Don't worry, we are not falling into a period of inactivity again! Ellie and I took a week vacation to the beautiful southwest, for a week in Arizona. We flew into Vegas, spent time at the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Sedona and Phoenix! It was an awesome trip, and I wanted to share a few photos!
On day one, we woke up SUPER early to catch a flight from Buffalo to JFK. With no issues, we made our connector with plenty of time and off to Vegas we went. Upon landing and grabbing our rental car, we made our way to the Hoover Dam, where we got our first taste of the southwest heat. Our car read that it was about 105 degrees, which was quite warm. It certainly felt that hot too, so I don't think it was inaccurate.
After walking across the span, posing for a couple of pictures and reading the dedications, we quickly made our way back into our lovely air-conditioned car. Lake Mead was absolutely beautiful and such a stark contrast against the desert landscape. We opted to skip the tours and visitor center because we were both tired from our flights, and they were pretty pricey. In hindsight, I would have liked to walk up to the highway bridge overlooking the entire complex, but it was really fricken hot.
After soaking in the sights and the sun, we made our way across Arizona to Tusayan, a small town just south of the Grand Canyon, which serves primarily as a staging spot for tours of the grand canyon a few minutes to the north. This was a perfectly acceptable place to stay, though you could tell it gets hundreds of thousands of tourists a year.
We woke up bright and early and took advantage of the Grand Canyon shuttle service to avoid having to deal with driving and parking at the South Rim, which we've heard can get extremely busy, especially on labor day weekend. The shuttle was super easy and I would highly recommend it. It is also essentially free with the purchase of the normal park entry fee, so there really is no reason not to. Inside the South Rim park, they run shuttles every 15 minutes to virtually every destination on the rim, giving you the option to hike as much as you want, or get shuttled around to the different vantage points. We opted to hike about 4 or 5 miles or so, though I want to put an asterix on the word hike, because it was beautifully paved trails making it super easy. Once we felt like we walked enough ( well once I did, Ellie would have kept going), we caught one of the shuttles back to the other side of the park.
We spent most of the day at the Grand Canyon, watching a storm form off in the distance, watching the birds fly, and the squirrels run all over the place. We even saw an Elk taking advantage of a water fountain on the trail. I could easily see spending way more time at the Grand Canyon, because we didn't even come close to venturing down into the canyon itself. We did see numerous trails winding their way down towards the river below, and I could see how inexperienced hikers could get themselves into trouble quickly. Not for the faint of heart!
Eventually it was time to head out south, to our next spot on the trip, Flagstaff. Originally I was going to write one vacation post summarizing the whole trip, but we loved Flagstaff so much that I think it deserves its own post. Stay tuned!