The Grand CanyonAfter the memorable and amusing checkout from the Luxor, we headed from Las Vegas towards Boulder, where we intended to visit the Hoover Dam. This is quite close to Vegas and so we were able to get there quite soon. At one time the main road went over the dam but due to its age and the accumulated vibration of heavy trucks passing over it, it was decided to build a bypass, so the main road crosses the Colorado River on high bridge below the dam and you now have to divert off route 93 if you want to visit the dam itself.
|It took four years to build|
Looking up Lake Mead. Low water levels due to lack of rain
The old road still passes over the dam but it is blocked from re-joining route 93 on the far side, so you have to turn around and come back across the dam again if you cross it. Once over the far side, you enter Arizona and at certain times of the year the time zones are an hour different each side of the dam, because unlike Nevada, Arizona does not have daylight saving.
|From the Arizona side of the dam, you can see the road crossing along the top of the dam|
Back on route 93 after our visit we crossed the new bridge and headed for Arizona.
|The new bridge below the dam|
It has had a song written for it, a TV show named after it and is trekked on by nostalgia seekers from all over the world. It is now a tourist attraction at Kingman and the town lays claim to being on the longest remaining stretch of the road. Leaving Kingman, the I-40 heads straight east whilst the old Route 66 loops north-east up to Peach Springs and curves south again, merging with the I-40 about one hundred miles east of Kingman. This part of the I-40 then follows the path of Route 66, that stretch having been improved to Interstate standard and renumbered, which means that we have driven along some of Historic route 66 whilst heading from Kingman to Williams.
Williams is a favourite spot for tourists to stay who are visiting The Grand Canyon and there is a railway link from this town to the Grand Canyon Village.
From Williams we headed north up the 64 which takes you to Grand Canyon Village, a distance of about 60 miles.
The scenery along the way was different with mountains covered in small bushes but little grass. The land was still dry and arid but as we approached the Grand Canyon, the trees became larger with more grass and other foliage growing beneath them.
|As we approached the canyon, the trees got bigger and more frequent|
Arriving at the Information Centre we looked at the geological information about the creation of the canyon and the kinds of strata exposed in the canyon walls and then walked to the rim.
|The model of the strata found in the canyon|
Around this part of the canyon you are around seven thousand feet in altitude, so the air is a bit thin and walking up a few steps became a major challenge for someone as unfit as myself and TBH. However, we spent some time simply walking along and gazing and photographing the incomprehensibly vast ditch we were seeing and felt a growing sense of awe as the sheer size started to penetrate our numbed brains.
After getting our fill of the view, we drove along the rim and stopped at another view point further east and went through the WOW! Factor again and then again.
Walking along another viewpoint, the wind was picking up and it was beginning to get a bit late but we were still looking at the canyon as the shadows started to lengthen and the view changed from pale pastels to hard dark shadows that emphasised the ruggedness. I had been wearing a white hiker’s sun hat which I had owned for some time, it was a good sun hat and entirely necessary for someone of thinning hair whenever there is any sun, because lacking a thick thatch, I now burn easily on top. Standing near the rim, a gust of wind suddenly took off my hat and blew it into the canyon. It fell a long way down and we could see it stuck in a bush but without climbing gear there was no way to get it. So it is probably still there, a lasting token of my visit until is rots away or someone much more agile than me finds it.
Further along the rim is a tower built in the 1930s by the architect Mary Colter to provide a view across the canyon and designed to look similar to the Anasazi Pueblo architecture found in Colorado and Arizona. Anasazi towers are much smaller than this one but exist at several sites once occupied by the Anasazi people but no one sure what their purpose was. They are often referred to as watchtowers.
We eventually had to leave this impressive place and head for Flagstaff, where we were booked in to a hotel for that night. Driving east towards route 89, the 64 follows the Little Colorado River which has carved a much smaller canyon, but which is still quite impressive scenery. Joining route 89, we headed south towards Flagstaff. It was starting to get late and the sun was quite low as we headed south and the sun created interesting shadows.
|The Little Colorado|
|We were paced by this shadow car for some miles|
|Sunset Crater near sunset|
Flagstaff is not very far from the Barringer Crater, the first terrestrial meteor crater to be recognised as such and something of a turning point in geology. I would like to have visited this but unfortunately we did not have enough time.
We ate in a restaurant called The Cracker Barrel, a chain found only in the south of the USA, which are themed to be a real old time country store and you walked through a scene from a Hollywood western to get into the dining area. Cracker Barrel had the most wonderful menu we had experienced in any of the eateries we had been to so far on this trip.