Friday started with us driving ten miles then going back in time an hour. This put us eight hours behind the UK. Destination? Phoenix. We needed to visit the enterprise at sky harbour international airport. Why? The car needed an oil change a thousand miles back and we had brake fluid and traction control lights on a couple of days ago. We stopped at IHOP for some pancakes in Tucson. Arizona is like a desert except with mountains lining the horizon. There were cactuses lining the highways.
We stopped at a rest area between Tucson and Phoenix.We finally arrived at the airport and proceeded to drive out of it to the rental car return area. It was extremely well organised and huge. We drove in and pulled forward to the stop line when a guy came and scanned the barcode on the car. We were quick to inform him we weren’t returning it and explained about the oil change and warning lights and without any questions whatsoever, he said he would swap us out. He went to fetch us a car and as soon as he returned, no more than two minutes later, we began moving home again. Less stressful this time around and far less time consuming. Once we had packed up our new Toyota Corolla, figured out the gadgets, adjusted my seat to the whole way back, we were on our way.Destination. The Grand Canyon. It took us a few hours to get there and we didn’t arrive until five in the afternoon. There were no queues to get in. We showed our America The Beautiful pass at the south entrance, collected our map and guide, then proceeded to the visitors centre. The car park was rammed and we thought we should probably go to the campsite first to set up for the night. Thirty miles along a road lined with elk grazing and viewpoints (which we didn’t stop at) we reached the campsite. Slight problem. It was full. It was a first come first served campsite and it was full. The second problem was we had no signal let alone 3G or even E to see where was close to stay. Never mind! We would sort that later 😃. Instead we parked up and went to the first viewpoint, Desert View. As you drove into the visitors centre, we were as far east in the park we could go. The view was stunning. You could see the Colorado river, a mile below us, if you looked close enough.They also had a watchtower, a gift shop, general store, restaurant and toilets here. This was the beginning of a magical couple of days. We got back in the car and drove back to the next viewpoint, Navajo Point. Again the views were just beautiful. Unfortunately for us there was no camping allowed at any of these viewpoints, but there were a couple of guys cooking up a sweet BBQ in the back on their self-made camper van! Not the best thing to smell when you’re already hungry! We ventured to Grandview point and it was mesmerising. The sun was beginning to set ever so slightly. We walked down some steps to a rock viewpoint. You could see the sheer drop of a mile below but that didn’t deter Nathan from bounding over them like a crazy fool. We jumped over the wall to the edge of the canyon. I turned round and he was gone. I look down and he surfaces below on the edge of a rock. Overlooking the canyon. There I was imminent and arring about whether to go down and eventually convince Nathan to come and get me. My heart sank into my stomach as he slid on a no grip section. We do get down safely in the end. It was terrifying. I seem to have developed an insane fear of falling. Not heights, but falling. There were times my legs wouldn’t move 😂.Safely we reached land not lingering over the edge of a six million year old canyon. Then found out instead of jumping the wall, we could have used the path. We headed over to the edge of the viewpoint again and sat on the wall to watch the sunset. It was beautiful but so quick! It was fast approaching 830pm and we had nowhere to stay and still no signal. Driving out of the park we encountered a few hotels, charging $220 for one night plus tax! No thank you! That meant driving the 51 miles out of the city, staring at the phone until we had some sort of internet be it E or 3G! It didn’t happen. We kept driving until we reached Williams and there was a motel with vacancies…for $145 for the night.
Nathan had the idea to see what bedrock campsite had to offer. We pulled in, I was still trying to find signal and Nathan asked if they had any vacant campsites. They did! It was pitched black and cold but we had somewhere to stay!Next challenge was putting the tent up in the pitch black using the headlights of the car. The ground was too hard for the tent legs. We tried wetting it, scraping at it, smashing the tent leg in with a rock which ultimately bent it, nothing worked. In the end we had to get a big rock, move the car to the right and the picnic table to the left and tie the tent round the, so we didn’t blow away. The result was a relatively decent nights sleep and an early awakening as the daylight blasted through the tent. Good job we woke up early as we needed to get back to the park early. Across the road from the campsite was a historical Route 66 marker. An old fuel station adorned with old cars. We stopped there before continuing on.A quick McDonald’s drive through and we were in. There were still spaces in the visitors centre car park but it was filling up fast. We got out the car poked our heads in the visitors centre and then began our walk around the canyons rim. A short stop behind the visitors centre was our first lookout. It was amazing. The whole rim walk in about 14 miles long. We walked ten of it stopping at various places along the route. It was just beautiful. The sky was clear and it was forty degrees. They had water stops along the route and a few museums and visitors centres. Along the trail they even had samples of rocks dating back hundreds of millions of years.We found our way to market plaza to grab some water and figure out how to get back to the visitors centre. The road we were walking along hit a dead end so we walked along to road to rejoin the trail. A mile later we were back to the visitors centre. The whole walk was beautiful and they cater for disabled people as well as allowing you to really get close to the edge of this magnificent place. We were on the south rim and it was only ten miles as the crow flies to the north rim, but about 220 miles by car! As we got in the car, which now has a leather dashboard and seats, (not ideal in hot weather!!) we drove to the angel ridge trail which is the most commonly used route down into the canyon. It would take about a day to complete fully. The downside is the fact that you have to do the same route up as you do down. It didn’t look too bad going down, aside from the fact it could take you 2-4 hours to reach the first rest station 1.5 miles in. We walked a few metres in then realised we had no water left and didn’t have our walking boots on. This was not a walk to be taken lightly 😂.The zigzag in the corner of the rocks in the trail…Our time exploring the Grand Canyon had come to an end. Truly one of the greatest places we have seen so far. Our next destination was Las Vegas. It was only a few hours drive but the drive was through most desert-like landscape with nothing for miles and miles. Not good when you have a hungry driver!!
Thankfully we stopped at a Five Guys. They allegedly have the best burgers and I can safely say I agree! It was delicious. Just what we needed after an epic day hopping over rocks, trekking ten miles in blistering heat and getting up close and personal with the Grand Canyon. They also had wifi so I was able to book us a hotel for two nights. We chose the Mirage and used our hotels.com rewards to get it for £50 per night! That’s cheaper ham some of the days inn or other motels we have stayed in! Such a great scheme to be signed up for! We passed the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead before we hit Las Vegas. The roads getting in weren’t as busy as I thought they would be. I anticoicated something like London but in a much bigger scale, but we got in effortlessly and even located the parking lot first time!
We parked on the fifth floor, emptied the boot, which entailed actually carrying our massive bags as well as hang luggage and all our souvenirs to try and out them into our bags, then exiting via the walkway straight into the casino/hotel and down the escalator to the check in desks. Thankfully there wasn’t a queue, another unexpected occurrence on a Saturday night in Vegas! We got called over to the VIP check in by Jae and she saw to it that we got a room with a view. You can’t not have a view right? There was a huge fish tank behind the check in desk and we walked through the casino to the elevators to take us to our room on the fifteenth floor. The view didn’t disappoint. The prices of the mini bar did however…We didn’t unpack per say more like dumped our stuff, had a shower, donned some non-travellers clothes and ventured out to the strip. I actually had my sandals on and Nathan had a shirt on. We felt human! We had been told about the volcano that erupts out the front each hour and had planned on seeing th one at 9pm. To pass the time we wondered down the strip perusing at the hotels and taking in all the pretty lights. It was indescribable really..”You could walk down the street, beer in hand, getting passed cards with naked girls on the front, stepping in and out of all the casinos and hotels. It wasn’t rowdy. It wasn’t rough. I felt perfectly safe. We stopped at Walgreens to buy two gallons of water and then passed a Fat Tuesday where you can get cocktails in a souvenir cup. Too good of an opportunity to pass up. I had a 22oz strawberry daquiri. It was DELICIOUS!!!!! I felt like one of the locals 😂.We headed back to our hotel to see the volcano erupt. It didn’t last long but it shot up flames and coloured smoke to look like lava. Considering it was thirty eight degrees without the fire, you still really felt the heat when the flames shot up. Each hotel has their own quirks here and we couldn’t wait to explore them on Sunday. Once the volcano had erupted, we hit the casino. We were betting big. One dollar bills! We may as well be high rollers 😂. The downside to being in Vegas as we were, was that we didn’t know how to gamble. There were machines with Keno on them but we lost money as had no idea what we were doing. We then played blackjack and had a good little run before again losing money…this was clearly not a good streak for us.
We retired about midnight ready to seize the day on Sunday…..