This will be one of those days that will be inevitably etched in my mind. After bidding a fond farewell to my lovely wife, Diana a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed. I took my leave of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and set forth for Gallup in New Mexico via The South Rim of The Grand Canyon in Arizona. My journey started eastwards on the I-215 under bright overcast conditions and having reached Boulder City and turning right onto the I-93 near The Hoover Dam I observed spectacular red rock scenery. Suddenly having gone around a fairly decent bend in the road an impressive vista of Lake Mead hove into view (for pictures please see my previous post “A Dam’ Fine Excursion) and having covered just over 34 miles I have left Nevada and entered Arizona. After a total of 46 miles I stopped at a scenic overview on the Nevada Highway and enjoyed a wondrous view of the Colorado River (see picture below). I stopped to fill the Corvette up at Kingman just before turning east on the I-40 at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and opposite the filling station stood a rather rickety gaming establishment which I was reliably informed by the filling station cashier “Wuz where all them big guns hung aat”.
After about 150 miles I’m on a high plateau in the Rockies and the excellent scenery that is rolling by the window is a mixture of pasture land, forested areas, scrub and some horse country. The plateau descends into a tiny town on route 66 called Ashfork and I decided to visit the museum. The museum is free and I am encouraged by a member of staff who outnumber the visitor (me) by 4 to 1 and I peruse the exhibits which were of interest. I particularly enjoyed the fire engine and for this and other photographs please click on “More Photos” in the Flickr panel on the right hand side of this blog and then navigate to day 14. After leaving Ashfork and nearing the turn off for the road which will lead me to the South Rim of The Grand Canyon the scenery changes and becomes reminiscent of the Alpine scenery one would find in the Austrian Tyrol on a summers day. At 221 miles I have turned north onto AZ 64 and am headed up to The Grand Canyon. The road steadily climbs and the road runs through a pine forest and the aroma is gorgeous. I’m beginning to hum snatches from Elgar’s Variations, it’s just that sort of road.
Finally I arrive at the entrance to the park and I notice that the entry fee is $25. So, I reach for my wallet and get out the plastic and my Florida driving license for photo ID. The very nice park ranger makes the assumption that I’m a 63 year old Floridian and therefore I just pay $10 entry fee and receive a pass that now entitles me to free entry to all the national parks in the USA for life and that also covers anyone (up to three people) in my car! What a bargain! I commence my 13 mile journey along the South Rim and to say that it’s spectacular is an understatement. It takes me more than two hours to cover this paltry distance and I wish that I had much more time to spend in this beautiful place.It is indeed, one of the wonders of the world and if you can’t get there soon, then please have a look at all the photographs that I have taken on Day 14 of my Flickr photo stream. I have to say that I think my photographs are pretty good and please leave some comments on them and be sure to tell me which one you think is the best one. I’m having a very tough time trying to make the choice!
All too soon I leave The Grand Canyon and at mile 309 I’m driving south-east on my way to Flagstaff and then onto Gallup. At mile 343 I’m on the US 89 and I’m skirting The Painted Desert and once more I wish I had time to stop and stare. I reach Flagstaff after a total of 389 miles and pick up the I-40 east towards Gallup and I’m at an elevation of 6000 feet and that’s after I have descended from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon! I continue my downward journey and after another 35 miles I’ve dropped a further 1000 feet and I’m in Geronimo country. I’m about 80 miles west of Gallup and the scenery puts me straight into a cowboy movie. You expect to see teeming herds of Buffalo and hordes of native Americans between the flat topped eroded mesa’s on either side of the roadway and that big band theme tune from “The Big Country” is rattling around in my head followed by the whistling “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”. I’m now off the I-40 and on historic route 66 as the sun is setting behind my left shoulder and I begin to feel like a High Plains Drifter. Oh! very cherooted Clint Eastwood indeed, as I leave Arizona and enter New Mexico. At long last I arrive at my hotel in Gallup which is a town that you would just spend one night in because you’re too tired to travel any further. Tomorrow I’m going to get my kicks on route 66!
For the techies amongst you the mileage covered was 559.5 at an average speed of 61.2 mph and I achieved 23.7 mpg.
Today is our last full day at The Bellagio and Diana, a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed, and I have throughly enjoyed our time here. We spent the day relaxing around the Cypress Pool (very large sumptuous sun loungers) and had a quiet dinner together. Tomorrow, Tuesday May 1, Diana flies to Miami and then drives to Lakewood Ranch near Sarasota in south-west Florida while I start my 2500 mile return car journey. My first stop will be Gallup in New Mexico after visiting The South Rim of The Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Having gently awoken She Who Must Be Obeyed from her sonorous slumber and having enjoyed a healthy breakfast (orange juice, muesli, coffee and a huge croissant laden with butter and preserve) we put best foot forward and in no time we had collected my Corvette from the valet. A gentle drive down Las Vegas Boulevard on a Sunday morning brought us to our destination, The Stratosphere! We took the lift (elevator for my American readers) which speedily rose the 1,149 feet to the observation deck where we enjoyed the views over Las Vegas. Not only did we gaze in wonder at the wondrous panorama but at the congenital idiots that paid good money to be sent spinning out into the atmosphere on reputedly the highest roller coaster in the world. We were also amazed at the foolhardy that had forked out $149.00 to be attached to wire and then flung off the top of the building hurtling down to the ground 1,149 feet below. If you look closely at one of the photographs below you will see a person in a blue overall plummeting towards the earth’s surface allegedly seeking entertainment. To see a larger image just click on the photo or click on the Flickr links on the right hand side of this blog to see images of the day and navigate to Day 12.
By now the temperature in Las Vegas had risen to 87F (30.5C for my British readers) and we decided to drive out to Mt. Charleston about 40 miles away. We were soon climbing steadily enjoying the scenery and breathing in the pine laden scent which was superior to the artificial aroma emitted by some popular lavatory cleaning agents. We stopped for lunch at a ski lodge opposite Mt. Charleston Baptist Church (have you noticed that where there is a church there’s always a hostelry of some description?) at an elevation of 6000 feet and the temperature was a pleasant 65F (18.33C) although She Who Must Be Obeyed was making noises about getting her fur lined cape out of the boot (trunk) of the car! Fortunately, for all concerned, on this beautiful sunny day there was a blazing log fire inside the lodge! Continuing our healthy eating regime we lunched upon a chicken salad wrap accompanied with deep goose fat fried potatoes and to stay healthy we had unsweetened iced tea to which She Who Must Be Obeyed added a small quantity of aspartame.
After enjoying the vista from the terrace and being duly fortified we continued the assault on Mt. Charleston summit and we reached as far as we could go at an elevation of 8000 feet at the foot of the aptly named Cathedral Rock. By now the temperature was a refreshing 57F (13.89C) and She Who Must Be Obeyed retired to the heated seats of our chariot. It was amazing that within such a short distance one could leave the frenetic activity and desert temperatures of Las Vegas and enjoy such tranquil scenery and naturally pine scented fresh air! Please feel free to view todays photographs by clicking on “More Photos” in the Flickr panel on the right hand side of this blog.
We returned to our sumptuous room at the Bellagio in good time to change for our group dinner which was at the Milos restaurant at the Cosmopolitan. Then we were treated to the spectacular Cirque Du Soleil show in the “O” theatre at the Bellagio. I cannot find an adjective to describe this wonderful, ephemeral event (OK just two then) and I had to keep reminding myself that this 1800 seater theatre with its swimming pool set in the stage, that holds over a half million gallons of water is inside a hotel! This show was breathtaking and from now on I will look upon synchronised swimming in a different light. If you ever get the chance to see this spectacle then go and enjoy!
Today Diana (a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed) and I had a very pleasant 30 mile drive to Red Rock Canyon and then followed a scenic loop of some 13 miles around the canyon. The colours are fabulous and as the name implies there is an abundance of red sandstone rock over limestone. The Keystone Thrust Fault is, on which this Canyon is part of, like the famous San Andreas Fault (a break between two major rock bodies along which the break is vertical) the Keystone is horizontal. It began as gray limestone layers were pushed east during the end of the age of dinosaurs and ultimately “ramped” up through Jurassic Aztec Sandstone. Estimates of total eastward movement along this fault are as high as 40 miles. No, I haven’t overnight become a geologist but gleaned this information from their web site http://www.redrockcanyonlv.org . However, the photographs are mine and please view the entire shoot by clicking on the Flickr link in the right hand panel of this blog and select the road trip day 11 set. This was a great day out and we thoroughly enjoyed the scenery.
Upon our return to the Bellagio Hotel I took the opportunity to stand, stare and gawp at the marvelous fountain show that take place at the front of the hotel every day from 4.30 pm until midnight at 15 minute intervals. You will have to imagine the most effective syncopated fountain, light and music show which was beautiful to perceive. Have a look at the photographs on my Flickr site.
To round off the day we attended our group dinner at Le Cirque restaurant and later we retired to bed happy, tired and overfed!
I was up early this morning and out running just after 6 am and did my 3.2 miles. While I was out pounding the pavement I observed a youth of school age meandering along and when he reached the stop light he pushed the button in order to change the lights so that he could cross the road. However, on this long straight road there was no traffic in sight and the youth waited patiently for the light to change. Obviously, this young man has been so well trained that his decision powers will not stand in him good stead in later life!
By 8.45 am I was on the road having had an enjoyable evening at The Papago Inn, Scottsdale, AZ. It’s already 74F and overcast. My journey took me on US93 through Joshua Tree Parkway. A very enjoyable twisty, mountainous road with very unusual boulder formations and after 185 miles I joined the I 40. At 276 miles I had crossed the border from Arizona into Nevada. This whole stretch of the I 40 in both states was besieged with radar speed traps awaiting the unsuspecting motorist.
I arrived at The Bellagio Hotel in Las vegas and was duly greeted by my good lady wife, Diana, a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed and my car was emptied of luggage and duly whisked away before I could note today’s running statistics.
Having unpacked my bags in our very nice room Diana and I had a leisurely stroll and did a little light shopping! Light, in so far as the purchases did not weigh very much but quite heavy in other respects but when She Who Must Be Obeyed decides upon an article then my wallet seems to lose all sense of reason!
Tomorrow we have plans to visit somewhere famous but very unique!