Sunday, 10 May 2015

Road Trip Diary: Las Vegas > Flagstaff > Page

1. Departure Day!
Monday May 4th 2015

We woke up in the South Terminal of Gatwick Airport, checked out of the Bloc Hotel and wheeled our bags down to Departures. Tip: For around £59 you can stay the night directly in the terminal which, if you have an early flight, takes away some of the hassle of the airport process. We couldn't wait to board the Boeing, watch some films, drink some gin and eat some neatly packaged plane food. So we did and it was ace. I seriously love flying, the enforced routine, the peace, the views.

We landed at Vegas' McCarran Airport, losing eight hours to the Atlantic and feeling all the worse for it. The immigration queue was immense, nearly an hour waiting for them to quiz us about our plans but I was so delirious that we were actually in America I didn't care. Another half hour in the taxi queue and we were on our way to the Excalibur hotel, a gaudy, faux-medieval shock to the system. I'd totally forgotten how bloody weird the Vegas hotels are. For one, people can smoke inside which they then cover up by pumping out strong floral air freshener. We ended up wandering around the hotel for a couple of hours and laughing at the absurdity of it all before going back to the room and falling into a very broken sleep.


2. Las Vegas to Flagstaff, Arizona.
Tuesday 5th May 2015

We got a cab to Alamo to pick up our rental car so we could get out of Vegas and into Arizona. We're back next week for a special wedding so it's not goodbye for long. Jet lag and Sin City do not mix well. We drove the 250 miles to Flagstaff and stopped off at the Hoover Dam for a very high altitude selfie on the way. The wide, quiet roads out of Vegas were great for Ed to get used to driving on the other side of the road and familiarise himself with all the road signs. Tip: compared to picking up the car in a big city with huge freeways like L.A, it's a lot easier when you can quickly get out of the traffic-swamped areas.
We stopped off for lunch in a little town called Kingman because Ed had done his research and found that this was our closest In'n Out Burger. Hands down, the best burger I've ever eaten. Tip: Visit In'n Out Burger, a lot.
We got to Flagstaff late afternoon and checked into our first AirBnb, a beautiful house overlooking the San Francisco Peaks range with a guy called David, his two dogs Wanda and Lilly and his hawk Coca. We drove to the local Walmart-bad idea- and wandered aimlessly around the aisles, amazed by the choice and confused by the look of most of it. Still very jet-lagged we settled on bagels, apples and cereal bars, headed home to eat our 'meal' and fell asleep watching Netflix at 8.30pm.


3. Grand Canyon
Wednesday 6th May 2015

Another early morning for us. We grabbed some decent, strong coffee courtesy of David, had a chat about his life and got ready to head out to the Grand Canyon for the day when Ed asked about his hawk Coca. David went to bring him out and Ed did everything he could to hold himself together (I joke, but he is a huge Bird of Prey nerd) It was a pretty amazing experience, we both took turns to hold her and David taught us about the breed and background. We drove out to the Grand Canyon feeling joyous and arrived late morning to some epic scenes. The photos speak for themselves and the park, the visitors centre and the trails were all excellent. I think the altitude/tiredness made me feel a bit under the weather, so after a short hike and many, many photo opportunities including some with of the local squirrels, we jumped back into the car and headed back. We stopped in the centre of Flagstaff for an afternoon coffee, saw that it was a really cute university town with a heap of great shops, cafes and good signage and got sad that we had to leave the next day.

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4. Flagstaff to Page.
Thursday 7th May 2015

We said goodbye to David and made the 2 hour journey to Page where we were staying at our first motel and seeing Horseshoe Bend and Monument Valley, another couple of scene-stealing backdrops. Horseshoe Bend was weird and amazing- no guard rails and tourists perched right on edge trying to get a good photo. It was beautiful though, the full eroded bend in the canyon and the bright blue of the river impossible to capture on a non-wide angle lens sadly. We had our first proper BBQ meal that evening, Big Johns Texan BBQ. Pulled pork on paper plates, sticky fingers, peach cobbler and locally brewed beers, all of it delicious.

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5. Monument Valley
Friday 8th May 2015

We ate our breakfast of bananas and cereal bars (tip: this is cheap and yum and easy) and drove the 2 hours to Monument Valley on the Arizona/Utah border. It's located on Navajo owned land and is fully sacred to them which was fascinating to read about in the museum in the visitor centre. We learnt about the Code Talkers, a group of Navajo Indians who joined the World War Two efforts and used their native language as a code to evade the Germans, something which I've never heard about before. A huge sandstorm picked up and we waited it out in the car before driving back. The amount of driving was starting to take it's toll and we arrived back to the motel knackered, needing food and still a bit freaked out that we were actually doing this.

Tomorrow, on to Utah...

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  1. These photos are so, so beautiful. Love Ed and the squirrel and was blown away by the beautiful canyon shots. So, so gorgeous!

  2. These photos are so, so beautiful. Love Ed and the squirrel and was blown away by the beautiful canyon shots. So, so gorgeous!


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