Hello nature…

Entry Five: Thursday 16th August: Zion and The Grand Canyon

Hello again- long time, no see. I’d like to say I haven’t updated this in a while due to the monolithic wifi speeds at the Grand Canyon (but then really, what did I expect?) but truth be told, it’s a mix of that, working (more on that later) and having the time of our lives in Vegas.

First things first though. Last time I checked in I was in Utah- we’ve been through three states since then! Arizona, Nevada and California. The hotel in St George, Utah was simply stunning, nothing flash, but it had everything we needed including an outdoor pool, which was just the relief we needed as Utah was baking.

Our first port of call in Utah was Zion National Park, a forty minute drive from our hotel. It’s weird to think that a forty minute drive is a ‘quick’ drive by comparison to most of our journeys; I’ve offered countless times to do some of the driving for Craig but it’s senseless really to risk driving without insurance.

Zion National Park was simply stunning, and a good precursor to the natural beauty we would inevitably be witnessing at the Grand Canyon. We couldn’t drive in to the park directly, but took a shuttle bus in and made our way up the Emerald Falls trail- a trio of 3 hikes varying in difficulty. We thought we’d just try the shortest one, as we only had one bottle of water between us and there were countless warnings telling us we’d need at least one each. When we got to the first falls though, we knew we couldn’t just stop there.

In front of us stood the idyllic view of the Emerald Falls pouring over orange rocks hundreds of feet in the air. We were able to stand under the falls quite happily; I suppose it was equivalent to a lacklustre shower, but it was hugely refreshing in the August sun. The temptation to carry on was just too much and we figured if the easiest hike was this beautiful, the more intermediate hikes could only be better. The next stop was less than half a mile away according to signs so we pressed on.

The second falls weren’t quite as impressive, in fact, there were no falls at all, but an ominous-looking stream, but this was a nice spot to take a breather before taking the inevitable hike up to the top.

And it was worth it.

Up the top on the highest hike laid before us was a lake surrounded by huge rocks toppling over dizzying views of the park. It would have been perfectly serene were it not for the hordes of tourists who were equally rewarding themselves for hiking all the way to the top. Noise aside however, it was an absolutely stunning example of natural beauty and was certainly worth the hike over precarious rocks and thousands of ants’ nests. By this point our water was severely lacking, and so we decided to hike it back down to the visitor centre and call it a day.

One well-deserved ice cream later and we were on our way back to the hotel, while I smugly congratulated myself on completing such a hike in a very questionable pair of £4 Tesco flip flops.

Later that night we rather audaciously went to a Chinese buffet fifteen minutes before closing time. We loaded our plates and inhaled it quickly, wary of being the only customers in the place and the stares of all the staff, and, upon seeing a cockroach crawling across the floor, decided it was probably time to leave.

The next stop on our itinerary was the Grand Canyon- something I was eagerly anticipating as I’d always said that of all the places I’d wanted to go in America, the Grand Canyon was right up the top. After a long drive, we found ourselves inadvertently having to pay park fees as we had to drive through the park to get to our hotel. A brief comical moment ensued as the park ranger looked at Craig’s ID and shrieked ‘Daniel Craig!’ (Guess American passports have names written backwards..) I asked if we could get in free because he was James Bond, but alas. She told me she’d let Demi Moore in once, so I couldn’t help feeling a little insignificant by comparison.

When we got to our hotel, the feeling kind of dawned on us that we were in the middle of nowhere. True enough, there were a few restaurants and hotels peppered about, but, (and I realise how much of a ‘first-world’ problem this is…) there was just NO wifi- anywhere! Supposedly we should have had some in our hotel room, and I’ll give the Holiday Inn their due, there was a connection…and I have to say, it was pretty speedy, for what can only be described as dial-up. So no, we didn’t truly have the internet, hence the lack of blogs, for every time we tried to load a page, my browser would just time out, as if it had given up and run out of patience before I had.

Internet rant over, and we decided to go out for dinner, which was very much an eye-opening experience. All I can say is, thank God I only ordered a salad, (I’m eating a lot of salads lately thanks to jeans-gate in Aspen) as when we got the bill, it was $55! 55 bucks for a salad and a burger and chips!? Upon closer inspection, turns out the ‘locally-brewed beer’ our waitress was so keen for Craig to enjoy was $9.50 a pint, and so, $18 worth of beer later, we left the restaurant having learnt our lesson. The Grand Canyon is a tourist trap.

The latter, by the way, was obviously, beautiful. On our first day the weather was pretty awful (for a change!) so we only went to the visitor centre and took a few hazy photos, but on the second day, we took the car and stopped at all the lookout points on the South side of the park. Of course, we enquired about the ‘skywalk’, but were told it was a five hour drive away, but we’re more than confident that we’ve got quite an impressive batch of photos from the south end of the canyon. Not to mention, some were taken very close to the edge, something which I’m pretty impressed with myself for, considering my fear of heights. Word of advice: if you ever want to go to the loo at a National Park- don’t! While they may appear like toilets to the untrained eye, if you look down them, they simply are a bottomless pit. It’s quite terrifying. Not to mention the smell!

Anyway, the Grand Canyon is understandably quite indescribable by the written word, so I shall upload photos to Facebook in good time. For now, tune in next time for our adventures in Vegas…

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