What trip to Las Vegas would be complete without driving 5 hours to the Grand Canyon and back in two days? Evidently, not ours. Hey, we live in Houston, five hours is barely across town in rush hour.
We got our rental car and headed first to Hoover Dam, which is less than an hour from Las Vegas. The dam is pretty impressive, but the new bypass bridge which you can see from the dam is really spectacular. Due to time constraints, we skipped the official tour and headed straight to the visitor center. Unfortunately, you can only see the informational movie if you take the tour. I love informational movies, so much easier than reading stuff. Ah well, we read everything in the visitor information center. There was a lot of interesting stuff about the dam construction, but my favorite tidbit was about the hard hats. The Hoover Dam project actually “popularized” hard hats for the construction industry. Some workers had official hard hats, but other workers made their own by dipping ball caps in tar. Not a DIY project that is on my list to try! I just keep imagining the smell and the stickiness and the oozing into my hair…yuck.
We were really excited as we left the dam because then we would get to drive over that spectacular bridge. About 10 minutes later, we looked at each other and said, “Did we miss the bridge?” Yup. (But when with due diligence we drove over the bridge again on the was back to Vegas we learned that the sides of the roadway are so high that you truly have no idea when you are on the bridge unless you are carefully paying attention to the sign – and no chance of seeing Hoover dam from the road, either. Bummer, but at least we didn’t actually MISS it.)
We did take another little detour on the way to the canyon, the daughter decided that we should get off the interstate and take a piece of the original Rt 66. And besides, we were only on our second run thru the Elvis CDs by that time. Rt 66 takes you up thru some don’t-blink small towns and Indian reservation. There was one point where we actually got a sneak peek of a western portion of the canyon.
There was a beautiful sunset on the drive, but by the time we got to the National Park entrance it was dark. Really, really dark. And what’s with the natural wood signs everywhere? How am I supposed to see those in the dark to figure out where I’m going? It was….entertaining. Despite both of us being turned around and disoriented, we managed to find the check-in, find our actual building/room, find our way back to the lodge to the pizza pub, and find our way back to our bldg/room. And not a single one of these finds was made without one or both of us saying, “I guess that we go this way.” Emphasis on the guess.
Since we missed sunset at the canyon, we decided to get up early and catch sunrise. The first wakeup attempt that would enable us ample time to catch buses to a “prime” viewing spot was aborted in favor of 55 minutes of extra snoozing time. (Did you catch the pizza PUB mention in the previous paragraph? Still had Vegas in our system.) But we did get up in plenty of time to walk over to the rim (in the dawn, we could actually see where were going) to a “good enough” vantage point for sunrise. The way the colors and the depth of the canyon slowly came into focus with the growing light really was awesome. I know the word awesome is way overused these days, but if there is any sight that really deserves the words awe-inspiring or filling you with awe and wonder or just plain awesome, it is the Grand Canyon.
No way a pocket digital camera could even begin to capture the canyon, but it can at least show that we were really there.
After a huge breakfast at the El Tovar dining room looking out over the rim, we went back for a short nap and digestion and spent the rest of the day hiking along the rim trail, going to the geology and Kolb studio exhibits and oohing and aahing over and over again. It was truly a Grand day. And for the least expected sight at the Grand Canyon? How about this:
So late afternoon we headed back to Vegas. The interstate portion of the drive that we skipped on the way over was actually quite beautiful and the daughter read for a few hours which gave me a nice respite from the Elvis CDs. It was dark before we got back and coming out of the mountains and seeing all the lights of Vegas suddenly spread out before us was pretty cool, too. Since the daughter has finally deemed my blog worthy of a few of her pictures, here are a few of the Bellagio fountain, taken with her camera.
It was a great trip with a great travelling companion. Here’s to whatever comes next!