Fresno, CA –> Beaver, OR — Epic Road Trip Day 1

As I shared in my introductory post, I didn’t sleep well the night before we left on our big adventure. When the time came to hit the road, Greg saw us off with a commuter mug full of strong coffee and lots of love. We had planned to lunch in Vegas, but didn’t really have a determined destination for the day. It was a Monday, and we knew that we wanted to be in Montreal by Friday, but we didn’t have planned stops along each day.

Ready for action!

Ready for action!

Joshua_01Our first planned stop was Las Vegas, a comfortable 399 miles from home. As the crow flies, it should be easier to get to Vegas from our house. But because a mountain range and Death Valley lie in the middle of that direct route, we must go south through Bakersfield, Tehachapi, and then across the Mojave Desert and into Nevada.

In truth, it’s a beautiful drive. I love the desert – being a fan of the bible, my imagine runs wild crossing such barren land. I also have a true affinity for Joshua trees. Even though our drive was north of Joshua Tree National Park, you still see an amazing array of both yuccas and their endangered cousins, the Joshua trees.

With Adam sleeping most of the way across the desert, I had time to pray, to listen to one of my Audible choices for the trip, Jesus: A Pilgrimage, and to simply let my mind wander. I knew immediately, that very first day, that the opportunity to “unplug” from my usual schedule was going to be an amazingly restorative blessing.

Before I knew it, we were in Las Vegas. We had planned to stop at my favorite resort, The Bellagio, for a quick visit. I have only stayed there a few times, but on every visit to Vegas I always make a point of visiting the hotel to see the Fountains, the Conservatory and the lovely glass sculpture, a chandelier called Fiori di Como by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly that graces the Bellagio’s lobby. Parking at the Bellagio is free and the resort sits near the center of the strip, making it accessible to many of the other nearby hotels. We simply visited these few sites, had a quick lunch across the street at Planet Hollywood’s Million Miles Shops and hit the road again.

First selfie of the trip - unfortunately we didn't get the Chiluly glass in the photo!

First selfie of the trip – unfortunately we didn’t get the Chihuly glass in the photo!

Had we been spending the day in Las Vegas, I would have visited my two favorite churches in that city: the Guardian Angel Cathedral and the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer. Having worshipped at both, I can recommend them highly as great places to attend Mass when you are in Las Vegas.

Before hitting the road again, we determined our stopping point for the night and used the Trip Advisor app for the first of many “on the road reservations”. Our drive to our first night stopping point took us through a small corner of Arizona and some gorgeous canyon formations north of Mesquite.

Arizona canyons

Arizona canyons

My MINI loves this type of driving and Utah’s 80 mph speed limits! With Adam behind the wheel, I was free to take in some of the amazing scenery in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. With Zion to the East of us, we drove north on Interstate 15 adjacent to the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. A few years ago, our family did an extended road trip to Zion. I remember from that experience the sheer majesty of those canyons which turn from Arizona’s slate grey to a vibrant clay-red in Utah. It seems at every bend in the road, you pass vistas that simply take your breath away. The driver needs to keep their eye on the road – but it’s also a very fun area to drive, especially in a MINI!

Comfort Inn - Beaver, Utah

Comfort Inn – Beaver, Utah

Before we knew it, we’d covered our distance for the day and were ready to bed down for the night at our first hotel, the Comfort Inn and Suites in Beaver, Utah (read my write up here). Per the Beaver website:

Settled in 1856 by Mormon Pioneers, Beaver City is today home to an estimated 2,511 residents and roughly 500 more outside the city boundaries. Situated 200 miles south of Salt Lake City along Interstate 15, Beaver is the County Seat and the largest city in the county. Beaver is also the birthplace of two very famous individuals of the past, Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television and Butch Cassidy, the notorious western outlaw. Some of the most beautiful scenery in the West can be found near this tranquil agricultural community and outdoor wonderland. The high alpine vistas of the Tushar Mountains, which includes Delano Peak (seventh highest peak in Utah at 12,169 ft.), are to the East. Color Country, encompassing Bryce, Zions and the other National Parks lies just a few miles to the South.  To the West, are the Mineral Mountains, a favorite of rockhounders, and the Minersville Reservoir State Recreation Area.

We had driven 620 miles already and were really only just getting started. With those mountain vistas all around us, I fell into a peaceful slumber, content with our first day’s adventures.

Continue to check in regularly for additional installments my ongoing “Epic Road Trip” series. Lisa


About Lisa M. Hendey

As a Catholic who loves her faith and a frequent adventurer who’s always up for a new journey, Lisa is a wife and mom, a writer, a speaker and an impassioned traveler. Visit her at to keep up with her comings and goings.

  • cynthia

    Well Lisa, as I could have predicted, I already love reading about your road trip with Adam. And…I have stayed at the Comfort Inn in Beaver when I couldn’t quite make it home to Bryce from somewhere. I also love that you love the desert (me, too!) and that you were in our former stomping grounds. Perhaps your next trip should be to the South Pacific to hang with some welcoming hosts. As an added bonus, we live about a hundred yards from the church and the headquarters of the Catholic Diocese of Pago Pago…Can we tempt you??? Hope you are doing well!

    • lisahendey

      Thanks Cynthia — and hey, I would LOVE to come to the South Pacific some day. I’ve never been to that part of the world! Great to hear from you!