Monday, 19 November 2012

The Road Trip - Bryce Canyon

Another day, another National Park...  Oh no, wait, this was the very last one.  Still had loads of red rocks though...  Anywho, for our last foray into the National Parks we hit Bryce Canyon, which has loads of cool wee rock formations called hoodoos, which are kind of a cross between a pinnacle and a big lump of rock.  Hang on, what am I talking about, they're ALL big lumps of rock, this whole trip has been about big lumps of rock for crying out loud!

So here's a bit of a look at the landscape without too many hoodoos in, but lots of pretty layered colours:

And here's a bunch of hoodoos:

Apparently just walking round the rim of the canyon wasn't enough though, we had to go down this path for a 3 1/2 mile hike into the depths of hell... (a slight exaggeration, there - LT)  I was going for dramatic effect, and it is all red after all!

This was as we started down looking round the main amphitheatre:

And then looking back up when we were part way down.  They were straighter than this in real life, but apparently LT couldn't be bothered to use the straightening tool in Photoshop...

This was at the very bottom looking up one of the gulleys:

And here I am back at the top, just hanging around on one of the signs, proving I was there:

We were going to have a picnic lunch, but then we found our carpark didn't have picnic tables, and the nearest ones we could see on the map were nearly 20 miles away and we had too much of a rumbly in our tumblies to be waiting that long!  So we had salad, to feel all virtuous, and then polished off some of the frozen yoghurt in the freezer...

We decided that we wanted to come back to the spot we were in for sunset, since it was called Sunset Point, but in the meantime, having an hour or two to spare, we drove right to the very end of the road - weren't we high up?

Then on that building you can see behind me in the photo above we found this sign warning people not to feed the bears or to try and play with them, how mean!

Still, we had a bit of a walk about, decided that it was all starting to look the same looking out from the tops of these plateaus, and had a bit more frozen yoghurt to help us ponder.

Finally, it was back down the road for sunset.  It's probably perfect for sunset at certain times of the year, but October is apparently not it.  Oh well, we got some photos of the glow effect at least:

Then we toddled on back to the campground for dinner, not wanting to risk that Cowboy Smokehouse Cafe again ;o)

Friday, 16 November 2012

The Road Trip - Las Vegas To Bryce Canyon

We had a wee bit of a lie in after our last late night in Vegas, and we did a truly unexciting trip round the post office and Target and Walmart before we headed off to our last big stop.  Except we were meant to be going via the Mohave National Preserve.  Now let me tell you about that.

We headed down I-15 out of Vegas, heading for the California border.  We were going great guns when we saw a funny side at the side of the road 'Police action on Nipton Road California, no pedestrians'.  How bizarre, we all thought, as if you'd be randomly walking round roads with police actions going on!  Anyway, we forged ahead, totally missed crossing the actual border as we were in a deep discussion about whisky and whiskey (and you'd better believe that he knows most about - LT), and came to our exit for the Mohave National Preserve.  Off we tootled, turned to cross the bridge over the interstate to the park, and saw a whole pile of police cars and fire engines and helicopters and... well, there were probably other things there too.  Whatever was going on, they were more interested in standing around, looking the other way, scratching their arses and ignoring the queue of traffic building up behind us.  Eventually a deputy noticed the queue of traffic and waved us round back onto I-15 heading back to Vegas again!  And that was how we never made it more than a few miles into California (we saw the border on the way back to reassure us we did actually get there!)

Having missed that, we pulled into the first wee town back in Nevada again, Primm, and stopped to eat lunch in the camper in the car park of McDonalds so that we could use their wifi and try and find out what was going on! Alas, we never found out...

Back onto I-15 we went and we drove and drove and drove and... (yes, well, it was one of those over 380 mile days! - LT)  LT had hoped to get off at the Zion exit and stop at a ghost town on the way, but it took us so long to get to the exit, that we thought it would be too dark when we got there, so we went the sat-nav way via Panguitch, which might have won the title of the weirdest town we'd ever visited even if it hadn't been halloween!  BTW, halloween with not a soul to be seen in the town at just after 6pm was very, very strange...  Still, nothing daunted, we decided we needed to stop here for dinner, as our last chance at getting a 'mom and pop' style diner meal.

The Cowboy Smokehouse Cafe was our restaurant of choice (you'll understand that there had only been one other option that looked closed anyway!)  Don't you love the decor?

Here I'm sitting on the napkins...

This guy was above our table:

You could have anything you liked to drink, as long as it was in a very chilled mug.  Lemonade for LT (as she still had 20 miles to drive:

And beer for Laura and me:

We had cornbread with maple butter as an 'appetiser', which was kind of like eating birthday cake.  Rather an odd way to start the meal, but we soon learned that the cook liked sugar!

LT's meal:

The steak was coated in seasoning salt, which was still just edible, and the baked potato was okay.  The beans though were bathing in sugar, they were REVOLTING!  Laura had ordered the smoked turkey dinner.  She made the heinous mistake of asking for cranberry sauce when it was delivered to the table and that's when we learned the following:

'This here ain't no Thanksgiving turkey, this here's a SMOKED turkey, and you don't eat smoked turkey with no cranberry sauce, you eat it with this!' as a plastic squeezy bottle of barbeque sauce was slammed on the table.  Think of this in a kind of really bad cowboy film accent, I half expected him to hitch up his jeans by the waistband afterwards.  In fact he might actually have...

So that told us then!  We elected to leave after that course, but we did take some pie for breakfast the next morning ;o)

20 miles later we were at our last 'next to a national park' campsite, settling in for the last big part of the adventure...

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Road Trip - Las Vegas Part 2

Well, this was a turn up for the books, a day in Vegas and no photos!  Well, that's not strictly true, we did do breakfast at IHOP, that we walked to from the RV park.  It turned out that 1/2 of Vegas was also trying to eat there, but we got there just in time!  The service was REALLY bad, 'cos they kept forgetting us, but the carrot cake pancakes were yummy, so that kind of made up for it a bit...

Laura really wanted to go shopping til they dropped, while LT wanted a pair of GAP jeans, so we took advantage of the huge outlet mall just behind the IHOP and bought about half the centre.  LT didn't get her jeans in GAP, but she did find some elsewhere, so she was happy with them and a skirt, and she also got a hair curler thingummy jig, but Laura was trying to make up for any shortfall in the US economy, so she got loads and loads and loads of clothes.  Oh, and a new suitcase to hold it all!

On our second, and last full day, we spent the morning at the resort pool before heading into town:

And then the most terrible, awful thing happened!  That donkey!  She forced me into... a WEDDING!  The resort had wedding facilities, she'd been organising it all while we were shopping *shudder*

It quite upset my sensibilities and the staff just took photographs!  I TOLD you all she was up to something, but did you believe me?  Noooooooo.  And it was clear that we had totally different priorities:

Thankfully the staff came to their senses and a quicky divorce was pushed right through!  Never again am I going on holiday with a donkey!

After all the drama, I climbed right on into LT's camera bag to hitch a lift into town with them for the afternoon so that donkey couldn't do anything else!

We booked tickets to see Cirque Du Soleil's Mystere at Treasure Island to start with before we went exploring.  Laura felt she needed a little sustenance to keep her going, so she went into Ben & Jerry's.  LT held out til Cinnabon about 3 stops later ;o)

Our first proper stop was The Venetian, and boy was that a funny hotel!  Here's a gondolier outside taking some people for a ride:

We skipped that opportunity and went inside.  Someone must have spent a long time with their paint box doing this!

But just to prove were weren't in a real Italian mansion, here's the wider view with the big sweet shop in it.  We noticed that all the hotels had plenty of sweet shops and bars to keep you going through the night :oD

Round the next corner we found a fake street, complete with fake sky:

And then further along a fake canal:

And some impressive marble hallways to the reception desk.

Once we'd got our heads round the peculiarities of the Venetian, the next stop was The Bellagio.  We tried to get a drink at the Mirage first, but this guy was the only one that seemed to notice we were there, and he didn't have the opposable thumbs to be able to serve us...

So on we trudged, past Caesar's Palace which was hugemongous!  This is near the entrance to the Forum Shops, but that was only a wee part of it:

This was the main entrance:

We met this guy inside, can you see me?

These girls were just down the hall:

There was altogether too much marble, so we got out of there to head on to The Bellagio to see the big fountains, passing Paris on the way:

Waiting for the fountains to start:

Here's the fountains going off.  LT took lots of photos, but I'm not going to bore you with them all like she bored me...  Our friend Cathy's husband worked on making this happen, isn't he clever?

It was fun to watch, but then we had a long walk back to Treasure Island for dinner, and the staff had sore feet.  Oh well, that's nothing to what these girls must have been feeling after the first of the nightly pirate battles at TI!

This is one of their big scary motorbikes inside, wouldn't want to meet one of them on a dark night!

We were absolutely starving by this point, so it was time to hit the buffet for dinner and drinks.  Well, maybe more drinks than dinner:

Do you see what the dessert bar has?

So I persuaded LT to get one:

What a mess!  Honestly, you can't take her anywhere!

Once I'd disentangled her from all that it was time for the show, but we couldn't take any pictures in there :o(  All I can say is it was very funny and yet spell binding at the same time, and you needed your eyes everywhere to see what was going on!  If you're ever in Vegas you have to go and see a Cirque Do Soleil show.  Oh, and go to the TI buffet for candy floss too ;o)

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Road Trip - Las Vegas Part 1

For the last morning at the Grand Canyon, LT got up silly early for some sunrise photos while the birthday girl lounged in bed.  The only requirement was that LT brought cinnamon buns back for breakfast, but she brought a few other friends back too:

We didn't share breakfast...

Anywho, our big plan for the day was to head to Vegas so we set off bright and early and drove and drove and drove and... well eventually we got to the Hoover Dam.  Turns out that they've built a bypass of it now, so you go over a bridge instead of over the dam, but we had to go off and see it:

Arizona time:

Nevada time:

Random bloke climbing a wall...

Looking over the damn to the new bypass bridge:

Just to prove I was there:

Then we drove to Quiltique in Henderson, just outside Vegas, which Laura had been psyching herself up for for the whole trip.  Let's just say they both went wild, but Laura was over $100 wilder than LT ;o)  Here's a small fraction of Laura's haul:

Laura reckons LT bought more fabric before that, but LT reckons it was about the same with a half yard here and there, plus she didn't do the shop hop for SS.  I couldn't possibly comment, except to say I was glad I didn't have to fold and sort it all when I got home!

After that it was off to Vegas baby!

For the first night, LT didn't take her big camera in, so this is just where we did dinner.  We went to Margaritaville at the Flamingo, which has kind of a tropical island theme to it.  Oh, and margaritas...  We were sitting at a table right next to this:

It only gave a wee whirl of bubbles every now and again, so we thought that was it, until this dropped in:

She made quite the splash, so it's a good job we'd moved our dinner to the other side of the table!  There were also mad dancing people on stilts - a pirate, a captain and a lifeguard, all of whom spent much of the evening making balloon hats, except when she danced in the margarita, when they did this:

I was all set after that:

All ready for the fun to begin, but they were kind of tired because it had been a long day.  They had a wander round Paris:

Where I met a new friend:

And they also saw the fountains at the Bellagio but they didn't take a single photo!  I don't know, the staff said that we weren't in a good position, but now you'll not believe I was even there - hmph!