Road Trip Day Two - Arches National Park

Day two of this two-week long road trip began early around 7 A.M. Dropped off the room key at the office, took a few pics of the surrounding area at ponderosa lodge, then we were on our way to Arches National Park in Utah. From google maps, the drive is around seven hours to get there.  It was a pretty drive, but being from the east coast still haven’t adjusted to the faster speed limits of 80 M.P.H. compared to a usual 55 M.P.H. on the highway in Philly is pretty scary.

In between the many miles that were ahead, we made a stop in Boulder to feed the howling wolves inside ourselves making all sorts of racket. Filled up on Starbucks, and a rare Einstein Bagels was a total surprise, because I haven’t seen one in like 15 years back home. A little nostalgia was going on and I had some stories from High School with friends from that joint. After we loaded up, there was a homeless person sitting outside the building in the parking lot. To be honest, the frequent begging back home desensitized me, but this was different. He looked like he really needed a hand, and Charlotte said to me help him out. I got out of the car, reached into the cooler and gave him a bottle of water, protein bar, and a fresh sesame bagel to hold him over. He was more than appreciative and then began to eat. The man said, “Thank you so much, I really needed this, and I appreciate that you helped a stranger.” I then said, “You’re welcome man, its nothing, and be careful out here.” I then made my way back to the car, and set off. Four hours of fast going traffic, the sun was getting to me and I was feeling a bit tired. Stopped at a (I shit you not) a Kum-and-Go. The endless raunchy jokes followed! Fueled up on gas, checked the map, and then made our way to Arches without stopping.

Riding on the last stretch of highway in Utah was purely amazing. I cannot express how cool it was to see this landscape for the first time with the snowcapped Manti-La Sal National Forest to the left.

Once passing the mountains with about 30 more miles to go, the scenery was spectacular!

Without having cellphone service for most of the day, we wanted to find out more information about Arches NP, and curious to know when the visitor center closes. There was still around fifteen, or so miles to go and we were cutting it super close. Within fifteen minutes of arrival, the visitor center closed at 5 P.M.  It wasn't the most important thing to do and see, but having the official national park Passport book, (right) I wanted to have the official stamp marked in there, but this will allow a future visit to the park with more time to explore. Also, more stories to share with family, and friends later. As we got to the gate, The park ranger informed us that the park will be closing in a couple hours, so we had to see the main attractions, but there was one road in particular that was closed.  The Devils Garden area was closed due to flooding, and with a very short time frame deciding that the Windows Section of the park was a good amount of things to see and do.

Driving up the mountain

Driving up the mountain

Walking towards the Windows section of Arches National Park, crowds started to diminish with a storm brewing above. I took the gamble of sticking it out with little rain drops falling and the cold wind followed it. This moment seen here was epic. Silently standing before the second window here, all I can think of how amazing this place is, and how many millions of times the earth had to spin for this to naturally form. Time and erosion will happen, but remember the moment you had, before it’s lost forever. 

Looking past the ancient petrified sand dunes with snow capped mountains to the east, the Manti-La Sal National Forest literally took my breath away. The sheer silent winds brewing storms miles away during the sunset made this scene here one of my favorite moments of this trip.

With the park closing at 7P.M. and only 30 minutes to go, we hopped back into the car, taking a few pics from a few overlooks, and made our way with another 3-4 hours to get to Richfield, Utah. Finally arriving to the motel, it was a little too quiet in this town. Suspicions running amuck inside our heads like a dog chasing a rabbit in circles for hours, the Motel 6 sign above us was brightly lit up, but weirdly enough below it was an inverted restaurant sign. Weird right?! After the brief dirty looks to each other, we were greeted by a super friendly Indian couple you runs the place. They made us feel comfortable, while getting squared away. The room was really clean, affordable, and relaxing to charge up our batteries before making way to Red Rock Canyon State Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park in the morning. Apparently the inverted backward letters were only visible during the night time, and not the Day time. (see below)

West Coast Road Trip - Day One (Part 3)

After the night tour at Stanley hotel, we decided to grab a drink at the infamous bar, with an incredible list of whiskies, gin, and various amounts of bourbon in stock. We had a very informative bourbon-type gal as our barmaid. Charlotte went with the red wine, and I went with Johnny Walker Blue label straight. Soon after our drinks came, a couple noticed us from the tour. By being the only person with a professional camera of the group, it was hard to miss. Especially when a Canon 580IIx flash goes off. The couple asked if I was able to catch anything, and I replied, “I honestly don’t know yet.” I haven’t looked, but I sure will when I get back home.” We are believers of the paranormal, and we had a great conversation with them talking about our experiences and amongst other things including  where they were from, what are drink choices are and about the road trip. 

After an hour, or so we decided to go to a local bar and grab some food and drinks. The bartender was super cool and friendly. After ordering, we noticed on the chalkboard above his nickname was Big Sexy. Which was hilarious! Remembering that there was a scene in Pineapple Express where Seth Rogan’s character was caught by the police, and the cop said, “Oh big sexy with them glasses.” Chucking for a minute about the scene. As the bartender came around, we called him by his nickname and he was laughing. A short conversation followed, and then mentioned he was moving to Fort Collins, and on this shift was his last night. He asked where we were from. We told him Philadelphia, because he definitely noticed our accents. The way we say certain things here on the northeast part of the country is definitely noticeable. For example, Philadelphian’s pronounce coffee, “Cuaw-fee.” I think it was when we ordered the BBQ cheeseburger with coleslaw and the mushroom and sautéed onion burger with sweet potato fries. Might sound as basic as burgers go, but they were so good, prepared with care, and with love. The owner/chef came out, and asked how our meal was and we told him, “It was excellent.“ His eyes lit up, and a huge smile followed. He then said thank you very much. Once we were done, we congratulated the bartender, and wished him luck in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Leaving the bar, it was very quiet and no one was on the road. Driving a couple minutes back to The Ponderosa Lodge, I noticed three coyotes crossing the road! I was like, “OH, OH, OH!” It is something you do not see on the east coast. Arriving back to Lodge, I decided to see if I could shoot the stars above the hill. With a full moon above, it illuminated too much and the stars were not coming through as planned. This shot to the right is the best one I was able to pull off that night. 

West Coast Road Trip - Day One (Part One)

Day One (Part One)

I have always wanted to do a road trip that extended throughout America since I was a young boy. Having to dream many times how cool it would be to see firsthand what the early explorers experienced. With many sunsets passed, this dream finally came true. As a 35-year-old man, I haven’t been this excited since the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series in 2008.

Setting out on a two-week adventure with my partner in life, we knew that this was going to be the best trip we would ever make. Having the chance to be able to explore, see the country, and get away from every day from the hustle and bustle would be an amazing feeling.

The first stop on this super intensive visual adventurous rollercoaster was Estes Park, Colorado. Driving alongside the Rockies was visually breathtaking. No matter where you would look, there was something to see. From the red rocks below, to the snowcapped mountains above, it was mind blowing how beautiful they are with shades of grey and the haze of orange hue reflecting its way to view across the valley.

Before making way to check-in, Estes Lake is a relaxing spot to kick back before heading into town. With views so grand, I had no desire to think about normal day life. Soon after taking a few photos, realizing that we wanted to have some time to Explore Rocky Mountain National Park, we got back into the rental, and shot over to Ponderosa Lodge.

The location couldn't have been better, and for that price, it couldn't be beat. it was a perfect combo! Ponderosa lodge was really charming, and very laid back. With the river running right beside it. We were greeted nicely by the manager, where he was confused by why I was wearing an Oakland A’s hat, and Charlotte was wearing a Boston Redsox cap with the rental bearing Arizona tags. We joked about it, and talked a little baseball while he was setting up our room. We got to our room, and it was clean and we were satisfied. All we could ask for is a clean place to stay, with no bells and whistles. Equipped with two full sized mattresses, an outdoor patio, a fridge, and a very clean bathroom. For sixty dollars, that's one heck of a bargain.


After settling in, and 10 minutes later, we heard screaming. Not sure where it was coming from, so I peeked out the window, pushing the blinds down observing that an older couple having some words with the manager, and I was in total shock. Confusing why he was super cool to us. That is some real Jekyll and Mr. Hyde stuff right there. What we heard was that this couple was impatient about checking in, and the manager was yelling back, “I was trying to give her some compassion man! Her father just died. What is your problem?” The man said, I was just wondering how long will this will be?” The manager then said, “All you had to do is lay back and wait a minute while you were in line. You're an a****** man!” The man said, I want my money back, this is ridiculous!” Still going back and forth about who's an a******, then the man said I am not gonna take this, I want my money back!” The manager then said, “Her father died and worried about sixty bucks man! Get the F outta here! Meanwhile, All I was worried about is letting this fight cool down, and not walk by them and by some chance be brought into it. Definitely not how I do business, and I'll never speak to someone like that, but I minded my own business and we headed out to Rocky Mountain National Park soon after. Quietly, but enough to get-out-of-dodge.

…to be continued.