Southwest USA 2001
This story is written for our own pleasure and included insignificant details like how warm it was, what time a day we did what, etc - things that are sure to bore you. We have experienced that our memory of travels deterioates over the years, if you have nothing to associated with it. So you are welcome to use any information you’d like, but do skip the details, and maybe only look at the pictures.
Saturday, 21. April – Århus (Denmark) – L.A (Sunny, 16 degrees)
We had an early flight from Århus at 7, so we were up at 5. Then to Copenhagen and on to Munich, Germany. We flew with Lufthansa in the afternoon and in L.A after 11 hours at 16:00. Withdrew money and picked up our car with Dollar. We had reserved this through the internet a while ago (http://www.dollar.com ). A compact car costs us 110$ per week + 9$ insurance per day. We were rushed out into the L.A. traffic and automatic gear driving, but it went fine. We went up to our friends in Pasadena, Peter and Hanna. They are from Århus and studying here for half a year. Our friend Kelly was also here. We exchanged presents – I had ordered a eTrex GPS from Amazon.com which had arrived here. We got Mexican food – one of the things we had been looking forward to here in the southwest USA. Later we had a walk through Pasadena central; since it was Saturday evening, the streets and shops were full of people. They also told us that this was the first day with sun and ‘warmth’ in a long time.
Sunday, 22. April – L.A (Sunny, 20 degrees)
Kelly came with doughnuts and made bread fried with eggs. We drove to a Rock-church in Santa Monica, The Sanctuary. They played quiet rock-music and the service used many audio-visual remedies. They played videos behind the music. The sermon started with a clip from ‘Life of Brian’ and then a picture of the face of Jesus, which most people in the world see before them. The history was that this picture was given to all soldiers during W.W.II. This picture which the sermon was about had a pipe in the mouth of Jesus in addition.
We drove to 3. And 4.th street in Santa Monica, which are pedestrian streets and very pleasant. There were many performers on the street. An old man had even brought his piano, two musicians had a list of Jimmy Hendrix songs which you could choose from, etc. We walked to the beach and had lunch.
We drove through Beverly Hills and gawked at houses. To the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard and saw hand-footprints of famous artists.
In the evening we went to Redondo Beach where Birgitte and I met with my friend Nancy. We stayed with her and her son Kelly in ’91 when I was touring USA for three months. We had tried to keep in touch since then. We visited at her boyfriend Dan’s place. Also Nancy’s son Kelly and his wife Sharon and Dan’s neighbors were there.
We had a good dinner with them and came up to date with what we all are doing, and recalled what we did the last time we were here. Nancy showed us JPL and helped us get into the Tonight Show – just when Jay Lenno was taken over. The neighbors happened to have a coupon for Universal Studio where we are going tomorrow, which we could have.
Monday, 23. April – L.A – Universal Studios – Las Vegas (Sunny, 26 degrees)
We said good bye to Hanna & Peter at 8. We took the wrong exit to Universal Studios, and we were all the way down in Hollywood before we could get back up in the right direction. Birgitte, being a good wife did not blame her husband for this (she was holding the map anyway). So the time was 10:30 before we were back on track.
It cost 43$ minus our 4$ coupon to get in. Universal Studios is a theme park about movies, and they also shoot some of their films in these studios. First we did the studio tour, which is a drive around the studios with commentaries and things happening to you – like shaking the car, driving up on a bridge which is almost collapsing. At the Mummy-scene, the walls were turning, which was quite a good effect, at least so thought my balancing sense. Also they turned out the light, and you could hear scarabs all over the place – and feel them! – it turned out to just be rain drops. Next we saw the new 3D-Terminator. It was fabulous. Lifting the seats, spraying water, cool all-around-you 3D, actors – and so on. The Water World water fight was next – cool! Action, acting, and lots of water
Birgitte thought the ‘Back to the Future’ car ride was the most funny thing – I just got a little sick from it. In the lower section we rode the Jurassic Park trip with a big drop at the end of the ride – but not as wet as they promised. At a place they showed us how different tricks were made. I think it was the funniest thing. At one scene, Hitchkock’s Vertigo, a volunteer should hang out of a cliff side (so it looked from the camera). It was a Mexican, and he just looked SO funny – then the scene shifted to Superman, which the Mexican did not grasp, and since it was the same pose, you kind of got Superman screaming while flying through the air. We also saw the ‘Backdraft’ set with lots of pyrotechnics – don’t bring your children!
At 16:00 we left. It took us ages to get to I-15. We reached Las Vegas at 20:45. We could see the light beam from Luxor 30 miles away. The beam was filled with all flying creeps in Nevada, so it looked very spectacular. Luxor is a black pyramid with a full size Sphinx in front – and of course a casino inside. We parked here and asked what it would cost to stay here, since a friend meant it would not be much more than a motel room – 299$! We ate a good buffet at Excalibur next door for 10$ - shrimps, ribs, coffee, ice tea, cake, ice etc. Just looking around we also saw the water ballet at Bellagio – wow. 200 water fountains ‘danced’ with the music and light. We asked in Flamingo Hilton for a room – 160$, but they had heard you could get cheaper rooms in Luxor ?
Well, we went to Fremont Street with many cheap motels. We found one for 29$. A bit run down though.
Tuesday, 24. April – Las Vegas – Kolob Canyon (Zion North) – Cedar City (Sunny, 27 degrees)
Could not really find a place to have breakfast – we should have taken the 7-11 close to the motel. We went to Circus Circus, but their prices had changed a lot, so it was 6$ for breakfast. We had wanted to see the Egyptian exhibition in Luxor, but decided to get going. North East on I-15. We got brunch in Mesquite, where I bought a bottle of red wine at the super market. I did see a sign with ‘Persons who look younger than 30: Have your id ready’, but I was a bit surprised when the lady asked. When she saw my passport and that I was 32, she admitted that I looked younger. We continued to Kolob Canyon, which is the northern part of Zion National Park. It costs 20$ to get into the parks – later we upgraded to the National Parks Pass which costs 50$ and is valid for a year. Not many people come in this part compared to the south park. We drove up the road, and walked (alone!) out to Kolob Canyons Viewpoint and Timber Creek Overlook. After that, we walked up the ‘Taylor Creek Trail’ which is close to the entrance. You follow a creek up a canyon, and it is a very nice (easy) trail. I tried my new GPS and recorded waypoints so I could try and backtrack. We walked for 45 minutes, before heading back; we were probably halfway up the canyon.
We drove to Cedar City and slept at a motel for 29$. We had a pizza from Dominos and became a bit fuddled of the California red wine.
Wednesday, 25. April – Cedar – Scenic route 14 – Zion – Kanab (Sunny, 25 degrees)
We had coffee and pancakes at a real American café (Sullivan’s Café). A bit expensive, but very good. We found out that Utah was in another time zone, so we had just lost one hour of the day.
We drove the scenic Highway 14 east of Cedar – REALLY beautiful. After climbing up the road, there soon was snow all around. Very good views over the area, and also to Zion. Continued south to Mt. Carmel and west into Zion.
We took the bus into ‘Weeping Rock’ and walked the 4 miles ‘Observation Point Trail’ trail. You go up 2150 feet and get fantastic view over the whole valley. A truly great hike and not difficult. It took the 5 hours that was estimated (from 13-18), but it also included picnic at the top with red wine and chili chips. Zion is really my favorite National Park; it is difficult to capture in pictures, but the 800 meters vertical rock sides are so cool. On the picture you can see Angel's Landing on the lower right. You can walk out on the ridge with some places just 1 meter wide path - and 500 meters vertical down on both sides! That is scary!
Saw sunset at ‘Canyon overlook’ (at the east gate), which I remembered from last to be very beautiful. Not quite as good this day though.
Continued to Kanab (southeast) and Birgitte forced me to eat at McDonald’s. At least I won a soft ice on the ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ quiz. Slept on Brandon Motel (29$). Was very neat compared to the other motels we had slept at. Kanab is a town where a lot of westerns have been recorded in time.
Thursday, 26. April – Kanab – Grand Canyon – Flagstaff (Partially Clouded, 22 degrees)
We buy coffee and doughnuts in a supermarket. Kanab is very beautiful in morning light and especially when driving south. We saw a road sign reading ‘This is NOT THE 89A’ – the 89A is the road going to Grand Canyon. Through Fredonia and Jacob Lake, but North Rim of Grand Canyon was still winter closed, though there was no snow. Sigh, I had hoped to visit this side of the canyon. Continued east on 89A past Vermillon Cliffs; south on 89 and west to South Rim. We had lunch on the rim close to ‘Desert View’. It started to get cloudy – not that bad since it was hot enough. We passed several viewpoints. They have closed for traffic on the west rim part, so we took the bus to Hopi point and walked on to the next stop, Mohave point. A nice trip, but paths and busses are far from the conditions as e.g. in Zion. There were many drop off on the paths, though not on the view points where the busses stops).
Drove to Flagstaff on 180, south from Grand Canyon. We stayed at the OK ‘Family Inn’ for 28$. Taco Bell for food.
Friday, 27. April – Sedona – Jerome – (260) – Show Low (Cloudy and lightning)
Early up, and we find out that Arizona is an hour after Utah, so got an extra hour, and we were early on our way on (89A) – scenic route to Sedona. The area around Sedona is ‘Red Rock Country’, and comparable to Monument Valley. But touristy! First we went up ‘Airport Road’ with a nice view of the valley. One of the energy spots are here – on the picture, you can see New Agers re-charging. This spot is for ‘emotions’, I read in a magazine. We drove around, and ended in ‘Red Rock State Park’ (5$). It had 4 miles of paths – it was more like strolling around a garden. We walked the full track, but there was not so much to see. Garden interested people would enjoy this. After lunch we continued up to Jerome – a small town hanging on a cliff-side, an old mining town which now is a tourist town with many artists and art. Here, as many other places in the southwest, you see a lot of old buffers on big motorbikes – Santa Clauses, Birgitte calls them. Enjoyed an espresso and iced tea at a cafe. Decided to go on, so went east on (260). It was supposed to be scenic, but was disappointing. Pine trees all the way over Camp Verde and Payson to Show Low.
We found a cheap motel (29$) and had pizza at a real USA-traditional place.
Saturday, 28. April – (60) – (77) – San Xavier (Tucson) – Sonora – Saguaro N.P (Sunny, 28 degrees)
Highway (60) south through the two Apache reservations and Salt River Canyon. And this was a very beautiful drive. The woods ended and it became more rocky landscape. Continued to Globe via (77) – a good choice since it was even more scenic. It soon turned into ‘typical’ western landscape with many cacti – Saguaro cacti (‘Lucky Luke’ cactus) and others.
Came to San Xavier, a bit south west of Tucson to see the Jesuit mission church. At the end of 1700, it was the most northern part of the Spanish area. It was free to see, and it had a small but interesting museum attached.
The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum was close by. It costs 10$, and we came at 15:00. It closed at 17:00, and we didn’t think we could use more time than that. But it was a museum, a park and a zoo and it was very interesting to experience. Snakes, minerals, mountain lions, hummingbird cages (you could enter), the whole cactus range (all in flower at this time of year). 2 hours was way too little. A group of elderly volunteers explained things to you – a good idea.
Saguaro National Park is just north of this museum, and it was also very beautiful, especially since it was in bloom. We stayed there until sunset. Took the I-10 north, and stopped in Casa Grande and dined at Dell Taco. Stayed at a 28$ motel (Sunland Inn) – not very good.
Sunday, 29. April – Phoenix – Scottsdale (Sunny, 28 degrees)
Drove to Phonix – to service in Community of Joy – a church with 11.000 members. Pastor Kallestad read from today’s paper that Community of Joy was selected as one of Arizona’s 10 best churches, and that was not difficult to understand. This (the second of 4 services today) was about the birth of Moses, and the sacrifice of his mother. The sermon was first a reading, followed by showing the same scene from the movie ‘Prince of Egypt’ on the screens, where Moses is left, and found by the Pharaohs’ daughter.
We drove a bit north of town to ‘Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum’, with old houses from around the state – like Hjerl Hede in Denmark. (5,75$). Not very good, and there was not much else but the 26 houses and a old buffer in a couple of them.
In Scottsdale, we checked into Double Tree Paradise Resort, where my company’s User’s Conference was to take place. It was a very nice place (better than last night). It had two pools with spa and lined with palms.
The theme ‘Trapeze University’ started with a Fraternity evening with different strange things. You could get photographed on motorbikes, drive around on motorized toilets, pinball machines etc.
Monday, 20. April – Phoenix (Sunny, 34 degrees)
After work, we went out to ‘Rawhide’ at 19:00, 15 miles north of where we stayed. 8$ entrance fee and everything then cost an addition 1-7$, if you didn’t buy a pass at the entrance. Rawhide is a western mock-up town. We walked a round, and saw a shoot out – not too bad. I think children with rich parents would like this place. We wanted to eat here, but a steak would cost 20$+tax+tip, so we left again after 1½ hours.
Tuesday, 1. May – Phoenix – Tonto (Sunny, 38 degrees!)
The conference had arranged two activities – Golf or a jeep tour to the desert for 100$. The latter turned out to be a trip up to east of Cave Creek, and after two hours at a place in the desert, they drove you back. The trip Birgitte and I drove was on the other hand very exiting. We drove east, and soon were out in the desert (in fact: it is all desert). With (88), you enter the Superstition Mountains. The (88) is called the ‘Apache trail’, and after encountering a system of lakes, it becomes a gravel road for 22 miles, and it takes an hour to drive this part – but it is very scenic. At one part, it has a very steep drop off. Lots of beautiful scenery to look at. I had not had the tank filled, so we were a bit nervous if we would get all the way. The road ends at the Roosevelt Dam, and close by is the Tonto National Monument, which is a house built into the cliffs, used until about 1400 A.D. Birgitte thought it was very good, but it can’t quite live up to Mesa Verde :-)
We picked up a hitchhiker on the way back to the dam, who had crossed the Superstitious Mountains; he had waited a long time though there were many cars passing by. The ranger at Tonto had recommended that we go north on (188), almost to Payson, and southwest on (87) to Phoenix – the other way south was only if you were interested in big open copper mines, he said. Taco Bell at sunset.
Wednesday, 2. May – Phoenix (Sunny, 34 degrees)
The conference ended in the evening with ‘Graduation Trapeze Software University 2001’, and in USA there seems to be a tradition with Toga-parties. And since here are quite a few ‘wide’ Americans, it was quite a sight. We Danes did agree that we would prefer our own ‘hygge’ (cozy) way. The party was with 60’er music and WATER for the three course dinner (drinks before and after dinner). The 3 courses were served within one hour, and even Birgitte had trouble finishing her plates before it was taken from her. After dinner: Toga nominations, gold fish race – and dance.
Thursday, 3. May – Chiricahua – Willcox (Cloudy, 22 degrees)
Drove south on I-10 through Tucson and to Chiricahua National Monument in the south eastern corner of Arizona. A long drive, but it turned out to be a very beautiful place. We saw deer when entering the park. Walked the Echo canyon trail and just gawked of the thousands of piled rocks, balancing rocks and so on. It took from 16-18.
Drove to Willcox and found a motel for 30$; shopped in the supermarket and had great Challupas from Taco Bell (how many times have we eaten here by now?) and red wine. At the room we saw the final of ‘Survivor’ (Robinson), where Tina won over Colby with the votes 4 to 3. In Denmark it would have been Colby who’d won. Tina won because she was strategic, and those who voted for her, thought it was quite OK even that must have been the reason they left the game themselves. Colby had won the talisman 5 times in a row, but only 3 thought the ‘best’ should win. 36.000.000 saw the show. It is quite bothersome to watch TV here in the US; in a show like Survivor, half of the show is commercials, and they come with 5 minutes interval. Unbelievable.
Friday, 4. May – Chiricahua – Blythe (Partially cloudy, 17 degrees)
Again we drove the 50 kilometers to the Chiricahua park – it would have been easier and better with a tent here. Birgitte took a couple of good pictures on the way of the American mailboxes. Notice the caterpilars on the Dirtworks mailbox. At 8:30 we took the shuttle together with 10 other hikers up to the end of the road. This is smart, since you can hike downhill to the station. We again took the Echo-canyon trail since it was nothing but amazing, and we took a bunch of pictures here. It did not take as long to hike around as we had thought. We walked the whole round and were back at the visitor’s center at 13:30. Echo canyon and Hearth of Rocks was the top (including the 1.000 tons Balancing rock) – the rest was mostly pine woods, which also was good. A very good hike and we were glad that we had come the long way here.
Wanted to go west, so started towards L.A on the I-10, I-8 and again I-10. Came all the way to Blythe in California. Had pizza and found a 30$ motel.
Saturday, 5. May Joshua Tree N.P – L.A. (Sunny, 25 degrees)
Drove to Joshua Tree National Park and through it. It was well visited, probably since it was weekend. Got some more seeds – 10 years ago, I planted a Joshua Tree at home, and it is growing fine, though 25 centimeters in 10 years, probably means that there is a long way to go before I have a full size tree. It was quite hot here in the desert, and we did a couple of short walks before driving on to Los Angeles. In Pasadena, we walked to Barnes & Noble and bought books before going with Hanna and Peter to visit Kelly. We had Strawberry Margaritas and the season’s first grill party. After dinner, we saw ‘Along came a spider’ at the movie theatre.
Sunday, 6. May – L.A – somewhere over Greenland Not much planned for this day; drove to the airport and we quickly returned the car, and were on our way with Lufthansa. Flying east made this a short day. Saw ‘Chocolate’ with Juliete Binoche. An Vietnamese Australian artist talked a lot to us on the way, and he was surprised that we did not have the standard American version on why there had been a Vietnam war (not that I quite know what the standard version is) – but then, Birgitte is a historian.
Monday, 7.May – somewhere over Greenland – Århus Arrived in Munich in the morning, and we continued on through Copenhagen to Århus, arriving at our home at 17:00.
Erik Futtrup, May 2001
Car: Rent + insurance, 15 days: 433$, gas 270$ (50$ a day)
Living: 691$ (50$ a day)