Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Road Trippin' from Denver to Las Vegas in a Chrysler 200: A Picture Story

Read this first: Remembering That One Memorable Trip

I miss the 11 a.m. tour of Balcony House at Mesa Verde National Park by six minutes, resulting in possible catastrophe: after the noon tour, Garmin estimates I will reach the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at sunset instead of with a time cushion. I roar down the two-lane US-160 West with its broken yellow center line, passing all the cars.

I stop for my afternoon coffee, a requirement for this addict. Garmin says I just lost five minutes. Now I pass cars that any other time I would consider too risky. My accelerator pedal lives on or near the floor. This rental Chrysler 200 was built to get me to one of the seven natural wonders of the world while it is still bright enough outside to see.

Then I cross into Arizona and the time changes because the state doesn't observe daylight savings time. Garmin can go ahead and steal a minute here and there because I just gained a virtual hour.

Grand Canyon: too spectacular for adjectives. In this moment I am certain that seeing this is life's purpose and this is why humans have sight and there is nothing else that matters.

Benjamin Rubenstein road trip to Grand Canyon National Park South Rim

*****
Months ago my friend Scooter invited me to rock climb with him in Durango, Colorado. Before booking my flights on Frontier, my next-door cubemate at work, Sharknel!, invited me over to see her Google Maps webpage. "Look at all these cool places near Durango! You could take a road trip!"

Sharknel! was and is always right. I listened.

I couldn't drive 1,400 miles and not take tons of photos and video from the car. It was only weird when I angled the camera diagonally—when I looked at the screen it appeared like Garmin and I were driving off the side of cliffs. So here are some of the best moments of my road trip, with me, a Chrysler 200, and many new albums for which I won't share how I acquired though Verizon sent me a letter if that helps you figure it out.


I got through a short tunnel on my way from Fort Collins to Vail and a snow-capped mountain greeted me. My heart just about sank down to my penis.
driving towards Vail, Coloardo

I couldn't drive the Million Dollar Highway from Telluride to Durango, with its breathtaking views and sheer cliffs, without stopping at one of the overlooks for the most scenic pee of my life.
driving on the snow-capped Million Dollar Highway in May from Telluride to Durango Colorado

One of so many vehicles that Garmin and I would pass on US-160 West.
Approaching Grand Canyon on US-160 West

I sat at the Canyon for an hour with my quadsteppers and the rat that I saw scurry by. The rat declined to race me to the bottom.
Benjamin Rubenstein wearing his lifted Keen sneakers at Grand Canyon

Instead of paying $38 to sleep near Zion National Park, I paid $200 to stay overnight in Page, Arizona, to first see Antelope Canyon. Warning to potential travelers: Antelope is just a 1.5-hour photo shoot and if you're not into photography, don't visit. Instead, just ask me for the photos of the super cool rock formation.
amazing rock formations caused by wind and water at Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Do not skip Zion National Park in Utah. It is one of my favorite places: vast and gorgeous like the Grand Canyon, user friendly and simple like a Nicolas Cage film. I completed the second most challenging hike which requires you to hold onto chains to prevent death, though next time I'll do the Angel's Landing trail that several have actually died trying to hike.
Approaching Zion National Park

I joined fellow hikers at Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas, though I did not follow them up this currently dry waterfall. He who goes up must eventually come down.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

If you research and know ahead of time the few cities with high hotel costs and how to avoid them, and if you have a smartphone to book cheap accommodations on the fly, then road tripping out west can be less expensive than just about any other vacation. That part of our country is special and I had an amazing time exploring. I even recorded my first video on YouTube: The Road Trip Song: Denver to Las Vegas in a Chrysler 200. Hopefully Verizon doesn't send me another letter. Enjoy this video and stay tuned next year for The Road Trip Song: San Diego to Seattle in a Batmobile.

*****
Appearances
I'll be speaking at the Gala for Action on Saturday benefiting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for the Man & Woman of the Year fundraising campaign.
Saturday, June 6, at 6 p.m.
Asia DC, 1720 I Street NW, Washington, DC
Tickets

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