Hibernation ends. We’re back to Las Vegas. A journey thru America’s desert begins: Crossing northern Arizona to Grand Canyon and on to Page to visit the famous slot canyons.
Las Vegas, 5th April
On 2nd April we abandon any hope that our favourite watering hole in Laufaburg – the Hähnle – would open its al fresco terrace in any near future. Weather is simply too unpredictable and it’s much too cold. Entirely disillusioned we leave incredible Laufaburg to head to Zurich’s airport. A night in 1 of these strange sleeperies for stranded passengers.
Early next morning a short hop to Frankfurt; followed by the endless flight to Las Vegas in Uncle Don’s Own Country. Lack of alternatives obliges us to fly again with Condor. An absolutely no frills carrier more dedicated to move chicken from their coop to the butchery than passengers to their irresistible holiday destinations.
At least a short time after departure they serve their gourmet menu. For a change, their famous Duo de Pasta à la Bolognese. Definitely not simply pasta like the 1 you prepare at home with a lot of enthusiasm and love. No, they really serve you 2 variations of the very same pasta in the very same plate: in the middle pasta soaked in their Bolognese Sauce cooked to perfection – definitely to proof how soft and soggy pasta can be. This delicious nucleus is surrounded by a circle of sauceless pasta double-microwaved to incredible crispy pasta crackers – a gourmet’s nightmare, but a dentist’s dream. Try to imitate this delight at home – an invitation to great failure.
Whatever, some interesting views on the way. The icy landscape of Greenland, later the ice floes in the Hudson Bay. Looks incredibly cold. Surely further south it will be much warmer.
Later we cross icy Canada; get more’n’more astonished how much snow is still in the northern parts of the US. Of course suddenly it changes. A few km north of Las Vegas the snow covered hills convert into the sun burnt desert. What a relief.
Condor is kind enough to serve another gourmet’s delight. Definitely, somehow it requires to get used to it. But, what the hell …
… Las Vegas is not far anymore. Indeed, some 12h after having left Frankfort a 1st glimpse of The Strip. Time to queue up for immigration. An intense questioning by an unfriendly immigration guy – and we get our required 6 months in the States.
On to town. For a glass (or 2) of Amber Ale – and then we recover from the sadism of these animal carrier used to transport odd tourists.
The next day we release Prado from its destiny as a customer of a storage company. Of course it’s more than happy to see us, especially when it discovers all the spare parts we’ve brought. Thankfully the engine starts immediately and Prado drives us safe and sound thru the town.
On to a car spa, …
… then getting new shoes for Prado: The old 1s were slightly to diversified’n’used for American roads.
In the evening we start suffering some homesickness. In urgent need of good old Europe, we decide for Venice’s San Marco Place – and we get it. Thanks to Las Vegas’ Venetian Casino.
Flagstaff, 7th April
This morning our trip really starts. The trip which should lead us to the most important intermediate stopover between Maseru (Lesotho) and Ushuaia (Argentina): the Alaska Brewhouse in Anchorage to sip a pint of their Pale Ale. And to 1 of the many loose ends of the Panamericana.
To start with, we leave Las Vegas; direction of Kingman in Arizona. A 1st stop at Hoover Dam: this huge concrete bloc some guys placed in the middle of Colorado River. Creating Lake Mead and providing electricity to prevent poor Californians from going to nightly alternatives to watching soap operas on the TV. Whatever, a place to admire the construction and to observe with astonishment how deep the lake’s level is by now. Climate change has recently been politically declared non-existent in the US. Therefore the water shortage is probably due to unfair raining pattern in this area. Surely there will be very soon a Presidential Decree to change this.
On thru the desert to Kingman.
Kingman: rather nondescript; maybe with the exception of the sumptuous Mexican eatery: the ultimate place for a beer and some goodies from the other (better) side of The Wall.
Next morning we head for Flagstaff. Now on the famous Route 66. Well, the road is not any different to others. But the villages adapt. Especially Seligman. Fully tricked-out to receive tourists with a certain nostalgic feeling of the 50ies of the last millennium. Dandified police cars from that glorious epoch, when a cop was still your best friend and not …, some glimpses of the imaginative beauty of the ladies at that time …
… well, we’re quickly off. Mainly due to Monika’s excessive’n’unfounded jealousy.
Flagstaff. Famous for its historic center. Don’t expect it to be too large. Just 6 blocks. You won’t get lost.
Tusayan, 10th April
Next: a small loop thru Northern Arizona. The short trip to famous Sedona. Situated in a beautiful landscape. Unfortunately the whole area pretty infested by entrance fee stations. The town itself rather an attraction for local folks. So quickly we’re on to Prescott, the former capital of Arizona.
On the way a stop in Jerome – some decades ago a prosperous mining town, nowadays fully concentrated on odd tourists. Definitely a situation just for the time being. Rumours claim a great revival of the mining business. As far as we could understand they plan to deposit a few truckloads of copper imported from Zambia in the old mine shafts. Then, after having risen import taxes on copper by 750% the mine will eventually reopen and Jerome will be great again.
In the meantime the miners are rocking in the historic Hotel Connor for the tourists; waiting for the import taxes to rise.
We head on. A glimpse of Watson Lake. A reservoir in the middle of the desert like landscape.
And late afternoon we’re in proud Prescott. A stroll thru the small historic district, the famous Whiskey Row, and most important a visit to the town’s atmospheric saloon.
After this experience we’re ready for the most important premium tourist attraction in the US: the Grand Canyon. However, we’re a little anxious to visit. We expect a few million Chinese tourists – all trying to make the ultimate selfie in a heroic pose with the Canyon in the background. We expect accommodation without any value for money. Just built to get some bucks out of poor tourists’ pockets. And eateries you wouldn’t dare to send your mother-in-law to. And finally so many cars that you wouldn’t find any parking within a radius of 100 km. Definitely, we expect a real pain in the ass. Nevertheless, we think we have to visit it.
We arrive in Tusayan: somehow the center of Grand Canyon’s flophouses. Not pricewise of course. Astonishingly this artificial tourist hotspot looks considerably neat, not crowded at all. Reminds us a little to these odd overnight spots at big American highway intersections. But what the hell – we’re here to admire Grand Canyon, not its tourist infrastructure.
Time to queue up for sunset. Again, astonishingly few folks. And a lot of landscape to admire.
Expecting the worst – at least this evening we’re positively surprised by the lack of tourist masses.
The next morning a hike along the South Rim. That really means half a day of splendid views – and with exception of the surroundings of the park head quarter a very lonely path.
On the way many opportunities to take a rest. Some of this infrastructure installed by the kind Government even provides important messages to its citizens.
And that’s Grand Canyon. Much better than expected. But now it’s time for a beer in Tusayan’s tourist saloon.
Page 12th April
Enough of Grand Canyon. We head for Page. This small town at the Glen Canyon Dam. Definitely, we won’t stay here for its beauty or its excellent reputation as a kind heaven for poor overlanders. No, it’s just for the famous Antelope Canyon.
On the way to Page a look at the Little Colorado George; …
… seems to be a pretty dangerous place …
… but not too spectacular.
In Page we admire sunset at the Horseshoe Bend. It seems some other guys had the same idea.
Whatever, still quite impressive. Colorado River winding its way thru the gorge …
… the sheer cliffs and the many tourists – all taking the very same pictures.
Then the real attraction: Antelope Canyon – the most famous slot canyon in the world. So famous that its narrow passage regularly fills up with tourists. So famous that the locals may ask nearly any prize for the shortest tour you can imagine – of course you’re only allowed to visit with a tour. How else might your greenbacks easily move to their pockets? And finally so famous that it has the pole position in unfriendly tour guides. Thus, excellent conditions to visit this wonder of nature.
Whatever. It’s a great place, simply ignore your environment. And thanks to huge Chinese groups constantly taking selfies in strange positions we had a lot of time to admire the canyon. Consequently we strongly recommend all visitors to inquire about the timing of selfie affectionate Chinese tour groups to schedule your visit.
To start with: getting into the canyon is not easy. Be patient, queue up and wait until it’s your turn.
A 1st glimpse of the canon’s wonderful structures, …
… sometimes it’s not easy to move on, …
… and that’s the opportunity to take the hell a lot of pics nobody will ever look at,…
… some steep ladders to climb, …
… just to take some more pics, …
.. the ultimate place with the ultimate sight …
… and here it is – the tribute to an American President.
And then we’re out. The slot canyon is hardly visible from the top.
Many thanks to our dear Chinese tour group in front of us. Thanks to them our tour lasted nearly 2h, instead of 30’ or less.
And that’s all for today. Even more interesting or boring stuff soon – in our next post.