Today was so full of amazing experiences it's hard to know where to start so let's kept it simple and start at the beginning.
Our day began at Maverick Helicopters where our tour group of 6 embarked on a 50 minute helicopter ride across the Canyon. This was nothing short of amazing. The moment where we crossed the rim at 50ft above the trees to 5,000 ft above the bottom of the Canyon took my breath away. Our pilot, BJ, was an excellent tour guide and from the outset told us his job was to help us appreciate the sheer scale of this natural phenomenon. To help you, the depth of the Canyon is so deep that it is over 3 times the height of the Manhattan skyline. If you wish to get from one side of the Canyon to the other by car (around the rim) - it will take you over 5 hours. Finally, if you drifted downstream on the current of the Colorado River - it would take you 21 days to get from one side to the other. Seem pretty big?
After our helicopter flight we headed to Seligman- a quintessential Route 66 town which claims to have inspired 'Radiator Springs' in Disney Pixar's 'Cars'. We enjoyed a great lunch here at Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In where I left an 'Old Flying Club' business card on their wall of cards by the order hatch. It was nice to leave a little piece of home here.
The trek involves several hours of driving each day and it is therefore only fair that we took it in turns to keep our leader Michael company in the front of the van. Today was my turn. Being up front comes with the added responsibility of being DJ. After running out of suitable playlists Michael introduced me to 'The Moth'. This is a grandslam competition in the US whereby people get up on stage and tell stories. The topics varied - some funny some very sad. After one particularly moving one we realised we were both a little teary eyed. We thought the rest of the van were sleeping but in checking the rear view mirror, a tear streaked Kate peered over the seats like a meerkat saying 'what are you making me listen to?!' Being up front also had the added bonus of being able to take some fun shots out the windscreen. We even crossed the Hoover Dam.
The heat in Vegas was insane - reportedly 45°! We were surprised to discover that we were staying in a true Vegas hotel - The Golden Nugget. Not only did it contain its own shops and casinos but it contained a shark tank with a water slide that ran through it. Kate and I were sharing a room with not one but two king-size beds. This was quite a treat having come accustomed to sharing beds the past 3 weeks!
We had take-out in one of the hotel rooms with the rest of the group and the drinking began. We had stocked up at Walmart en route and I had bought 8 mini bottles of Sutter Home's White Zinfandel- one of my favourites and so cheap here! Needless to say we all got a little tipsy rather quickly. By the time we reached the Party Bus at 21.30 we were definitely ready to dance the night away. The bus took us to the infamous sign and down the strip past Bellagio and Caesars Palace. Let me tell you now, dancing on a moving bus is not easy but is very good fun! Our final destination was a nightclub which our group was not particularly interested in entering. We had other ideas on how the remainder of the night was to be spent.
Two of our group Dee and Kev (who lived in Leicester) had decided it would be fun to have a Vegas wedding. They were already married so this was pretty easy to arrange. Believe it or not to have a Vegas wedding you still need a licence so turning up to the chapel and asking to get married isn't as easy as everyone makes out. Naturally we were all very excited about attending our first wedding in Vegas and despite my inebriated state (5 mini bottles of Sutter Home) I automatically took on the role of wedding photographer. Kate and I ensured Dee had her something old, new, borrowed and blue by lending her two old hair bobbles (one of which was blue) and I found a crisp new dollar bill which we all signed and gave to her as a momento.
The ceremony was short but very sweet and I was astounded to find the next morning I had a nice selection of photographs for the happy couple to treasure the evening with. I've attached a collage to my post.
After the wedding we headed back to our hotel for more casino fun. I placed a couple of dollars in various slot machines to no avail. I'd have loved to play roulette but was too tight for the $15 buy in. It had been an expensive day after all what with helicopter flights and such like.
Tiredness hit me like a wall around 1am. I was feeling my age all of a sudden! I left the group and in true Vegas style got sidetracked on my way back to my room. Initially I wandered into the pool area and found myself sat on the edge with my feet in the water (still wearing my jelly shoes I hasten to add) and watched the sharks in the shark tank whilst Stereophonics 'Have a Nice Day' played through the speakers. Possibly one of the most surreal moments of the trip so far and one I shall always remember.
The journey back to the room finished with a pit stop in the hotel shop for a giant cookie which I enjoyed in a bubble bath back in the room. Don't ever tell me I don't know how to do Vegas. Whichever way I did it, it was definitely MY way.Read more