In stark contrast to my recent posts from the verdant New Hampshire summer (or its recent snowy winter), I’m embarking on a series of posts summarizing our outstanding 17-day trip to the American southwest. After a couple days in the broiling sun and steamy nightlife of Las Vegas, we spent a week rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, a reprise of a trip with my father and uncle twenty years earlier. We then toured some of the other outstanding parks of the region: Mesa Verde, Grand Canyon North Rim, Zion, and Bryce Canyon, before heading east to celebrate my 50th birthday with family in South Carolina. [I’m back-dating each post to the last date covered by the post.]
Thankfully we only had one day in Las Vegas, because the temperature hit 100 degrees and was forecast to reach 112 in the next few days. It’s the nights that matter in Vegas, anyway. We explored the craziness of the Strip – jammed with drunk pedestrians and hawkers of every vice imaginable – and strolled through a few casinos without pausing to play. Vegas represents excess in seemingly every regard, from gambling to its outrageously flagrant waste of water in the middle of a desert. For us, the highlights included a visit to a tasty Brazilian barbecue and an incredible David Copperfield magic show. We jammed everything into a rental car and headed east.
We were due to meet Hatch River Expeditions on Sunday morning at the Cliff Dweller’s Lodge near Lee’s Ferry, which is the only place to launch boats for a run of the Grand Canyon. So we took the long way ’round the Canyon, over Hoover Dam and its new bypass bridge then through the forested areas south of the Grand Canyon and west of Flagstaff. Pretty drive!
Sunday morning I woke at sunrise to poke around the scrubby desert wash near Cliff Dweller’s, enjoying the opportunity to photograph this radically different terrain in the warm sunrise light. See more photos. In the next post: the Grand Canyon!