A Great San Diego view – FREE

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The beautiful and FREE view from atop the 40th floor of the Hyatt in downtown San Diego! I always look for great places to look out on a new city, I am a map nerd and need to “get my bearings”.
The Hyatt has a cocktail lounge at the top (of course) but there are plenty of windows all around the 40th floor. Usually, if you look like you know where you’re going and aren’t dressed poorly – nearly any hotel will let you up! The Coronado island bridge in the distance. Beautiful!

Back to Route 66! – Holbrook, Arizona

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Back down through Navajo country to the eastern edge of Arizona’s Route 66. Arizona has the largest stretches of the original highway and it’s fun to drive off highway 40 for the telltale brown “Historic Route 66″ signs. First stop is Holbrook – a wonderful Main Street town with lots of charm and character. There are leather stores, pubs, old diners and of course, souvenir shops galore! I especially enjoyed finding an enoteca, a regional wine tasting spot on the main drag. The wine was pretty good, too! The town museum had a great old jail house, (third photo) used as recent as 1976. If you look on the walls, you can see where bored inmates drew – a few of the paintings and drawings are really good! Yikes, imagine being cooped up in here! ;-{  Leaving town is the iconic Wigwam Hotel – actually motel rooms shaped like teepees. They have classic cars parked throughout the motel, as well. I stayed at the Lodge on Main street. Newly remodeled with lots of luxurious touches and a great outdoor fireplace lounge. Yep, it was cold, but the fireplace was on and the overhead heaters made my time there wonderful!

 

 

Week Three: Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ

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WOW…truly the most AMAZING geological formation I have ever seen! Antelope Canyon is in northern Arizona, not far from Page Arizona, home of Lake Powell. As it is Native land, small groups are brought in by Navajo guides in truckloads. While driving there in the open bed of a large pickup truck – the wind blowing in my face, I felt like a big dog with his tongue hanging out of the window, excited to be in the car.

Our guide Irene led us through the “slot canyon”, so named because it looks like a slotted opening in the rock, just wide enough for a powerful force of nature like water to enter and sculpt the soft sandstone to this incredible formation. The canyon is only about 1/4 mile long but winds around beautifully striated walls of stone and every upward gaze is a photographic moment.

If you are ever in northern Arizona, do NOT miss this.

Week Two: Bryce Canyon Nat’l Park, Utah

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Bryce Canyon is sort of tucked away, you must stop and get out and peer over the edge to see it – but WOW, when you do…
Behind the Bryce Canyon lodge are short hiking trails along the rim of the “Ampitheatre”, a vast circular congregation of stone columns called “hoo-doos”. Native legend says that Coyote wanted to punish the people for not doing what he wanted so he turned them all into stone. If you look hard enough and with enough imagination – indeed, the grouped columns do start to resemble clusters of people with heads and shoulders – some in pairs, some alone.

I arrived late afternoon when the sun was going down, it was a sunny 71 degree day, so I decided to pitch my tent and camp in the campground. However, not long after sundown the temperatures dropped fast and I huddled in my tent wrapped in my sleeping bag and piled with blankets. By the wee hours of the morning just before dawn (5 a.m.) the temperatures had plummeted to 28 degrees. Finally, I bravely put on my shoes and made a mad dash for my car! Off to the nearby Bryce Canyon lodge and to it’s cozy fireplace and comfy chairs to thaw out. What a delight! So much for camping in fall…

The up side is that by getting up REALLY early, I was wide awake and able to explore the park before the tourists got up. All the viewpoints were virtually empty, just me and my thoughts and maybe a stray Park Ranger or two. It was not until about 9 a.m. when I reached my final viewpoint that the tourists descended on the park. The early morning sunrise lit the tops of the rock formations nicely and I’m pleased with the photos I took. What do you think?

 

Week Two: Seque to southern Utah – Zion National Park

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First stop on this leg was Hurricane, Utah – my first venture into an AirBandB lodging listing. The B&B where I stayed was GREAT! I had a first floor room and first class service – cool room, great bed and sheets, a BIG welcome from my host Marla with wine & cheese and fun conversation, all at a very reasonable price. Isn’t this what travel is all about? Greetings, connections, laughs and crazy life stories… If you’re Zion park bound – go here! https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4135571

It’s only a short drive to nearby Zion Nat’l Park – but stop at the River Rock Coffee house on the way and get a great coffee, a yummy spinach & tomato quiche and a VIEW! Their back patio overlooks a wonderful Utah-esque canyon. GSWA_053http://www.riverrockroasters.com/index.html

First major hike in the park is the Watchman Tower hike – a 2.7 mile hillside hike – which was amazing! Between the blooming wildflowers (oh, how I love Indian Paintbrush flowers!) to the endless vistas – WOW. Wear your sunscreen, though!

As I walk, I generally look about for cool stuff – and find a collection of heart-shaped stones on my path. I collected them in my pocket and left them on a large stone next to the trail entrance – I hope someone sees them and smiles. Pay it forward!

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