Grand Canyon - Las Vegas 7.04.2002
Since I had a day off for the 4th of July and it was a Thursday, and since Doru and Laura suggested it, we took a trip in the west to visit Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and all what is great to see around those areas. We spent 4 wonderful days together and we had a blast. The trip was only 4 days long but we drove allot - I think about 1500 miles (pour Doru, he drove all the time...) - and we saw fantastic things. Let me tell you about the things we have seen and enjoy the pictures we have taken. If you need any of the pictures at a bigger resolution (they are scale to 640x480) please let me know and I will send it to you.
After careful planning of the trip and a short but vivid conversation at the phone trying to find plane tickets, we both, the Raleigh guy (me) and the Detroit guys (Doru and Laura) got plane tickets for planes that arrive in Vegas in the morning of the 4th and at 30 minutes distance. It was really a challenge to find decently cheap plane tickets for planes that leave in the morning and that arrive from Detroit and from Raleigh at about the same time in the morning. ... But we got it! Doru and Laura were scheduled to arrive in Vegas at 9.30 (and they had a little delay) and I was scheduled to arrive in Vegas at 10.30.
Since my flight was leaving Raleigh at 7 AM and since the new airport regulations require to get to the airport 2 hours before your scheduled flight, I had to be in the airport at 5, well, 5 ish. I did not had the guts and the cruelty to wake anybody up at 4.30 AM so I decided to park my car at the airport in the long term parking lot (which by the way I HAD to use when I picked up dad from his Chicago flight).
I got up bright and early at 4 - 4.30 grabbed my bags carefully packed the night before and there I went. Got to the airport by 4.50, took the shuttle bus from the parking lot to the terminal and got in line to the luggage check. No problem checking in my luggage although the line was not small. I had a e-ticket so the check-in was easier and the line was smaller. The security check line was LONG and I wad to stay in line for about 20 minutes and I go to the terminal.
The plane was on time and although REALLY small (probably about 40 - 60 places) the flight went well. This is the first time I get on a plane where you have to go down the stairs and walk on the airport ground to get in the plane... Oh well, each day you learn something new and if you don't you just lost a day right?
My connecting flight was from Dallas TX so again after a little wait in Dallas and another check in I got, this time on a decent size, on my final flight to Vegas. The flight was nice and the best part was that the flight corridor was very low altitude before getting to Vegas so I had a great view of the Grand Canyon, or should I call it the Great Canyon? The landing was ... short since the landing strip is VERY short. The pour pilots have to land on a post stamp there and the have to heavily hit the brakes after the landing is complete to not run out of concrete.
I got in the airport and picked up my bag (yes, they didn't lost it strangely enough) and I had the surprise that Doru and Laura were expecting me at the luggage claim.
After brief greetings we went to get the rental car and there we went. The plan was to drive the first day from Vegas to the well known (yeah, right!) huge (probably about 500 inhabitants) city of Tusayan which is right outside of the Grand Canyon national park. It would have been nice to stay in a hotel right in the park but ... Laura had to book a hotel in Tusayan (just kidding, of course we, the boyz, tormented her all the time about this).
Since the drive was long (who cares, Doru drove all the time :-)) but nothing that Doru can't handle, we decided to stop only for a short while at Hoover Dam. It is a big dam Dam. It is about 735 feet tall and it supplies water to Vegas and surroundings. For the Romanians, this is just about like Vidraru but a little bit taller (about 180 ft). I don't think is larger though...
We visited the dam and took a lot of pictures and we also decided to visit it inside since you could go on a tour right inside of the dam and see all the generators and the cool stuff. By the way, that was also the first time we felt how 110 deg. F feel (43 Celsius). It is pretty hot so it felt good to get inside and visit. You can look at the pictures (links at the bottom of the page) to see how cool it looks.
One of the cool things they told us and I remember was that they use the cold water from the bottom of the dam (45F) to cool air which passes through pipes and they shoot this air through the elevator shaft to cool off the visitor center so they don't use any AC. Nice way to lower your power bill. ... Hmmmm, maybe I'll build a dam to when I'll have a house...:-)
The visit was great but we had to get on the road.
We got in Tusayan at about 6-7 PM and checked in the hotel. The hotel
was nice and it even had a pool. Imagine how much the water costs there...
After the huge buffet dinner we had the previous night, we decided we need to to some walking. We took a map and we decided to drive to Grand Canyon Village and then to take the shuttle bus to Hermit's Rest (you can find all the cool trails on the Grand Canyon page) and to hike back toward the car. The hike was 8 miles so we decided to get on the shuttle bus when we get tired and to ride back.
We started the hike (see pictures) at the Hermit's Rest point after visiting the gift shop and after Laura of course bought some Indian bracelet from the gift shop. The hike was long but very interesting and exhausting. We almost puked our guts out (Laura doesn't want to admit it so, I am sorry, only us the boys were really tired).
What's so bad about an 8 miles hike? Well, 110 F temperature, 5 hour walk with very little rest and some water. No, we didn't had good REI hiking shoes and $100 socks, we didn't had high tech back packs and water synthesizers, we didn't had walking sticks and walking T-shirts. Just plane travel gear. Trust me, it can be done. You don't need all that sh..., uuuuhhh, stuff.
We followed the narrow trail on the rim of the canyon with a great view on our left being separated from the abyss sometime just by 10 - 20 in. of nothing. The points we passed on the maps were:
The rest of the trail went from point to point since the stopping points
and the overviews are very close on this end of the trail.
We ended the day with a nice dinner (by the way the Texas Stake House
restaurant where we ate, had rattle snake in the menu...) and again a
sunset walk on the rim of the canyon (I think this time we went toward
the east side).
We left Tusayan bright and early in the morning (at about 10 AM) since
we wanted to visit the north rim and the Zion national park in Utah.
Last day. All good things ...
We decided to go see the Death Valley,
the hottest place in USA.
There are two things you can't miss in the valley: Furnace Creek and Bad Water. We decided to see both.
Bad Water is the lowest point on land in the continental US. It is -280 ft so 280 ft. below sea level. I think it is called Bad Water because as you can see in our pictures, there is a little bit of water there but of course is salt water. The cool thing is that Doru brought his GPS and laptop (like I didn't had the laptop with me...) with him and we saw all the maps and landmarks on the computer to. I think the GPs registered even a lower altitude at Bad Water that the one posted. Here we also measured the highest temperature in all out trip: 121 deg. F (50 deg. Celsius). That's right, is not a typo, and I have to tell you it was HOTTTTT!. Now I understand why all the enlightments and seeing of strange things were in the desert. ... One hour in this heat and you will see anything you want!
We left Bad Water to visit the Furnace Creek ranch where it was recorded
the highest temperature in USA:56.7 C (134.0 F) on the 10th July, 1913.
It was pretty hot.
We left Death Valley to return to Vegas and to see how does Vegas look by night.
After a couple of hours of driving we got back to Vegas and we prepared to go out. We left the room at 7-8 we went on the stratosphere tower, the highest tower in Vegas for some aerial views of Vegas and to do some rides. They have a rolleroaster (pretty small but it takes you out of the tower so it is exciting - well, not according to to Doru-) and some thing they shoot you straight up and then they drop you down and you have the weightless feeling. The rides were OK. The view from the tower was awesome. Check out the pictures.
We left the hotel and got on the trolley that took us on the strip. At this time it was dark and all the lights were on. It was not real. If you imagine all the Christmas trees in the world put together that would be not even half of Vegas. All the hotels (or most of them) have a theme like Caesar's Palace - antique Rome, the Venetian - Venice, New York New York - obviously, New York and so on.
The night pictures came out pretty good. I should have shot more...
We got back in the room at 2 AM and I had to get up on the morning at 4.30 since my flight was living at 7. I had to wake Doru up at 5 to take me to the airport. I should have taken a cab... We found the airport and I got back home after the whole day of flying (3 hours time difference) now with a stop in Cincinnati. Pretty cool since I haven't seen neither Dallas nor Cincinnati so now I can say I have been there to.
I got home just on time on Monday to drive fast to my scuba class.
This is it. We had a great time and we have seen wonderful things. I hope you enjoy the story and the pictures.
Her are the pictures:
|Updated July 16, 2002 5:04 PM by Vlad Pambucol|