Vacation burnup 2013 - (a.k.a. Permits and Politics)
Alright, so... let's get started. Welcome to another instalment of the "Vacation Burn-up" series, wherein a trip to the desert southwest is chosen as a means to use up one's vacation days before they expire at the end of September each year.
Well, ok... I admit that I'm being slightly flippant describing it like that; to be fair, only three of us had any sort of vacation day expiry driving us. However, any slight excuse seems to be enough justification to head down and explore the wonderful outdoor mecca of the US desert southwest. Besides, early fall is a wonderful time to visit!
This year, we chose to once again focus our attention on busy but beautiful Zion National Park, in the extreme southwest corner of the state of Utah, and on the expansive and undeveloped Escalante region in the south-central part of the state. Both are places we've visited extensively in the past... but, we had some scores to settle.
In very rough block-level form, our trip was organized thusly: Zion (canyoneering, mountaineering, and general crowd-avoidance-ing) + Escalante (Slot-canyoneering, backpacking, and more crowd-avoidance-ing). Sounds simple, right? It was anything but!
Our trips of late have had pretty complicated logistics. Most everyone these days has a busy life with many constraints, and after the initial general tender on the trip, it took some wrangling to work out the details. In the end, we had nine souls on this trip: myself, Jenn, Roland, Stephanie, Arn, Kyle, Gosia, Nel, and Kai - although as you'll see, souls were coming and going pretty much all the time!
As is almost exclusively the case when we visit the desert southwest, the economical arrival point of choice is glitzy Las Vegas. We departed on the morning of Friday, September 27. By we, I mean myself, Jenn, Roland, Stephanie, and Arn. Other members of the trip were scheduled to arrive later.
This year several of us managed to snag an especially low airfare from Ottawa to Vegas. The penalty for this was a circuitous multi-stop routing through Chicago and Houston, and with a particularly tight connection in Houston. Fortunately, the final leg from Houston to Las Vegas was delayed by about an hour, making things a lot less tight. Sometimes airplane delays are a good thing!
Narrow Embraer to Chicago
We arrived in Las Vegas around 9pm local time, whereupon we set out to get our rental vehicle. This was slightly problematic, as we needed to squeeze all five of us and our outdoor gear into a small-sized SUV. We struggled in vain with a Jeep Patriot for a few minutes before a larger Chevrolet Captiva rolled in from the car rental's turnover area. It was just barely big enough!