Home > Events > 2007
May 16-19
Grand Canyon and Las Vegas

We take a four day / three night vacation to the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona and to Las Vegas,Nevada. This was our first trip to the Grand Canyon and Toby's first time to Las Vegas.

Wednesday, May 16 - Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon

We flew into Las Vegas from San Jose very early on Wednesday (the 16th) morning where we rented a brand new silver PT Cruiser (4 miles only!) then promptly drove south around 25 miles toward Hoover Dam. The weather was clear and already in the upper 80's / low 90's when we reached the dam. We did the Discovery Tour of the Dam which comprised of a movie, an elevator ride down to the generators, tour through the tunnels where water flows through massive pipes. Afterwards we walked along the Dam and then had burgers for lunch at the small cafe located in the parking structure. By around 1pm we wrapped up our stop at Hoover Dam and proceeded on our long drive to the Grand Canyon, we drove on Highway 93 across Hoover Dam into Arizona. The 4.5 hour drive took us through Kingman, then onto Interstate 40 toward Williams, then north on 183 toward Tusayan. On our drive, the clear skys at Hoover Dam were replaced by dark thunderheads and lightening. In Tusayan we checked into our hotel, The Grand Hotel, around 4:30pm (note: We had to stay outside the park, since all accommodations in the park were full). We quickly settled into our room on the second floor and then drove into the Grand Canyon before the fleeting sun set through the clouds. We did capture some great pictures of the sun setting in the Canyon. We then had a nice dinner at the Arizona Room at the Angel Bright Lodge along the rim, before heading back to Tusayan.

Click here for information on Hoover Dam
Click here
for information on the Hoover Dam Bypass Project
Click here for information on the Grand Hotel
Click here for information on The Grand Canyon

We depart San Jose at 7:45am, arrive in Vegas by 9pm. We quickly get our luggage and then get our rental car, a silver PT Cruiser...then off we go...

After a short drive past Boulder City we arrive a Hoover Dam where we park the car and head toward the Visitor's Center.

From the parking structure you can view the dam. We take the elevator down to purchase our tickets for the Discovery Tour.

After a movie of the Dam's history, we take an elevator down to the massive generators.

The tour continues through one of the tunnels where huge pipes carry water into the generators.

Great views of the Dam from the observation deck on top of the visitor's center.

The tamed Colorado river flows below the massive dam. I tried not to touch the railing... it was scorching HOT.

I was too nervous having someone take our photo, so here is the 'typical' Alan photo.

You can see the new bridge bypass project from the Dam. This will vastly improve traffic.

We walk along the Dam toward the Arizona state line. From this perch you realize exactly how tall the dam is... over 700 feet tall.

Lake Mead on the other side of the Dam. here you can see the large intake columns.

It was getting deathly hot and we were getting hungry, we had cheeseburgers at the cafe by the garage before heading out over the Dam into Arizona.

We head over the desert on 93 toward Kingman, Arizona where we join Interstate 40 toward Williams (on route 66) then on up toward Tusayan, just outside the Grand Canyon

We stayed at the Grand Hotel in Tuscayan. Our room was at the end of the hallway on the 2nd floor. We quickly settled in before heading back out and onward to the Grand Canyon, just down the road.

We entered the park and headed to the first lookout vista called Mather Point. There were spectacular views from here. The intermittant sunlight through the clouds made for very dramatic pictures.

The Grand Canyon is about a mile deep, you can't phathom the size of the Canyon until you get there and see it for yourself.

There were numerous viewing 'perches' at Mather Point. Of course everyone was taking pictures like crazy... me being one of them.

Huge thunderhead clouds obscured some of the dramatic sunset light, but some sun did comeout to allow for interesting photos.

Much of the guard railing clung to the very edges of the viewing areas.

The setting sun didn't lessen the bright red color of the rocks, the high contrast of the shadows really helped showed the canyon's features.

The observation building from Yavapai Point made for a nice resting spot and picture taking.

The original Yavapai structure was built int the 1920's and provides great views of the Canyon.

We then drove over to the historical area where many hotels are located like the El Tovar. On the way we encountered an elk! We had dinner at the Arizona Room at Angel Bright Lodge.

Toby along the Rim Trail with a setting sun in the Canyon. We are by the historic El Tovar hotel.

The weather started to get a little chilly (60's) as the sun started to set. After the sun set, you can see a slight light across the Canyon from the North Rim.

Thursday, May 17 - Grand Canyon and Vegas

We slept well at the Grand Hotel and woke up fairly early so we could start the day. After checking out and filling up the PT Cruiser, we made a quick stop at McDonald's for some breakfast. We then heading back into the park with a quick stop at the entrance sign for that standard touristy photo. We headed back to Mather Point where we quickly found a choice parking. The sky was perfectly clear, although we knew that thunderheads would soon be forming as the day progressed. We were able to capture some spectacularly clear and sunny views of the canyon during the early morning hours. After more photos, we made a short walk to the Visitor's Center and Bookstore. I bought a view souveniors before heading out to the Green shuttle bus which would take us to the South Kaibab Trail head east of the Visitor's Center. At the trailhead we were treated to some different angles of the canyon, but what made it more dramatic was the lack of guard rail! One wrong step! We then headed down the steep South Kaibab trail, which is also used by mules (crap everywhere). The first portion of the trail was a series of steep switchbacks before leveling off to a gradual descend down 600 feet to "Ooh Ahh" point. Hiking down sure was more easy than climbing back up! My heart pounded heavy and I sweated TONS! But once we reached the rim after the hike, I quickly cooled down before hopping back onto the shuttle bus. We made a quick stop at Yaki point where we did the famous 'jumping' photos. Then back on the bus to the car and then to Grand Canyon village for gift shopping and canyon photos from Kolb Studio. Then around 1pm we jump into the car and hit the road to Vegas!

On the way, we stop off at the kitschy 'Bedrock Village' an homage to Hanna Barbara's Flintstones! Then while back at Williams we stop for lunch at Pine Country restaurant for cheeseburgers and fries, before hitting Interstate 40 toward Kingman. On the way, we did a slight detour onto Route 66 and stopped at Seligman for some Americana. We then continued toward Kingman and then up 93 over Hoover Dam into Vegas and toward "Treasure Island" resort. We checked into our deluxe corner room (#16037) which faced the front toward Las Vegas Blvd. After much needed showers, we ventured out onto the Blvd. This was Toby's first trip to Vegas, we walked by the Mirage, then the Forum Shops into Caesar's Palace, then saw the fountains at the Bellagio, we crossed the street to the Paris hotel, where we purchased tickets to the top of the Eiffel Tower at night, then we headed back to the Mirage to see the volcano erupt. We were too late for dinner at the Buffet, so we ate at Treasure Island's 'coffee shop' for some open faced turkey sandwiches. Later that evening, just before midnight, we drove up to Fremont Street to see all the neon lights and the fabulous light show.

Click here for information on the South Kaibab Trail
Click here for information on Williams, Arizona (Route 66)
Click here for information on Seligman, Arizona (Route 66)
Click here for information on Historic Route 66
Click here for tourist information on Las Vegas
Click here for information on Treasure Island Resort and Casino.
Click here for information on the Fremont Street Experience

Thursday morning we checked out of the hotel, had a quick meal at McD's before heading back into the canyon. We stop at the entrance for photos of the sign.

Back at Mather Point, what a difference a day makes, the skies were clear and perfectly sunny.

The Canyon came alive in vibrant colors of red rocks and purple shadows.

Alan and Toby at Mather Point, photo taken by Britsh tourist.

We walked to the other viewing area at Mather Point, you can see the people way out on the vista, this helps give the scale of the Canyon.

At the Visitor's Center not far from Mather Point.

From the Visitor's Center we hop on the free 'Green' shuttle to South Kaibab trailhead just east of Mather Point. At the trailhead we walk to the very very edge... no guardrail... nice!

We stopped here and took numerous photos before actually descending down onto the trail.

The South Kaibab trail starts with a steep descend down numerous switchbacks.

Over 600 feet down into the Canyon we reach Ooh Ahh point, which many people used to turn around and head back up... like us.

Ooh Ahh point had spectacular vistas up and down the Canyon. It was nice to see the Grand Canyon from inside, you get a different appreciation of it's grandeur.

Huge rocks made for great photos, just on the other side of these rocks was a HUGE drop off. We rested here for a short bit before treking back up.

The climb back up was definitely hard and steep, but we made it! Of course I was breathing heavy and sweating buckets.

We rested again at the top of the trail before hopping on the bus to the nearby Yaki Point along the rim just above the Ooh Ahh point. Again, some portions didn't have any guard rails.

A nice Frenchman took this photo of us, although my hair was a mess from the hike.

The location provided a great opportunity for our 'jumping' photo.

FWEE... my turn to jump!

We took the shuttle back to our car and we drove back to the village for some shopping. While at the Kolb Studio vantage point we saw a rare California condor. Earlier we saw a squirrel with a great view at the end of the tree limb.

From the Kolb Studio you had a great view of the Bright Angel trail. This also had a fantastic sheer drop over the edge. Our favorite Japanese tourist was here also... we just love her!

The historic studio yielded perfect photos of the Grand Canyon. After purchasing some gifts we headed out of the Canyon onto our next journey... time 1pm.

After we left the park we headed toward Williams, Arizona for lunch, on the way we stopped at Valle, Arizona to take pictures of 'Bedrock Village' and homage to the Flintstones. We ate at Pines in Williams along historic Route 66.

Halfway down Interstate 40 we stop at Seligman Arizon along Route 66.

Seligman is just a short side trip of I-40, this historic town had some interesting shops. Here I stand in the middle of Route 66!

After Seligman we hightail to Vegas, back over Hoover Dam, through traffic to our hotel. We have a deluxe corner room we two windows. We quickly shower before heading out on the town.

We walked down Las Vegas Blvd, past the Mirage where the new Love show is performed.

We entered the Forum Shops and then thru Caesar's Palace.

We stop to see a couple of performance of the Fountains at the Bellagio. We then entered the casino to see the lobby 'flowers' on the ceiling.

Alan at the Fountains. We wanted to see the Conservatory of Flowers in the Bellagio but they were in the midst of a new installation.

We headed across the street and went up the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel.

We had great night views of the city from the vantage point.

On our way back to the hotel we stop and stay for the volcano eruption at the Mirage hotel. We then had dinner at the Coffee Shop in our hotel, the Buffet was already closed (it was past 10pm)

Just before midnight, we head up to Fremont Street to see all the neon lights.

The last light peformance was a midnight... the sky came alight with light and sound.

This light show is unbelievable. After it was over we headed back to sleep! What a long day!!!

Friday, May 18 - Las Vegas

On Saturday, we wake up early and had breakfast at the hotel's buffetl. We then head out onto the Blvd. We crossed the street to the Venetian Resort to check out the gondolas and ornately detailed buildings. We then cross the street back to the Mirage where I needed to pick up the LOVE tickets at the will call. The weather started to get hot so we headed back to the hotel in hopes of going to the pool to layout, but there were absolutely NO chairs left, so we bailed and headed up the Strip to the Stratosphere where we rode to the top for the views. While at the top I rode the crazy new ride called Insanity, which whirls you in circles over the edge of the Tower, some 900+ feet in the air... wild (yet exhilerating). The view was clear from the Tower, we had wonderful views in all directions. After the Stratosphere we headed back to the hotel where we FINALLY found some seats out by the tiny pool to layout and to jump int the pool. It was about 98 degrees at that time. Later that afternoon and before dinner time we walked across the street to the Wynn hotel where we stopped for some ice cream while sitting in the shade by the waterfall. Once back in our hotel we get ready for dinner and the show. We first had a wonderful seafood dinner at Kokomo's in the Mirage hotel, before heading to the theater at the back of the hotel. We saw the late 10pm show. The show combined the acrobatics of Cirque du Soleil and the music of the Beatles. My favorite was "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" where thousands of tiny lights came down from the sky while an acrobat swirled in the air above.

Click here for information on Insanity at the Stratosphere
Click here for information on the show LOVE
Click here for information on Kokomo's Restaurant in the Mirage


After breakfast we venture to the front of our hotel Treasure Island.

We cross the Strip to check out the Venetian Resort.

The Italy themed hotel had replicas of famous Venice structures.

The Canal Shops in the hotel had gondolas to ride.

At the Mirage we picked up our tickets. The theater entrance was awash in light and color.

We head up the Strip to the Stratosphere where we ascend almost 1,000 feet to the observation levels.

The skies were clear for viewing all around the desert valley.

I bought one ticket to ride the new thrill attraction called Insanity, which swirls you over 900 feet over the tower's edge... FUN!

Here i GO.... FWEEEE! ... and no, I didn't go pee in my pants!

Back at our hotel, and after a dip in the pool, we head across the street to the Wynn Resort.

The Wynn's lobby had a small flower conservatory. We had ice cream at the hotel.

We then crash at the hotel, before getting ready for dinner and a show.

We then shower and get ready for dinner at Kokomo's at the Mirage and then the 10pm show of "LOVE" also in the Mirage.

We had a photo taken of us while at dinner at Kokomos.

Saturday, May 19 - Las Vegas

Saturday morning, we wake up early, have breakfast at the hotel's Buffet again, pack up belongings and then check out of the hotel. We drive down the strip to the famous Las Vegas sign at the end of the Strip for some photos. We then park the car at Mandalay Bay and stroll around the hotels in the area: Luxor, Excalibur, and New York, New York. We then hop back in the car and drive down to the Liberace Museum to check out the outlandish outfits and mirrored pianos. We later had some time to kill so we drove by the Hard Rock Casino and then to the Palms before dropping off the rental car and shuttling back to the airport. Our Southwest flight departed promptly on time, 4:45pm and we were back home in the Bay Area by 6pm.

WHEW... what a trip... we sure did cover a lot of ground, and had a blast doing it!

Click here for information on the Liberace Museum

The Vegas welcome sign at the end of the Strip.

The Egyptian themed hotel, Luxor.

The Statue of Liberty outside the New York New York casino.

The Liberace Museum had exhibits of pianos, cars, and numerous outlandish outfits worn by Liberace.

One of the many outfits worn by Liberace... hot pants!

Alan at the Liberace Museum.