Arizona · Las Vegas · Nevada · Travel · usa

USA Sept 2010 – Grand Canyon – Just a big hole in the ground?

Once again, I’m up early enough to watch the sunrise. Are my sleep patterns ever going to return? Although the nap in the middle of yesterday afternoon probably didn’t help matters…

Another Starbucks run from Mr Fletche (“Did you know there were people down there that looked as if they’d been there all night?”); a ransacking of the bathroom products and we’re all packed and ready to check out at 8am. Checkout goes smoothly; we’re charged what was expected and then it’s that long trek back to the self-park garage…

We load up the Fletchemobile and we’re ready to go! Yesterday was just a case of driving aimlessly in one direction down the Boulevard. Today, we actually have to follow directions and try to navigate out of the city. Not as easy as we thought. We keep getting trapped in filter lanes, our GPS (also known as Tiff) keeps telling us to turn right well before we actually need to turn… We stop in the parking lot of a McDonalds for a breather. Let’s stay calm; we’re not trapped in this city forever; there is an Interstate around here somewhere…

By 9am, Mr Fletche gets his first taste of Interstate, and we’re on our way good and proper. We haven’t worked out how to plug in our MP3 players yet so we just keep getting blasts of radio stations as we head out towards Arizona…

Welcome to Arizona
Welcome to Arizona

First stop – Hoover Dam. Now this is a quite magnificent piece of engineering, and more importantly makes a pretty spectacular backdrop for photographs. Apparently it also does some important stuff with water too… There was only a little traffic at this time, which surprised us, and we parked on the Arizona side to avoid the parking charges. The temperatures had started to soar so we’re soon back in the Fletchemobile with its wonderful air-conditioning.

Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam

After a quick rest stop at Dolan Springs to stock up on supplies – water, potato chips, a nice new hat for Mr Fletche – we’re off to Seligman.

We stop at Westside Lilo’s Café for lunch – this was a perfect place, particularly as the alternative appeared to be the quite gruesomely named Roadkill Café… The restaurant was busy, but we were able to get seated straight away – and were promptly offered the hugest glasses of soda we’ve ever seen! (Note to self… may have to plan on extra restroom stops…).  Tasty food, good-sized portions – just wish there had been room for one of those amazing slices of pie we saw being handed out!

Seligman
Seligman

Next stop is Williams, primarily to fill up the Fletchemobile for the first time. Joke: How many English people does it take to fill up a car with gas in Williams? Punchline: None – they have to ask the nice attendant to help… Yes, after a five-minute battle with the gas pump, we conceded defeat and requested a quick lesson from the attendant. Who knew that you had to lift up the handle on the pump? We stored this information, and as luck would have it… the next gas station had pumps exactly the same as back home! However, now we’re prepared for anything…

We arrive at the entrance to the Grand Canyon at 3:30pm; after being given a Park Guide and Map (and very hazy directions to our accommodation), we’re in. Now where’s this hole in the  ground everyone’s talking about?

We park up in one of the main parking lots and walk the short distance to the Canyon. I guess Mather Point is probably most people’s first view of the Canyon; and I bet most people’s first reaction is the same as mine: – “WOW!” Accompanied by a wide-eyed stare and a lack of any other vocabulary. OK, I concede. This is a little bit more spectacular than just a hole in the ground…

First glimpse of the Grand Canyon
First glimpse of the Grand Canyon

We manage to navigate to Maswik Lodge thanks to the map (all accommodation in Grand Canyon appears to have the same address so GPS is pretty useless) and check in at about 4:30pm. After a well-deserved drink in the Maswik Pizza Pub, we head off for the shuttle. There is a short queue, but we manage to get on at the second attempt.

We guess most people will get off at Powell Point, so at the driver’s recommendation, we get off at Mohave Point instead. The sunset is spectacular, and although there is a small crowd of people, it is amazingly peaceful as everyone takes in the breathtaking views ahead of them. The best thing is not necessarily the sunset itself; it’s the way the colours of the canyon itself change. And be prepared for the temperature drop! As soon as the sun disappeared over the horizon, the wind picked up and temperatures dropped quite quickly.

Grand Canyon sunset
Grand Canyon sunset
Grand Canyon sunset 2
Em enjoying a Grand Canyon sunset

It was quite a wait for the return shuttle, and we had to stand on the return journey, even though they had laid on additional buses. Dinner – although I use the term extremely loosely – was at the Maswik Cafeteria, then back to our lodge… Early bedtime for us… and an early start for the sunrise tomorrow!!

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