Saturday, July 24, 2021

Southwest Parks 2021 - Day 9 (7/17/2021) - Returning home; final thoughts

Not much noteworthy happened on this day from an excursions perspective, but we did spend essentially the whole day traveling. We left the hotel, picked up a little breakfast, then drove the couple of hours to LAX to return the rental car and catch our 2:30pm flight home across the country. All told, we put 1104 miles of driving on the Nissan Sentra over the week that we had it. We arrived at JFK a little before 11pm local time (a 3 hour time difference), and didn't get home to our apartment in Brooklyn until 12:45am.

An aside... Now that Uber/Lyft are significantly more expensive and have fewer drivers, NYC taxis are the cheaper car option from the airport. But unfortunately there are now fewer taxis because Uber and Lyft have taken away their business over the years. This has resulted in us having to wait a long time (on the order of an hour, though slightly less this time) for a taxi the last couple of trips home from the airport, as we didn't want to pay the exorbitant Uber/Lyft prices. At this point it's probably comparable in time to just take the AirTrain and subway home, and certainly cheaper.

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Anyway, here are some final thoughts about the trip...

Overall, it was another good trip with Fran. The timing for those national parks probably wasn't the best in terms of summer heat, and especially the heat wave in the region this year, but that aspect turned out not to be as bad as I expected. Other times of the year are probably better to visit them, but we have some schedule constraints that come into the picture. Nevertheless, there's still plenty to enjoy about them even in the peak of summer.

Fran and I agreed that we visited the national parks in order of descending amazement. The Grand Canyon is one of my all-time top sights to behold, and the park is definitely one of my top three. I liked seeing it from the more remote North Rim this time, and appreciated having some trails all to ourselves. Zion wasn't too far behind, and I think it offered a better range of hikes and activities (a hike up a river isn't something that I've seen before, and it's too bad we didn't get a chance to at least try it out a bit) than the Grand Canyon did; my opinion on this might be different if I was the overnight hiking type, as I'm sure camping in the canyon is pretty spectacular. Unfortunately, or fortunately (depending how you look at it), a LOT of people also appreciate all that Zion has to offer; though the crowding to get in wasn't as bad as some news stories had led us to expect. We also wish we had more time to explore more of Zion, including the eastern and northwestern parts. Joshua Tree was clearly the least striking, but it still had plenty to appreciate. The fields of Joshua trees are a unique sight, and the rock formations are not just great to look at, but also fun to play on/in. Cooler weather would have been most appreciated for this park.

I can't end without mentioning the sleeper hit of the trip for Fran - Mount San Jacinto and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The park at the top is more of a treat during the summer heat of the desert at the bottom. And what made this even more special for her was that she didn't know anything about it going into the trip.

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Full pictures for the trip here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/FQpbDfmdGRksjimi

 

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