48 hours in Arizona/Nevada

This was the shortest leg of my trip but was by no means any less memorable (or less tiring!). With only 2 full days (excluding the day I fly out) in Vegas and the priority to see the Grand Canyon, I had to sacrifice some of my sleep; but let me tell you now, it was all worth it. 

Disclaimer: this is a bit of a longer post than the last two, so hopefully it doesn’t put you to sleep! 

00:00 - 07:30 @ 21/4 

Flying from NYC + layover at SFO, I didn’t get to check-in to my Vegas hotel until 1AM… this meant that I didn’t get settled in for bed until  around 2AM. On any other day, this would’ve been fine, but due to availability constraints, I could only book my Grand Canyon day trip on the same day - meaning I had to be ready to be picked up by 7AM (I was so anxious that I’d sleep through my alarms and miss the tour). (Un)Fortunately I got a solid 4 hours of sleep that morning and managed to not miss my tour! 

~07:30 - 8:30 @ 21/4

Got picked up by our tour guide/driver for the day, Alfonso. He was extremely friendly from the minute he got out of the van and introduced himself. I was expecting a bus, like we had for the Yosemite tour, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a van instead - one with only 10 of us (including Alfonso). Once everyone was picked up from their hotels, we headed for our first stop - McDonald’s @ Henderson, Nevada. Side note, this was my first and probably the only Maccas visit I’ll be doing on this trip!

Breakfast (included in the tour) was a great way to get to know the lovely group of people we were about to spend 15+ hours with. On the tour: we had an American family (Albany, NY), a couple of lovely British ladies (London), as well as a couple from back home - Sydney. 

I wanted to say that breakfast was a great icebreaker, but to be honest, I don’t think there was ice to break to begin with. I know for at least myself, that I felt at ease with the group from the minute we all met each other. 

~ 10:00 @ 21/4

From Henderson to this next stop, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about the history behind Las Vegas - I don’t know much about American history so this was a great addition to my limited knowledge! 

Next stop: Hoover Dam (Black Canyon, Colorado River) - crossing over between Nevada and Arizona. 

What a wonderful spectacle! I have to say, seeing the pictures of the Dam before this trip, sure I wanted to visit… but as soon as we had clear view of the site, I was impressed. The engineering behind it is truly extraordinary. The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge also adds to the overall view - who knew that so much concrete could look so good?!

Worth calling out that Alfonso took a fantastic photo of the entire group (photo’s on my fb) - from a photographer such as myself, I highly appreciated the creativity of the shot! (More on photos from the day later)

~ 13:30 @ 21/4

Cars land! I mean, the town of Seligaman, Arizona - home of the historical Route 66! 

This place was like a time capsule! It was a quiet little town filled with vintage cars, petrol pump stations (sorry, gas pump as they call it over here), memorabilia, etc. Walking around was like as if I was taken back to the old days! 

I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that I could see how John Lasseter (Cars writer and director) drew inspiration from Seligman! It was very cool to see some of the ‘real-life’ versions of the characters from the animated film!

Moving slightly further away from the town centre, we stopped on the quiet Route 66 road, where we had a bit of a photoshoot by the Route 66 sign on the road. Absolutely loved the fact that Alfonso took a lot of time and effort to get all of us not only good pictures, but creative and memorable ones! Again, you guys all know my appreciation for photography so this was a big plus for me! Of course, being a real road that’s still in use, we took turns being on the lookout for cars that were coming our way during the shoot! :)

~16:00 @ 21/4

By around 4PM, we were settled into the Grand Canyon National park. 

Lunch was also included in the tour so Alfonso took care of preparing for our little picnic. We walked over to the amphitheatre which had a wonderful view of the Grand Canyon (from South Rim), which is where we sat down to have our picnic. 

I don’t know how much more I can convey this - it was absolutely breathtaking! I mean picture this, sandwiches at hand, cheese/crackers and grapes within reach, the Grand Canyon in front of me, and I was surrounded by kindhearted humans. I don’t know a lot of people who can say that they’ve had the pleasure of having a picnic in front of the canyon - and for that I am truly blessed! 

~16:30 - 18:45 @ 21/4

After lunch, we walked alongside the Grand Canyon, stopping at various viewpoints for photos and different perspectives of the Grand Canyon. 


I loved every minute of this part of the tour. The Grand Canyon looked spectacular no matter which way I looked at it, no matter which angle I was viewing it from, and no matter where the sun was positioned at. The sun was making its way down so it was changing the colour of the canyon too! 

~18:45 - 19:15 @ 21/4

I don’t want to play favourites, but this one was the most beautiful part of the day (who would’ve thought that the views of the Grand Canyon could look more beautiful?!). 

With the sun still slightly above the top of the ridges, we took another awesome group photo - one with our silhouettes doing random poses, with the sun setting in the background. 

From this point onwards, it only got more beautiful (& colder!). The sun continued to make its way down, but also started to paint the sky beautiful hues of pink and purple - absolutely amazing! 

After being left breathless by all the beauty we saw today, we left the Grand Canyon National Park and headed back for Las Vegas. 

~00:40AM - 02:00 @ 22/4

Started to settle back into the hotel from a long, but wonderful day. By the time I showered and downloaded my footage and photos from my cameras onto my hard drive, it was coming up to 2AM. 

Absolutely knackered, but I couldn’t have gone to bed any happier. 

~08:00 - 11:30AM @ 22/4

So apparently I’m incapable of sleeping-in until midday (unlike I hoped to be). So I woke up just before 8 and stayed in bed (attempted to go back to sleep) and didn’t leave my room until 11AM for breakfast. 

I was actually craving some pasta, so I figured I’d drop down to the Italian restaurant in the resort to satisfy my cravings (because I actually already looked at the menu when I checked in the previous day!). 

Got to the restaurant, keen for the pasta… but to my disappointment, I was handed the breakfast menu! *cue major ‘lol’ing and face palm emojis* No luck on the pasta but all good, I had a Broccoli, Asparagus and Italian sausage omelette instead - it at least didn’t disappoint! 

~ 12:00 - 13:30 @22/4

Took an Uber to Fremont Street Experience and did some exploring. Walked in and out of casinos, watched some street performances and watched several people go down the zip line as they screamed their heads off. 

Bought some souvenirs and decided that was all there was for me in downtown Vegas, so I decided to take another Uber back towards The Strip. 

I guess Fremont is prettier at night but personally I didn’t think this was my scene at all, considering I’m not a casino fan at all, knowing nothing about gambling! 

Both my Uber drivers were amazing. The one going to Fremont offered me some bottled water, mints, etc. and gave me some recommendations on what to see in Fremont (of course due to paranoia and anxiety, I didn’t trust the water and food he offered so I politely declined! But hey, the intention was there!). The second driver from Fremont to The Strip was my first lady driver - she was goofy, bubbly and extremely friendly. I highly enjoyed my conversation with her, we had a fair few laughs about all sorts of things! 

~14:00 @ 22/4

I got dropped off at The Venetian - I strategically picked that resort because it was the furthest one from my resort that I wanted to go see. The plan was to start from The Venetian and make my way down The Strip, resort hopping on the way. 

On my little Strip adventure, I visited (& of course photographed) the main resorts on my side of Las Vegas Blvd: The Venetian, The Mirage, Caesar’s Palace, Ballagio, The Cosmopolitan,  Aria and of course, where I was staying - New York New York. 

I enjoyed this part of my day a lot more than Fremont. I was impressed with all the different attractions at each resort! They were all just picture-perfect! 

I ended the day-time visit to The Strip at around 4PM, after I took part in my first casino gambling experience. I spent $4 at a slot machine and actually won myself $67.50! I was pretty pleased with my random button-pressing skills! 

Interestingly enough, every Vegas local has told me not to walk from each resort because they are a lot farther apart than they seem… honestly, it’s not bad at all! I don’t know if it’s my habit of taking ridiculously long walks that makes me think this, but I was fine walking up and down The Strip! My only complain would be the amount of sketchy/drunk/rowdy people on the street during the day. 

~16:00 - 18:00 @ 22/4

I spent a couple of hours back in my room to chill for a bit, it was a warm day after all. I took the liberty of FaceTime-ing with my sister back in Sydney, while she hung her laundry up on a Sunday morning. Time flew by, I think I spoke to her almost 1.5hrs, I guess it must be because I had so many stories on my experiences so far so I kinda just kept talking! It was so good to verbally speak to someone about my trip though! 

After I talked her ear off and hung up, I freshened up a bit and changed into my evening attire (nothing special but I figured it was more appropriate to stroll at night in a simple dress as opposed to my jeans and t-shirt outfit during my daytime adventures). 

~20:00 - 21:00 @ 22/4

To satisfy my pasta craving, I trekked it back up towards Caesar’s Palace/The Mirage to go to The Cheesecake Factory. They have amazing pastas and I really enjoyed the last one I had in San Francisco but I had to rush when I was eating that one, so I figured that warranted another crack at TCF. 

I pretty much ordered the same thing as that night in SF, but with a different cheesecake; that is, OJ, Bistro Shrimp Pasta and Banana Cream Cheesecake. It’s safe to say that my pasta craving was satisfied and more! I found that the dish itself was cooked better than the one in SF. The cheesecake was amazing - I don’t usually try the fruit-based desserts but man, this one was a great choice! It was so light and had the right balance of cheesecake and banana flavours! I’m glad it wasn’t rich because I was actually semi-full when I started dessert… how could I refuse to try another one of TCF cheesecakes? 

~21:45 - 23:59 @ 22/4 

After a massively great meal, I was ready to conquer The Strip on a Saturday night. I made my way back down towards NYNY, stopping at all the night shows along The Strip. 

My key highlight would be the Fountains of Bellagio. I managed to catch a few of the shows (they ran every 15mins on Saturdays from 20:00-00:00), and I really enjoyed it! My favourite would be the 22:00 show, which was the one with the Michael Jackson soundtrack. I managed to do some long exposure shots during this show, even if I left my tripod back at the hotel (silly me). I was able to create a make-shift tripod using my phone and lens cap though, and the results aren’t too bad I reckon!


The Nevada/Arizona leg of my trip ends early Sunday morning @ 23/4, where I fly to LAX for the last part of my journey. 

What can I say, the journey to the Grand Canyon is definitely the highlight - I mean how can it not be with the Hoover Dam, Route 66, picnic and sunset at the Grand Canyon, and of course, the lovely group of people I got to experience all of it with! Major shoutout to Grand Adventures, and of course Alfonso, the company & tour guide I took the Grand Canyon sunset tour with. It was an extremely long day but the experience itself make you forget how tired you are and it is definitely an experience/memory I’ll be keeping close to my heart for the rest of my life. 

It’s worth calling out that as an individual who loves to explore cities, the outdoors and scenic adventures, I can confidently say say that Las Vegas is not my scene. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate it - it’s just that I was out of my comfort zone. I’m not at all a party/get drunk kind of girl, nor am I the gambling type. I did really love the themed resorts, the pretty lights, and the night atmosphere though! 

Not sure if I’ll be back to Vegas any time soon, but I can promise I’ll definitely be back for The Grand Canyon! 

Cheers,

A


p.s. Don’t you love the irony in the fact that my longest post to-date is related to the shortest part of my trip?! 

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