Road Trip Diary, days 1 & 2: Heading for Yellowstone

Parts of this post were previously published here. This is the first of four posts recounting our 2008 vacation – the others are here, here, and here.

Day 1: leaving home, bound for Cedar City, Utah

We actually got on the road when we planned to, so we seemed to be off to an auspicious start. The short-term goal was Vegas by lunchtime. We made the typical LA-to-Vegas pause in Barstow for a rest stop and purchase of snacks, and then got back on the road. The closer we got to Las Vegas, the hotter it got, and the temperatures were well over 100 degrees by noon.

Vegas in the early afternoon on Saturday isn’t all bright lights and glitz – it’s more like just plain gaudy. And HOT, and crowded. The crush of people proved to be a little much for the kids, and Tall Girl got a bit overwhelmed by it all; we changed our plans to have lunch at one of the casino restaurants and headed for the familiar red-white-and-yellow safe harbor of our beloved In-N-Out Burger. I sent Chris a text message telling him where we were, and he replied back commending us for going so far for such foreign food. (Tall Paul and I are seriously thinking about a Las Vegas show trip for our wedding anniversary in October, so we’ll try to dine at Margaritaville when we go back on our own.)

Since we ended up not lingering in Las Vegas, we decided to head northeast and make our detour to Zion National Park on the way to Cedar City. Our drive to the park took us through the interestingly-named towns of Hurricane (in Utah?) and Virgin. The rock formations in the small corner of northwestern Arizona that we drove through were gorgeous, but Zion was simply awe-inspiring. That stop threw is a little off-track, though, because that was where we realized we had entered the Mountain time zone and had therefore lost an hour. It was by all means a worthwhile detour, but it meant that we didn’t reach our motel in Cedar City till after 9:30 on Saturday night, and we couldn’t find a place to eat before we got there. Luckily, there was a pizza place adjoining the hotel that delivered.

One good thing we noticed pretty quickly once we left California is that gas really did get noticeably less expensive. By the time we reached southwestern Utah in the evening, we were seeing per-gallon prices for premium that were less than $4.50; we’re paying more than that for regular at home now.

One not-so-good thing is that there was something in the air or the natural environment around Cedar City that that seemed to aggravate my allergies; my eyes would not stop watering.

A photo album from Day 1 is here, but here’s a taste, from the ridiculous (a.k.a. the Las Vegas Strip)…

to the sublime (Zion National Park, Utah):

Day 2: Cedar City to Logan, Utah

After a nice Father’s Day breakfast, we were back on our way. We were in four states on Saturday, but today we’d be in Utah all day long. I didn’t know the state was quite so big.

There’s a lot of nice ranch land in central Utah, but not much else. Sunday is a quiet travel day, and many businesses are closed. This was particularly surprising to the kids, who are used to the 24/7 culture of Southern California, and were just stunned by the empty parking lots and the fact that we could not find a Subway that was open. We did make a mid-morning stop at the a Chevron/Dairy Queen in Beaver Valley that was open, though; I picked up some Benadryl for my watery eyes, and I have to say that the place had some of the nicest rest-stop bathrooms I have ever seen. As we discovered that I-15 really only skirts Salt Lake City, lunch was at a Chili’s in Bountiful that wasn’t especially busy – after turning away from yet another Subway that was closed. After lunch, our detour for the day was to Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake where – yes – we actually did see three antelope, plus one bison.

When we left the I-15 and headed northwest to Logan, we found ourselves in some very beautiful country. Our motel was rather old-fashioned on the outside, but the rooms were nicely refurbished, and I was very excited to find free wi-fi access in the rooms! I caught up on e-mail and blog comment replies.

After big breakfasts and lunches, no one was really hungry in the evening, which was just as well – because, again, we didn’t find any open restaurants. Tall Paul and I took a walk for a few blocks down Main Street – yes, our motel was on Main Street – and felt like we had traveled back to 1957. It wasn’t just because of the old buildings, but because the streets were so quiet and no businesses were open. We decided that in come ways, we really liked it.

We had two rooms at all of our stops; the kids were with Grandma most nights, but depending on the room set-ups sometimes one might stay with their dad and me. We had The Boy in our room on Saturday night due to the late ending to the day, but Tall Paul and I had our room in Logan to ourselves. He crashed early, and I started writing this, although I wasn’t able to download any pictures at the time, having left the necessary cable down in the car at home attached to Tall Paul’s iMac.

Monday’s plan called for a scenic-highway drive into Wyoming, with a stop in Jackson, and arrival at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel that evening, where we would settle in for three Internet-free nights.

Photos from Day 2 can be found here, and here’s a look at Main Street in Logan:

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  1. I enjoyed reading this post! My family just got back from a road trip in the opposite direction – to Nova Scotia by way of Maine. I know what you mean about changing time zones and trying to find a late supper upon reaching the hotel. We had plenty of adventures, too!

  2. Loved the photo of Main Street. Looks just the way it should. Have fun! Drive carefully!

    –Working Girl

  3. Those are nice photos. Everything looks so natural. I like the pictures of Utah, too. 🙂
    Vegas has it’s purpose, but I wouldn’t want to trudge through the masses for lunch either. I’ve never had an In-N-out burger, but I’ve heard great things!

  4. Daisy – I enjoyed reading your vacation posts too, especially your coffee odyssey :-)! This is actually the first of four road-trip recaps, so I hope you’ll be back for the rest.

    (Hey everyone – follow the link to Daisy’s profile, and head over to her blog Compost Happens, to read about her family’s road trip!)

    WG – We’ve actually been back for a week :-). This is part of a series of posts about the trip, and an excuse for posting pictures. Main Street was actually quite nice, although a bit underpopulated on a Sunday evening.

    Mike – If you make it back out to SoCal on day, we’ll take you and your family to In-N-Out. There will be more pictures to come!

  5. These pics of Utah are making me want to go back! It sounds like it was a great family adventure – one you’ll all remember.

  6. Caroline – It was a great trip, and it requires four posts to tell all about it; the other two will be up next week.

    I was very taken with the beauty of Utah myself.