Greetings happy campers. First of all, I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas 2017, and in case I forget to send another newsletter before then, a very Happy New Year. 2017 has certainly been great for me and I plan to make the most of 2018, and I hope you are able too.
We explore the south rim of the Grand Canyon and then drive back to Las Vegas through Route 66.
We fly to Las Vegas, Nevada and Drive all the way to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, in Arizona.
Show notes / script
Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas!
So, we are landing at Las Vegas McCarran airport and as we land we can see the strip from the air. The strip just in case you don’t know, is the main boulevard where all the big hotels are, such as the Stratosphere Tower, The Circus Circus, the Winn and Encore, the Venetian, Paris, Aria, the green one is the MGM Grand, where we’re staying.
We have arrived at Las Vegas. As you enter the terminal you realize you are in Vegas. There are slot machines everywhere.
We take a taxi to the MGM Grand. It is normally a rather pricey hotel, but during the weekdays it is very reasonable. The weekend, however is another story, so we’ll stay somewhere else then. But for now let’s live it up and enjoy.
Las Vegas hallways give me a headache
We get a pretty good room. And of course everything outside is green because the hotel is grees. We have a nice TV and most importantly, hm minibar.
And finally our restroom… hello everybody.
We are at the MGM Grand
Yay! Electric shades. I know I get silly sometimes. Good night.
Good morning Las Vegas.
We go out to explore the strip a little bit. We take the bridge to the Tropicana. And then the New York, New York.
And the Monte Carlo.
We haven’t been here for a couple of years so some things have changed since the last time we visited sin city. There is this new complex called City Centre with street art, restaurants, a shopping mall, and a couple of new hotels such as the Aria… quite nice, actually.
This is the mall inside City Centre. It is the Chinese New Year so everything is decorated accordingly.
We see something odd with the strip, helicopters flying around. We don’t really know what it is until we realize that there is no traffic. The strip has been closed by the police, as there was a horrible shooting the previous night between two guys who left a hotel in their cars, which resulted in a fatal accident with a taxicab. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time for the poor people in the cab. Very sad. We, the tourists however are taking advantage of the situation, taking pictures, having the strip all to ourselves. At the Paris hotel we take a taxi to downtown.
Here in the downtown area we visit the recently opened Neon Boneyard. It is a museum dedicated to Las Vegas history through the evolution of its neon and other electric signs. Our guide, a fellow named Troy is really passionate about his job, and the history of Las Vegas, a city where old buildings are quickly replaced by shiny new ones. We lean about the evolution of signs from small ones designed for people arriving on horseback and how they evolved so they could be seen by people driving at 60 miles per our on the highway. They built taller and shinier signs as times change and the old hotels are demolished or renovated. Fully recommend this tour. …
Part of the museum building itself was originally the lobby of the La Concha hotel, transported to this location piece by piece.
After the museum we walk a few blocks to Fremont Street. The walk itself is a little scary due to all the homeless people hanging around.
This large canopy above on Fremont street above becomes a large screen at night displaying a great audiovisual show which is called the Fremont Street Experience. Many of the great old style Vegas casinos are still here. Lets go inside the Golden Nugget.
The Golden Nugget is one of the oldest casinos in the city. It was built in 1946. A section of the aquarium facing the swimming pool contains full grown sharks. No kidding.
We continue walking on Fremont Street until we reach the Plaza, perhaps one of the most iconic hotels in old Vegas. Ok, time to go back. Some of this neon signs are classic originals, which have been restored by the Neon Museum. Last but not least try our luck at El Cortez, which is probably the last casino that still has slot machines that accept coins.
Ok, we are leaving Las Vegas, like in the movie The first stop in our road trip is Hoover Dam. On the way we pass by Boulder City and the Lake Mead recreational area.
As we arrive, first we walk on the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial bridge, yeah that’s a mouthful also known as the Hoover Dam bypass, to get a commanding view of the huge concrete structure that creates lake mead, also known as Hoover Dam. The bridge opened in 2010 and was built to bypass the old section of the highway, which went over the dam.
This is also the border between the states of Nevada and Arizona, and the Pacific and Mountain Time Zones. It has the widest concrete arch in the western hemisphere and it is the second highest in the United States. Next we proceed to visit the dam itself.
Hoover Dam was considered and engineering marvel, and the largest dam in the world at the time of its construction in the 1930’s. 96 workers lost their lives during the construction but contrary to urban legend, none of them is buried in the concrete. It is also famous for the art deco design of its four towers, spillways, and power plant. As we walk back and forth, we encounter this small monument that marks the border between Nevada and Arizona. 1 pm, it’s noon, it is 1 pm it is noon.
There are also these Illuminati looking statues, a monument dedicated to the triumph of scientific accomplishment. It is considered good luck to rub their feet, so if you believe in that, rub away, go right back to Vegas and hit the roulette. We drive on top of the dam onto the Arizona side. Wait, wait, wait, lets take a picture with the Arizona sign. C’mon, people, lets move it along. Finally. Oh crap! We almost ran them over.
We park to get this great view of the structure.
And further up we get an even better view.
OK, it is time to hit the road again. Lets continue towards the Grand Canyon.
We continue due east as we immerse ourselves into the heart of Native American land the Hualapai, the Havasupai, and further down the Hopi and Navajo. A quarter of Arizona is American Indian reservations, did you know that? We stop for a scenic view of the Colorado River and buy some Native American jewelry.
We take route 93 and then interstate 40 for the long drive towards the south rim of the Grand Canyon. It was our original intention to take historic route 66 but it is getting late.
We are driving through the desert towards the Grand Canyon. I made a small navigational error, not navigation, time error. And we are going to arrive there right at sunset. I didn’t take into account that the Grand Canyon was in Central, I mean Mountain Time and Las Vegas is in Pacific Time, so there you go.
The sight of the Red Butte in the distance tells us we are almost there.
It is getting dark as we arrive to the Grand Canyon National Park. We do get to see some wildlife on the way.
We are practically racing against time to reach the south rim before sunset. And we finally make it to the Bright Angel Lodge.
The first view of this wonder of the world is at sunset is truly breathtaking.
Coming up on our next episode we explore the south rim of the Grand Canyon and then drive on historic Route 66, and finally of course we enjoy Las Vegas Nevada.
Also check out our previous episode in which we enjoyed Miami and its festivals.