Grand Tetons

Hello Grand Tetons

It was a short drive from our log cabin to Jackson Hole, Wy. Whilst Jackson looked a very typical USA tourist town - as soon as we left it we were instantly back in the Wild West - or as Juliet likes to call it "Marlboro Country".

Bison & Antelope

Just past the National Elk Refuge we spotted a herd of Bison, along with some antelope.

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Over the road the Grand teton mountain range kept popping out of the cloud and mist.

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We also managed to get out of the car to stretch our legs.

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Off-Road Excursion

Having found where the hotel was for that evening - as it was not showing on the GPS, we then did a little off-roading to see if we could see any more wildlife - alas no.

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Hello Yellowstone

With 5 hours of time spare - we zipped up the road to YellowStone, passing the area which had caused the road to be closed. The damage from the fire was quite shocking, you could smell the charcoal/bbq smell, and in places small fires were still smouldering.

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Old Faithful

The area around this attraction looks like the car park of your favoite super-market when they are having a sale, it was quite shocking (and we are in off-season) It was easy to escape the crowds - just walk anywhere past the Old Faithful circle. They have seats for the crowds to watch when it erupts.

As we had some spare time we looked at many of the other geysers - the smell - rotten eggs !!

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To kiil even more time - Dora the Explora, and I went to look at Old Faithful for a short walk - ha ha... Not sure if sitting around all day, or 7,000 ft of elevation was to blame - but it was hard work.

Lewis Waterfall

Lewis and Clark were some of the earliest explorers of the Rockies, so I was expecting a bigger waterfall for such a distinguished explorer. Little disappointed but it was a lovely sight.

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Deer Time

About 1 mile before of rather splendid log cabin, I spotted some deer. Who were quite obliging in letting me film them.

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More Photos

There are more in the gallery

Thayne, Wy

Grand Canyon to Thayne, Wy

After having a smashing day out on the Grand Canyon, we spent the rest of the afternoon travelling North towards Salt Lake City, UT.

Our route co-incided with the route we had used to get to Las Vegas - so we had to drive over 20 miles on the same road !! The only duplication I think in this years trip so far.

The trip was quite easy - just a long way.

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After a good evenings rest - and the best breakfast on the road since leaving Washington (Best Western, Layton,UT - thank you) we then headed closer to Jackson.

The scenary was great - the conditions with strong winds and rain less so.

We did plan on staying at Montpellier - famous for being robbed by Butch Cassidy it seems - alas if he returned today he would only find Thrift stores. We were so un-impressed we carried on to Thayne, Wy where we found a small cabin by a stream.

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Testing out our warm clothing

Whilst overlooking Bear Lake - we decided it was timeto make sure we were not going to freeze to death - as the North Face fleeces were not keeping us warm.

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Having convinced ourselves that we are not going to perish (and I will not be wearing shorts until we return to Virginia) - we carried on.

Bear Lake National Wildlife Reserve

Despite hoping to get to see lots of Wildlife in Yellowstone & Grand Tetons, took ourselves off to a National wildlife reserve at the top of Beak Lake.

Initially it was not looking promising - but we lucked on a few animals.

Pelican

Now just what a Pelican is doing in Wyoming I have no clue - but it was not alone. After 5 minutes of research this is actually an American white pelican.

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Not the most aerodynamic of birds - but fun to watch when they were catching fish.

Raptor

Alas I an not 100% sure if this is, I think it is a Gyrfalcon or a Prarie Falcon. It was initially feeding just 20 meters from the dirt road - but I backed the car up a little to get a better view, and the bird flew away so it was aprox 50 meters away (this is the reason you buy full frame camera's with decent lenses).

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Northern Flicker

This took a little work to identify - but it is a type of Woodpecker.

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American Kestrel

Another long range picture

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Cheecky Swallows

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Elk

When it seemed like there was no hope for anthing large to spot - juliet noticed"2 cows" - I thought "Umm - not very cow shaped".... and just standing there were 2 elk.

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I'm no Turkey

As we were heading out of the reserve - I noticed a group of crows being scared off a dead rabbit.

This is a Turkey Vulture. jp1jp1

Grand Canyon Rafting

After a rather poor evenings sleep, we arose at 0600 to a terrible breakfast, and sent off to Colorado River Rafting in the centre of Page.

Having paid and signed up the previous afternoon, we only had to sign the "dis-claimer" which was quite painless really.

On the bus

To get to the river, we all headed out in a school bus - which was driven by a very jolly sole - who told us some funny yarns. On approaching the Dam, we were met by some homeland secuity guard who decided we could enter the dam. This involved a 2 mile drive through a tunnel so we could reach the river level !!

After putting on safety hats and walking down a gang-plank and removing the safety hats - we were finally on the double tubed rafts.

At this point I think it is time for pics.

About 30 feet shorted than the Hoozer dam - just try and not imagine the 500 feet of water on the other side.

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Here you can see an arch starting to form. In fact there were lots of examples like this - this one just happened to be 300 feet high !!

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Pectographs

There are some rock carvings that were made by the local people aprox 1,000-1,500 years ago.

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The rugged rafters

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Stunning scenary

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One sad note

We had to say good-bye to Jocelyne and Ramey - as we headed north to Salt-Lake City whilst they return to Las Vegas.

Many thanks for the amazing hospitality - we look forward to the next time.

There are more photos available here

Wupatki Pueblo and Big Bend, Az

Bye bye Sedona

Sky

After a very comfertable night at the Sky-Ranch in Sedona, we headed towards the Wupatki Pueblo.

The trip plan was trip

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Volcano Ridge

On entering the scenic road heading towards the Pueblo, we paid the State park entry fee of $20, and we moved on a very pretty road. We spotted some pastures and stopped to see the wonderful views.

Pasture

The volcano first (and so far) the last erupted 1,000 years ago, and covered the whole area not only with pumace - but left a very impressive lava flow field.

Lava Flow Field

The US park service had placed a small trail through some very sharp and ragged rock fields. Amazingly the rocks abounded with small lizards - the plant life was struggling to make any inroads - but here and there a tree of bush had succeeded in prospering.

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The Puebloes

We visited 2 ancient (circa 1100 A.D.) buildings, and they were both very intersting. The sites were in rather strange locations - it made it difficult to understand as to why they were built in such places.

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Whilst the buildings were not fancy, it was remarkable that they were built at all as most of the Native american Indians were nomadic.

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Navaho Country

As we left central Arizona behind we entered the lands of the Navaho Nation. Native American housing settlements are dotted around the landscape - seemingly identifiable due to Jewelry and Pottery shops - plus exceedingly large Pick-up trucks.

We were heading to Page, Az - just next to Lake Meade - where hopefully tomorrow morning we will be going rafting down the Colorado/Grand Canyon.

However - before we got to Page - there was one "must see" location - Big-Bend

Big Bend

The GPS in the car showed clearly the bend ahead, and I remarked to Juliet that we should be able to see this soon - but no signs. In fact the Town (City?) of Page was looming into life on the horizon.

The first indication as to you are there - are the scores of people walking up a smallish hill. Very quickly you have a "Big Bend Parking" sign - and you have arrived.

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The weather when we were there was warm - about 35c (which is quite Ok for Oman) - but here in the US there were extreme weather signs - stern warnings of what would happen if you proceeded without liquids etc.

So Dora the Explora aka Juliet got her new Rucksack sorted out and we headed to the "small hill" - which after a few minutes had us huffing and puffing.

A short walk along the top - to where there is a rest house - and we assumed we were there. But no - we now had a long and gradual descent.

A word of warning - in a country that has 15 mph speed limits outside schools, which forbids innocent people seeing alcohol being poured and restricts the sale of Wine - it does not seem to feel that a 500 ft drop is anything to worry about.

There are no fences/warnings at all here. Well done America.

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Quiet ?

In case you think Big-Bend is going to be a quiet and peaceful place.... 60% were chinese when we were here.

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Gallery

There are some more photos here

Horse hitch

Arizona meteroite

Alas our time in Las Vegas was over and we started the day at a rather early 0500, unfortunatly one of the party - Donna - was unwell and unable to come along with us. I hope that she will soon be feeling better and be able to undertake this trip.

The plan - quite simple really

  • Leave Vegas
  • Hoover Dam
  • Flagstaff, Az
  • Meteorite crater
  • Sedona
    • Feel the Vortex (it some hippy thing)

Trip

To the Hoover Dam

The trip from Vegas took only about 40 minutes - Joscelene and Remmy followed in their own car, so we went through Henderson and to the Dam un-escorted.

On arriving at the Dam, we got quizzed and the car got a look over by the Homeland Security people (I guess it is a site of national importance) - The lady was very pleasant - and told us to park in Arizona !! We dutifully complied - and drove across the dam, and parked in the lower car park - but as we were there at 0610 - and there was no-one to collect the $10 - it was free.

Hoover Dam

Arriving early - I mean really early was great. There was parking, no people... and plenty of the workers who were about to go to their jobs happy to talk about the dam.

The dam is impressive, scary, wonderfully 30's - and makes a great day out from Vegas.

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Good quality facilities are so hard to find these days :)

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Juliet looking cool and relaxed on the Arizona side of the Hoover Dam.

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I do not often feel dizzy with heights - but this did rather spin my head for a second or two.

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This is the new bridge that bypasses Hoover.

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The view back up the lake.

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Joscelene, Remmy & Charlie

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Angels for those who died building the dam.

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Meteor Crater

It is a little drive !! make that aprox 4 hours form Hoover to Flagstaff - where we re-grouped with Remmy in his fancy Sports car.

With slightly low fuel tanks - we headed off to the Meteor crater - and with each passing mile that fear of running out of petrol grew. But at mile post 233 - there was an exit and a petrol station - just as the Garmin Gps has predicted. You have to love these things when they work....

Just after the Mobile petrol station I spotted this old nodding donkey

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You then drive about another 6 miles, and pay a rather outragous amount of $18/per person. To gain entry to the Meteor site. The building is quite modern and has good facilities; On arriving at the top... you are greeted with this as a view....

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Spot the astronaut

To make the point as to how big this hole is there is a mock up of Neil Armstrong on the crater floor. Check the previous picture .... Don't believe me ?

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Stunning

Not only is the hole very impressive but so is the surrounding landscape.

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Well worth the effort if you are in the area.

Photo Gallery

These images are available here

The Strip

We had a walk out down the strip - Juliet managed to win some money at a Casino (and did not give it them back). Our last day in Vegas - as we are moving again tomorrow.

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Many thanks to Remmy, Joscelene & Donna for accomodating us.

Red Rock

Red Rock Canyon

Had a great morning out at Red Rock state park.

Photo montage only today sorry

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That's all folks....

Cedar to Las Vegas

The last phase of the journey to Las Vegas was about to start. Cedar City was much larger than anywhere we had stayed before. But the Motel 6 was the cheapest we had expierienced on the trip so far.

to LV

Weird Laws

We discovered that it is not possible to buy Spirits or Wine in the State of Utah unless you go to a goverment owned alcohol shop !!

Now considering we live in the Middle East - where there are no lack of crazy rules - this we thought was one of the most ridiculous laws we had heard.

Wallmart Shopping

It is not posh/fancy or even easy to navigate around - but you have to take your hat off to Wallmart, they sell just about everything from Dog Food, Hunting Rifles, Flat Screen Tv's as well as "fashion" items. In fact they sell not only lots of stuff - but everything is in a Mega Pack.

We gave up trying to find 1 can of 7-Up, instead we had the choice of a 1.5 LtrsBottle - or a family value pack of 24 !! But I just want 1 !!!

Unlike Safeway who demanded I proved that I was over 21 three days ago, WallMart who applies a "We card you if you appear under 40" - seemed to think I was more than 40 :(, I think my ego prefers shopping at Safeway.

Road trip

The trip to Las Vegas was easy - fast moving road, with quite a large number of police. Speed limits that varied from 80-55 Mph - so you needed to be aware of your surroundings.

Camera Issue

The last day in The Arches had shown again that my D600 was suffering from spots on the Sensor. This has been the achiellies heel of the D600 - prompting a new camera (the D610 very soon after its launch).

I contacted B&C Camera in Vegas by email, and as they were open on Labour Day we dropped the camera off at their shop on W Saharah. It was ready to pick-up 4 hours later.

Friends & Family

We were reunited with Rammy and Donna, who have made us feel very welcome in the comfertable home. A few hours later, Joscelene joined us after finishing work.

Arches National Park

Having already visited Arches the previous day, we were rather stunned at the at the number of visitors who happened to be at the park, I suppose this should've been expected considering it was a Labor Day weekend; However when we approached some of the more popular in areas even the overflowed car parks had overflowed.

We noted the missing sites we had not visited on the excellent Park map, and planned to return the following morning.

Wake Up

I'm not sure if it's is because we have changed hotels/time-zones or rooms so many times in the past three days - but waking up early seems quite easy to do at the moment. Today we had been smart, and had packed up the room the previous evening - so at 0530 - we were up and off.

Free Park Entry

Should you be a mean and miserable person, then it appears that arches does not open it’s ticket booths until 0730 - but the park is open 24 hours a day. We were rather let down by no ranger Smith (the name we have given all rangers in honor of Yogi Bear) - but as we had already got a ticket which was valid for 7 days (the minimum you can buy) - we were not breaking the park rules.

We should be the first there

Ha - Ha - Ha. Yes we did think that for about 10 seconds, until the other car pulled up at the ranger station and drove straight through.

Arches

There was defiantly less traffic - but at 0610 as we started the short 15 minute hike to the arch we had chosen to see, the car park was already filling rapidly. Mainly it has to be said with Photographers - carrying all sorts of gear.

Lights - Camera - Rain

The mountain weather again was very changeable - in the distance we could see lightening flashes - but so far away using them in any photos would have been very difficult indeed

We started off at the North Window - which was nice - impressive, but was far too crowded (yes even at 0620) - so we moved around to the South Window (still a few people up on the main path), and then it started to rain.

North WindowSouth Window

This was great - as it made what had been a little dull arch, into something much more spectacular.

South WindowRain Please

Take the long way home

We then walked back via the Primitive Trail - and not only do you get too see the arches (North and South) in a much better light - but there are no people. And…. if you are quiet and careful - you should get to see some wildlife.

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Looking back at the North and South Arches

The trail is easy to follow - and there are no people, plus this side faces the sun - so it is well lit !!

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Double Arch

Having got back to the car area, we hiked the short distance to Double Arch - which was quiet - despite the time now being 0815. This is spectacular to look at but rather tricky to frame - as it is so large - even my 16mm Full frame lense does not do it any justice.

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Time to travel again

Having spent 3 hours in the park, enjoyed the scenery, sunrise, wildlife and got some exercise in the process - we decided to head to our next port of call, Cedar City, UT which is a short distance away from Las Vegas.

As we left the park at 0840, there was a queue of aprox 50 vehicles waiting to get into the park !! We counted at lest 4 large Tour Buses.

If you want to enjoy this place - Go Early

Arches

More Arches

More Images are available.

Arches

Gunnison to Moab, UT

Heading to Moab

Still with the goal of getting to Las Vegas - we headed toward to adventure sports town of Moab, UT.

This was the route

Gunnison to Moab

I was expecting the same type of moutain driving as the day before, and this assumption was correct. I did not however expect the sudden and severe rainstorms.

Rainbow

Amazing scenary

It is difficult to say which of the two days so far has had the most amazing scenary - Yesterdays it was such a shock, today we almost expect to be impressed - and we were.

Storms ahead

Just before we left CO, we passed through some small county roads with some amazing properties.

Lovely area

Moab, UT

Settled close to two national parks, this is a town built around visitors, plus it is the US Labor day weekend (so eveyone is off for this holiday as technically it marks the end of summer).

We booked the evning before with my friends at Booking.com - as we arrived at 13:00 in Moab we double checked the hotel, and the booking was ok.

Arches National Park

Simply stunning !!

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More Photos are available.