(Apologies for posting this 2x, i decided to give it it's own post. )
Here's my trip report, Part I.
After a night of little sleep, and a 7AM, 5 hour flight, landed in Vegas in the morning, got our rental car and headed straight for the Grand Canyon South Rim, a 5 hour drive. I was hoping to make it there on time to see the sunset.
Stopped off at Quiznos near the airport and got our first taste of how nice the people out west are. The guy making the sandwich asked if we wanted fixings on the sandwich even though it was supposed to be plain. When he saw we were going to share, he cut the sandwich and put it on two plates. I had to mention this because this never happens at home.
On the way to the GC we made the requisite stop at the Hoover Dam. Remembering how I had bashed my car on one of the ill placed columns in the parking lot, last time I was there; I carefully navigated my car into a parking space. It was a beautiful day and we took some pics of the dam and the beautiful arching bridge, which I didn’t realize at the time, is new. Not wanting to spend to much time, for fear of missing the GC sunset I didn’t let my wife wait on a slow moving line for water. This turned out to be a mistake.
Continuing our drive, on into the desert, my wife was getting thirsty and insisted I stop for water. Seeing a big sign at a gas station ‘LAST STOP’ I stopped and went in. I asked how much was a 20 oz bottle of water. Clerk answered $4. I asked how much was a small bag of chips. Clerk answered $4. . I asked her how come it was so expensive and she said there’s nothing for miles around. Not wanting to face my thirsty wife empty handed, I reluctantly shelled out $8 for a small water and bag of chips.
At this time the weather was starting to look bad. The eastern sky over the mountains was stormy and there was lightning ahead. A little scary but I decided to keep on driving.
Driving not even a mile past the ‘LAST STOP’ I saw a café on the right. I pulled off to get some coffee. Surprisingly the coffee was only .85 cents. There was a bunch of strange but friendly characters in there that made me feel that I had stepped into the past. I started telling one guy how I had just got ripped off for a $4 bottle of water. The waitress overheard me and told me they had water for $1.50. I looked in the cooler and it was the exact same bottle that I just paid $4 for. Yikes.
Continuing on, it stopped raining. I saw the aftermath of 2 accidents on the way, a biker that had fallen over in the rain; there was an ambulance on the scene. And a little later, a car that had gone off the road and overturned; the police were on the scene. However, tempted by the straight and fairly empty roads, I found myself speeding along as fast as 95 mph at times.
We finally made it to Tusayan around 5pm, I enquired and found out that I could buy an annual park pass at the Grand Canyon Movie Theater in Tusayan. I wanted one of those since we would be hitting 5 national parks. As it turned out I didn’t save much money though, since the pass was $80 and the total I would have had to pay at the gates would have been $85. (GC $25, Bryce $25, Capitol Reef $0 cause the scenic road was closed, Arches $10, Zion $25.)
After getting the pass I drove straight to the nearest lookout. It was funny, pulling into the parking lot and being directionally challenged, I had to ask someone to point me to the GC. I was expecting him to say it’s that big hole in the ground over that way. But he was typically nice and showed me the way as his wife explained about the shuttles. When we finally got to the overlook, it was my wife’s first time and it was great to see her excitement. She got so excited as we approached the rim she broke into a run. The view was of course awesome, however because of the overcast sky we didn’t really get to experience the sunset shining on the canyon. Great nonetheless and worth the grueling drive.
I drove back to Tusayan to get some gas (another mistake, paid 3.60 a gallon, when I had seen gas for 2.60 as we were passing Williams.) Also bought a gallon of water so I wouldn’t have to keep buying small bottles. Then we drove to the hotel. The Yavapai Lodge. The room at the lodge was very nice. The bed was quite comfortable. I went back to the lodge cafeteria to take out some food, chicken pot pie which was very good for cafeteria food.
Next morning we woke up early to see the sunrise at the canyon. There were already a lot of people out there before us with the same idea. The sunrise was very nice and we got some good pics. We also got daring and took some pics out on a ledge. We spent the rest of the day going to various spots around the rim. My wife wanted to walk down into the canyon, but I told her I wasn’t in shape for that.
We had lunch at the El Tovar restaurant. I have to say that was one of the most elegant meals with very formal service by the waiters. Even though I’m just an ordinary guy, it felt good to be treated like I was some rich person. I had blackened tuna and my wife had fettuccini with spinach and shrimps. She had wine and I had a bottomless glass of soda. We also had one of the fantastic selections of desert. The price of the meal was very reasonable and I walked away very happy. We spent some time relaxing in the lodge looking at the huge animal heads on the wall.
We went back outside and sat on the bentwood rockers a while, enjoying the beautiful weather. We went to the shuttle bus to go to see more view points. As we were waiting on line an enormous elk came strolling by and I took some videos of it.
While waiting we got into a conversation with some nice folks from Michigan who told us they tried to take the shuttle to the end the prior day and a storm suddenly rolled in so they didn’t get to the last stop. They told us they drove across the country all the way from Michigan. When we got off the shuttle and said good bye to these folks I joked that they were seeing the USA in their Chevrolet. They laughed and told me they in fact were driving a Chevrolet.
When we got off the shuttle and looked around a little.. a storm started to roll in. Shuttle service was cancelled and we had to go back to the starting point. I thought about the folks from Michigan and how again they wouldn’t get to the last stop on the shuttle.
We got back to the El Tovar where our car was parked. I remembered what Utah Tea had said about how I should drive to Page before dark , to enjoy the scenery , so that’s what I did.
I’m glad I listened to her, the scenery was great. We stopped at the devils watchtower and climbed to the top for some nice pics. When we left the tower it started to rain again. We ran to the car so as not to get the camera wet. Driving on rte 89 we had the experience I posted earlier, seeing a complete rainbow arching over cliffs glowing in the light of the setting sun. As I said it was such a joyful feeling that I started running and whooping out loud as I ran back into the desert to get a better picture. My wife started whooping along with me and we were jumping and high fiving.
When we got to Page, we drove to our hotel. Luckily I brought along my Garmin and so it was easy to find. It was on the street of little hotels. The Red Rock Inn, it was very cheap but since we were only going to sleep there and move on, it was more then sufficient. My wife was a little reluctant to go in, but when we went in , it was more then good enough. I would recommend it for anyone who wants a cheap accommodation in Page. The bed was actually quite comfortable and they had a refrigerator and microwave. I heated up the leftovers from our El Tovar lunch and we had that for dinner, along with some beer I purchased at a Maverick gas station.
We woke up early the next day to get to our next destination. In fact , though it’s not something I like to do while on vacation, we had to wake up early nearly every day to complete our aggressive itinerary.
Just before I left home I read that the Rainbow Room at the Waheap(sp) Hotel was a nice place for breakfast. After a stop off at the Glen Canyon dam, we headed there. It was indeed a good place to have breakfast with a nice view overlooking Lake Powell. We were having beautiful weather. We chose to eat from the menu and ordered French toast and eggs with bacon and potatoes, with a side of fruit. This was a good idea as we got a fresher breakfast then eating off the buffet for about $10 less in total. Again the service was very good and we enjoyed the meal.
When we left the dining room we looked around the hotel. In the souvenir shop they had some interesting Native American rattles and Kachina dolls. I couldn’t help but play the rattle to the tune of an Indian (hope that doesn’t offend anyone) dance music to the scowls of my wife. We went around to the back of the hotel to admire the lake some more and dream about how some day I’d like to rent a houseboat and spend a week on the lake. Someone pointed out a road runner bird so I made some lame jokes about the Acme Anvil company. But it was cool to see the bird, it ran away to fast to take any pics however..Beep Beep.
To be continued..
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Trip report - 5 national parks and Las Vegas in 10 days
(Apologies for posting this 2x, i decided to give it it's own post. )