Our journey plan to America borderered ridiculous. We found the cheapest flights through the China Southern website. Looking back we should have taken the shoddiness of the website as a sign of things to come! We had 2 flights altogether totalling 15 hours of flying. Yet we would arrive only 3 hours later than our 2nd flight (10 hours) took off due to the time change (+8 to -8 GMT)
The first flight to Ghangzhou in China was rubbish, they even had a smoking section on he plane. It took us a while to realise that we had been to the airport before on our last travels. We did exactly the same as last time we were there and made a Pearl River Tower before catching our flight. (Pearl river is a Chinese beer). Looking forward to watching some films we were disappointed to see that only 2 films were on constant repeat. It's because Asian people are quite happy literally do nothing for hours and hours, so they don't need to have entertainment for them! Anyway with our body clock confused we landed at a chilly LA. Waiting for our bus to the hotel we saw a blonde female with a baseball cap on get out a car with blacked out windows and swamped by paps. We have no idea who it was though!
We met up with Emma's parents at the hotel, and all headed to Denny's for dinner, although I think we were all incredibly jet lagged.
Next morning we picked up our KIA Sorento and were off. Kris did the first lot of driving and was immediately faced with a five lane highway and a confusing red light system (you can turn right at red lights if nothing is coming). He took it all in his stride though, and we were soon on Route 66!
We stopped to take photos of the famous sign and open straight roads out into the dessert. Over several bumpy miles we passed deserted caravans, petrol stations and cafes. We stopped at Bagdad Cafe which apparently starred in the 1980s film of the same name, but it was quite sad to see such rundown buildings, and the locals looked just as you would expect for middle of nowhere America!
We were looking for the ghost town near Goffs Schoolhouse but somehow missed it. We needed petrol anyway (sorry...gas) so we stopped and asked at the gas station. Emma asked the guy working there where Goffs Schoolhouse but unfortunately he was unable to help as "I don't leave this town"! Now we'd understand if we were asking him about something in LA, but this was only 10miles down the road!!
We then took Route 66 into the hills although by now it had started to get dark. We drove through Oatman, Arizona, a small town that has been maintained and developed to recreate a real Western style town for tourists, complete with saloon and shops selling items of the era. It was all shut by the time we drove through it, but I think that's probably a good thing as it sounds too touristy in the day, but seemed quite eerie and surreal at night.
It was getting quite late so we decided to stay in Kingman, Arizona, rather than Flagstaff. We found a little motel that was nice enough, but as it was gone 9pm the restaurants (well dinners) had closed, so we had to settle for an 'in and out' burger, as recommended by the guy at our motel. We were very surprised to see only three things on the menu; hamburger, cheeseburger and double cheeseburger. That was it!! It was pretty good, but the guy on oxygen sat across the room from us who had taken a walk over from the hospital that shared the same parking lot as the burger place, did put us off a bit.
The next morning we headed to Flagstaff for some information on local sites. They recommended we stop at Walnut Canyon and the Meteor Crater on our way to the Grand Canyon. Route 66 was slowing us down and the road in parts was in bad condition so we drove on the freeway where 75mph is the limit.
Walnut Canyon consisted of homes created using overhanging rock faces that were lived in more than 800 years ago. It seemed a very strange place to set up home, underneath overhanging rock on the edge of a cliff, but the views were pretty amazing!
The Meteor Crater is slightly older, as that was created 50,000 years ago. The crater is nearly a mile across and 550 feet deep, and the meteor that created it was estimated to be 150 feet across! The crater apparently resembles craters that are found on the moon, and therefore became a NASA training site for the Apollo astronauts. We were all really amazed by the size of it, and our photos just don't do it justice. For a proper view of it you really need to be in a helicopter, so Google 'Meteor Crater Flagstaff' and take a look. We got a subway and took our 1 litre Dr.Pepper refills to have on the road! All fast food places have free refills which is gooood.
With all the road trip sights done it was time for the main event and we began our drive through the Nevada desert towards the Grand Canyon!
Our first view of the Grand Canyon was at Little Colorado view point. We were all really amazed by the size and colours of the Canyon, but that was nothing compared to what we were about to see!! We rushed to the Watchtower at Desert View, as it was now 5.30 and the tower was due to close. We made it time though and were not disappointed! The view was incredible!! The canyon was a mile deep with amazing colours. Our photos just can't do it justice as you can only capture a fraction of the incredible view. The whole reason the canyon is so impressive is the size and scale. We carried on to a few more view points, each slightly different, and just as amazing! The sun was starting to set though, and the Canyon was slightly hazy (apparently mainly due to pollution), so we drove to Tusayan to find somewhere to stay.
After finding somewhere to stay and getting a free upgrade to a suite room we headed out to find somewhere to eat. Now we know America has a reputation for junk food, and we just want to set the record straight...they LOVE junk food!! We didn't realise so many different types of burger shop could exist!!! We settled for a steakhouse that were far from welcoming, as they sat us at our table and then the waitress told us that if we didn't order NOW we would have to leave as they were closing. The food was amazing with ridiculous unmanageable sized portions, but stacking the chairs on the tables around us whilst we finished our meal was a bit rude we thought.
The next morning we went to the Grand Canyon village, stopping at Mather Point, Yavapai Point and took the free shuttle bus along Hermits Rest Route stopping at various points to see the changing viewpoints. The most impressive was Puma Point, where you could see the Colorado River snaking along the bottom of the canyon. It was a clearer day and perhaps near to the best possible conditions. In the summer, and the most popular time to visit, the view is often very hazy from pollution.
We were definitely not disappointed by the Grand Canyon, it was truly amazing!!
We headed back on the road and came off at a junction to look for food. It just so happened that it was a really good area of Route 66. We stopped at the 'Road Kill Cafe' whose motto is 'You Kill It, We Grill It' ! When the cafe first opened they invited people to take their own meat to cook it. That was in the 90's and its much more civilised now but still good - although the stuffed heads of Moose were particularly large and therefore worrying should you encounter one!!
We then travelled on to the Arizona - Nevada boarder and the Hoover Dam. It wasn't quite as wide as we imagined, but still pretty impressive. You have to try and find a car or person near the dam to put it in perspective.
The sights have been amazing so far and we have never eaten so much food!!! It was now time to continue through the desert to Vegas!!!!