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Saturday, March 12, 2011

On Wednesday (US time) we picked up our hire car in LA and then tested our brand new Tomtom GPS, by driving from Santa Monica to Las Vegas. DH was marvellous! Firstly, driving on the ‘other side’ of the road and then also tackling a series of freeways while contending with what seems to us, HUGE volumes of other traffic! We mis-interpreted Tomtom’s instructions a few times and ended up on exit ramps but eventually we worked out what ‘she’ meant.

Part of the very wide freeway!

Wow! When we got to Las Vegas later in the day didn’t we get a surprise? Now I know that people had told us it was big...but it is actually BIGGER than big! The traffic was unbelieveably slow and it took us ages to get to our hotel, Circus Circus. Finally we got settled in our very spacious room and then went exploring on foot. Do you know that there are men handing out leaflets offering ‘women to come to you’ and there’s even a truck with a billboard advertising the same deal and the phone number is something like, 6969696???? And Bruce told me that the ‘Gentleman’s Club’  on another street, wouldn’t be like ‘Tattersalls’ or the Brisbane Club.

Las Vegas

I looked up and saw these gorgeous elephant sculptures in the very ornate entrance to the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino
The next day we explored the strip by using the bus and the tram. The size and the decor of the hotels is amazing. In MGM Grand for example, we saw lions and had our photo taken patting a lion cub! We certainly did lots of walking but that night we used our car to go to the Mandalay Bay Hotel Theatre to see Lion King and we used a back road, Industrial Rd to dodge the traffic on the strip. The show was brilliant and the cast were magnificent. Being me, I cried when Simba’s father was killed, but then again, years ago when I took my children to see ‘Bambi’, I cried when Bambi’s mother got killed! Lol
In the theatre we got talking to the lady and her daughter next to us. They were locals and told us that they rarely come into the ‘strip’ and they told us that 2 million people live in Vegas. Therefore there is a lot of suburbia out there as well. They said it was a great place to raise a family and everything you could need is there. (lots of jobs in hospitality too I guess)
On Friday we went on a day trip by bus to the Grand Canyon. We thought that the Hoover Dam was included but due to the new road into Arizona, which bypasses the dam, there is no longer time on the day trip. We travelled a total of 562 miles to and from the Canyon and it took 14 hours. Naturally it was worth it. It is an amazing place. We visited 2 lookout sites on the southern rim; Bright Angel and Maher’s Point. The canyon ranged in width from 14 miles wide to 18 miles wide in the section we saw. The depth was an amazing 5500 feet deep. I’ve temporarily forgotten metric measurements! Lol  I was surprised how much snow was around both at the canyon and on the way there. We discovered that there is a Grand Canyon Railway which leaves from the town of Williams and takes tourists up to the Canyon’s south rim. Probably we would have gone that way if we had known about it.

The mountains in Arizona

The landscape changes; more desert looking

The town of Williams; The main street which is part of the iconic Route 66

The landscape changes again with conifers being the main vegetation as we got closer to the canyon. Click on the photo to enlarge it and you will see the elks resting under the trees. There is also some snow there. The snow got thicker on the side of the road the closer we got to the canyon.

Just showing how much snow was up at the actual canyon. We were 7000 feet above sea level there.

Today we spent in a bit of retail therapy after we did our growing pile of laundry in the RV camping area laundry. This camping ground is part of our hotel too and I got talking to another Australian who was having ‘ the holiday of a lifetime’ to celebrate her 50th birthday by travelling around parts of the US in a hired campervan (RV).
The GPS (known as ‘Harpy’ as she nags a bit!) was a great help in finding 2 wool and yarn shops here. I naturally bought some yarn as souvenirs!  Then we went to a couple of outlet shops where I wasn’t going to buy anything...but did!

Tonight we drove down to the ‘Strip’ and had dinner and wandered around looking at the lights and other attractions. Lots of ‘yobs’ around tonight so you could say it was a bit like the Valley and City in Brisbane on a Saturday night (from what I’ve been told rather than first-hand) . One thing we noticed that was different to home...glasses and bottles of alcohol being taken out on to the street.
Tomorrow, we head off to have a look at Hoover Dam, then start the first part of our trip to Saltlake City.

1 comment:

Linn said...

Beautiful photos Maria. Brings back memories of our trip to the USA two years ago. We were quite amuzed by the toilets there also. My daughters favourite memory of the States was the choc-caramel popcorn she just had to have. Have a great time!