We picked up a Hyundai Elantra rental car (read: shitbox) and left Vegas behind. It had been some time since I had driven on the other side of the road, but I found the best approach was to visualise the turn before making it instead of relying on my usual 2nd-nature driving skills, which naturally had me heading for the left lanes.
Just outside Vegas we found our way to the Blueberry Family Diner at which you could order your choice of a short stack of 3 blueberry pancakes, maple syrup, whipped butter and a side of French toast topped with icing sugar along with a couple of rashers of bacon, or perhaps instead you might like the 4 egg omelette with 2 types of cheese, ham, a side of bacon and OH MY GOD this place is filled with FATTIES! We opted for the “Low GI” breakfast, which admittedly wasn’t bad at all (fruit, toast and couple of poached eggs), and added 2 hash browns to deal with the hangover. Ange also somehow slipped in an order of blueberry pancakes “for the table”. Nice.
Once our faces were filled we hit the road, and with Matt leading the way we headed for the Hoover Dam. From there the GPS decided to send us 30 extra miles the long way around a blocked road, though we spent the time marvelling at the desert landscape which to my surprise continually changed as hundreds of miles and a few 2-bit towns rolled by before we made it to Williams, AZ on historic Route 66 at sunset, meeting up with TK & Sarah once again.
We got to bed early, ready for a 4am wake-up so as to hit the road in time for sunrise at the Grand Canyon at 6am. When the alarm sounded we were up and greeted by absolutely freezing temperatures outside, so we drove the hour from Williams to the National Park in the dark with the heating on while watching the first slivers of daylight creep over the horizon. Once there we left our warm cars parked and ran through the bitter cold toward the rim, not wanting to miss any of the sunrise. At 5000 feet above sea level the others complained about the thin air hampering their ability to run, but it somehow didn’t seem to affect me at all.
At the rim of the Canyon we were greeted by a busload of Japanese tourists, a few of whom TK pointed out were wearing facemasks despite the air being particularly clean. After finding a less-crowded lookout we did our best to cope with the cold and took in the amazing view, which is so large and deep its difficult to appreciate from just one vantage point. To do the Grand Canyon properly I’d say you would probably have to go for a heli-tour.
The sun rose slowly and the many camera shutters clicked. We got some great shots and have really been enjoying using the inbuilt Art Filters in the Olympus PEN E-PL2 we picked up before leaving Sydney. In particular the ‘Dramatic Tone’ filter does great things for shots of the sky, besides also being a good name for TK’s future record label.
Once we had our fill, we hit the road once more for the 6 ½ hour drive back into California to the 3 day Coachella Music & Arts Festival!