2020 Airstream Trip – Part 3: Arches and Dead Horse Point

On the third leg of our trip, we were headed down to Moab in southeast Utah. We didn’t make it that far during our last Airstream trip to Utah. We were passing through SLC and stopped to see the Binzers, who recently relocated to Park City after COVID-19 disrupted their plans to drive around the world in their recently acquired overland vehicle.

I’ve been to Park City more than a few times and had no idea beautiful lakeside communities existed within view of the mountain. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the Binzer boys, who were at camp. We did get to catch up with the adults over lunch. Ironically, I saw them during ski week up in Tahoe right before things locked down, so they are one of the few (only) families I’ve seen multiple times in 2020. Thank you for having us! We’ll hopefully be back during ski season.

Our lunch stop helped break up a long haul down to Moab. We got there around 8pm and had leftovers for dinner in the RV. The Idema boys were also in town, but we failed to connect with them. The closest I’ve gotten to seeing Matt since COVID-19 started was throwing a bag of Ikon coffee over his fence at the beginning of April, when me and the other Burlingame guys would discuss pulling espresso shots daily on WhatsApp. This is what we’ve been reduced to.

During our first day in Moab, we were going to explore Arches National Park. It would have been good to get an early start and beat the heat but we waited until around 11am (normal Rhee family time), when it was already 100 degrees. The red Utah rock was familiar, but the towering monuments, shapes, and of course, arches, were incredible. We explored a lot in a couple hours and took a break for lunch in Moab.

Our plan was to go back into the park before sunset for better light. We didn’t have that much left to see except Delicate Arch. The group was not up for the hike to the base, so we did the half mile trek to a view point instead. We also didn’t hike Fiery Furnace, as suggested by my friend, Ted. On the map, it looked like Devils Garden was the last area of the park to check out, so we drove out there and started hiking the canyon. The only problem was that one of my main objectives was to photograph the sunset, but we happened to be deep in probably the only area of the park where golden hour was not visible. By the time we emerged, it was over.

This wasn’t the first time of the trip where I was fretting wrong light, wrong filter, wrong lens, wrong camera. It was probably mostly wrong photographer. It’s fine. It was still spectacular and everyone will remember the amazing things we saw and did on the trip. Hopefully the photos we did get will be a good reminder.

The second day we planned to visit Dead Horse Point State Park. I knew it would be a short visit. It was beautiful and we hiked around a little and took some photos. Again, the direct overhead sunlight was harsh and oppressive, but we were right on schedule.

On this trip, I didn’t include Canyonlands. I also know we didn’t see “everything” or do every hike at all the other parks, and I’m okay with that. It gives us or the kids a reason to go back and see it a different way. I’m just thankful that after 50 years, I was able to see it for the first time.

Skiing in Deer Valley Over New Year

We’re always looking for new places to ski with the family. Although I’ve been to Utah a bunch with friends, Grace nor the kids have been there for skiing. We looked at a lot of options for our 2nd week of the holiday break. Coincidentally, Ann and Jeremy were going to be in Deer Valley and invited us to crash with them.

This was fortuitous on an epic scale because they were staying at the Montage. I’ve only had lunch there before with my WB buddies and fell in love with it the minute I stepped inside. I never expected to ever stay there, but we were beneficiaries of Ann and Jeremy, who were beneficiaries of another friend whose plans changed. That left available a beautiful 3 bedroom unit, the kind of which makes you not want to return home.

Sunday, the day we arrived, was Olivia’s birthday, so we wanted to celebrate somewhere. Our plans were last minute and the only place I could find was the Seafood Buffet at Deer Valley. If I had a better memory, I would have remembered that while the food was good, the ambiance was a little lacking for the price of admission. Next time I will not forget. Most importantly, we celebrated Olivia’s milestone with friends and she was happy.

Monday, we skied at Park City because the Ikon passes I got at the last minute were blacked out that day at Deer Valley. It was a cold but great day on the mountain. I hadn’t skied there in forever. Starting Tuesday, we got into our ski-in/ski-out routine at Deer Valley, which was a lot easier. The snow was infinitely better than the start of the season last year, though coverage was still a little thin in areas. We definitely made the most of it.

The Champions Club at the Stein Eriksen was one of the best finds on this trip. While the food is not as epic as the buffet upstairs, every game in the arcade is free. I guess they’re making it up in pizza. We spent New Year’s Eve in the room and had room service for dinner, which was fine with everyone. We had some so-so dinners in town, though Riverhorse on Main was notably excellent again. Some of our best meals were at the Japanese restaurant in the hotel (two nights in a row).

All the kids were great sports all week and we had fun skiing with Emme and Elsen. The little and big kids enjoyed an après ski of tubing and hot cider. The kids added rolling around in the snow between the pool and hot tub to their routine. I didn’t allow myself to get roped into that, but Jeremy joined right in.

We didn’t venture down to the bowling alley until right before we left. Otherwise we might have had some high scores by the end of our awesome week together. It all went by so fast, but we’re so thankful for being able to finally travel with their family, especially after our Airstream caravan got aborted a couple years ago. Until next time!

3rd Annual End of Summer Airstream Trip: Utah and Malibu

Our Airstream adventures have been the highlight of our last couple summers, so it has been my intention to make it a ritual. I declared myself Captain of the trip, but the Admiral tried to take the RV trip off the summer agenda. The kids and I had a secret vote to reinstate it. Everything was still up in the air in the weeks leading up to the trip as the Admiral requested for the trip to be moved up because of work travel, which only allowed one day between our Michigan and RV trips. Right up until departure, Grace was suggesting Yosemite, Crater Lake, Tahoe again, not Vegas, not Utah, etc.

It. Is. Exhausting.

Eventually, everyone got on board, both literally and figuratively. This summer, I was determined to venture beyond our Northern California backyard as there’s so much of our country to see. My goal was to visit some national parks in southern Utah.

Our trip happened to coincide with the great eclipse of 2017, so the entire fleet of Airstreams was booked. I emailed Brian earlier this summer and he let me know the 25′ was available and that they had rebranded their company to “Go Silver.” We enjoyed the 27′ we rented last year, but we found out it wasn’t available because Elaine and Brian were living in it! We figured after the 20′ and 27′, perhaps the 25′ would be just right. It was a 2015 model and the biggest upgrades were the power awning and ducted HVAC, which was much quieter.

After returning from Michigan, it was a tight turn of laundry and packing, but we had the car loaded up on Wednesday on schedule to pick up the RV at 10am. The pick up time was what was actually limiting us on how far we could get on day one. Trying to get all the way to Utah would have meant not only a long day, but also a late arrival. All routes pointed to a stop in Las Vegas.

We made good time toward Las Vegas, but one thing I hadn’t measured in the past was our gas mileage. Our longest drives were to and from Tahoe and we always made it on one tank of gas. Not only was this our longest haul ever, but we were on the open road and moving quickly. I experienced first hand the exponential nature of the force of air resistance and could barely get 250 miles on a tank at cruising speed. With one quick stop for lunch and gas and another as we got closer to Vegas, we pulled into Las Vegas Oasis RV Resort right at dusk. The gilded lobby was a little over the top, but it was clean, had many amenities, was lined with palm trees, and was less than $24/day!

We spent only a few minutes getting hooked up before setting straight out for dinner at Allegro at the Wynn hotel. By the time we got back, the kids were ready for bed. The next morning, we only had time for brunch, which was back at the Wynn. It didn’t take us long to get underway for our short haul (2 1/2 hours) to Utah.

We stayed about 13 miles from the entrance to Zion National Park at the Zion River Resort. It was the nicest park at which we’ve stayed and we had a great corner lot that backed up to the river. After settling in, we went straight into town to rent gear for our first hike, which was through The Narrows. We each rented boots, neoprene socks and a walking stick. We had our first dinner in the RV and the kids enjoyed the pool before ending the night with a campfire and s’mores.

The key to hiking the narrows aside from having the right gear is to get an early start. The first shuttle is at 6:00am. We were not that aggressive, but we were waiting on one by about 7:20am. The advantages of an early start are to beat the crowds and also the heat. It’s always 10-15 degrees cooler in the narrows, so layers are necessary. After a 40 minute ride to the last stop on the shuttle, we were on the Riverside Walk trail, which is about a mile to the gateway to the Narrows. From there, it’s another mile and a half to Wall Street. We took several breaks and when we finally made it to Wall Street, we had lunch there before turning around. I was proud of the crew for making it that far without too much complaint (aside from being cold, which was understandable). It was much warmer as we emerged from The Narrows. Hopefully the kids will go back one day and go farther beyond Wall Street.

We had some down time that afternoon and earned a nice dinner out in town. The kids enjoyed Spiderman Homecoming earlier this month, so I thought it was time to get them caught up on the Avengers universe. There’s some different views on the order in which to watch the movies, but I downloaded about 10 movies for this trip, starting with “Captain America: The First Avenger.” We watched parts in the evenings and during breaks. Everyone was pretty wiped out after this first day of hiking.

The second day we had an even more ambitious day of hiking planned. Even though it didn’t require as much planning or equipment, I still wanted to get an early start to beat the heat. I read about the Angel’s Landing hike and saw some YouTube videos of the last half mile. I’m a pretty risk-loving person, but the prospects of death seemed a little too high to complete the hike. Scout Lookout is about 2 miles up the same trail and ascends 1,100 feet. That seemed like plenty for our crew, especially Lucas. It started out cool, but it quickly got hot, especially in the sun. Olivia was just cruising along, but Lucas did struggle a bit, so we took breaks often to rest and hydrate. It was a tough slog and Olivia and I went ahead for a bit and finally got the last steep ascent up “Walter’s Wiggles,” which are a series of switchbacks up to the landing. We waited for Lucas and Grace and when we saw them coming up, we went to the top where we waited for them there. Everyone had a snack and a rest before we took some photos. In general, the descent was easier, but Lucas was running out of gas, we were running out of water, and I was anxious to get to a cold beverage. I gave him a little assist on the way down, for which he was especially appreciative. Olivia and Lucas ended the hike with a short wade into the river to cool off.

We had a late checkout from the RV park, so we had lunch in town before heading back to pack up and start heading to our next destination, which was Bryce Canyon. It was only about a 2-hour drive to Bryce from Zion, which went through the park. We had dinner again in the RV and rested again after our big day of hiking.

During our only full day in Bryce Canyon, we took the shuttle from Ruby’s Inn RV Park to a few stops within the park. The kids were pretty hiked out at this point, so we got around by bus to the major view points. The rain (and light hail) seemed to follow us, so our visit was a little rushed. We had lunch at the lodge and once it started to really thunder and rain, we headed back for a leisurely afternoon. The only other thing I had planned was an ATV ride, which will have to wait until next time. I think we watched 2 1/2 Avengers movies that day. We had a nice dinner at Stone Hearth Grille before calling it a night.

The following morning, we were up early to head to our last destination: Malibu. It was about 9 hours total driving time, but took 11.5 with stops including lunch in Las Vegas at … you guessed it, the Wynn. This time, we pulled up to valet parking with the Airstream in tow and the valets had a chuckle. They were prepared for visitors like us and a runner took me to the “flat lot” and gave me a ride back to the hotel. We had lunch at Grace’s favorite, Wazuzu, which is on the Encore side where we usually stay. After a quick gelato stop, we were back on our way.

I’m not usually a big podcast guy, but I listened to Serial on one road trip to LA. On this trip, Malcolm Gladwell’s “Revisionist History” helped pass the time. Most of it was really interesting and the kids even listened here and there. It finished just as we got into California, so it was Spotify until we pulled into Malibu Beach RV Park around dusk. After a long day of travel, we had a really nice dinner at The Sunset Restaurant on Zuma Beach.

Tuesday morning, Grace’s parents drove out to Malibu to visit us and have breakfast together. They got a kick out of the Airstream and enjoyed the view. Despite living in LA for over a couple decades, they rarely made it to Malibu. We traded last year’s Marin Country Mart for the Malibu Country Mart this year and had a nice brunch at Marmalade Cafe. Afterwards, we tried to go to the beach across from the RV park, but playing frogger across PCH seemed deathly, so we drove back to Zuma Beach instead. The Sunset Restaurant was right there, so we enjoyed a light late lunch there. Back at the RV, the kids made up a game of interpretive dance where the themes were Disney and Star Wars. I won one round before fading into a coma. After some rest (i.e., more Avengers movies), we had a late dinner at Mastro’s Ocean Club, which was down on the PCH.

I’m glad I got up at sunrise on Tuesday to take some pictures because the marine layer was thick on Wednesday before we left. We went back to Marin Country Mart for a quick breakfast before packing up everything for good and heading north to return the Airstream in San Jose.

I say this often, but this was one of our best trips ever. We covered a lot of ground (pretty painlessly), visited a couple of our most beautiful national parks, and enjoyed a quiet part of LA on the ocean. Most importantly, we were all together, enjoying each other’s company (mostly) in very close quarters. I’m so glad Grace stayed the entire trip with us (she had planned to leave in the middle). I didn’t miss staying in a hotel at all and love how easy it is to visit spectacular places with the Airstream. I hope we continue our adventures for as long as the kids are interested. Next year, we’re going north, way north! Let me know if you’re ready to caravan.

Caution: 8 days on the road visiting national parks and the California coast results in over 200 photos.

Michigan vs. Utah Game

The team converged on Salt Lake City for a surgical strike to see the inaugural Harbaugh-era Michigan game. Were my expectations too high? Probably. Was I hopeful for a win? Definitely. Was I disappointed in the outcome? Indeed.

However, being with old friends and new took the sting out of the final score. It was a beautiful day and evening in SLC. I went with my college friends, but ran into friends from elementary school and graduate school.

I’m sure we’ll be cheering again very soon. Until then, Go Blue!!!

Ski Trip to Utah with WB Boys

On Thursday, March 6th, the boys from West Bloomfield met in Utah again for our annual ski trip. This year we were also celebrating Herb’s engagement, which also brought Mike from Connecticut and Andy from retirement. Another new attendee was Herb’s hair – wow!

Friday, we skied at Deer Valley, seemingly because Scott wanted the famous “Deer Valley Turkey Chili.”  It was very good. Friday night, we went into Park City and had an amazing dinner at Riverhorse on Main.

Saturday, we got a much earlier start and were on the mountain at the Canyons by 9:30am. It was a glorious day of skiing and sunshine. Up until lunchtime, the seven of us skied together on every lift. Afterwards, however, Andy and Scott peeled off and then Herb and Mike did, too. We eventually all met up again for the last runs of the day. We skied until the bitter end of the day and my EpicMix said we did 28.5K of vertical, which was pretty respectable.

It wasn’t easy to find a Saturday reservation for seven people, so I booked us at the Deer Valley Seafood Buffet. There was some skepticism from the crew, but six of us enjoyed it very much. Mike will be filing a lawsuit for an improperly shucked oyster.

Sunday, Mike and Andy left early for home. Steve, Chris, Scott, Herb and I went back to Deer Valley for a short day of skiing. We skied hard until lunch time and then went to the world famous buffet at the Stein Eriksen Lodge. It did not disappoint. I think I consumed 8,000 calories in 14 hours (after losing an hour of sleep).

That was the end of our epic ski weekend. Being as how Herb is the last of our friends to get married, I’m not sure what excuse we can come up with to get together again next year, except perhaps 35 years of skiing together since Winter Walden and ski team. See you then!

Skiing in Park City with WB Buddies

Herb, Chris, Scott, Steve and I went to Park City the weekend of 3/16. We skied a couple days at The Canyons and a day at Deer Valley. Friday and Saturday were beautiful Spring conditions. I had a bonus Gellert sighting on Saturday. We also celebrated Steve’s birthday on Saturday. Conditions deteriorated on Sunday with whiteout conditions. We skied a half-day before all heading for home. Great trip.