Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Getting our kicks on Route 66

Yesterday was yet another example of the wonderful paradox that is America. We started the day in the vast tranquility of the Grand Canyon and finished it in the 24/7 bright lights and turmoil of Las Vegas.

The Canyon was magnificent yesterday, even tempting me to the edge to drink in a few more views before we packed up for our trip West. The isolation of the GC village means there is little choice in eateries so once again we had breakfast at the Bright Angel. The food there is adequate but the table service is soooo slow. Despite the restaurant being half empty we waited 20 minutes for anyone to take our order and another 20 before our coffee and breakfast arrived. By then it was really close to check out time so we had to bolt our food down and run. Not quite the leisurely pack up time we'd hoped for!
View from the path outside our room

From the GC we drove to Williams and then we got off the Interstate and picked up the historic Route 66 to Kingman.

Route 66 is a long, straight, mindless road of nothingness. The speed limit is 65 but you can understand how Lightning McQueen got caught speeding because there's no corners and virtually no other cars. The side of the road is littered with remnants of the Mother Road's heyday; abandoned gas stations and motels that gave us great insight into the inspiration for Radiator Springs. You also get another sense of the magnitude of the Grand Canyon. We'd been driving for 3 hours but we were still skirting the western rim.

From Kingman to Las Vegas the scenery changes again. With mountains in the near distance on either side, the desert prairie of the roadside is highlighted. Desert scrub and cacti cover the paddocks (I know they aren't called paddocks here but I don't know how else to describe them!). There are lots of signs advertising land for sale and clearly these offers are being taken up. There aren't many houses but lots of trailers and huts dotted among scrub.

We reached the Hoover Dam just on sunset and luckily with enough light left to appreciate this engineering wonder. The immensity of the structure is impossible to describe. It's a couple of miles just to drive down to the dam level. We were too late to take advantage of the information areas or guided tours but just in time to take a couple of photos and confuse ourselves with yet another time change as the dam sits on the state border. On the Hoover bridge pylons there are two clocks, one with Arizona time and one with Nevada time. We weren't quite sure which time zone we were in as we sat in the middle!

Driving into Vegas in the dark is just as you imagine it, a sea of twinkling lights in the desert. We booked a suite at the MGM Signature for $59 plus tax. The bathroom is bigger than most of the rooms we've stayed in till now and it includes valet parking and all the other perks of an expensive hotel but without the bill. If you want a cheap holiday (and don't intend to spend the change in the casino) then Vegas is clearly the place to be.

After dinner we put Sophie in a cab so she could go back to slumming it in the hostels while she spends her last couple of weeks touring California with a friend. We won't see her again till she gets back to Aus. Tonight we saw the 7 day weather forecast and realised we'll be home before the last day of it. Where has that time gone?

1 comment:

  1. I have loved reading your journey around the USA. I hope you enjoy you few days left over there.