The beginning of June I found out I was going on a vacation to one of the destinations that I have been wanting to cross off my bucket list. The Grand Canyon in the state of Arizona to be exact. I had seen photos and I had seen parts of it in movies..think National Lampoon's Vacation and the tv show The Brady Bunch and you will remember. This time though I was going to experience it in real time and I was looking forward to going.
I put my vacation time in at work and started counting the days until we left. In some ways the time really dragged out, but eventually the weekend of the big event, August 26, 27th, and 28th arrived. I was ready as I started packing two weeks before and kept making lists to be sure nothing was left behind. Friday morning we packed up and headed out. Oh...did I mention this was a road trip? Yes, a long ride in the car across Nevada and into Arizona from Northern California! Let the adventure begin.
Let me tell you, driving across Nevada is pretty dull. I mean there are pretty parts like Carson City, and of course going through the glitz of Vegas is fun, but for the most part it is sand and scrub and hills. It is also a long drive, flat and just boring. There are not a lot of towns, not a lot of gas stations, not a lot of anything except the black asphalt in front of you. There are even stretches of road where you can't find any type of radio station, so if you are a passenger like me, you sleep as much as you can to pass the time.
We arrived at Kingman Arizona around ten at night. Kingman is a beehive of activity. There are lots of truck stops, gas stations, fast food, and motels in the city. We arrived during a lightning storm which in itself was interesting as I had never seen lightning light up a sky like this did. The thunder rolling endlessly across the flat desert echoing against the far hills. It was for me beautiful and yet frightening in its intensity. So we ate a late dinner at the Travel America truck stop while being entertained by a very energetic and pleasant server. Then we sought out a motel room to spend the night. We were at this point about two hours from the Grand Canyon.
We ended up staying at the SpringHill Suites by Marriot on Andy Devine Avenue. I had no idea that Andy Devine was from Kingman Arizona until that night. Kingman has many places named for the actor including an airport. I always liked him in cowboy movies with his goofy demeanor and unusual voice, so it was interesting to see how much of a local hero he was. The hotel was nice and clean. Funny thing was that we had just gotten in and settled when a HUGE flash of lightning immediately followed by a deafening roar of thunder knocked out the power! We sat in the dark for a good five minutes trying to decide what to do before the lights came back on. This was another thing for me to be able to say I experienced. Stumbling around in a dark hotel room with the blackout curtains already closed is not fun believe me.
Next morning we got up early and headed to the atrium for our complimentary continental breakfast. I love that term, continental breakfast. It makes cold cereal, coffee, cheap pastries, and juice sound so much better than it actually is. But free is free and when you don't have a lot of cash and you are trying to keep your expenses down, that cold cereal looks mighty good. So, eat we did, and then on our way again!
Got to the Grand Canyon South Rim around noon I believe. Im looking around and although I see several parking lots and a visitors center I don't see the canyon itself. But being the good sport I am, I follow my husband and sister to the visitor center and look around. The center is actually interesting as it shows a video of different parts of the canyon. It shows the indigenous people of each area along with plants and animals that live there. There was also shots of people going down the Colorado River in small wooden boats. I think you could stand there for an hour and watch the whole thing from one end to the other if you wanted to.
Then after going through the visitor center, we drove to another part of the canyon where you could actually see it. I have to say the Grand Canyon is breathtaking. I felt so humble and tiny viewing this huge expanse of rocks. It was an overcast rainy day so the shadows of the clouds passing over the red and gold of the cliffs was just incredible. As far as you can look out you see different shapes, sizes and colors of the rock. Even within a single formation the colors vary from red to gold to dark brown. All the way down at the bottom the Colorado River is visible in spots as a roiling muddy brown streak among all the rock formations. There is a reason it is called one of the wonders of the world. I think everyone that lives in the United States should visit the Grand Canyon at least once in their lives. It is something I won't forget and was truly worth the long boring car ride.
We spent the day walking the rim, taking hundreds of photographs and viewing different look out points that the park service have set up. Each place offers a different spectacular visual of the Canyon and no two are exactly the same. It was really a trip I will not soon forget.
But as we were walking toward the car, the now familiar rumble of thunder began to roll across the canyon and the first big drops of rain began to fall. As soon as we were all inside the car the rain fell with a vengeance. The paved road became a swift stream in a matter of just a couple of minutes which I though was amazing. We drove to the General Store to see what tourist trinkets we could pick up and sat in the parking lot waiting for the storm to subside. Several people opted to walk across the street from the parking lot and ended up getting their shoes and pants soaked because the water was deeper than it appeared. As the rain slowed, the water receded though so we decided to make a break for the store and do a little shopping.
The inside of the store was huge. It was part tourist and part grocery store all rolled into one. I got a grand canyon tee shirt and a pin to commemorate my big trip and we got my sister a tee shirt and some awesome 3D type postcards. Then we noticed the deli and ordered some hot soup served in bread bowls for lunch. It was a nice way to wind down and warm up from the rain outside.About that time we decided it was time to head back toward California. We were hoping to stop at Las Vegas to spend the night on the strip and then continue home on Sunday morning.
Pulled into Las Vegas at close to eleven in the evening. Vegas being what it is though, there were tons of people milling about on every corner. The neon lights are inviting beacons wanting you to come in and win your share of the cash. Everyone comes in with the hope of beating "the house" but the reality is, very few actually do. I am always enchanted with Vegas though. I love the hustle and bustle of throngs of people on every corner. Everyone is dressed to the nines here and out to have a good time.
So we stayed at Treasure Island Hotel in Las Vegas. Again, it was a very nice large room with all the things you need for a pleasant stay. Sadly we were not really there long enough to enjoy it. We checked in at almost midnight, threw our stuff on the beds and then headed out to eat. Of course when its late at night there are no buffets open in the hotels so we opted for a coffee shop in the lobby. It was good decent food but it was more expensive than any coffee shop I have been to. But again, what do you expect when you are in Sin City?
After dinner we decided to gamble for a couple of hours and even playing the penny machines my sixty dollars went quickly. Around three in the morning we decided to call it quits and head to bed as check out is eleven am. Got up in the morning, grabbed Starbucks to fuel up and headed out. Again, the nevada desert is so boring. Thank goodness we got to see some wild donkeys and a herd of big horn sheep to break the monotony.
Made it to our house safe and sound by late Sunday evening and I have to say sleeping in my own bed was heaven. Don't get me wrong, I love to travel, but I love coming home just as much. This whole trip was fast, but it was so worth it and I can cross the Grand Canyon off my list of things to see now. Of course this has also opened up a world of possibilities in my mind of places to see now. I think the next thing I want to drive to see is Yellowstone. I mean Wyoming is only a few states away.