Pinballing Through the Southwest, and the Painful Joy of Itinerary Planning

Not that I’m complaining, but planning a trip itinerary is impressively difficult for those of us who want to maximize every travel opportunity without stretching the itinerary beyond the bounds of common vacation decency. Here it is, that moment when a silver bird is finally going to drop you off someplace amazing, and you’ve got only [insert timeframe] to fit in as many sights as you can possibly stand….all while still enjoying yourself!?!

And, to do so, one must enter the realm of travel logistics:

  • From where must I arrive and depart to minimize travel time while squeezing in the most sights? Is there a nonstop flight to spare us a few hours?
  • How long must I stay in Town A to thoroughly appreciate Sights A & B?
  • And what about costs, of course? Do I just pick up my car at the airport, or when I actually depart? Should I stay in Town C on a weekend, when prices are higher, or do I rearrange the itinerary?
  • Can we squeeze in one last stop by cutting out a half day here and there?

And the answer to that last question, this time, is no. We had hoped to end our trip in Albuquerque, taking in the sights of the Balloon Fiesta, but we simply couldn’t fit it without cutting out essential time from others on our “must-see” list. And that list? Without further ado:

  • Denver, via nonstop flight, to savor the area’s fantastic craft beer scene (again);
  • Rocky Mountain road trippin’ down to Telluride, taking in the Last Dollar Road during peak fall foliage;
  • Lingering in the Rockies in Durango, with day trips to Mesa Verde and then choo-chooing up to Silverton and back via rail;
  • Meandering from CO to Moab, UT, where we enter into National Park mode (Canyonlands, Arches);
  • Leaving our hiking shoes on for Bryce and then Zion National Parks, with plenty of exploration planned;
  • Driving tired feet to Page, AZ and putting them to work again in Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend;
  • the Grand Canyon (DUH);
  • and to Phoenix via a Sedona detour, where we catch our flight home.

I’m already sweating thinking about it, but in a happy kind of way. So many people are content with staying in one place for their allotted time, and I completely understand that mentality. But with a short life in a big world, we’ve chosen to find the right itinerary balance and GO (go..go..go).

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