In continuation to our trip to Las Vegas in 2010, with our rented Dodge Caliber we drove eastward to the Grand Canyon. Like my previous trip to Vegas, the last time I visited Grand Canyon was in 2007 at the same time of that year. There was snow there the last time. And we hoped to see snow there this time around.
And just the last time, we took the same route that we did to the canyon. But unfortunately, we were no longer able to stop at the Hoover Dam. Three years back our GPS directed us to pass on top of the dam but this time, the freeway which back then was still being constructed is already built. Sad thing is, we passed above the dam without even seeing it as our view is obstructed by the freeway bridge.
Anyways, the drive from Vegas to Grand Canyon is about four hours through deserts, crossing the Nevada-Arizona border. By the time we exited I, it was already dark. And the sad thing is our hotel is not listed in our GPS. We booked for an overnight stay at the Best Western Grand Canyon Squire Inn in Tusayan just outside the Grand Canyon National Park. Driving through the dark Highway 64 which runs through a mostly empty desert may be a bit scary so I would definitely recommend to drive there when the sun is still up specially for those unfamiliar to the place.
So we reached our hotel and settled up. It was very cold that night, but unlike last time there is no snow yet. Our hotel room is huge and good. The next morning breakfast was buffet. And unlike the rest of the hotel guests who came to the dining area all suit up with winter clothing, we came in our shirts and shorts. I had a big breakfast that morning of pancakes, potatoes, and egg. It was our brunch as we plan to just have a late lunch on our way back to LA in the afternoon.
At about 10am we checked out and started our way into the park. Admission to the park costs $25 for a single private car. The admission ticket includes maps around the vast park. From the entrance of the park, it still took about 5 kilometers to actually get near the south rim of the canyons.
That day, there were some small construction being done in one site where they are improving walkways around the park. They’ve put up some detour signs to direct guests in the view point. And as usual, I am awed by the beauty and grandeur of the Grand Canyons. Too bad, it didn’t make it to the provisional top 7 list of New7Wonders of Nature of which the Underground River of Palawan made it.
I actually forgot the exact location where we went in 2007 because the view point that we got to now had railings to prevent tourists from falling the cliffs. There were none the last time when we were still able to walk near the ledge. And sadly there is no snow anywhere but the good thing is I was able to see its reddish color. It was still cold up there that we still had to wear our winter jackets.
We also dropped by the Visitor Center near the Yavapai Point where they had this enclosed viewpoint room with a miniature of the whole grand canyon in the center. The room had wide glass windows with maps to guide guests the notable points in the canyon. They’ve got telescopes for nearer viewing.
After stopping at two viewpoints plus one side road stop along the south rim of the canyons, we decided that we have seen enough of this beautiful time-created natural wonder. We decided we start heading back to Los Angeles. We made a quick stop at the McDonald’s drive thru in Tusayan for our lunch. We bought burgers and ate them along the road.
We took a different route back to LA. We no longer planned to pass through Las Vegas to save some time. Our estimated travel time was about 7 hours only compared to 8 if we pass by Las Vegas. Also originally, I’ve wanted us to drive to Kingman to see the Route 66 Museum but due to limited time we just decided not to.
The drive back to LA was long. We made a stop at one of the rest stops near the Arizona – California border after about 3 hours of driving. We proceeded the long drive until night time come. And during this trip we had one of the most scary or remarkable experience in US driving. In the middle of the Mojave Desert through the dark interstate 40, I miscalculated our car’s gas level. I had gas above the 1/4 level when we passed the last gas station and after more than 20 miles later our gas light blinked notifying me I only have enough for a few more miles. I got very worried that we might stop in the middle of the dark with my baby sleeping at the back.
But with sweat on my forehead, my cruising turned off, air-conditioning turned off, and worried look on my face, we saw a light in the middle of darkness. Finally there was an exit with 3 gas stations. Trying to save gas in driving, I drove slowly to the 86 gas station to fill up and release my stress. Thank God! And we realized, that spot was part of Route 66. And this is just the first set of our Grand US Tour.