Margee reading aloud
Road Trip to Match a Photo-Tony had a mission. He wanted to take a photo in Monument Valley, Utah that was hopefully the exact or close to spot in a photograph he has hanging in his office at work. The photograph is a large vertical shot approximately 1.5 feet by 3 feet. It hangs on the “Ladder to the Sun Deck View”. So, on August 28th we began our road trip to Utah with final destination in Las Vegas, Nevada with our Honda motorcycle attached for the ride.
Four Corners, U.S.A.-The only point common to all four states of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. We perched ourselves on the exact spot where four states touch and enjoyed the 360 degree view of ancient land. Tony lay down on all the states. And, Christopher called me at the moment I stood on the spot. So does that mean I was “connected” to five states?
Monument Valley-To our delight the formations by nature of the beautiful monuments appeared on the horizon as we ventured into the spectacular valley. Tony jumped on the bike and we began our adventure of on-the-spot photography. Tony would ride up ahead of me, I was in the car, and then circle back as I stood in the middle of the highway to get “the matching shot”. We had so much fun riding, shooting, as we inched our way to a spectacular view of the monuments. We had lunch at the restaurant overlooking the beautiful and grand view of all of the monuments of nature.
Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim-After our photo shoot we traveled on to Arizona. Tony traveled by bike and I followed him by car with empty trailer behind. We arrived into the Grand Canyon park south rim. We pulled into all the spectacular scenic turnouts and walked along the paths to view one of the wonders of the world, and it was late afternoon in the canyon with brilliant sun, hazy shadows and nature in all its glory! Our first view was at the Tower. We climbed up the stairway into a beautiful round room with paintings on the wall and funky cowhide furniture, the view was so beautiful from the tower. Our final view of the canyon was from the lodge area. It was so hard to pull away from such natural drama, I wanted to remain for days but we needed to find our own lodging down the road to Williams, AZ in the heart of the Kaibab National Forest. We stayed overnight and enjoyed cooler temperatures in this area of AZ.
Grand Canyon West-One of the other missions on this trip was to experience the view from the recently constructed Sky Walk on the private native land of the Hualapai Tribe called Eagle Point. The sky walk is constructed of crystal from Germany and provides a clear view of the canyon below as it juts out over the edge in a horseshoe shape. Unfortunately it was closed due to a thunderstorm and lightning. However, we enjoyed seeing the structure and the beautiful view surrounding it. There was also a variety of teepee structures to walk around and venture inside of to see the materials used in making the teepees. Two Navajo dancers were performing and invited the audience to dance traditional dance steps so similar to all tribes. A beautiful arts and crafts building was under construction for future tours.
We purchased a package that included a Helicopter/Boat tour, Sky Walk at Eagle Point, and Lunch at Gana Point.
Helicopter ride-The rotors begin to spin louder, the pilot smiled and up we rose from the top of the west rim of the canyon as the incredible view appeared under our toes! The moment of total bliss at being above such beauty was emotional to me. The sound of the copter blades were overpowered by the graceful quiet peace of the motion as we soared above the carved canyon. Our ride was really a nice length of time as the copter lowered into the canyon coming to rest on a pad above the Colorado River moving swiftly as it beckoned us to float atop its muddy water. We were surrounded by the mighty walls of the canyon and the native landscape of cactus standing proud among the bright wild flowers and sand. The path to the river looked long and hot in the 112 degree temperature, but we are adventurers right?
Pontoon Boat ride on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon-The dirt path was long and hot, but interesting to walk along, part of the path was a tunnel of green fern like tree branches. The temperature cooled dramatically among those trees and by the river as we approached it by dock. One of the boats had just pulled away but returned quickly to scoop us up to float onto the 55 degree water. We settled among three other couples each with a different accent from another place in our world. The boat trip gave us a great perspective of the size of the canyon rising magnificent with personality and variety of painted face. The hues of red, brown, grey, green, white and black framed the river. Again that graceful quiet peace does come over a person as they cruise among a giant. We departed and climbed the path to the waiting copter, boarded and we were swept up and away close to the etched face of the canyon walls. At times I thought we were going to be able to reach out and touch the rocky face and hear it speak to us! But alas the quiet remained and the copter blades swooshed above us as we returned to the top of the west rim. I have always wanted to be among the canyon walls and float upon the Colorado, not just to stand on its edges and wonder. It was a dream come true and one of the best experiences we have enjoyed together. Nature and technology hand in hand on a tour of lifetime for us.
Hoover Dam-We experienced one of the wonders of the world at the Grand Canyon, only to marvel at another one down the road, Hoover Dam. To harness the river and to create beauty in concrete is amazing to me. As we approached the dam we saw the signs announcing to our surprise the reclamation project that is a monumental task in building new bridges on the mountains above the dam to provide an alternate route for those not wanting to cross over the dam. The phenomenal height of the future bridge piers arising from the cliffs surrounding the dam is breathtaking. Structures of cement and metal just seem to be growing from nature, even though you look upon the site with awe in the fact that man and machine are constructing them. Due to the construction the water level is many feet lower on the Lake Mead side and the bleached white cliffs of rock display a sharp line of definition between what was once below water and now in view. Boats floating on the water looked like little toys set there by a giant’s hands.
Las Vegas, Neveda-The curtain of night was set ablaze with color and light as we approached Las Vegas. Casinos and hotels tempted us with glitz and glamour to enter and toss the dice. Immediate crowds of traffic by car and foot surrounded us as we peered out the car windows to strain for a view of the towers of light. Hmmm…not a nature made canyon but it was truly a canyon of high rises. We oooed and awed at the sights and sounds of the strip. We had stayed at the Monte Carlo casino on our last trip and decided to stay there again and to our delight it was the same beautiful hotel casino we remembered as the flower scented lobby greeted us. We purchased our tickets to two shows the “O” show at the Bellagio Casino and the Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian Casino. After a comfy night’s rest we stepped into the hot bright sunshine of the desert strip and headed for the Bellagio Casino by way of other casinos.
Venetian Casino-Tony and I walked across the street, through the MGM Grand Casino to snag a ride on the monorail to the Venetian. We boarded the expensive ride (it was free back in the 90s) and walked out into the sun to view the Italian gondolas floating on the clear blue water under bridges and towers of Venetian themed elegance. When we entered the casino the rich décor of large oil paintings surrounded us on the walls and ceilings, the Italian Renaissance and Michelangelo would have approved the splendid works of art, with the chubby cherubs and voluptuous men and women! The pathway through the casino to the shops treated us to an evening setting of cloud painted ceilings and more gondolas swirling again on the clear blue canal inside the middle of the shopping area. Next to the boat dock was an oxygen bar serving a variety of scented oxygen to the people sitting at the bar. I wanted to stand and sing O Sole Mio…where did Tony go?
Bellagio Casino-The lobby of the hotel displayed a spectacular and familiar artistic masterpiece of colored glass suspended along the ceiling. The art of Dale Chihuly’s organic glass sculpture pieces were emerging from the ceiling in a brilliant burst of color and light. It made us a little homesick…not! We wanted to see more and more and stay a long time soaking up the sun and spectacles of casino life. And that we did! Lunch on the resort style patio café overlooking the incredible swimming pools, yes I said pools. We enjoyed delicious food sitting under misters and had fun watching the people bake in the desert sun and dip in the crystal water. The pools were surrounded by private cabanas that catered to the occupants with full bars, kitchenettes, massage tables and chaise lounges and tables under the tent like setting.
Because our SUV and motorcycle took a dusty, really rough bumpy 10 mile ride in the desert to see the Grand Canyon west the day before, Tony wanted to wash the SUV and motorcycle. He drove down Tropicana Road to a carwash and sent the dust back to the desert sand. I had a wonderful relaxing nap in the cool room. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
“O”-Cirque De Soile-Spruced up Vegas style and ready to party Tony and I walked to the magnificent Bellagio in time to see the incredible water fountains show outside the entrance to the Casino. The tower clock gonged eight times then an explosion of water blasted into the air a gazillion feet before our eyes and ears then immediately rested to begin a dance of waters swirling, twisting and splashing to the music of Celine Dion. It was ten minutes of a huge array of water light and sound, what a way to begin an evening on the Las Vegas strip, fountains of water spewing up 200 feet high into the desert sky. Inside the casino we heard the familiar sound of one arm bandit’s cha-chinging in a constant beat, stirring up the desire to win, win, win! But since we are practical Okies that just wanted to see the purty sites we settled down at the bar to wait for the “O” show. The bar tender was gracious and made me a mean tasting Mojito, as he crushed the mint pretending to dance to the beat, into a beautifully displayed tall glass with lots of mint garnish, topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. Can you do the Mojito? Yum!
Our anticipation was high as we approached our seats in the lavish theatre. We perched ourselves in the balcony along the rim of the stage right with a great view of the performance. And what a performance it was! Just minutes before the show two clowns moved into the audience carrying a large red and white inner tube float. They wanted to try to move through the crowd with the tube and found various ways to torment the people in the seats by pushing the tube over and in and out, it was so much fun to watch. Then other performers begin to enter the audience area also singing and moving around the audience. One of the girls grabbed a guy in the audience and the show began with him being pulled behind the enormous red curtain on stage, it was four stories high! The curtain swooped open and a display of water, acrobats, dancers, swimmers, fire jugglers, creatures in costumes and the highlight star-a lady on the flying trapeze-allured us into another experience of a lifetime! Because we were high our view of the water stage was perfect to see the mechanics of engineering in moving the water stages and sets around for each part of the performance. Because we had a high view we could see the scuba divers manipulate all the sets around under the water. Remember the poor guy who was pulled into the curtain? He would appear all through the show trying to get a person to help him with his hat and scarf as part of the story theme. Oh and remember the clowns? They appeared each time the sets and costumes were changing. They were standing on top of a floating house to entertain us with a funny slap stick of routines-their trusty inner tube attached onto the house. The magic of a circus on water with elephants and alligators larger than life, a boat sailing in the air above the water loaded with acrobat buccaneers and red coated men on carousel horses dipping in and out of the water among synchronized water ballet dancers and ariel divers and mystical music made “O” a feast for all of your senses and emotions. “O” so brilliant!
Cycle ride-We intended to ride and ride today on Saturday and ride we did in 100 degree heat! Whew it was fun as we moved and not as much fun when we stopped-the sun cooked our helmets and gave me a heat stroke. But, quick pit stops along the way at the local convenience stores for gallons of water and sticking my head in the ice cream freezer cooled us down some and remarkably the cashiers seemed to understand. It really was so interesting to cruise around Vegas during the day. The daytime Vegas strip appears bizarre without those bright colored lights to cover up its hot sins!
Mandalay Bay Casino-Our cycle took us north up the strip up to Mandalay Bay Casino passing the Excalibur, Luxor casinos on the way. Talk about a resort in a resort! Mandalay Bay feels like you traveled to the islands man! It has a huge area of pools, yep I said pools again-Vegas casinos cannot have just one of anything! This one even has a beach for sunbathing! Tropical palm trees sway in the desert breeze and heat, along with the drink filled people! Tony and I were mesmerized by a laser etched drawing of people in 3D onto a glass pyramid souvenir. The sophisticated 3D camera and machine were available to watch in action. A person could visit the enormous Shark Reef aquarium inside the resort as well. We decided to go to Paris instead.
Paris Casino-As we motorcycled our way through the sea of traffic we viewed the south end of the strip and the mighty Eiffel Tower speared through the sky to welcome us. We loved the real Paris when we visited France and believe us the feel of the Parisian streets are created in the Paris Casino setting as we stepped from bright heat into the soft pastel sky of a French city festive with flags and street lamps glowing along the rues. Café dining was available all along the pathway into the casino and shops were filled with French pastries and fromages beckoned weary “ugly Americans” to sample them. On the inside of the casino the feet of the Eiffel Tower are visible under the soft cloudy sky and when one steps outside turn and look up to see the tower hovering over the French street scene setting, again with sidewalk cafes and even the Arch de Triumph guarding the lobby entrance to the Paris Hotel. Ooh La La, magnificent!
Phantom of the Opera-Refreshed from a long nap in our beautiful Monte Carlo room with a view of the strip 27 floors below, Tony and I again were filled with anticipation of the show The Phantom of the Opera at the beautiful Venetian Casino theatre. Plush décor and great stage left seats on the floor welcomed us into the dark appearance of the cave with grey-black shimmering walls surrounding a suspended three piece chandelier precariously waiting for the opening of the show. Wow what an opening! The chandelier lit up and moved high into the air and settled the three pieces together in a display of magnificent engineering. As it swooshed up, at the same time, the side curtains of the former cave walls crawled away and the arrangement of an entire audience of turn of the century costumed mannequin people sitting in their opera seats appeared and remained throughout the show, just absolutely delightful clever design! The performance satisfied our anticipation and more, along with the incredible singing, story and theater design and sets-what could be more beautiful than the Andrew Lloyd Weber’s music of the night!!!
Cycle ride Saturday night-We had cruised over to The Phantom of the Opera show on our motorcycle and it awaited us as we danced away from the show on air and floated into the strip on our bike. Continuing our cruise of the strip we passed those bright lights again and saw the dancing waters show at the Bellagio by bike. Being on the bike at night on the strip was a mission for Tony and he satisfied our desire to ride by zooming through the strip and the downtown Freemont Street Experience with class. I videotaped perched behind him getting a thrill ride in the hot Vegas night air as Lady Liberty standing beside the New York, New York Casino symbolized our real fortune as free Americans able to take a road trip and ride to live and live to ride-Vegas style! Ah Uh Huh, Oh Yeah! We love you Elvis! And Thank You, Thank You Very Much!