The end of our RV fun, but the holiday continues!!
This was our longest drive in a while, 232 miles which with all the traffic etc, took us just over five hours. The landscape was unchanging, dry white sand very little half dead scrub and large chiselled mountains in the background.
As we crossed the border from California into Nevada, we immediately saw that we were in a tax wealthy state. The roads became smooth, although that was short lived and the rest area for drivers, was the best we had seen anywhere. Beautiful huge area with shade covers and picnic tables, all very smart looking indeed.
The other notable was miles and miles of solar panels, like a stretch of about 10 miles. Well they have SO much sunshine, they may as well make good use of it.
The phone was running hot with people calling to see if we had arrived into Las Vegas 'we want to buy it'; 'sell it to me'; be fair man, you only gave me 10 minutes to call back and then you tell me you have another coming to look at it'. Anyhow, there had been a very interested couple who, as it happened, were staying in an RV park next to ours. So they came to look and bought it, together with the scooter attachment for the RV. Whereas the other enquirers were more interested in the scooter only. Phew! One less chore before we put the RV into storage on the 18th.
Before arriving in Las Vegas, we had pre-booked a dinner and show. We had wanted to see David Copperfield, however he had no shows during our time of stay. Still wanting to see a ‘magic show’, we chose to see Mat Franco, performing at the Linq Hotel. He won America’s Got Talent last year, and was amazing. Oh what sleight of hand. It was fantastic to see these acts, all card related. He had a great personality and was able to get wonderful audience participation, all good fun and left us wondering how he did this or that trick.
The fountain at Ceasars Palace
Prior to the show we walked up and down 'The Strip'. Walked in awe around Caesars Palace, had our first spiral escalator experience, then into Hotel Bellagio, Flamingo etc. Inside Caesars Palace, we were surprised to see a Peter Lik Photo gallery. Of course we had to make a stop and admire, once again, this very talented photographer. For those reading this, who don't know about him; he was born in Melbourne and until recently had a gallery in Noosa. He now lives in Las Vegas. He recently made a world record by selling a photograph, for the most amount of money any photographer has sold for, a cool $6.5 million! Very talented indeed.
We never realised that one can still smoke inside casinos, and some folk were making the most of it. Twice we saw men with enormous cigars in their mouths and people walking the streets with alcohol in their hands, all unusual to see these days. We took a stroll down 'off the strip' and again, it being Halloween, the decor was prevalent, there were some interesting, scary, mannequins about.
Mannequin "Off The Strip" - look at the beautiful fall colours
Thereafter we had dinner at a Mexican Restaurant, we had both been hankering after Mexican food and we were not disappointed.
High Roller - Big Wheel at Linq takes a half hour to go round
We got talking to a local, in fact the security man at our RV park, as we were interested to know what, besides the Casinos and live shows, happens in Las Vegas. Apparently, nothing. Quite amazing watching so many people gamble. Okay, I won't lie, we too were led into temptation, but just a few $'s on one arm bandit machines. Our money remained there, we didn't win a cent! 'The Strip' area has a different mayor and different rules to the rest of Las Vegas, hence the drinking in streets. Also one can only hail a taxi or get an Uber, within an hotel area, not from the street.
We left Las Vegas at our intended 9a.m. and began the journey to Williams, in Arizona. We had only travelled about 25 miles when we saw the Hoover Dam sign. We knew the dam was in the area, but quite frankly, although we had noted it as a 'to see' we thought it would be too long a drive out of Vegas. We didn’t realize it would be only a short diversion off our intended route.
We went through a major security check, Chuck was asked to open all external hatches and they were inspected, whilst I had to open the bathroom door, for another officer to check nothing or nobody suspicious was in there. It's ok.....I got my other lover to hop out of a window and he popped back in when nobody was looking. We were given the thumbs up sign and about a mile on, found a parking spot. This was one impressive sight to see!
Hoover Dam - the white area shows where the water can get up to when full. It has not been there since 1986
We were no sooner across the border and into the Arizona area and it was quite notable. The mountains were huge, chocolate brown and it was extremely arid. I could visualize cowboy movies being shot in the area and the theme song from The Good the Bad and the Ugly was playing in my head.
About 50 miles before we arrived into Williams, the terrain once again changed and we saw huge boulders and pillar like rock structures, quite spectacular, followed by green shrubs.
Well to my utter amazement the biggest surprise of all, was arriving into Williams and seeing 'fall colours'. Both Chuck and I thought we were heading for desert like area, but Lo and behold, trees turning colour! The RV Park was a large one, alongside the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel. This RV site was chosen by Chuck, for the railway next door, on which we had pre-booked a trip to get us into the south rim of the Grand Canyon, on Saturday.
At last I can see Fall colours
But let me not rush ahead, first things first. The next morning (Friday) we had a helicopter trip booked so that we could see both the north and south rims of the canyon.......
Williams Arizona, at 6, 765 feet above sea level....brrrr chilly here!! We had to move indoors for our sundowners as it was too chilly outside.
Our first night in Williams Chuck and I both woke up cold in the night. We got colder and grabbed the beach towels to put over the doona. That helped a little. We had a spare doona but that was packed in my suitcase (helped with storage as it freed up cupboard space) in the large external hatch and neither of us was game to go outside. We both slept badly as we never warmed up. When we rose and finally braved the cold, our clothes were icy and I checked the temperature, it was one degree Celcius!!!! We honestly thought we were coming to heat, and this was a huge shock to our systems.
If you have been following our story all the way, by now you have probably thought to yourselves 'wow things are going pretty cruisy for them'. Things kind of fell apart on the morning of the helicopter ride! We decided to let the old Beast (RV), not Chuck, have a well-earned rest from the asphalt and hired a car. However this is a one horse town and that horse died.....
Chuck was collected by a driver, taken to the one and only rental car place and he had to sign the papers etc. Time was marching on as we had a 60 mile drive to Tusayan, where the airport was located, for us to take the helicopter ride. The first car assigned to Chuck was not ready and the second car assigned had not yet arrived at the depot. Eventually he was given a six seater which was originally meant for someone else. I realised something was up when it took him so long. So I got things packed and ready at the RV and was ready to hop into the car when Chuck arrived back. Well.....he had steam coming out of his ears and was in a total panic as we now only had 45 minutes to get to the airport. Anyhow, deep breaths and a little low flying in the rental car, and we managed to arrive at the airport and did not miss our flight.
Our Helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon
Oh wow!!! The views were absolutely stunning from up in the air, looking down into this huge Grand Canyon. No wonder it is called Grand. We saw both the south and north rims - just amazing. We never realised just how vast it was. This was truly a magnificent experience and although I was quite nervous of the helicopter experience, (we did do a helicopter flight in Broome in 2010), my nerves were soon settled once at the canyon. Our female pilot, Chelsea was very good with her narration also.
The Grand Canyon from the air - just awesome!
Even Chuck was mesmarised
In the afternoon, we took a walk around the town of Williams, well not really a 'one horse town' it was a town of selling Route 66 souvenirs. We chatted for ages to a lovely salesman at one of the stores and also to a couple who were traveling from Canada. We found a place to stop and have a beer, only problem was that the 'musician/singer' could not sing for his life, so we decided to head back home and have our sundowner in our peaceful surrounds.
Williams AZ - on the original Route 66
The following morning began with a cowboy show at the bleachers (arena) which was a good laugh. It certainly was fall and the leaves were falling off the trees, as this was all happening.
The Cowboy Show - I think they would have Photo-shopped the cars out, in a professional pic!
We took the steam train from the Williams Railway Hotel to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. The trip was 65 miles and took 2 hours and 15 minutes to reach the station at the canyon. There were various classes of travel, but because we had left our booking late, we could only go there on 'Coach class' and return 'Pullman class'. As it happened the bookings were great - we had comfort on the way out and fun on the way back!
The Everywhere Man appeared!
On the way to the Canyon we had an hostess in our carriage. She was very good in pointing out all of interest along the way. The pine trees we saw, were Ponderosa Pines. If one scratches the bark, the scent given off smells like vanilla or butterscotch. Part of the county through which we travelled, was what they term 'open range' which means that if the train hits a head of cattle, the train company is liable for the loss of the stock and is charged $1500 per head. We actually witnessed the train stop, allow cattle to cross in front, and then we were on our way again. We also saw deer in the distance.
We arrived at the south rim, and had intended to take a shuttle bus around the canyon, but we decided to rather walk around part of the rim, and take in the beauty of this vast canyon and its different colours and stone formations. Chuck, (the not so happy walker), was quick to calculate that we walked 5 kms! We sat at an overhang and ate our lunch and so enjoyed one of the seven wonders of the world. It still doesn't seem real to me, that we have been and seen this, and in two different ways, from the air and at ground level.
We found some unsuspecting fellow to take a photo of us on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
Pic of The Canyon taken from the South Rim
Once we had taken it all in, completed our walk and quiet time, we headed to Maswik Lodge for a well-deserved, thirst quenching, beer. And within no time, we had to board the train and head back to Williams. We had heaps of fun on the return journey, as there was a staged robbery. We passed cowboys in the fields, on horseback, the train slowed to a stop and the next thing, the cowboys were in our carriage 'robbing us'. They were followed shortly by the Sheriff and taken off the train. All very good fun. We had a different hostess in this carriage and she too was good fun. She handed out a general knowledge paper to those who wanted to participate in anagram fun and allowed the children to go up to her and use the microphone and tell jokes. All in all a great day out. We are so pleased that we ended on an absolute high note, one of the highlights of our trip.
Chuck being robbed
The drive south from Williams to Phoenix was easy with good scenery. We had green scrub and bushes with a few buttes around too. Sadly all river beds were bone dry. As we edged nearer to Phoenix, we began to see the tall Saguaro Cacti that one associates with Phoenix from the movies we have all seen.
Another extreme; we were cold in Williams, slept with two doona's over us, wore jackets to protect ourselves from the icy wind and here it was hot, around 35 degrees and absolutely dead still, not a breath of wind.
The RV Park we had intended to stay at was closed when we arrived, so we had to find another. Fortunately we found another eight or so miles up the road. Sometimes things happen for a reason. We were given a spot right next to the restrooms and laundry and this was a great position for us, as we had the laundry to do and also on the last day, we needed to have early access to the laundry, so that we could wash and pack away all the bedding, towels etc., just prior to putting the RV into storage. This was a great help for me, so that I didn't have a long way to go back and forth, checking if the washing and drying was complete. Also, when we checked into the park, Chuck asked the lady if he would be allowed to use some water so that he could wash the van, and she said 'yes'. Whereas we have not been allowed to use water anywhere else.
Now we had the hard work ahead of us......the RV needed to be washed and cleaned, fridge and deep freeze defrosted, cupboards emptied, our suitcases packed and the RV stored, before we could have more fun, as we leave Arizona behind and fly into NYC. Our magical 78 day carpet (RV) ride has come to an end. As they say in the movies....all good things have to end. But please don't leave us yet.....we still have New York City to cover and then Cape Town, which will mark the end of this most amazing holiday......
See you there folks!!