Author Topic: "Holiday Road" - The Official Vacation Thread  (Read 94835 times)

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Offline imref

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so we're planning on a western trip in early august, flying into Denver and trying to decide between a western route through Mesa Verde and Moab before returning to Denver, or a more southern route through Santa Fe and over toward Flagstaff and Sedona before ending in Phoenix.

Anyone have any thoughts? Our only must-do on the trip is a visit to Cimarron NM, about 3-4 hours south of Denver / one hour north of Santa Fe, to visit the Philmont Scout Reservation.

Offline wj73

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Haven’t been to Moab, so can’t compare, but Santa Fe and the surrounding area are wonderful. Santa Fe itself is beautiful, and the food can’t be beat. From there you can head in several directions to Bandolier and Pecos National Parks, both with beautiful scenery and ruins of ancient Native American dwellings. If you’re a history buff, you can take a ranger-guided tour at Pecos to the site of the Battle of Glorieta Pass, the westernmost battle of the civil war. I can also highly recommend a balloon ride over the desert by an outfit called Santa Fe Balloons (santafeballoons.com). If taking a ride in a hot air balloon is on your bucket list, that’s the place to do it. You can see for miles. Albuquerque is only about an hour away, and Taos is about an hour and a half.

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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so we're planning on a western trip in early august, flying into Denver and trying to decide between a western route through Mesa Verde and Moab before returning to Denver, or a more southern route through Santa Fe and over toward Flagstaff and Sedona before ending in Phoenix.

Anyone have any thoughts? Our only must-do on the trip is a visit to Cimarron NM, about 3-4 hours south of Denver / one hour north of Santa Fe, to visit the Philmont Scout Reservation.
After the bar exam (close to 35 years ago), I flew into Phoenix and did a driving loop up to the Grand Canyon via Sedona and the canyon out of it, over through 4 corners and monument valley to Durango, then up through Silverton / Black Canyon of the Gunnison / over Monarch Pass to Boulder, then a loop through Rocky Mountain NP down to Colorado Springs, then a drive down to Aluquerque through Taos and Santa Fe, out to Flagstaff via the painted desert and petrified wood NP, then back down to Phoenix to see a few sites like Camelback (and I think the location of Del Webb vs. Spur Industries, for any of you fans of nuisance law).   Too much driving for a week, but I've been out to Santa Fe a couple of times since.  Sedona and Santa Fe are very nice, of course.  You might want to PM BrandonK / Guy from Colorado for some insights if he's still on WNFF.  Colorado to Moab sounds like more consistent amazing natural sites (definitely awesome is Rocky Mountain NP, but the air gets thin near the top).  Flagstaff is nothing special but can serve as a jump off point.  That stretch between Albuquerque and Flagstaff is pretty much empty, which is cool in itself. 

Offline imref

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thanks JCA and WJ.  The advice I've gotten on a couple of travel forums is to avoid Moab in early August as temps are north of 100 and it's very crowded, we're looking more now at flying to Albuquerque (and of course we can't forget to make that left turn) and then head to Cimarron and then to Mesa Verde, and then west toward Phoenix.

Offline Count Walewski

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Driving to the top of Pike's Peak is a classic tourist activity near Denver. It was the first thing my parents and I did when we arrived in Denver (I was maybe 10 or 11?) and it was a very "welcome to Colorado" moment.

Offline RobDibblesGhost

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so we're planning on a western trip in early august, flying into Denver and trying to decide between a western route through Mesa Verde and Moab before returning to Denver, or a more southern route through Santa Fe and over toward Flagstaff and Sedona before ending in Phoenix.

Anyone have any thoughts? Our only must-do on the trip is a visit to Cimarron NM, about 3-4 hours south of Denver / one hour north of Santa Fe, to visit the Philmont Scout Reservation.

So we’re doing this in July: Flying to Albuquerque, visiting Philmont (staying at the St. James), camping at Great Sand Dunes, then west to Colorado National Monument, Goblin Valley, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks National Monument over three days. Then it’ll be south to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and then back to Albuquerque. It’ll be three nights of camping and motels the rest of the time. Book early, especially if you have specific places you’d like to stay.

Offline imref

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So we’re doing this in July: Flying to Albuquerque, visiting Philmont (staying at the St. James), camping at Great Sand Dunes, then west to Colorado National Monument, Goblin Valley, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks National Monument over three days. Then it’ll be south to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and then back to Albuquerque. It’ll be three nights of camping and motels the rest of the time. Book early, especially if you have specific places you’d like to stay.

Wow. That’s a lot of ground to cover. We’re thinking of Denver to Colorado Springs to cimmaron to Mesa verde to lake Powell to Phoenix.  Might skip CO springs and fly to Albuquerque instead

Offline Count Walewski

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I'm in Alaska right now, in Seward on the Kenai Peninsula. I took a harbor tour yesterday and we saw a pod of orcas, a humpback whale, two bald eagles, and two sea otters. Before that, I saw a moose on the side of the highway. Today is my last day on the coast, tomorrow we start driving north to Denali where I hear there are more moose.

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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I'm in Alaska right now, in Seward on the Kenai Peninsula. I took a harbor tour yesterday and we saw a pod of orcas, a humpback whale, two bald eagles, and two sea otters. Before that, I saw a moose on the side of the highway. Today is my last day on the coast, tomorrow we start driving north to Denali where I hear there are more moose.
be sure to stop in Wassila if you haven't seen a strip mall.  Sprawl is pretty rare in Alaska.

Offline imref

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I'm in Alaska right now, in Seward on the Kenai Peninsula. I took a harbor tour yesterday and we saw a pod of orcas, a humpback whale, two bald eagles, and two sea otters. Before that, I saw a moose on the side of the highway. Today is my last day on the coast, tomorrow we start driving north to Denali where I hear there are more moose.

that's awesome. When we did our Vancouver to Seward cruise a few years ago we took a bus from the dock in Seward up to Anchorage and stopped at a wildlife preserve along the way. They had a few grizzlies and you could get within about 20' of them.

Offline Count Walewski

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be sure to stop in Wassila if you haven't seen a strip mall.  Sprawl is pretty rare in Alaska.

I am writing this reply from Wasilla. It truly looks like the Lower 48 here: strip malls, big box stores like Guitar Center, and fast food from all over including Sonic, Red Robin, Smashburger, Panda Express, and more. There is even a Wal-Mart. For many of these businesses, I imagine this is their furthest north location. I can't find a Wal-Mart north of Wasilla, I just looked on Google Maps.

But the Best Western Wasilla is a remarkable, romantic property located on the shores of a pristine mountain lake. I have to imagine this is the best Best Western in the entire USA. I kid you not, this is far better than the Hilton in Anchorage was.

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Best Westerns vary a lot. I think they are owned by various companies and individuals that use the name and marketing but have no common design features. I don't know what sort of minimum standards or aspirational goals they have.

As for the panda Express, go there and order the panda. If they give you a look, say you heard from a friend in DC that when something goes wrong at thr Zoo, they have off the menu specials.

Offline OldChelsea

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Best Westerns vary a lot. I think they are owned by various companies and individuals that use the name and marketing but have no common design features. I don't know what sort of minimum standards or aspirational goals they have.[...]

They also have a lot of properties in Europe, some of them fairly elegant, such as the Slon (Elephant) in Ljubljana (don't let the name fool you - this is Slovenia's classic address, with roots back in the 18th century) and the former Mostyn hotel just off Oxford street in London (now a Doubletree). In fact the hotel I'll be staying in on my upcoming Stockholm trip (assuming it comes off) is a Best Western, located right downtown...quite different from the chain of mom-and-pop motels my family regularly stayed in on our cross-country trips in the 1950's and 1960's.

Offline Count Walewski

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They also have a lot of properties in Europe, some of them fairly elegant, such as the Slon (Elephant) in Ljubljana (don't let the name fool you - this is Slovenia's classic address, with roots back in the 18th century) and the former Mostyn hotel just off Oxford street in London (now a Doubletree). In fact the hotel I'll be staying in on my upcoming Stockholm trip (assuming it comes off) is a Best Western, located right downtown...quite different from the chain of mom-and-pop motels my family regularly stayed in on our cross-country trips in the 1950's and 1960's.

I'll believe it. The second best Best Western I've ever stayed at was in Belgrade, though it was nowhere as nice as this one in Wasilla.

Offline Ali the Baseball Cat

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There's probably more than one Best Western in Frankfurt Germany, but the one I stayed at a while back was very clearly a bordello. 

Offline dracnal

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There's probably more than one Best Western in Frankfurt Germany, but the one I stayed at a while back was very clearly a bordello.
Breast Western?


Offline Count Walewski

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Yesterday we did the thing where you take a small plane into Denali National Park and land on a glacier. Then they let you walk around the glacier for like 15 minutes. Honestly one of the top tourist experiences I have ever had, recommend it to all who are visiting Alaska or some other place where this kind of thing is considered normal.

Offline imref

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Yesterday we did the thing where you take a small plane into Denali National Park and land on a glacier. Then they let you walk around the glacier for like 15 minutes. Honestly one of the top tourist experiences I have ever had, recommend it to all who are visiting Alaska or some other place where this kind of thing is considered normal.

That kind of trip was offered as an excursion to the Mendenhall glacier on the inside passage cruise we took a few years ago. Glad you getting to experience such a beautiful state. I hope you've been able to enjoy some halibut

Offline GburgNatsFan

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Yesterday we did the thing where you take a small plane into Denali National Park and land on a glacier. Then they let you walk around the glacier for like 15 minutes. Honestly one of the top tourist experiences I have ever had, recommend it to all who are visiting Alaska or some other place where this kind of thing is considered normal.

Do they check for polar bears first? I guess just make sure you aren't in the first group out...

Offline 1995hoo

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That kind of trip was offered as an excursion to the Mendenhall glacier on the inside passage cruise we took a few years ago. Glad you getting to experience such a beautiful state. I hope you've been able to enjoy some halibut

Our cruise was in 2005 and we took a helicopter up to the Mendenhall Glacier. I agree, it was an interesting thing to do and I'm glad we did it when we had the chance.

Offline Natsinpwc

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Yesterday we did the thing where you take a small plane into Denali National Park and land on a glacier. Then they let you walk around the glacier for like 15 minutes. Honestly one of the top tourist experiences I have ever had, recommend it to all who are visiting Alaska or some other place where this kind of thing is considered normal.
We did that on El Calafete down in Patagonia. Very cool. They had whiskey on ice from the glacier for us when we got to our halfway point.  It was more exhausting than I thought it would be.

Offline Dave in Fairfax

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One of the most painful experiences of my life was falling down a glacier in Austria and breaking my ankle. I had to crawl down, including crab-walking on two arms and one leg through the moraine field, before I ran into some people who carried me the rest of the way to the tram station. Then, once I got back to my car, I had to drive all the way back to Heidelberg, all while my ankle and foot were inflating like a balloon. Good times ... 

Offline Count Walewski

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I saw 5 wild grizzly bears today during an 8-hour long bus tour of Denali National Park. One came within 50 feet of the bus. You don't even get that close to the Bears at Soldier Field.

Also had a moose come within 10-20 feet of the bus. And we saw a Golden Eagle get into a fight with a magpie 1/10th its size...and lose.

Alaska is like nowhere else.

Offline Natsinpwc

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I saw 5 wild grizzly bears today during an 8-hour long bus tour of Denali National Park. One came within 50 feet of the bus. You don't even get that close to the Bears at Soldier Field.

Also had a moose come within 10-20 feet of the bus. And we saw a Golden Eagle get into a fight with a magpie 1/10th its size...and lose.

Alaska is like nowhere else.
Very cool. Hope to get there some day.