New York City,Grand Canyon,Las Vegas & Santa Monica, July 2016
In July 2016 I was in New York for the 17th time.
Normally I Stay in the City all the time. Well with some tours to the surrounding areas, but my vacation in 2016 was very different.
I was staying with my friend Roger in East Harlem and we had desired to take a trip to Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and a shortcut to Santa Monica in California.
I should stay in New York for 3 weeks and 11 of those days, we would be spending in Grand Canyon.
The trip took place from July 1st -July 11th 2016.
July 1st we flew from JFK to Las Vegas. The weather was good and with almost clear skies.
I had packed both my suitcase and a backpack. We were going to stay at the Luxor Hotel the first night. We were going to buy some stuff and then go to the Grand Canyon where we would camp at Mather Campground, which is located on the south rim.
At the airport in Las Vegas, we had to pick up a car that we had rented for 10 days.
As always, we were in good time and after the plan, we had to check in at the hotel at 10 pm.
We were going to sleep and next day buying some camping stuff and food.
As always, the weather in New York can change in an instant and suddenly it broke out with clouds and began to rain violently. A thunderstorm it was all right.
They told that all planes were on standby because of the weather and we were delayed for at least 3 hours.
We were on vacation and had 10 days in front of us so no worries.
Finally, the weather improved and we flew for 5 hours from New York to Las Vegas.
We arrived at McCarran Airport at 1 am and since I cannot sleep on a plane, I was reasonably tired, as I am always up early.
At the airport, we took a shuttle bus to the place where we had to pick up our hire car.
Even though it was night, there was still a waiting line and we got our car at 2.45 am.
We decided to shop before going to the hotel. That way, we could save time the next day.
It is the first time I have been shopping in the middle of the night, and at 3.06am, we arrived at the Walmart Super center where we bought the things, we needed for the camping trip.
We were now very tired and arrived at the Luxor hotel at 5 am where we went to bed right away.
After 3 hours of sleep, we got up again and drove towards the Grand Canyon.
It is a 5-hour drive by car and before we took off, we had filled our new icebox with ice from the hotel.
Along the way, we had a stop at an outlet center where I bought a pair of Ralph Lauren flip-flops.
After a lunch at McDonalds, we arrived at Mather Camp Ground, where we received our camping space.
It is a good campground, which is close to the Grand Canyon itself, but it requires that you to have a car.
At our place, we had a campfire where we would prepare dinner later.
Unfortunately, I did not have cell phone reception, so the panic was total, but 5 days off here should be vacation – LOL.
We raised the tent and drove out to the rim, and I have to say that this is one of the best views I have ever seen.
Like the first time I saw Empire State Building, I felt like I had been here before, because I knew the view from movies and television, but being here live – WOW, amazing.
When it was dinnertime, we lit the bonfire and made our own dinner. Primitive, but very cozy.
Roger had talked about walking around the south rim, but he told me that the following day we would go down to the bottom of the canon via some small gravel paths.
I am affright of heights, so I did not like the idea and could hardly sleep that night, dreaming of me falling into the hole – LOL.
In the morning, we had cereal for breakfast and as there was no shower facilities nearby, our personal care was taking care of by wet wipes and deodorant.
We made some sandwiches and packed our backpacks with food and water.
It was a very hot day. Approx. 45 degrees Celsius, but Grand Canyon has dry air so I thought it would probably go.
The route we should go is called the “Bright Angel Trail” and is the best accessible route to ordinary people.
You can actually rent horses for this trip, but even without horses, it would be difficult.
The first hour Roger and I went together, but he went much faster than I did, so we agreed to go down at each pace and then meet again when we had come down.
Halfway down there was a station where you could fill your water bottles and get to the toilet, but otherwise there is nothing in the hole.
The first half hour I kept falling on the gravel path and my legs were completely red of the stained gravel.
Some people asked if I was injured because my ankles were completely red, but it was just red gravel – LOL.
It took me 3 hours to go down to our destination, and Roger had of course arrived before me.
We ate our sandwiches and refilled the water bottles and then we had to walk up again.
You could actually go further down. All the way to the very bottom, but we decided to go up again.
We started walking together, but continued at our own pace.
If it were difficult to go down, it would be even harder to go up again.
The sun was shining and it was damn hot now.
It took me 4 hours to walk up again, but I did it. Somehow, there was no other way – LOL.
Despite my fear of heights and falling of the cliffs, I did the tour.
I have to admit that I was very proud of myself.
7 hours on a gravel path in 45 degrees Celsius was a tall order, but I am glad that we did it. It was a great experience.
In the evening we took a trip to Desert View Point, where we watched the sunset over the canyon. A truly spectacularly view. Highly recommendable LOL
The day after the trip through the Bright Angel Trail, I thought we could relax a bit. My legs were sore, but no. We should now go along the south rim. A walk of approx. 12 km.
It was still hot but fortunately, the route did not go through gravel paths, but primarily along asphalt paved paths as well as the road.
All the way along south rim runs free shuttle buses so if you get tired you can just take the bus.
The first 8 km went very well, but then I took the bus for a few kilometers, after which I met again with Roger, who walked while I took the bus. The walk ended at Hermits Rest, after which we both took the bus back to Grand Canyon Village, where the car was parked.
It was July 4, but fireworks are prohibited in the area so we just head down to the shower facilities where we got a much-needed shower. The first in 4 days.
In the evening, we had dinner at a gourmet restaurant. It was good to have a real food, though was fun to try camping life again.
The next day we would drive back to Las Vegas, but on our way, we had booked a river rafting tour. We should also visit Hoover Dam. It would be a long day, so we went to bed early. The plan was to get up at 2 am and drive at 3 am.
It had been a couple of splendid days in the Grand Canyon and it is not the last time I am here.
We got up at 2 o’clock as planned.
We had some breakfast, packed together and headed for Las Vegas at 3 o’clock (am).
After we got away from the Grand Canyon, I got cell phone service again. Woohoo. Google is alive again – LOL
We arrived at the river rafting spot after 4 hours’ drive, but first we would buy tickets for a tour of Hoover Dam.
We did not have much time before the river rafting trip started so I got off the Hoover Dam visitor center where I bought two tickets. Then we drove to the river rafting spot again where we had already bought tickets.
It was still hot, so I used SPF 100. I did not know you could get as much a sunscreen so high. I even bought it in New York.
I had feared that it was a river rafting trip as you watch on television, but luckily it was a trip in a special pontoon boat with space for 40 people. It is only by taking this tour that you can get pictures of the so-famous Hoover Dam view, where you can see the entire dam.
The ride was of course on the Colorado River and halfway through the trip we stopped for lunch and a swim in the river.
I was not in the water, but Roger tried, even though it was very cold. He complained of the cold water. He IS a Caribbean guy – LOL
It was breathtaking to see the Colorado River from this side and with a guide you always get something interesting information.
The sailing trip was pleasant and although it was hot, it did not feel like it because the water sprayed on us.
After approx. 3 hours, the trip ended and we drove by bus back to the place where our car was parked.
Then we were busy as the Hoover Dam tour started soon.
We drove over Hoover Dam itself and parked the car in a nearby parking garage.
We had bought the big Hoover Dam tour, where you also get inside the dam and watch the turbine halls.
It was very interesting and on You Tube there are a number of very interesting documentaries about the construction of the dam.
It was very hot. Ca. 46 degrees Celsius and the sun burned from a cloudless sky. I was happy for my SPF100.
After a long day, we drove back to Las Vegas, which is not far from Hoover Dam.
We were going to stay at the Cosmopolitan hotel which is a very visited hotel centrally located on The Strip, which is the main street of Las Vegas and where all the famous hotels are located.
We arrived at this nice hotel in short pants and backpack, but I later found out that everybody does. I do not think I saw a single in suit and tie. Only in the evening when people were going to town for dinner or shows.
The funny part of Las Vegas hotels is that the casinos are public typically on the ground floor and there are a myriad of people all the time. Only the “High Stake” casinos are located in separate premises.
All the major hotels have car parks attached so it is easy to find a car park and since public transport is not so extensive, yes we drove from hotel to hotel when we visited them.
We had booked a room in advance, but all the rooms with two beds were occupied.
Roger is good at negotiating so we ended up getting a luxury room with two beds and a huge balcony on 58th floor with a “View to a kill” of Las Vegas.
I am fan of James Bond – LOL
Among other things, we had a view of the hotel Luxor, where we had stayed the first night (3 hours) – LOL
We got a shower and shave for the first time in days and then went to town to eat. We drove down to a neighborhood called Fremont and got dinner.
I was well tired and we drove back to the hotel. I went to bed, but Roger went to town. Party animal – LOL
It had been a long but very interesting day.
On Wednesday, we drove to Santa Monica in California. It was just a day trip, but extremely fun to drive through Los Angeles. The trip takes about 4 hours and the weather was lovely and breezy.
The famous Pier of Santa Monica is the end of the legendary Route 66, which runs from Chicago to Santa Monica. It was founded in 1926 and is almost 4,000 kilometers long. It is also called “the Motherroad”.
Roger would like to get in the water. Here it is the Pacific Ocean, but the water was very cold, so he just dipped his feet – LOL
After the big “swim”, we had a good lunch and went for a walk.
It was about to be late in the afternoon and we had 4 hours’ drive back.
We arrived late at night to the hotel as we had been stuck in traffic for about 3 hours around Los Angeles.
It is just like in the movies. There is always traffic jam on the roads in Los Angeles.
The next two days, we stayed in Las Vegas to experience life here as well as visit many of the famous hotels and casinos.
The hotels are incredibly big and in my opinion very beautiful. Among the hotels we visited was Wynn where we had dinner (buffet), Bellagio with the impressive fountain show, New York New York, which is a mini-version of the real New York, Caesar’s Palace with the famous casino, Aria which is just impressive and the Venetian with an indoor copy of St. Marks Square as well as canals with gondolas just like in Venice.
All hotels have affiliated casinos and one is more decadent than the other.
We stayed at the Cosmopolitan, which is affordable, but still luxury compared to European standards. Luxor as we stayed at he first night is also impressive and with reasonable prices.
As mentioned earlier, there is not much public transport in Las Vegas and all hotels have impressive parking facilities attached, making it easy to get around by simply driving in your own car. Probably a rental – LOL.
New York is called the city that never sleeps, but in Las Vegas, it is fully practiced. There is life in the streets 24/7.
Las Vegas is famous for its shows and we saw two shows while we were here. “Zumanity” by Cirque de Soleil and “The Ultimate Variety Show”.
The show must go on.
Some of the most impressive things we experienced was to my opinion the water show on the lake in front of Bellagio. (Watch the video).
Another thing Las Vegas is famous for is the wedding chapels, found at all the major hotels as well as independent locations along the strip.
By the way is it legal to smoke inside the casinos as well as drinking alcohol in the streets. Otherwise, I do not think there would be any Vegas. You cannot smell the smoke inside as they continuously pump fresh air inside.
If you have the chance to stay at the Cosmopolitan, you have to try the Brunch Buffet here. It is fabulous and you do not walk hungry away – LOL.
Saturday we went on a trip to Red Rock Canyon, located a little north of Las Vegas.
It is a scenic area where the rocks are red. Hence the name Red Rock Canyon.
It is not a canyon like the Grand Canyon, but definitely worth a visit. However, it requires that you have a car.
After this trip we drove back to Las Vegas, walked around and looked at shops in a big center.
The shops in Las Vegas are the genuine brand, and in a typical hotel there are between 50 and 100 stores with genuine branded products. Actually you can spent your whole vacation in a hotel and never go out. The hotels are mini communities with accommodation, restaurants, casinos and shops.
In fact, you do not have to get outdoors, unless you want to enjoy the sun that usually shines here. At least in July, where it was damned hot.
Many sidewalk cafés have automatic water systems that spray water onto the sidewalk. It is a pleasure to walk by.
In almost every flowerbed are installed speakers that transmit music into the ether 24/7.
Sunday was the last day in Las Vegas and we had to fly back to New York in the afternoon.
Roger was going to work immediately after we would come home, so we found a laundromat where he did his laundry.
After packing, we drove to the airport, which was situated almost next to our hotel. We could see the runway from our balcony. We returned the car and took a flight back to New York where we arrived Monday morning. Roger went straight to work with his mega backpack and I took the train back to the apartment.
It had been a wonderful trip and I thank Roger for his fabulous planning of this trip.