7 States - 4 Corners Tour
California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Nevada
Translated from Papa's Book, with additional writings by Walden
(Day 1) June 16, 2001 -- Los Angeles to Phoenix, Arizona
On June 16, 2001, 8:10 am, we started from our home in Arcadia on our journey to 7-States Tour. On this trip are Myself, Mama, Walden and Rene in the Cadillac, while Winston, Sally and Moty on the Honda Acura. Taking freeway-10 eastbound and took the Palm Springs exit. I silently hoping that someday, we may take this road again and perhaps visit Palm Springs.
Continuing Eastbound 10, towards Arizona, taking Blythe for a quick late brunch at Denny’s. Crossing the California and Arizona stateline at 106°F. Drying through endless uninhabited vacant lands (I would call wasteland) and now approaching the freeway are millions over millions of cactus. Cactus everywhere! Arizona, also known as the Grand Canyon State, is actually a cactus state.
Still eastbound on Freeway 10, we finally reached Phoenix, Arizona The city north of Scottsdale, and south of Tempe, at around 8:00 pm. From the many hours of endless desert and cactus lands, we are now at this large shopping malls with lots of restaurants. We ate at a buffet Restaurant --- everyone overate, what a blessing. We stayed at a very new hotel, La Quinta Inn. This is 15 miles from the city center of Phoenix. This day, we drove an approximate 10 hours including breaks, lunch, rest area stops, an estimated 400+ miles along Freeway 10. It was a long, long day. We had a very good night rest at this very fresh and new La Quinta Inn in Phoenix, Arizona.
(Day 2) June 17, 2001 -- Phoenix to Tucson, to El Paso, TX
June 17th, as it has been everyday of my life, I woke up at 5:00, I headed to the gym, which is provided by the hotel for free. After a quick shower, we met everyone at the dining hall for early breakfast. We start our second day journey towards Tucson, Arizona at exactly 8 am.
The morning trip took 1 hour and 50 minutes, 116 miles from Phoenix to Tucson. Before entering the City of Tucson, we stopped by Saguaro National Park to see the world’s biggest cactus. According to the Tourist Information office, the 58 foot tall cactus is ancient (200 years old, measures a circumference of 2.4 meters). Heading towards Tucson, we made quick stopover at the Nascar Speedway, took pictures and go onwards to Tucson. A 47 miles stretch eastbound still on the 10 Freeway.
Upon reaching Tucson, we drive around the city, round and round we go. It was depressing not finding a Chinese restaurant in this big city (and of course, Mama was complaining... hehe) At 12:50 pm, we enjoyed the cheapest lunch at Carl’s Jr.
After lunch, at noon to a high of 104°F, we toured the nearby Pima Air and Space Museum, this is one of th the largest aviation and space museums in the world. [Perhaps, this is where Moty got his early interest with aircraft?]
Back on the road again, I can say that Arizona has the most beautiful Rest Area. Still on the 10 Freeway, we continue heading east towards our day’s destination of El Paso, Texas. A stretch of 312 miles, passing by Benson, Wilcox, San Simeon, La Cruces and finally arriving El Paso, TX by nightfall.
El Paso is a very beautiful city, and very prosperous. We see tourists, restaurants and hotels everywhere. Most tourist seemed to be very religious. We went hotel shopping, going through 7 hotels and finally chose Comfort Suites, El Paso. We got 2 rooms, with each room costing $45. We took notice of the Texas gas price of $1.47 compared to Los Angeles’ $2.12, what a big difference. 24 Miles south of El Paso is Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. [503 -- Before we started the trip, Wyhnna reminded me that El Paso is strict, I did not take that warning seriously, and indeed, upon departing, super strikto nga pala :)]
(Day 3) June 18, 2001 -- El Paso to Albuquerque
Again, we had free breakfast at the hotel with simple American cereals, toast, milk, fruits. At 8:10 am, we headed north of Freeway 10 via Interstate 25 towards Albuquerque, New Mexico. We crossed stateline and passed Las Cruces again. The stretch is 268 miles, and actually took more than 5 hours, stops sightseeing, and more picture taking.
Albuquerque is the largest city of the state of New Mexico. With a population of around 700,000, The weather is a bit cooler than El Paso at 96°F, and is 6,000 feet above sea level. It has the best air quality, and would be a good place to nurse a sick patient to health. We have a more leisurely and relaxed day. We had dinner at Tony Roma’s and stayed at the Hampton Inn.
(Day 4) June 19, 01 -- Albuquerque to Four Corners.
On June 19, we took off at the same 8:10 am departure. The time difference between Los Angeles and New Mexico is one hour. Leaving Albuquerque of 6,000 ft altitude towards higher ground Santa Fe at 7,000 feet above sea level. The distance is short at a little over an hour, with 65 miles via I-25N.
Sante Fe is an old town founded by the Spanish in 1610. Santa Fe (Spanish for “Holy Faith”) has a population of around 60,000, and is the capital of the state of New Mexico. It is easy to compare and think of Santa Fe as the Sacramento of California. The residents are mostly of Mexican descent. The building designs, constructions and customs are of the old Mexican heritage. We had the opportunity to visit the St Francis Cathedral.
After a few pictures at the cathedral, we had to hurry off to our next point -- the Four Corners Monument. A 275 miles drive toward the Northwest via I-40W and 491N. It took more than 5 hours to reach our destination. This is a point where 4 states meet, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.
This is one the the main highlight of this whole trip. The weather was not too hot at 91 °F. Being able to step with my feet on the grounds of 4 great states of America is indeed a blessing and a true gift of God to our lives. The scenery is fascinating, magnificent and wonderful. We took a lot of pictures to memorialize this important realization --- the Four Corners! We ended the day with another wonderful stay at the La Quinta Inn.
(Day 5) June 20, 2001 -- Four Corners to Grand Canyon to Las Vegas
Same time of 8:10 on June 20, we start off after our 5th day of American breakfast. Our focus destination of the day is Grand Canyon. From Four Corners Monument, [503 - the drive took 231 Miles, or 4-5 hours drive]. Unlike our previous visit to Grand Canyon where we usually use the South Gate coming in from Flagstaff, Williams. This trip, we took eastward towards the north gate. Using this route, we can see the cracks and gaps caused by the Great Colorado river along the way. We had late lunch in Grand Canyon, and drive towards the South Gate of Grand Canyon for the night.
Although the original plan was to stay at WIlliams, Arizona (southern foot of Grand Canyon) for the night. Yet, since we arrived early and had much time, the group decided to go straight to Las Vegas. [503 -- Indeed, we had a little extra time, but I guess the main reason that everyone in the group wanted to go to Las Vegas instead of staying in Williams, was perhaps --- we have seen too much rocks, and mountains, and sun! Its always a good thing that Papa was really flexible -- or perhaps he too had too much of the rocks and the sun.] [503 - I remembered, that day, we drove more than 14 hours to reach Las Vegas.]
We drove 435 miles of about 14 hours drive. With the abrupt changes to our plans, we were too late to book for our hotel rooms in Las Vegas, we could end up with no rooms to sleep for the night in Las Vegas. Praise be to God, upon arriving, we got 3 suite rooms at the low price of $75 at the 25th Floor of the Mirage Hotel. We were overjoyed to see the rooms! [503 -Finally back to civilization.]
As a reward, Dinner was at the Sam Woo Chinese Restaurant around the Chinese Shopping Center. Finally Mama had Chinese Food. It should be the best meal of the entire journey for all of us. And indeed we had the best night sleep for the entire journey!
(Day 6) June 21, 01 -- Whole Day Las Vegas, Mirage to Venetian
On June 21, 2001, no more 8:10 am. Everyone were sleeping late. Yet I was with my camera, taking video, taking pictures, and had a swim at the Mirage Swimming Pool. Everyone had a good day’s off.
After lunch, we book for rooms at the Venetian Hotel, across the Mirage. Venetian is all suite rooms, and very new -- everyone surely enjoyed the much needed rest.
(Day 7) June 22 -- Homeward Boud, Back to Los Angeles
On June 22, 2001. Again no 8:10 am. We stayed late in the hotel, and by lunch, we were back to the Chinese Shopping Area for our Chinese Lunch before leaving Las Vegas for Los Angeles.
Now departing Las Vegas, I reminded (as I have always had) both Walden and Winston to be very careful. We leave safe, we arrive safe.
Thanks be to God! We witness his presence with us throughout the journey!