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A road trip from San Jose to Monument Valley, Four Corners, and back.
We had driven through this exact itinerary back in 2005, but things have changed considerably since then. After the first few quips, Annoying and Grumpy Dad was required to first wave his finger in the air, look menacingly hard through his eyeglasses at the kids of today, and then had to start every such comparative discussion with “Back in my day …”
So what has actually changed since 2005?
Well, “Back in my day …”
– For starters, we had a 12 month old daughter, who was very talkative and blabbered nonstop all through the 12 day trip. Now we have a 16 year old whose main mode of communication is through 2 word texts, a 12 year old son who sees the world as the real-world incarnation of Minecraft blocks, and an 8-month old Samoyed who was constantly jostling for the entirety of the back seat row in the car, being larger in size than our other 2 kids.
– That trip was done in the peak of winter, with snowstorms everywhere and a biting chilly wind cutting through our fingers and faces as we stood above Bryce Canyon or drove into Antelope Canyon. This one was in the middle of a heat wave, and a roasting wind blasting across our faces as we stepped out of the car at Zion or posed with a fake run at Forrest Gump point on US 163 in Utah. And yes, a Pandemic to boot.
– That first trip was with the original Canon Rebel, a 6MP cutting edge DSLR with the dynamic range of parchment paper. This one was with the Sony 61 MP, a mirrorless with 10X difference in resolution and maybe more in dynamic rage. On average I had good pictures then, and I have good pictures now, but now with crazy good dynamic range.
– The Horseshoe bend had a proper parking lot, a paved path, and railings! Railings! I could lean over and take the entire Bend. Not crawl over the edge with wind gusts blowing so hard that they can topple you over the vertical 1000 foot drop like a matchstick. This also meant that there were way more many people at the Bend than the 2 we had spotted last time. On the other hand, smartphones and selfies meant the probability of crazies toppling over has only increased.
– The concept of individual luxury cabins (read: studio-like rooms with bathrooms) seems to be sprouting all over the Southwest. They were everywhere, from near Zion, to near Bryce, Monument Valley and Grand Canyon. And they were all pet friendly. There was nothing better than sleeping in with the Milky Way in front of us, or waking up to a retina-shattering sunrise, all from the comfort of a cooled (or heated) bed with a hot shower.