Blake I. Collier | The Dirty Deacon

Contributor for Mockingbird | Co-creator of Son of Byford | Contributor for Christ & Pop Culture

heading west

The Road Trip, 2011

The Final Days

Once we arrived in Seattle, we stayed in a beautiful little house thanks to Airbnb and enjoyed the local sites including the Fremont Troll, local food, Pikes Place Market, among other sites.  We then ventured to the Gorge where Sasquatch was set to take place, from there we enjoyed the talents of The Decemberists, Cold War Kids, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, and Modest Mouse.  These are a few of the remaining pictures from the trip that I have delayed in posting.  Enjoy!

The Road Trip, 2011

Sixth Stop - Portland, OR; Seattle, WA

After the amazing experience of the Redwoods for a day, we got some rest and traversed the rest of the way to Seattle with one stop in Portland, Oregon to have lunch and to visit Powell’s City of Books.  After that, we pushed our way to Seattle in order to meet a friend there to have supper.  Nothing exciting really happened on this day, so here are some pictures with no commentary.  It should all be self-explanatory.

The Road Trip, 2011

Fifth Stop - Redwood Forests, CA

This was easily one of my favorite days of the trip.  We got to spend the whole day going to a couple of different parks to hike into and crawl around on the gigantic redwood trees that towered over us and everything else man-made in the area.  Just goes to show that God still masters the act of creation no matter how hard we try.  I was probably a little too much of a daredevil this day while climbing some of those partially fallen trees and so forth, but it was totally worth it!  Even at one point when I just about wracked myself while trying to jump from one fallen tree to a one beneath it going across it.  That is pretty much the extent of this day.

This is the width of what they call “The Giant Tree.”  Huge.

This is what I called the screaming tree.

And we also got to catch up with our old friends, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

The Road Trip, 2011

Fourth Stop - San Francisco, CA; Highway 1

After waking up and packing up at our teepee in Yosemite, we enjoyed the drive out of the park and worked our way west to San Francisco where our plan was to find a good place to eat in Chinatown and view a bit of the city, including the Golden Gate Bridge.  We finally arrived in the San Fran city limits and made our way to Chinatown where we ate at an excellent Chinese food restaurant (though I can’t remember the name of it now).  We had parked on the side of the road by a parking meter which we had fed with cash monies.  By the time, we had finished eating, Jacob had gone to put more coins in the meter and we had paid out only to find Jacob on his way back from the car where he gave us this news:  “Guys, we’ve been towed.”  Apparently the curb we had parked at had specified a tow-away zone even though there was a parking meter there.  So we all piled into a taxi like the Keystone Cops and rode to where the car had been towed to.  $435.00 later, we were back on the road heading out of San Fran because we had wasted more time getting the car out of hawk than we were going to stay in the city.  The city itself is quite beautiful nonetheless and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge was amazing, though I feared, after watching the documentary The Bridge, I would see someone jump off the bridge.  Thankfully everyone was mentally stable and happy that moment. 

We jumped on the highway that would take us to Highway 1 and from there we stopped every 15 minutes or so at one of the spectacular overlooks of the Pacific Ocean and the cliffs that rose like fortresses over the water.  This was one of the stops that just filled me with the majesty of creation and filled me with a sense of God and His beauty.  Here are some of those fantastic scenes:

One stop that we made on the utterly curvy Highway 1, was at this small little chapel on the side of the road that was built by a craftsman.  It was a truly stunning piece of architecture and the inside was absolutely gorgeous as well.  I will have to check and make sure that I posted the video I took of it on here, but here are some pictures of it:

We drove down the coast some more and eventually pulled off at a Best Western late at night and stayed there for the night.

The Road Trip, 2011

Third Stop - Yosemite National Park, California

Vegas in the morning tells a completely different story than it does at night.  Its comparable to having great fun getting totally wasted at night only to wake up to the horror of a massive headache and stomach problems.  Leaving Las Vegas, we realized just how much of Vegas is facade and fake reality.  The city itself is actually quite ugly on The Strip.  The bright lights, alcohol, gambling and prostitutes distract from what is really there.  Nonetheless, we headed out of Las Vegas in order to make our way to Yosemite National Park which was our next destination.  We would be staying there from Monday night until Wednesday morning.  By the time we arrived at the park it was already dark because of various delays in schedule so our views were obsolete on the way in to the park.  So we went straight to the campground in order to find our canvas teepee style quarters which also had a heater which was totally worth the extra expense. 

On Tuesday, we started on the main hike that we would do while in Yosemite to where we could see three of the lower waterfalls on the longer 211 mile trail.  These are some of the scenes on the trail which, at one point, we had to pull our ponchos on to bypass the heavy mist from the waterfall that you climb right next to. 

After the main hike, we took a short rest time (and nap for some of us) and then went outside the main campground to see some of the overlooks and other sights, including the little chapel in Yosemite.

Tuesday night, we had supper on the campgrounds and had a few beers and went to bed to be refreshed for a long drive through San Francisco on up Highway 1 on the road to Portland, Oregon.

The Road Trip, 2011

Second Stop - Monument Valley, Utah; slot canyons in Arizona; Horseshoe Bend in Paige, Arizona; Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona; Las Vegas, Nevada

This was the busiest day of the trip where we were attempting to take in as much of Utah and Arizona as we could until we reached Las Vegas. We drove through Monument Valley and stopped on the side of the road to take pictures every few miles. 

Then we drove back into the Arizona state line and found a spot to pick up a hiking permit for the slot canyons since they were in Navajo territory.  Then we spent a couple of hours walking through the crevices between rock cliffs.

On our way out of the slot canyons, we found some rather interesting hieroglyphics on some of the large boulders.  We dated them as rather old considering the subject matter.  Some people had taken much time and care in carving out the word “HOMOTRIP” and a rather artistic picture of the male genitalia.  I guess older generations had some of the same humor as us in the present do ;). 

After we filled up with gas, we drove to an overlook side for Horseshoe Bend outside of Paige, Arizona.  From the parking lot, all you can see is a large hill with a trail leading over it.  Once you get to the top of the hill, you see a large hole in the ground like a miniature canyon, but you can’t see what is down in the hole until you reach the edge of that small canyon.  Then this view seizes your attention and holds you sway in a trance of absolute majesty:

I am pretty sure we spent a good 30-45 minutes just taking this view in.  One of my favorite moments of the trip.

Then we drove another two hours or so to the Grand Canyon which none of us had really ever seen, but we knew it would be a sight.  We took the trail to the Bright Angel Point overlook where we climbed up on a jutting rock and looked out over this:

As we reached this point, being the extremely mean person I am, I turned to my buddies and said, jokingly, “Man, I thought it would be bigger.”  Yeah, I am THAT guy! Ha!  In all seriousness, the feeling of complete insignificance throttled through me.  It made me wonder what non-believers think about when they look upon this and if the violent beauty of these scenes would shake them like they do for the believer.  On our way, back out to the car we had a slight panic when no one had the keys to the car.  We tried to track down every place they could be which brought us to the car and, lo and behold, there they were, on the roof of the car, baking in the evening sun.  Thankfully the car was still there. 

After that was a rather lengthy drive to Las Vegas where we stayed at the Monte Carlo and received an upgrade to suites on the top level.  We felt like the four guys in The Hangover but without the tigers or Mike Tyson.  We wandered around in the night life, were cursed at by strip club promoters and had a few drinks in the lounge bar as a night cap before we passed out from a long day in our swanky abode.

The Road Trip, 2011

First Stop - Canyon de Chelly, Arizona

On the way to this spot, we may or may not have stopped off the side of the road and bent a few territorial laws in order to take some pictures of some beautiful scenery just beyond a hill that obscured the view from the highway. This is what we saw when we reached the crest of the hill:

Absolutely stunning view altogether. Afterwards, I reminded everyone in the car that it was not surprising that it was four white people who were trespassing on Indian territory. Not like that has ever happened before.

Once we arrived at Canyon de Chelly, we drove to different overlooks and walked some short trails in order to see the sights of this rather obscure national park. Arizona had some of the most beautiful rock cliffs and formations I had ever seen. Here are some of the pictures that I took:

This was a pleasant surprise for me considering I had never even heard of this park and it was a gorgeous way to start the road trip.