Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving Road Trip 2010

It's become our tradition over the past several years to take a road trip during Thanksgiving weekend. Since we have a longer period of time to spend with our families at Christmastime, we usually skip the hassle of flying during Thanksgiving weekend. One of the things I am most thankful for is that Dan & I have the same love of traveling and seeing new places. We forgo extra luxuries and full-price purchases most of the year (thrift stores are my friend!) for the sake of saving money for our trips. Having fun experiences together & making lifelong memories are much more valuable than owning the latest name-brand stuff, in my opinion.

For instance, our 1997 CR-V has 212,000 miles on it. There are more dents in it than I care to explain, the paint is chipping, it whines when you drive it up a steep hill and shudders when you’re going faster than 70 mph. But it always gets us where we need to go and we’ve taken it on enough trips that we can predict within inches how tight a U-turn it can make, and don't even need to discuss the fact anymore that when the gas gauge “empty” light comes on, we can drive 30 more miles before we have to start panicking. Plus it’s paid off, which is equivalent to auto-sainthood, where all flaws are indulgently smiled upon and re-labeled as “quirks.”

We had the best time exploring a section of Utah we’ve always wanted to visit. Utah is one of my favorite states to drive through because the landscape along the highway is interesting and dramatic. I always appreciate that, since we’ve driven through so many parts of the country and there are areas that you wish you could sleep through. *cough*Kansas* We toured three national parks – Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands, and got to stay at a beautiful small town called Moab, which is a gathering spot for mountain bikers and 4-wheel drivers. We saw snow, which put us even more in the holiday spirit, but fortunately the weather was sunny for driving & hiking during the days. There were so many highlights from the weekend – like the feeling of absolute freedom when we hit the road and drove away from all our responsibilities for a few days! And having hours of time with just Dan and I and Christmas music. We saw some of the most stunning areas in America and reveled in God’s creation. But there were a couple of things that we’d forgotten from our Denver days that came flooding back as we traveled through the similar climate & altitude in Utah.

Utah + winter = static. My hair spent the weekend either floating eerily around my head or clinging to my face like tentacles. We got a massive shock every time we touched the car door. Once we forgot to "ground" ourselves (by touching hands) before we kissed and the resultant shock to the lips almost knocked us to the ground. We didn't touch for the rest of the weekend (haha, okay we did, but there was always an element of danger involved).

Utah + winter = dryness. There was that dehydration-induced head achy feeling that I had forgotten from my Denver days. Not to mention the chapped lips and waking up in the middle of the night with a parched, sore throat. There is something to be said for humidity, although I could write a much longer list of its down-sides. But that has nothing to do with Thanksgiving ... so I'm refocusing with some pictures from our trip! Enjoy!

If you've ever driven the I-70 through Utah, you'll understand why an operating gas station is one of my favorite sights on the drive!

Dan thought this was awesome! It was a 20-mile "test speed limit" that he hopes will catch on across America.

We arrived at Capitol Reef National Park on Thanksgiving day, and got to tour the park for about 4 hours before the sun set
Castle Rock, probably the most well-known formation from Capitol Reef National Park. We took a few other pictures there, but this park was surprisingly un-photogenic. We were glad we hit it before the other two parks, since it would've been a let-down afterwards.
Here was our weather forecast for the rest of the weekend. The mid-30s turned out to be great hiking weather, and we were on our way home before the snow hit on Sunday.

One of our first views of beautiful Arches National Park on Black Friday. This beats shopping in a crowded mall, hands-down!

Walking along the Park Avenue Trail

In front of the Tower of Babel

Balancing Rock

North Window Arch

Turret Arch

At the foot of Turret Arch with a view of North and South Windows Arches in the background
Cashews + Almonds + Granola + Banana Chips + M&Ms = Lunch of Champions!

After a pretty strenuous hike, our reward was this view of Delicate Arch - an icon of Utah

Standing at the base of Delicate Arch

The Fiery Furnace

We took another hike to see Landscape Arch - the longest & most delicate arch in the park. They're not sure how long it'll remain intact since the thinnest point of the arch is "only" 6 feet deep.
We went to see the latest Harry Potter movie in Moab. We had to stand in a line outside the theater, waiting for it to open only 20 minutes before the 7pm movies started. Then they courteously waited to start the movie until everyone had time to buy their popcorn & find their seats. Gotta love small towns!
On Saturday, we visited breathtaking Canyonlands National Park

Mesa Arch

Buck Canyon

The Grand View Overlook

Dan standing way too close to the edge!

On the Grand View trail

Upheaval Dome, which may have been caused by a meteorite! There was another theory about salt pushing up the earth, but I'm sticking with the meteorite!

Dan taking one more opportunity to get a great view (and make me nervous - you should've seen how he got up there!) before we started our 11-hour drive home.


Courtney said...

Wow!!! That is an awesome trip!!! Your pics remind me of why I loved living in Colorado so much - nothing quite beats the grandeur and awe-inspiring views of the West. Absolutely gorgeous. So glad y'all got to do that! Thank you for sharing some of the majesty!! :)

The McGregor Clan said...

What great pics! That would be John's dream vacation. :) i am not so keen on the hiking, but would love to see those sights.