Thursday, November 21, 2013

October Travels - Part One

As many of you know, I spent more of October "on the road" than at home.  My first trip was to Boise ID, Kingman AZ, and Las Vegas NV.

 My trip to Boise was work related. I spent three days in meetings and presentations in a Convention Center. I didn't see much of the town except the two-block area between my hotel and the Convention Center, hence no photos. But here's one of the Boise airport at 4:30 a.m. as I was arriving to make my very early flight to meet Jay in Vegas. Really hoppin' place!
 Jay and I met up at the Vegas airport, rented a car, and hit the road. First stop, the Hoover Dam. You can't get the whole thing in one photo. We did the tour - it really is a marvel of engineering and a LOT of hard labor. After the Hoover Dam, we made the drive to Kingman where we were spending the night. A whole lot of nothing to see on the way there. Day Two we were up early and headed to the Grand Canyon West Rim.
 On the way there we saw a LOT of these trees. I instagrammed a photo captioned "weird scrubby cactus trees."  Deb was able to correct me and let me know that these are in fact called Joshua Trees. And apparently they are a form of cacti.

The landscape other than the primitive looking Joshua trees was very barren and desolate. For miles and miles and miles. And I have to tell you that honestly, Jay and I were wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. Because of the U.S. Government shut down, the National Parks were closed. So our planned trip to the Grand Canyon National Park was quickly changed to a trip to the West Rim, land owned by the Hualapai Indians.

But as we learned, sometimes the best trips are the ones that aren't planned out to the smallest detail in advance.
 Can you imagine our surprise when we saw this wild coyote just standing at the side of the road? We pulled over to take photos (from the safety of the car, on the other side of the road) and the coyote just looked at us as if to say "what's up dudes?" It didn't run, just stood it's ground and pretty much ignored us. We also saw free range cattle. But not much else.
 We finally made it to the West Rim and hopped the tour bus to the first stop - Eagle Point. And this was the view. It is called Eagle point because the rock formation from about 1/3 in on the left to the halfway point of the photo looks like an eagle with outstretched wings. The Hualapai consider this ground sacred. After miles and miles of open scrubby flat desert, the first view of the Canyon was really something else.
 The Canyon at the West Rim is not the "big hole in the ground" I was expecting to see. Rather it is a series of sheer cliff faces with a valley running through them carved out by years and years of erosion from the Colorado River running through. And it is like nothing I've ever seen before.
 The highlight of our day was when we decided at the last minute (literally - we got one of the last helicopters of the day) to take a helicopter tour. After swooping along the sides of the cliffs, we (along with two other people) were dropped off at this landing site. From which we walked down a very steep path and lot of stairs to reach the river.
 Where we hopped a boat and took a ride down the Colorado River.  See that bit of brown to the left of the photo? That shows where the level of the Colorado River has dropped 14 feet in the last 20 years. A combination of not enough snow/rain coming down the mountain and the people of California, Nevada, and Arizona pumping the river for water for drinking, irrigation, and basic needs. I wonder how much longer that can last?
You can see the water level drop in this photo as well, on the right.

We thought we would be at West Rim a couple of hours. We were there ALL day! It was beautiful and I'm glad we had the opportunity to go.

The next day our plans were to drive "Highway 66" - we made from Kingman to Peach Springs before we were bored out of our minds. Seriously nothing to see in that area. So we turned around and headed to an abandoned mine town called Chloride that we had seen advertised in a number of brochures.  Well, Chloride was a total bust too! Everything was closed. The saloon style restaurant, the antique shop, the artist shop ... all CLOSED. The only thing in town that was open was the general store. Very touristy junky stuff.

So we gave up and headed back to Las Vegas.
 Pulling into the Las Vegas area, you could see the town enveloped in a yellowish cloud - dust? smog? Not sure. But it wasn't pretty!
 One of the casinos - New York, New York from the outside - made to look like a bit of the city (it totally doesn't). Las Vegas is one casino after another, all themed, mostly gaudy. And lots and lots and lots of people. The lights, the press of humanity, the blinking, dinging, smoky casino floors... as we walked around, Jay and I agreed that we just didn't get the attraction.
 While in Vegas, we saw two shows - first up was the Blue Man Group. Awesome! Loved every minute and would highly recommend anyone to see this if they ever have the opportunity.
And David Copperfield. The magician. The show was really well done - but Jay and I have watched way too many documentaries on how the magicians do this stuff. So I found myself spending the whole time trying to analyze how the tricks were done rather than suspending disbelief and just enjoying the show. Sometimes too much pragmatism isn't a good thing! :)

All in all, Jay and I very much enjoyed our little getaway and are looking forward to the opportunity to travel together again. We loved Grand Canyon West Rim and would still like to see the Grand Canyon National Park again someday. We thoroughly enjoyed the shows, but agree that neither of us needs to visit Vegas again.

I hope to be back tomorrow with Part Two of my October travels.


Anonymous said...

Love the coyote photo and think you very brave to go in a helicopter, not something I would do so readily!

Karen said...

I'm totally phobic about heights and don't know if I could get in a helicopter, but I will tell you that you saw more of the Grand Canyon from the West Rim than I remember seeing from the national park! Gorgeous photos! (And our views on Vegas are the same!)

Barbara Eads said...

Your photos are fabulous! They bring back memories of our long ago trip to Vegas too!

Maria Ontiveros said...

Dam, those are great photos! LOL!
Like Karen, there's no way I could get in a helicopter.
Love the coyote as well.

Melissa said...

Great photos from the West Rim & I'm really jealous of the helicopter & boat rides. I have not been to the Grand Canyon . . . guess I could put that on my bucket list, huh?

Miriam said...

Your pictures are just fabulous Cheri. I'm not sure I could get in the helicopter either but I would really love to see the Grand Canyon....

Missus Wookie said...

My SIL did a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and loved it too. I have family in LVegas and haven't been tempted - just not my thing.

She adored it tho'... Great rock photos. I want to go to the petrified forest there too.