By way of New York of course.
We left New York in the afternoon and arrived in Las Vegas around 8 pm local time. It was like walking into an oven. We spent the night at Doubletree Airport Hotel. Their shuttle service was convenient (airport or MGM on the strip) but they dropped us off at the car rental center by request the following morning; their beds comfortable and a coffee/tea machine in the room to please my mother.
The next day, Sunday, we checked out and got our silver Toyota Camry from the Budget kiosk. In no time, US-93S had taken us to the mountains. In less than 30 minutes, we were by the Hoover Dam and I decided to detour. We drove over to the Arizona side to park for free then walked about 10 minutes back to the Visitor’s Center where we signed up for the next available tour which happened to be the shorter and cheaper Power Plant Tour. We were actually impressed by this National Historic Landmark – a “modern civil engineering wonder” – built during the Great Depression in a record five years.
We then sauntered off for scenic views of Lake Mead, created by the damming of the Colorado River. Except, I was the only one interested in marveling nature so I left my mother in the car. In her words “as for this one, we have nicer ones in Ghana”. When I came back, I was slightly thrown off because there were now two silver Toyota Camrys side by side with the exact license plate number save one digit. It took the owners of the other car a couple seconds also to realize the similarity and we exchanged pictures. They were from Alabama and they too had rented from Budget!
I had brought my Garmin Navigator with me, maps updated this year. Would you know it that this thing was totally thrown off by the new Hoover Dam Bridge. It would have sent me around in circles! Instead, I followed local signs back to US-93S on the Nevada side to re-enter Arizona again.
Our next stop was Kingman, AZ a couple hours later where we lunched at Popeyes! I decided to detour again, this time taking the historic route 66 (The Mother Road in John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath). I’m not sure what I was expecting. It’s one of the original American highways built during the Great Depression that allowed folks to move out west by following prior trails laid out by earlier railroads and even earlier explorers. The road was bare. It would have been great to have been in a convertible with the top down you know like in classic American movies. Tumbleweeds just kept blowing across the road and I found the “caution animal” signs amusing as there was more variety than the deer signs back east. Along the way I would ooh and ahh at the changing vegetation and the birds of prey (?condors) gliding not too far ahead. This of course led to words from my mother such “as for this one, in the village it will come and pick your chicks and you will be shoo-shooing it away”. Why doesn’t she just enjoy nature with me? I did see a few vintage gas stations, cars, and motel signs and I did stop and back-up a couple times for pictures. What?! There was no-one else on the highway! Overall, I could see myself transported back in time to the Old West, to old America, so it was a nice diversion. One day, I will consider a proper road trip on it from Chicago all the way to Los Angeles (~4000km) if I can convince myself that it’s worth doing.
In any case in Seligman we got off route 66 and got onto Interstate 40 and a couple hours later entered the Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim). It was now almost 5 pm. At the visitor’s center we met an astrologist and took a glance at the sun through his humongous telescope. We viewed the speck of Earth’s reflection and the “feathers” at the bottom that were the gases that made up the sun. We took the Blue Bus to Bright Angel and were finally able to see the magnificence that is the Grand Canyon.
The Bright Angel Trail is an old Native American trail used by the Havasupai which was improved upon in the late 1800s and became part of the National Park Service in the 1920s. It is at an elevation of 6900 feet and is 7.7 miles of a trek down to the Colorado River. We hiked the upper section which was very nice and wide. My mother was at first very nervous but I kept coaxing her down and when she saw that the path remained wide, she felt better though she would still feel dizzy when looking out over the Canyon. The views were just incredible.What else can I say? I would have continued going down were it not already late in the afternoon and were not my mother with me. At the point we turned around, some other hikers who had come up from below passed us by and upon doing so turned around and asked us where we were from. My mother replied “Ghana”, and the man in the party stated “I knew it”. He apparently grew up in Liberia, worked with someone in the Ghana Football Association and went back and forth to Accra quite often. Who would have thought it?!
We came back up (more difficult actually) and caught the Red Bus out to Hopi Point for some amazing sunset views. It may have been scorching hot earlier in the day at the Hoover Dam, but here in the Grand Canyon with the sun descended it was cold, cold, COLD! There isn’t much light around so it was quite fortunate that I had the foresight to bring a torch, ahem flashlight. But I did not have the foresight to take it out of my luggage and carry around so going back to Yavapai Lodge where we spent the night was quite the adventure. My mother took to walking in the middle of the road, stating that the cars coming will see her in their headlights.
I got the torch and we went out to the Visitor Centers where the Star Gazing Party was taking place then we returned to our lodge to call it a night!
The following day I did not wake up to see the sunrise. Instead I woke up when I felt like it and we drove the 25 miles Desert View Drive which also had amazing scenic views out to the Watchtower. The park ranger explained that each stone was handpicked for it’s location by Mary Colter and was used in its original form. She even included stones that had hieroglyphs on them. It’s a larger mimic of a traditional Anasazi watchtower.Inside the walls are covered with murals depicting Hopi mythology..It also contains a gift shop at the entrance and an obsveration deck at the top.