maandag 17 oktober 2016

sept 27th: Hop on the LOVE BUS for the Hoover Dam, Route 66 and the Grand Canyon

Second night in row that we didnt wake up at 3 am!
Got out of bed early and were picked up by shuttle van that took us to the Grand Canyon tourbus! we were the last ones to get in so we had to sit in the back, behind a large group of people that turned to be Irish.
As soon as we got out on the road, the driver introduced himself. His name was Derek, and it became very clear that he was a special kind of special. The whole bus went hysterical but I thought „OMG guys its just 7am, I cant handle this“ also as it turned out the Irish were kinda „special“ too (I’ll be never embarred about Dutch people abroad anymore!) Anyway first thing Derek said that we were NOT allowed to complain about the airco. I was slowly turning into an icerock and thought, how am I ever going to survive this day??
„no complaining today!" he said „this is the Love Bus!"
forget the Love Boat, here's the LOVE BUS!

First stop on the tour was Hoover Dam, and before there it became clear to me that Derek was not only hysterical funny, but also a very well skilled guide that knew a lot about the things we passed, like the water shortage (the lakes are getting dry!)and the town of Boulder, Nevada, that was build for the workers of the Hoover Dam back in the 1930‚s and how gamblin and alcohol were not allowed here. also told about his first experiences here and how he saw the town change and how a bunch of hotshots now live in the hills. I loved how he mixed facts with feelings while telling about the things we passed. Oh yeah and silly stories too ofcourse. During the day I started wondering if he might have missed his calling as stand up comedian :-) He was having conversaties with himself and with „people that werent there“ in weird voices to explain things to us. (did work!)
While explaining the rules of the bus and the trip, like that you have to be back at the bus in time, and that you were only alowed to pee in the bus’ restroom „liquids only people! LIQUIDS ONLY“ and that we had to look out to get back in the right bus, but he put a „love bus“ sign on it so we would recognize it :-)
anyway without going on too long about him, he was worth the admission of the trip himself :-)

Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge/highway 93. Pat Tillman was a professional American football player who gave up his carrier to join the army and got killed by friendly fire.....

Hoover Dam was amazing and impressing! so was the bridge over the Colorado River. We made a quick photo stop (and for me; a mad dash to the souvenirstand for a magnet first :-D )
we all made sure to be back at the Love Bus on time, but a mom and her 2 teens werent and they looked horrible embarresed (and they were back as first during the rest of the day - lession learned!)
Turns out Hoover Dam is the state border with Arizona, how cool is that. we did get very confused by the two clocks though. (some one please explain in very simple words).
At least the icy airco was turned to normal, phew.
Robert asked Derek „can you say all that stuff in French maybe? We’re from Belgium“ (-most americans assume everyone in Belgium speak french)
Derek  „hmmm I cant i’m afraid“
Robert „oh good, because we wouldnt understand it“
Derek „I have to keep a good eye on you today, am I right“

the dam and the Colorado river... the white markings on the rocks show how high the river used to  be!

Colorado river on the other side of the dam

is there life on Maaaaaars? (yes! and a highway!)

Arizona desert
On our way to Kingman Arizona now, for a quick rest stop for food or restroom, where we were handed lunch.
the scenery changed here to desert with a few single mountains. In the distance we saw cities with lots of small houses.

Robert and Betty Lou at the Kingman, AZ, truckstop.

Roberts Americana lunch
Next stop was the infamous Seligman, Arizona.
You might know that the movie „Cars“ was more or less based on this little town.
I got this from Wiki:
„The Seligman was on the original U.S. Route 66 from 1926 through 1978, when Interstate 40 bypassed it a couple miles south. Seligman experienced its real heyday after World War II, when returning veterans and other motorists hit the road and made the Southwest a popular tourist destination. The Seligman Commercial Historic District protects the historical central area's early 20th century commercial buildings along Historic Route 66, a revived popular tourist destination. Historic district contributing properties include the include Pitts General Merchandise Store and the U.S. Post Office from 1903, the Pioneer Hall and Theatre and the Seligman Garage from 1905, and the Seligman Pool Hall from 1923.

In 1987 Seligman gained its name “Birthplace of Historic Route 66” due to the efforts of Seligman residents, who convinced the State of Arizona to dedicate Route 66 a historic highway. Seligman is the first stop heading west on the longest uninterrupted stretch of historic Route 66, running around 160 miles (260 km) to Topock on the east side of the Colorado River.“

in the bus we saw a documentairy about Angel Delgadillo, the towns barber, and his work to make Route 66 an historic highway and to preserve the road.

When we entered from interstate 40 it is clear how the new interstate cuts off the town! A big freight train just passed but when we stopped it was gone unfortunately.
We had only 15 minutes, parked in front of the barber shop and everybody ran out. We were greeted by some friendly locals who invited us (our bus, and some other hoards of tourists) in for free coffee. I took a quick look but no specific Seligman magnets so i dedicated the short time to look at all the old cars that were everywhere. (didnt find a green/white 1975 Suburban though :-D) It would have been fun to look around a bit longer, though everything is very touristic, but still cool. (we saw a sign saying „food & stuff“ that cracked us up)

crowd in front of Angels barbershop (good for them to have some people visiting the village again)

People were standing on the middle of the road to have their picture taken.
Robert and I always unintentially end up on Route 66, many times in Chicago and LA, and a few times in between too, and we were only here becuase the bus was, but still cool, and ofcourse this will add to the Route 66 memories when Dr Feelgood plays the song.
Back in the bus i found Robert and Betty Lou, and she had bought me an awesome Route 66 purse, how sweet of her!
Though it was the most touristic thing I ever did,(only thing missing was Derek with an folded umbrella to show us the way)  it was still fun.
food & stuff and standing in the middle of The Road

Robert and me on Route 66
Now we were really on our way to The Grand Canyon. I was getting nervous, I never really had the Grand Canyon on my bucketlist, and first thing I always said was „isnt Bryce much cooler?“ I expected not to be impressed by it and considered it just as a touristic „must see“ as Seligman. A few red rocks with lines on it.
To my surprise, Derek said that when he told his friends he was going to do Grand Canyon tours, they all went hysterical and his reaction was „what ever“
Just like me he said „it was never on my bucket list and I’m not into national parks“
Then he told us how much it hit him the first time he was there, and it even made him cry, being overwhelmed by the beauty, and that he saw a lot of grown men cry, during the years.
I thought „hm, whatever“

He dealed out a sheet with stickers with the name of the company and the telephonenr in case we would get lost. He stood there saying „put the sticker over here“ and pointed at his chest. While we all knodded understandingly and went „yes sir“ one of the Irish yelled „What, on YOU?“Everyone exploded in laughter and it was the only time I saw him lost for words. I think he wont easily forget those Irish.
Getting nearer to the South Rim he explained the options and the rules. We would be there for 3 hrs, we could do what we want, he would wait for 15 minutes and then LEAVE, no matter if we were all back or not. The ones that didnt make it back in time had either to spend the night in one of the lodges, or book a different bus back.
He gave some options on what we could do, and we trusted on Betty Lou who had done this trip before and we did the „scenic walk from Mathers point to the Bright Angel Lodge“
As he was making things clear, he kept repeating „Bright Angel Lodge“ so we wouldnt forget it. I think he said it at least 25 times in 3 mintes (at least, he promised to do so)
In the end the Irish were all yelling „Derek where we going?“ and „I forgot the name!“ by then I wouldnt mind them to shut up, and when Derek told them there was a pub in the lodge, we feared the worst.
Did we have any more questions, about ANYTHING that wasnt clear? yes ofcourse the Irish had: „Derek, I have this weird spot on my back that worries me, can you please look at it?"


He said „Mathers point“ would be „a bit crowded“ but when we felt out of the bus I was stunned by the amount of other tourists I saw. Crowds and crowds and crowds of people getting in eachothers way to take a picture and to block the view (yes, yes, I blocked others peoples view too, to take pictures)
Behind that, in a light haze, the Grand Canyon, as seen from  the South Rim.
Even though there were more people around me than on the Strip on a saturday night (I might not be exaggerating) I couldnt not NOT be impressed by what i saw.
Red mountains with stripes, yes, but as soon as I saw it I understood why so many people come here.
Words nor pictures discribe the beauty of the Grand Canyon. I didnt cry, but I quietly stared at the immense beauty of nature in front of me. Some of the rocks were lit by sun that came between the clouds. Red rocks as far as the eye could see, and white rocks with funny shapes...

The massive crowd of people got a bit in my way though, and felt a bit dissapointed at that, but then again, I was one of them.
While staring at the view, a man pointed out the trash that has been trown over the edge and shook his head. How disgusting! What a disrespect! I have never done that ever in my whole life, and especially cant imagine doing it on a place like this!
(if you look close you see the idiots who climbed all the way up there)

we had 3 hours to do the 3 mile/4,8 km walk. Now normally you can do at least 9 miles in 3 hrs, but not when you walk the South Rim of the Grand Canyon going all „lalaladeedah and clickclickclick“ as Derek put it.
Luckly, the massive crowd stayed put at Mathers Point and slowly the trail we were walking (going very „lalaladeedah and clickclickclick“ ) got a bit less crowded.
we heard all kind of languages around us and looked at the idiots that climbed over the rail to take pictures of them on tips of rocks.

one of my favorite pictures
Probably took a 1000 pictures that walk.... though I understood my view was impossible to capture.
I just never ever saw something like it. It wasnt hysterical special, I didnt cry, but it was very easy to get lost staring at it. I cant imagine what it will be like IN the canyon instead of looking at it and I wouldnt mind going back to find out. That IS on my bucket list now! There were some signs along the trail, we werent worried about getting lost, but we didnt know how far we still had to go.
The further we got, less people were around, and the more impressive it became. Especially the second part of the trail where we were „alone“ a big part of the time, or in companion of quiet hikers, really really hit me.

we found a rock that looked like a steak :-D
It was not just silent, but the silence seemed to be a thing of its own, coming from the canyon, sensible, touchible, hearable, undiscribable, almost oppressive.
By now the some weird shaped rocks had shown up, and on the left side there was a forest with small trees.
We’ve already seen squirrels, but were told not to aproachh them as they are apparently evil and vicious. We saw one eating a gummy worm (winegum) and tried to talk him out of it but he was just sitting there going nom nom nom with the elastic blue gummy worm in his little hands :-P

on our way to the Canyon we found out that theres a trainstation (!!!!!) Robert asked about it at home, and I got hysterical with the thought that there would be a train going there, but there is! It stops right at the lodges near Bright Angel Lodge. When we arrived we saw them, one of those with scenic glass roofs, very cool!
we also HEARD them, while walking the trail, and as you understand that made my day :-)

Other that trains and squirrels, we saw chipmunks that look very cute (they were very skittish unlike the squirels) a condor!! deer and elk!
The elk just stared at us from under the bushes. Apperantly they can be pretty nasty too if they attack you so glad they stayed there. I loved how the hikers carefully waved at eachother to inform them and whispered and were quiet and respectfull.

As the canyon is millions of years old, a part of the trail was dedicated to the different types of rocks they are made of. very informative. And very time consuming, as they invite you to touch all the sliced in half rocks. Some were extremely beautifull and one looked like a gigantic steak :-D

we started to worry about the time. I dug up the map and noticed we were not quiet as far as we thought and told the others „no more lalaladeedah and clickclickclick!“ we have to move fast a bit now!!
managed to walk fast untill the next turn in the road provided us with another stunning view and we had to leave the trail to the (designated) viewing point to stare and gasp.
Along the way were many rocks to sit on and stare, I tried one and immedeatlly understand how easy it would be to sit here all day and stare at this piece of mother nature. I can understand people find god in places like this.

quiet & humbled, staring, listening to the silence

spot the elk!

bizarre melted tree
another look at the map caused some panic, so we had to run the last part, but then arrived Bright Angel Lodge just early enough to get a souvenir.
Derek showed up with the Love Bus and everyone thanked him for his suggestion of doing the walk along the South Rim.
we were relieved that the Irish were not drunk and crashed in our seats for the long way back home. There were two movies to watch; Martian and Mall Cop, but I decided to look outside, even though the dessert was „just“ dessert, it was more interesting. (though Martian provided the earworm "Starman" by Bowie) We drove through Kaibab national forest and then the desert.
the Irish were getting too corny „what you call three trees? a small forest“ ba-dum-dishhh“
We passed Seligman on the 1 40 and got out in Kingman for a short break.
By then we were all pretty tired, it had been a very long and impressive day.
Got back in Vegas around 10pm and got a tour to a few hotels to drop off people and then it was our turn. we thanked him from the bottom of our hearts and I said he was at least half of the fun and he went „you’re my favorite person on the bus!“ but he just said that to Betty Lou so I said „do you mind if I dont believe you!“ haha!
extremely tired but just as happy we felt of the bus.
Robert and Betty Lou went straight up to the swimmingpool but I decided to stay in the suite and enjoy some alone time.

Pictures by Robert and me

Geen opmerkingen:

Een reactie posten