Saturday, August 11, 2012

Las Vegas - here we are again

No surprises today and everything went as planned.

- Grand Canyon - checked
- Hoover Dam - checked
- MGM Grand in LV - checked in ;-)

We got an upgrade to a beautiful room on the 26th floor with airport view - spot on! We'll stay in this sin-city for 2 nights and then head up north towards Minden.

It is amazing how much we see and explore every single day. The long drives are challenging and that's why we decided to stay here for 2 nights - just to get some rest... OK, time for dinner!

Friday, August 10, 2012


We visited 3 states today and made it to the Grand Canyon as planned. It was the longest day so far - exactly 555 miles. It got dark quickly and we didn't manage to have a closer look at the canyon but we checked in a hotel right next to it so that we can do it tomorrow before we head for Las Vegas. I know, I know we both said we're not going there again but it seems to be the most convenient way to Minden, NV. We booked Vegas for the weekend and will arrive in Minden Sunday night.

on the road again

the view behind

First stop was the Utah tourist information center. It is just incredible how well equipped and informative all these information centers are. They also have free wi-fi and coffee. It is maybe worth mentioning that the hotels here all have complimentary wireless and/or wired internet access - big difference compared to $20 which you have to pay in an Australian hotel for a day ...

new state, new board

working on the first thermal of the day

favorite pose on tops of hills

no comment needed

Today's drive was again spectacular and the views breathtaking. We stopped in the Arches National Park and explored the place as intensive as we could. It was a short visit because we still had a long way ahead of us. It is hard to describe what we've seen there and the pictures can't give it back 100% but I'll try so here they are:

just couldn't believe the color of the soil and rocks

rock formations in the national park

Delicate Arch

105F and we walked to the upper vista point

in proper hiking footwear

We stopped here and there so Ziggy could move few stones off the way:

"last one and you can walk by!"

a little re-positioning

Agenda for tomorrow: 
1. explore the big crack in the ground
2. drive over Hoover Dam
3. make it to Las Vegas

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Rockies and Aspen Colorado

Not too many miles done today but the same amount of hours driving. We decided to take the hard and winding path through the Rockies to Aspen and the views were to die for. We kept driving and driving sort of knowing that we are climbing all the time but there were no signs indicating the elevation on the way till we reached the pass - 12 095 ft. The air was really thin over there and we noticed it walking to the vista point. I am really positively surprised with the little Subaru we have. It showed no signs at all of getting tired at altitude.

first time we didn't miss the state change on the freeway

the highest I've ever been with ground contact

little rest in the thin air

one of the very few ones

getting as high as possible

restroom door

The main attraction for the day was supposed to be Aspen which unfortunately turned out to be fairly disappointing. We passed so many much more interesting places on the way. One of them was a little country town somewhere in the mountains.

exploring the cute little town

socializing with the locals

what a surprise - the guy could even speak a few words Polish

After a challenging drive through the mountains with sometimes just one lane for both directions we finally made it to Aspen. This very famous winter holiday destination was as I already mentioned before a bit disappointing. The town itself was just beautiful and clean as it can be but ... it felt artificial. I think it's meant just for the big bucks customers and simple tourists like us are not really welcome. We had a nice lunch and decided to leave the place heading to the north. No need to stay there for the night. Just after we left town we were passing by the airport and found the explanation for our perception of Aspen. I have never seen that many private jets on one airport. We tried to estimate the number and ended up with 100+.

downtown Aspen

We drove about 40 miles further north to Glenwood Springs, a place with a very vibrant history, and checked in our first priority lodging location. This time we're having a Flinstone bed! It's cosy and smells like a well deserved long night sleep:

Flinstone bed

The plans for our further travel underwent some serious modifications today and we decided to proceed to the Grand Canyon tomorrow. A very long drive is ahead of us but Ziggy hasn't seen the Canyon yet and i think it's really worth it. We've got some 9 hours drive so it's better to hit the road pretty early in the morning.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

from Texas to New Mexico

510 miles more done today and we experienced all possible kinds of landscape. Starting with sort of greenish desert, through real dusty desert to mountains, beautiful forests and green fields - all in one state. New Mexico is called this way for a reason. Here, Spanish seems to be the first language. Again there were quite a few inspection checkpoints for ID control on the freeway.

hardcore driver

El Paso - freeway in US, foothill buildings in Mexico

We made a mistake and missed the tourist information center so we didn't really know if there was anything interesting in the state of New Mexico. We just kept stopping whenever we felt like without any particular plan. We will prepare better for tomorrow.

We accidentally stopped in one rest area that turned out to be the last one at Rio Grande river. Years back the settlers used to give their horses a rest and accumulate water supplies for the long travel north. It is hard to imagine how that was possible in this very hostile environment.

last friendly stop

New Mexico flag

We decided to keep on driving to Raton, NM, a town close to Colorado border. Most of the town and street names are really Spanish and hard to pronounce but this town name beats them all:

Truth of Consequences ...

a very lonely VOR in the middle of nowhere

The Cumulonimbus cloud in the background was supposed to be the motto of this pic but Ziggy just couldn't help himself and pulled out the flag he got from the Aussie team in Uvalde and positioned himself in the middle of the picture.

a drastic landscape change

We watched a documentary about hotels some time ago. It turned out that the dirtiest and most bacteria affected item in a hotel room is the TV remote. This is the first time I see somebody took care of this issue. We are extremely positively surprised with the Best Western hotel in Raton, NM:

OK, enough of writing and time to go on a food search. First I have to let the male finish his real Mexican treat though. He deserved it after so many hours of exhausting co-driver duties and I'm working on one as well.

The plan for tomorrow is the famous skiing mecca - Aspen, CO.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mexico experience and Marfa gliding field

So here we are, 500 miles later in El Paso, Texas. We departed Uvalde as planned this morning and headed west on the US-90. We decided to take the longer route to El Paso to be able to experience vicinity of Mexico without the need of travelling there. Eventually we got closer than we would have expected.

el Zigsteros

The Rio Grande river has a dam which is the border crossing point to Mexico at the same time. We talked to the border protection officers there and indeed they let us walk on the dam and physically cross the Mexican border! So we were in Mexico and made a big U-turn before the Mexican border protection. Amazing experience.

Amistad dam

left US, right Mexico

this buddy doesn't care much about borders

still in US
left leg in USA, right leg in Mexico

Mexico in the background

where is Ziggy now?

he decided to walk back to the US border checkpoint

Another reason for picking this route was the fact that we wanted to check out Marfa airfield - the place where the very first gliding word championships in US were held in 1970. Not much was going on at the airfield but you could see it's all maintained in a very good condition and gliding is still happening there although Marfa is a tiny town (population less than 2000) in the middle of nowhere.

Ziggy loves our rental because it's a Subaru

unfortunately it's Monday

Marfa airfield, weather and Zig

memorial at the airfield

first time we see this sign airport related instead of a highway

Driving so close to the border is very exciting indeed. There are check points on the highway where you have to present your passport and answer some questions every now and then. There are also smooth dirt roads running parallel to the runway and very many border protection vehicles looking for foot prints in the sand.

We finally made it to El Paso, had dinner and are getting ready to sleep to hit the road in the morning again. The destination is not 100% set as yet but we'll be heading north through New Mexico.