Day 3 – And what a Grand Canyon it is!

Sunday 28 June 2009 – Grand Canyon. 0 Miles in the Mustang.

In my research for accommodation in Williams, AZ, I came across Marvellous Marv’s Grand Canyon Tour and I got very excited! It sounded right up our alley – a small, relaxed tour, mainly avoiding all the touristy areas, a personal tour guide, and a good price. He picked us up in his van at 9am on a gorgeous sunny Arizona day, and away we went.

Marv is a real salt of the earth kind of guy. He’s been running these tours for over 30 years (if memory serves) and he is very passionate about the Grand Canyon National Park and finds it appalling what they are doing to his “own back yard”. (e.g. there’s now a McDonalds there!!) There was only 1 other couple on the tour, Peggy and Jerry (we neglected to get a photo of them which is a shame) who were a retired couple travelling across the country in their RV. The RVs were EVERYWHERE! But that’s a story for another day.

Marv showed us some great sights and at times, we were the only people in that particular spot. The Grand Canyon is breathtaking. My mind just couldn’t comprehend the size and the magnificence of what I was looking at. Photos never do it justice, but Hubs took some beauties. I’ll let them tell the story…

We walked down the first part of the Bright Angel Trail and passed some Mules carrying people back up from Phantom Ranch. I thought Marv was pulling my leg when he said there was a resort down the bottom of the canyon! But sure enough, it’s there, all the way down the bottom. Our timeframe (oh, and budget and lack of planning) didn’t allow for such luxuries this time around. Maybe next time Hubs!!

We had such a relaxing day and I would highly recommend this tour to anyone. We went out to dinner with Peggy and Jerry that night and had Mexican (I had a Chimichanga – SO GOOD) and 2 buckets of Coronas (5 beers to a bucket) between us, and Jerry was telling us that the blood alcohol limit was .08 in Arizona, so there was no need to worry! He also told us that police in th US can’t just randomly pull people over, so as long as we drove in a straight line, we’d be fine! Luckily, we were only a mile down the road and Hubs took it easy on the beers. We finished the night back in their RV sharing our Bundy Rum and drinking their Coconut Rum (which I LOVED!) A great end to a great day.

And a couple of videos, for your viewing pleasure!

Day 2 – A burger, some fries and a shake please

Saturday 27 June 2009 – Palm Springs, CA, to Williams, AZ. 375 miles.

After a complimentary brekky at the Travelodge we jumped on the I-40 and we were off! The first part of our journey was quite interesting, seeing the desert landscape, and then coming across a Casino and resort, seemingly in the middle of nowhere! And there were many more to come after this as well. The California Desert really is beautiful. The long stretches of roads, the hills and the valleys…

After driving for a while, we realise we should stop for petrol. But we haven’t really seen anywhere to stop for a while. On my google maps that I’d printed out (which were totally rubbish BTW) it showed that “Rice” was coming up, which I presumed was a town. It turns out “Rice” was just the area which was the middle of the desert. I was getting a little anxious, but we finally pulled up at a truck stop that was selling fuel for $3.89USD/gallon. I didn’t care. We put in about $40 worth and that was the most expensive fuel we paid for. (On average we paid between $2.25-$2.50 per gallon!!)

We stopped in at Kingman for lunch at a Diner on Route 66. We had our first sweet potato fries (Mum used to make them for us when we were kids) and we were hooked! We shared a burger, fries and a yummy chocolate shake….

….and we were on the road again.

We were in Arizona by this stage and not long after, we arrived at Williams – the gateway to the Grand Canyon – and set up our tent. It took us a little while, but we figured it out and enjoyed a Bundy Rum and Coke as the sun was setting.

We headed into town for a beer and some ribs that we shared (delish) and enjoyed the twilight which lasted until about 10:30pm. Hubs kept teasing me but I was really scared of bears, even though the locals assured me there was nothing to fear. Of course, there was no incident and we had a good, albeit cold, night’s sleep, with our alarm set for 8:00am the next morning!

Day 1 – Hellllllooooo Hollywood!

NaBloPoMoHo (Holiday) beginnnnnnnnsss….. NOW! (Click on the photos for larger image.)

Friday 26 June 2009 – Los Angeles, CA, to Palm Springs, CA. 162 miles.

We left Brisbane on Friday 26th June at 11am without incident. It was also the start of a very long Pigtail Friday! We flew V Australia and I would not hesitate in flying with them again. They had all the trimmings and the 12 hour flight really wasn’t so bad. We arrived at LAX at 11pm “home time” which was 7am LA time. So we had to start our day all over again. We felt a bit zonked but very excited! (I tried the “red-eye removal” on the photo editor, but it didn’t work! Tee hee!)

We took the shuttle to the car hire place and they said we had a choice of a Chrysler Sebring (which is what I booked) or, and this was said very nonchalantly, “I think there’s a Mustang out there too.”

Say what?… Oh yes pleeeeeeeeese!

So we jump into the very new, very red Mustang and take note of the odometer reading – a mere 316 miles a-thank-ya-very-much! And we’re on our way! Now bear in mind that it’s technically 1am for us at 9am in LA so we’re a little tired but in good spirits. Hubs is in the driver’s seat and I’m navigating. We start cruising around and our first impression is that LA is very dirty and a little scary (my impression). After getting slightly lost, we find ourselves again and decide that we should head out to the water, just to say we’ve been there. On the map it really didn’t look very far, but I didn’t quite get the hang of the scale and it was actually about 25 miles away. Oopsies!

We stopped off at a El Pollo Loco (I think) and had our first greasy meal. It was okay, but I found it amusing that Hubs was most excited about the mac-cheese that came with it!!

Then, from a distance, we spotted the HOLLYWOOD sign,

(gosh can you even see it?? It was SO smoggy) then we got a small glimpse of the beach and the Santa Monica Pier and turned around to head to Palm Springs on the I-10.

I’m not exactly sure what time it is at this stage – maybe 1:30pm or so? As we are heading out of LA, we come across a heck of a lot of traffic coming in. I’m so glad we were going in the opposite direction, but apparently if we’d left after 3pm it would have taken us 2 hours to get out of LA alone.

And now for our first experience at WALMART!! We love Walmart. We think it totally rocks. We managed to pick up camping gear (everything but a tent) for a total of $30USD (2 camp mats, sheets, pillows, a sleeping bag and a tent peg hammer) and a few other bits and pieces for the trip. And we’re on our way again! We put the top down (now that we’re out of scary LA) and turn the music up and start singing – mainly to keep us awake!

Hubs is still driving at this stage and is getting pretty sleepy so we pull over and I take over the driving. We don’t have much further to go, so I’m not too scared. Yet. Once in the driver’s seat however, I’m not so comfortable. I keep telling myself “keep right keep right keep right” and even though we’re on the freeway, everything about this feels so wrong. I can honestly say that I experienced the scariest 5 minutes of my life. I had the biggest cars I’ve EVER seen zooming past me, I’m struggling to keep in my lane (Hubs is very politely and helpfully gesturing for me to move to the left) and don’t even get me STARTED on the condition of the road. Hubs very kindly puts on Cindy Lauper for me to calm my nerves and keep me focused and I do believe that helped! Thanks Cindy!

After a little while we take a smaller highway towards Palm Springs and I’m much more comfortable now. The scenery around us is breathtaking and it starts sinking how much of an adventure this is going to be and how much fun and good times lay before us.

We arrive at Palm Springs at about 5pm and our hotel (Travelodge) is lovely. There was a pool and since it was over 30 degrees we thought we’d have a swim. This was a perfect start to our holiday. The hotel really was the best we stayed in for the whole trip which was a nice way to start.

After our swim we “had a little nap. Not entirely unexpectedly, this “nap” lasted 14 hours. We woke up at 8am the next morning and felt completely refreshed and ready to go. It was amazing!

It was the LONGEST Pigtail Friday on record, and a great start to our holiday.

As promised

I will be starting my next NaBloPoMoHo (Ho stands for Holiday!) as of tomorrow so stay tuned! (If I can get these darn photos in order!! Eeeek!)

You will be taken on a Journey from coast (west) to coast (south) to coast (east), hearing stories of a red mustang, seemingly endless roads, stunning desert sunsets, a blurry week on a lake, giant mosquito bites, (on Hubs, not me!!), ginormous BBQ ribs, fabulous accents, a big park in the middle of a big city, and so much more.

Hope you enjoy the ride as much as we did! Yee-haw!