I spent the night in Flagstaff, Arizona last night, putting me in my 42nd state on this trip. Only 6 more to go! Your time will come, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, and West Virginia! Oh, it will come…
So how did I get to Arizona, you’re asking? Other than a heavy dose of US 93 and I-40, I’ve got the stories (and pictures) that got me here to share.
I was pretty much spot on about Friday. My step brother, niece, and I just crashed around the house for the day. He played the new Call of Duty game, I read some more of Prince of Thieves (aka The Town), and we both had a hand in making sure the niece didn’t burn down the house. She’s a mess, for sure. But a fun one! Since I was the guest, I got to pick the place for the birthday dinner. If I stop on the road for something, it’s usually a chain so that it’s quick and I can get in and out in a hurry. But when I’m stopped somewhere, I try to eat at a local places to give something new a chance. And luckily for me, Google was there to lend a helping hand. We settled on Settebello Pizzeria. It wasn’t your typical deep-dish style pizza, more of a thing crust, Italian style. But it was very good! We went with the Involtini di Prosciutto for an appetizer. My first time giving that a shot. And for pizza, I went with Quattro Stagioni. It’s a pizza quartered with each quarter containing one of the following: “Wood Oven Roasted Sausage, Salami, Roasted Mushrooms, and Calamata Olives.” And for desert, we all split a Nutella Pizza. It was a thin pizza crust with slices of banana and almonds and drizzled (doused might be a better word) with Nutella. Definitely not something I’d normally try, but very, very good! My niece loved it (both eating and wearing it) as well.
Good times with family I don’t see often!
Saturday we got up and did breakfast. There was an airshow in town at the air base. The idea was tossed out to try and hit that, but was shot down. We decided on Mt. Charleston instead. After everyone got ready and my sister in law’s brother was picked up, we ventured out into the mountains. We ended up hiking up one of the shorter trails to a small waterfall. It was bumping freezing since it was late in the afternoon and we were at 7,200 feet. But the niece got to play in some snow.
And then, on the way back down the mountain, we saw something that few people rarely ever see…
And with that, my time in Vegas came to an end. My step brother and sister in law are awesome for putting me up the last few days. And feeding me delicious food that was a welcomed change from poptarts and PB&J. So thanks again!
Yesterday, the plan was to see the Hoover Dam and maybe hit the Grand Canyon. Lake Mead is all of 30 minutes away from where my step brother lived, so that was a quick trip. I learned it was the first National Recreation Area designated by the US Government. So now, I’ve been to the first National Park, first National Monument, and first National Recreation Area. Too cool! I got my passport stamped and talked to the rangers there for 20 minutes or so. I got some time-saving hints about the Petrified Forest from one of them, so I had a good stop! They also helped me out with finding the best places and times to be for the dam to bypass all of the crowds. So thank you, Lake Mead Visitors Center Rangers!
Before going to the dam though, I made a stop off at the Hoover Dam Bypass. You can walk across from the New Mexico side, but there’s nothing on the Arizona side. So it’s just a down-and-back kind of thing. Except 880 feet in the air. I’d be lying if I said my legs weren’t a little wobbly walking on the edge looking over. But I did it! It has an amazing view of the dam with the lake behind it. And as I later learned, it was built to divert traffic off of the dam not for security reasons (like everyone thinks), but for simple traffic flow reasons. In the summers, too many cars would run out of gas or overheat while waiting the hours it’d take to make it over the dam. Now, you just breeze through it.
That last picture is a view, straight down, from the apex of the arch on the bridge. Very eerie!
From there, I went to the Visitors Center and bought a ticket for the Dam Tour. And all of the employees definitely emphasize you’re on the “Dam Tour.” Over and over. Like it’s the funniest thing ever spoken. It was a little pricey ($30), but it was good! We got to see the power plant itself.
We got to walk through the middle of the dam. These hallways are also in a lot of movies (like Vegas Vacation!).
Down tunnels! This one led to the face of the dam towards the bottom. The grate you see about halfway down the tunnel is for inspections to be done on the dam. Another conquering of heights for me, as it was a straight drop of 100+ feet. And you walk over it. With nothing but a grate holding you up. But at the end, we could take pictures out of the grate looking out.
From there, we checked out a set of steps that goes from the top of the dam to the bottom. Over 700 steps! And then they took us to the top of the dam for the end. More picture taking for me and that was my trip to the dam!
After that, it was just driving the rest of the day. I had planned on going to the Grand Canyon Skywalk, which is a clear ledge walking out over the Grand Canyon. I would have been scared to death, but I wanted to give it a shot. That is, until I saw the price. It’s owned and run by the Hualapai Indian Tribe. So they get to set prices and all of that good stuff. To get into their area (“Grand Canyon West”) costs $43. And once you’re in there, it costs another $32 to actually walk the skywalk. Um, $75 is more than I paid for my hotel room last night. I’m definitely not paying that for the 10 minutes it might take to walk on their platform. And I thought the Space Needle was a waste of money at $18… So I passed. And I passed on staying in a hotel near the Grand Canyon too. I’m in Flagstaff and it’s easily half the price. I’ll drive the extra 30 miles to save $55, thankyouverymuch!
But that’s the plan for today – to hit the Grand Canyon. This is another big thing on my list. So it should be a good day! And I’ll have more than enough pictures to fill up another entry tomorrow sometime. Depending on how much time I spend there, I’ll try for the Petrified Forest as well. But we’ll see.
It’s not like I’m on a schedule 🙂