Finally plucked up the courage to attempt a write up of our road trip in Nov 2011. This was planned (and adjusted) with the help of the forum and once again many thanks for all the help and advice. This is my first attempt at writing up the details of a trip so apologies in advance for not being a literary genius but i hope it may help others planning a similiar trip.
We arrived after a long flight from the UK via Dallas in Tuscon AZ. The experience at the car rental desk left me even more exhausted but finally we left the airport to find our first overnight stop in Tuscon. Tuscon seemed a strange town(city) not at all what i was expecting having been bought up to believe that this was to be the wild west. With the exception of some giant cactus i could have been anywhere, a long sprawling expanse of houses and fast food outlets. It was by now completely dark and it wasn't till the next morning when i went for that most British of pastimes a morning walk that i realised that we were in fact surrounded by hills and mountains. After a quick breakfast in the Ihop next door we set of towards Tombstone and what would be our second overnight.
Now i know Tombstone doesn't always get the best reviews but for me, someone who has spent a lot of his adult life wanting to see Boothill and the OK Coral, it was special. Ok i accept that it is mainly for tourists but it proved to be everything i thought it would be. Boot Hill was sombre but fun if you know what i mean, the gravemarkers obviously are not original, this probably sums it up
We took the stagecoach round the town, brilliantly sold by someone who must have related the detail of what we would see a thousand times. You'll see Gerominos grave we were told and then it was pointed out as being somewhere up there. It was great fun and Sam the driver told tales via the microphone with great enthusiasm.
Little did we know that later that night we would meet him again in "Big Nose Kates" saloon where the music played, people danced and the food and company were great.
Earlier we had been advised to take the 5.00pm OK Coral show as it was less busy and had more detail in the build up to the shootout. My advice, don't bother, especially if you have young ones, it goes on and on and on.
The next morning we set off to Monument Valley, another of my boyhood dream destinations. It was a long long drive, although the stopping points (Sunset View i think was the best) along the interstates made it bearable. We stayed on the main roads mainly for speed, managed to get through Phoenix without a hitch and as we approached Flagstaff the temperature started to drop on the cars external gauge. Snow started to appear on the sides of the road and in the mountains the tops were covered. Finally we arrived for an overnight at Tuba City. What a strange place, great hotel but nothing at all to do. Went again for a walk and were approached by somone telling us to not stray to far and that the Navarjo side of the road was more fun than the Hopi side! Denny's the restaurant was closed because the carpets were being cleaned so it was back in the car to try and find something to eat. Finally before bed standing looking at the clearest and blackest starry sky i have ever seen, truly amazing.
Next morning back in the car towards Monument Valley along for the most part the most featureless road i can remember until finally the landscape changes and all the cowboy films you've ever seen come to life. One word Stunning, for me the highlight being the scenic drive. It was cold, clear, silent and beautiful. For someone from the UK where places like this do not exist i have not and will not ever see something so special
I did not want to leave but time was ticking by and we had another National Park and Landscape to see. We retraced our steps and entered the Grand Canyon Park at the East entrance, shortly after just at sunset we had our first glimpse of the Canyon. Another one word summation, Overwhelming. Just so big, whatever my illusion was it was bigger, so big that i and many others we have spoken to just can't take it in. Sadly this remains my memory, and it's stating the obvious, because it's so big in hindsight i believe that a helicopter tour would put it into perspective. We overnighted at the rim, another piece of advice, do not arrive in the dark or like us you will spend hours trying to find your cabin. Up before sunrise (-4C) for another must see, do not miss this under circumstances or you will regret it.
After breakfast we were back in the car to drive back to the visitor centre (badly signposted suprisingly) and then more views along the rim and finally left the park via the South entrance. We were on our way to Vegas, one of my favourite places because of its madness in contrast to the 1st part of the trip. The scenery was amazing again and as we left Arizona stopped for what is advertised as and is the Best Burger you will ever eat at the "Last Stop Restaurant" Definately worth a stop with amazing artwork everywhere. You can't miss it as it has a huge Monster Truck outside. Now into Nevada and fanastic landscapes continued. The new Hoover Dam expressway speeds up the traffic past what i believe was a major bottleneck. As you approach Vegas the neon starts until finally we arrive at out Hotel
I won't write much, you either love or hate Vegas, i'm in the first camp and would recommend if you havn't been take the time to drive down to the Fremont experience. Old Vegas at night, great atmosphere and fun. The Strip remains alive although the new buildings now block the sun from some of the pavement cafes etc on te opposite side.
Leaving after 5 nights and again on the Interstate to LA with occasional deviations for fuel and to break the monotony. We passed places that had been driven to the verge of extinction
Route 66 revealed the same sorry tale, fuel stations closed, cafes and house abandoned, understandable but sad nonetheless.
Again changing landscapes, again long distances but great experiences and above all fun. We stopped at "Peggy Sues Diner" for lunch where everything on the menu has a "rock and roll" theme, 50s music on the Jukebox and great people to share time with.
LA loomed into view, again i am overwhelmed by the size of "Greater LA" 3 nights to see this so we settled for the usual suspects, Hollywood Boulevard, Chinese Theatre, Marina del Rey. Santa Monica Pier, Rodeo Drive etc etc
So that was that, just over 1500 miles, memorable for the ease with which it could be done, the sights, the people, the food, the madness and the sheer scale of the landscapes.
Roll on the next trip, hmmmmmm, where shall we go
Thanks for reading and again thanks for the help in planning