Today's goal was to leave Cedar City, UT, early enough to navigate the worst part of the desert before the heat of the day, and if that goal was reached to continue to home. With the companionship of fellow Southern California MG Club members Dan and Ann McClean, the day was carried off without a hitch. As a tribute to the McCleans, I shot approximately 14 minutes of video (first video below) as I followed them in the descent through what I believe is called the Virgin River Canyon, on I-15 just south of St George, UT, and about 110 miles north of Las Vegas.
The canyon goes on and on, and just when you think you are coming out of it you instead dive deeper into it. Also interesting to watch the reflections on Sapphire's hood. I am remiss that Sapphire, was pretty dusty from the journey toward home, and "splotted" from the few raindrops that caught us late yesterday. Despite that, the angle of the morning light provided some pretty awesome reflections of the surrounding scenery. Sit back and enjoy this fourteen minute video, and don't be tempted to cut it short. At about the 8:00 minute mark we pass under a bridge. From there it just gets more and more incredible. Note how early in the video you can see the horizon across the full frame. Then compare that to what you see during the last half of the video.
I had my top up with the rear window zipped out because of the brutal sun we'd encounter later in the morning. I swear I am going to repeat this section of the journey again some day with the top down for the full 360 view.
UPDATE: For comparison, today (7/1/09) I found and added video (second video below) from the 6/22/09 trip through this canyon in the other (northbound) direction as we traveled to MG2009. That was the same very hot day that we had just spent two hours roadside when Kristian had his fuel tank problems. Very interesting to compare the northbound to the southbound video. I recall approaching this mammouth wall of mountain, looking ahead for the obvious climb that was ahead. And I was worried because of the heat and the stress of the climb. As we got closer and a climb became obviously out of the question, I thought to myself this is going to be quite some tunnel. Watch as the towering wall of rock gets closer and closer and see if you can identify where the road is going. Listen closely and you can probably hear my exclaimations when the path became obvious. I have been to the Grand Canyon, a mile deep on an angle, and have been at the bottom of the Snake River Canyon at Hells Canyon Dam, a mile deep vertically. There is no way to drive into or through either of them on an Interstate highway, which is what makes this canyon so incredible!
The desert was of course very hot, but we were able to navigate traffic and construction areas in Las Vegas, and pulled the long straight climbs (see image at right) beyond Primm and Baker without incident. The 134 ft tall thermometer at Baker (photo above) was registering 97 degrees as we passed. It got considerably hotter as we drove from Baker to Barstow, but then cooled off some as we descended to the San Bernadino floor. I arrived home in Irvine about 1:30, and shortly thereafter received a text message from Ann letting me know they had arrived home in San Pedro. Around 5 pm I received a message from Zelda Davis that she, Steve, and Nancy, had also made it all the way home today.