Burning up Vacation -- In the Desert
Well, this is unsual. TWO trips in one year to the desert. An unusual -- nay, unprecedented -- occurrence. The explanation, though, is quite simple. Procedural, in fact. It goes something like this: where I work, we are required to use up our yearly allotment of vacation by September 30 of each year. If you do not do that, you lose the excess vacation days. Since such an idea is an absolute anathema to me, and since by the summer I had not yet planned for a good way to use my excess days, it was time to whip up something quick. Something known, easy to plan, and easy to execute. The desert southwest is a very known quantity to us, and it was simply a matter of finding some good things we hadn't done yet -- something that is never a problem with this region.
Originally this vacation burnup plan was to include several of my work colleagues. They were in the same boat as I was, vacation-wise, and they had always seemed keen on the idea an outdoors trip to a landscape they had never before been to. We had grandiose plans of lots of mixed recreational activities - hiking, canyoneering, mountain biking, 'foodie' restaurant visiting, In-n-Out burger visiting... you know, that sort of thing.
Alas, a grand group of web.alive work geeks on a group outing wasn't quite to be. Most everyone ultimately was unable to attend for one reason or another -- all except Arn, who was immediately interested and remained at a high level of keen-ness. That meant that we had only three confirmed people for this trip... kinda low. Arn came to the rescue here, by recruiting both his wife Gosia and his brother Kyle, although with a bit of complexity - Kyle was only able to attend for 3 or 4 days at the start of the trip, and Gosia only able to attend for 3 or 4 days at the end of the trip.
We spent considerable time crafting a detailed plan to both visit do interesting and new things, and accommodate the comings and goings of the part-time trippers. The centerpiece of this trip was a return to complete the reasonably infamous and notorious Buckskin Gulch - a super-long slot canyon that we had attempted back in 2008. Buckskin Gulch is commonly known as the world's longest slot canyon, and the usually-three-day backpack along its length is considered one of the world's great hikes. For various reasons that I shan't get into in this narrative, we had to abort our 2008 attempt partway through. We vowed, of course, to return and try again someday... and this trip seemed like as good a time to do it, with [hopefully] warmer and drier conditions (You can read all about our 2008 attempt here
Enough preamble talk. We left on Thursday, September 22. Asmir once again graciously drove us to the airport, where we took a most welcome and efficient direct Westjet flight from Ottawa to Las Vegas. Quick and with none of the delay and fuss often associated with big hubs like O'hare. It was just myself, Jenn, and Arn on the flight -- we were just three until Kyle's brother arrived in Las Vegas on the Sunday.
Upon arrival in Las Vegas, we obtained our mid-size SUV rental vehicle (which took a bit of time, since we picked a vehicle from the ones available that had more than 60,000 miles and, when we attempted to check out with it, we were told it was 'over the limit' for rental. So, we had to go back and get another).
We then quickly holed-up in our usual Motel 6 on Tropicana Avenue. The plan was to leave the next morning for a two-day mountain outing, before returning to Las Vegas to pick up Arn's brother Kyle on Sunday morning.