Saturday, June 15, 2013

Great American Road Trip - Day 16 (6/9) - Denver to St. Louis

I was in no particular rush this morning, so I didn't check out of the hotel until after 10:30.  Seeking Sunday brunch, I drove to Swift's Breakfast House and ate there.  After brunch I drove to the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum to kill some time before the Rockies game at 2:10.  I arrived 10 minutes before they opened at noon, and hung around for about 1.5 hours.

After my time at the (mediocre) museum, I drove over to Coors Field, or more specifically the B lot about a mile away, and attended the Rockies vs Padres game.  I got to my seat in the second inning and left for the airport after the sixth.  By that time I was pretty well drenched in sweat (my upper level seat was directly in the sunlight, and at 90° F it was the hottest day of the trip), though that was the case even 15 minutes after I was seated.  Luckily, moisture evaporates quickly in the Denver air, and I was presentable by the time I reached the Budget lot.  When I returned the rental car it had accumulated 4701 miles (and an illuminated "maintenance required" light) from my entire trip.  I took the shuttle to the airport, and ended the trip by flying home to St. Louis.

Great American Road Trip - Day 15 (6/8) - Badlands to Denver

I grabbed a bagel and a couple of mini muffins from the hotel's continental breakfast, then departed for Badlands National Park.  I took US 16 north to I-90 east, then got off at the second Wall exit.  This took me on the SD 240 scenic loop road through the park, via the Pinnacles entrance.  As I went through the park, I initially stopped at all the viewpoints.  But as a storm began approaching, and even seemed to be chasing me east, I skipped over a couple.  I also stopped to do a couple of the really short hikes, including Saddle Pass (which I cut short after getting stuck behind a slow mother and son with a few rain drops starting to fall) and Cliff Edge.  I went all the way to the Big Badland Lookout before turning around and heading to the Cedar Pass lodge to grab lunch at 1:45.

The rain started to fall hard while I finished up eating, which made the long drive I had ahead a bit more daunting.  Thankfully, there were clearer skies behind it, though I did encounter intermittent rain the next few hours of the drive.  I was on the road again by 2:15 and headed south on SD 377 for Interior, before turning west on SD 44 for Scenic.  It was around this time that I discovered that the directions from Scenic to Denver that I had "saved" (i.e., left active in the Google Maps app) that morning while on Econo Lodge WiFi were no longer there.  I may or may not have freaked out a tiny bit over this, since I had not been getting T-Mobile service for a while, and did not expect to do so any time soon.  I resolved, though, to use the cached high level maps and GPS on my phone to get me to my destination.

I vaguely remembered the first part of the Google directions, and began following what my memory could recall.  This mostly involved taking BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) 27 south through the reservation to US 18 west.  This route went through Wounded Knee, but I don't recall anything remarkable as I passed through there - in fact, I don't really remember passing through.  In Pine Ridge I took SD 407 across the Nebraska border, where it turned into NE 87.  I stayed on this down to Alliance, where I switched to US 385 south, taking that all the way to Sidney, where I was able to hop on I-80 west.  I considered taking state highways further south to I-76, as this may have been faster, but I was curious to pass through Cheyenne, and I thought that it might be safer to be on interstate highways as it neared dark.  So I took I-80 west to Cheyenne (which it turns out gets all of a whopping 4 exits on that highway), then I-25 south to Denver.  Despite a fuel detour gone horribly wrong (and probably costing me at least 20 minutes, if not more), I made it to the Hotel VQ downtown by the football stadium (apparently these days called Sports Authority Field at Mile High) before 10:30.

Great American Road Trip - Day 14 (6/7) - Memorials of the Black Hills

I departed the guest ranch at 8:45, going back to US 26/287 and heading east.  After a stop for gas and breakfast, I continued on US 26 east to Casper, where I briefly hopped on I-25 north.  I then took WY 259 to WY 387 to WY 59 to WY 450, and finally to US 16 across the border into the Black Hills of South Dakota.  My destination was Keystone, but I happily discovered that this same road took me right by the Crazy Horse Memorial.  As it was only 5:00 when I drove by, I decided to stop in for a half hour or so.  I also found out that my route, as prescribed by Google Maps, on WY 244 went right by the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, where I arrived around 6:00.  I did the audio tour of the memorial, just managing to sneak a photo from the Sculptor's Studio before it closed at 7:00.  A light rain began to fall intermittently just as I finished up the tour and left the memorial.

I rejoined US 16 once again and made my way to Keystone, which is only a couple of miles from Rushmore.  The small town definitely has a touristy feel to it, with all the flashing signs, and it reminded me a bit of the US side of Niagara.  Perhaps fortunately, but perhaps not, my Econo Lodge was in the boony outskirts of the town, away from the glitz.  I checked in around 8, hopped on the WiFi in the room for a bit, then headed back toward town to grab dinner, settling on the 1880 Railhead Family Restaurant.  I had already ordered a pink lemonade by the time I realized how vegetarian UNfriendly the menu was, so I resigned myself to the buffet.  The food I was "able" to eat was not worth the discounted price of $12.95, and would have been a huge rip-off had they still had prime rib in stock and charged the full $19.95.  The customer load was quite light by that time that evening, and as I finished eating I struck up a conversation with my Bosnian waitress - she was on an exchange program, and this was her first night waitressing there, which was actually a second job (in addition to housekeeping at the resort).  After eating I drove back to the hotel and made plans for the next day, as I had already seen the memorial I had originally planned to visit the next morning.

Great American Road Trip - Day 13 (6/6) - Yellowstone & Grand Teton

The Stagecoach Inn provides a pretty bountiful breakfast, which many guests take advantage of (perhaps too much so for some of a certain eastern ethnicity), and I partook of some this morning.  After checking out and getting my things in order, I headed for the park again at around 9:30.  This time, I took the main loop road south toward the geothermal sites.  At one point the car traffic slowed to a crawl for 15+ minutes, probably due to bison on the roadway again.  I stopped at Lower Geyser Basin, Firehole Lake, and Midway Geyser Basin before heading to Old Faithful.  I arrived around 12:30, and in a stroke of cosmic luck the geyser began erupting right as I walked up to the viewing area.

After the brief show I went into the lodge to use the facilities and pick up a return souvenir for a certain "faithful" friend.  I considered having lunch at the cafeteria, but the line was too long for my liking, so I instead began driving toward West Thumb.  I made it to Grant Village a little after 2:00 and had lunch at the dining room.

After lunch I took off for Grand Teton National Park, which is connected to Yellowstone by 11 miles of the John D Rockefeller Jr Parkway.  In that park, I took the Teton Park Road, stopping by Jackson Lake, Signal Mountain, and Jenny Lake.  I then looped back on US 26/89/191 and took that to the Moran Junction, then headed east on US 287.  My lodging for the evening, the Heart Six Guest Ranch, was on a road off this highway.  I arrived at 7:30, 1.5 hours before check-in ended.  After checking in, and taking some pictures of my cabin, I walked over to the Buffalo Valley Cafe.  I originally intended to only get dessert, but switched to a grilled cheese and milkshake due to the light dessert selection.  I struck up a conversation with a group of two older couples from Salt Lake City dining at an adjoining table, and ended up sitting with them for the meal...which they kindly paid for.  After eating I walked back to the guest house lodge to use the WiFi, then back to the cabin.

Great American Road Trip - Day 12 (6/5) - West Yellowstone

We could afford another late start this morning, as Judy's flight to Denver (the StL) wasn't due to depart until 11:35 (and was delayed).  After Judy went for another run and I grabbed a complementary bagel, we checked out at 9:30 and drove to the airport.  I dropped Judy off and said goodbye, then headed for West Yellowstone alone.  The drive up I-15 and US 20 took a bit over 5 hours, and I checked into the Stagecoach Inn before 4:00, after stopping at the supermarket next door for supplies.  I then walked down the street and found a Chinese restaurant to have an early dinner.  I walked back to the car and drove for the nearby west entrance into Yellowstone National Park by 5:00.

After entering the park, I headed for the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, making a few scenic stops along the way.  I made stops at a few of the viewpoints along the north and south rims of the canyon, including Grandview Point, Lookout Point, and Artist Point.  I would have liked to take a roundabout route via the north loop to return to the west entrance, but I wanted to return to the hotel before dark so I basically retraced my steps through the middle of the park.  My return was delayed a couple of times by bison on the roadway, including one incident directly in front of me, but I made it back to the hotel shortly after 9.

Great American Road Trip - Day 11 (6/4) - Salt Lake City

We got a late start this morning, both having not slept well the last night at the hostel.  I ate some complementary breakfast at the hotel, and then we got going around 10:00.  We first walked to a nearby post office so Judy could mail some stuff back to herself - a pretty smart idea, as her bags had been full to start the trip, and she had acquired more items on the way.  After that we walked over to Temple Square and basked in the glory of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter Day Saints).  Of course, we mere mortals (read: non LDS members) were not allowed to enter the Salt Lake Temple itself.

Next, Judy had the brilliant idea to check out Antelope Island, as she wanted a good view of the Great Salt Lake.  We made the hour drive after walking back to the hotel, arriving at the island via the causeway a little after noon.  We spent about 3 hours on the island, including a short 0.4 mile hike to the top of the Buffalo Point overlook and a drive along the eastern side of the island, where we encountered a large group of bison chillin' next to the road.

After the island, we drove to Cracker Barrel to return the two audiobooks that Judy had rented back in Arizona and have a late lunch / early dinner.  We then drove back to the hotel, and then walked over to the movie theater at The Gateway mall to catch the 5:30 showing of After Earth (which I gave 2 Netflix stars).  Next was a stop at the hotel, where I relaxed while Judy went for a run.

After she returned and cleaned up, we headed out to grab some dessert.  The first yogurt place we tried to go to didn't really exist (Google Maps fail, I guess), and the second looked to also be nonexistent, but we didn't really get a chance to verify this before it was supposed to close at 10 - we encountered a barefoot couple having a domestic dispute...but out in public.  The woman was repeatedly yelling for the man to leave her alone, but he continued to follow her.  She also yelled for help a few times, but did not call 911 with the cell phone in her hand.  After observing this for a few minutes, I decided to phone it in.  We waited 10-15 minutes to see if a police officer would show up, but the 2 cop cars we saw drive by did not stop.  We gave up on the cops and yogurt, and decided to walk back to The Gateway to see if something was open there.  As we reached the other end of the street, a police officer pulled up and we flagged him down.  He was responding to 2 calls (one being ours, I guess) regarding the incident and we told him where we last saw the couple.  He didn't seem too concerned, and it wasn't until he asked if they were "transient types" that I understood why (SLC has a surprising amount of homeless people for being such a clean city, though nowhere near as many as San Diego).  In any case, we continued on to The Gateway, where Applebee's was still open.  We both has the fudge cake a la mode dessert before walking back to the hotel.

Great American Road Trip - Day 10 (6/3) - To Salt Lake City

We woke up at 6:00 and were ready to leave by 6:30, having showered the night before.  Unfortunately, the hostel's office did not open until 7:00 so we couldn't check out until then. After we were finally able to do this, we took off east on CA 140.  Inside Yosemite we switched to CA 120, taking that all the way through the park and out the east side.  We eventually switched to US 6 east, around which time I took over driving.  The road also switched from winding through mountains to long straight stretches through the desert.  We took US 6 across Nevada to US 93/93A north, and took that to I-80 east, which brought us into Salt Lake City.

We arrived at the Howard Johnson Express around 7:00 and proceeded to check in.  We walked over to the Gateway Mall, but still had time before the Foals concert (there were 2 opening bands, after all), so we walked to the food court to have our first decent meal of the day.  At around 8:45 we walked over to The Depot to see the show.  It ended around 11:30, at which point we walked back to the hotel.

Great American Road Trip - Day 9 (6/2) - Yosemite Valley

We were on our way toward the park by 8:00 this morning.  After stopping for supplies on the way in, we drove to the parking lot for the visitors center, also stopping briefly at Bridalveil Fall and another minor fall whose name I'm not certain of.  We stopped at a nearby information booth and got some advice on some trails.  We then took the express shuttle to the visitor center (stop 5), then switched to the regular Yosemite Valley Shuttle to go one stop (6) to the Lower Yosemite Falls trail. The trail loop was no more than a mile, and we completed it, as well as a view of the falls, in short order.

We hopped back on the shuttle and took it to stop 16, where we began the Mist Trail hike.  We took this either 2.6 or 3.4 (depending on which sign you believe) up to the top of Nevada Falls, passing Vernal Falls on the way.  The approach to Vernal Falls is probably the inspiration for the trail's name, as you receive enough "mist" from the fall to get soaked.  The path along the trail alternates between smooth and rocky, as well as between flat and steep.  There are sections with rock steps, and a couple with a hand rail.  All in all, the round trip took somewhere between 4 and 5 hours, including a snack stop and ample time admiring and capturing the views.

After that, we took the shuttle back to the parking lot at stop 1 (it restarts after 21) then drove out the park and back to the hostel, though not without stopping at a roadside restaurant for pizza and ice cream.  Since we had about an hour before sundown, we drove to a nearby recreation area by a stream and read our books while waiting for sunset.  After the sun went down, we drove back to the hostel and prepared for the next day.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Great American Road Trip - Day 8 (6/1) - San Fran and Glacier Point

Judy's friend Kimberly came to the hotel to meet her for coffee around 9:00 AM.  While they did that, Galen and I wandered around some shops nearby, getting me a smoothie and him a fresh shirt and some dog toys.  We headed back to the hotel to meet up with Judy around 10:00, then the three of us drove across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco.  We stopped by a fine spirits shop so Galen could pick up a gift for his host for the night, then we drove to Burma Superstar in Richmond to meet some friends at 11:15 (though we were all late, and the parking situation did not help) for lunch: Jocelyn, Nate and Solana, and Galen's college buddy Braxton, along with his wife Ashley and their two kids.

We ended the lunch gathering around 2:00, and said our goodbyes.  Galen left with Braxton, while Judy and I began a drive toward Yosemite with her at the wheel.  We made it to the park in around 3 hours, but had another hour to drive to get to Washburn Point and then Glacier Point to catch the sunset.  After that, we headed toward our hostel, the Yosemite Bug, which was a bit more than an hour away.  By this time it was dark, and we did not have cell reception to give us directions.  Luckily, the hostel is on CA 140, one of the main roads into the park, so we just followed the signs and Judy took us ably through the winding roads.
We arrived at the hostel around 10:00 and checked in.  When we walked over to the building with our room, the lights were out and there were (it turned out) 3 people already asleep inside.  Fortunately, Judy thoughtfully packed flashlights, which we used to stow our gear and get ready for bed as quietly as possible...which was really not all that quietly, but at least we tried.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Great American Road Trip - Day 7 (5/31) - Pacific Coast Highway

We checked out of the hotel around 7:45, and were in the car ready to go by 8.  I took the wheel for the first part of the journey, taking us up I-5 to San Clemente, where we hopped on El Camino Real, which turns into CA 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, at Dana Point.  The drive between there and the Los Angeles area was underwhelming, particularly due to the start and stop (and in some places heavy) traffic, but there were a few nice beach views in there.  We stopped for lunch a little before noon at Umami Burger in Santa Monica, then continued north.  Past LA, CA 1 and the US 101 freeway run concurrently for much of the drive between Ventura and San Luis Obispo, and this greatly sped things up.  Galen and I traded driving duty around 3:30 at a pit stop a little past Santa Barbara, and we continued on up the coast.

The road grew increasingly more interesting as we approached Big Sur, at which point I resumed driving at another stop.  It was after 5:00 when we went through the area.  We made a few stops at vista points along the drive, including just across Bixby (Creek) Bridge.  In addition to the great views, the roads were very winding, and I may have been accused by a certain female passenger of having a little too much fun driving them.

After the Big Sur area, CA 1 joined up with some freeway routes, allowing us to make good time.  We skipped the last part of the coastal drive after Santa Cruz and headed straight up CA 17 toward San Jose, then continued up I-880 Oakland.  We arrived at our Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Emeryville around 9:30.  We checked in, then soon after drove to a nearby CVS, getting through the line just before they closed at 10.  After returning to the hotel, Galen and I walked to the Black Bear Diner across the street to have a late breakfast for dinner.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Great American Road Trip - Day 6 (5/30) - San Diego

We got a bit of a (relatively) late start, but it didn't matter since our first destination, the USS Midway Museum, opened at 10.  We walked over to it from the hotel, arriving some time after it opened.  We did the audio guided tour, which took us all through the bowels of the ship and then ended at the flight deck on top.  This tour was one of my most eagerly anticipated events of the trip, and I was not disappointed - I'm glad the others indulged me taking my time through it (it was around 1:30 when we finished).

Next, we headed to the nearby fish market and had lunch at the restaurant on the second floor, aptly named Top of the Market.  After eating, we walked back to the hotel to stow our leftovers, then after a brief rest walked over to the parking lot to get the car for a drive around town.  We first headed to Balboa Park, where we drove by the zoo then made a brief stop to walk around the area by the Japanese garden.  We then drove to the other side of the park and parked across the bridge from the Museum of Man.  We got out and walked around for a bit, and knocked around Judy's miniature soccer ball that I had packed for her at the last minute.  After the park, we drove over to Mission Beach and walked around in the sand (with the soccer ball) for a while.  Since it was overcast, so we couldn't get a good view of the sunset, we drove back to the hotel, stowing the car in almost the same spot in the same parking lot.

After a little more downtime in the room we walked down to Seaport Village so Judy could pick up a new book (having finished the one she brought along) at a bookstore there.  We also walked around and into some of the other shops.  We then walked back to the hotel and finished off our leftovers from lunch, as well some dessert that we had just bought.

Great American Road Trip - Day 5 (5/29) - To San Diego

Judy was behind the wheel for the drive to San Diego today.  Our chosen route, for scenic purposes, took us south on AZ 64, west on I-40, south on US 95, west on I-10, west on CA 78 (through the Imperial Sand Dunes), south on CA 111, then west on I-8.

Upon arriving in town, we headed to the W San Diego hotel (a quite modern and stylish place) to check in.  We eschewed their $35 per day valet parking for a nearby lot that charged $15 per day, but I will credit the friendly valets for pointing out the other options for us.  After parking the car, we walked over to a hip pizza joint called Basic to have dinner.  We were able to leave our leftover pizza at the restaurant while we walked to nearby Petco Park to catch the Padres vs Mariners game from the fourth inning.  We left the game when it was still tied after the 9th, but we were able to hear the crowd celebrate the Padres' victory in the bottom of the 10th as we approached Basic.  We picked up our pizza, then continued on toward the hotel.  Galen decided to stop at the Knotty Barrel to try some of their many beers, and later check out some street art, while Judy and I headed back to the hotel.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Great American Road Trip - Day 4 (5/28) - Grand Canyon

We got going a little later this morning, not catching the shuttle to the park at the National Geographic visitor center until 9:00.  The purple shuttle line took us to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, where we decided to hike part of the Bright Angel Trail.  We then boarded the blue Village Route shuttle, which ended its route near the trailhead.

The hike down to the 3-Mile Resthouse on the Bright Angel Trail is listed as a "difficult" 4 to 6 hour hike - a 6 mile round trip and a one way elevation change of 2120 feet.  It only took us about 1.25 hours to descend, including stops to take pictures.  The ascent, however, took a couple of hours, though that included a 15 minute stop midway for a makeshift picnic lunch.  We kept a pretty steady pace, and Galen even jogged up a good chunk of the bottom half.  Overall, we made the round trip in about 3.5 hours - not too shabby, though I was absolutely drenched in sweat (as in through my pants in the entire crotchal area) afterward.

After wandering around the rim near Kolb Studio at the top of the trail for a bit, we boarded the red Hermit Route shuttle to check out some scenic spots on the western side of the South Rim.  We got off at Maricopa Point and then walked over to Powell Point to catch the view and board the shuttle again.  Out next stop was Mohave Point, which turned out to be Judy's favorite (perhaps because it offered a view of the river).  Last was Hermit Point, before boarding for a return trip to the village.  On a timely piece of advice from a friend of Judy's, we walked over to the Bright Angel Lodge to grab a drink.  After that, we took the blue shuttle back to the visitor center, then the purple Tusayan Route back to town, returning around 5:30.
Back at the hotel, we showered off and then relaxed for a while.  Around 7:30 Galen and I headed out to grab dinner - Judy had a leftover tamale from the night before.  We shared a large pizza at Canyon Pizza, then walked back to the hotel.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Great American Road Trip - Day 3 (5/27) - Antelope Canyons

Galen and Judy got up at 7:00 to go for a run.  I did not do that, instead showering and getting ready.  After they returned, cleaned up, and ate their leftovers for breakfast, we went to the front desk to check out.  After that, we enjoyed the view of the lake from the marina for a bit, then made some calls to reserve a tour of Upper Antelope Canyon for 1:00 that afternoon (the earliest time we could get).  We then headed toward the Lower Antelope Canyon, but not before stopping at the bridge by the Glen Canyon Dam.

At the Lower Antelope Canyon, we were able to get on the 9:50 tour, which cost $26 ($20 for the tour, and $6 for a Navajo permit) per person.  Our guide was a pretty young guy, but he was quite nice and helpful, in addition to being pretty relaxed about the pace of things.  It also helped that there were not terribly many people in the canyon - our group had somewhere around 15 people in it, and we didn't encounter other groups for most of the tour.  The slot canyon itself was pretty impressive.  It had some tight squeezes and involved a bit of climbing, but the experience was well worth it.  Although we traversed only about a quarter mile in the canyon and then a similar distance returning above ground, the tour lasted about an hour.

Following the tour, we headed back into town to get an early lunch.  We stopped in a strip mall where I was able to buy a hat (to protect my head from the harsh sun) at an outlet store and then we had lunch at the Dam Bar and Grill.  After eating we went to the tour company to catch the upper canyon tour.  The pre-tour experience featured a Navajo hoop dance performance, and then we boarded a "shuttle" (a pickup truck with bench seating and a shade added to the bed).  Transport to the canyon involved about 10 minutes of off-road driving over some sandy and bumpy terrain.  Unlike the lower canyon, this canyon was more accessible but significantly more crowded.  The canyon itself was less colorful, though our pushy (but nice) driver/guide attempted to compensate for it by changing our camera settings and taking pictures for us.  Overall, this tour was a decidedly less pleasant experience than the lower canyon, even though it cost twice as much (though we were able to save the permit fee due to our earlier purchase).

When the tour dropped us off, we stopped at Safeway for some supplies, then began making our way in the direction of the Grand Canyon, with Galen still behind the wheel.  The drive took a bit over 3 hours, and we made it to the east entrance of the park around 6.  Our first stop was Desert View, which is very close to that entrance, and provided our first view of the amazing canyon.  We then continued west along AZ 64 to Grandview Point, stopping there for another spectacular view.  We next hurried over to Yaki Point to catch the sun setting over the canyon.

After sunset we continued south along AZ 64 to Tusayan.  We had a Mexican dinner for the third consecutive night, this time at Sophie's Mexican Kitchen, which advertised their vegetarian selection.  After dinner we headed to our nearby hotel, the Red Feather Lodge, to check in.

Great American Road Trip - Day 2 (5/26) - Arches

We were on the road by 8 AM, with Judy behind the wheel.  We drove west on I-70 through Denver and into the mountains.  We made a quick stop close to Breckenridge to grab some breakfast and some supplies, then continued on into Utah.  We then turned south onto US 191 and headed to Arches National Park, arriving around 1:45.

At the park entrance the friendly ranger convinced us that it would be worth our while to get a yearly national park pass for $80 - it would save me at least $5 (though in the end it turned out to be much more) over buying individual vehicle entry into Arches ($10), Grand Canyon ($25), Yosemite ($25), and Yellowstone ($25) national parks.  We drove through to the parking area for the Delicate Arch trail, made a quick restroom stop (at the pit toilets), and then started the hike.  The hike is about 3 miles round trip, including some fairly steep climbs and some rough terrain.  It was fairly easy for the 3 of us (being at least somewhat in shape soccer players), but I can understand why the park literature classifies it as a strenuous trail, and recommends each hiker have at least a liter of water (we had less than that between the 3 of us).  We saw one person who had succumbed to the heat (the temperature was in the mid eighties, and there were no clouds, though the wind near the top made it feel cooler), and a ranger gave us the impression that there are at least several such incidents each day.  In any case, we made it up and down in a couple of hours, including time spent taking pictures and exploring.  After that we drove back to the park entrance, stopping a couple of times to take pictures.

We then continued down US 191, with a stop for gas in nearby Moab.  We took US 191 all the way down to US 163, which went southwest into Arizona (apparently through Monument Valley).  By this time we had given up relying on the almost nonexistent (for Galen and me, at least - Judy's Verizon iPhone fared better than our T-Mobile Nexus 4s) cell service, and began navigating using the atlas that Judy had bought that morning.  Galen also took over driving duties at some point during the journey.  We then took US 160 west to AZ 98 northwest to Page.  After some wandering, we found a Mexican restaurant called Fiesta Mexicana and had a late dinner (or I watched the other two have a late dinner, as I was satisfied with the chips and salsa).  Dinner included our waiter being attacked with a pie for his birthday.  After that, we used the magic of the Internet to find the Lake Powell Resort.  After checking in, we found our room and turned in soon after.  Interestingly, the fact that Arizona does not observe daylight savings time led to us making it to bed before midnight, though we thought that it was an hour later up until the middle of dinner.

Great American Road Trip - Day 1 (5/25) - To Denver

Judy and I walked to the Shrewsbury MetroLink station from her house, and then took the train to the airport.  We grabbed lunch then boarded our 2:30 flight to Denver, where we met up with Galen, who had arrived earlier from Seattle.  We took the shuttle to the Budget car rental place to pick up the car that I had reserved and add the other two to the list of approved drivers.  We got a bit of a scare when the attendant told us that they didn't have any intermediate cars available (which is what I had reserved) and they would have to give us a pickup truck.  This was not acceptable, as the gas mileage would be horrible for our road trip, and we told him as much.  He tried again, and was able to snag a Toyota Corolla that had just been returned.

After getting our Corolla, we drove to our Courtyard by Marriott hotel to check in and stow our gear.  We then made the short drive over to Dick's Sporting Goods Park, where we arrived about 15 minutes before the 7:00 game between the Colorado Rapids and Chivas USA.  The Rapids won 2-0, and Galen was able to get the scarf he bought during the game signed by Atiba Harris.  Afterward we drove over to the Shops at Northfield Stapleton and grabbed a late dinner at Qdoba, before heading back to the hotel, where I was tucked in by 11:30.