Phoenix to Zion National Park. Four days of motorcycling.

Our next adventure takes us to northern arizona and southern utah. a four day motorcycle trip. the trip begins in phoenix az . My friend Rory will ride with me and we will report his actual costs for the trip . Rory arrived on Thursday and we picked up his rental motorcycle at az sport rentals. After some “clarifying” of the true charges for the motorcycle, Rory follows me back home to prepare for tomorrows send off.

Friday morning we are treated to sunny sky and perfect temps. the route is to take the carefree highway (Hey 74) to Wickenburg. Just outside Wickenburg we will pick up the 89 and turn north.

We pass through Congress and see Yarnell hill. Our ascent is smooth and fun. Big two lane paved road and nice sweeping turns. At the top of the mountain we stop for Lunch in the town of Yarnell.

I am riding a Kawasaki KLR650. Rory is on a Suzuki 650.

The Ranch House restaurant at the top of Yarnell Hill 

After lunch we continue north to Prescott.  As we leave Prescott we make a brief stop at Watson Lake.  Its a great place to take a picture no matter what vehicle you may be driving.  About twenty minutes later we pick up the 89A which will take us to Sedona and then our final stop for the day, Flagstaff.

A Brief stop at Watson Lake just outside of Prescott

 

Rory on Hwy89 heading to Sedona

 

The beauty of Sedona

I have family in Flagstaff so that helps keep the costs down.  We will stay both Friday and Sunday nights in Flagstaff.  Saturday Morning we leave Flagstaff and are treated to another beautiful day.  Today is going to be a long day so we leave early and continue up Hwy 89.  Our destination is Page for lunch and Hurricane for dinner and sleep.  We arrive in Page and enjoy a lunch.  We turn and head West toward Hurricane. The ride is smooth and very little traffic makes it relaxed.  As we get closer to Hurricane i am seing the mountains start to rise out of the desert.  i know that in the morning I will be riding through Zion.  A note here about hotels.  Try and book ahead.  We were lucky to get on of the last rooms in Hurricane.  We ended up in a large room with three king sized beds.  It was a giant room and looked like a suite which had some furniture removed and an extra bed installed.  You take what they have when its all there is between you and sleeping in the parking lot. lol.

Almost to Page, AZ

 

Taking pictures along the way

Taking pictures along the way.

Klim riding pants…the most comfy pants I own.  Olympia AST riding jacket Great at any temperature.  Awesome combo.

Securing the bikes for the night

Sunday morning rise at 6am so we can get roling at 7am.  Breakfast is courtesy of the Hotel and we are off to the gas station to fuel up .  About 45 min later we are pulling up tp the gate to Zion National Park.  Awesome.  Another note here.  Get here early and you can ride the park several times before the motorhomes clog the road and make for a long wait at the tunnel.  When you get there you will know what I mean and you will thank me for the early start.

The beauty and monumental size of Zion and its mountains cannot be explained.   It needs to be experienced.  It is breathtaking at every  turn.  Every hundred yards is a different photo opportunity.  I could have spent the weekend there and may have been  satisfied.  I will go back.  Once we traversed the park from west to east and back west and then finally east again It was time to continue on to Jacob Lake.

A day at Zion National Park!

 

Passing thru the 12 miles of road early in the morning.

 

Zion

 

Zion

 

Zion has a few spectacular tunnels. This is the shortest.

 

Amazing curves and views.

 

Amazing curves and views.

We stopped at Jacob Lake and had lunch.  An amazing location and a great restaurant.  Nice people and tasty food.   A good resting spot.

Jacob Lake. Great food and super nice folks.

We leave Jacob Lake and head for the Vermillion cliffs. First we see the cliffs from a far and then pass close by.  This is the painted desert at its best.  a must stop for a cross country trip.

Vermillion Cliffs. From a distance.

 

Vermillion Cliffs. From a little closer

 

Vermillion Cliffs.

 

A perfect day in Southern Utah and Northern AZ

 

Where do you want to go?

The day ends back in Flagstaff, AZ.  A hot meal and a comfy bed.  Monday brings the trifecta of perfect weather.  We are headed back to Phoenix. However, we take the long way. Our route takes us east and then turns southeast  out of Flagstaff via Lake Mary Road.  this road is two lanes of perfect highway and goes east for 25-30 miles before heading southeast.  We travel through the tall pines and enjoy the cool weather.  We see another vehicle about every 15 min or so.  very enjoyable. The road comes to a “T” at HWY 87 and we head south to Strawberry, AZ. and then to Pine, AZ for lunch.  Once we are on the 87 south we  just keep riding all the way back to Phoenix.  The 87Hwy also known as the “beeline” is a divided highway which is more like a freeway with nice curves.  Beware of speedtraps.  You have been warned!!  We head south out of Payson, AZ and pass a giant motorcycle boneyard in the town of Rye, AZ.  Worth a stop if you have the time.  A note here, once you leave Payson, there are no services until Ft. Mcdowell.  make a safety stop in Payson.  Depending on the time of year you will be riding down into some serious heat.  The elevation change is about 4000 feet and can be as much as 60 degrees warmer. We arrive back in Phoenix and have a celebration dinner and drinks.  An awesome weekend trip and a trip with a great friend. Thank you Rory.

The First Day (click for a bigger version)

Click here for a bigger version of day one map

Days two and three. (click for a bigger version)

Here are the numbers directly from Rory.

Flight:           $342.00

Bike rental: $276.00,  Insurance:  $123.00,   Taxes:$40.00,  Total: $439.00

Gas: $120.63   (That was 7 fill-ups for BOTH bikes avg. $17.25 a fill and avg. $8.60 a bike)

Hotel: $0.00 (you paid Hurricane, UT)

Fix the seat  @ Walmart: $21.63  (Comfy ass for the rest of the trip….. PRICELESS!!!!)

Grand total: $923.26   (Worth every penny!!!!)

 

Both Rory and I gave the trip an A+  Its a simple route to follow.  Lots of varied scenery and perfect amount of miles per day.  Put this one on the list of things to do.  (This would be a great trip for riding two-up.)

 

 

 

 

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Portoroz and Ljubljana, Slovenia

The first thing everyone says when I tell them I went to Slovenia is, “Where is Slovenia”?

right here .

A map of the area with Slovenia in highlight

I flew from the U.S. A. to Munich, Germany and then a small plane to Trieste, Italy (12 hours travel time in total).  I was picked up at the airport and taken by car – a mini cooper 4 door which is considered a big car- to Portoroz, Slovenia. This was about an hour drive. I was on a business trip so I won’t quote prices because some of the trip was paid for by someone else.  However, I will talk about Slovenia. My first stop was Portoroz. I stayed at the Hotel Grand Bernardin.  A 5 star hotel right on the Adriatic.

Welcome to Portoroz, Slovenia

Truly a 5 star Hotel

Truly a 5 star Hotel

A view from the beach. All rooms are "ocean view"

The Hotel is built into the hillside and every room faces the water.

The Grand Bernardin consists of three hotels.  A 3 star, 4 star and the flagship.

Sunset on the beach in Portoroz

Sunset on the beach in Portoroz

The concrete beach of The Grand Bernardin.  Most of the coastline is big rocks or finished concrete beaches.  They have pool ladders to enter the water.  It’s still breathtaking.

Looking back at the Grand Bernardin on the way to Piran

Looking back at the Grand Bernardin on the way to Piran

A short 20 min walk takes you to the old town of Piran.  Piran is a small town with very narrow streets.  If you have ever been to Venice, Italy…it feels a lot like that.

Walking to Piran

Walking to Piran

Piran sits on a small peninsula and occupies about 2 square miles.  It is intimate and very old european.  It’s the way Europe used to be.

The streets of Piran

The streets of Piran

The streets of Piran

The streets of Piran

Narrow streets and uneven walkways, the norm in Piran.

The streets of Piran

The streets of Piran

Piran's main plaza

Piran's main plaza

The main square or plaza. The polish on the square is perfect. It’s like a newly waxed floor. lol

The walk up to the castle

The walk up to the castle

To get the big picture of Piran, one must undertake the climb up the side of the mountain.  It was hot and humid on my visit. In the end, it was well worth it.

The walk up to the castle

The walk up to the castle

The view from the top

The view from the top

As with all medieval towns, the church is the focal point.  Piran maintains the status quo.

The view from the top

The view from the top

The view of Piran from the church grounds

The view of Piran from the church grounds

view out the window of the church grounds

view out the window of the church grounds

walking back into town from the church

walking back into town from the church

The climb down is steep as well.  However, gravity is on your side.

City life in Piran complete with scuba divers!

City life in Piran complete with scuba divers!

The walk around the peninsula is short and well worth it for the view and the people watching.

I used the ATMs in Slovenia and had no trouble getting cash.

I used the ATMs in Slovenia and had no trouble getting cash.

On to the capital of Slovenia… Ljubljana.

 Ljubljana

Ljubljana

Ljubiana is the capitol of Slovenia.  It is beautiful in every respect.  I only had one day so here is the highlights only version. It is extremely clean and colorful.  The people are nice but seem to keep to themselves.

The streets of Ljubljana

The streets of Ljubljana

tri_bridge

tri_bridge

The Tri-bridge crosses the river and connects the old and the new.

The streets of Ljubljana

The streets of Ljubljana

The streets of Ljubljana

The streets of Ljubljana

These photos are of the “old town” which is at the base of the mountain.  A mixture of historic architecture and modern shopping.

The streets of Ljubljana

The streets of Ljubljana

The streets of Ljubljana

The streets of Ljubljana

A church in Ljubljana with an amazing door.

A church in Ljubljana with an amazing door.

This door is the most incredible thing I saw on my trip.  There are six holy men emerging from the door.  It is scary and intriguing at the same time.

A church in Ljubljana with an amazing door.

A church in Ljubljana with an amazing door.

the dragon bridge

the dragon bridge

The Dragon Bridge is also a mandatory stop in Ljubljana. The dragon is the city mascot. The legend has something to do with Jason and the Argonauts. Beautiful works of art on both ends of the bridge.   About three blocks from the Tri-Bridge.

Violin player. The sound was beautiful.

Violin player. The sound was beautiful.

 

"Exotic" beverages

"Exotic" beverages

While in Slovenia, I tried some of the drinks we don’t get here in the U.S.A.  The Schweppes Bitter Lemon was my favorite.  The Multi Sola was a fruit  drink like Sunny Delight.

The castle of Ljubljana

The castle of Ljubljana

There are several ways to get to the Castle on the mountain.  I chose the people train to get up and the funicular to return to the old town.  They were both fun.   The glass elevator was a bit hot but the ride is only a couple minutes so no big deal.

The funicular

The funicular

Spiral staircase to the top of the castle

Spiral staircase to the top of the castle

The castle has been turned into a tourist destination.  It has a theater and gift shop and lots of things to spend money on.  The best part is the staircase to the top and the view that follows.

Spiral staircase to the top of the castle

Spiral staircase to the top of the castle

The very top!

The very top!

The beautiful city of Ljubljana

The beautiful city of Ljubljana

The beautiful city of Ljubljana

The beautiful city of Ljubljana

The flag of Ljubljana

The flag of Ljubljana

To say that Slovenia is  a diamond in the rough does not do it justice.  This is a country which is well on its way to being a travel destination for the masses.  Get here before the word gets out.  It has many amenities and few visitors.  Now is the time. Come and see Europe the way Europe used to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Bar 10 Ranch on the Arizona Strip

Watch final video here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIrJf87Bcf8

 

This next adventure has special meaning.  Kris turned 40 in June and all she wanted for her birthday was to “go somewhere”.  She just wanted to be at another location other than home.  I found a place called the Bar 10 Ranch.  The Bar 10 is located about as far away from anything as a place can be in the world today.  It is specifically located about 90 miles south of St. George, Utah.  The Bar 10 has been around for several generations and has evolved from a ranch to a bit of a tourist attraction.  It just so happens that rafters going down the Colorado river use this ranch as a starting and stopping point.  I found them because of the ATV tours they offer.

Our journey started at the South rim of the Grand Canyon at the Grand Canyon Airport.  Papillon Helicopters is headquartered there.

Kris and her first helicopter.

They are the helicopter service used to get the river rafters (also referred to as river rats) to and from the river banks.  We would be using their service to take us to the North Rim and to the Bar 10.  We drove up the night before and stayed at the Canyon Plaza Resort.  A typical hotel with some nice amenities (I give it a B-).  Our departure time was 6am in the morning.  We arrived at 5:45am and met our pilot Steve.  Steve was a super nice guy who did a safety briefing with us and told us the most important things to know about helicopters. Always approach a helicopter from the front and never for any reason walk around the back of a helicopter.

 

They have a few models to choose from!

 

I always thought it was the rotors which were the most dangerous.  Turns out its the small tail rotor which is to be feared.  I will always remember that.  Once inside the helicopter we got seat belts and headsets on.

The view from the back seat of the helicopter looking forward

Kris had never been in a helicopter before and was apprehensive at first.  It was loud and there was much vibration.  Once we took off the ride was smooth and fun.

Our shadow as we take off from the airport

We flew over some forrest and then  the ground became flat.  Flat as far as the eye cold see.  Where was the Canyon?  I don’t know if I thought I would immediately see it from above or what but I guess I never thought it would be mirror flat and then just open up the way it did.

As we approach the Canyon

When we did finally fly over the Canyon it was spectacular.  The morning sun with some clouds painted the canyon in the most beautiful light.  I have been a photographer for most of my life and I was just taking pictures as fast as I could.

The Grand Canyon

I told Steve that I was going to be taking pictures and when we got over the canyon he said over headset that he had slowed down so I could get some better shots.  How nice is that?  Thank you Steve and Papillon Helicopters.

As good as it gets!

 

We reached the North Rim and then only 9 miles from there we landed at the Bar 10 Ranch.  When I  say landed at the ranch I mean we landed on the front lawn of the ranch’s lodge!  Not more than twenty steps from the front door! So cool.

Inside the Helicopter at the Bar 10

When we landed Joe (we found out his name later) opened the door and gave us a resounding “welcome to the Bar 10” .  This set the tone of the staff for us.  They were friendly, helpful and sincere.  This is what made our trip so enjoyable.  The staff, and I mean the whole staff, were the nicest group of people I have ever experienced.  Most of the staff are college kids from St. George, Utah.  I don’t know what kind of training they get but if you could bottle it you would be the wealthiest person on the planet period.  I can’t say enough about how great the staff at the Bar 10 Ranch are.

Once we got inside we put our bags in the office and grabbed some breakfast.  Hot food. Pancakes and bacon and orange juice.  We met Chantelle and her fiance Tom.  Nice couple.  Hope they have fun on their honeymoon in Playa Del Carmen.  Next we met Gooche and Nelson.  Gooche and Nelson would be our guides for the first ATV tour.  We would leave for the Rim and the river view overlook at 9am.

We were given a helmet and goggles and a short briefing about the ATV and we were on our way.  Just a reminder to all. Bring a bandanna with you…make that several bandannas with you.  The first mile or so is fine dirt.  Like silt or talc.  It gets in everywhere…yes, everywhere.  More about that later.

Kris and I ready to go riding.

 

The trail is flat for the first couple miles and then gets rocky and has some undulations.  Nothing a novice couldn’t handle. Click here( bar10toriver)  for a brief video of the ATV trail. The payoff at the end of this short 9 mile trek is the most breathtaking view of the Canyon and river.

The view!

The view!

No buildings, buses, railings, wires or signs.  Just you and the earth.  Can you fall over the edge? YES!  So don’t.  Personal responsibility goes into full effect here.    Watch your step and enjoy the view.  Wow, what a view. Click here for a video from the edge  JnK_at_the_edge (non-scary version).  They take about ten seconds to load.

Now click here for the scary version  over_the_edge

We stayed about  forty-five  minutes and soaked it all in.  Everyone in our group of about ten got to take pictures without anyone else crowding or “spoiling” the shot.  Nice mix of folks from all over the USA and Europe.  We headed back to the Lodge for some lunch.

The ATVs at the river view

 

Lunch consisted for BBQ beef sandwiches (fresh from the ranch of course) potato salad and chocolate chip cookies.  Wash it down with lemonade and call it good.  During lunch we got to meet Lexi and Gooche’s sister.  They just sat down with us and struck up a conversation.  Part of that welcoming feeling we had throughout the entire stay.  They are the cooks.  They are great cooks.  Making family recipes of typical southwestern dishes.  While we were eating we also me Uncle Ned.  Uncle Ned told us he has been on the Bar 10 Ranch for  8 years.  It turns out that Uncle Ned is a walking talking encyclopedia of the Arizona Strip.  What is the Arizona Strip you ask?  That is the piece of land where the Bar 10 Ranch resides.  It is the part of Arizona which is north of the Grand Canyon and south of the Utah border.  It is very wide, several hundred miles, and about 90 miles tall.  Look on a map and see.  Anyway, back to Uncle Ned, he would be our guide for our afternoon ATV ride to Whitmore Point.  He pointed to a mountain and said “thats where we’re going.  Actually, around there and then all along that ridge”  Sounded good to me.  Kris and I and Ned would be the only ones going on this trip.  That’s the beauty of the Bar 10, not a whole lotta people know about it.  The ones that do are mostly rafters who stay for a few hours…maybe overnight…but don’t really realize what a treasure this place is.  They offer horseback riding, hiking, ATVs and Rangers (those 4X4 golf karts).  Back to the story.  We left around 2pm and headed out.  First along a service road and then right up into the mountains.  We stopped long enough to activate 4 wheel drive on the ATVs and then went up the rocky trail.  Very rocky trail.  Not so much that you were scared of dying but enough to get your attention and keep it.  (click here for video whitmore_point_1).  The trail leveled out and we stopped at what we now know is called a “catchment”.  It is used for capturing rain water and funneling it into giant holding tanks.  The Bar 10 and the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) work together to conserve water for the animals who habitat here and for the cattle.  It’s a co-op that has been keeping the area useful for hunting and grazing for many years.  It turns out that the Mule Deer up here are some of the biggest, if not the biggest, in the world.  The Fish and Game have a lottery for hunting permits to be able to hunt in the Arizona Strip.  It’s a big deal for hunters.  We continued along our trail and we would stop from time to time and Uncle Ned would tell us stories of what we were seeing. Stories about volcanos, indians and the various plants and animals around us.  It was thrilling to ride the ATVs up in the mountains and so informative to hear about the land  around us.  We stopped at Whitmore Point to another unbelievable vista.

Whitmore Point

Whitmore Point

click here for video whitmore_point_2_1

The Grand Canyon has so many different views.  To say that you have seen the Grand Canyon is not a statement anyone can make.  You simply cannot take it all in.  It’s too big.

We returned to The Bar 10 after 25 miles of riding.  Add to that the 18 miles in the morning and we were exhausted from a full day of adventure.  We showered before dinner and found out just how dusty and dirty a human being can get and still be bone dry.  EVERYTHING had dust on it.  The inside of my wallet had red dirt!  My brain had dirt on it!  Ok maybe not that, but you get the point.  Diner was Navajo Tacos.  I will not tell you anymore.  You have to come to the Bar 10 to find out.  It’s worth the trip.  Desert was a fresh made yellow cake with pineapple frosting.  So light and airy you wouldn’t believe it.

After dinner we played cards and just relaxed.  Walked around and sat out in the cool evening breeze.  Talked to others who had just gotten off the river and others who would be leaving for the river in the morning.

Time for bed.  At the Bar 10 you have several options.  You can sleep in a bed in a room.  You can sleep out under the stars on a mattress in a sleeping bag. Or, they have a very special arrangement, you can sleep in a covered wagon.  The ranch has about ten covered wagons with double beds in them.  We opted for the standard bed but now I wish I had slept in the covered wagon.  My mistake.  The beds were very comfortable.  Either that or I was so wiped out that it didn’t matter…probably the latter.

Day two started with the sun waking us up at 5:15am.  A beautiful morning.  Hung out until breakfast at 6:30am (biscuits and gravy, eggs and sausage) and then Uncle Ned told us we could leave anytime for our Ranger tour of Mt. Logan.  We left the Bar 10 at about 8am. Uncle Ned’s grandson Isaac came along with us.  We later found out he came along to help with some trail maintenance.  Uncle Ned would stop and Isaac would trim some limbs in order to keep the trail open and not have them smack us in the face!  Isaac is a nice kid.  Just the kind you would expect to find on a working ranch.  He is strong for his age, respects his Grandfather and is a perfect gentleman…but he hates mustard and pickles.  I can live with that.  On this tour (we were just passengers on the four seat Ranger) we learned about the difference between the pine, fir and spruce trees.  Very easy to remember. Want to know?  Ask Uncle Ned when you see him.  We also learned about the Sore Eye Poppy. Named for what it does if you get it in your eye (can’t make that kinda stuff up folks).  The Persistent Oak, Manazita plant and the sweet smelling Sage. Just flick it with your finger and it releases its fragrance.  Once we reached the top of Mt. Logan we were in the forest and we were as cool and comfortable as anywhere on the whole trip.  It was quiet and sunny with a slight breeze. The view was grand.  The whole valley spreading out below.

Kris at the top of Mt. Logan

We began our trip back from the summit.  Almost immediatly Uncle Ned stopped and out the right side of the Ranger, not 10 feet away, was a female Mule Deer.  She was breathing heavily and agitated and tired.  We thought it was because of us but Uncle Ned said no.  He pointed out, in the dirt and on the trail, the footprints and mess for lack of a better word that had been made.  It must have been some kind of chase.  Was there a Coyote or Mountain Lion around?  All of a sudden Kris says “there’s a fawn”  I looked down between me and the deer and saw a fawn laying perfectly still.  She was holding her breath…  I took some pictures and the deer started to make noise and head around the front of the Ranger.

Can you spot the fawn between me and the deer?

Here is the fawn close up.

She was trying to lead us away from her fawn.  I looked back at the fawn and it was breathing so hard I thought it was hyperventilating.  It just laid there.  Was it hurt?  We pulled away about 100 feet and the deer went back to her fawn.  We watched as the deer and fawn got up and walked away from us. Perhaps we just saved their lives…  maybe we just prolonged the inevitable.  Its nature so we will never know…  we hope they made it.  The entire trip lasted 6 hours and included a sack lunch with the best sandwich ever. I swear that you could have entered that sandwich in a competition and won.

That evening we had dinner which was another winner and then we took the ATV tour to Paws Pocket.  It included more views of the Grand Canyon and was fun to ride with the sun setting behind the mountains.  When we returned we were entertained by the staff at the Cowboy Entertainment.  Not only are the college kids friendly and nice, they are also very talented.  I won’t give away any details but trust me when I tell you that it was a fun and interactive evening,  and a don’t miss.  The girls baked Kris a cake for her birthday and everyone sang to her under the evening sky.  Around 10pm every evening is “lights out”.  It is exactally what it says. The generator is turned off and all the power is shut off.  We were warned to bring a flashlight with us.  At first its a bit dark to say the least but once you get used to the dark you are treated to the best view of the stars you have ever seen.  We were able to watch the satellites orbit the earth.  Shooting stars abound, as do the bats chasing the insects!  It got so dark that your eyes actualy adjust and you can see and walk around even though there is no moon.  It was an amazing experience and an excellent way to cap our two day adventure.

In the morning we had another wonderful breakfesat and waited for our turn to be helicoptered back to “civilization”.  The Bar 10 becomes a very busy airport in the morning between 7 and 10 am.  Helicopters and airplanes shuttle people in and out.  It runs so smoothly you can’t believe it.  I was facinated watching the staff  just make it work.  They have done this before.  We boarded our helicopter and flew back to the South Rim.  I will be back to the Bar 10 Ranch …  that I guarantee…

 

A few post scripts about the Bar 10 Ranch.

 

It is family owned and operated and has been all its life.

 

The lodge is beautiful and clean and a source of pride.

Inside the Lodge

Inside the Lodge

 

All meals are home cooked and delicious.

 

The Staff: Tom, Chantelle, Gooche, Gooche’s Sister (I am so embarrassed I forgot her name. She is one of the best cooks) Nelson, Lexi, Mindy, Caden, The singing Cowboy Brothers, Erica, Isaac, Kristin the rest of the staff and of course Uncle Ned.  I can’t say enough about how well we were treated.  I felt like a member of the family.  Thank you all so much.

 

The ATVs are all in great condition and cleaned after each ride. Impressive.

Me on the ATV. GoPro Hero on my helmet.

GoPro Hero Camera

The trails are all well maintained.

 

The Gift Shop is reasonablly priced and has everything you need. Seriously, everything.

 

If you are going to be in Las Vegas they have daily flights to the ranch.  Take a few days and see what the real wild west is about. This is not a road side attraction. It’s the real deal.

 

The bar 10 ranch is the new high water mark which I will use to compare future adventures.  It will not be easily beat.

 

 

Expense report:

Canyon Plaza Resort   =   $172.00

All inclusive Bar 10 Ranch trip =  $1795.00

Extras      t-shirts, hats, postcards =    $109.00

Gas Phoenix to Grand Canyon Airport (round trip) =      $55.00

Grand total =  $2131.00

 

 

Grade A++  5 stars and 5 diamond highest possible score.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The 48 Hour Film Project

My next adventure was to take on the 48 Hour Film Project. Hereafter known as 48hfp. I was invited by an old college room mate to participate in the 48hfp in Milwaukee, WI. on the weekend of June 17-19 2011. I thought it might be fun since we both graduated with degrees in TV production. I though we might have an edge. I was wrong on so many levels that I don’t have time to explain them here. I will, however, discuss some of the bigger misconceptions I had. First, you have to be a film maker to enter. No, you just have to have a camera, a computer with video editing software, some lights or reflectors and most importantly of all… a bunch of friends who are really committed to staying up for 48 hours straight. The group of people is the most important and the most difficult to procure.

I flew into MKE via Southwest. I met up with the three other principals: Jeff, Rick and Damian at Bar Louis in downtown Milwaukee at 6pm. We were to receive our instructions at that time. You see, the 48hfp staff want a fair fight so no one knows what type of film they are making until they arrive at the start on Friday night. It is at this time that we pick a genre out of a hat. Jeff was the team captain. (by virtue of the fact that he paid the $160 entry fee) Jeff picked the genre of “Cop / Detective” . It was our job now to make a 4-7 min movie featuring a cop or a detective. We have 48 hours to complete the task…..GO.

We got into Jeff’s minivan and headed to Manitowoc, WI. It is about an hour north of Milwaukee. Jeff lives there and had arranged to have several locations available in the event we needed them. Thats fair to do because we had no idea what we needed so Jeff just put the whole town on alert. This would prove to be a very wise thing….

My second misconception was realized on the drive north. The idea of “how hard can it be”. Just try to think of a story line featuring a few characters. Now add the 48 hour time constraint. Stir in some costumes and props. Opps, almost forgot you need actors. The actors need to rehearse. They will need a script to rehearse. It just starts to snowball so fast that you realize that the genre is not the issue here. It’s the insanely efficient use of time and resources that is really in play here.

We arrived in Manitowoc about 8:30pm. Damian’s parents were kind enough to give up their basement (fully furnished! It was nice) as our headquarters. We had come up with 7 ideas on the way up and we discussed the and the issues and benefits of each. We settled on idea 7. The movie was to be about a serial killer who was also a chess master. The ideas came and went fast. Thats to complicated. Thats never going to be interesting. Thats great but where do we get a helicopter for free! In the end and by end I mean end of the script writing we had three pages of dialog. We were hoping it would be at least 4 min of movie. The time is now 4am in the morning.

Once we had the script we set out to make a storyboard. A storyboard is a visual representation of the movie. Sort of Keyframes in the movie to help visualize what shots we need. Remember, time spent now is time saved later when we are in full shooting mode with all actors and crew.

I fell asleep at around 5am and faded in and out of the storyboard session until 7am when I awoke and felt great and was ready to continue. the guys made fun of how I was trying to contribute but would fall asleep mid sentence. This would come back and haunt them throughout the production. I would catch everyone taking a catnap here and there. You could not help but grab a few Zs now and then. This was another example of how I felt that “its only 48 hours, I can stay awake”. Ahh, no, you can’t. you need to allow everyone a chance to sleep for at least two hours every 24. You just have to.

Rehearsals started at 7am and principle shooting began at 9am. We were on our way. I have to admit that the shooting part of the film was the most fun. Here we were making a movie. I was a camera operator for the shooting. We had two cameras for the movie. We had one camera for wide shots and another to give us closeups of the various actors. We had to have several takes of each scene so we could cut them together and make it look like a big budget production. I had also bought for this adventure a GoPro Hero camera  which turned out to be just the ticket for some close up “fly by” shots of a chess board.  It is an amazing little HD camera.

We finished shooting at 7pm. It has been a long 24 hours. Holy S**t! Half the time is gone! We loaded the minivan and headed to Jeff’s office to begin editing. We ate dinner and began editing at 8pm. Jeff started to edit the first scenes and I began to create the opening credits and end credits. The 48hfp has very specific guidelines as to what the beginning and end credits need to include. So after consulting the 48hfp website, which is not very easy to navigate, I put together the open and closing titles. At 3am I woke Jeff up (sound asleep at the computer) and suggested we nap for a few hours. We had 3 min edited and felt good about the rest of the film falling into place so we crashed until 8am. Jeff’s wife Vickie, who is an awesome cook, kept us fed. After breakfast It was back to editing. The final edits were completed at 1pm and we began to render the movie. in the end we made a DVD and a mini DV tape to give to the judges.

We left the house and drove to Milwaukee to Bar Louis and delivered the finished product and ALL the paperwork. Most of the paperwork is for copyright protection. You have to swear that it is all yours and you created it during the 48 hours. Our submission time was 6:22pm. A full 68 minutes before the cutoff time. I could have slept another hour!

That was the fastest 48 hours of my life. However, while we were in the throws of filmmaking, It seemed like we were not rushed. Just busy. If you ever want to know just how much you can accomplish in a day, try the 48hfp. I realized that i can be so much more productive in my real life. It was a great experience and I highly recommend it.

Expense report:
Travel – Southwest airlines PHX to MKE roundtrip = $287.00

Hotel- didn’t need one stayed at friends = 0.00

Food = $122.60

car rental didn’t need one got picked up and dropped off = 0.00

Extras GoPro Hero camera (used for chess board closeups) = $279.00

Grand total =$688.60

Grade A+

Will I do it again….yes. Just not this year. Maybe next year. Late.

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Sedona, Arizona Riding Quad ATVs in the Desert!

Our adventure today is an ATV trip.  Our friend Roger called and said he was planning a trip and did we want to go.  Absolutely was the response.  We all met at the Arizona ATV Adventures office in South Sedona.

The sign from the street as you approach
The actual office which is set back off the street

We went inside and signed the waiver (typical stuff) and paid our money which as of this posting was $125 USD per person.  We were offered a helmet, some goggles and a bandanna (scarf) to cover our mouths and noses.  I highly recommend the bandanna!  It was very dusty on the trail.  This is typical.  It is a desert after all.  We then went over for our safety briefing.

Our guide (seated) giving us the safety briefing.
The “Test Track”. Make it here and you are good to go!
Taking the test…she passed.

Regardless of your experience you must make a lap of the test track.  It really is a good idea to be comfortable before you get out to the desert.  In our group of 12 we had one guy who just didn’t get it.  He went as a passenger.  Better safe than sorry.  It makes for a better trip for the group.

8 riders and ATVs ready to roll

We loaded up into a van with a trailer and headed out.  It was a short 8 mile trip to the drop-off spot.

The guide off loaded the ATVs and we warmed them up and headed out.

At the drop-off. Bandanas in place!

When we paid for the tour, we were told that this was a three hour tour.  We spent 45 min. with the safety briefing and test track and then a 15 min. ride to the drop-off spot.  I was wondering if this would be part of the three hour tour.  Time would tell.

When we first started riding it was slow and on well groomed trails. Very level and flat.

Ready to head out.
Starting out slow to get the feel for the ATV.

We rode like this for about 20 min.  I was starting to think that this was going to be like a pony ride at the fair…

Flat and open space.
Really flat and open!!

Then, we started to get into some red dirt.  This is what I was looking for.

Starting to get some bumps in the road.
Heading towards the red rocks.

We stopped after about an hour of riding for a much needed water break.

Kris and Robin taking a break.

You need to always be drinking water out in the desert.  The dry air takes the water from your skin very quickly.  Make sure to drink lots of water.

Ready to continue the ride.

When we headed back out, the terrain started to get more and more rocky.  This trip was tailor made for novices.  You are slowly introduced to tougher and tougher riding.  You feel challenged but not terrified.  You want to take on more demanding trails.

Some rolling hills … and a few more rocks.
Tougher? Yes. but I felt ready for it.
The trails just go on forever.

water break or the end of the line?

Our guide stopped again for water.  I think he stopped because he was feeling something wrong with his ATV.  He had broken the right side front suspension.  He contemplated locking the ATV with a chain and then riding double on one of the ATVs.  We were bummed . Who would give up there ATV?  In the end, I think our guide could tell we really wanted to continue the tour.  He got on his and said “it’s already broken, I’ll ride till the wheel falls off”.  Well done!  That’s the kind of company I want to go with.  Keep the customer experience in mind.

Close up of our guides ATV with a broken lower A-arm.

Off we went and this was the roughest terrain yet.  I felt good.  I was confident with the challengeing trail.  Excited and in control, yes!

rough but we can handle it no problem

By this time we were feeling like we definately got our moneys worth.  We had been riding for a full three hours.  It was time to head back to the drop-off spot.  We were treated to one more thing which really capped off our great ATV ride in Sedona.

prong horned altelope in the wild

We were just as facinated as they were.  We all stopped and watched the antelope as they stopped and watched us.  It was pretty cool.

At the end of the day we all agreed that this was an exciting trip.  It is very suitable for the 50 crowd.  Be prepared to do some work and have some fun.  Remember the test track.  If you can make it around there then you will be fine out in the desert.  Drink lots of water and wear those bandannas.

The last part of this post is the expense report.  How much does it cost for two people to make this trip?

ATV fees = $125.00 each  = $250.00

Travel = $35.00 (we lived close enough to drive)

Lodging = $0.00  (N/A)

Food = $50.00  (breakfast and early dinner)

Extras = $0.00  (no surprises or forgotten items)

Grand total = $335.00

Trip rating = A

Would we do it again?  Yes

One thing to note: I used a Canon G-10 camera to take pictures on this adventure.  It worked great for 90% of the trip.  Towards the end the lens retracting mechanism got stuck as did the lens protective shutters.  All I did when I got home was to use a can of compressed air and clean the camera for about 15 minutes.  It is ready for the next adventure.  Gotta love a good camera.

If you are looking for a good one day exploration, try an ATV trip in Sedona, AZ.  If you do, may I suggest the Arizona ATV Adventures.  They also offer a great trip near Florence, AZ.  It’s a bit more demanding.  Maybe it will be our next Fun at 50 Adventure.  Stay Tuned!

(Please share this with your Fun at 50 friends. Get out and go!)

 

 

 

 

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Welcome to fun at 50

Greetings,

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to Fun at 50. The sole purpose of this blog is to put fun and adventure back into our lives. If you want to put some thrill back into your life than we can help. In the coming years we will be taking adventures. Some small weekenders and some big BIG trips. We will document the names and places and report our experiences here.

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