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R2R2R... The Journey Down to the Grand Canyon

Driving through Colorado, Moab, Arches NP

Time to do some hiking! We got a few friends together and convinced them that hiking the Grand Canyon would be a great idea. So we decided to do it around Thanksgiving, when the holiday gave everyone an extra day of holiday.

We left just after 8pm on Thanksgiving evening. I managed to convince everyone that this was the way to go so we would actually get time to see things during the day... and I succeeded! We piled all 7 of us in Luke and Maggie's surburban... and we were off!

I ended up in the co-pilot seat for the majority of the overnight. Luke was driving at first, and I chatted with him for a few hours before Nick took over driving for the rest of the night. Everyone else watched movies and slept in the back... and those that were in the way back were of course, super uncomfortable.

The sun has risen!
And there are still smiling faces!

The sun rose right as we started going through the mountains in Colorado.
It's always nice going through the mountains and seeing different scenery. The roads were a bit yucky though.
We left Minnesota and there was no snow. We found some!
Hold your breath!

Our first stop was Arches National Park, which we got to at about 10:45am on Friday. As we pulled off the exit, we saw some out of this world jerky! We had to stop and check it out...
I like the Mystery Machine
This was definitely not cheap jerky. I think it was 3 packages for $50. Yikes.
Nick found some fancy shades in the back of the suburban...

Our first stop was at our hotel for the night to see if we could check in early. Nope. Not at all. So we decided it was time to get some real food and check out Moab Brewery for lunch.
I stopped here a few years ago when I was at Arches, but I don't think I actually sat down.

Yum! Just what I wanted!

All smiles after food and beers.

National Park number one of the trip! We've arrived!
Waiting in the parking lot for everyone to change into their hiking stuff
Our first views of Arches NP
Balanced rock
Don't worry, Emily will hold it up!
Turns out it's a beautiful place
We started out going to Turret Arch. We had to drive around the parking area for ages to try to find a place. We finally succeeded. We did some walking on the trail, but then also went off road a bit and we walked on the sandstone as well.
There's a baby arch as well!

Looking out through Turret Arch. This is a super cool view I think.

Time to head to the windows. We didn't climb up there because of time... but some people did. You can see how huge the windows are!

The whole group at the Windows. It's hard to get both of them in the photo. We found a trail marking sign on the ground (that says "this is not a trail") and decided we needed to hold it. Haha no idea what we were thinking!
The windows all in one photo
Double arch. This one is pretty awesome too.

Luke and I walking back. A little later he was less enthused about this trip hahah!

We decided to hike to Delicate Arch for sunset. It's about 3 miles round trip. and we decided we should stretch our legs and go right to the arch instead of just looking from the viewpoint.
The colors are great at sunset!
Photo time! We managed to mostly get all the tourists out of the photos, which was awesome.
Sam and I walking back. Luke was much less enthused about what he had gotten himself into after hiking to Delicate Arch. It wasn't a super long hike, but we had sat in a car for hours, and there was some uphill climbing, so it made you breathe a bit!

When we left, we ended up sitting in traffic for ages to get back to the hotel. They are working on the main road through town so it was down to one lane, and everyone left the park after sunset just like we did! We got to the hotel, checked in, and then put in an order for pizza to pick up. We also stopped at the 7-11 to grab some beers. We were introduced to Brad, the crackhead seeming guy that worked there! He was waaaaay too excited that we were visiting and told us that we have seen nothing around Moab unless we drive down road 128 and stop at the Red Cliffs Lodge and then drive the rest of the road to see the sights. I had actually read that this road was a really scenic drive, but we didn't have time to check it out in the end.

After eating some pizza, having a few beers and getting a shower, we all passed out pretty early. Sleeping in a car isn't great sleep, so we all needed to catch up! Day 1 was a success :D

Posted by rhwanderlust 14:39 Archived in USA Comments (0)

A birthday hurricane

View Cancun on rhwanderlust's travel map.

On Monday, we got up and finally were able to have breakfast at the B&B again, since we didn't have a crazy early start. It was my birthday, so we had a boat cruise to Isla Mujeres planned... drinks and snorkeling and music on the boat, and a little more time at the beach on the island! Sounds fab! One of my favorite things to do when I travel is go on boat trips like this, so I was excited we were able to find one.

Then we got to breakfast. Our hosts made us breakfast and then informed us that Hurricane Zeta was scheduled to make landfall that day... so all the stores and restaurants would be closing at 2pm. Looks like we won't be going clubbing that night... but still hoping to take our boat cruise!

We had to return the rental car, and I asked them to take us to the marina after they checked the car out. Haha they didn't say no, so free ride to the marina! Starbucks gives me a birthday drink every year but it is only valid on my birthday, so I had plans to go get my free coffee on the way to the boat. Sadly, they refused my rewards even though it says they are valid in all of North America... no coffee for me. Wah wah...

We got to the marina after wandering around in the wrong direction for a bit. We finally found where we needed to be and they told us that all boat tours were canceled until Wednesday due to the hurricane (it was Monday). I then emailed the company right away for a refund as the way it was all set up was the people at the marina were the boat companies, and the travel companies you book through are essentially third parties that hire out the boat companies. I had no issues getting a refund though.
It's windy and wavy already
The "no boat trip today" sad face
We walked down the beach and found a Cancun sign

One of the people at the marina came up to us to try to sell us a different tour. He had an ATV/Cenote/Zipline tour that we could go on. I was super unenthused by the sound of it, as I'm not a huge fan of ATVs (they just get you muddy, it's really nothing crazy exciting), we had already been to a cenote, and I've ziplined before, which is super fun, but I knew this wouldn't be as high/long as the tour I did in Laos. Andrew, however, hadn't done any of it, so we decided to bite the bullet and go. It was too bad we had returned our rental car, cause it would've been perfect to have it and just go exploring inland... but hindsight is 20/20 and all that.

So since we decided to do this tour, they were going to pick us up across the street from our B&B at 11. It was about 930 by this time, so they helped us to catch the bus, and we stopped at the grocery store for supplies on the way back. We got some fixings for salads and some cheese for our crackers... and then went to buy wine. Except they had taped off ALL of the alcohol in the store saying it wasn't for sale. WTF?! So we asked someone and they said there was no alcohol for sale in all of Cancun. Say what?! How are we going to sit around the hotel with no wine??? Epic fail. So I figured that maybe the convenience stores were still selling. We had two that we passed on our way back... so we stopped to check.
My epic, no birthday wine sadface.

We got back to our B&B and told our hosts about the craziness. They told us that, without warning, Cancun shut all alcohol sales down the night before at 1am. What?! And they weren't selling any again until Wednesday. What are people supposed to do with no power and no booze? Yikes.

Luckily, our hosts didn't drink, but they had a giant bottle of tequila that another guest had left. They gave it to us as a birthday present. Nicest people ever! Now, Andrew is one that will just take shots of tequila all night. Me, not so much. So we headed back out to the convenience store to get some grapefruit soda and lime soda to mix with it to make a version of a paloma. Of course, even though they had told us they wouldn't pick us up until 1130 (they had changed the time before we got on the bus), they called Andrew to ask where we were at about 1110... so no time to head back to the hotel to drop off the mixers. I had to just carry them with me the entire time. Yuck.

We showed up at the pick up point, and even though they told us we were able to pay with a card, they made us pay in cash... and we didn't have much left. Pretty much just enough to make it.
On our way in the big van to the tour.

There were 3 other people on our tour, a couple and their kid, who was about 5 years old. We got to the start of the tour and they had us all get in a pickup to go down a super muddy road.
We sat in the back.

They got us our ATVs and they made Andrew and I ride together. I guess they thought we would want to cause they all assumed we were on our honeymoon. Nope, sorry, we both like boys. But we were stuck riding together and it was super uncomfortable cause I had to sit on the rack the whole time.
We took the ATVs down the same muddy road the pickup had taken us down. I knew it was gonna be messy (not my first ATV rodeo) so I was just in my flipflops and not my trainers. I knew they would never survive that.
This is what I think of Andrew's driving hahahaha.
Time to ride on the road for a bit.
Back the same way. Lots of mud.
We got stuck twice on the way back. Made it the whole way on the way there without getting stuck though.
We may never get out alive! Haha!

So we finished the ATV part and they took us to a faucet where we could rinse off a bit before the rest of the day.
Yep, I'm a mess. I didn't try that hard to get all the mud off though. I knew it would come off eventually and I couldn't be bothered to sit at the faucet for 10 minutes trying to rinse off.
We were both muddy...

The next part of the trip was the ziplines. We went on 4 different ziplines, not so high and not so long. It was alright. But we had fun chatting with the staff that were ziplining with us!
You can see some of the ziplines above the cenote. We also had to walk across some of the bridges like that. We had a blast watching the tour that was right after us actually, as one of the guys was super loud and dramatic... he was hilarious.

The last thing we did was swim in the cenote. We had about 25 minutes to swim before they told us it was time for lunch.

The cenote we swam in. It was a bit chilly since the sun was hiding, but it was nice to get clean.
Cenote selfie!
I ended up throwing away my board shorts as I knew there was no possible way they would actually get clean. Oh well... I got them from goodwill a few years ago and they didn't fit me super well anyway. Just have to find another pair now!
Lunch was chicken tacos and some veggies. The spicy onions were soooooooo good.

Once we finished, we had to wait for the driver and had to wait for them to put together a photo package for us that they wanted us to buy. We looked at the photos for a bit, but of course didn't purchase any.

Then it was time to head back. The tour was about an hour out of Cancun, so our time at the tour site was just about 3 hours. Not great, but I guess we did what we came for. Definitely not a boat cruise... stupid hurricane!
We got back to the B&B and had some fake palomas, queso fundido and guac. Better get the cheese melted before we don't have power later!

And now it's time to do some swimming, drinking, and wait for the hurricane to arrive. We swam for a bit but got chilly so headed back to the room to shower.
I made us some salads and we had those with some drinks in the room. We watched some Netflix docs and then had an early night to bed.
Zeta found us in the middle of the night. I'm not sure when the power went out, but it was out when we woke up and didn't come back on. Since we had a balcony room as well, rain came in through the night and our floor was quite wet. We had to mop it up with our towels and move our stuff so it didn't all get super soaked.

When we got up, I read a book and Andrew watched a movie. I had to leave for the airport at about 10am, so I was just waiting to go. Andrew decided to change his flight (he was supposed to stay until Wednesday) because the power was off and our hosts figured it wouldn't be back on that day at all. So at about 10 we headed to the bus terminal to catch a bus to the airport.

I got through security quickly as I didn't have to check a bag, so I headed right for the lounge. I told them Andrew would be arriving and they said he would let him in so I could just go in and relax.
Waiting for Andrew with some bubbly.
More bubbly...

Andrew's flight ended up leaving on time, but mine was delayed 3x for a total of about 2.5 hours.
Waiting to board. I ended up leaving the lounge and heading to the gate... and then I got there and my flight was delayed another hour plus... so I went back to the lounge to hang out. I was the only one there that time! I should've eaten again... oops. I had a few too many glasses of bubbles while waiting! HAHA

My flight transferred in Charlotte, and by the time I landed at CLT, my flight for MSP had already taken off. I guess I'm stuck in Charlotte. AA gave me a voucher for a room and $12 for meal expenses. Good thing I have a credit card that covers trip delay! That $12 didn't even buy a meal...
Waiting for my sandwich at the hotel bar.
Sandwich and tv in Charlotte. How unexciting.

The next day I headed to the airport in the morning. Again, since my card covered my trip delay, I was able to get all my meals reimbursed which was great. I got on my flight with no delays this time and was on my way back to MSP.
Back to MN! My friend Lisa picked me up from the airport. I was planning on staying at her house the night before (I wasn't supposed to get in to MSP until around 10pm anyway) and we were going to get breakfast. As it was, I didn't get to MSP until about 2pm... so we decided to do lunch another day as I had some groceries to pick up and a long drive in front of me.

Another birthday trip finished! The end of this one was a bit rocky... but it was still nice to head to a warm place to turn 37!

Posted by rhwanderlust 07:46 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

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