Saturday, April 5

Vacations rule! (loooooong)

I've been a baaaad blogger but I'm about to make up for it in a big way. Spring break 2008, coming at ya now.

Friday evening after work, Marni and I packed up the E and got ready for 10 days on the road. To California and back, with many stops along the way, was the goal. Amazingly we were packed light as we would sleep in the Hotelement for half of the nights on the trip.

Turbs was dropped off with a coworker and good friend from college. He would spend the next 10 days playing with Mollie, his new yellow lab girlfriend. With our neighbors keeping an eye on the house, it was time to get out of dodge.
We weren't sad to be leaving this. I love the snow and winter but the beach was calling our names.
By the time the sun rose, this would be our first temporary home. However getting there was not without incident.
This is a previously unposted picture from our failed attempt (due to freak snowstorm) at the White Rim over Thanksgiving 2007. For some reason, once Marni and I turned off hwy 191 onto 313, we had somewhat of an eerie feeling. Whenever we've been together, trips into Canyonlands haven't exactly gone off without a hitch. There was no logical reason to worry but perhaps the tension in the air kept us sharp for a reason.
Reason's name? One huge ass tan side of beef. Almost to the turn off for Mineral Bottom road, Marni had made sure I was awake for help with finding our camp spot.

"Do you see the cow?" "Skirrrrrrrrrrrrrt!" "Swerve!!!!" "Holy s*&t, are you okay?"
We saw him just in time and Marni's autocross skillz came through in fine form. Who says you can't successfully drift a toaster on wheels? We missed hitting dinner for the next 2 years and successfully survived yet another near miss heading to the White Rim. The next day Marni would find the herd and capture Mr. Huge Ass Cow for posterity.

While Marni slept in, shot farm life pictures and went on a nice ride herself, I woke up before dawn and headed out alone.

When the sun came up, I found myself at home among the big canyon walls, the river and the desert.
Time was of the essence as I wanted to both get on the road to Zion as well as put up my first serious time trial around the rim. However I still had to get a few pictures along the way.
"Are you doing this in one day?" "Yes." "Where do you resupply?" "Umm, I don't. Thanks for the picture!"
Beyond Murphy's I wouldn't pull out the camera again. I spent my time pedaling into the wind and reflecting on how my life has changed since my first journey around the rim some 2 years earlier. I hadn't ridden this direction since then and memories flooded back en mass. I didn't need music or company. In fact I rarely saw anyone for the last few hours of the ride until I reached the base of Shafer.
Pushing up through some sneaky sand and turning onto the pavement I popped a gel and headed off to find Marni. I knew sub 8 hours was possible and just kept looking for signs that I was near the end as I had forgotten exactly how long the road was.
Just under the wire I showed up with a smile on my face, dropped my bike in the sand and sat down to devour the lunch that my wonderful wife had waiting. Not long after that the Hotelement rolled on to Zion.

Ahh our new home sweet home...for a day.
Camping at the Coal Pits Wash, dinner at the Pizza and Noodle and then breakfast at Oscars. DaveC sure doesn't disappoint with his recommendations. Can't stop vacation smiles...

But it was way too pretty to just sit around all day, we had to get out IN it.We hopped a couple shuttles from Springdale.
And up we went. Angel's Landing was our destination for the day. What's a 5 mile, 1500 vertical foot hike anyway? We figured it wouldn't be so bad compared to our 14er hikes :)
Some fun switchbacks.
A million and one places to play with Marni's D70.
Sandstone is perty.
Onto the scrambling part of the hike.
Let's play a game called, pretend the chains don't exist :)
Ahhh the summit.
One look at all the cool places that radiate from here and I knew we would have to come back.
Heh. Don't worry Dad, I'm not really near the edge.
Some more cool switchbacks called Walter's Wiggles.
On the way down we stopped at the Virgin river for more pictures and to give our feet a soak in the cold water. Angel's Landing is behind Marni here.
Grok go there. Big rock. Grok like.
Sadly the trip called for only a short stay in Zion and we headed next for the city of sin, just in time for dinner. We said good bye to our bikes in the Mirage parking structure, hoping they would be there when we returned!
I had never been to Vegas before but Marni assured me it was every bit as ridiculous as TV makes it out to be. First we found meat at the Carnegie Deli in the Mirage.
Very ridiculous but I ate it all. And cheesecake. Huge cheesecake. Yum. Then we gambled for like an hour on $2. For real. Ridiculous.
Finally we drove down the strip and out of town. Why spend $200+/night for a hotel when the Hotelement does just fine? Besides, the beach was calling.
I pulled driving duty for a while until we were sleepy. We woke up in the parking lot of a Ramada in Barstow. It was so warm I didn't even sleep in my sleeping bag.
Pancakes at the IHOP and we were on our way through some more mountains and the outskirts of LA.
To the beach! $25 for the night sounded like a deal to me. We didn't bother unpacking yet, just hit the sea shore.
I loved watching the waves, probably because it was only my second time seeing the big blue, the first being our honeymoon.
Marni looking like the sun suits her well.
We went on a short bike ride to another nearby state beach and then ate some lunch on a big rock.
Yummy. Lunch by the waves sure beats working.
Monocog does the beach.
We rode back and got ready for some serious relaxation. Hello bird.
Reading and napping in the sand. Can't beat that with a stick.
After a most excellent read and nap, I cooked dinner. Well first I dropped dinner #1 in the dirt. Then I cooked dinner #2.
After dinner we went for a stroll.
Hello strange birdies.
Surfers getting their evening fix before the light disappears.
Marni shot this one.
Out here we got super lucky and saw 3 dolphins swimming just off the beach. It was very cool.
Aww pretty.
We fell asleep listening to the crash of the waves.
The next morning we headed off to go horseback riding. They actually marched us up (well the horses) a few thousand vertical feet of pretty interesting trails and 4x4 roads.
This was my horse. He liked to try to bite Marni's horse's butt.
Sure was nice up there though.
Another couple shot.
Marni with her favorite cowboy in the whole world :p
After horseback riding we headed on to Solvag to our inn and spa. A shower and catching up on a few emails was very nice.
The next day we spent doing some shopping.
We also got in a little road ride up Figuera Mountain road. Where are we going again?
Climb climb.
Smile smile.
On the way back we saw mini horses. Strange :)
That afternoon we got an hour long couples massage. Hell yea. I could do that everyday if I could afford it.
Eat, drink, sleep, shop. That pretty much summed up Solvang. I think we went to the Solvang bakery 4 times in 2 days. Driving away from the beach was bittersweet but the rest of the vacation called.
We cruised out of town and headed back to Vegas. Since we happened to roll though at dinner time again we stopped in. A little more gambling, a little fun at M&M world, watching the fountains at the Bellagio. The strip is a crazy place to walk around and we resolved to come back for a long weekend one of these days. I pulled driving duty out of town and then Marni took over before we crashed out in St.George.

On the way back east the next day we celebrated Marni's 26th with a Happy BirthDanish from the Solvang bakery!
Most of the highway is quite scenic between St.George and Green River and we stopped at this overlook.
Of course we didn't stop too long. Moab was calling. After stashing the E at the hotel, Marni and I headed out on a short ride. Since I have the nicest wife in the whole world, she was going to let me ride the next day in the Rim Ride. As such I wanted to check out the two new trails, Rock'n A and Circle O. I love Moab.
Isn't she cute?
That night we had some deluxe dinner at the Center Cafe, continuing our main vacation theme, eating. We woke up the next morning to the crowd of surprised friends at the start of the Rim Ride. While that is a story for another blog, I had a great time and finished well over an hour faster than last year plus riding rigid. The finished photo courtesy of Sportsman belies the overall feeling of the day. Plenty more images and stories linked in here too.
Milling around after the ride and waiting for friends to finish is one of the highlights of any event. It was soooo great to see everyone after what felt like far too long.Never one to miss good riding, Sunday morning saw a small group gather at Mondo's for some breakfast. After a lazy breakfast, Dave Nice, Chad, Max, DaveC, Marni and I headed up to Sand Flats to ride Slickrock. Adam did you say something about no more slickrock for a while? :)
Dave rolling some slickrock fixie style.
Chad smiling in front of the looming storm clouds. I predicted between 2 and 3pm and was right on. We got back to the parking lot at around 2:55.
DaveC and the La Sal mountains.
Me and Max.
Did I mention I love Moab?
Rain looming large.
We crammed Dave in for a ride back to town.
From here we decided to head on to Fruita. Actually we went past Fruita and then turned around but that's another story. A $60 room and a gamble on the weather paid off. The rain during the night made the trails off of Loma exit perfect with all the dust gone. Monday meant an empty parking lot.
Rustlers loop first.
River and desert. Blue skies here while it looked like 18 road was getting hammered across the highway.
Climbing up Mary's Loop.
A little colder today but still nice.
Carrying my sweetie's bike back up Horsethief.
The Hot Tomato was closed much to our dismay so we headed up I-70. We had to be at work tomorrow, ugh. After lunch at Chomps in Glenwood, we hit the end of the road. Crap. A 70 car pileup on I-70 at Vail Pass had shut down the highway and we dead ended in Eagle, just over 100 miles from home.
We tried to pass the time poaching internet in a hotel parking lot. Then we ate. And drove around Eagle. And ate again. By this time it looked like we might not get home tonight so we made arrangements to crash out in the Hotelement one more time. Just as we were about to crawl in, we saw a car drive down the on ramp. The highway was open and despite it being late, I wanted to get home. We packed up as fast as we could and got on the road.
At Vail Pass the weather began to suck and getting over the passes was a difficult 20mph endeavor. We made it safe and sound though and crashed out in our own bed for the first time in a week and a half after midnight.
Spring break 2008, road tripping in style.


Marni said...

Thanks for such a great trip! I hope we get to do another one like that very soon. I love you.

Becky said...

It looks like you guys had a great time! I love the pics, and the play-by-play, especially the post massage pic. :) It looks like you guys had a wonderfully relaxing time, and I'm glad that you got home safely!

Marko said...

Chris!! wow, you sure make me jealous taking a 10 day vacation with 2 stops in Moab.

I managed to catch a few glimpses of you before and after the race but you were always too busy chattin' it up with everybody for me to jump in and say hi!.

You better get your Pugsley loaded up so if it ever stops snowing we can get out do some exploring.

Dave said...

WoooooooooHooooooooooo! (as Ed would say) Sounds just about perfect, especially the eating part (glad I could help in a small, small way). That one bite of that huge puff-thing (I forget it's proper name) made me want to visit Solvang just for that.

See ya again, soon. We ought to carve out a Zion playing in the water trip this summer sometime.

And I'm glad there's a picture from the weekend of me not looking like a hooligan.

Cellarrat said...

glad I could have a small part in your va- ca


UltraRob said...

Looks like so much fun! We used to do road trips like that. Ours are little tamer now with the kids. Long drives can be a bit painful.

Epic Adam said...

Nice! And yeah, I did swear off slickrock for the rest of my life. But I might be fading on that declaration. St. George this weekend, and the White Rim the next...

Dave Harris said...

I do like the way you roll. Well, except that rigid fork - whaaaaat is that all about anyway? In Moab??

Scott said...

Are you datalogging the Element in the second to the last pic? Awesome pics, looks like a spectacular trip!!! Also like the sporting of the RATM colors! :)

Chad said...

Looks like a great trip! Good times on the slickrock; never knew it could be oh so much fun.

Dude dave, what are you talking about. your pic looks like you are smoking a bowl on the slickrock.

books, bikes, beer said...

Damn, that was a long post. Perhaps the longest I've seen. Hard to say for sure. I do enjoy your nice snapshots of the West. I miss it sometimes.