Monday, March 27, 2006

Road trip thoughts and pictures; San Diego to Brian Head, UT and back.

We had a fun, fun time.
All pictures can be clicked on to see larger in a new window.

Day one:

Left the house around 9am so as not to run into too much work traffic.
We made it out of the county pretty fast and we were on our way through Riverside county and beyond to the high desert.
Let me tell you something. Out in Southern Riverside county, what used to be all rolling hills and vines and all that is the most horrifying far flung sprawl you have ever seen.
How the hell someone could live way out that far away from everything but still in an ugly stucco house 5 feet from your neighbor I will never know.
Let's put it this way, The Macaroni Grill is the extent of culture out there. That and Mao Mart..

Before we knew it, we had spanned a WHOLE lot of CA landscape and made it to NV.
What happens, I think is they run out of letters for roads at the border:

The drive through the really high desert where Interstate 15 runs well past Las Vegas, into the northwest corner of AZ and then into Southern UT is just lovely.

This is a great time of year, it looks like because only the highest peaks have snow, stuff is starting to green up for the spring and the contrast with the red rocks and what have you is just awesome.

We got to Brian Head about dinner time or so and literally passed out from a combination of driving all day, HIGH altitude and a couple of brewskis not long after that. The lodge were we stayed (looking out at the bunny slopes from said lodge at right) is at almost 10,000 feet.

Day Two.
Speaking of feet, the peak at Brian Head is just about 11,000! Crazy high.
Christina took a long morning lesson and I worked at getting my ski legs back.
I had not been to ski in about 7 years after skiing quite a bit for about 20 years straight.
Of course, being that I lived in the Bay Area during that time and could get to a multitude of huge Tahoe resorts in a few hours made a difference.

Anyway, my skills came right back, I felt at home on my new skis and boots and was able to make great edge to edge turns down almost anything by lunch.
My muscles, on the other hand, had other ideas.
Burn they did, particularly my thighs.
Brian Head is a nice mountain. If you are an expert skier, you would get bored quickly and when I was at my peak of skiing putting in 15 plus days a year at places like Squaw Valley, Kirkwood and Sugar Bowl in Northern CA, I would have found it boring, but it's a good place for us older skiers, beginners, intermediates and families. And there were virtually no lift lines all weekend.
Most of what they consider "black diamond" would be a tough "blue" at Squaw.

Day three.
I skied what amounted to a half day. Very windy and cold half day on Sat. and Christina took a spa day and got a massage and facial.
By 2 I was plenty tired after skiing since 930am and went back to our room for a nap.

I know this is not PC, but I found myself trying to pick out Mormons from the non-Mormons.
I assumed that most of the non were the ones I saw drinking..

It was VERY windy all day, and it stayed that way into the night.
I woke up around 3am and looked out to see that a small storm had come in behind the heavy winds and left a couple inches of new snow.

Day four.
Sunday was one of those days where you remember why you fell in love with skiing in the first place.
It was sunny, cold and there was fresh DRY, DRY snow on the mountain.
Did I say dry? Never have I skied anything like this in CA. Close, but not this dry and light.
And for the first time in my life, I was up the lift and was able to make first tracks through (not much, only a few inches) lovely fresh powder.

Brian Head is divided in two. One area of lifts is really only for beginners and the other larger part is across the road on Giant Steps Mountain. Longest lift seen here. This lift climbs straight up about 1200 vertical. The snow was AMAZING and I wore myself out there good while Christina burned up the bunny slopes on the other side.
I met her around noon and we took some runs together before she had to turn in her skis.

Overall, we had such a fun time skiing and Christina did really, really well for a first time skier.
I know it's tough learning as an adult.
Plus, she's looking forward to more, which is good.
Lotsa people get frustrated.

We headed to lunch around 1pm and I had enough, knowing we had a drive to Vegas ahead as a stopover on the way home.

More of that awesome drive through the high desert.
Can't get enough of that. It's just so damn pretty.

We stayed at the Texas Station and had dinner at the Rio.
Fuckin' A I hate that shithole Vegas. OK, it's fun for a weekend, but it's still a shithole.
The Rio is cool. They did a good job with it.
We did enjoy a nice cocktail after dinner and I loved being able to sit there and smoke an entire cigar inside and not have one person look at me funny.
Other than any other reason they might.

Although speaking of smoking, we went to the Rio Carnival Buffet (which was shockingly good) coupon in hand for 5 dollars off.
So we're having dinner and talking and this family sits down next to us and the lady is complaining to the person that sat them that she can smell the smoke coming from the casino (they don't seem to allow smoking in that particular restaurant area, but it is open to the rest of the place for the most part) and her husband has asthma.
Now, I understand anywhere else, but this is Vegas. If you don't like being around smoke that bad, then you should really think of someplace else to go. Seriously.
That's why us adults go there in the first place: Tits, smoking, drinking, gambling; at the same time.
Vegas is not for: Children, families, people that do not like smoke. Get the fuck out or shut the fuck up.
If someone told me to put out my cigar while in a casino, I would laugh in their face.

Day five.
Monday. This evening, now.
We made the drive in really good time.
Did you know there's a huge rollercoaster like right at the border? It wasn't open, though.
Passing through LOTS of CA landscape again on the way home.
Man, our state is huge.

It's always sad to have to come back to reality and stuff after an extra long weekend, but we had a really good time.
Looking forward to the next one..

You can see all the pictures here.


Tom Harper said...

Brian Head is a really beautiful area. We were near there (Cedar Breaks) in August a long time ago. I think Cedar Breaks is close to 13,000 feet up. It sure was cool up there; and sweltering the lowlands. Sounds like it would be dynamite skiing.

Sar said...

Hey welcome back! Sounds like you had an awesome time. Thanks for sharing the pictures - the Arizona desert photos are amazing.

Jenn of the Jungle said...

Small world. I am also from the bay area, living in San Diego. I like it better here.

Mike V. said...

I like both places, though I miss the Bay Area a lot.

San Diego County in general is way too conservative for me, though we live in the city and it's not so much compared to the suburban bedroom places like Poway, or East County redneck areas.

At least I can say with pride the the city itself did not go for Bush in '04, though the county as a whole did.

LA said...

Sounds like a great trip, Mike! I think your wife had a great idea with the spa day. (grin) Your pictures are fantastic. What do you shoot with?

My parents lived in Las Vegas for ten years, and never once during that time did I see the roller coaster open at State Line (excuse me, Prim - they call it Prim now).

Mike V. said...

SHE did the spa thing, I worked hard on the slopes that day.. :)

I just shoot with a small Canon. The A70. Great camera.
The new line of the A series is probably the best small digitals you can buy right now if you don't need something small enough to slip into a pocket.
The A610 has received the best reviews from Steve's Digicams and DC Resource.

My next one is a pocket sized, but if I was in the market for something other than that, I would buy the A610 in a minute.