|Glen and Susan's Trip through Vegas and places|
This blog documents Glen and Susan's trip in the latter half of November to Las Vegas, Death Valley, the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Page, and Lake Powell.
|Back home... November 21, 2004 9:38 PM|
Well, we've done it. We're back home.
Our flight was in almost 2 hours late, but for a trip like that, it was nothing. We got a ride home with a very chatty cabby from Delta Cabs.
We've certainly enjoyed our trip through Death Valley, Vegas, Bryce, Zion, Page, Lake Powell, and Grand Canyon.
Tomorrow Susan is back at her job, and I start my new job at IBM. That's it for this blog, hope you've enjoyed it!
Glen and Susan
|And the winner is...|
November 21, 2004 7:25 PM
OK, we're at 29,000 feet on the way home, and it's time to be the critic. To let you know, we took off at about 5:20, over two hours late. But at least we got away and will be back at a "reasonable" time.|
It's now time to present the winners in the competition of all the things we've experienced. First place for airlines goes to Alaska Air, no surprise since that's the only airline we've taken on this trip :-)
OK, more seriously, the one that I think everybody is wanting us to rate... which is the best National Park that we've seen? I know there are many expectations that the winner would be Grand Canyon, but sorry, it comes in second, our favourite national park is in Zion.
Zion comes out the winner because of a number of factors, as you can no doubt tell if you've been reading our trip blog, it's got the best hike (at least that we did), the Zion hike would also have to win the most tiring -- beating out Bryce by a nose, Zion has got the best scenery -- this is a subjective thing -- but we both agree. One area where we do feel the Grand Canyon is the winner is that it is the best place to take a picture, Zion doesn't capture as well on film as either Grand Canyon or Bryce Canyon, but that's not enough to take away first overall from Zion.
The next category is best hotel overall. The winner is the Desert Pearl Inn. Our Zion adventures so far seem to be running away as the winner. What goes into deciding the best hotel overall? The Desert Pearl Inn had the nicest furnishings, the pillows at the Desert Pearl Inn were no question far and away the best of anywhere we went. The washroom and shower at the Desert Pearl Inn was the the nicest. The bed was a very close second to the bed at the Holiday Inn Express in Tusayan (Grand Canyon), both were King size but the Holiday Inn king was just a little longer. The best view from the hotel room is pretty well a three way tie betweeen the Desert Pearl Inn overlooking the beautiful courtyard and mountains in the distance, the Marriott Courtyard in Page with it's view of the mountains, and surpringly the Main Street Station in downtown Vegas since we were on the 14th floor and could see one end of Freemont street as well as mountains in the distance (before it became rainy and overcast). For best service, we would have to give the award to Ruby's Inn in Bryce Canyon, even though they lost our reservation, to make up for it they gave us the AAA rate.
Now that the big contests have been decided we'll go into the smaller ones.
First off is best internet access. Both Main Street Station and Desert Pearl Inn are disqualified from this contest since neither had internet access. The Exchange Club in Beatty also gets a knockout deduction because you needed your own cable (which we didn't have), and so couldn't even try their service. No question, the worst that we did use was at the Holiday Inn, since their service was problematic because sometimes requests would have to be made twice. The real contenders are the Best Western Ruby's Inn in Bryce Canyon and the Page Courtyard Marriott. First place goes to the Marriott because at Ruby's Inn the wireless internet didn't cover the whole hotel (our room), and you had to be near the pool for it to work. Even from our fourth floor room at the Marriott, internet service was fast and reliable.
The place with the best food? It's not a clear winner here, since real contenders comes from the Main Street buffet, the Paris buffet, Ruby's Inn restaurant, Pioneer restaurant in Springdale (Zion), and the Coronado in the Best Western in Grand Canyon. Although it was the most expensive, the winner would have to be the Paris La Village buffet. An endless variety of great tasting french food.
The most scenic highway. No question about it, the Zion Mt. Carmel highway. Although there's a lot of red rock beauty as you drive anywhere near the Grand Canyon or Bryce Canyon, and interesting scenery in Death Valley, the Zion Mt. Carmel highway is no question the winner.
The most accessable scenery? Although all of these places have easy from your car ooh-aah points, the most easily accessable really good point is actually in Page, with an easy walk from the parking viewpoint to some really good views of both Glen Canyon dam and the canyon after the dam.
It's been a great trip and we wouldn't skip any part of it, but we felt we should identify what we thought were the high points from the various place we went.
|Stuck in Vegas? Hopefully not for long.|
November 21, 2004 3:37 PM
It's still raining here in Vegas. I'm sure that rain in Vegas is just like snow in Vancouver, causing a lot of problems for them. We're sittting relaxing at the airport because the flight is (currently) delayed an hour and ten minutes, and is supposedly now leaving at 4:20.|
I had a round with the slot machines, and made 5 bucks. I gave it Susan who went for a visit with the slot machines, but her luck seems to have departed since she came back a few minutes later having lost it all.
Rob showed up at a few minutes after nine, and we had a very good breakfast at the Main Street Station buffet. It wasn't as good of a deal as I thought it was, because the $5 breakfast is now only Monday through Friday, but the 10$ we paid I still felt was worthwhile for the food was very good. We sat and chatted until Susan pointed out that we had to check out by 11:00.
We checked out at a moment before 11:00, and said goodbye to Rob.
We then went to an outlet mall, where we looked around and confirmed that both Haggars and Dockers are not made in Glen's size, something we had always wondered not having gone to somewhere dedicated to these brands. Not waiting to be late at the airport, we then left before actually making a purchase.
We pulled into the Enterprise lot, with the Durango running on fumes. We had gone for the option where you pay for the full tank you start with, and try to return it as empty as possible. Having put on 1450 miles on the Durango, which was 25% of the full miles on it, we knew quite well how fast the gas went and so did an excellent job of estimating when it would be running on empty.
Here in the airport we bought a burger from burger king, and downed it with our own pop and fruit, left over from our roadtrip. Now, we're just waiting until the flight is ready to go. It's weird being in Vegas, with the weather as bad as it can get in Vancouver. Dark, stormy, overcast. Hopefully the airport staff aren't overwhelmed and we can get out of here on time, or at least "on time" as currently scheduled.
|Rain in Vegas? It must be an indicator it's time to go. November 21, 2004 8:26 AM|
Look at it! I thought it never rained here! In the next half hour we have to pack our stuff up for the last time on this trip, and then we'll be meeting Rob at about 9:00 for breakfast. We're going to eat at the Main Street Station buffet, which if last night was an indicator, should be a good deal.
With it raining like this I'm not sure what we'll do this morning, but I know we should get back to the airport at about 1:00 this afternoon to turn in the Durango and get ready for our flight at 3:10.
|Fun on Freemont November 20, 2004 10:58 PM|
Due to the fact that there wasn't any convenient place for dinner on the highways we took home, we pushed on straight to Vegas and got in about 8:20.
We checked in at the Main Street Station, and got a great room on the 14th floor. We look out on one end of Freemont Street. We went down for dinner to the Main Street Station buffet, which is a very good deal. Good food at a good price.
After dinner, we went out on to Freemont Street proper. We went into a number of casinos and tried a number of slot machines, but felt we had been spoiled by the slots in Beatty since we quickly burned through our night's budget.
We enjoyed the Freemont Street Experience, although tonight's show was shorter than we remember.
Tomorrow Rob is coming in to meet us for breakfast, which we'll have at the Main Street Station buffet.
For now, since our body still feels like we're on MST, I think we're good for bed.
|Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets, and bye bye Arizona November 20, 2004 4:35 PM|
Just as we were leaving Grand Canyon National Park, there was a bit of snow coming down (just minor), so we felt we had timed things pretty well. We stopped in at the Imax theatre in Tusayan, changed into some casual clothes out of our hiking clothes, and then watched the National Geographic Imax film Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets. It's a very good film telling some of the history of the Grand Canyon, and asking the question whether the Canyon is really a demonstration of geographical work or whether it's a work of God. Tough to say...
The picture shows Susan at the National Geographic Imax theatre.
At about 4:30 MST we left Tusayan and headed out. We ran into some snow not that far down the road so again we thought we had really timed things well. We are amused to be listening to a song with lyrics "Let's go to Vegas, baby" so I guess we're doing the right thing. We expect to get into Vegas and check into the Main Street Station by about 9:00 PST.
|Grand Canyon and hiking the South Kaibab Trail|
November 20, 2004 4:26 PM
We did manage to get up early, and were eating breakfast by just a little after 7:30. The Holiday Inn had a continental breakfast included in our stay, so we enjoyed some cereal, hard boiled eggs, waffles, and muffins. A good start to our day, and we used that energy. We checked out about 9:00 and were up in the park a little later. We experienced Grand Canyon close-up for the first time at Mather Point. We were impressed of course by the size of the canyon, and found it to be a (much) larger version of Bryce Canyon. We parked in the Mather Canyon parking lot, and once we took in the view we walked over to the Visitor Centre. The Ranger we talked to said South Kaibab Trail should be fine, and suggested we get there by taking the bus. We took the bus and got off at the trail head, which was the first stop.|
Rumour has it that all trails at the Grand Canyon basically have a constant grade. At five minutes to ten, we started down, and found the rumour to be true. After about 30 minutes we stopped at a place called Ooh Aah Point, which gives the first really good view both ways down the canyon. This is actually where the picture to the left was taken. After 55 minutes, we reached the Cedar Ridge day-hike area. We spent about 50 minutes looking around the canyon through binoculars and taking pictures, and eating a snack. After using the out-houses at the stop, we started up again. Snapping more pictures along the way, stopping for a few water breaks, one snack stop, we reached the top in 55 minutes. We amazed ourselves that we came up as fast as we went down. Admittedly the trip down was more stop and go, and the trip up had been more constant.
We got back on the bus, and then got off at the next stop called Yaki Point. This, like Mather Point, gave a good overview of the canyon. We ate our lunch (originally intended for the hike) while at Yaki Point, then again got on the next bus and went back to the visitor centre.
We stopped in at a store at the visitor centre, and got a few souvenirs. We then talked to the ranger as to how to get to Yavapai Point, and he suggested it was just as fast to walk as it was to take the bus. We walked over to Mather Point and hiked along the Rim Trail to Yavapai point where we snapped some more pictures and were again amazed by the majesty of the canyon.
|Tusayan, Where is it?|
November 19, 2004 8:48 PM
I think it's the first time the whole trip, but we were lost on the way here. Not lost as in the paniccy "Oh no, where's the closest policeman, I'm lost", but more like "Are we where we're supposed to be? I think we've taken a wrong turn". When you come from Page to Tusayan, the road quite naturally takes you into the Grand Canyon village proper, but we should actually take the opposite turn that takes you away from the park. The sign at that turn said "Williams and Flagstaff this way, Grand Canyon that way". Since Tusayan wasn't listed, we chose Grand Canyon. At least we got a little familiarization with where we want to see tomorrow.|
After checking in here at the Holiday Inn in Tusayan, we went for dinner at the Best Western. Believe it or not the Holiday Inn front desk staff recommended going to the Best Western. The Best Western restaurant is surprisingly up-scale. I was served filet mignon and Susan was served prime rib by an authentic spanish speaking Javier.
Now we're back in room, relaxing watching TV and planning what we'll be doing tomorrow.
Our current plan is to get up early and visit the visitor centre, then assuming the ranger approves, hike a mile and a half down the South Kaibab Trail. The South Kaibab trail is one of the few trails that goes down the main canyon, and it supposedly also gives some of the best views of the canyon.
After the hike we also plan to drive some of the canyon road and stop and look at Mather Point, which supposedly shows a quarter of the canyon from this one point, we also will stop at Yavapai point. Then on the way out of the park, we hopefully will stop in at the Imax theatre to watch "Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets". It may very well be too much planned, being that we have to get back to Las Vegas, a five hour drive, by tomorrow night.
Wish us luck!