Hoover Dam, Route 66 and The Grand Canyon

We wake up and pack up. We now have an extra bag full of stuff as we seem to have bought quite a bit of gear here- mainly clothes for the kids and we have to dump a few things. I give Mum and Paul a quick call to let them know we have survived without gambling absolutely everything. They have been to Plymouth this weekend to clean up our house- thank you so much! We check out and I feel sad, Las Vegas is just complete mayhem really and I’ve loved it. I could have easily stayed a lot longer. (And gambled it all!)

We drive through downtown Las Vegas and look at all the wedding chapels on the way, it is the bank holiday Labor Day weekend and Vegas is packed with brides and grooms. We laugh when we see a drive through wedding- how mad is that -they don’t even get out the car!

We take the 93 out to the Hoover Dam. This huge and famous dam of the Black Canyon on the Colorado River was completed in 1935. It’s a strange, wild, bare and rocky looking place and so hot it’s unreal. We drive over the dam and take a quick photo of the short side, there wasn’t really anywhere to stop and we are in a rush to get onto the freeway. Heading towards Kingman we have the choice of getting on the freeway to Williams or taking Route 66. The longer way is of course on Route 66 and we decide due to lack of time to take the freeway. (Definitely the most sensible option)

10 minutes later and Route 66 it is – getting our kicks-yeh! How could we possibly take the freeway when we have discovered today we can plug our MP3′s straight into the car stereo and listen to all our favourite tunes on the way. It’s amazing, as I always thought it would be- miles of long straight road cutting through the Hualapai Indian Reservation, we pass tiny Peach Springs on the way. Good job Dad told us to fill up with gas before taking this road; we hardly see any other cars let alone anything else. Except the mirages, shimmering across the road, it looks as though there’s water lying across it.

At Williams we take the 64 to Tusayan and The Grand Canyon. Its getting quite late in the afternoon and we’re hoping to catch the sunset here. We pay our park fee- $25 and head in. Parking the car, I feel excited and as we walk towards the South Rim of the Canyon it feels a bit unreal to be here. Sort of unexpected for us over the past couple of months, we didn’t expect to even be in America.

It’s awesome- as amazing as anything I have ever seen and a truly stunning view. Nothing can prepare anyone for the vastness of the canyon in the flesh. Over a mile deep in places, around 277 miles long and ranging from 4-18 miles wide it is known for its overwhelming size and intricate and colourful landscape. Today the rocky outcrops seem to glow a deep, dark red in the late afternoon sun. We take a stack of photographs from every angle, but trying to capture the hugeness of it is impossible.

We walk around the rim and in the end sort of give in to it. There is no way that we will be able to experience even a fraction of what the canyon is so we just sit together, watch the sunset and gaze at what we can see in awe. It is truly an inspiring and beautiful place.

Back in the car, we take the 180 to Flagstaff where we plan to stop for the night. By now it is getting dark and the hour long journey is eerie in the dusk. We put the roof down, turn up Pink Floyd – loud! and watch the nightime drawing in. Behind us the sky is deepest orange, the tall skinny trees silhouetted against the clouds and ahead a scary looking inky blackness. Lightening illuminates the sky completely; every couple of seconds and the electric forks crackle in the distance. It was almost an other worldly experience, partly thrilling, partly nightmare- like some kind of strange hallucination.

At 8.30pm we finally reach Flagstaff, exhausted! Today has been tough but amazing and I know we haven’t spent enough time here. Off to bed now- had some pizza – more junk. Oh god.