The Return to San Jose: Day 7

Ok…it’s 4am…where’s the sunrise.  Oops… central time, not mountain time and we forgot that sunrise would be an hour later.  We weren’t the only fools out there waiting for mother nature to show us her splendor.  Dad says that taking pictures is like hunting; you set up in what you hope is the perfect location and wait for hopefully perfect conditions.  Mother Nature only graced us with her magic touch but for a brief moment or two for it looked as if a storm could role in.  We have a 8am canyon trail ride scheduled and are hopeful that the weather will cooperate.  Being the trip of a lifetime,  Mother Nature saw fit to shine and so at 7:40am we saddled up on Valentine, Jessica, Hippy and Jake.  Lead by trail guide Beau Hatch we descended rather quickly via a series of switch backs over a thousand feet to the canyon floor.  Mom, being a wee bit fearful of heights, decided it would be ok to open her eyes.  Mom’s mule Hippy and my mule Jessica did not get along at all even though we were instructed to keep our mounts in this order for safety reasons.  Hippy would bite Jessica in the ass and Jessica would kick at Hippy’s nose.  This made for an eventful ride!  The beauty of the canyon was worth any disruptions from the mules…. the sun was out, the sky was blue with fluffy clouds… the perfect backdrop for all the coral hoodoos.  3 1/2 hours later, 100 pictures taken, rumps soar, legs stiff, but smiles on our faces, we ascended from the canyon floor to the rim being careful to keep Hippy and Jessica a safe distance from each other to complete our ride.  Mom let a sigh of relief to back on flat ground.

The car was loaded before the trail ride, so we immediately head out for Zion National Park for a glorious shuttle ride through the canyon floor.  Surrounding us on both sides were nearly 3000 ft tall sand stone cliffs that no camera could capture in such close proximity.  On a side bar, to enter Zion from route 9, you must pass through a winding mile long tunnel.  Quite the drive!

Back in the car and off to Las Vegas, “Sin City”, “The City That Never Sleeps”.  We arrive at 5:30pm and check into New York New York.  Fresh showers for everyone since we started the morning in Bryce Canyon on horse and mule, then road through Zion, and arriving in Vegas feeling the need to freshen up before a night on the town… or not!  The Feisley family is not what one would call Vegas Compatable.  We were accosted every block by card snapping Mexicans advertising naked women in 20 minutes or less.  Will wondered if not delivered on time, would your order be free!!  Sorry to say, we would never find out.  We finally dined at Trevi Resturant in Ceasars Palace followed by a 45 minute quest to exit the casino.  Big surprise…Vegas like was not for the Feisley’s… exausted from our days travel, we finally made our way back to our hotel for a good nights rest.  See you in Death Valley!

Check out today’s pictures in the Gallery

The Return to San Jose: Day 6

Dad, being the super tourist that he is, insisted on a 4am wake up call for some sunrise shots of the canyon.  Along the morning rim trail, we met Carl form California and Susan from Hamburg, Germany here on a six week holiday.  The sun came out and rewarded the super tourist with some awe inspiring photos.  Nothing wrong with getting up early! Back to the lodge for a family breakfast.  It’s as if they knew we were coming.  Window side dining again.  How lucky can one family be!  We concluded our stay with some rim hiking to walk out points with amazing views.  Thank God for guard rails!!!

On to Bryce Canyon….a mere 2 1/2 hour drive.  All this beauty, in such close range of each other.  We arrive at Bryce Canyon about 3pm.  We check in at the lodge with no confrontations and again settle into another beautiful cabin on the rim.  Of course, being the Feisley’s we head out for a late afternoon hike on the Navajo trail.  The trail was only 1.3 miles round trip, but we descended nearly a thousand feet through the hoodoos.  It’s like being surrounded by hundreds of coral pink sand castles.  While not nearly as vast as the Grand Canyon, Bryce has a more intimate beauty that you can reach out and touch.  The day was beautiful and sunny with billowy whit clouds.  Picture taking was easy for sure.  Dining inside this evening was not even an option.  Way to beautiful to be inside, we purchased some sandwiches and snacks and dined on benches perched on the rim.  The ideal picnic! Sunset comes early out west, so it doesn’t take long to settle in for slumber.  So much beauty and fresh air make for deep sleep.  And don’t forget the Feisley 4am wake up call for sunrise photo ops.  See you tomorrow!!!

Check out today’s pictures in the Gallery

The Return to San Jose: Day 5

We say our early morning goodbyes to Uncle John and Lonnie and headed out for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  A stop at the Cameron Trading Post is an absolute must.  We were traveling through the Navajo Indian Reservation; and if kids in the Ohio Valley say they can’t wait to get out; one can only imagine what the Navajo youth must say about such desolation.

We crossed the Colorado via the Navajo Bridge.  At this point the Colorado River flows through Marble Canyon, a preliminary to the Grand Canyon.  When it was built, the Navajo Bridge was the highest steel arch bridge in the world.  Our route proceeded through the Arizona Strip; so desolated because it is cut off from the rest of the state by the Grand Canyon.

We dropped south from Jacobs Lake to the North Rim at about 4pm.  In the check out line, Mom was accosted by an obnoxious world traveler who seemed to think she had exclusive rights to the North Rim experience.  Glad to get through that, we checked into our cabin, a delightful log structure built in the 1930’s by the WPA. We promptly headed out to check out the view.  There simple are no words or pictures to describe the scene before our eyes.  The main lodge, a stone and log structure was perched right on the rim. As we dined by the 30 foot windows; there is the feeling of sitting right in the canyon.  Without reservations, we still had the best seat in the house.

Check out today’s pictures in the Gallery

The Return to San Jose: Day 4

We began the day with a breakfast of bacon and berry pie. (Not the most standard of meals for that time of day)

Our first event of the day was for us to go see the Gold King Mine Ghost Town. This was first described to us as the worlds largest junk yard, but we were pleasantly suprised to see it was far more than that. It featured 2 working sawmills, several working trucks and cars, and a working 10,154 cubic centimeter engine that powered a generator for a mine in Arizona. We have many pictures to check out in the gallery.

We finished up at the mine and had some lunch in Jerome before returing to Sedona.

We got back and relaxed for a bit, then we had scheduled a tour with Pink Jeep Tours. We took the combo tour of Broken Arrow and Scenic Rim. Broken arrow was aptly described as a slow motion roller coaster. The Jeep went over terrain that some people would think twice about walking across. The more aptly named Scenic Rim tour was less adventurous but had some amazing views of the rock formations. Words just dont do it justice (so I wont try), check out the gallery for more pictures.

We finished off the night with dinner and headed back for the last night at the RV.

Check out today’s pictures in the Gallery

The Return to San Jose: Day 3

We woke up after a great sleep at the Blue Swallow Motel, on Route 66. The motel is located in Tucumcari, NM which still boasts many of the original hotels and restaurants from the heyday of Route 66 travel.

We talked to the owners in the morning and learned of the great expence related to restoration of the neon lights. The rare event of hale in the area can be devastating to the glass tubes. They spend $20,000 on their neon alone for the restoration, though, part of this came from the historic preservation association. The other interesting thing is the apparent absence of any sort of electric code in the area. While standing in their office, you can look up and see the bare wires leading to the neon lights and the ballast box attached to them marked “High Voltage – Do not touch the bare wires!!!” Moral of the story, don’t touch random wires anywhere around this place.

We then ate some breakfast at “Kix on 66” at the recommendation of our hosts. Afterwords, we packed and prepared to head out. On the way out of town we stopped and took some pictures at the “Route 66” statue which you can see in our gallery. We tried to continue along Route 66 as long as possible, but gave up when it turned into a dirt road through a cattle farm, we gave in and proceeded along I-40.

Along our drive we saw the very barren expanse of New Mexico. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any more barren, we hit Arizona. At times, however, there were an annoying number of billboards (one company had 40+ of them in a 2 mile stretch) on the side of the road. 525 miles later we arrived in Sedona, AZ.

We met up with Uncle John that evening and went out to eat at the Dahl & DiLuca restaurant. We returned to the RV for a good night sleep before we began our next day of the trip.

Check out today’s pictures in the Gallery

The Return to San Jose: Day 2

Our second day began early (7:00am) we ate breakfast at the hotel and then proceeded to the gates of Graceland!

Being overly ambitious as we were, we got there before they opened the parking lot and were the first people in line to enter. Graceland is the former home of Elvis Presley and he bought it for the low price of $100,000. We took the “Platinum” tour and visited his mansion and the surrounding grounds. We also were able to see the vast collection of cars he owned in the Car Museum. Finally we finished our tour by checking out his two custom jets, “The Lisa Marie” and “The Hounddog II” Check the photo gallery for more on the decor of this vintage (read: somewhat dated) estate.

As we were in the gift shop, getting ready to leave Graceland, we noticed a man wearing a “Blaster” shirt. My uncle is good friends with the owner of the Blaster company so naturally we were curious to see this shirt in Graceland. It turns out the man was a cousin-in-law to the owner and was also from the same area as my uncle.

The rest of the day was not nearly as exciting as we began the 800 mile drive to Tucumcai, NM. We stopped for lunch along the way in Ozark, AR which turned out to be a comedy of errors. We needed gas so we stopped at “Loves Gas Station” which unfortunately had the only pump that did not take credit card. We then went into town to look for a family owned restaurant, however, learning from the “if-no-one-is-eating-there-run-away” rule, we fueled up at a local station and then ate at a McDonalds by the interstate. When we ordered ice cream cones after our meal, the girl working at the counter made them with about 3 times the normal quantity of ice cream, much to the chagrin of her manager who about went bug eyed at the sight of so much ice cream being given out. We did fend off the boredom by continuing our audio book of Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen.

We crossed into Texas late at night and stopped for gas in Shamrock, TX. We learned from the friendly attendant that a neon lit gas station down the road was featured in the movie Cars. Naturally we took a quick detour to take some pictures. We also called our hosts at the Blue Swallow Hotel to let them know we would be arriving late. They said they would leave the neon lights on for us and the key in the door. (Thank you Tom Bodett)

Finally as we approached the New Mexico boarder the time switched to 12:00 am and we were now in June 3rd, however, after a few more miles we crossed the time zone line and went back to 11:15 pm on June 2nd. Thus we have managed to go back in time a day during our trip.

Check out todays pictures in the Gallery

The Return to San Jose: Day 1

Just a few short hours after we went to sleep this morning, we awoke at 2:30 am to head out on our trip. We packed the cars and departed at 3:15 am.

Our first stop was to drop Mom off at the Columbus airport. She will be flying to Cleveland and then to Phoenix to meet up with Uncle John. We will meet up with them there on Day 3.

After Columbus, our first stop was in Nashville, TN. We ate lunch at Jack’s BBQ right next to the Ryman. We then walked next door for our tour of the historic Ryman Auditorium. We finished up our time in Nashville with a stop by the Hatch Show Print shop where they still use their hand operated presses to produce posters to this day.

We then proceeded another 214 miles to Memphis, TN. After unpacking at our Hotel we went out to Beale Street to listen to the music and have some dinner. We first stumbled upon Alfred’s restaurant where a man convinced us of its great food and equally impressive music. Unfortunately, when you walk into a place and it is completely empty, that is generally a bad sign. In this case, it was a bad sign as there was a lack of decent music and the food was terrible. (We saw the writing on the wall and only ordered an appetizer so that we could eat elsewhere)

We then headed up the street to Superiors Restaurant & Bar (where once again a man hailed us on the street to enter) However, this time the man (who we learned was the owner) said he had the best ribs on Beale Street and if we did not like them, he would buy them back from us and eat them all himself. Seeing that the man was thin, we determined that he had not had to buy back many meals. We ate and the food did end up to be excellent.

We rounded out the night, by heading over to an outdoor stage and listened to some live music. Also, as we were leaving, we saw a crew preparing to shoot a commercial for Domino’s Pizza. So keep an eye out for a commercial in the near future featuring Beale Street or BB King’s Restaurant.

Be sure to check our our Gallery for the day.

The night before “The Return to San Jose”

It is now 1:00am on June 1, 2009. I am about to go to sleep before getting up at 3:00am to embark once again on a journey across the country. The destination is once again San Jose, CA.

There are a few changes since the “Epic Road Trip” of 2008:

  • This time it is Dad, Mom, William (my brother for you strangers), and I
  • We will be taking a southern route instead of I-70
  • 2 weeks long instead of 1 week.
  • This trip will be titled “The Return to San Jose”

This trip we are also documenting things a little more. Three cameras will be traveling to capture the whole experience. We will be posting our notes and comments each day (or as close to each day as internet in some places may allow)

You can follow our progress in the following ways:

But for now, it is time for sleep  and I shall post some more details on the start of the trip later today.


The time has come again to increment the counter that is my age…


Merry Christmas!

Here is wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

« Previous Entries