Stop 23: Hoover Dam & Grand Canyon (Tuesday)
With a 14 hour, 750 mile journey ahead of us today, idiots that we are, instead of making an early start we took our sweet time cooking up a pancake feast to leisurely devour in the Utah sunshine. Finally, we set off - first stop Hoover Dam. Being big kids, we amused ourselves greatly along the way by gesturing to truck drivers we passed to blare their horns at us, cackling hysterically for hours at this game.
We made good time, thanks in part to Nat testing out the car's limits along the miles of straight empty desert roads. We had a quick explore of the Hoover Dam before setting off again for the Grand Canyon's West Rim at the Hualapai Reservation in Arizona, home to the Skywalk - a see-through glass horseshoe levitating over a 4,000ft chasm of the Grand Canyon. We've found distances to be far greater in reality versus how they appear on a map, and so were alarmed at the length of time of took us to reach the Canyon - even more so when we turned off the main road for the final 25 miles through the Indian Reservation, to find a sign saying that the last tickets are sold at 5.30pm..... Of course it was 5.31pmwhen we reached this point. After swearing profusely, we decided to risk it, confident of our powers of persuasion, and took our beautiful Solange off-roading along the unpaved gravel track as fast as we dared, while passing cars pointing at the two idiot girls in a convertible skidding in the gravel and choking to death on the dust cloud surrounding their car!
We pulled out all the stops in greeting the gate men, praying they'd let us in..... The OTT flirting, bit of leg, and friendly British girl act worked, and we handbrake-turned into the parking lot and literally sprinted for the ticket desk. We were the last entrants but it resulted in the Skywalk being all ours, an unexpected treat. We were a little disappointed with the Skywalk - to visit it you had to pay a second entrance fee, but it felt like little more than a money-spinner - the Canyon views were no better than those available to the side of the Skywalk, the views down into the Canyon from the glass floor didn't see too deeply into the Canyon, and of course no cameras were allowed but a photographer was on hand to take your picture for you for a bargain $30 a picture.... We'll pass thanks.
However along from the Skywalk, the Canyon views from Guano Point more than made up for the Skywalk letdown, especially as we reached this location at sunset. Virtually deserted and with stunning views, we watched the sun go down over the Grand Canyon - a truly amazing experience.
We wearily got back on the road, not looking forward to our 7 hour drive to south L.A - especially because in our hurry to reach the Grand Canyon, we had ignored the emptying fuel tank... We enjoyed a panicked hour's drive back to the freeway, via a gas station on the Indian Reservation which of course had no gas.... Pessimistically the Indian lady there predicted we wouldn't make the 18 miles to the next gas station on the vapours left in the tank.... Given it was 8.30pm and dark by this point, we were determined to prove her wrong. We limped along the freeway in the slipstream of trucks, laughing slightly hysterically at the thought of breaking down in the middle of the empty desert.... Luckily our back-up plan of Nat donning her running gear and running along the freeway to the gas station ahead to summon help wasn't required, and we crawled into the gas station with 4 miles left in the tank.... IDIOTS
Refuelled, we made our way as quickly as possible to the California coast, excited to see the sea again, and to be out of the car. We stopped for a 'trucker's special' evening meal at the Mad Greek Cafe outside of Vegas, and finally reached SoCal's San Clemente at 3am, a mere 14 hours after leaving Zion....
Next Stop - San Clemente & Laguna Beach for some much needed beach time.