Mon. June 2nd: Got up early and went for a walk
to see the lower Zion Canyon. After passing through a 1-mile long tunnel cut into the rock
cliffs, we found the trailhead. At sunrise, it was a perfect easy, cool walk. When we
returned to the camp, Chris made his now famous egg-bacon-veggie scramble while I packed
up the tent. Just when it started to get hot around 10am we set off for Las Vegas. About
200 miles later we entered downtown Vegas, while the temperature passed 105 degrees. I was
overcome with heat exhaustion so we had to pull over straight away to get some
air-conditioning and a cold drink. I have several members who live in Las Vegas and grew
up coming here several times a year for a visit. The last time was about 12 years ago, so
everything was bound to be different now, relatives and skyline included.
We finally pulled into my Uncle Bruces driveway in the afternoon. We were greeted
excitedly by my grandfather Terry, Bruce, and Bruces girlfriend Patty. I was
surprised that my grandfather looked almost the same as the last time I saw him, my uncle
now looks like Hemmingway and of course Patty was new to me. The house looked almost
exactly the same as I remembered it, except with some new lovely landscaping in the
We expected to stay 2 days and ended up staying till Friday. Time flew as we spent our
time visiting with other family as well. My cousin Laurie has 3 girls, two of which
Angelina and Cassie I had never met. Her oldest, Elaina (now 20) is my goddaughter and I
was eager to see her and find out what she was doing. Of course, there was work to be done
on the bikes as always. We changed all four tires---yikes that was expensive. Bruce got a
lesson on how to change m/c tires, while Pattys son Jason helped as well.
And, we couldnt leave Vegas without a trip to the famous Strip to see all the new
hotels and casinos. The biggies---- the Belagio with its huge choreographed fountain, the
Venetian with its gondolas and painted frescos, the Mirage with its exploding volcano
among others are just a feast for the eyes. Its grander than Disney land, oozing
with money everywhere. On our last night Bruce, Terry and ourselves went to one of the big
cheap dinner buffets for $6.99 each and then toured the Strip afterward. We tried our hand
at the slot machines and actually won $11! No game tables for us however since our budget
Friday, June 6th: We say farewell to our wonderful family and head for the
state line with California. During the morning we skirt the outer edges of Death Valley,
not daring to cross it. In the past weeks theyve had temperatures over 120 degrees!
At a small town called Beatty, we stop for gas and a sandwich for lunch. When we settle
down to eat our sandwiches, Chris notices that his back tire is flat. It turned out that
the new tube we installed with the new tire had a tear at the base of the valve. Good
thing we had a spare because there was no place in this little town to buy one! On the
bright side of things we were at a gas station under a big awning for shade!
Since Chris has had so much experience changing tires lately, this time it went pretty
smoothly. We also have a new little air compressor that makes pumping it up really easy!
After about an hour and a half we were ready to hit the road again.
We crossed more desert before slowly starting to climb in altitude and climb some
mountains. Before too long we were seeing snow capped mountains! That night we decided to
treat ourselves to a hotel room with cable TV and ate McDonalds for dinner.
Saturday, June 7th: Off we go heading north now along the Sierra Nevada
mountains toward Yosemite National Park. We entered via the Tioga Pass, which until 2
weeks ago was closed due to snow. It was a spectacular road that bisects the park starting
at almost 10,000 feet at the east entrance going down to around 4,000 feet in Yosemite
Valley. Since it was the weekend and very crowded we didnt expect to find a camping
spot. However, we got lucky and met two nice guys from San Francisco who gave us there
spot in the walk-in camping area (popular with the climbers). They had gotten another spot
in the drive-in campground, which has better facilities. So, we squeezed our tent in among
the hundreds of others and set off to see the sunset at Glacier Point. Its the
perfect spot to see the wonderful huge rock formations of Half Dome and El Capitan, as
well as the Bridalveil Falls. This time of year is perfect for viewing the many long,
graceful waterfalls in the park since the snow is still melting, and there are wildflowers
Sunday, June 8thth: Leave fairly late, around 11am. Decide to take the
scenic, small-town America route on the west side of the Sierras and end up regretting it.
Everyone and their uncle were heading home to San Francisco or Sacramento from their
weekend getaways. Luckily we found a detour inland and headed for Lake Tahoe. The roads
immediately became less congested and we began to enjoy the cooler climate change, the
increasingly green landscape and the big sweeping curves into the mountains.
I had been to Lake Tahoe years ago for a ski vacation and thought at that time how
wonderful it would be to be here as well during the summer. Well, I was right. It is just
as beautiful in the summer and there are lots of hiking trails and sporting opportunities
on the crystal clear lake. We found a nice little camping spot in the state park on the
west side of the lake and settled down for the night.