Florida Keys

Florida Keys
Florida Keys September 2014

Friday, April 24, 2015

Winding up our trip west as we travel from the Grand Canyon to Boulder City


Date: 4/24/2015

Location: Grand Canyon Nation Park, Hoover Dam and Boulder City


Our week of vacation sure went by fast and our last day would be the drive from the Grand Canyon to the Hoover Dam and Boulder City where we’d be spending the night.

There’s not much between the Grand Canyon and Boulder City. We thought that we’d get breakfast at one of the “towns” just south of the park entrance, but there were only a few places and none of them were open. We had to push on to the big city of Williams Arizona before we could find a place to eat. We found an old diner right on an original section on RT-66, so that was kind of interesting.

After breakfast we continued on to the Hoover Dam where we wanted to take one of their tours of the dam. This place was complete opposite than the Glen Canyon Dam in that it was packed with tourists and a mad house. There were hundreds of people in line for the tour, along with several large school groups Sad smile We toughed it out and got our tickets to the tour and made it down into the dam without waiting too long. I’d done the tour before, but this was a first for Allison and Julie. So, even though it was crowded, I’m glad we did it



One last thing that I wanted to do was walk across the Memorial Bridge that was recently built to route traffic away from the Hoover dam. This would give us a great view of the dam as well as the Lake Mead. There is a parking area next to the bridge and a wide walkway next to the road. We started to walk out onto the bridge, but the wind was blowing extremely hard and at a few areas we were getting blown backwards. I’d say it was blowing at least 50 mph, with gusts even stronger. Allison and Julie decided to turn around because of the wind, but I made my way out to the center of the span to grab a few quick pictures.



The bridge as seen from Hoover Dam


The Hoover Dam as seen from the bridge.


After touring the Hoover Dam and walking the bridge, we headed off to Boulder City where we’d be spending the night before flying out way too early the next day. This was only a few miles from the Hoover Dam and a short 30 minute ride to the airport. So, it was a good location to spend a night.

2015-04-24 13.52.23
We stopped for lunch at the Boulder Brewing company. The food was ok, but their flight of locally brewed beer was tasty!!


We had reservation at the Boulder Dam Hotel, which was an old historical hotel in the town. It was beautiful restored and a very comfortable place to stay. Plus it was very reasonably priced and also had a free (for guests) museum. We’d definitely recommend this place for anyone staying in the area.

2015-04-24 18.38.46
Boulder Dam Hotel


Before dinner we walked around the quirky little downtown of Boulder City,. There’s many interesting places to eat and hang out. We stopped at a wine bar and had a drink before heading out to dinner.

For dinner we went to the new restaurant that just opened across the street from the Boulder Dam Hotel. It was a little fancy which is not usually our cup of tea, but it was an amazing meal. Everything we tasted was done perfectly. We just had to mention it here since we had such a great meal!!

Picture borrowed from the Scratch House website. http://www.scratchhouse.com/


One Saturday it was up at 3:30am for out early flight out of Las Vegas and head back home. Luckily all of our flights were mostly on-time and we all made it home and back to reality!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Our last day at the Grand Canyon National Park


Date: 4/23/2015

Location: Grand Canyon National Park


Our last full day at the Grand Canyon was here and we had one last adventure arranged. Doing some searches of activities to do at the canyon led us to bike tours by Bright Angel Bicycles which has a shop right in the middle of the village. This company gets consistent positive reviews on every web site that reviewed them, with many pointing out the friendly guides that lead the trips.

We selected the Hermit Road Tour, which was an easy 6 mile ride on the road that hugs the rim of the Grand Canyon.  During most of the year this road is closed to the public, so you have a nice quiet bike ride without having to worry about dodging cars. There are a few shuttle buses that pass every once in awhile, but that’s about it for traffic.

Our starting point was Hopi Point, just west of the main Canyon Village area


Our guides loaded our bikes onto a van and drove us to Hopi Point, where the ride would begin. This way we would not have to ride up the steep road leading to this area. I’d say about 98% of the ride was on flat roads or downhill. It was really an easy ride!!

The views along the rim road were beautiful.


So, we’d ride for about 5 – 10 minutes and then we’d stop for a little talk by our guides. They covered many different topics, from the local wildlife, to the geology of the canyon and much more. At one stop we did see several California Condors, which was one of the things on Julie’s list. Check!!

A family pic at one of the many overlooks along the rim road.


There were probably 12 – 15 riders on this group, which our guide said was one of their larger groups for a ride. One guide led the way and another stayed at the back of the pack to pick up any that strayed from the group.



Yet another stopping point along the ride. We didn’t wear ourselves out on this ride.


At one stop Allison was trying to fall over the edge of the canyon. I guess I had to save her. (ignore the smiles)


The Colorado River (small green area)  still carving away at the canyon.




Our ride ended at the Hermits Rest which is at the end of the rim road. This was a stone building built back in the 1920’s. Here they loaded up our bikes onto the trailer. After about 15 minutes of exploring the Hermits Rest area, they loaded us up in the van for the short ride back to the start.







Here is the GPS track from our ride.

Grand Canyon - Canyon Rim Bike Ride at EveryTrail


We did one last drive around the park looking for wildlife and found some!



We also did one last walk along the rim of the Grand Canyon. Tomorrow we were heading and and heading to Boulder City and the Hoover Dam.

Taking in one last view of the canyon.


And a sunset pic from our last day at the canyon.



Grand Canyon - Canyon Rim Hike at EveryTrail

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

We start our time at the Grand Canyon with a grand hike



Date: 4/22/2015

Location: Grand Canyon National Park


We found the Grand Canyon to be much more crowded than Zion. It’s really like a small town, with its’ own post office, grocery store and the other amenities you’d find in community.  It also has many more places to stay with a wide variety of lodges and hotels, as well as several large campgrounds. All of this means crowds of people and it wasn’t even the busy time of year yet. We’ve heard (and read) that the vast majority of people never hike anywhere below the rim and also, to really experience the canyon, you need to hike down into the canyon. It doesn’t take very far down the trail to find yourself in much more peaceful surroundings.

After much investigation and reading different web sites, I picked out the South Kaibab trail as the one we’d attempt to hike. We had to take several of the Grand Canyon shuttles to get to the trail head and arrived at the starting point at around 9:00am. Not the earliest start, but the weather was cool which would make for good hiking conditions.

The Trail profile of where we were headed.


I didn’t know how difficult hiking into the Grand Canyon would be, so I had picked out two points along the trail as potential destinations. I wanted to at least get to Ooh Aah Point (1.8 miles round trip) or push on to Cedar Ridge (3 mile round trip).

Allison and Julie heading down into the canyon.


There were a lot of switchbacks to work our way down the steep walls of the canyon.


Every turn held a beautiful view.


With the morning sun still low in the sky, most of the trail on the way down was in the shade. This would change later in the day!!


After a short time we had made it to Ooh-Aah Point where we stopped, had a snack and drank some water. We were still feeling good, so we decided to continue on to Cedar Ridge.



No loosing Allison with her bright yellow hiking gear!!


Mother and daughter picture. Still looking good and ready to hike some more!

After about a little over an hour we arrived at Cedar Point which was a popular resting area for many of the other hikers. But it wasn’t too crowded. We hung out for awhile, relaxed and took many pictures!



Well, Cedar Point was my chosen turn around point since I didn’t want to over do on this hike, but we took a group vote and decided to continue on further down into the canyon. The next point along the trail was Skeleton Point which would be the last turning point before the trail makes a rapid decent down to the Colorado River.

The trail to Skeleton Point would take us around this butte and about 900 feet of elevation drop.


Some of the workers coming back from doing some trail maintenance.





The South Kaibab Trail crossing the plateau heading out to Skeleton Point.




We made it to Skeleton Point and still had smiles on our faces!! It was another place that we hung out for awhile, rested and fueled up before heading back up the trail.

We made it!!!


What’s over the edge??


Allison taking the some of the amazing scenery of the Grand Canyon.


A family pic on the South Kaibab Trail.




One thing that we all found amazing were all of the flowering plants we came across as we hiked. The canyon is mostly dry, sandy and rocky. But amazingly, flowers find places to grow and thrive in this challenging location.















The hike back up to the rim was extremely challenging. The sun was now higher in the sky and there was very little shade for our frequent rests. And the trail was very steep in places. In many sections, we’d hike for a hundred yards and then rest for a short time and then do it over again. Remember, we are from Florida, the land of no elevation! At times thoughts that maybe we had hiked too far crossed my mind. But we were not alone, all of the hikers heading back up were sucking air and struggling. We slowly made our way up and made it to back to the rim. It was yet another amazing hikes, and even though we struggled some, I’d want to do it again some time in the future.


Grand Canyon - West Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point at EveryTrail

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

One last morning hike in Zion and then off to the Grand Canyon


Date: 4/21/2015

Location: Zion NP, Page Arizona & Grand Canyon NP

Well, Tuesday arrived and it was time to leave Zion National Park and head south to the Grand Canyon (south rim). One thing that we wanted to do before we left Zion was to ride the shuttle as far as we could up into Zion Valley and do one last short hike on the River Walk Trail. This is the trail that leads to the famous Narrows hike. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to hike the narrows. Yet another hike we'll need to add to our list for the next visit!!

On the shuttle ride from the lodge to the River Walk trail we saw several climbers high up on the rock walls. We also had a climber, with all of his gear, on the shuttle with us. I guess this section of Zion is famous for its' rock climbing walls.

Mother and daughter doing an early morning hike before our long drive to the Grand Canyon.


The end of the River Walk Trail is where the trail to the Narrows begins.

The Narrows is a hike up the Virgin River accessible when the flow of water is low enough. In the cooler weather you have to rent booties and wet suits since the water is so cold. Below is Allison taking a picture for some of the hikers starting their trek up to the Narrows.

Allison the photographer.


Allison doing her best to keep the trail free from boulders


DSC_0397Our River Walk was right next to the Virgin River that flows through Zion Canyon.


Making our way back to the start of the trail.


Out time in Zion was finally up and we packed ourselves into the car and headed out. In planning the trip I noticed that about 1/2 way to the Grand Canyon was Page Arizona and the Glenn Canyon Dam. This was a must stop as you just can't pass up a good dam! It would also get us there about noon time which would make a good place to stop for lunch.

Glen Canyon Dam


We stopped at the visitors center at the dam for a bathroom break and to take a few picture of the dam and bridge over the river. This visitor center at this dam was much quieter than the one at Hoover Dam. We decided that we'd do the tour of the dam an Hoover and skipped the tour at this one.



Julie really wanted to find some dinosaur tracks somewhere on our travels. Well, she finally found some right outside the Glen Canyon Dam visitors center.

How bout them tracks!!


After spending about 45 minutes at the visitors center and lunch in the small town of Page Arizona, we were off again. One more stop that I had planned was a short hike/walk to the somewhat famous Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River. This was a very short 1 mile round trip stroll to an overlook into the canyon.

We're going where?




I really wanted to get a good picture of the bend (horseshoe) of the Colorado River, but didn't want to get close enough to the edge to get the shot. So, Allison volunteered to lay on the rock, stretch over the edge and try to get the perfect shot.

Anything for a good picture.


Just hanging on the edge!!


Allison took a few pictures with her phone and my camera, being extra careful not to drop either over the edge of the thousand foot drop.

All the extra effort paid off. We got a pretty good picture of Horse Shoe Bend.


Here's the GPS track of the short hike we did down to the overlook.

Colorado River - Horseshoe Bend Walk at EveryTrail



After leaving Page Arizona, it was off to the Grand Canyon. The drive from Page to the Grand Canyon is through mostly desert and Indian reservations. We got to the park in the early evening and had to get our picture taken by the East entrance sign.

A father daughter picture for a change!!


Our first view of the canyon was from Desert View Overlook.


We arrived at the Grand Canyon and got checked into our room at the Yavapai Lodge. The "Lodge" was really just a hotel like room, but it was plenty big enough for the three of us and had two queen beds. Plus it was clean, so we were all set. After getting settled we headed out to dinner and waited for about 45 minutes for a table at Arizona Room Restaurant. We waited out on their porch area and had a drink and enjoyed the views (even though it was windy and cold!!!) We had a great dinner here and later made our way back to our room as we were ready for bed after a long travel day. Plus, we had a big hike planned for the next day, so we needed all the rest we could get!