It started on the SR 190 from California. The road through Death Valley was everything I hoped it would be – beautiful, barren and often unsettling! I drove through deserted villages with only religious radio stations for company and felt the scorching heat at Furnace Creek. It was eerily silent – probably too hot for any birds to sing. I then found myself in the middle of a jaw dropping landscape.
Zabriskie Point is one of the places where I’d stopped to stretch my legs. It was surreal. I felt like I’d stumbled onto a movie set by mistake.
I was a bit cautious about driving through one of the hottest places on earth – it was only April, but all the blogs tell you to take litres of water and hire a white car to deflect the heat. I did both those things, but the one thing I wasn’t expecting was the wind. At certain points, I could hardly open the door. Once I joined the SR 160 there were tumbleweeds blowing across the road front of me. This was Nevada alright. I then saw the neon lights of Las Vegas.
I always thought I’d hate it, but when I walked down The Strip I suddenly got it – where else can you dress up to the nines and be treated like a celebrity, without having to spend too much money?
I checked out Caesars Palace (yes, there was a scantily clad centurion outside) and mingled with all the tuxedos and tank tops on the casino floor. Elton John dominated this part of The Strip. He was in residence at the Palace and the water fountains outside the Bellagio were dancing along to one of his tunes. They were watched by hundreds of people. Little did they know they were doomed…
Preachers with placards were warning anybody who cared to listen that if they were drunk, gay, or gamblers, they’d all go to hell. I wondered what might happen if they were all three.
The next day I set my sights on the Grand Canyon but I wasn’t expecting such dramatic scenery along the way. I took a quick detour to see the Hoover Dam.
I’ve never really been afraid of heights, but I got pins and needles standing here. An amazing accomplishment, but one hundred people lost their lives working on this.
I then drove down Route 66 and onto the I-40. The scenery had changed again. It had gradually dropped from 75f to 34f and as I approached Devil Dog Road, I found myself in a snow storm. I was starting to worry. I didn’t want my Grand Canyon pilgrimage to be in vain.
The mind-blowing scale of it and the colours, contours and crevices make it the most wonderful thing I’ve ever seen. It’s as simple as that. From the Visitor Centre on the South Rim, I drove east along Desert View Drive to Grandview Point. It took me about an hour and a half to take in the views along the way – and that was just a tiny part of it. The entrance fee was $25 for 1-7 days. I could easily have spent a week there.
The next day was a very red day. I’d stayed in Flagstaff overnight (an old railroad town with great bars and outdoor shops) and made my way down the hair pin bends of the beautiful Oak Creek Canyon and into the Red Rock town of Sedona. I’m so used to associating beauty with greenery, that I never imagined I’d be so overwhelmed by rocky landscapes, like the ones on this trip.
On day four, I’d arrived at Pheonix Airport. As I dropped off the car, I realised I’d driven over 1300 miles and had only spent about £80 on fuel. I’d also spent hours and hours on the road, but it only seemed like minutes.
Time for a break. Next stop – Miami.