Well after starting NaBloMoPo15 yesterday with a mantra to write more meaningful and deeper posts I have lost my way already! But it is Monday….so I will finish off My Mountains Monday Memoirs post from last week. You won’t find anything deep in this post – just a recount of my healing holiday part 2 😉
(If you missed part 1, you can read about our first 9 days here)
Day 10. Albuquerque (NM). We thought we would be in Albuquerque as the worlds biggest hot air balloon festival would be going on because we found it difficult to find a campsite for that night. But in reality we arrived about 2 hours too late. The festival was over. Booooo. Anyway, we headed off to the Petroglyph National Park (A petroglyph is a rock carved drawing) for a mini adventure. We took a hike and viewed some incredible old rock carvings. We tried to imagine what people were expressing when they carved them into the rock hundreds of years ago. Here is one that looks like a stork carrying a baby – although it is actually a frog…but apparently the whole image may represent thankfulness for fertility or water. Because, you know, these things are so similar (!??!! the sign told us this, I didn’t just make it up!).We decided not to head into Albuquerque city centre but rather spend more time getting outdoors instead – at the petrified forest.
Day 11. Petrified Forest, AZ. We took a spectacular hike into the wilderness – i.e. there was no path. You had to ask the park ranger for the ‘special’ instructions to do this hike. So armed with the ‘map’, instructions and a compass (my iPhone because we forgot to bring ours!) we headed out into the wilderness to look for a giant petrified log that crossed a wash (a temporary river when it rains).I felt in my element here. I was sooo happy. No one else around. No sounds of vehicles, very little wildlife except for lizards and ravens. The petrified logs were incredible. I had never seen anything like it. It is very tempting to just pick up a piece of petrified wood and put it in your pocket, but of course that is illegal so we didn’t! There was so much wood lying around, especially from the giant logs I could really imagine what the forest would once have looked millions of years ago when the dinosaurs roamed. Now just a desert. Apparently this is the most ‘driven’ through National Park in the US. If you ever head this way, don’t just drive through it….get out and see it! There are many natural surprises that lay hidden throughout the park.
Day 12. Grand Canyon, South Rim, AZ. This time around we had planned to arrive in the Grand Canyon in style by taking the Grand Canyon train! Although, this did mean we only had 3 hours actually at the Canyon. We managed just 3 miles of hiking, the canyon was cruelly teasing us. BUT! this time we got to see the canyon in its finest. Not a cloud in sight. Once we escaped the crowds I was a happy bunny.
For the return trip on the train we bought luxury parlour class tickets – it was fantastic! A bit of a treat to ourselves because quite honestly it is a bit of a frivolity. Our tickets gave us full roaming of the train, including the back porch of the train. It was very cool being able to stand outside as the train was clickety-clacking along through the national park with the sunsetting. By the way, at no point do you get to see the canyon from the train (the pictures on the website are totally misleading), but it was still a wonderful journey. Our train was ‘robbed’ on the way back by cowboys – quite an amusing little bit of entertainment.To end the day we went back to our campsite to finish off with a little bit of relaxing Jacuzzi action. Spoilt rotten.
Day 13. Lake Mead and Hoover Dam (NV & AZ). Mostly a day for driving, but at the end of the day we ended up at the Hoover dam. Wow, I learned a lot about this dam! We took the ‘full works’ tour of the dam and got to go inside the actual concrete dam itself. An incredible piece of engineering. I can understand why it is one of the seven engineering wonders of the world.We ended up at Lake mead RV park with an amazing lakeside view. Sadly this was our last night in Trippy 😦 Day 14 & 15. Las Vegas baby! (NV). We handed Trippy back first thing in the morning and took a taxi to our hotel, the SLS. I had some Hilton points to use that I have collected over the last year so this was definitely a treat of a hotel. By the way, it was sooooo good to be in a real bed!!!
We gambled a little on the slot machines and learned how to play ultimate poker (where you play poker against the dealer only). We didn’t win big. But Chris did win 2 half dollar coins with 2 flushes, which we will keep and not be spending!! Half dollar coins are not commonly used any more, but it is possible to get half dollar coins to collect. Unfortunately, neither of them were the Kennedy half dollar coins that are worth something. But hey, it’s a novelty!We decided to be a bit different and went to the mob museum…you could even buy a beer to take around the exhibits with you! This was followed by a seafood buffet at the Freemont Casino. It was totally over-the-top with Vegas cheese, but we decided to go cheap rather than fancy because we thought it would be a waste of money spending money on a buffet when we are not big eaters. Chris was surprised at how much food I actually did pack away! We were both ill with funny tummies almost immediately afterwards, not because of food poisoning, just from the sheer amount we ate! We are clearly not well trained in buffet eating.
We treated ourselves to a dinner and show package. We chose to see ‘Absinthe’ at Caesars Palace – a variety show in a small intimate circus tent (there were only 10 rows of people!). It was comedy mixed with erotica, show dance girls and circus acts. There was something for everyone! It was excellent entertainment– not for the faint hearted or the straight laced! There was absolutely no political correctness here!
All in all, Vegas was highly entertaining, but I don’t think I could spend more than 2 nights there.
Day 16. Time to fly home. Reflecting upon our epic adventure, it made me realise that there is definitely a whole lot of America we have yet to see and experience. But most importantly, I came home refreshed and ready for whatever life wants to throw at me back in the real ‘non-vacay’ world.