Monday, August 29, 2005

Road Trip - Day 5

Day 5 – June 29 – Las Vegas to Grand Canyon

A quick breakfast at the Circus Circus bagel shop, a stop at the casino for a few more souveniers, and we're back on the road. Leaving Las Vegas, baby.

But first, a stop at Albertsons to get gas and bottled water, then on to Lake Mead and Hoover Dam. Since 9/11, commercial trucks have been banned from the dam (unless they go through a long pre-screening process and get permits to cross), and cars are "randomly" selected for inspection. Not much of a slowdown today, and we're soon paying $5 for the privilege of parking in the garage at the west end of the dam.

It's dam big, dam hot, and dam expensive to take the tour. We take photos, check out the tomb of the dam dog, head back to the car, and cross the dam into Arizona. Arizona is on mountain time, but doesn't participate in daylight savings time, so we set our watches ahead zero minutes. (I find it's easier to think that Arizona's on Pacific time in the summer and mountain time in the winter, which works, although it's not really true.)

70 downhill miles later, we arrive in Kingman, and have lunch at a 50's style diner on Route 66. At the table next to us, there's a family speaking a foreign language; my guess is Swedish, although they're not punctuating their statements with "bork bork bork". Kim and I discuss how multi-cultural our trip has been so far, with the wide cross section of people we saw in Vegas and now here.

Back on the road, and another 70 miles to Seligman, where we stop for gas and a snack. I'm not sure why it's considered the "Birthplace of Route 66", considering it's not at either end and not really at the center, but it is (really, the sign says so, so it must be true). Route 66 parallels I-40 for the next 18 miles, so we take the dusty two-lane paved road through the hilly desert, and after passing a chain gang cleaning trash, we reconnect with the interstate, and soon reach the turn to SR-64 to the Grand Canyon.

There's a bunch of brush fires in the news -- we're a bit worried about our trip over the next few days -- and we see a couple spots of smoke on the horizon (photo enhanced to show smoke plumes).

We soon arrive at the park entrance, but still see no sign of the canyon. Krys points out, "Dad, it's a hole in the ground. You won't be able to see it from far away." Duh.

We take the long way in, stopping at a few overlooks, and check into the Maswik Lodge and have dinner. The food is typical cafeteria food, but with a really surly staff. Yum. We finish in time to catch the sunset, and watch the entertainment as some fool climbs onto an outcropping where one slip means a thousand foot fall bouncing down the sides of the canyon. He makes it out, and after sunset makes it back. The smoke on the horizon makes for a hazy sunset, but it's still pretty spectacular.

We head back to the lodge, hang out for a bit, then come back to watch the stars come out. They do, we're impressed (hmm...) and head back to go to bed.

Miles today: 298
Miles total: 1612

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