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Trip Report 2 Brits in a Chevy: a Southwest Road Trip LV, Southern UT and Northern AZ

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It's only 6 hours since we landed back in London having returned from our trip of a lifetime through Southern Utah and Northern AZ. I should of course, be doing sensible things like opening the pile of mail accumulated in 2 weeks, sorting more laundry, and getting some rest before going back to work tomorrow, but I don't want to get back to normality yet. It's far more fun to download all the photos and start this thread which will hopefully become our full trip report over the next few days/weeks (as I get time to add to it!).

This forum was (as ever) invaluable in helping me plan our trip - and what a trip it was! I'm still reeling from the sights we've seen and places we've been - thanks to all who answered my planning questions, or had posted previous reports/responses that gave helpful snippets of info.

I'll start with the background: DH and I live in London and are both in our early 30s. We like hiking, photography (especially DH who is a semi-pro photographer), sightseeing, history etc. Earlier in the year, I won an award through work of return flights for 2 to Vegas plus 3 nights accommodation and we could choose to extend the trip at our own cost. I was obviously delighted to have won such a great prize, but there was no way we were going to go all that way for just 3 nights, and only see Vegas! So after a bit of discussion as to whether to head East or West, we decided on the Grand Circle (or part of it) and the real planning began.

Our initial itinerary was to visit Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly and GC South Rim and I'm delighted to say, we managed all this and so much more including Goblin Valley, Canyonlands, Natural Bridges, Navajo Monument, Painted Desert/Petrified Forest etc. We hiked in most parks, kayaked down the Colorado River, took over 2500 photos between us, clocked up 1922 miles (in Betsy, our rental Chevy!) and bought 29 souvenir fridge magnets (explanation required: we collect them. The brief is that they must say where they're from and be in the worst taste possible. It means that every time we open our fridge/freezer/microwave we remember all the places we've been together!).

DAY 1:
We flew to Vegas from London with AA via Miami. Nothing much to report there - we arrived ok, so did our luggage. What more could we have hoped for?! We got the shuttle from the airport to our hotel (Excalibur) on the south end of the strip ($6.50 each).

At this point, it's probably worth me saying that for us, this trip wasn't about Vegas. It was a bit of a means to an end - I had been lucky enough to win (and was very grateful for) the flights and accommodation through my employer, but it's not somewhere I would choose to visit again. We're not big gamblers, not interested in lying by a pool all day and not really into the type of Vegas revue/spectacle shows in the evening.

We had a couple of drinks in the hotel bar before hitting the sack after a long day's travelling. 11pm on a Saturday night - we were probably the only people in the city who had gone to bed so early!

A note about the hotel Excalibur though. It's not posh. Far from it. Our wanderings the next day made us realise we were staying in the Vegas equivalent of Blackpool (for the Brits), or as I heard places described on a previous trip to the States 'the Redneck Riviera'. There were a lot of Stag/hen/bachelor/bachelorette party types there, and it was rowdy and raucus, Having said that, the room was clean, large and that was all we needed (and of course it was free for us, so I couldnt complain!).

DAY 2:

As I said, we don't really gamble much or laze by pools, so we were a bit concerned about how to fill an entire day in Vegas, but we set out to walk up the Strip and went into each hotel/casino/mall on the way. We made it up as far as the Wynn and down back to Mandalay Bay. I won't dwell to much on all this. It was quite an eye opener (seriously, who REALLY needs to play on a slot machine at 7.30am? had they been there all night?). I'm lucky enough to have been to the real Paris, Veince and NYC before so walking through the Vegas themed equivalent was a little amusing. The walk actually took much of the day as we strolled from one huge casino to another. As I said, it was an eye opener and entertaining for the day, but not the real high part of our trip - that was to come the following day....

Day 3 next - Zion NP.....

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