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Utah (and Arizona and Nevada) for CCSC-RM 2015 - October 1-5, 2015

I decided to submit a tutorial presentation on my highway mapping teaching tool at a CCSC conference, and this CCSC-RM seemed like the perfect place. The tutorial was accepted, and this trip was built around the presentation at the CCSC Rocky Mountain 2015 conference at Southern Utah University in Cedar City. Nearly all of the pictures were taken with my Fujifilm Finepix HS50 camera, with just a few mixed in from my iPad Air 2. Pictures are linked from within the trip report below.

Thursday, October 1 - Amsterdam, New York, to Cedar City, Utah, via Albany, Chicago, and Salt Lake City

The alarm went off to start this long travel day at 3:15 AM EDT/1:15 AM MDT. Fortunately, everything went as planned and on time. I had an easy ride to the airport in Albany, was able to check my bag and clear security very quickly. The first flight, Albany to Chicago-Midway, departed on time. We landed in Chicago through a gusty wind just as the sun was coming up [Picture]. After my layover there, it was back to the air for the longer flight to Salt Lake City [3 Pictures]. That flight was smooth and started out with clear skies to see the upper plains, but unfortunately things clouded over before we got to the mountains. The clouds broke up in time for nice views of mountains and the Great Salt Lake as we came in to land. I was on the ground early, then lost that time in an annoyingly slow Hertz rental car counter line. I still made to Boulevard Bistro to meet Sue and Cory for lunch just a few minutes after noon [Picture]. We had a nice lunch, but then they had to get back to work and I had to get on my way to Cedar City. My ride was mostly quick, other than some construction delays in the Provo area. I also made a quick stop for refreshments in Provo. From there, it was on down I-15 again, with just another quick stop at a truck stop/rest area/petting zoo combination. I made it to Cedar City by early evening and checked in. I noticed that there seemed to be packs of high school kids everywhere, and it turns out thousands of them are in Cedar City for a Shakespeare festival at Southern Utah University. A few of the groups were staying at my hotel, but fortunately they were no disruption at all. Finally, I made a quick trip to pick up some Thai takout for dinner, and that was it for a very long travel day. 16+ hours door to door. [61 Pictures from the Roads]

Friday, October 2 - CCSC Rocky Mountain, Cedar City, Utah

I had the morning to polish up my presentation at the hotel. That was pretty much set by mid-morning, so I got some grading done, then grabbed lunch at Zaxby's before checking in at the conference. The day at the conference was enjoyable. I had a small but interested audience at my tutorial presentation, and I enjoyed the other presentations I attended. After the conference banquet (a small one, with I'd guess under 30 people), I drove up to the north end of town to get a chocolate malt from Arctic Circle. Not bad, but nothing special. And that's it for Day 2. [8 Pictures]

Saturday, October 3 - CCSC Rocky Mountain then Cedar Breaks National Monument and More

[1 Morning Road Picture] The conference is a short one, with just morning sessions on day 2. I attended two interesting and enjoyable sessions, grabbed the box lunch and ate on campus with a few other attendees while watching packs of high school Shakespeare groups practice their performances. That's it for the real work part of the trip, leaving some time on this day to get in some tourist time. I stopped back at the hotel briefly, then drove up the canyon on Utah 14 then up much more to Cedar Breaks National Monument [31 Pictures]. I can't believe I never even heard of this place before it was recommended to me by a few people over the last week or so. It is a series of overlooks from the rim of a deep canyon, and is really spectacular. I stopped at each overlook area, but did not take any hikes. My east coast body was not prepared for that at 10,000+ feet. Still, I think I got plenty of excellent views of this impressive formation [37 Pictures]. When I was done there, I noticed a turnout to drive up to the peak of Brian Head, where I got more spectacular views from 11,300 feet up. It was windy, about 42 degrees, and sleeting, but that didn't stop the views from being great [19 Pictures]. From there, it was a drive down through the Brian Head town area and ski resort [7 Pictures]. Before leaving the mountains [8 Pictures], I picked a right turn to explore a little more and was treated to another excellent drive. This road led out to Yankee Meadow, where some people were camping. I was more interested in the ride through the canyon out there and back. Well worth the side trip [29 Pictures]. After that, it was back into the valley, avoiding I-15 where possible to get from Parowan to Cedar City via Enoch [6 Pictures]. I was back before dinner time. After a short rest at the hotel, it was out to a nearby Mexican place, Lupita's, for a decent meal. Nothing more in the evening, with a big travel day ahead tomorrow.

Sunday, October 4 - Cedar City, Utah, to Salt Lake City, Utah, The Really Long Way

I built in an extra day to see and do things in the area, and this was that day. I decided to save more of the Utah national parks for some future family trip, and instead just drive as many places I have never been that I could fit into the day. I left Cedar City on I-15 South, going away from my destination. I quickly lost 2000 feet of elevation and was in the warmer St. George area [5 Pictures]. The corner of Arizona that I-15 cuts [25 Pictures] includes a spectacular drive through a canyon. It definitely gets a spot on my list of all-time favorite stretches of interstate highway. Once out of the canyon, we're at an even lower elevation, and definitely in the desert. I didn't make any stops in Arizona, but did stop just across the border in Mesquite, Nevada [5 Pictures]. I thought the visitor center would be a nice place to stop, maybe to get a map, but it's closed on weekends! Isn't that when tourists often travel? So back into the car to take a the business loop tour of Mesquite and then I-15 again [2 Pictures] to Moapa. I stopped to top off the tank there, and picked up some snacks for the day, since I knew most of the rest of my ride would be pretty desolate. From Moapa, I drove the length of Nevada 168, which was surprisingly curvy and bumpy, to US 93 [9 Pictures]. I'd then be mostly on US 93 for the next few hours. This part was more as expected: long stretches of flat and straight road through valleys and basins, with more interesting portions over passes and through mountains. It's desolate, but a very nice drive [12 Pictures]. I made one quick turnoff to drive the first short piece of Nevada 375: The Extraterrestrial Highway [12 Pictures]. But I didn't have time to go far. From there, US 93 jogs east [29 Pictures]. Just north of Caliente, I stopped at a turnout for Cathedral Gorge State Park, for some spectacular views. You can hike right down into the canyon but I was not equipped for that nor did I have the time to spare. It's one of the few places on the day that I'd definitely want to see again and spend more time [17 Pictures]. I also took a side trip to top off the tank in the very neat western town of Pioche [11 Pictures]. One of the longest desolate stretches followed, with Wheeler Peak in the clouds to my right, and rain showers mostly over the mountains. The only time I was in any rain to speak of was when I arrived at the junction with US 6 and US 50 [9 Pictures]. I had no time and the weather was not good anyway to see any of Great Basin National Park, so I passed right by [13 Pictures]. Soon after, I was at the Border Inn, where I made a quick stop to take some pictures and fed one dollar to a slot machine in the Nevada half of this little business in the middle of nowhere [8 Pictures]. It's a very long and desolate ride from there to the next civilization in the Delta area, but from there on there was more going on. I stayed with US 6 until it joined I-15, and then that was my route except for a quick dinner at In-N-Out Burger in Draper [35 Pictures]. I was into the hotel right near the airport by 7:20 or so, 620 miles logged.

Monday, October 5 - Salt Lake City, Utah, to Amsterdam, New York, via Baltimore and Albany

Not much worthy of pictures on the last day of the trip. My flight wasn't until 11:30 AM MDT, so there was no rush in the morning and I was able to get some work done in the hotel before leaving for the airport [Picture]. The flights were pretty uneventful. The long layover in Baltimore was annoying, but was my best option. One highlight: the rare Southwest "row all to myself" on the BWI to ALB hop [Picture]. A good trip overall: a good conference and a chance to do some driving in new places. - Tue Dec 29 18:45:56 EST 2015