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Old 09-28-2017, 08:31 AM   #1
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Our Western Tour


This is going to be a quick TR because I want to complete it before we leave for Disney in less than a month!

What – a trip out west to see some of our country’s National Parks.
Why – The trip was inspired when Jeff watched a Ken Burns special on the National Parks last year.
Who – DH Jeff and me, Donna.
When – September 17 – 25. This is around our usual Disney travel time, but this year we chose to go a bit later in the year, so it worked out well.
How – planning was a whole new ballgame for me. I am so used to planning Disney trips and this was completely different. We were driving over 1000 miles and staying at 5 different hotels/lodges over the course of our 9 day trip. I did quite a bit of research on the various locations and we booked well in advance because many of the lodges are difficult to get into.

We knew we wanted to see the Grand Canyon, and my brother who has travelled out west several times with his family, suggested that we should see the North Rim as well as the South because they are both very different. Then I started looking into other National Parks in the vicinity and found that Bryce Canyon National Park was only a three hour drive from the North Rim, and if we flew into Vegas, we would pass through Zion National Park on our way to Bryce. Perfect! We also got advice from others who had been to the area and one recurring theme was “Make sure you see Sedona”. So, that was on the list as well. I have a girlfriend from HS who lives in Sedona and she said she would be happy to show us around. We decided our last stop would be Phoenix. There are some great tourist attractions in Phoenix, plus Jeff has cousins that live in the area, so that was a perfect place to end the trip.

So, here is the line-up…

September 17 - Fly into Vegas, rent a car and head for the hills!
Drive through Zion National Park on our way to Bryce Canyon
Stay two nights at Bryce Canyon
September 19 – drive to the North Rim for one night.
September 20 – drive to the South Rim for two nights
September 22 – drive to Sedona for two nights
September 24 – drive to Phoenix for one night
September 25 – fly home

Hope you’ll come along for the ride!

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My Previous Trips1976 - off site, 1991 - PO, 1994 - off site, 2004 - POR, 2008 - ASM, 2009 - POFQ, 2010 - POFQ, 2011 - POR, 2012 - BLT, 2013 - BCV, 2015 - BWV, 2016 - BWV, 2017-BLT, 2018-OKW
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Old 09-28-2017, 10:11 AM   #2
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Looking forward to following along.
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Old 09-28-2017, 11:43 AM   #3
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Sounds great! Looking forward to seeing all of the great pictures!
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Old 09-28-2017, 12:14 PM   #4
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Oh wow, it sounds fantastic. I can't wait to hear more! Bryce is one of my favourite National Parks, so I'm particularly looking forward to photos from there.
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Old 09-28-2017, 03:43 PM   #5
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Looking forward to following along.
Thanks for joining!

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Sounds great! Looking forward to seeing all of the great pictures!
OMG! I have so many pictures!

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Oh wow, it sounds fantastic. I can't wait to hear more! Bryce is one of my favourite National Parks, so I'm particularly looking forward to photos from there.
Before our trip I had heard from others that they liked Bryce better than the Grand Canyon. And now I see why! They are both so beautiful, and it really is a toss up as to which is my favorite!
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Old 09-28-2017, 05:17 PM   #6
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Can't wait to hear all about it!!
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Old 09-28-2017, 06:46 PM   #7
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Sounds like a great trip and looking forward to the details! When I took a SW/National Parks tour in 1998, I visited everyone of those spots and this will make your TR to me seem even better!
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Orlando Trifecta TR
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Old 09-28-2017, 07:19 PM   #8
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So excited for this trip report. I'll be reading along!
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Old 09-29-2017, 07:09 PM   #9
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Can't wait to hear all about it!!
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Sounds like a great trip and looking forward to the details! When I took a SW/National Parks tour in 1998, I visited everyone of those spots and this will make your TR to me seem even better!
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So excited for this trip report. I'll be reading along!
Thanks for joining in everyone!
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My Previous Trips1976 - off site, 1991 - PO, 1994 - off site, 2004 - POR, 2008 - ASM, 2009 - POFQ, 2010 - POFQ, 2011 - POR, 2012 - BLT, 2013 - BCV, 2015 - BWV, 2016 - BWV, 2017-BLT, 2018-OKW
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Old 09-29-2017, 07:30 PM   #10
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September 17

We got up at around 5:00 and were ready to go when DS Tom picked us up for the airport at 6:15. No issues at all getting through security and we were at the gate in no time. We had checked in for the flight 24 hours in advance, but ended up with C 8 and C 9. I think so many folks do the early bird check in that it’s impossible to get an A or even a B these days. When we boarded, we went about half way back, just behind the wing, and found a row with one gentleman in the aisle seat. He got up so we could have the window and middle seats. So, that wasn’t too bad.
The flight left on time at 8:35. It was a 4 ½ hour flight, which is long for us - compared to the 2+ hours it takes to fly to Orlando. But we were ready with lots of stuff to do – books loaded on my Nook, crossword puzzles, snacks, and my bead box to make some beaded rosaries that I’ve recently started doing.

It was exciting flying over the mountainous regions as we got further west.

IMG_7352 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7357 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7359 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7362 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7364 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

Finally coming into Vegas...

IMG_7365 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7366 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

We arrived in Vegas around 9:00AM, Pacific Time.
Aside - The time zones were a little confusing. We landed in Vegas which is 3 hours behind Easter Time. Then crossed into Utah, which is Mountain Time, so had to add an hour. Then, when we eventually crossed into Arizona, which is also Mountain Time but does not use Daylight Savings, we had to add an hour.

We made our way to baggage claim which was very crowded. There are quite a few baggage carousels and in addition, there are islands of slot machines. I didn’t see anyone playing. Most were using the seats to rest as they waited for luggage. We finally made our way through the sea of people to get a spot at the carousel and waited for our bags to appear. After retrieving them we found the door to the transportation area and walked down until we found the crossing that led to the Rental Car shuttle. This seemed to be every man for himself as cars didn’t really stop until a person actually stepped into the crosswalk. I was so glad when we finally made it to the shuttle and were on our way to the Rental Car Center.

This was another fiasco. We had checked in online the day before, but that didn’t seem to give us any advantage. We ended up at a self-serve Kiosk where we scanned Jeff’s Driver’s License and it promptly told us it was rejected and could not complete the transaction. The Alamo rep standing nearby tried on another machine and then proclaimed “I’ve never seen that before in all my years doing this”. Great! That was encouraging…NOT. : She took us to a counter where she handed us over to a not very friendly rep who checked us in, gave us our “Travel Tab” (a GPS unit that is also a wifi hotspot) and sent us on our way.
We headed to the upper level to get our car and found there was only one employee up there to handle all customers. We waited a bit for him and when he looked at our paper work he said we’d have to wait until they brought down a vehicle for us, as they did not have any mid-size SUVs. We waited a bit while he took car of a few additional people then he came to us and said, it was going to be quite a wait, so as he led us to a Chevy Equinox he matter-of-factly told us we’d tip him and he’d upgrade us to a full size SUV. Um, no. : That would not work. We ended up with the Equinox, but did not give him a tip. After we put our luggage in the back, we sat in the vehicle for a bit before taking off. Jeff wanted to familiarize himself with the controls and I was checking out the Travel Tab to see how that worked. It turns out, it didn’t work at all, and when we asked Mr. Tip Happy, he said the person at the exit booth would be able to help us. When we got to the exit booth the girl scanned the tag to put us in the system, and when we asked about the Travel Tab she was surprised that the woman who gave it to us did not activate it. But, she was very helpful and did the activation, then explained to us how to sign in with my ipad so we’d have wifi. She also gave us directions to I-15. She gets a gold star. As for the others at Alamo. NO.

Yay! We were finally on our way! We got onto I-15 and headed north. Took some shots of Vegas and some scenery in Nevada along the way.

IMG_7367 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7368 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7369 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7370 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7375 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7381 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7384 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7387 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7389 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7391 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7395 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

Next up…CLOSED!
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My Previous Trips1976 - off site, 1991 - PO, 1994 - off site, 2004 - POR, 2008 - ASM, 2009 - POFQ, 2010 - POFQ, 2011 - POR, 2012 - BLT, 2013 - BCV, 2015 - BWV, 2016 - BWV, 2017-BLT, 2018-OKW
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Old 09-29-2017, 08:59 PM   #11
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Oh my goodness, what a fiasco at Alamo! Good thing the girl at the end was good!


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My Countdown Counting down to: Returning to WDW!
Watching DD's marching band in the Magic Kingdom!
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My Previous TripsMarch 1989 - offsite; April/May 2002 - Coronado Springs; March 2003 - All Star Movies; May 2003 - offsite; July 2003 - Port Orleans Riverside; April/May 2006 - Port Orleans Riverside; September 2007 - All Star Sports; August/September 2008 - All Star Movies and Pop Century; June 2009 - Pop Century; August 2010 - All Star Sports & Disney Wonder; June 2011 - All Star Music; April 2012 - Disney Fantasy; April 2013 - Port Orleans French Quarter; August 2015 - Disneyland offsite; April 2017 - Coronado Springs; December 2017 - Old Key West
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Old 09-30-2017, 01:57 AM   #12
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Good grief, that was not good customer service at Alamo! Wonderful photos from Vegas once you finally got the car.
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Relaxing on board the Magic. The trip report for our back-to-back cruises on the Disney Magic has started!
My Countdown Counting down to: 2019
Happy New Year!
My PassPorter Bookshelf
My Previous Trips21 trips to WDW, 6 to Disneyland in California, 9 to Disneyland Paris, 1 to Hong Kong Disneyland, 1 to Tokyo Disney, 1 to Aulani, 1 to Hilton Head, 2 to Vero Beach and 13 Disney cruises on the Magic, Wonder, Dream and Fantasy
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Old 09-30-2017, 06:51 AM   #13
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Yikes, I hope you reported that employee at Alamo as that is beyond bad customer service on the verge of asking for a bribe.
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Old 09-30-2017, 08:59 AM   #14
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Oh my goodness, what a fiasco at Alamo! Good thing the girl at the end was good!
It definitely was not a good start!

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Good grief, that was not good customer service at Alamo! Wonderful photos from Vegas once you finally got the car.
We were so glad to be on our way!

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Yikes, I hope you reported that employee at Alamo as that is beyond bad customer service on the verge of asking for a bribe.
We didn't. I think we were just so excited to be starting our big adventure that we quickly put it behind us.
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Old 09-30-2017, 09:30 AM   #15
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We stopped in Mesquite, Nevada for some lunch.

IMG_7398 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7399 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

We both got taco salads. I got mine in a bowl, Jeff got his in the tortilla bowl. They were both very good and really hit the spot!

We were right on the border of Arizona and Nevada so there was a visitor’s center at this exit. So after lunch we decided to stop in there and have a look around. And as long as we were doing the visitor’s center we’d decided we’d use their bathrooms. But when we got there it was closed. Maybe because it was Sunday? Who knows? So we continued on. We drove through a corner of Arizona and soon were in Utah. They had a visitor’s center as well, so we got off the highway and followed signs. It was a bit of a maze to get to, and we ended up finding out the visitor’s center was part of the Rosenbruch World Wildlife Museum. Hmm. Well as long as they had a restroom we didn’t care. But after we parked and went to the door, we found out it was closed as well. Grrrr. By this point we really needed to use the restrooms! We ended up going down the street to a Cracker Barrel to use the restrooms there.

Back on the highway…the scenery in Utah is beautiful! Before we even got into Zion National Park I was snapping photos.

IMG_7402 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7404 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7416 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7419 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7425 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7426 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7429 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7434 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7440 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7451 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7452 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7454 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7466 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

Then we got to the park.

IMG_7470 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7471 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

And more beautiful scenery…

IMG_7480 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7481 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7486 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7488 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7489 (427x640) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

The driving was crazy scary going through a series of switchbacks. And then a mile long tunnel which goes under a mountain.

IMG_7494 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7500 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7509 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

We stopped at a little corner store to buy some water and ended up getting a Zion NP magnet. Jeff posed with this old clunker that was sitting outside the store.

IMG_7515 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

Getting close to Bryce…

IMG_7519 (427x640) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7521 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7523 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

We arrived at the Bryce Canyon Pines Hotel at 5:20. Months in advance, we tried to get into one of the hotels that are closer to the park but they were full. Then we found Bryce Canyon Pines and they had an available cottage so we took that. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we couldn’t have been happier. It was a nice size room with a king bed, it had a decent vanity area and bathroom and a refrigerator! And an awesome view!

IMG_7527 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7528 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7530 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

Our cabin is the last one of the four.

IMG_7549 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

We got settled in the room and went to the Pines restaurant for dinner.

IMG_7547 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

IMG_7548 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

It is advertised as a favorite among locals and I can believe it! We gave our name and were told it would be a 25 minute wait. It was packed! But we obviously had no other plans, so we didn’t mind the wait. When we were seated they brought a large carafe of ice water. This was something that continued at many of the places we dined. What a great touch! I had a chef salad and Jeff had an elk burger and coleslaw. For dessert Jeff opted to get their specialty, sour cream raisin pie. The waitress raved about it, but Jeff thought it was just ok. He probably wouldn’t get it again.

IMG_7532 (640x427) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

The only Gluten Free item was ice cream so I ordered that with chocolate sauce. OMG. Look what showed up! Jeff had to help me finish it.

IMG_7533 (427x640) by Donna Allan, on Flickr

We were back in the room for the night by 7:30. I think we were settled in for the night by 8:30. It had been a long day especially with the three hour time difference.

Next - What a spectacular sight!
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My Previous Trips1976 - off site, 1991 - PO, 1994 - off site, 2004 - POR, 2008 - ASM, 2009 - POFQ, 2010 - POFQ, 2011 - POR, 2012 - BLT, 2013 - BCV, 2015 - BWV, 2016 - BWV, 2017-BLT, 2018-OKW
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