Saturday, May 28, 2011

Macro vs Micro maps

On the macro Mexico AAA road map, the road looks rather straight towards Creel. In the micro reality (or zoomed in GPS map), that road is an amazingly twisty path that keeps your average speed down below 50 kph (30 mph). It was gorgeous, yet extremely strenuous! It took an hour or so to get out of the industrial flats just east of Hermosillo, but then we climbed our way up the hills, transitioning from low lying desert to high altitude forested mountains.

We ended up pulling into Yecora, Sonora at dusk, after 5 hours of mountainous riding. We were ready for a rest!

The hotel we found was nice, with large rooms, and conveniently located immediately next to a taco stand and across from a Tecate shop - both served an important role in our recovery. A long night´s rest prepared us for more of the same the following day.

Our goal was to see Basaseachi Falls, and perhaps camp there depending on timing, weather, hiking, etc. It took another few hours of intense mountain roads before making it to the National Park. For any of you interested in riding through this part of Mexico, we would highly recommend this route. There wasn´t too much truck traffic, the roads were all in good shape (even brand new on Mexico 22/23/110 (depending on which stretch) from Basaseachi to San Juanito, just north of Creel), and the ride itself was exhilirating!

We took a short walk down a path to view la Cascada de Basaseachi.

Once there, we saw that the falls were just a trickle - best to view them in June, July, Aug - but the views from on top were outstanding.

We decided to not camp there, but rather head on over to Creel where we would stay for 2 nights, allowing us one full day of relaxation before heading down into the Copper Canyon, which we´re both excited to see.

We are currently at a backpacker´s hostel (la Posada) in Creel, which turned out to be a screaming deal. We were quoted a bed in a shared room at 100 pesos/person, private room without bath at 150/ppn, and private room with bath at 200/ppn. We sprung for the private room no bath, thinking our total for 2 nights would be 600 pesos. Due in part to a key that wouldn´t open the door to our first room, and in part to the state of inebriation of the inn keeper, we were bumped up to a private room with bath at a total cost of 400 pesos for both of us, both nights. This room is definitely worth $17 a night.

We´ll see what we find in Batopilas tomorrow, may stay there for a night or two, or may head towards Guachochic and on towards Hidalgo del Parral. A ver...

Beach bummin

After the needed repairs to the TA, we headed west to get to Bahía de Kino for some relaxing beach time.  The drive was direct, windy, and hot - we have this amazing ability to drive at the hottest time of day, and today was no exception.  But that just made our arrival at the beach town that much more perfect!  Not knowing where to go, we toured around Kino Viejo, but couldn´t find the restaurant that Jesus had recommended, so headed over to Kino Nuevo, where we stopped for some fresh mariscos.

We asked all over town, but had little luck finding a cheap hotel room so went back over to Kino Viejo where we found a sweet hacienda hotel that was all ours. It ate up most of our daily budget, but was very close to the beach, had a pool, and was very comfortable. We walked up and down the beach that afternoon, passing the fishermen cleaning their catch.

The next morning we went back out to the beach to walk and enjoy the water. Entertainment was provided by flocks of birds doing some fishing, some for themselves by grabbing fish out of the water, others by grabbing fish secondarily from other birds.

It was a relaxing, but short lived, time at the beach. Intending to get plenty of beach time as we travel further south, we decided to head due east towards Creel and the Copper Canyon, managing once again to leave just before noon...

Hermosa Hermosillo

We arrived in Hermosillo in the late afternoon and met up with our couchsurfer host, Marco. He lives in a beautiful house in a nice part of town. Overall impressions of Hermosillo were that the town was quite modern and had a very welcoming feel.

This is the governor´s office. It was stunning with murals throughout.

The new plaza.

Main cathedral.

One of the reasons we found Hermosillo so welcoming could have been because Marco was such a great host. He welcomed us into his house with open arms and we really enjoyed our conversations with him. His English was impeccable and he was a really funny guy. He is also very spiritual and is a Reiki master. We were able to benefit from both something called alphabiotics and from Reiki and both of us felt sincerely more calm and centered afterwards. He also introduced us to some great food. Taco fish was one of our favorites.

Us with Jesus (left) and Marco. Jesus was Marco´s friend and business partner. Also a great, hilarious guy that we were very happy to have met.

We also tried burros which is basically a huge burrito filled with meat, the best hot dogs in town and apparently ranked in the top 50 foods in the world, and a very strong local liquor, Bacanora, that tastes and smells pretty much like rubbing alcohol (Mike´s reaction was not quite as harsh as that, but yeah, moonshine comes to mind...). Oh, that and the best pan dulce in town at el Gran Milagro.

We very much enjoyed our 2 days in Hermosillo and it was hard to leave, both figuratively and literally. Literally because once we were all loaded up on the bike, and went to start it, she was only running on the front cylinder with no tachometer reading.  That´s a common issue on the older Transalp´s - the CDI decided to die. Luckily, we were still in Marco´s front yard (shaded!) and Mike had brought an extra.  It was a pretty quick and easy fix and we were able to get it changed out within a half hour.

La Frontera

We thought about crossing the border in Naco, AZ but from a short internet search we discovered that the Banjército was permanently closed, so we decided to go through Douglas, AZ / Aqua Prieta, SON instead. After all the negative publicity about the border region of Mexico, we half expected to get robbed or gunned down the second we crossed. In reality, we crossed the border with no problems whatsoever. We were able to get the tourist visa in the same building as the Banjercito and the entire process took about an hour mostly due to being in line behind one other person. We were a little nervous about getting the temporary vehicle import permit needed to bring the bike into the country because Mike had forgotten to turn in his permit last time he was in Mexico and we had heard horror stories that we could possibly have to pay up to $50 US per day that the permit was not turned in (the permit was from 2007 so it would have been really expensive) or potentially pay a bribe of a couple hundred dollars US to clear up the situation. Luckily, Mike had gotten a new passport and a different bike (new VIN) in the meantime and received no hassle at all. Overall, the process was very easy, efficient and quick.

After we received our visas and the permit for the bike we walked to the bank to get smaller bills than the 500 pesos we got at an exchange in Douglas. When we walked in it was just us, the bank teller and a guy we had seen at the border crossing itself. As soon as we walked in, the teller asked the man if he knew English because she wanted to find out what we needed and she didn´t speak English. The man said something like, "He speaks Spanish very well." Then Mike jumped in with his "mas o menos" and everybody thought the whole encounter was hilarious.

We were able to find our way through town pretty easily and took highway 2 through some nice mountains until we hit the toll highway 15. We chose to take the toll highway because google said the other way to Hermosillo took about 2 hours longer and Jill was nervous about getting away from the border. The toll highway ended up being very windy with lots of big trucks and cost about $6. If we had it to do over, both of us would have chosen the slower, curvier mountain road over the toll road.  But either way, it was nice to get to Hermosillo!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Keep Bisbee Weird

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." -Hunter S. Thompson as requoted by Karl, couchsurfing extraordinaire

We really didn't expect a whole lot out of Bisbee, AZ. We only decided to go there because it was close to the border and had a person on couchsurfing with a place to stay. Bisbee ended up being a definite highlight of our trip thus far. The drive to Bisbee is beautiful because despite being desert, it is green and has different kinds of trees than in the desert. This is because the elevation is about the same as in Denver (approximately 5300 feet). Tombstone is not far away so we stopped in to take a look. They have preserved the town well, but it is quite the tourist trap, with hired actors dressed as old West characters.

This is the courthouse. It closed at 5 and we got there at 10 'til. As soon as we walked in the door the person selling tickets told us they were closed and was pretty serious about us not looking around too much.


Driving into Bisbee, you see a lot of houses built into a mountain. The town was established in the 1880s and a lot of the original buildings still exist.

Downtown Bisbee

Our couchsurfing host, Karl, lives in an awesome old house, moved over from Tombstone in 1906, that he has been pretty much rebuilding for the past 8 years. He was a very cool guy with lots of amazing experience, like hitchhiking through Africa, and a lot of great knowledge about the area. He took us for a driving tour of the town and cooked us dinner, then we hit up a few bars to check out the local scene. Bisbee has a very different feel than most towns and it collects a variety of odd characters. There are even cave dwellers that still live just outside of town.

The following day, Karl took us on a hike outside of town along the San Pedro river. (Who would've expected a riparian area in the middle of southern AZ?) It is known for its birds and we saw lots of really cool bird, highlights included the elegant great blue heron and the small bright red vermillion flycatchers. The hike also took us to the ruins of a town called Charleston, "The Town too Mean to Live" (in contrast to Tombstone's slogan "The Town too Tough to Die"). Charleston was run by the Clantons, rivals of the Earps in Tombstone, that led up to the gunfight at the OK Corral. Apparently the town was really too mean to live and was eventually abandoned after a flood in the late 1800's. The US government practiced bombing it during WWII but several walls still remain of the structures.

Us at Ruins

Charleston Ruins

Not far from the ghost town there were several petroglyphs made by the Native Americans who lived there. It is estimated that some of the glyphs were from 2-3000 years ago.


After the hike, closer to Old Bisbee we passed one of the old copper mines that surround the area. The mines are not currently active, but the area will definitely feel the effects of the mine for a long time to come.

Copper Mine

All in all, we had a wonderful time in Bisbee. Karl was a great host and we really enjoyed hanging out with him for 2 days.

In the morning we headed for the Douglas/Agua Prieta border and got across in 1 hour. We made it to Hermosillo, Mexico with absolutely no problems and stayed with a couchsurfing connection there. We are about to head to Bahia de Kino to go to the beach and will post more about our wonderful experiences in Mexico soon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Adventures in Camping

We ended up driving through the industrial part of Phoenix for a majority of our morning, then found a Greek restaurant in downtown Tempe. From there we drove towards Tucson hoping to find some camping in the national parks surrounding the city. We could see the mountain where we thought we would be able to camp, but every road seemed to lead to more Tucson sprawl. We couldn't figure out how to find these huge parks in the GPS either and the people we asked at the gas station were of very little help, so we just drove around for awhile hoping to magically find a place to camp. Eventually we got to Saguaro National Park, but there was no camping there, and they were closing the park because it was getting dark. The first park ranger we saw recommended a couple of pay parks that may or may not be closed for the night and do not allow people to come in after hours. The other recommended place was about 30 minutes in the direction we had just come from and we didn't really want to backtrack. We were standing around trying to figure out what to do when another park ranger arrived and told us there was free camping about 15 minutes from there.

We found a place just off the road and as we set up (in the complete dark by this point) we noticed that a lot of cars were coming up and down the mountain even though we were on a gravel road seemingly as in the middle of nowhere as possible in Tucson. We got all set up and cooked some dinner with just our headlamps as light and were getting ready to head to the tent when 2 cars pulled into our pulloff where we had set up. They were the law enforcement for the park service. They said they had been watching us get set up and had been laughing at our lack of lights. They ended up being really nice guys and were very interested in our trip. They also told us that our camping area was very popular among high school and college students and this weekend was graduation so a lot of kids were coming up to party. We missed out on the parties but did get some of the noise. Here is a look at the site.

In the morning we got loaded up and headed back to the road. It looked like the sand on the way up a steep incline back to the road was pretty solid, but we ended up stuck pretty good and had a nice, gentle fall, although Mike's back hasn't felt the same since. The rear wheel dug in some, with a slippery rock in front of it, but some light pushing and throttle got us out no problem.

Our goal for the day was to buy a cooler (temperature-wise) motorcycle jacket for Jill and to get to Brisbee, AZ to couchsurf. We ended up running errands all over Tucson until about 3:00. The good news is that Jill ended up with a screaming deal on a cooler jacket. The bad news is that she mailed the coat home and forgot to clean out the front top pockets, which had the spare keys, thus creating another round of errands to try to make copies of the keys. During our marathon errand running session we also found some cooler motorcross socks for super cheap, so that was a plus.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Monochrome Phoenix

We have just arrived in Phoenix and will take our time today getting over to the Tucson area. Everything in this city is the color of desert, for instance the desert most definitely is, the houses are all adobe, and the buildings are all tan brick (if not adobe). It's not offensive. It's just boring. At least the desert landscape is still intact amidst all the buildings, with interesting plants, cacti, rocks, etc.

We'll take a look at some hiking around here and then camp before meeting up with a couchsurfing host in Bisbee, AZ. That will serve as our jumping off point for Mexico. We're both excited to finally get south of the border to feel like we're making real progress on our journey. The tour of the southwest US has been great, but we're ready for the next stage.

Trash Canyon

After the new rubber was on the bike, we left Henderson towards Phoenix, AZ, with plans to pass through Tucson and then hit the border close to Douglas/Agua Prieta crossing. Since we have been bums while in Vegas and Henderson (fully blaming the delay in tire arrival, of course), we didn't want to have too big of a riding day. Looking at our free visitor's center acquired map of AZ, we targeted some BLM lands and National Forests on the NW side of Phoenix. That took us through Wickenburg, AZ, but the last 8 miles before Wickenburg looked something like this:

Traffic Jam

Road construction kept us on the road for about an hour to travel that last 8 miles into town. Finally there, we picked up a couple of items at a motorcycle shop and found some dinner at the Bashas' grocery. Buffalo Chicken flavored rice with canned chicken and hot sauce. Best one pot meal yet!

We asked in the moto shop about places to camp for free and they weren't too familiar with easily accessible options. The salesman mentioned a pull off near Lake Pleasant that had a big parking area about a mile off the highway. We found that turn off - an access road to a boat ramp into Lake Pleasant - and saw the parking area with a few makeshift fire rings. That was after passing it originally, turning around where 2 guys were firing rifles and handguns into the hillside. The parking area was heavily used, and not well maintained = Trash Canyon.

Trash Canyon

As we were eating our Buffalo Chicken goulash, those same two firearm toting gentlemen came into the parking area and starting firing there. At first we couldn't see them, as we were in a slight depression, but thankfully they were not using the hillside behind our slight depression as a backstop. Nonetheless, we were wondering if small arms fire was going to keep us awake all night, but they took off just after dark.

Shootin' Guns

We slept well and were both happy to be on the road again!


Tire change lesson

We left Vegas on Tuesday to head over to Henderson, NV. There, a contact and new friend Tim from ADVrider had allowed us to have 2 new tires and tubes sent to his place, as well as offered to give a crash course in tire changing. Mike is a noob to dual sport and dirt bikes - over the past 12 years of riding cruisers, has never changed his own tires. But given the likelihood of having to repair a flat, or at the very least swap out tires again, it seemed worth it necessary to know how to do this. And for some reason, doing it for the first time in a comfortable, dry, well-lit garage with beer in hand sounded a helluva lot more pleasant than fighting through the first ever tube repair on the side of a deserted the rain...without a working flashlight...with rabid donkeys attacking us...and anything else that Murphy would have thrown at us.

Both tires finally arrived on Wednesday evening, after a hassle in ordering - there's a difference when ordering on line between 'Available' and 'In Stock' which made a difference of nearly a week according to the customer rep (but only got the tire to Henderson a day earlier than what was shown for the 'Available' tires). So to try to save further delay, we're running two different brands of 80/20 (road/dirt) tires. The rear is a Kenda K761, front is a Shinko 705; both get good reviews for dry and wet road performance, and as good of a review in dirt as can be expected. The set came out to ~$110 (+ free shipping!), which is a screaming deal compared to the cost of some tires out there.

Airing up Tire

Tim started showing Mike the basic procedure. We pulled the rear tire, put in a brand new tube, and then Mike proceeded to absolutely demolish the tube while levering the second tire bead into place. Luckily the old tube was in good shape, so that's what went in next, and seems to be holding air, so Mike's gotten better already! The front tire was swapped next, and we've got a fresh front tube as a spare.

Putting on Tire

When installing the rear wheel, Tim had a chain alignment tool that showed exactly how bent the swingarm of the Transalp is - a lot. The old Tourance rear tire showed some lopsided wear caused when the alignment markings on each side of the axle were even, and really only noticeable over the last 1000 miles or so. Now we know that the right side has to be almost 3/8" forward of the left in order to keep the chain straight from sprocket to sprocket. I guess that lady who rear ended Mike in August did more damage than he thought. The rear wheel was balanced and trued, but the swingarm and frame must have taken a good hit as well. Makes sense given the condition of her bumper and lack of license plate after the collision... But for now, we'll keep the chain aligned and see how the ride goes.

A grilled steak dinner with spinach salad was the perfect reward for the tire change, but mostly for Tim's patience. Thanks Tim for your help!

With a little repacking, we also got our 2 person hammock to fit into the front engine guard bags, leaving a little more space in the GIVI trunk. Now that we've finally hit desert heat, that trunk space will be valuable for our extra jacket and pant liners. Jill's stoked to be in consistently warmer temps, and can't wait to get to the beach...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lots of Concrete

After a very nice, warm night at Lake Mead, we went to the Hoover Dam to have a look. The architecture is quite amazing. The company that won the bid to build the dam ended up completing the dam 2 years early by working 24 hours per day nonstop for about 5 years in the mid 1930's. The town of Boulder City was established for the workers and their families to live in the area and is now a decent size town in Nevada. Walking around Hoover Dam was pretty spectacular, but we were unable to do the tour or even walk into the visitor center because it was so expensive - a tour was $30 and it was $8 to walk into the visitor center. We tried to use our National Park pass because some of the signage outside the building said that the Hoover Dam was the 5th most visited National Park, but we were informed several times by the cashiers that the Hoover Dam is NOT a park. Apparently the Dam is not funded in any way by the government and is fully funded by a private organization so that makes it ok to charge so much.

The water level in Lake Mead has decreased drastically in the past several years. At first they blamed it on drought, but now they just call it climate change. You can see from this picture where the water level used to be and where it is now. Since so many states in the SW depend on the lake for their energy, there may be some problems in the near future.

Bathtub Rings

Artistic Touches

Dedication Monument

View of the Dam

After leaving the dam, we took the scenic Lakeshore drive to see more of lake Mead. Some of the former marinas are no longer running because the water level is so low. We then worked our way up to Vegas where we stayed with some people through couchsurfing. We stayed with Brent and his girlfriend Francesca and their roommate Francis. They were great and accommodating and let us take over their front room, couches and computer for 2 days. We went to the Strip the first night to walk around and look at people, but it was a Sunday, so not too crowded. And, since neither of us really gamble, we didn't even spend any money. The house was about 10 minutes from the strip and we caught a bus directly there and back. Thanks again to Brent, Francesca and Francis.

Couchsurfing in Vegas

Route 66

Our first stop of the day was Williams, AZ - the former little Las Vegas along Route 66. It now has some relics of its former hay day, but is otherwise a nice small town. The visitor's center was helpful, the old man at the cheap gas station was not. He yelled a lot, something about how cheap his gas is (he only had 87 octane), and how it works fine for everything from trucks to weed whackers, and if he was willing to put it into his weed whacker then it should be fine running it in a bike with only 2 cylinders. We should have taken a picture with him, but instead decided to go to the next gas station over, where abrasive yelling seemed less frequent, and higher octane gas was available. We had some breakfast of fruit and granola bars at the Safeway and hit the highway (yuck) towards the Route 66 turn off.

Historic Route 66 is a fairly desolate road. Much of the time it's a straight shot with not too much to look at. Every once in awhile there was an old gas station or other stop that has faded with time, but then you roll into Seligman, AZ, a tour bus mecca along the route.

Route 66 Souvenir Town

The shops there sell all sorts of random trinkets and try to one-up there neighboring shops with the amount of kitsch. We got some free coffee from the barber/souvenir shop and wandered around town.

Old Cars

We planned on a lunch stop at Peach Springs, which was another hour up the road. It's an important city for the Hualapai reservation and where you can turn off to the Grand Canyon West Entrance, which we opted not to do because it's outrageously expensive (around $70/ppn to enter and walk on the skywalk). That town had absolutely nothing, not even rusted out old cars. There was one hotel/lodge/tour/restaurant building, but we kept driving - knowing how much they charge for their tours, how much would lunch have cost?

We grabbed a burger at Mr D'z diner in Kingman, followed by a fudge brownie sundae. Entertainment during our meal was provided by a group of Italians (that's a guess, but we're pretty sure) who had all rented Harleys and gone on tour. They took more posed pictures than I've ever seen anyone take in my life, and that was just in the diner - at the entryway, from the other direction, in the corner, at the bar, at the jukebox, back out front,... it was non stop. They got back on their bikes and the excitement continued - all 10-12 bikes were turning left across the highway business loop, following their tour guide. None of them seemed to care whether cars were coming or not though. There were. Luckily they stopped to let them pass.

After the commotion died down, we ran across the street to a visitors center (clearly our favorite stops in small towns, USA) where we were told of a sweet spot to camp on the shoreline of Lake Mead. The place is called Bonelli's Landing and the NPS map didn't show it at all, but the guy we talked to drew in the road with his pencil and we were on our way. It turned out to be an ideal spot!


We were right on the water and had a chance to do some swimming. While we were wading out there, a number of big fish kept swimming really close to us. If we would have paid more attention to a TV show we saw in Zion, Hillbilly Hand Fishing, we just might have been able to noodle us up some dinner. But no such luck. We stuck with chili instead. Here's the smallest guy that was checking us out.:


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Technical Difficulties

The location map shown at right managed to place us in Alabama. We did not go to Alabama. Somehow typing in Hoover Dam pulled up a location in that state. We'll work on correcting that at some point.

Also, to help with confusion of those people that don't know Mike, he's the same guy as Stew. Weird, I know, but one in the same. With a last name of Stewart, a lot of his friends call him Stew and he even introduces himself as that many times. But figuring Mike (or Michael... yes, 3 names now...) will be easier in Spanish, Jill is working on calling him Mike now. Sorry for the confusion, but that's still easier to keep track of than most Russian novels.

Big Ass Crater in my Backyard, I Hope that You Stay a Hole

Somehow our alarm didn't go off in the morning so we got a later start than expected. That was ok because we worked the daylight savings system to get a time change in AZ that gave us an extra hour. We drove to Page, AZ, tourist mecca of Lake Powell travelers and had a hard time finding a visitors center. We did find City Hall, but they had no idea where it was either and called random people to find it. Eventually it was found in a strip mall. Then we went to Denny's for a big breakfast. Unfortunately, we saw the Baconalia menu after we had ordered, but still managed to down lots of coffee and good food.

After breakfast, Mike did some basic maintenance to the chain. The US models (only sold in 1988 & 1989)of the Transalp never had a centerstand, and don't have a mounting bracket for one available from Honda. Thankfully, a fellow on advrider has been working on creating an aftermarket centerstand for the TA. We are lucky enough to be traveling with one of the first prototypes, which so far has been great, and will continue to prove valuable for regular maintenance and tire changes/repairs. The best part about it is that Mike, the guy making the stands, lives south of Denver, so we were able to work with him to get the stand on. Thanks again, Mike, for working so hard to make these stands work out!!

Centerstand in Action

We then hit the road to make it to the Grand Canyon for some amazing vistas and a short hike into the canyon. When we first saw the canyon, it was difficult to fully appreciate the scene - it's almost too massive to take in.

View Across the Canyon

View of Grand Canyon

We caught the free shuttle bus from the visitor's center to the S Kaibab trailhead, where we planned on checking out Ooh Aah point, a couple mile roundtrip hike. Somehow we blasted on past ol' Ooh Aah and made it down to Cedar Ridge, which was a beautiful overlook into the canyon. Hiking down and back up that trail certainly gave us a better understanding of how deep and large the Grand Canyon is.

Bird at Grand Canyon

Us at Grand Canyon

Cedar Ridge Trail

While in the park, we decided to take advantage of the showerhouse at the campground. The place was a madhouse of activity with lots of people doing laundry, waiting for showers, and just hanging out in the parking lot waiting for clothes to dry. Jill had the pleasure of waiting in line for the women's showers behind a 6'6", very manly person, seemingly going through a few changes in life, who apparently felt more comfortable in the women's bathroom than in the men's, even if those around him/her didn't feel the same. Luckily the showers were all separate stalls, so no extra body parts were seen. Unfortunately, we don't have any photos to share with you of that experience.

Due to our longer than expected hike and much needed shower, we didn't want to drive too far at dusk, especially after seeing a few mule deer when leaving the park. In mule deer vs motorcycle, mule deer would win. We made it to Ten X campground in Kaibab Nat'l Forest, which was a nice wooded place to crash. Since it was an official campground, it cost us $10 to stay there, but getting off the road then and also having a picnic table to sit at was worth it. FYI - there are a couple of signed National Forest roads just south of there that would have been perfect for free camping, if you're headed that way.


Hoodoo, Who Do You Think You're Fooling?

After spending the night in the hotel, we got up relatively early and went to Bryce Canyon National Park. There is a 20 some mile road that goes through the park where you can stop at several overlooks. There are also several hikes you can take through the park. It was tourist city at the main areas, even more than at Zion. The area is really quite amazing. We did a hike from Sunset View that ended up being about 3 miles through the bottom of the canyon. Everyone hiking was super geared up in huge hiking boots and other important stuff. We were in flip flops and kept getting warned about how difficult the trail was going to be. Ended up being not at all treacherous in flip flops and not a strenuous hike at all. One lady stared Mike down as she passed and laughed/scoffed at him for his attire. It was hilarious. Here are some views from the overlooks and trails.

View of Bryce
(Look at all those hoodoos)

A Natural Bridge

Inside Bryce

Gnarly Tree

Us at Bryce


Next we went to Kenab, UT just south of Bryce on the way to the Grand Canyon. We happened upon the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office and asked about camping for the night. The lady knew a lot about cows, but not much about camping unless it had showers and other amenities. BLM land is supposed to be free public land where you can camp openly, so we had expected at least a recommendation for a place to stay, but we got no help at all. Then we stopped for gas and found a great outdoor store across the street. Jill was finally able to find a second pair of riding socks and the owner was able to tell us about a place to camp that included petroglyphs of dinosaurs. We didn't find the site he was talking about, but we did find some free camping in a pretty good spot if not for the bugs.