Alright! On to part 2!
When we left off, we had left the Grand Canyon and driven over 100 miles east to Page, AZ (a full 380 miles from where we started and where we needed to return to in Las Vegas). I'm sure that left you with some questions like "why the f*ck would you do that?", "where the f*ck is Page, AZ", "What the f*ck is in Page, AZ", "WTF is wrong with you?" and "Is there a f*cking roller coaster there because if not I'm so done with this bullsh*t report?".
Allow me to explain. Also no, lol.
When we were kids, mom saved up for years so she could take us on a trip across the country. She had wanted to make that happen for a long time, and finally in 2002 we did it. We flew to San Francisco, drove down to LA on Highway 1, went to Vegas, the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone, the Badlands, Six Flags Magic Mountain (yeah... I lobbied for that one), Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse and tons of other places along the way. To this day, it's the coolest trip my Brother and I ever went on.
Of all the things we did we had two clear cut favorites (Spoiler Alert: It wasn't f*cking X2 at Magic Mountain because that ride sucked balls and still does), Yellowstone and Glen Canyon.
For those unfamiliar, Glen Canyon is up-river from the Grand Canyon. Basically, the Colorado river flows into Lake Powell (a man-made lake created by the Glen Canyon dam), through Glen Canyon, then into Marble Canyon, then into the Grand Canyon and then into Lake Mead (a man-made lake created by the Hoover dam) before traveling through the Hoover Dam and down through California and Mexico.
The thing that made Glen Canyon such a highlight was the Colorado Discovery Tour. Basically it's a half day rafting tour
on the river in the canyon. It's smooth water rafting and appropriate for pretty much everyone and it's an experience that I really couldn't recommend enough. In addition, Page is also home to the Antelope Slot Canyons. We still haven't done them, but they look amazing.
I knew I wanted Brit to experience Glen Canyon, and of course I was thrilled at the opportunity to do it again.
Since we got in early the night before and our tour didn't begin until 11:30 (Mountain time... sort of... I guess... Arizona is weird), we slept in that day but we still weren't adjusted to the time zone so we ended up waking up "early" anyway. The hotel had breakfast, but since we had so much time to kill we pulled up Trip Advisor in search of a local breakfast place.
What's really cool about Page is that it's pretty much Navajo Nation. I believe there was a land exchange so it isn't "technically" on Navajo land but it's surrounded by it and the Navajo culture and influence is all over the town which is very cool. The restaurant we found was Navajo owned, but as you can see they clearly adopted some cultural things from the East... mainly the absurd portion sizes. Murrica'
After our monstrous breakfast, we slowly made our way over to the Colorado River Discovery center. From there, we signed in for the tour and got on a bus which took us through a giant tunnel through the canyon wall that descended about 1000 feet to the base of the dam. At that point we were split into 2 groups and assigned to a boat.
Half way through our tour, we took a break on a small beach where they had some petroglyphs made by ancestral Puebloan and Freemont groups. They believe they date back to 1300 AD.
Nobody knows exactly what the meaning of this drawing is. Some people interpret them as deer, others interpret them as elk which was likely a common source of food for these ancestral groups, Carowinds interpreted it as a super sick budget cutting opportunity for Winterfest
. Everyone interprets it in different ways, and that's part of what makes it so cool
After we left the beach we proceeded down the river to the base of the horseshoe bend...
Unfortunately about 30 minutes after we left the beach and once we rounded the horseshoe bend it was time to head back. We could have stayed in the canyon all day, but at long last it was time to say goodbye to our awesome guide and get back on the bus so we could make our way back to the River Discovery Center.
Pictures will never do the canyon justice. I highly recommend the river tour to anyone in northern Arizona who's looking for an unforgettable way to spend a day exploring the area's natural beauty. I was thrilled to find that the tour was just as good, if not better than I remember and I was equally thrilled that Brit loved it just as much as I did.
After making our way back up through the tunnel, through Homeland Security and back to the Discovery Center it was late afternoon and we had a ridiculously long drive through bumblef*cktucky ahead of us.
We still had one thing we wanted to do in Page though, and that was to check out the Horseshoe bend. When we did the tour as kids, we were on a tour that left from Grand Canyon National Park so while we did the same boat tour and went to the base of the Horseshoe Bend (shown earlier), we never got to see what made it so cool.
A few miles outside of Page is a ridiculously crowded parking area that leads to a hiking trail. On the surface this "hiking trail" would make anyone who's ever actually hiked anything (like... anything) double over laughing as it's probably only a 75 foot elevation change and a 3/4 mile walk but I guess it is worth noting that if you don't visit in November like we did and instead go in the summer you'll be dealing with no shade and temperatures that can easily exceed 100 degrees so your mileage may vary.
After a short hike, we approached the edge of the canyon and quickly realized what all the hype was about.
The view is amazing, and I recommend everyone check this out but a few words of caution...
1) There are no railings and in order to see everything you need to stand within about a foot of a 1,000 foot fall to certain death. The view is amazing, but it's not for the faint of heart.
2) If you're a photographer, go in the morning. The sun is in an irritating position in the afternoon which makes it tough to get a good picture.
3) Seriously... I'm not kidding about that 1000 foot drop.
We spent quite a bit of time there, mostly laughing at people who were having panic attacks about getting near the edge. At one point a photographer asked me to take a picture of her across a ridge standing on a rock outcropping. I thought she was a bit insane, but when she came back alive she asked if we wanted her to take pictures of us doing the same thing. Put on the spot, we threw every bit of common sense out the window and agreed.
After snapping a few more pictures and laughing at some more terrified people (mainly parents), we made our way back to the car... ready for a 4 hour drive back to Kingman in our piece of sh*t rental car with no cruise control.
Lucky for us, even after spending the day at Glen Canyon, the drive back to Kingman was still impressive enough that we managed to pull off at a ton of scenic overlooks along the way. God, the desert is amazing.
This was probably our favorite scenic overlook on the way to Kingman. For whatever reason, the road was freshly paved which was a pretty uncommon sight in Arizona. After wondering about it for awhile, I came up with a theory. My theory is that 99% of the world's cliche', terrible car commercials are filmed on this road so they paved it to make it look good.
Don't believe me? Watch this...
Do you long for a car with less power than Carowinds as soon as Windseeker reaches the most pants-sh*tting stopping point on the entire ride? Do you want a car with a profile less aggressive and intimidating than a Great America security guard on a Haunt Saturday? Then you'll love this piece of sh*t Hyundai Accent with no cruise control, power, or redeeming qualities to speak of!
What? You don't want it? Oh yeah? Wait for it...
Wait for it...BOOM!!!!!
I can practically hear you reaching for your checkbooks every time I glance at this picture.
After taking some time to bask in the "brilliance" of our car we hopped back into our (now super bad a**) Hyundai, and continued along to Kingman. Unfortunately the second half of the drive was pretty uneventful as the sun went down and we were left with a dark ride through nothing-ness back to our hotel on Route 66.
We got in pretty late so we opted for a quick dinner at Sonic before checking in to our hotel and crashing, excited for the day ahead.
We awoke the next morning on our final day out west with a ridiculously busy day ahead of us. Las Vegas would be the main focus of the day, but we were still about an hour and 45 minutes outside of the city when we woke up. Since most of our adventures thus far had been outdoors in November with very early sunsets, we had been going to bed pretty early and still felt like we were on Eastern time. Because of that, we were up bright and early once again and on our way to sin city.
We still had one more thing we needed to do before getting into town though, and that was to take that dam tour that eluded us on our first day (you should probably get used to my dam dad jokes now, FYI).
If you go from Vegas to the Grand Canyon, Page or basically anywhere in Arizona you'll take route 93 to get there. That used to mean traveling directly over the Hoover Dam. That's no longer the case (which is nice since you no longer need to go through multiple security checkpoints if you're just passing through), but how could anyone pass through when route 93 puts you within a few hundred feet of the Hoover Dam?
I highly recommend the Hoover Dam to anyone in the area, mainly because it requires a minimal time investment and you're very likely to be traveling right by it anyway. If you don't do the tour or you're feeling cheap because you got your a** kicked in Vegas you can park for free and access the walkway to the Tillman Bridge which gives you an awesome view of the dam. That said, tours are moderately priced (I think ours was $15 plus the parking fee at the visitor center) for a 30 minute tour which seemed like a good enough deal to us.
It's basically a 3 part tour, one part of which is bullsh*t and involves watching a video about the construction of the dam (which is nice... but not really "tour-worthy"), but the next 2 parts are what you're really paying for.
After watching the video, you enter a giant elevator that brings you down to one of the four diversion tunnels. The diversion tunnels are immense, and were used to divert water away from the dam during construction. Portions of them are still used today, and it's really cool to see them in person.
The final part of the tour is the tour of the power plant at the base of the dam. It's pretty cool to see it in person, and it's amazing how much power it can generate. This is probably the portion of the tour that everyone thinks of when they think of the hoover dam tour.
After the tour (and a quick stop in the gift shop) we made our way out of the parking garage and to the aforementioned Tillman Bridge parking area. This bridge was new since I visited as a kid, and it was probably one of the coolest parts of the Hoover Dam. The fact that it's free and parking is free makes me like it even more.
The hoover dam is super cool and definitely worth checking out. Don't go out of your way for it, but (as I mentioned), you most likely won't need to as you drive right through Boulder City and right by the visitors center from all points Southeast on your way to Vegas. Even if all you do is park and walk out on the Tillman Bridge, it's a cool experience.
When we left the dam it was still mid-morning and it wasn't long after we started driving that the impressive Las Vegas skyline came into view. It had been an awesome few days in the desert, but we were excited for a change of pace. Especially since that change of pace involved coasters, thrill rides and copious amounts of alcohol. Up next! Las Vegas!
I promise there will be some coasters in the next installment, but I can't promise they'll all be good.