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Like the past few spaces between jobs, I have a short time span later this month.

This summer I have been working with the Denali Gift Companies...and if the name doesn't tell you...it's one of the companies in the canyon development area just outside the entrance to Denali National Park in Alaska. There are three stores that are part of the company, and yeah, we're the ones that have the lit up billboards and neons that the locals refer to it as Glitter Gulch.

We close on the 19th. Many places along the short strip close within a couple of days on either side of that date. On the morning of the 20th, we will check out of our housing. A camp of rustic cabins on Lester Road in Healy. We have affectionately dubbed it "Shantytown." But it's safe, comfortable and semi-remote. They're offering several of us a lift down to Anchorage right after. Earlier this season I mis-read a memo and thought our last day was the 20th and we would be leaving on the 21st and started booking using those dates. So the first night I'm staying in Anchorage. I went to hotwire.com and booked a room that placed me at the Sheraton.

My flight doesn't depart until 9:45 pm on the 21st, so I'll have some time to waste there. I had plenty of flights to pick from, all around the same cost. I have been choosing a variety of airlines the past few vacations and this time I decided to book with Delta. My first leg stops in Minneapolis, their time 6 am. I have been to Minneapolis before, but not the airport. I only have three hours there, so I probably won't even leave the facility. At 9 am, I depart on the second leg to Phoenix, arriving around 10:15. Yeah, I had some shorter choices...like Seattle or Portland...but my hotel check-in time isn't until later in the afternoon, so I might as well explore.

I've been to Sky Harbor many times. This will be my 4th winter season at the Kay El Bar Guest Ranch in Wickenburg, Arizona. The ranch is about an hour's drive northwest. But not quite yet. I decided to swing down there and do a round trip from there. Where? Yeah, Vegas again. Hey, it's a cheap place to stay still. My Southwest flight departs at 1:45 and lands just before 3.

I booked through hotwire.com again. I'll be staying at the Riviera. I also chose Las Vegas to be a base for some tours. On the 23rd, I'll be on one of the bus tour groups heading to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It leaves the strip about 6 am and returns about 13 hours later. I chose one of the tours that pretty much drops us off by Bright Angel and let's us explore for a couple hours on our own.

On the 26th, I'm also taking a tour to not one, but two of the national parks in Utah. Again it picks us up early in the morning and is about as long. It explores both Zion and Bryce before returning to the strip.

I have been considering taking one of the tours that stops and explores the Hoover Dam in depth, but I haven't decided on that one yet. If you have a mind to, you can also explore Death Valley and return to the city too.

i'll head back to the airport on the 28th and take the Southwest flight back to Phoenix. I haven't decided on this last point yet. First choice is to just head to the ranch, which I'll probably do. But I could also stay in Phoenix over night. Most of the crew will be arriving on the 4th, and I need to have the kitchen ready for some employee meals when they arrive. The kitchen has been undergoing a remodel this summer...kind of excited to see the improvements.

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Comment by Keith Larson on September 4, 2010 at 10:39am
Hi Darren. First, welcome to myCoolWorks. A lot of people from Wisconsin are doing seasonal work. I'm originally from the Neenah/Oshkosh areas. I'm using Bundu Bashers. Haven't heard much about them. Checked them out on Trip Advisor and found mainly negative...but a few years old and from one-timers which means I kind of ignore them. But I'll report how well they do...maybe not there, but definitely here. So you might want to check back at the end of this month. There are many tour operators, i just liked the price and itinerary...so if I give these guys a blah, you could still be able to find one.
Comment by Darren Helms on September 4, 2010 at 9:48am
my wife and I are headed to vegas next spring, where did you find those tours your taking? we would love to see the grand canyon! thanks and have a fun trip; Darren
Comment by aggie71 on September 4, 2010 at 6:09am
I'll be in Vegas and Zion about a month after you Keith! Have a great time!

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