Categories: Hiking, Overlanding, Trails, Travel, USA
The English Parents
Impressions of Las Vegas…. Well, should it be Las or should it be Flash Vegas? At any rate it’s certainly bright, brash and loud and in amongst the tourists are some of the weirdest people to be seen.
Our holiday begins there after almost 11 hours of flight from dear old Blighty and without a hitch ,with an extra plus, in that we were able to book into the Polo Towers hotel early!! It’s a fine hotel and certainly fulfilled our expectations.
Dan and Heather were there to meet us at the airport and it was great to see them both in the flesh, so to speak after such a long time.
After dumping our luggage, it was time to meet up with Alison, Steve and Fletcher for lunch although to us it felt like dinner…very strange!
The food was excellent, the drink perfect, the company exceptional (as always), with entertainment laid on by young Fletch. That boy can certainly down his fries and your own if you let him, although to be fair it was more of a food exchange as he was willing to swap fries for his veg snacks, a play with his toy truck and the blowing of kisses in abundance.
Later that day we set of to explore the strip with D & H, people say it is like Blackpool and I suppose to some extent that is the case, but it is about a million times larger and over the top!
There are scaled down versions of famous buildings, cities and iconic monuments such as the Eifel Tower and the Statue of Liberty, even Venitian gondolas on their own canal! The evening was rounded off with a visit to the Houdini Museum where we were treated to a show of card magic by the sales assistant there. He could probably have fooled us without slight of hand given that we were so tired!
It’s outlet shopping time, after a much needed feed at Dunkin’Donuts! Essential to purchase clothes at this time of the holiday before the pounds pile on!
Gaz manages to purchase his ever popular choice of Tommy Hilfigger jeans along with three pairs of shorts…Hurrah!
After shopping, and mindful of weight gain, we meet Alison, Steve and Fletcher at a beer and burger bar. Did I mention that beer and burgers is the latest weight loss craze? No, well you heard it here first!
Delicious meal with excellent company, although it appears that one of the party may have eaten too many fries the previous day and was much subdued, Fletch will need to pace the fries a bit in future.
Next to Fremont or Old Vegas (same as New Vegas but older and covered in one area).
Off to Flagstaff down Route 66, stopping off along the way to look at the Hoover Dam which was as big as one would expect with some nice Art Deco touches. Speaking as a Brit, with our obsession with bathrooms, check out the pics of the art deco mens bathrooms !
We had lunch at the RoadKill Cafe on Route 66 which had a menu to which the proprieters had given appropriate road kill themed names to the dishes such as “Bambi Burgers”, nice food though .
Arrived at our campsite after driving through a magnificent thunderstorm and the temp being about 10 degrees cooler. We took a bus into the centre of Flagstaff and spent a pleasant evening eating, drinking and playing a game in a local pub before returning to camp. Flagstaff was small but very nice.
It is our opinion that the residents of Flagstaff must spend around a third of their lifetime waiting for the freight trains to pass through their town so they can get from one side of it to the other. Those trains are sure looooonnng!
Up at 06:30 today for Sedona and Jerome. Jerome is a small ex copper mining town with beautiful views but not a lot of the original town left, seems it kept on burning down.
Sedona was a beautiful place with amazing views of deep red coloured mountains all around, and very hot! Spent (wasted time, much to Dan’s entertainment, trying to get a shot of the lightning bolts! Did get some spectacular storm cloud shots though.)
Our plan to scale Humphries Peak thrown out due to inclement weather at it’s peak (covered in snow) our alternative plan to hike up a nearby mountain at base of campsite was also snookered – due to a dense cloud cover at its peak, so we broke camp quickly and a day of shopping ensued before heading towards the Grand Canyon through a storm and arriving to find that all you could see was a wall of mist.
However after a while the cloud began to break up and the splendid views of the canyon that we were looking forward to seeing, revealed themselves.
After arriving at Grand Canyon Ann and H went off to try and get us booked in the B&B known as the Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon while Dan got the barbeque started (Note from Ann,when we got back over an hour later, after successfully getting two beds in the female dorm and two beds in the male dorm, the boys were happily drinking beer, no sign of a barbeque being started or the tent having been put up!!!!! Consequently the tent was put up in the dark!!!)and a few more beers were consumed.
The BIG DAY! Up at 05:30 in the dark with the stars still apparent shining brightly, we gather ourselves together and head for the bus ride to the start of the hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
It takes 3 hours and 40 minutes to reach the bottom of the canyon, which is far greener than expected and condors were viewed several times as we traversed the trail to the bottom.
We booked into our dorms (Not just dorms but segregated dorms), that’s right we are back at school!! No, seriously this was the only accomodation available at the Phantom Ranch as their cottages were booked up months in advance.
Dan and I grabbed the bunk beds nearest the washing and toilet facilities, not to mention the side exit right next to our beds!
Dinner at 5 and we joined the throng to grab our evening meal which was surprisingly delicious and filling, a good job as there were no other options available.
Later on that evening we were given a lecture under the stars about the area and its history which was very interesting although Gaz was too ready for bed to take part in the spot the scorpions tour!
And so all of a sudden it’s 04.30!! What’s the 0 stand for:-“Oh my God”!!
By 0500 it’s meal time and large quantities of calorific wholesome food gobbled up and packed lunch collected we commence the hike to exit the Canyon.
The first part of the climb to the Indian Gardens is a nice gentle stroll to warm you up for the much steeper latter part of the climb. Luckily there are enough water stops along the way to replenish bottles.
The views are stupendous and it wasn’t until later on and near the end of the climb, Gaz’s right hip started to misbehave, giving a sharp pain every time he lifted his right leg. Not sure where this has come from as it’s never happened before. However, he was determined to carry on to the end and it would now seem that this twinge was just that, as the hip is, happily to say now back to normal.
Although there was no stopping Ann who seemed to have the agility and stamina of a mountain goat!!
Time for the hike according to our loyal and trusted hike leaders was 5 hours and 4 minutes which was far faster than they expected and so it appears there is life in the old dogs yet, but curse that hip!! We could have broken the 5 hour barrier, still never mind it’s the sights, the experience and most of all the good company rather than breaking records that’s important here!
Thanks to Dan and Heather for giving us the inspiration to be able to have done this hike, in one of earths most powerful, inspiring landscapes, thank you for taking us on a hike of a lifetime, you are true stars and we love you both! Had a well deserved picnic on the rim before returning to the village for beers, not sure what happened here, but it began to rain and then some! Had a group discussion and decided to get some laundry done and get a shower, which seemed to be the best plan given the dreary weather which had once again rolled in. Unfortunately, our timing was a little off with the showers closed for a time for cleaning but laundry was still in play and at least we were warm and dry! And now clean ready for yet another early get up 4.30 in order to pack up camp and drive back to Vegas to meet Cathy & Dalton for the second leg of our amazing holiday.
We will leave them to fill you in on that part .
Once again a big thank you to D&H for being such inspirational, empowering company, not forgetting that they gave up their bed in the Hulk yet again and a very comfy bed it was too.
Bonus Thoughts From Dan’s Mum
A few well studied observations from me!
1. Did you know that you can tell your favourite daughter in laws mood by her hair?
Until I watched her stride away from us I didnt know her hair bounced and fizzed in such a way that expressed pure frustration!! (we parents hadn’t answered the walkie talkie – not our fault – honest! The battery was flat!!)…… mind you the second time it happened we did forget to turn it on!
2. Fletcher is the most adorable flirt.
3. If you go to “Cardiac Arrest” restaurant in Freemont, go at the begining of your holiday as there are set of scales that show your weight on big screen outside the restaurant – that is unless you are trying to weigh in at the 350lbs needed to get a free meal!
4. The Grand Canyon is a long way down …. and up!
I seriously doubted my ability to do this hike, especially when overhearing another hiker telling 2 young men that they should not do this hike, they needed to be more prepared, and to carry at least 6 litres of water as the heat was intense, by now I was feeling sick listening to this, there I was 56, not a good track record of performing well in the heat, never tackled anything like it before, I just kept saying to myself, don’t listen to him, D&H know exactly what they are doing if they think I can do it then I can – and I did! It was the most amazing sense of achievement and such a massive thrill .
5. Who knew that Arizona has a monsoon season – certainly not me until we got to see some spectacular lightening storms and of course where I go so does the rain, not sure D&H were that impressed, especially since our planned hike up Humphries Peak had been cancelled due to its peak being covered in snow in August, much to the disbelief of the staff in the tourist information when H pointed it out!
6. Those head torches are great, our friends Chris and Meg bought me one for the trip, it was a boon on my nocturnal visits to the bathroom while camping! And no I didn’t spot any bears, snakes or mountain lions Chris ! Thank goodness !!