Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon

The boys have never been to the southwest…so this year we headed to the desert. Las Vegas was our first stop. We spent two days in Vegas, then two days in the Grand Canyon, and back to two days in Vegas. That was perfect, because I can only take about two days of Las Vegas at a time. #TooManyPeople

While hot, we had great weather (over 100 in Las Vegas and in the 80s at the Grand Canyon), great flights and despite certain scare tactics, everyone survived the Grand Canyon!

July 14 – Las Vegas
We took off at 4 p.m. local time, arrived in Vegas at 4:30 p.m. Vegas time. We rented a car and our first stop was In-N-Out burger, Zach’s choice. We agreed the burgers were good, the fries were so-so and the shakes seemed like whipped cream. Definitely not Braum’s or Freddy’s worthy, but glad we went.

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We checked in at the Hard Rock Casino, then visited Caesar’s Palace. I had forgotten how big Caeser’s Place was! On to the Bellagio, and the fountain show.

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The next day, we spent a couple of hours at the pool. The pool had a “beach” (i.e. little tiny rocks that were sand), and a larger pool with tile. The water was warm, and we would later decide this was better than the Treasure Island pool.

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We ate at the Top of the World, the revolving restaurant at the top of the Stratosphere. It was Monday, so not busy at all. Dinner, drinks and dessert was about $200. We went to the outdoor observation tower, and Scott and Zach rode the Big Shot ride on top of the Stratosphere. While we were waiting for them, Adam and I noticed that there was a flimsy looking chain link fence with a gate that didn’t look very secure.

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We waited about 20 minutes to take our picture at the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. It was 108. This is probably my favorite picture from the trip.

Also stopped by the famous Pawn Stars pawn shop, as seen on the History channel.

Then headed Excalibur, Luxor, MGM, and New York New York. This is outside the Excalibur.

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July 16 – Grand Canyon
Our first stop was the Hoover Dam. When you bought tickets, the workers say “Have a great dam day!” 😄. The dam tour (where you go inside the dam) was not available, but we were able to take the power plant tour.

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Arizona / Nevada state line.

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Then off to the Grand Canyon – three hours away. Checked in at hotel and headed to the South Rim visitors center. It cost $35 for a 1-7 day pass. Bargain! While we walked along the rim, the boys kept acting like they were falling or slipping in areas where there was no railing. We saw people venturing out on rocks…several people had died in recent months because they fell trying to take pictures! We had dinner at one of the lodges in the Grand Canyon Park.

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That winding path on the side is the trail down to the bottom.

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The next day, we rented bicycles. We Scott chose the route: a 21-mile round trip on the rim to a place called Hermit’s Rest. There was one big mile long hill we had to get up (the locals call it the “soul crusher”) and then easy peasy. Lots of great views of the canyon — all a little bit different.

At one stop you could see remains of a high-class ranch from the 1930s on the bottom of the canyon. The ranch had a dining room, showers, telephones and more…all for only $18.25 ($350 in today’s money).

At Hermit’s Rest we split cheese sticks, sandwiches and loaded back up with water. The way back was WAY harder…a lot more uphill (no wonder it seemed easy one way). I had to walk my bike several times…oh…and it was the hottest part of the day too. Scott now owes me an undefined number of non-sport cultural events (like plays, musicals and other things) for that six-hour bike ride!

That night we ate at “We Cook Pizza and Pasta.” For real…that was the name of the restaurant!

Thursday, we woke up to a new friend outside our hotel room.

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Back to the Canyon for our Rim Mule Ride. Required attire included closed-toed shoes, long sleeves, long pants and a wide brimmed hat. We purchased hats for the boys for $7. Our sunglasses had to have a neck band (we used string) and we could only take one item on the ride (like a cell phone) that also had to have a neck band or stay in your pocket the whole time.

After hearing a safety briefing, we got assigned our mules. Here we are – Zach rode JonJon, I got Algebra, Scott was on Charlotte and Adam got Reba.

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The ride was about two hours with five stops along the rim. Our guide told us a little about the Grand Canyon and also about mules.

Fun facts about mules (I think this is what our guide said):
They are smart. They have the intelligence of a three year old.
They can hold 20-30 percent of their body weight.
They can sense when riders are nervous and try to make the ride smoother for you.
They can go three days without water.
They can withstand heat better than horses.

After the ride, we changed out of our long pants and sleeves and went for a short hike on the Bright Angel Trail.

We saw several of these interesting signs, warning of the changing elements.

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I didn’t want to hike too far, so Scott and Zach hiked 1.5 miles down and back, and Adam and I hiked about half that.

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The trail was on the edge and there were lots of places where there wasn’t much between the trail and death. 😱

See that person waaay over there in the white shirt? That’s Adam.

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While we waited for the others, Adam and I went into a photography studio and gift shop. Did you know there’s an entire book devoted to detailing how people as far back as the 1800s died in the Grand Canyon? We almost bought it.

July 18 – Back to Las Vegas
On the way back to Vegas, we took part of the historic Route 66. We drove through Seligam and Williams, AZ.

We stopped at Scott’s Uncle Dave’s house – I mean hanger – so he could take the boys flying in his Cessna 150, a two-seater plane he’s had for 30 years (?). He took Adam up first, but it was so hot that the flying was pretty choppy, so they were not able to stay up as long as originally hoped.

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Scott brought Zach back out the next day so he could have a turn too.


David’s oldest daughter, Kristy, and her daughter, Lynn, were there too. Lynn was spending a month there taking flying lessons from David.

Back in Vegas, we checked into Treasure Island and then headed to the Venetian hotel for dinner. Saturday, we spent several hours at the Treasure Island pool, where the party was in full swing. There was a bachelorette party going on with a interesting worded sign. 😆. And no, you can’t see the sign in this picture.

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Adam and I got drinks from the bar…Adam a non-alcoholic strawberry daiquiri, ($8) and I got a Moscow Mule ($14). There were waitresses at the pool, and when I asked for three cups of ice, they said they were not allowed to bring out cups of ice.

Not in Kansas.

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That night, we saw David Copperfield “Live the Impossible” show. Did you know wine came in a can? I didn’t either, until Scott went out to get me a glass of wine, and came back with this.

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The show was entertaining…a little cheesy, but there were some good tricks that had us scratching our heads.

One last attempt at a nighttime photo on the strip! Zach moved!

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Sunday it was back to reality (and to see Ali!) as we headed home…

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