the scenery. At Grand Canyon we kept our hiking game strong by doing some hikes halfway down to the canyon, the biggest struggle being the relentless sun and limited spots for shade. Again Mango was a trooper even though he threatened before one of the hikes that I might have to carry him back up. I made sure to tell him that I would leave him down there on his own and that I would have no trouble calling his wife and telling her that, "The Grand Canyon has him now". All the hiking made us thirsty and as soon as we arrived in Flagstaff we made a beeline to a local brewery for some well deserved beers. That night we slept like a teething baby thanks to the people partying next door to our room at the motel. We woke up early next day and made sure they woke up early too to face the hangover they well deserved...
Sedona was on our list for the next stop, for me it was a huge disappointment. Rich hippies searching for the vortex in yoga pants and every corner has a store selling crystals and other new age must have items. Best part of Sedona for me was when I went swimming in the river 10 miles before the town. After Sedona we had some miles to do to get to Kingman for the night. The drive was nothing special except for the town of Jerome that both of us found extremely cool. Wish we had spent more time there than Sedona...Kingman was a city that is far past it's glory days, but nevertheless still has some character left in it. We chose to stay there only so we could visit Hoover Dam early the next day. Mango is a huge fan of massive buildings and you could describe him as a self taught engineer so the vist to Hoover Dam was a big hit on our trip. We spent a few hours reading all the signs depicting the stories of building the dam plus some interesting numbers of the amounts of concrete and re bar used to build this massive structure.
After Hoover Dam we drove back to Vegas to return the rental car and we spent a day sight seeing the craziness known as Vegas. I had been to Vegas twice but it was my first time visiting the infamous Fremont Street. Oh boy, I've been to a lot of crazy places but this one deserves a spot in the top 3 for sure. Entertaining and sad at the same time. I'm not going to describe it here too much since there might be kids reading this. Go see it for yourself. Well that's it folks! I feel privileged to be able to do a trip like this with my father in law. Mango is an excellent buddy to have on a road trip and he and I had multiple great conversations about life and even more time was spent joking & laughing. He came up with the idea for doing this because we weren't able to go hunting this year due to not getting any tags. I'm glad we didn't get any, this trip was a blast! Stay tuned and keep on keeping on as my bottle rocket of a wife says.
K.G. & Ville
In Helsinki, Finland still writing the Book
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson