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Calirado: Summary & Final Score.

Antinos

Slut for Spinners
Social Media Team
Thank you for reminding me in my own trip report that I have to play catch up on quite a few trip reports from all summer. I have a few things to say...

FIRST OF ALL, congrats on your wedding! Yours was, without a doubt, unique and memorable!

SECOND, I know we had a quick chat already about the cars, but Team Mustang all the way. I'll admit that I had a Charger GT as a rental on my Texas trip (ironically at the same time as your trip) and I liked it much more than I wanted to admit, but I'll still take the Mustang over it. The Challenger, as roomy and big as it might be, is a bit of a brick with an enormous engine - I imagine it was fantastic cruising along those straight stretches of roads, but I'd much rather rip a 'Stang through those mountain passes since it's lighter and is much better at turning. But this is all splitting hairs - any American muscle car is undeniably cool, no matter the manufacturer.

I agree with your thoughts on CGA - it's not anything over the top special but by no means does it deserve the hate it gets. The ride are alright, but it's a pleasant park to visit. SFDK...it's definitely out there in terms of layout but I actually enjoyed my time there. I must have had an unusually good day.

Lastly, your nature photos are reminding me of something that I've been thinking of way too often for a 26 year old. I've been toying with the idea of upfitting a van with some living arrangements upon retirement and driving out west to see the sights like these, but it'll be a minute before that happens (lol). Seriously though, incredible views at every step of your trip thus far!
 

Smithy

Well-Known Member
Really good report - had to post as soon as I saw the eejit trying to fob you off with "WE DON'T HAVE A CHALLENGER" because it made me rage.
 

Howie

Active Member
Spoiler alert: Glenwood Caverns is amazing!
I totally fell for the place. Loved it. I don't have an official Top 10 Theme Parks, but if I did Glenwood Caverns would definitely be in it. I know a lot of you maybe kinda sorta have this place on a 'provisional' bucket list as one of those 'I'd like to go there someday' type parks but trust me, you need to bump this one up the list and make it a priority.
Trouble is, Glenwood Caverns is miles away from anywhere. If you're a goon planning a US road trip, it's natural to veer towards some of the more well known theme park hubs - Florida, East Coast, West Coast, Mid West, South ... but Colorado? Nah man, screw that, not a decent Six Flags or Cedar Fair park for hundreds of miles in any direction. But don't despair, it's not totally cred-less around here, you've got the Denver creds at Elitch Gardens and Lakeside Amusement Park for a start. Ok they're a bit sh*t, but that's an easy +10 right there. Then you could nip to Cave of the Winds and grab the Terror Dactyl swing and from there you travel west towards Glenwood Springs. It's about 200 miles, along the way you'll pass through a bunch of different ski resorts, three of which have alpine coasters - Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Vail Ski Resort. Apparently the one at Copper Mountain is a bit of a monster, some 5000ft in length and it's called.... wait for it... The Rocky Mountain Coaster! :D
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They're all dead easy to get to, you can actually see them from the highway as you drive through, so it wouldn't take you long to nip in, grab the cred and nip out again. Probably quite 'excluse' too, you might even get some rare points out of it.
Unfortunately, on the day we were there, all three of them were closed. :(
Despite their respective websites saying 'open all year round' and showing pictures of them operating in the snow, when I contacted the resorts beforehand they all told me that the alpine coasters had closed at the end of the summer season. Go figure. Anyway, point is, there's potentially another +3 there if you happen to go at the right time of year.
Plus of course, along the way you'll be driving through some of the best scenery in America:
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This is Glenwood Canyon. The road follows the Colorado river all the way down to Glenwood Springs at the bottom. Spectacular:
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This picture is taken from Glenwood Caverns itself, looking back at the road we came in on. It's an amazing drive:
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Believe it or not, that teeny weeny little road down the bottom there is actually a full sized dual carriageway. Zoom in if you don't believe me, should give you an idea of how high up this place is.

Because of the small detour to swap the crappy Mustang for the crappy Hyundai, by the time we reached Glenwood Springs it was early afternoon and the wind was picking up a bit - we could see the cable cars going up to the park swaying rather violently as they went up. Mrs Howie looked nervous.
'Maybe we should check into our hotel first?' she said.
It was the Rodeway Inn, about a mile from the park. No biggie, I thought. So that's what we did and as soon as we got there... boom, power cut. 'Oh no, not again!'
'Yes Sir, they turn the power off round here when it gets too windy. Helps prevent wildfires.'
Tell me about it, sweetheart.
Long story short, we didn't go to Glenwood Caverns that day. When the power came back on about 2 hours later we ordered pizza, watched some crap tv and got drunk.
Luckily I'd built enough flexibility into the schedule for us to still have a full day at the park tomorrow.
View from the Rodeway Inn. S'nice:
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So, Glenwood Caverns then. Finally. Wasn't busy, about a dozen people waiting for the gondola at opening time.
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I mean... it's a theme park... on top of a mountain! To get there you have to take a gondola! How brilliant is that? Views from the top are amazing in every direction:
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Park itself is very pretty, got a lovely Southern vibe to it, very country 'n' western. Reminiscent of Silver Dollar City actually, which is no bad thing.
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They're clearly quite big on bears round here:
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But enough about scenery and bears, what about the rides? Well, the first one I went to was the notorious Giant Canyon Swing. Unlike the Terror Dactyl Canyon Swing a couple of days ago, this canyon swing is your basic S&S speed swing found at dozens of theme parks all over the world, but none of them are in a location like this:
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Seriously, pictures do not do this ride justice so I apologise for sharing a video that isn't mine, but there's some great footage of the swing in action here:

I know vloggers have a tendency to over exaggerate things a bit, but I believe their reaction to this thing is entirely genuine.
It. Is. Terrifying!!
It's funny, prior to this trip I was more excited for the Terror Dactyl swing at Cave of the Winds, but when it came to actually riding them I found this one far scarier.
Dropping into a canyon on a rope is one thing, but being hurtled off the edge on a giant mechanical device is something else entirely, soooo intense. Absolutely loved it, had about 6 goes, facing both directions and it was just as scary on the 6th go as it was the first. Brilliant, brilliant ride, this alone was worth coming here for. :)
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But that's not all, Glenwood Caverns is also home to the legendary, yes legendary Haunted Mine Drop. Looks fairly inconspicuous from the outside:
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But Oh My God!!:

It's a drop tower... in a mine shaft! :eek: :eek:
Like... WTF? You don't need me to tell you how terrifying that is. It was soooooooo good! I have no qualms whatsoever in declaring this the best and scariest drop tower in the world. The setting, the storyline, the theming, the perfect marriage of concept and hardware... the pitch black 120ft plunge, everything. It's absolutely fantastic!
How many theme parks can you go to where the first 2 rides you go on are the absolute best of their kind in the world? Not many, that's for sure.
But there's more; still in a swing mood? Try the Canyon Flyer:
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Just your average kiddies chair swing, but like everything else here it's perched on the side of a massive mountain which, quite literally, elevates the ride experience to another level. Oh yeah, If the chain snaps on this thing at the wrong moment you're falling further than you would from any Starflyer on the planet - about 1700ft I think. It might not be vertical, but it's steep enough for you to tumble over lots of pointy rocks all the way to the road at the bottom:
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Funnily enough, a CFer was here about about a week after I was and uploaded some on and off-ride POV's to YouBook. Anyone know who Scott Schaffer is? Is he on the forums? Who ever you are, kudos for the videos, bruv. Hope you don't mind me sharing one. :)

Again, it may only be an SBF Visa spinning chair swing, but it's probably the best one in the world.
There's creds too. The first one is the aptly named Cliffhanger.
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I'm not sure what it is, at first glance it looks like some crappy Pinfari but it's better than that. Rides more like a classic Schwarzkopf - quite fast, little bit of airtime, some semi decent g-forces in the turns and overall fairly smooth and, of course, all made that little bit more tense by the insane cliff top location. I liked it lots. Have a POV:

I'm not sure, but this might be the world's 'highest' bona fide roller coaster - highest as in highest altitude location, so another one for all those who like to claim world record holders.
They also have an alpine coaster - the very first one in America, apparently. It's good, I liked it lots.
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Off we go:
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And back we come:
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Once again, I appear to have used up my photo allowance. Locked myself out of my Flickr account see, so I'm having to 'drop' images in directly from my camera album and you can only do 30 per post, so gimme an hour or 2 and I'll finish up reviewing Glenwood Caverns.
See ya in a bit. :)
 
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Antinos

Slut for Spinners
Social Media Team
Ugh, fantastic report! I love reading about those parks that are seldom traveled to, like this one. You certainly did it justice! Those views alone make the park worth it - they're certainly amazing.
 

Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
Those views are lovely! Can't wait to head out that way for some big scenery. <3
Anyone know who Scott Schaffer is? Is he on the forums? Who ever you are, kudos for the videos, bruv. Hope you don't mind me sharing one.
He's THE Scott from Upstop Media - you know, the people who do these nifty RMC videos:
He collaborates with ECG quite a lot these days. :)
 

Howie

Active Member
...continued from above. When I said 'gimme an hour or 2', what I meant was 'gimme a day or 2'. ;)

The third coaster at Glenwood Caverns is a kiddy cred, some Zierer or sumat. Yes, I rode it. Yes, there is a picture of me riding it. No, I'm not gonna share it because if I do, Delly P will drag it up and use it against me time and time again.
They've got some other things too - a zipline similar to the one back at Cave of the Winds, a ferris wheel, a lazer-tag arena, various playground type things for the littl'uns... but it's the charm, the atmosphere, the attention to detail and the stunning location that make this place so adorable. Have a few more random pics:
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A couple of Mrs Howie's 'arty' shots (for 'arty' read 'black & white'):
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And then, on top of all that, you've got the cave tours. Yes, they've got caves here. Clue's in the name, see.
They've got 2 different cave tours, each lasting about 45min to an hour and they're both dead good. The first one explores a formation nicknamed 'The Barn', as it's essentially one big, long chamber that slopes down about 150ft inside the mountain:
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This is not a filter - they turn on these black lights for a few moments and when they turn them off, the rock formations continue to glow in the dark for several seconds. Amazing:
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After working your way down 100+ steps, you have to turn around and work your way back up again:
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The tour guides are good - lively, entertaining, plenty of stories about how various rock formations got their names: 'Watch your head on Ping here, folks. If you hit your head on Ping, it will bounce off and hit Pong over there'. Things like that. They also mess about with some different lighting tricks and, of course, they turn them all off at one point so you get to experience total darkness. Scary!
It's a cool tour in a very cool cave, the largest show cave in Colorado, apparently, and the second largest in America.

The other tour you can do takes place in a separate cave system and rather than being one big, expansive chamber is more of a network of tunnels, hollows and shafts.
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This tour isn't quite as cool as the other tour, but it's still pretty neat and you have to do it because at the furthest point in the tour there's an opening in the cliff face with a little balcony type thing and this is the only place where you can get that 'money shot' of the Giant Canyon Swing:
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Just look at it!
I mean, if that picture alone isn't enough to make you wanna book your flights right now, then are you even a goon at all?

As I said, Glenwood Caverns is amazing. It's easily one of my favourite parks ever and you need it in your life. It might not have loads of coasters, but it's not about notching up creds here, it's about experiencing a theme park that is unique, special, beautiful and unlike any other park you've ever been to. Glenwood Caverns doesn't need a huge array of thrill rides, it's literally perfect just the way it is.
If you throw in all the other stuff that I mentioned in the previous post - the Denver creds, the alpine creds, Cave of the Winds Mountain Park etc - then this part of the world suddenly becomes quite an attractive proposition for any goon. I recommend it lots.

Well, that's it from Glenwood Caverns, that's it from Colorado and that's it for the creds on this trip. :'(
You can stop reading now if you like, from here on in it's purely canyons, caverns, cliffs, camping, cannabis, canines and a bunch of other stuff beginning with C.
In the next part then we drive from Glenwood Springs to Moab, Utah to check out Arches National Park:
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Join me then... especially if you really dig rocks.
 

Howie

Active Member
You still here? Wow.. you must really be into rocks. Ok, seeing as there's no more creds or swings or rides of any kind I'll keep the waffle to a minimum.
We spent the next 2 nights in Moab, Utah.
This is Moab:
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S'alright. Being nestled in between two national parks (Arches and Canyonlands) it caters well to the tourist, plenty of hotels, bars, restaurants etc.. and lots of outdoorsy, park based activities to do. Sightseeing tours, hiking, hunting, fishing, quad biking, mud buggying, jet boating, parascending, skydiving... all that kinda stuff.
While here we did 2 tours, the first was a Ranger Guided Tour of the Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park:
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You kind of expect a park ranger to be a big, burly bearded bloke but no, young hot chick with amazing teeth. Bonus!
If ever you visit a US National Park, you should look into these Ranger Guided Tours, dead good they are and they're dirt cheap. This was a 3 hour tour and it only cost us $16 each! I think most national parks offer similar type tours but numbers are limited and they do sell out quickly. Mrs Howie was on the ball here and booked us onto the Fiery Furnace tour about 6 months in advance and about 2 weeks after that they'd sold out.

The Fiery Furnace, then. It's basically an area of groovy rock formations sticking up out of the desert:20191026_123943.jpg

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This reminds me of a kind of alien Mount Rushmore...
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Later that day, we went out on another tour. This one was more of a professional photography lesson for Mrs Howie who'd recently bought a fancy new lens and wanted to try out some night-time, Milky Way photography. I tagged along as the non photographer. We went to see some cliffs:
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...some ancient petroglyphs:
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Some pretty lakes:
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This is 'Balancing Rock'. It's bigger than it looks - about 55ft across and it weighs approx 5000 tons. Nobody knows when it will topple, could be 20,000 years, could be any minute now.. but it will topple one day.
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Some nice sunset shots:
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And then finally, after about 5 hours of being out, Mrs Howie eventually got her Milky Way shot:
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I must admit, as the non-photographer accomplice on this tour I did start to get a bit bored towards the end, especially as that last photo took well over an hour to get 'just right', bless her, but it's not too shabby an image, I'll give her that.

So that was Moab. It was good.
In the next post, Monument Valley. :)
 
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Howie

Active Member
Look, I know you're all bored of this trip report now, especially as there's no more coasters, theme parks, canyon swings or anything else goon related at all, but stick with it, we're almost done.
The next part involved driving to Monument Valley:
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If you haven't heard of Monument Valley, you've certainly seen it on the telly and in fillums: virtually every John Wayne western ever, Back to the Future III, Mission Impossible 2, that last Lone Ranger flick etc.. Even Airwolf off of the 80's, remember that? Yeah, Airwolf's top secret lair was right here in Monument Valley. Saw it, we did

Mrs Howie & me had been here before and loved it, knew we'd come back one day. This time though we approached it from the North instead of the south so we got to see it from the famous Forrest Gump/Thelma & Louise road:
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We'd be spending 3 nights here, the first was at The View Hotel. It doesn't look that glam from the outside...
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...but if you come to Monument Valley you have to stay here really, it's the only choice because it's the only hotel that's actually inside the tribal park. Why do they call it The View Hotel? Well...
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All the rooms here face this direction, East, so the sun rises behind the buttes. It's rather special:
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Mrs Howie was keen to make the most of this place so had us booked on to 3 different tours while here, the first was a 'starlight tour' of the Teardrop Arch which we did on the night of our arrival and it lasted from 10pm to 1am.
The Teardrop Arch itself isn't particularly special, in fact it's not even an 'arch' at all, just a gap between to massive rocks that are leaning against each other.
Because neither of us took a picture of it, here is one I stole from Wikipedia:
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But it wasn't really about the arch, this tour was all about mooching round an area of the park normally off limits to the public, in the dead of night, with a Navajo guide, scrambling through tunnels, climbing over rocks, checking out ancient Anasazi cliff dwellings and derelict hogans, all made better because there was only the 2 of us on the tour. It was a blast! Hardly took any pictures on this tour, and most of the ones we did take are rubbish because it was so dark, but here's a couple:
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So we gets back to the hotel at about 1.30am yeah, and then Mrs Howie in her infinite wisdom has us getting up again at 5.30am to go on another tour, this one being a sunrise tour of the Lower Valley. Ok wifey, you're the boss. A few pictures from that tour then:
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So this tour finishes at mid - late morning so it's back to the hotel for a spot of lunch and a few hours chill time (which, incidentally, I used to start writing this trip report - see page 1, post 1) before Mrs Howie has us going at on yet another tour - the Daddy of all Monument Valley tours; the 'Hunts Mesa Overnighter'. On this truly epic tour a jeep picked us up at about 4pm, took us on a 3 hr drive round the back of the park where we made our way up to the top of one of the mesas and spent the night camping out on the edge of a 1000ft cliff overlooking Monument Valley. Not gonna lie - it was mind blowing!
Getting there was a mission, remember that episode of Top Gear on the world's most dangerous road, with Jezza driving that Range Rover on the crumbling cliff edge? Yeah, there was plenty of that going on, short clip here of one of the less treacherous bits (was too scared to film some of the more perilous parts):

But the views from the top are absolutely staggering:
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To give you a sense of scale, if you zoom into the top of the cliff in this picture you can just make a dude standing near the edge:
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Again, there was just the 2 of us on this tour so it felt proper 'excluse'. After gawping at the scenery and the sunset for a few hours, our Navajo guide pitched a tent for us:
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Built a campfire:
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And cooked cheeseburgers and corn cobs for us all, regaled us with tales of Navajo and Anasazi culture and even played a traditional Navajo flute. It was an amazing night.
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Of course, camping out that night meant we got to watch the sunrise from up here too, as well as the sunset.
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Ok, sleeping in a tiny tent on top of a cliff is not the most luxurious and comfortable thing to do, and definitely not recommended for anyone who sleepwalks, but overall the Hunts Mesa Overnight Tour is an unforgettable experience, I feel very lucky to have done it.

In the next post, for our third night in Monument Valley we upgrade from a tent to... a mud hut! No, really.
I bet you can't wait for that one. 😐
 

Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
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Social Media Team
Oh yes. That's the ticket. Going to bear that one in mind for my inevitable return to Monument Valley. :D
 

Howie

Active Member
Oh yes. That's the ticket. Going to bear that one in mind for my inevitable return to Monument Valley. :D
Mate, if and when you go back to Monument Valley, you gotta do that one. Wasn't cheap, about 400 quid each I think - which sounds quite a lot for a tent and a cheeseburger - but it was totes worth it. Probably the highlight of the trip if I'm honest. For anyone interested, all 3 of our tours were run by Navajo Spirit Tours and if you come here, they're the ones to go with. Linky:

If you look up 'Hunts Mesa Tour' on Youtube there's some decent vlogs of the overnight trek on there. I won't post a link cos the vloggers themselves are a couple of dickheads (aren't they all?), but they've got some great footage of the journey to the clifftop. Worth a look if your interest has been piqued.

It's worth noting that while we were on the overnight tour we kept our room at the view hotel so that a) we had somewhere to crash in between tours and b) we didn't have to haul all our luggage to the top of a mountain and back. Good tip, that.

Anyways, for our third night in Monument Valley we'd booked a mud hut. 😐
To be honest, both of us questioned whether we could be arsed. Our first night was really short because of the late night and early morning tours, our second night was fairly sleepless cos we were roughing it on a cliff edge - we were knackered! Plus, we'd finished all our tours here, we were desperate for a shower, a proper meal and some wifi, did we really wanna stay here for another night in a chuffing mud hut? Hmm, it wasn't tempting but since we'd paid for it we decided to go and have a look. If it was sh*t we could always move on to our next stop and check in a day early.

Oh my god, I'm so glad we decided to stay and check out the mud hut!
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It came complete with dog:
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Make that 2 dogs:
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2 very friendly, lovable dogs :) :
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They guarded our door all night:
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The mud hut (or hogan, to give it its proper name) was a mile or two outside the tribal park but it still had a splendid view of the buttes and mesas:
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And the interior of the mud hut was just beautiful:
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So cool, relaxing and surprisingly spacious. Lovely:
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Even the view from the bed was rather special:
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Like all Navajo homes, the door faces East in order to welcome in the sunrise:
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And to think, we were seriously considering ditching this place in favour of some chain hotel? Madness! Needless to say, we stayed. There's a place called Gouldings just outside Monument Valley that has a lodge, petrol station, supermarket, takeaway etc... so we armed ourselves with pizza, beer, munchies and some logs, made a fire, rolled a couple of fatties and just spent the whole afternoon/evening chilling out with our 2 new furry friends. The mud hut came equipped with a couple of sun loungers, roll-out mattresses and sleeping bags so we lay outside next to the fire and just lay there watching the stars come out.
Heaven! Best night's sleep ever.

Our next stop was Page, Arizona:
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On the way, shortly after Kayenta, we saw signs for something called the Navajo National Monument. Sounded interesting, and we didn't have any time pressures on us that day, so we decided to take a small detour and have a look.
It was another canyon. Yay!
There's a small visitor centre there, cafe, gift shop etc... and a short 10 minute walk takes you to the edge of the canyon:
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Once again, it's bigger than it looks, photographs really don't capture the enormity of these landscapes. See all that greenery down the bottom? Those are full size trees, and that arch is tall enough to fit Red Force underneath it - it is huuuge!
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See all those little rectangular shapes in the alcove? Those are houses, about 100 of them altogether, making this the second largest cliff dwelling in the world (the largest one is just a couple of miles away in the next canyon, but you need to take a tour to see that one).
So yeah, this was an unexpected but worthwhile little detour. Next time we come here I reckon we'll book up a tour or two and explore this place properly. Looks cool.

So on to Page, Arizona then, where we'd be spending 2 nights at a Clarion Inn. Nothing too flash, but I must admit it was nice to be in a proper room again, with a proper bathroom. And a shower. And wifi!
Not only that, on the other side of the street there was an amazing BBQ restaurant:
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Look at those smokers 😲
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Beans weren't the best, but oh my god - the meats were awesome! Had the sampler platter - brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage and 2 ribs. Lush!
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Bit of a hoe-down going while you eat too, bonus!
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Overall not the best Q joint I've ever been to - that title still belongs to Kansas City Joe's (ask @DelPiero if you don't believe me) - but Big John's is still pretty darn good and the former-gas-station location at least makes it feel a bit like Joe's:
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When in doubt, get the missus to pose behind a comedy cardboard cutout:
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Of course, we didn't come to Page just for high-end smoked meats, tomorrow we'd be off on another sightseeing tour of... yes, you've guessed it, another bloody canyon. Cos I know how y'all just love a good canyon. Antelope Canyon to be precise, and that will be in the next post - the last canyon post, I promise.
Maybe. ;)
 

Howie

Active Member
Ok, Antelope Canyon then. This one should be an easy read for ya, just a bunch of pretty pictures. Even if you haven't heard of Antelope Canyon, you've definitely seen millions of pictures and screensavers of it before. BBC1 even has it in one of their logos at the moment.
It's this place:
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Actually I lied, there's 4 or 5 of these slot canyons in the same area. Antelope is the famous one - the one that gets jam-packed with tourists from dawn til dusk - but we had a tour of 4 of them in order to get a bit more 'excluse' time away from the hoardes.
There was 'Mountain Sheep Canyon':
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Then there was 'Rattlesnake Canyon':
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And there was 'Owl Canyon':
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But the best one, the most colourful one, the one that catches the light in the most dazzling ways, the one with the most 'sculpted' walls is Antelope Canyon. Not hard to see why this one is the most popular with the tour companies.
Incidentally, you have to book a proper tour to see this place, you can't just rock up and stroll in.
Ha, rock up... geddit?
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Funny thing is, unlike some of the other sights we had seen on this trip, Antelope Canyon and its neighbours are not set in your typical, huge, majestic Western landscape, the scenery around here is decidedly nondescript. From the top, you wouldn't even know it was there:
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^See those 3 chimney stacks at the very top of the picture? That's a dirty great big gas fired power station. Weird contrast being so close to such an amazing natural wonder.
But whatever, it's down below where the magic happens anyway.
Canyon entrance:
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With all the tourists shuffling through here, getting pictures like that^ is a matter of luck, patience and timing so for the most part you have to just point your camera straight up and capture the light filtering down from above. Our guide pointed out just a few of the many formations that have nicknames, like:
The Wave:
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The Love Heart:
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Climbing Bear: You see him?
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The Otter:
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The Phoenix:
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Eye of Dragon:
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The Dancer:
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Monument Valley Sunrise:
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And there you have it.
Antelope Canyon. S'good.
Told you this one would be an easy read. :)
 
Last edited:

Howie

Active Member
You'll probably be pleased to know that this is the final post of this report. Hurrah!
All that's left is the final journey to Las Vegas where our trip ends. 😭
It was a long old drive, about 5 hrs worth.
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On the way we drove past a place called Glen Canyon, and seeing as we hadn't seen many canyons on this trip, I stopped for a picture:
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It has a dam too. I'd originally wanted to visit the Hoover Dam on this trip but never managed to fit it in, but this one almost made up for it:
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Now me & Mrs Howie had covered this journey before on a previous trip and weren't expecting to see much in the way of scenery. However, for some reason the sat nav decided to send us a different way this time, a much longer way in fact, about 90 minutes longer. Upon investigation it turned out that the sat nav was sending us through Zion National Park. A closer look at the maps soon revealed why this route would take a lot longer:
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But it's ok, Zion was another place that we'd originally looked at visiting back in the planning stages but dropped due to time constraints. At least this way we'd get to do the 'drive thru' visit.

Oh my God, it's amazing!
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This is the bit where all those hairpin bends on the map are. See those holes in the side of the cliff face?
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Those are like little side 'windows' in the road tunnel that carves its way through that mountain. Very cool engineering for all you mech-heads out there.

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So that's Zion National Park. Apart from stopping for a cheeky Subway we didn't do anything here, but it was another unscheduled bonus and we'll definitely come here again to explore it properly. Looks amazing. I really fancy doing the 'Angel's Landing Hike' next time. Look it up! :eek:

So that's it for the dreaded Geo-graphic content. No more mountains, caverns, canyons, caves, cliffs or nothing like that, our next stop was Las Vegas... again.

For (what should have been) our last night of the holiday we'd booked into the Stratosphere Hotel and for the grand finale I'd booked and paid to do a night time Skyjump - you know, that thing where you jump off the Stratosphere Tower on a descender cable.
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But... SPIIIIITE!
First of all, there was an awful lot of unnecessary faff in changing my online, print-at-home voucher into an actual ticket. See, on the ground floor of the Strat' is the box office. On the second floor they have a ticket office. On the third floor they have the Skyjump shop. Tried the box office first:
'Oh no, sir, you need the ticket office on the second floor'.
At the ticket office, then:
'No sir, you need to go the Skyjump shop on the third floor'.
At the Skyjump shop, then:
'You need to change your voucher for a ticket at the box office on the ground floor, sir'.
'I've just tried that luv, they sent me up here'.
So, the Skyjump shop lady comes with me back down to the box office on the ground floor, does the business, and back we go up to the Skyjump shop on the third floor again where I fill out the waiver form, get the jumpsuit on, get the harness on and wait to go up the tower.
'It's full at the top of the tower at the moment, sir, bit windy, so it's a bit slower than usual, but we'll be going up soon'.
15 minutes later:
'Sorry sir, they're closing the Skyjump, it's too windy. We'll put you on a standby list and call you if the wind drops'.
Grrr, whatever, ok then, so I remove the harness and the jumpsuit and, hoping the wind will die down in a bit, head off to get some dinner.
About an hour later I get a call and an automated message saying 'Hi Mr Howatson, your Skyjump is ready, please make your way to the Skyjump shop'.
Woo hoo, so that's exactly what I did, minced up to the Skyjump shop only to find it deserted, lights off and a blokey sat outside at a little desk informing people that the Skyjump wouldn't be reopening this evening.
'But I just had a call to say it was ready'.
'Sorry sir, must be some kinda mistake. I can put you on reserve list for the morning?'
'You know what mate, forget it, I'm totally over this now, the moment's gone. Gimme my 150 bucks back. Going home tomorrow anyway so won't have time in the morning'.
So that was my Skyjump spite. Gutted really, had been looking forward to (or dreading) that for months. Never even got to go up the tower. :(
You know what else? The hotel was rubbish too. Small rooms, small bathroom, dull decor, tiny window with a sh*t view. I tell you what, If this had been our last night of the holiday, it would have been a real damp squib to end on. Luckily, while I was mincing about with all the Skyjump faff, Mrs Howie had been on the phone trying to sort out an alternative flight home and as it turned out, the earliest one available was a full 3 days away.
Woo hoo, 3 extra nights in Las Vegas then! Thank you Thomas Cook. :)
But what to do with our extra time here? Well, the first and most important thing was to check out of the Stratosphere Hotel - sh*thole - and find somewhere nice to stay, so we went back to the Rio All Suites from the week before A) because we knew we liked it and B) because it only cost $100 for all three nights! :eek: That's crazy cheap for such a nice gaff.
I suppose we could have done a lot more with our extra time here but to be honest, after such an epic and exhausting road trip it was really rather nice to spend 3 days just chilling by the pool with gigantic pina coladas all day.
Sure, in the evenings we'd go for a wander up the strip n stuff. On the first night we watched a dinner show at The Excalibur called the Tournament of Kings:

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It was alright. It had topless dudes and horses so Mrs Howie was happy.
They've got quite a decent, old skool arcade at the Excalibur too which we spent far too much time in. Mrs Howie loves a bit of Donkey Derby, air hockey and whack n alien, bless her. :)
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On the second extra night we went to see Rod Stewart at Caesar's Palace. I know, right... Rod Stewart! Hey, we were stranded in Vegas, why the hell not?
Coulda been worse, coulda been Manilow.
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'We are sail-ing
We are saaaaail-ing'
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It was alright. He's past it, he knows it, we know it, but at least he's still game for a laugh and, y'know, he might not be around for much longer...

On the third night all we did was mince around in the casino and got very, very drunk. It was ace! Mrs Howie discovered that she really liked the roulette table and, after playing for about 2 hours came away with a whopping profit of... wait for it... about 40 bucks. :D
Don't knock it, that was enough for 2 more jumbo pina coladas!

Well folks, that about wraps things up. Not gonna lie, it was an awesome trip, probably the best ever. No offence to anyone reading this who I may have been on holiday with before, but this one is gonna take some beating.

Time for a little summary, then.
The route, part 1:
San Francisco - Mariposa Grove - Yosemite - June Lake - Las Vegas:
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The route, part 2:
Denver - Manitou Springs - Glenwood Springs - Moab - Monument Valley - Page - Zion - Las Vegas.
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Total mileage covered (not including internal flights or day trips: 1780 miles.

States visited: 5
California
Nevada
Arizona
Utah
Colorado

New parks visited: 4
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
California's Great America
The Adventuredome, Las Vegas
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
*Cave of the Winds Mountain Park (not really a theme park, but hey, it's got some rides so...)

New creds: 17
Medusa
Joker
Batman: The Ride
Superman: Ultimate Flight
Flash: Vertical Velocity
Kong

Railblazer
Goldstriker
Flight Deck
Demon
Grizzly
Psycho Mouse

Canyon Blaster
El Loco

Cliffhanger
Alpine Coaster
Wild West Express

Best creds:
1. Railblazer
(big gap)
2. Goldstriker
3. Joker

Best non-creds:
Haunted Mine Drop, Glenwood Caverns
Giant Canyon Swing, Glenwood Caverns
(gap)
Terror Dactyl Canyon Swing, Cave of the Winds

Canyons visited: lost count

Sightseeing tours undertaken: bout 12?

Trip highlights:
The Windy wedding
The Alcatraz night tour
The big trees
Yosemite
Bodie ghost town
Penn & Teller
Glenwood Caverns
The Fiery Furnace
The Monument Valley clifftop camp-out
The mud hut
Dogs
Antelope Canyon
Legal weed in 3 out of the 5 states
The Dodge!

Trip lowlights
Power cuts
Adventuredome
Downtown Vegas
The Mustang
The final bill!

Skipped creds: 5
2 kiddies and the boomerang at SFDK
2 kiddies at CGA

Spites: 5
Patriot
The 3 alpines at Vail, Breckenridge and Copper Mountain ski resorts.
Stratosphere Skyjump.

On the way home, we had that Star Wars Galaxy's Edge plane, which was kinda cool.
Punch it, Chewie :) :
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And finally, if you're wondering why - in a trip report entitled 'Creds & Canyons Tour' - we didn't visit the most obvious of all canyons, the Grand Canyon, well... it's just so basic innit?
However we did get to see it from the plane on the way home so for all you geology heads out there, here's one last canyon picture just for you:
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Thanks for reading, hope you liked it and I hope at least some of it has inspired you to take on a similar trip.
Peace out, man. :)
 

Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
Fantastic stuff. Very, very jealous of this trip.

Good work writing it all up, it's been am epic trip!
 

davidm

Well-Known Member
What, no Horseshoe Bend when you were in Page?
Nor Valley of Fire on the way down from Zion to Vegas?
Or Red Rocks when in Vegas (actually that one is a bit dull).
Pah. ;-)
 

Howie

Active Member
What, no Horseshoe Bend when you were in Page?
Nor Valley of Fire on the way down from Zion to Vegas?
Or Red Rocks when in Vegas (actually that one is a bit dull).
Pah. ;-)
I know, right? The more stuff you do round here, the more things you find to do for the next time. The Rainbow Bridge from Page, the Amphitheatre at Bryce Canyon, the Delicate Arch at Arches Park... all that stuff too.
I wanna go back. :'(
 
we went back to the Rio All Suites from the week before A) because we knew we liked it and B) because it only cost $100 for all three nights! :eek: That's crazy cheap for such a nice gaff.
C'mon, dude. The resort fee alone is more than 100 bucks for three nights.

Excellent report BTW!
 

Antinos

Slut for Spinners
Social Media Team
Excellent, excellent report! It's certainly a magnificent part of the world - good to hear you got to make the most of it!

Hey, Grand Canyon may be basic, but there's a reason why it's called the "grand" canyon. Last time I was out there, we did Zion, Bryce, and a few other sights, but Grand Canyon was the most incredible of the geographic sites by a long shot. It's absolutely staggering.
 
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