© 2011 jemma

An Update From Me To You #2

So where did I leave you? Ahhh in Disneyland, the land of Andrews apparent secret imagination, or something like that. Good times. By this time the four of us had only been in California, now it was time to move on to state number 2 – Navada!

We ventured on from old Anaheim, the land of childhood fantasies, to a world of adult fantasies…i.e. Las Vegas! It was an enjoyable ride across the desert, past hills and mountains of scrub bush and dodging tumble weed on the highway. It isn’t as desert like as you might think. No sandy lands of nothing at all, but more a really cool landscape of amazing natural architecture…and scrub.

We hit Sin City at night. It certainly is an oasis of lights in the desert, or a thorn of lights? Anyway it was night time and we were staying in the MGM Grand for less than $100 a night, Boo YAH! One word for the strip would be amazing! It’s like people come to Vegas to not be in Vegas but in whatever world each casino takes you to. MGM was hosting a rodeo event so it was FULL of cowboys and gals, country music and a mechanical bull which the boys failed miserably but hilariously at. Ahh cheap country beer.

We checked out the strip and ventured into pretty much all the main casinos including – The Venetian: My favourite with the canals, ahhh Venice! Bellagio: Great fountain display and classy Christmas display inside and Cesar’s Palace…wow, I now don’t have to go to Rome. I will though…just to compare and see if Rome got it right. We had some fun nights out too – cocktails, dancing and an amazing Circ du Soleil show called Zumanity – lots of great bits for men if you get my drift.

Our last night was spent in The Stratosphere, Vegas’ highest restaurant where we got to eat a very classy dinner for Sarah’s birthday – Andrew had his in San Diego, a BBQ by the pool – watching over the streets of Las Vegas. On top of the tower are some very scary rides that will take you over the edge and possibly to your death. Probably not, but I’m not interesting in finding out. It was fun when the restaurant spun around to the section where people actually jump off the side for fun! Yeah, not my thing. Great lamb cutlets though!

We also managed to wake up in time to fit in a day trip out to Hoover Dam. Not as awesome as the movies make it out to be, but still pretty cool. We did the Power Station tour where you get to go underground and see the generators and turbines and other things that make hydro electricity. It was a pretty impressive dam in its day though and kept a lot of families fed during the depression. We walked and drove over it and we even spotted some big horned sheep too. Crazy desert sheep!

From the MGM Grand now to something that is naturally beautiful and grand, The Grand Canyon! If you want to see something that will blow your mind, go there. You think, “I know it is big, the name pretty much says so”. Then you get there and your mind has to snap a little to really comprehend just HOW big it really is. It goes on, and on and on some more and it was freezing and snowing. Fancy that in the middle of Arizona – state number 3 for those playing at home. Lucky the days that we went to look at the canyon were sunny with clear blue skies, but still around -5 deg.

It is not fenced either, well some of the lookouts are but not the ridge trail or the ones down into the canyon. We went down a little on the bright angel trail and saw: some mules coming up, incredible scenery and some 1000 year old pictographs on the wall of an overhang. It was fantastic, but icy and slippery in some parts which made looking down the cliff even scarier. We went up and down as far as we could on the south rim and with every corner you turn there are thousands of kilometres of canyon to see, as well as views of the Colorado River below. Nice sunset too, and an incident with two buck elks which decided to trap us on a hike for an hour, a story that will take too long to explain.

It was onto state number four now, Colorado. We realised at the Grand Canyon that Andrew had made a mistake with the planning – I’m going to blame Andrew because it is an in joke… and true – and we only had nine days to make it to Toronto and our flights to NYC and Boston. We had a long drive ahead of us!

Here is a rundown of the Great Road Trip of 11’ and some highlights:

The Grand Canyon, Arizona to Cortez, Colorado; great desert views of canyons and mesas, a town full of dogs that run in front of cars and amazing rock formations!!!!

Cortez, Colorado to Colorado Springs, Colorado! The ‘skip challenge, scissor paper rock iPod system’ was well established by now, soon to be overshadowed by Andrews constant ‘redactions’. We drove through mountain passes, snowy roads, laughable hot springs and brewery lunch and ran up and down – the boys dangerously rolled down – the giant dunes in The Great Sand Dunes National Park.

(cheated a little here on the way and the four of us stood in 4 separate states – here!)

State number 5! Colorado Springs, Colorado to Russell, Kansas; Walked through the Garden of the Gods – amazing rock formations – and walked though the 1500 BC Manitou Cliff dwellings of the Anasazi people which was incredible! I was sooooooooo excited to touch and walk though those ancient buildings. We also saw frozen fields and small town Kansas!
State Number 6! Russell, Kansas to St Louis, Missouri; Fields, fields and a night out in the extremely quiet city of St Louis. Andrew did not wear a coat and it was FREEZING! We also drove over the Mississippi River!

State Number 7, 8 and nine! St Louis, Missouri to Columbus, Ohio! Don’t believe me? Well in one day we drove through four states, Missouri to Illinois to Indiana to Ohio. Yeah take that! We stopped in at Sarah’s cousins’ house to see her new baby and they provided us with a fabulous Taco lunch – so Indianapolis of them! More friends met and made. 🙂

State Number 10 and 11! Columbus, Ohio to Buffalo, New York. We passed through another state today, Pennsylvania on our way to NY. Andrew and I walked around German Town Columbus and checked out all the nice houses, the sausage and fudge factories and Schiller Park with the crazy ducks and geese. We also saw snow again on this leg, although it hasn’t snowed for weeks on the east coast. In Buffalo we went to the home of the first chicken wing – Anchor Bar – for 40 very deep fried spicy wings…between four of course! Andrew and Jess even had a competition involving 6 suicidal wings and no water allowed, which ended up with Andrew forfeiting after 1 wing and Jess powering through to eat 5 of them. He was a little sore afterwards though!!

From Buffalo it was back to Canada and onto Niagara Falls. It is only a 30min drive from Buffalo, but you have to cross a good old boarder which takes time. Then it was into the funfair that is Niagara Falls. I would really like to know who the person was that decided to make an amazing waterfall a theme park surrounded by haunted houses, the worst looking put puts and what seems like hundreds of arcades. America Falls and Horseshoe falls are very nice, not as big as I thought but pretty impressive. No Maid of the Mist – closed – but we ice skated right next to the falls and went up the tower to view the falls all lit up at night.

Niagara on the Lake and then off to Toronto next and back to the good old Super 8 in Chinatown. We said goodbye to our excellent chariot Harlequin who went onto a better life in a scrap yard. Yes it was a sad end, but I personally would not have felt comfortable selling that car on, and besides, we had no time and it had developed a nice shake. That and he would go onto be recycled, very environmentally friendly!! We have kept our plates though as a souvenir…we will never forget you great Volvo!! Tomorrow we are off to Boston, while the kLarkins are off to Vermont.

Our next adventure should be fun, Boston and then meeting up in New York and spending Christmas in a cabin in the Catskills. Not long now till we get home which is both happy and sad, but there you are, all good things must come to an end as they say.