2012 Road Trip, Part 4: Racing Home

As I’ve mentioned before…. someone had an Anatomy exam scheduled for the day after we arrived home from our trip. That someone was me. Our professor decided to tell my classmates and I that he was moving our exam up two weeks, the final class before our trip. I texted David in a panic from class to see if he thought we’d have enough time to make the long drive back. And, I’d have to take my 30-pound book with me on vacation. Boo!!!

But, we made the best of it. As much as I didn’t want to go home, I was ready to leave Vegas to see more of the desert and mountains.

This also meant losing time as we raced home across three time zones. So the morning that we were due to check out of the hotel, we left around 4am Vegas time; I couldn’t sleep, so I got up and started packing. Which of course woke David up, so we decided to leave super early.

However, this wound up being a good thing. We decided to take the long, long detour to see if we could get to the Grand Canyon skywalk.

Let me tell you, this was a bust.

Sunrise in Arizona--driving out to the Grand Canyon
Sunrise in Arizona–driving out to the Grand Canyon

We drove for well over an hour down a narrow gravel road (complete with cacti, cows, and the occasional buffalo) to the Indian Reservation. They don’t tell you until you get there that it’s like $75 a person to even enter the reservation, and another fee to go the skywalk.

NEVERMIND.

What I did like about this detour was getting to see the landscape as the sun rose (mind you, this was still before 6am their time). It was beautiful. So even if we didn’t get to do what we had hoped for, we still made plenty of memories.

From here we left to go to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Yes, there was still snow on the ground.

Snow just outside the entrance--South Rim.
Snow just outside the entrance–South Rim.

There are just no words. So here’s a few pictures instead:

The colors are UNbelievable!
The colors are UNbelievable!

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There just wasn’t enough time. I wish we could have stayed longer. We decided to skip Four Corners since we were running out of time. So the race continued onto Moab. We hoped we would make it before dark. It wasn’t looking good. We did manage to stop at Wilson’s Arch:

Wilson's Arch--Utah
Wilson’s Arch–Utah

We hiked a good distance up this monster (me in my flip flops, go figure). I got a jar of sand here as a momento.

Here, time stands still. It’s so quiet. The air seems so clean. (Or maybe it’s just a warped perception since the air is thinner?) Give me the mountains and deserts over city life. This part of the country is so very different from home that it doesn’t feel like we could possibly still be in the US.

We did manage to make it to Moab and Arches National Park just as the sun was setting. By the time we drove up to the top of the park, it was too dark to see much of anything, but I did manage to get a couple silhouettes:

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This is where we decided to push through and stay in Grand Junction, CO. We were wiped out by the time we finally got to our hotel. The next day, we stopped in Colorado Springs to meet one of David’s family friends, Dale for lunch (and let me tell you, this guy tops my list of Most Interesting People I’ve Ever Met. Used to work for Harley-Davidson. Owns a house in Colorado–that I’d buy in a heartbeat and move into if I had enough cash just laying around. Regularly jet-sets to destinations all over the world. I mean seriously, I’d love to do all of that… the guy has scuba’d in a volcano.). We did a few minutes of sight-seeing in the Garden of the Gods before beginning our race back home anew.

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The very last glimpse of the mountains:

Bye bye Rockies, I miss you already!
Bye bye Rockies, I miss you already!

We finally made it home. AND I aced my Anatomy exam.

The only thing either of us had to say afterward:

When can we go back?

And that, my friends, is the very long-winded story of how this self-proclaimed “beach girl” fell in love with the wonders of the American West.

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