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Old 10-13-2010, 08:32 AM   #1
iHEARTflorida
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5 Weeks, 4 States & 3874 Miles around California & the Southwest Roadtrip WITH PHOTOS

WooHoo, after only being home for what...2 months now, I’m finally finished my TRs, here the FULL trip report all together. A little bit of background, we [Mum, Dad and myself, DD19], did a roadtrip around California, and part of the Southwest hitting some Nationals Parks, in total we took nearly 10,000 photos, travelled 3874 miles through 4 states over 5 weeks.

This was our itinerary [29th June – 3rd Aug];

Vegas 1 night > Grand Canyon 2 nights > Monument Valley 1 night > Page 2 nights > Bryce NP 1 night > Zion NP 2 nights > Vegas 2 nights > Death Valley NP 1 night > Yosemite NP 3 nights > San Francisco 4 nights > Monterey 1 night > Cambria 1 night > LA 5 nights > Anaheim 3 nights > San Diego 4 nights > Vegas 1 night

Re: the itinerary, a night in the ones of the lakes areas [Mono, June, Mammoth etc...] or Lee Vining, to break up the long drive between DVNP and YNP, and have a chance to see more of the Sierras Mountains.

Another night in San Francisco would have been great, there are soo many things to see and explore it would have just be great, to have a day, with no time limits, just time to roam.

2 nights in Monterey, would have made a big difference – we would have had just more time.

And 3 nights in either Santa Barbara, or Orange County [Huntington, Newport, Balboa], just to relax and chill out. After 5 weeks of constant travelling about half-way through, 2 full days of chilling would have been GREAT, to sleep in LATE, and relax by the pool/beach.

Right here goes the TR, I will spilt each location into its own post
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WDW Trips DL July 2010 DLRP Sept 2012
1993,1995,1997,1999,2001,2002,2005,2006,2008

5 Weeks, 4 States and 3874 Miles around California and the Southwest Roadtrip here

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Old 10-13-2010, 08:33 AM   #2
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LAS VEGAS

Bellagio: We stayed at the Bellagio for one night before we started our roadtrip off, the hotel was very nice, we had a standard room with a mountain view and could see the Rio and Palms, though it was a loooong walk to get to the room.

Check in was easy and efficient. Bed was comfy, enjoyed the electronic blinds. Bathroom was lovely, loved the walk in shower, we even had scales in the bathroom too. Didn't get a chance to try the pool, though would have loved to. We had the Breakfast Buffet in the morning, very nice! The fountains were amazing, stood and watch 4 shows in a row. It would have been great to stay longer!

===============================================

Tues 29th June: Home to Vegas

We were up early, had an 11:25am flight from Gatwick to Vegas. Flight was long, boring and uneventful. Didn’t take off til 12ish, no on-demand TV, and only odd TV channels were working. Arrived in Vegas around 2pm, took around an hr to get through immigration and get car rental. Went to the Wal-Mart Superstore on Eastern, and got supplies and picked up our Sat Nav we pre-ordered online, before we left – that we didn’t ended up using until LA.



Bryce Canyon

Checked into Bellagio, quick and easy. Got a Mountain View room [23625], with views of the Rio and Palms. Had a look around the Conservatory, and went and had dinner at Cabo Wabo, outside the hotel, in the Miracle Mile Shops. Afterwards we headed north up the strip and checking out the hotels, ending up at the Venetian, impressive shopping area, it does feel like your outside, but AC’ed!

Headed back to Bellagio, had been a long day, and had a long drive ahead of us to GCNP the next day, had just missed the fountains and didn’t realised they run every 15mins, I thought it was every ½ hr, never mind we’d be back to Vegas soon.

===========================================

Wed 30th June: Vegas to GCNP

Not adjusted yet to Pacific Time, we were wide awake by 4:30am; decided to get up as we had a long drive ahead of us to GCNP. We all showered and washed and were at the Bellagio Breakfast Buffet by 7am – no queue, and where able to go straight in, the restaurant was fairly busy. The food was good could have been better, it was only warm/hot, not piping hot as I had expected it to be. I ended up filling up on the usual breakfast foods, and was too full to try the unusual foods

Checked out of the Bellagio, and headed south on the strip, and got our photos taken at the Vegas sign, there was only two other small groups there taking photos. On to the Hoover Dam, we parked on the Arizona side, and spent around an hr there. I can’t believe the change in water level, it’s amazing, though not good!







We travelled on part of the old route 66 from Kingman to Seligman; the road was empty – hardly any other cars, and not much to be seen out of the windows. We stopped in Seligman, for gas, snacks, and souvenirs. Then I was shocked, it started to rain! Only slightly though, we stopped in Williams and had lunch our first of many McDonalds for the trip.

We finally arrived at the GCNP at 3:30pm, taking us 6hr30mins to complete the drive in all, rest stops, food and gas.
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WDW Trips DL July 2010 DLRP Sept 2012
1993,1995,1997,1999,2001,2002,2005,2006,2008

5 Weeks, 4 States and 3874 Miles around California and the Southwest Roadtrip here

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Old 10-13-2010, 08:34 AM   #3
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GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK

Maswik Cabin: It's good enough, we stayed for 2 nights. It's about the scenery not the lodging. Good location to the rim 1/4 mile, though there are lodges closer. It's as close to a camping experience as I'll probably ever get. Very dim light in the room, no AC only a fan, we left the door open a few times. Bathroom was small, toilet was squeezed inbetween the shower and wall, not a lot of room. Though would probably stay again if visiting the Grand Canyon, and if the other lodges were fully booked.

==============================================

Wed 30th June: Vegas to GCNP

We arrived at GCNP at 3:30pm, brought our NP Annual Pass, and headed to the Visitor Centre. Mather Point was under construction, so we walked the rim to Yavapi Point, I cannot describe fully what it is like seeing the canyon for the first time, just amazing.

We checked into our cabin at the Maswik Lodge, totally different from our previous night at the Bellagio. We had dinner at the Pizza Pub, and ended up missing sunset, I was around 7:30pm or so I think, but we arrived at that time, rather than getting their an hr before – duh!





================================================

Thrus 1st July: Our full day at the GC, we were up in the morning for sunrise at 5:15am, we viewed it from Yavapi Point, it’s cold that time in the morning, you need long shorts, and a cardigan/hoodie. Sunrise was cloudy, and I don’t think we got the full experience. Afterwards we walked further west along the rim, and found some lovely quiet secluded spots. Breakfast, back at the Maswik Lodge.

We the decided to hike Bright Angel trail, once we passed through the natural bridge at the beginning of the trail, Dad decided to skip this trail – due to the large amount of switchbacks and steepest. Mum and I carried on, we’re not hikers but enjoy walking, this was hard. It was only 8am in the morning but it was hot. We spend 2hrs on the trail roundtrip, and didn’t even make it down to the mile & half house, the trail just came steeper and harder to get down. Mile markers would have been helpful to know how far down we were, I bet we were close.

Had lunch at the General Market, I love this place! Brought some souvenirs, got a GCNP collapsible cooler for the car. We then did the full route of Hermit’s Rest, we had to wait for the 3rd bus at the first point, but a ranger comes and talks you through the system and tells you a lot of interesting information. We spent 3hrs on the shuttle stopping at every point, apart from the first. The shuttle has a very good buffer system, so you never have to wait long for the bus, once on route.

Watched sunset from the bus stop, dinner at the lodge, and finished the night playing cards in the cabin.









===============================================

Fri 2nd July: GCNP to Monument Valley

We had decided yesterday, to watch the sunrise from Hopi Point – we got on the 4:45am Hermit’s Rest shuttle bus, there wasn’t anywhere near the same amount of people queuing that were yesterday afternoon, the bus arrived, in total there was about 10 people on it.

Everyone got off a Powell point apart from us and another man, we both got off at Hopi Point but the other man disappeared, appearing later after the sun had risen sunrise was 5:15am. We had Hopi Point all to ourselves until, a tour bus of about 15 people turned up, just in time for sunrise, they didn’t stay long, only around 10-15mins. We then walked down to Powell Point to catch the bus, but managed to miss it at the viewpoint and ended up waiting ½ hr for the next shuttle to arrive.



Back to the room, we loaded up the car, and checked out of our cabin, and headed for breakfast at the Market Plaza [cheaper than Maswik Cafeteria], I wanted to purchase a National Park Passport, so we went to the Visitor Centre, got one and proceeded around the park and filled it with stamps.

By 9am, we were on the road heading out of the East Entrance to Monument Valley. We spent 3.5hrs driving the 25miles of Desert View, there was a lot of viewpoints we stopped at, we saw an elk, and also decided to start playing the license plate game [We did manage to get all 50, though we did cheat once, we never did find ‘West Virginia’ only on a restaurant wall at the end of the trip. We saw a wider range of plates travelling through the southwest NPs, compared to CA – which was CA, CA, CA plates constantly] Desert View was a good drive, I think that day, was the day I managed to burn my shoulders.





12:30pm, and we were finally on our way to Monument Valley

========================================

Overall, I really enjoyed GCNP, it's something you can't really believe, and grasp its size. 2 nights is definitely the perfect amount of time.
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WDW Trips DL July 2010 DLRP Sept 2012
1993,1995,1997,1999,2001,2002,2005,2006,2008

5 Weeks, 4 States and 3874 Miles around California and the Southwest Roadtrip here

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Old 10-13-2010, 08:34 AM   #4
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MONUMENT VALLEY

The View Hotel: There is a $5 entrance fee per person even if you’re staying at the hotel. The room was great, but the hotel itself was a bit ergh, the gift shop was full of tat, most items were on sale. The restaurant was average, we had dinner and breakfast there, got $5 off per person for the breakfast buffet.

We had a room on the 2nd room, with great views of MV, we could watch all the cars on the dirt roads, we even had a little rainstorm. Comfy night’s sleep, watched sunset and sunrise from the room, free wire-less, and parking too.

============================================

Fri 2nd July: 12:30pm, and we were finally on our way to Monument Valley, we stopped in Tuba City for gas and lunch at McDonalds [a recurring habit], the drive took 3 ½ hr including stops, we got stopped by a police checkpoint, just before entering the state of Utah. Time had jumped forward; we checked into The View hotel, at 5pm and had room 217 – great views. We checked out the hotel, gift shop and visitor centre, ended up playing cards in the room while watching sunset. There was a 30% chance of a thunderstorm, which I managed to miss while being in the shower.







=============================================

Saturday 3rd July: MV to Page, AZ

We watched sunrise for the room





Today we had a guided tour of MV at 9am, first we had breakfast, buffet only and $5 for hotel guests – the breakfast was better than dinner. We booked in advance the 2.5hr our tour with Simpson’s Trailhandler, we waited in The View Lobby at 8:45am, and no one was there, no other tourists, no one, as the minutes passed I wondered if we have been scammed. It was 9:05, and we got the hotel to ring Simpsons. It turns out the only other person wandering the lobby was our tour guide -- why didn't he come approach us?

Anywho, we were the only 3 people on the tour that morning, we had an unmarked open aired truck, it was abet awkward to start with, and the guide wasn't very chatty, at first I just thought we were going to drive around, without stopping. Our first stop was at one of the markets the locals set up, trying to make you buy stuff -- I wasn't impressed with this, we ended up stopping at 2 markets, we did end up buying some bracelets, my mum’s is broken, she noticed when we got to Page. We were supposed to stop and see the Hogan’s, but we never did.

The guide warmed up to us, through the tour, with stopped a various places, he told us about all the monuments, rock formations etc... It was a good tour, MV is definitely a sight, and I wouldn't recommend driving the track in your our car. A tour is the way to go, but I'm not sure if this one was worth the money.

We finished the tour at 11:45am and were on the road to Page, AZ

=========================================

Overall I enjoyed our brief visit to MV, it's a sight to see.
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WDW Trips DL July 2010 DLRP Sept 2012
1993,1995,1997,1999,2001,2002,2005,2006,2008

5 Weeks, 4 States and 3874 Miles around California and the Southwest Roadtrip here

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Old 10-13-2010, 08:35 AM   #5
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PAGE, ARIZONA

We stayed in Page for 2 nights; it was an enjoyable stay, over the 4th July. It would have been nice just to chill out and relax here, on the lake.

Marriott Courtyard: This was our first stay at a Courtyard Marriott; the room was spacious, nice bathroom, free Wi-Fi and parking and free coffee in the morning. We enjoyed afternoons by the pool, not a lot of pool beds only around 15, and some were broken. Not a lot of great dining choices in Page though, but your usual Subways, Sonics, and Wal-Mart’s.

=============================================

Sat 3rd July: We were on the road to Page, AZ by 12:20 UT time it took us 2hrs to get to Page and were there by 1:20 AZ time. We stayed the Marriott Courtyard, there was quite a queue to check-in, but we got a room on the top room overlooking the golf course, room 417.

We had a little drive around the town, finding where the Antelope Canyon Tour left the next day, had lunch at Subway, watch some 4th July activities going on. Ended up relaxing by the pool for a couple of hours, back to the room, uploaded some photos and showered. We fancied Italian for dinner, and ate at Stromboli’s outside on the deck, the place was busy, the portions were large, and the salads that came with the entrees were good, the bill was just under $50 for the 3 of us. Went to Wal-Mart got a few supplies, and ended the night playing cards in the room.

===============================================

Sun 4th July: First lie in of the trip, until 7:15am, though I was really up from 5ish. Out of the room by 8am, Mum & Dad had a complimentary coffee from the lobby, and we drove to Horseshoe Bend. It took us about 45mins to do the 1.5mile round trip, the terrain was mainly sand, a hard sweaty walk even at 8am, we stopped for breakfast at Subway we were their first customers of the day, opened at 9am – the smell of fresh cookies was filling the room and we just couldn’t resist and each had a cookie for afters.



We had a look around Glen Canyon, very interesting. Headed back to the room and freshen up before our 11:30am Upper Antelope Canyon Tour, we arrived at 11:15 the place was chaotic, we checked in and waited outside to start boarding. It's a bit mad, when the guides are trying to organize you into your trucks, no groups want to be separated etc.., and they do need to have a better system for this.

You do get herded through the canyon like cows the experience would be absolutely amazing if it was just a few people in the canyon. We booked probably the busiest time slot of the day 11:30, I think around 8 trucks from Ekis drove to the Canyon, let alone how many other tour companies were there.

Walking through the canyon is an amazing experience, your guide does shout at the group a lot to carry on, follow me. But if you listen to them, they will take great photos for you on your camera that you could never get yourself, as an amateur photographer. As said AMAZING, don't miss out, definitely visit the canyon.



We had lunch at Sonic [a chain we don’t have at home], sat outside it was a very windy day, better and big burger than MD’s, we then drove and stopped at some of the scenic outlooks, the wind had really picked up, and at one outlook we were being pelted with sand and stones. Dad wanted to get on a boat, so we headed to Lake Powell [our NP pass got us in for free], the tours were too $$$, so we watched some boats at the landing for awhile, before heading back to the hotel and relaxing by the pool for an hr or so.





Washed and showered and went to Fiesta Mexican for dinner, the place was packed, the portions were large, we couldn’t eat it all, and on the way out we saw the finale of the 4th July fireworks. Before heading to Wal-Mart for more supplies.

=========================================

Monday 5th July: Page to Bryce Canyon NP

We pretty much just had breakfast at Subway, with cookies for afters, and left Page to head for Bryce.
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iflorida

WDW Trips DL July 2010 DLRP Sept 2012
1993,1995,1997,1999,2001,2002,2005,2006,2008

5 Weeks, 4 States and 3874 Miles around California and the Southwest Roadtrip here

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Old 10-13-2010, 08:36 AM   #6
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BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK, UTAH

Ruby's: We were on the first floor around the back of the hotel, with a lakeside view hardly what I would call an lakeside view though. We were only in Bryce for one night; wish it could have been longer. Would happily stay at Ruby's again, had dinner at the buffet, which was nice, good meats. Free parking and free Wi-Fi.

============================================

Mon 5th July: Page to Bryce Canyon NP

We had Breakfast at Subway, with cookies for afters, and then got on the road heading for Bryce. No sooner than crossing the state line into Utah, we got pulled over by the cops, and Dad received a hefty fine for speeding, while speaking to the officer, my iPod broke. Turns out there was contact solution [not ours, left from the previous rental] where I was storing my iPod under the radio. My iPod was officially broke! Not a good start to the day.

But driving to Bryce was a gorgeous drive, through little small towns, lush green farms with huge houses in the middle of nowhere, Dixie National Forest and Red Canyon. We lost an hr coming in to Utah and checked into Ruby’s around 12ish. We went and got lunch from Subway at the entrance of Bryce City [which is mainly own by Best Western], this Subway was expensive $9 for a foot long.









Around 2-3ish we finally make our way into Bryce NP, and did the 18mile scenic drive. We drove all the way, and then stopped on the way back; we stopped at most of the points. The ampitheatre is a lot more impressive compared to the drive, and the whole of Bryce Canyon is very red.

For dinner we had the buffet at Ruby’s, it was $18 each not a lot of choice but the food was GOOD, I really enjoyed this meal.

==============================================

Tues 6th July: We were planning on doing a horse ride through Bryce, but were too tired soo skipped it, got breakfast and headed to Zion.

===================================

Bryce was good, I would like to go back, looking back I wished we had done the horse ride, if would have been amazing.
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iflorida

WDW Trips DL July 2010 DLRP Sept 2012
1993,1995,1997,1999,2001,2002,2005,2006,2008

5 Weeks, 4 States and 3874 Miles around California and the Southwest Roadtrip here

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