Trip Start Sep 04, 2012
Trip End Aug 02, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Nevada
Monday, July 22, 2013

A long drive through Death Valley was first up after our fun at Yosemite. This place is HOT....seriously hot. It holds the record for the highest air temperature ever recorded on earth (134 degrees Fahrenheit!!) and houses North Americas lowest point (86m below sea level). When we were there it reached 120 degrees and it HURT to get out of the car for a photo! That pain was soon turned to guilt though, as we passed a MARATHON that was going on! Surely not!! Fair play to those guys!!
So 'canyon country' was next up and during the course of the next 5 days we saw some of what USA has to offer in the form of its canyons and other weird and wonderful rock formations. First up was Zion National Park. Shuttle buses comb the park and basically drop you off where you wanna go. Someone advised us to go and see the 22 minute film about the park first. A bit boring if I'm honest but it let us know a bit about how the rocks were formed. Over millions of years, giant sand dunes were eventually turned to sandstone quite simply through pressure being forced down on the various layers from above. The park was impressive and we just had a little wander round a couple of easy routes.
The following day saw us go to Zion's neighbour - Bryce Canyon. The weather took a turn for the worst and we were right in the middle of a storm. So what better way to kill time whilst it's teaming down than to watch their 'award winning' 22 minute film on the canyon itself........aaaargh!! Not again!! The shuttle buses were as sharp as the ones yesterday so we had a look at this park in the same way as Zion and were really impressed today!! The weather in this part of the world gets violent, so wind and rain erosion to the 'soft rock', again over millions of years, really gets into the rock formations and has formed natural arches, which in turn have collapsed and left what they call 'hoodoos.' Hundreds of these hoodoos all clustered together made for some spectacular viewing. We had a little wander to the canyon floor for a different view of it all and back up to the top.
So after the well-run, really organised last couple of days, the SHAMBLES that was 'Antelope Canyon' was up for us on the Friday. The thing was SPECTACULAR.....the tour SPECTACULARLY SHITE!! This was a 'slot canyon' which means there's a small 'slot' for us to walk through which has been created mainly by flash flooding in the monsoon seasons. It's a very photogenic place and so people (including me) were just after good photos and the tour guide just rushed groups in and out of the thing as fast as possible. "Look, take a picture of that, it looks like a dogs head........look, there's one that looks like a wolf....!" What!!? Just show me the good stuff and let's get out of here coz I keep banging my head on the sticky-out rocks!! However, even though it was PACKED and a bit painful at times, we managed to get the best bit (without anyone's feet in the picture) right at the end so were made up! (Oh yeah, before we saw the canyon, we also saw 'Horseshoe Bend' - a part of the Colorado River that is shaped like its namesake).
The last 2 days were spent at places that are a little more recognisable - Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon. Monument Valley is yet more rock formations, and is arguably the most famous backdrop to cowboy country that you'll see. It was an absolute 'car wrecker' though, as the 17 mile or so route that you drive around to get the views is a TERRIBLE ROAD!! Nevertheless, it survived, just.
The Grand Canyon is probably, well, definitely the best of the lot!! It spans 277 miles and at its widest, is 18 miles across. It was born to be a tourist attraction.....and boy does it attract tourists! All along the rim, people are lined up taking their photos! There are 3 really quite obvious layers of rock in the canyon, which was carved, over time, by the force of the Colorado River. Impressive stuff! My favourite part of the day was when a woman clouted Kala with her camera by accident right on the shin...WHACK!! Unluckkkeeeyyyyyyy!! Ha ha!!
Anyway, those 5 days were class, but a change of scenery was needed and sunny Las Vegas provided us with this! We gambled (excuse the pun!) on our hotel because they said they were having 'renovations' and chose 'The Quad'. We got it for $100 for 3 nights, smack in the middle of the strip and the 'renovations' they were having done didn't really affect us. Result!
We were there for a total of 3 nights and to be fair, did the 'norm' that one would expect in Vegas. Had a look round the hotels, watched the Bellagio water show, bought some cheap clobber, got pissed FAAAAAAAAR too easily and made a show of ourselves, threw a load of money away on the slots and roulette and marvelled at the fact that the Venetian Hotel is indoors, even though it looks like its outdoors ha ha!! Some people have too much money over here........on a bridge (not even a casino) was a guy hiding a ball under 3 cups and playing 'guess which cup the ball is under' for what we thought was a dollar a pop. Then we saw that people were throwing HUNDREDS at him to guess where the ball was! Jesus!! Not my scene, that!!
Perhaps the best thing we did though was to watch a 'Cirque de Soleil' show (my idea, honest!!). It was top class! The strength and poise that these guys show is OUTRAGEOUS!! There was everything from pole-climbing acts, to trapeze ACTION to see-saw and trampoline MAGIC and all sorts of other stuff! A cracker of a show!
Right, we're nearly done now. Last stop, New York......
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