Canyon lands

Thanksgiving 2012 will be memorable. Me and Neha made the longest road trip after our wedding. My buddy Sandeep and his wife Shruti visited us and they were hungry for a good travel experience in the west. My buddy lives in Tampa had never visited the west coast before and like we expected there was much to see and much to travel. Much of our trip was planned but we left a certain portion of our trip unplanned on purpose. And going by my experience, these unplanned parts led to some great experiences. The map route that we did:

Sandeep and Shruti landed in SFO late on Friday, 16th November. In the next couple of days, we toured around in SFO. The regular places including but not limited to Exploratorium, Museum of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Bridge, Marine Headlands, Sausalito, Muir Woods, Fishermans’ Wharf, Pier 39, Ghiradelli Square (how can you miss that), Cable car ride (in rain, YES, we got drenched), Mystery spot, Santa Cruz Beach & Boardwalk and Monterey. We covered a lot of ground in two days.

While the rest relaxed on Monday the 19th, I had to go to work. I came back early and we started from bay area to Las Vegas at around 4 PM. One stop and around nine hours later, we reached our destination. I was dead tired. We were to stay in Paris, Las Vegas and the strip view from our hotel was fantabulous.

View of the strip from Paris!

I had to work from home next day. By around 3, I was done with the work and we were ready to gamble. First thing we did was to goto Tix4Tonight counter on the strip and get our tickets for ‘Le Rêve’ which was playing at Wynn. We saved a bunch of money by going to that counter rather than buying directly from Wynn. The only catch is that you can book at the counter only for shows tonight or the next day (only a few shows for next day). So there is a risk of not finding the tickets if you depend on Tix4Tonight. But we were going to watch the show on Tuesday and that too before the Thanksgiving crowds kick in, so it worked out for us. By the way, that show was superb. I would recommend that if you are looking to see a good show in Vegas, please do consider Le Rêve.

In the 2 days we were in Vegas, we visited Wynn, Encore, Caesar’s Palace, Bellagio, New York New York, Cosmopolitan, Aria, Mirage, Pallazo, The Venetian, MGM, Treausre Island, Planet Hollywood, Stratosphere (did X-Scream) and lost a portion of my savings on gambling. We also visited Fremont Street (LV downtown) and watched the show there.

As the thanksgiving crowds began to flood into Vegas, we checked out from there. We were out of Vegas on 21st Nov and were on our way to the Grand Canyon South Rim. Needless to say, we stopped at the Hoover dam on the way. We reached the south rim about the time of sunset and were able to see dusk on the rim. We put up in Yavapai lodge inside Grand Canyon National Park. If you do decide to stay there, visit the ‘Pizza Pub’ inside the park. They make fresh pizza and there’s a few beers on the draft. Didn’t expect such a hangout place inside the national park.

Next day, we woke up very early and were ready to catch the sunrise over the grand canyon. It was very cold and we doubted that we would be the only ones. But when we reached the rim, we saw that all the vista points on the rim were mobbed by these crowds that were loaded with woolen clothes, tripods, kids on their shoulders and cameras. The sunrise over the Grand canyon is a sight to be witnessed. The gorge was dark before the sunrise, almost like it was thirsty for the light, praying in the darkness and beseeching for it to become visible. The lazy Sun took its own time to crawl out from behind the canyons and appeared to linger at its spot for a good few minutes before rising up a little more. It appeared like he knew about the attention he was going to receive and basked in the glory.

Sunrise at Grand Canyon South Rim

In about two hours, we had our breakfast and were driving towards the other end of the Grand Canyon for the ‘Desert View’. This spot is supposed to be the highest point on the rim along the south rim and offers a good view.

Desert view, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ.

Our next stop was going to be Page, AZ. I had already been to Vegas and the south rim before. But this was the first time visiting Page. Before I tell about Page, it is worth telling that the drive from Grand Canyon village to Page is amazing. You will be driving among, between, around and aside canyons. The drive is around 3 hours and offers amazing views of this type of landscape.

Drive from Grand Canyon Village to Page

The first stop in Page was going to be HorseShoeBend. This was 5 miles before hitting Page. I had seen a lot of pictures of HorseShoeBend and was very excited to see it. It involved a short hike from the parking place. The view from the place is worth the hike. The emerald waters of the Colorado river paint the brownish red canyon and forms this unique shape.

HorseShoeBend, Page AZ

The next in Page was Antelope Canyon. We got the last tour of the upper Antelope canyon at around 3:30 PM. If you are in the area, do not miss these attractions. The tour guide explained to us how this was formed by flash floods and how the Antelope Canyon gets flooded around 2 to 3 times every year. If you do want to visit the place, plan to visit it in the morning which seems to be the best time. Though the light was poor for us, we were happy to see this wavy formation.

Upper Antelope Canyon, Page AZ – Photographed by Sandeep

Next stop was Zion National Park, Utah. We decided to drive till Kanab, UT that night and stayed there. Zion was an hour away from Kanab. Reached Zion early next morning and explored the park for a good 5 hours. There are many scenic points in the park. We also did a couple of easy hikes. Of course, Zion is famous for ‘The Narrows’. We were not prepared or equipped to do them, but that leaves us with a reason to visit Zion again sometime.

Zion National Park – Photographed by Sandeep
Rock climbers at Zion

We drove back to Vegas from Zion and reached there a little after sunset. We bid adieu to Sandeep & Shruti at McCarran airport and I drove all the way back to the bay area that night.

Dusk enroute to Vegas

We reached home at around 3 AM. The trip had rejuvenated me but the drive depleted all my energy.


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