Friday, June 24, 2011

Vacation: Day 1...

Today was a big push of a drive: Jamul to Cedar City, Utah.  We went straight up the I-15, and if you know that route than you know we saw little of interest until we got past Los Vegas and into Arizona.  There the Virgin River Canyon was quite pretty, with more water than we've seen before (presumably the record snow packs melting).

On the way up, we stopped at Baker to fuel up the truck, walk the dogs – and to get gyros and stuffed grape leaves at the Mad Greek's (excellent!).  We had one scare on the way up, as we were headed up the Virgin River Canyon – just in front of us, a truck was pulling a stock trailer with two axles and loaded with one animal (horse or cow, we couldn't see which).  We were perhaps 50 feet behind him when his right trailer tire exploded with a loud bang, and pieces of tire shredded off and flew all over.  We managed to miss all the debris.  To our surprise, the driver kept right on going at 70 mph!  We pulled up alongside and Debbie signaled the driver that his tire had exploded; he nodded his understanding and kept right on going.  Several miles later, never slowing down, he finally pulled off.  Sheesh!

The scenic hilight of the day was a trip down Kolob Canyon.  The panorama at right (click to enlarge) gives you some idea of the country we were driving through.  This canyon is actually the northern reaches of Zion, and is part of the same national park.  It's only a five mile drive off the I-15, and (unlike the main part of Zion) it's uncrowded.

The globe mallow at left was common all along the drive.  It puts our local San Diego species to shame for showiness.  There were great expanses (up to about an acre) of solid mallow, all in bloom, in several places.

At right is another panorama, this time taken vertically.  It shows one particular peak in the Kolob, and everything between me and it.

After settling into the hotel (a pet-friendly Super 8 that is otherwise completely unremarkable), we set off to find ourselves some dinner.  We found a winner: Milt's Stage Stop, a few miles east of town on State 14.  This is a steak and seafood joint.  After looking over the menu, we both decided on seared ahi topped with a mixture of sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, capers, garlic, spinach, and millet.  Absolutely delicious!  The salad bar was great (especially the pickled beets – best I've had in years), and the dinner rolls were outstanding (especially the German-style black bread).  Yum!  

Now we're off to bed, to get ready for a 4 am launch tomorrow morning...

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