Tag Archives: roadtrip

Hang on to your Hodo’s

Leaving the hustle and bustle of las Vegas in out wake we headed for the hills to a camp site that was geographically close to the entrance to Zion & Bryce Canyon.

Unlucky for us we couldn’t find a space to park the rv to enable us to enter the Zion to get on the shuttle bus so we pointed Martha towards the Kolob Canyons visitor centre instead. Here we picked up the annual park pass (a definite recommend if you plan to visit many parks as proved good value for money) & drove up the hill to the viewing point. It was great to get out and follow the little trail to see the terrain which was quite majestic. Little did we know that this view was the first of what would be a number of amazing vistas that we were able to feast our eyes on.

With a growing taste for a ‘camp on the wilder side’ we found ourselves trundling slowly for fear of cracked windscreens or paint chips down what became known as ‘the road of doom’ to a fantastic campsite only about 30mins drive from the entrance to Bryce Canyon.

By the crack of dawn the following day we set off to the visitor centre where Rangers had hardly opened up shop to find where we could abandon Martha, grab a shuttle & go Hodo spotting. Checking maps while listening to the bus driver giving tips on routes before we alighted to walk around. The day showed all the potential for being quite hot so we made sure we were lathered in suncream with a sufficient amount of water before heading down the trail. It had become apparent to us that we had a natural instinct to walk trails the ‘wrong way around’ so this was no different & worked in our favour as we met less people & seemed to have less of a climb out.

The hodo’s are quite magnificent & photos hardly seem to do them justice & it was easy to see why the early Native Americans thought of them as people turned into stone. Wandering around in amongst the giant rock formations was quite eerie yet beautiful. At the risk of being controversial I would say that I found the area more spectacular than the Grand Canyon but that’s just my opinion.

Whilst being an ‘early bird’ paid dividends in terms of parking it meant that we were a bit peckish after completing the trail so we nipped back to Martha for a snack before heading off along the scenic drive.

Next day we arose to start a long days drive to Moab & the Arches National Park. Cutting across country is fun & leads to all manner of unusual places that just force you to stop for a while.

Las Vegas, Marmite & Me

First night

For the most parts generally people I have come across either love or loath Marmite (a savoury spread you generally put on buttered toast). However if forced to confess that I really love marmite but only in small amounts & not particularly often & I think this is probably how I feel about Las Vegas.

Having visited once with my daughter on a previous trip I had been slightly overwhelmed by the noise & bustle yet somehow compelled to explore the place. We had fun & the place sort of leaves a mark on you but I was generally in no hurry to return.

So when it transpired that the only place it seemed in the whole of the USA we could pick up a C19 for the dates we wanted was Las Vegas I was of mixed feelings. My road trip buddy had never been nor it seemed was very keen either but I felt it was somewhere that everyone should try to visit at least once.

Feeling peckish

Which is how we came to find ourselves booked in to a Hotel with a Casino & 72 lane bowling alley. An overnight stop is a requirement of the hire firm before picking up the van so we made our way on a gloriously hot day to spend some time by the hotel pool. I was still suffering from a ‘post festival virus’ so sadly didn’t venture in despite it looking very tempting.

We then decided to give the 10 pin bowling a go & had great fun slinging brightly coloured balls down the slippery tracks to knock over the little white pins. After winning a game each we retreated to sleep in preparation for collecting ‘Martha’ the next day.

Trouble with the mobile phone meant we couldn’t call & consequently flummoxed the staff by turning up earlier than they expected. In their rush to get the van ready they nearly managed to leave a few vital items out so we were glad our previous experience meant that in the pre leave checks we were able to alert them to this! 

Still once aboard we set the sat nav for the short drive to Sams Town KoA where I had booked us in. I had stayed here before & knew it was close to a supermarket for stocking up & was near a shuttle bus service that we could take down to The Strip. I am brave but I didn’t fancy driving the van in the crazy city traffic. 

What a venue

Part of the joy of our trips is going to do very American things that we have only seen or heard about in films or tv. So when the opportunity to ‘go to a ball game ‘ presented itself we found ourselves in an Uber going across town to watch the Las Vegas Aviators at home to Tacoma Rainiers. I admit to knowing nothing about the game other than it involved whacking a ball & running to various posts akin to the game of rounders I had played as a kid. In the UK the only sport I had watched in a stadium was rugby that involves sitting in the cold for what seems like hours while two teams run about getting muddy so I was not convinced I was in for a good time.

Watching the game
Hot dogs

However it turned out to be a brilliant evening. For one it was warm and balmy & the atmosphere was very welcoming. We discovered that our ticket meant we could wander & sit pretty much were we felt like & you could get refreshments easily. The grounds were well lit, clean & the service great & despite our non existent knowledge of the game I loved the relaxed family atmosphere. I have made a mental note to try & brush up on the rules incase I am lucky enough to get to go again.

For Felix if you are reading

The next day we ventured to the heart of Vegas which was pretty much the same busy mad place I had been to last time. My buddy I think was truly relieved to leave after a pretty full day roaming around exposed all manner of bewildering things designed to tempt you into parting with your cash.

Go Martha

The next day we fired up Martha & headed for the first of the National Parks we intended to try & visit. 

Gone for a ‘bit of a recce’

Flying Icelandic Air meant a quick pit stop in Iceland in both directions so on the return we decided to extend this for a couple of days. My road trip buddy had visited before & was soon in procession of a nippy little car that took us to our accommodation in downtown Reyjavik.

The quaint hostel provided an excellent base from which to explore both the city & local attractions. Iceland is an extraordinary country that’s landscape is both remote & captivating. Our visit was in the Autumn so the snow had yet to fall but the weather on arrival was certainly hostile compared to the warm balmy days in the USA. However we had warm clothes & waterproofs so we ventured off to see what the Island could offer.

Journey to the centre of the earth??

Having journeyed to what felt like the centre of the earth down a tunnel we left the rain behind us. First up was a short trek up the side of a redundant volcano to look inside the crater. Curious geological scenery & a touch of blue sky makes for a memorable stop even if the wind threatened to blow us over the edge. If we had brought our swim wear we could have had a dip in the numerous hot springs that were near by as others seemed to be.

We opted to return to base & get ready to venture out for a meal which ended up being an expensive form of Icelandic ‘tapas’. I won’t list the dishes for fear of causing offence to some but the food was exquisite.

Next day we headed towards the rain to visit Reynisfjara to take a look at the black sand & unusual rock cliffs. The waves were being whipped up by the wind & we were on constant alert for the ‘sneaker waves’. This potentially fatal phenomena has caught many a visitor out so huge warnings signs greet you in the car park. I think they should make the You Tube clip of one of the few people to survive a mandatory part of the visit as there were many who seemed oblivious to the dangers. The name ‘sneaker’ gives a clue to the fact that the waves can creep up & sweep the unsuspecting from the shore. Having survived we still ad to endure the by now pounding rain so on reaching the car decided a warm drink and indoor visit to be preferable. This is how we ended up in the Skogasfn Folk Museum.

If you like history then definitely put this on the list of things to do. It gives an insight into Icelandic history & culture. We spent a few hours looking at the various curiosities housed there until making our way back via Hvolsvollur for tea.

Not fancying a church service we opted to kill time before checking in at the airport we decided to squander the last few krona on a visit to Hio Islenzka Reoasafn museum.

All in all it was a unique glimpse into a beautiful largely unspoilt landscape where the people are hospitable & their traditional food delicious. It is a grievously expensive place as most has to be imported but well worth the effort. I would like to return some day & explore more as we only touched the surface in our short stay. However returning to the UK would not see us knitting slippers or carving something we had the next road trip schedule to map out!