November 15, 2003

North of Abiquiu near Ghost Ranch we stopped to admire and photograph the mountain seen often in Georgia OíKeeffeís paintings She loved this mountain so much that she had her ashes spread there. 

Although not a big fan of her abstract art, todayís drive through this country gave us a better appreciation of the land that so inspired much of the colour and forms within her paintings. Oh, the colours ~ burnt umber, golden yellows, darkest greens, purple hues, browns ranging from light camel to dark cocoa ~ all contrasting with a sky of purest blue and sparkled by the view of a shimmering lake or the snow white caps of distant Colorado mountains. 

So many times as we drove over the crest of a hill or around a corner "Oh, wow!" would escape from each of us. Remembering so much of the great art we saw yesterday, today it was as though we were within the art itself ~ and indeed we were ~ within the art of the Master Himself.

Elevation 7860 at Tierra Amarilla.

Stopped in Chama and inquired at the Visitor Centre as to whether the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad was running. Unfortunately it stopped mid October and doesnít start again til mid May.   It is our hope to go on the Durango Silverton Railway in Colorado which we understand runs all year.
North of Chama we crossed the Continental Divide.

Like cathedrals, such as the one we saw in Assisi, Italy, or mighty castles, like those on the Rhine, rock formations here are perched on pyramid slopes.

At 2:03pm we passed from New Mexico into Colorado.

Scenery started to change: pine trees became common, valley floors showed where grass crops had been harvested and we saw more animals - sheep and cattle. 

At Pagosa Springs, we turned westward past Chimney Rock (which appears like a chimney above the mountain top). A thousand years ago the forest at the base of the two towers was home to the ancestors of todayís Puebloan peoples. Today Chimney Rock serves as a reminder of the challenges these people faced and pose the question of why these people would embrace such high elevations and harsh conditions ... was it a defensive move to keep safe from enemies or perhaps spiritual? One doctor questions if it was because of the "lunar standstill" phenomenon which occurs every eighteen years when the moon rises between the pinnacles. It is still considered a place of spiritual significance by the Southwestern Indian cultures and myths and mysteries abound.

This part of the drive is similar to the one between Cache Creek and Lillooet except as Terry says, "This road is a lot nicer."

Arriving in Durango we found that the train was not running ... it would not start itís daily winter runs until November 26. How disappointing. Terry has itís trip on his "Top 30 Lifetime Things To Do" list ... so we will be returning.

We went out to the movies and saw "Master and Commander" with Russell Crowe, a swashbuckler show set on the high seas. At times, Sherrie thought she should be wearing her blue seasick wristbands.

 

November 16, 2003

We started off by touring old town Durango which was founded in 1880 by William Bell and the Durango Trust Company, working for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. The town was a planned community and laid out in a grid pattern with residential areas upslope and apart from the business district. "The Boulevard" (now East 3rd Avenue) was designed for carriage traffic with a grassy, tree-lined median. The Strater Hotel (pictured --------) is one of the many Victorian buildings that decorate the streets of downtown. The name "Durango" itself conjures up memories of Western movies when you could tell the bad guys from the good guys by the colour of their hats.

The clouds were threatening most of the day but, other than a few sprinkles, held off.

It was amazing how quickly the scenery around us changed from a flat table top butte where we could see to the horizon, to being wedged within a deep gulch, then into desert. Awe inspiring were the rock formations standing in what would otherwise be flat lands. The route we were following was once used by ice age hunters, Pueblo farmers, Ute Indians, Spanish explorers as well as traders, miners, railroad builders, speculators and settlers.

It was the Mesa Verde itself that attracted our attention before we arrived at the Mesa Verde National Park. About 1,400 years ago, long before European exploration, a group of people chose the Mesa Verde as home and eventually built elaborate stone communities only to move away again after one or two generations. It would have taken four to five hours to do it justice. As the weather threatened and, unless we returned to Durango, our next accommodations were some distance away ... we decided to leave it until we return to spend more time in the Durango area.

Many outstanding rock formations were passed, but one kept looming in the distance. It was "Ship Rock" or "Shiprock Pinnacle" . This 1700 foot geological monument standing in the distant mist made us appreciate why it is the centrepiece to numerous Navajo legends ... they call it "Tse Bití aí I" meaning winged rock. One such legend is that it was a phantom ship that once bore the Navajo people away from the far north and warring neighbours and saved them from annihilation. 
Early white settlers called it "Ship Rock" because of its resemblance to an old windjammer under full sail.   It remained in the distance as we approached the centre of Four Corners.
Four Corners is the only place in the US where four states share a common border - Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. The actual location was pinpointed by US Government Surveyors and Astronomers beginning in 1868. In 1899, US surveyors found the Four Corners monument disturbed and broken. They marked and set a new stone at the original location. In 1938 the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs poured a concrete paving block around the monument and in 1992 set an aluminum bronze disc. The Four Corners area is Indian lands. The Navajo Nation lies in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. The Mountain Ute Nation is located in Colorado.
Flags surround the focal point and there is a raised platform for those who want to get the right angle for that perfect picture.
Today this spot is a revenue maker both in admittance fees and from the many craft, souvenir and food stands surrounding it.  Few can pass up the opportunity to be in four states all at the same time.

 

After taking advantage of the photo op at Four Corners, visiting with other tourists, as well as crafts people, we moved on ... 

across flat lands and ...

rolling hills to ...

high plateaus and views of distant mountains.

Our next stop was Hovenweep National Monument, Utah.

"Hovenweep" is a Paiute and Ute word meaning "deserted valley". As we walked through these solitary canyons we tried to imagine the sights and sounds of a place where hundreds of men, women and children called home. Today, archeologists consider Hovenweep the finest example of ancestral Puebloan masonry found anywhere giving testament to the motivation and resourcefulness of these long ago builders.

Hovenweep National Monument is made up of numerous structures spread over a 20 mile stretch of mesa tops and canyons. All of them are open to the public but, with the help of the Park Ranger, we selected only those we could view before sunset. Over 700 years ago, Little Ruin Canyon, was the scene of a sizable community sustained by a small spring at the head of the canyon and rainwater held by check dams on the mesa top ... and they flourished in this harsh environment. Their solutions to the challenges they faced each day reflect a well-developed ability to adapt human needs with natural conditions. For example, they incorporated their buildings into the natural terrain, created dams and reservoirs, cleared fields on the surrounding mesa tops as well as constructing garden terraces in the steep walled canyon and practiced dryland farming techniques to raise crops. Some evidence suggests that these people were sophisticated astronomers, able to predict the seasons. Such knowledge would have been as important to an agricultural society as having enough water supply. 
They domesticated animals such as turkeys and dogs and had imported non-indigenous, domesticated plant species such as maize.

The towers at Hovenweep constructed of rock, wood and mud mortar were built in the 13th century and incorporate a variety of geometric shapes and architectural features seen in modern Pueblo communities. Pottery, jewellery and clothing have been found and through these findings archeologist recognized a well-developed and complex society.

We hiked along the canyon rim and in silent awe admired and photographed these amazing structures. Reconstruction is not a general practice at Hovenweep, however, some small areas of some ruins have been stabilized when other portions of the structure were in danger of collapsing.

Can you see in this picture the different structures? Some clearly noticeable, while others seem to melt into the canyon wall. One uses a rock formation as its roof.
We stayed at this wonderful place and watched the sun create a glow on the golden-red rocks then slip behind the hill. Strolling back to the Ranger Station we continued to learn about local plants.
MORMON TEA (Ephedra viridis)

Mormon Tea grows to 60 inches tall with upright branches which are smooth and vivid green with small scaly leaves.  Used by Westerners as a non-caffeinated tea for treating colds and indigestion gave it the name Mormon Tea.

BIG SAGEBRUSH (Artemesia tridentata)

This shrub can grow to a height of 7 feet.  With a stout trunk and shaggy bark, its leaves are gray to silver in colour.  The leaves have a pungent aroma (especially when crushed).  The aroma acts as a natural repellent keeping herbivores from eating the plant.  It is one of the most common shrubs of the high desert from Mexico to Canada. 

COMMON PRICKLYPEAR CACTUS (Opuntia erinacea)

Can sometimes grow to a height of 12 inches but usually hugs the ground.  The fruits are called "tunas" and are a good source of protein, vit C, potassium and calcium.  Although it is named after a small spiny plant near Opus, all cacti are native only to North and South America.

It was sometime later, when in the dark we found simple accommodations in Blanding.

 

November 17, 2003

Starting out from Blanding, Utah. After enjoying porridge for breakfast, we stopped to look at the pictures on the restaurant wall. One picture that caught our attention was one of six pack horses crossing over a natural stone bridge. They looked small and took up only a small span of space atop the mighty platform.

Back on the road, we retraced the road south for three miles and turned west on Hwy 95 (known as "The Trail of the Ancients"). The sky was mostly made up of tall cumulus-nimbus clouds but there was blue sky to be seen. When the sun did shine through the window, it was warm and gratefully received.
One runs out of superlatives for the constantly changing vistas. "Oh Wow!" is the one that crops up most often with "stunning" coming in a close second. It is a shame that the cameraís eye cannot (yet) capture the impact of distant horizons and the human excitement of being within such awesome beauty.

The road passed through a red rock crevice and we stopped on the other side for pictures. Our voices echoed. In case we might embarrass ourselves when we tried the echo out in a louder voice we shouted "My name LES BRYAN and I donít care who knows it!" and received the same response back.

Farther down the highway we hiked out to view Horsecollar Ruins. At first glance the canyon wall before us looked like many other canyon walls. Then the ruins came into focus.

From where we stood the ruins were below and across the canyon. We kept having the feeling that if we were silent and patient we might be able to see the Anasazi, who inhabited this place between 1050AD and 1300AD, appear and go about the trials of their daily activities. 

 

This sight is unusual because it contains both round and square kivas (ceremonial chambers) representing two different architectural styles. The round kiva is associated with the Mesa Verde Anasazi of southwestern Colorado and southeaster Utah while the square kiva is indicative of the Kayenta Anasazi of northern Arizona. Pottery was also found at this site which reflects different influences which give archeologists an indication of likely trading patterns during this early occupation.
Natural Bridge National Monuments are part of the Cedar Mesa, a million acre plateau that is composed of nearly horizontal sedimentary rock layers. Wind blown sands from the north and west were deposited as dunes and later sediments buried these dunes and with time, pressure and moisture, they became "petrified" sand or "sandstone". Later when the area was tilted and uplifted the sandstone was slowly exposed by streams which carried away the overlying sediments. These streams helped carved the bridges.

The first bridge (picture left) we came to was Sipapu Bridge which we were able to view from three different outlooks. Because of its shear mass it does not appear to be the largest span of the three bridges we would view and it endures very little stream erosion because its abutments stand far from the stream.

The next bridge was Kachina Bridge, named for the Hopi kachina spirits which frequently displayed lightning snake symbols on their bodies. Similar snake patterns were carved by prehistoric people on the base of Kachina Bridge. It is considered a "young bridge" as it is still big and bulky and White Canyon waters still work to enlarge its span.

The last bridge (picture right) on our viewing tour was, Owachomo, a Hopi word for rock mound. On the upper left side of the bridge is a rock outcrop which suggested the name for the bridge. The Owachomo Bridge is different from the other bridges we viewed because it no longer straddles the streams which carved it ... but frost action and seeping moisture could cause a fatal crack now ... or it could stand for centuries. Owachomo was the same bridge we had seen in the picture after breakfast. Without the sight of horses crossing over, it is difficult to comprehend how humongous this natural structure really is. We hiked down the canyon wall until we were able to walk underneath it. (See Terry under bridge in picture below.)

We have not taken the car off paved roads often during this trip and were a touch apprehensive about making the five mile journey on the dirt road to Muley Point, but the dirt was hard packed and relatively smooth. The drive was well worth it. Spectacular! Picked by National Geographic as one of their "Top 50 Sights". As "one of the best views in the Southwest" we were amazed by the lack of tourist signage, etc.. In fact a simple sign out on the main highway was all that we saw and upon arrival the only thing besides the spectacular natural view were three other people.
 No signs .... no guard rails and as the half paragraph dedicated to the site said "be careful, itís over a thousand feet down!"

Onward .... down through Mokee Dugway. This switchback road was built during the 1950s to connect the Happy Jack uranium mine to the mill at Mexican Hat. We had already dropped a fair amount in elevation when we came across a sign that said "MOKEE DUGWAY ELEV. 6425 FT" and one below that said "1100 FT DROP NEXT 3 MILES".

We continued down and down and down the three miles of winding dirt switchbacks which offered commanding views of four states and a glimpse of Monument Valley and the distinctive "Shiprock" some considerable distance away in New Mexico. When we reached the valley floor .... or what we thought was valley (Wrong! Later find that it was just another plateau) we drove to another natural wonder Ė as if what we had already seen was not enough fodder for the senses in one day.

Gooseneck State Park overlooks a superb view of the goose-necks, (four bends weaving back and forth), of the San Juan River.

We turned south on Hwy 163 and before reaching the tiny town of Mexican Hat we stopped at the rock that is itís namesake. Indeed it looked like a Mexican hat perched atop a rock head. 
As we drove through the town that was no bigger than Yale, BC .... Terry posed the question (Sherrie takes no credit for this conversation), "If the locals hold a musical social on Saturday night, do they call it a Mexican Hat Dance?"

We moved through Monument Valley ... they place where John Wayne and John Ford made all those great Western movies ... and gazed in amazement at the towering pinnacles of rock.

As the sun started to set, throwing shadows from the rock "monuments" , we seemed to only drive a very short distance before "having" to stop for another picture. We were not the only ones playing this hopping game across the valley capturing on film and digital cards some exceptional sights.

We were late getting into Tuba City, Arizona ... which was farther away then we had anticipated plus we were held up on the highway as emergency personnel dealt with a serious accident.
 

November 18, 2003

Woke to a bright cloudless day ~ have we mentioned how incredibly blue the sky is away from heavy pollution? Itís a delicate light blue at the horizon to a rich deep blue at the zenith which turns to a true navy blue after sunset. Oh - and the stars!

We drove to Cameron for brunch, brought Terry a great leather cowboy/Aussi hat and Tyler some polished rocks, then turned west on Hwy 64 towards the Grand Canyon.

Our first gawk at one of the eight natural wonders of the world was at Desert View. Here in 1932 construction of the tower, designed by architect Mary Colter to provided the widest possible view of Grand Canyon and yet harmonized with its setting, was begun. Being a perfectionist, Colter scrutinized every detail. Each stone was handpicked and their weathered patina was kept to give the new tower a look as though it had been standing for hundreds of years ... even on itís opening day in May 1933, Six of Mary Colter designed structures grace the rim of the Grand Canyon.

(Below: pictures from the tower west - north - east - south)

Each floor of the tower above the ground floor is 21 steps apart. Each floor is an art piece with walls and ceilings painted with murals including The Snake Legend. Once to the top, tall windows provide an impressive view of what would keep us awestruck for hours and hours. 

Before we arrived at the Grand Canyon, it was our thought that there would only be a few sight lines into this canyon. How uninformed we were! View point after view point .... from the ones we could drive to by car, through the ones we were driven to by shuttle bus, to the ones we discovered by hiking along the "Rim Walk".

We moved on from the tower to some of the other view points that could be reached by private car.

Four thousand years ago people first made the Grand Canyon their home .... even if temporarily. With abundant water nearby, the Unkar Delta, a broad sandy expanse on the north bank of the Colorado River, provided a convenient home for prehistoric people particularly in winter. 

There are more than 2500 archeological sites in the Grand Canyon. Some lived lightly and left few indications of their passing while others such as the Hopi settled in pueblo villages on the mesa top and left deserted ruins and remains over 800 years ago. They were hunters, gatherers and farmers. The park is home to a museum beside an early Hopi village which is well signed and also has an interpretive guide.

(Two pictures left & below left courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park Museum)

The circular row of stones (pictured below right) outlines a kiva (ceremonial room).
Various activities took place here, including storage, ceremonies, rites and festivals.

Public portions of these ceremonies were usually held in the village plaza. Usually kivas were built mostly underground, but the Kaibab limestone in this region prevented digging very deep.

At top side of the picture (what looks like a short Eskimo style door) is the air vent to provide fresh air to the kiva and the fire pit in the centre (most of the smoke would go up through an opening in the roof. A banquette (circular bench) takes up half the wall and shows holes where roof support poles would have rested.
On to another view point on the rim where an information board told us of how in the late summer of 1540, after journeying for six months from Mexico City, more than three hundred Spanish soldiers, four priests and with Indian allies, slaves, and 1500 stock animals became the first Europeans to see the Grand Canyon.

The Spaniards spent three days trying to reach the bottom of the canyon, in vain. They went on to travel as far as present-day Kansas.
Before 1901, Grandview, our next outlook point, was Grand Canyonís most popular tourist destination. It boasted the best hotel. One visitor to the Grand Canyon wrote, in 1895, "No language can fully describe, no artist paint the beauty, grandeur, immensity and sublimity of this wonderful production of Natureís great architect. Grand Canyon must be seen to be appreciated."

It was because of comments like this [with which we fully concur] 

that encouraged many to come to Pete Berryís (miner-turned-hotel-manager) Grand View Hotel, and forget about the "bone-jarring, twelve hour stagecoach ride from Flagstaff."

In 1893 Berry offered only crude cabin lodging and began guiding eager, mule-riding patrons into the canyon. In 1897 he built a two-story log hotel and later added a large frame building.

If you want to follow in the hoof-tracks of these earlier guests for a mule ride down the canyon, you best book ahead ... the waiting list for peak times is two years.

After 1901, the Santa Fe Railroad reached Grand Canyon Village, eleven miles west of Grandview and with suitable accommodations at the railhead, few opted for the jolting stagecoach ride the rest of the way to Grandview.

While you take a look at some of the over 250 pictures we took of the canyon you may want to know a few statistics:

  • Schoolís out.
  • At the bottom of the Grand Canyon lies the Colorado River - the primary force in shaping the canyon. The river is 1,450 miles (2350 km) long and flows from its source in the Rocky Mountains, dropping more than 11,000 feet (of which 2,200 occur in the Grand Canyon) to its mouth in the Gulf of California in Mexico.
  • The canyon is about 277 miles (450 km) long measured along the river.
  • The south rim averages about 7,000 feet (2130m) above sea level while the north rim averages about 8,000 feet (2440m).
  • The rims are about 5,000 feet (1520m) above the river.
  • Although the rocks exposed in the canyon are hundreds of million years old, geologists estimate an age of 6 million years or less for the canyon itself.

In picture above the tower we first visited is visible near crest of rim at skyline just right of centre.

We made phone calls from the Grand Canyon Information Centre to secure reservations in Tusayan, which is located just outside the park, so we would be close enough to return to the canyon tomorrow to do some hiking.
The shadows were creeping at a quick and steady pace up the steep canyon walls as the sun began to set. We drove to Grand Canyon Village to pick up some libations before heading south on Hwy 64 to Tusayan where we settled into our room before heading out again for dinner. We looked at a few restaurants outside the hotel but ended up returning to the hotelís dining room for a nice dinner.

 

November 19, 2003

Drove back into Grand Canyon National Park and left the car in a parking lot where it could be left for more than an hour or two. In some parts of the Park private vehicles are prohibited (except for handicapped). We boarded a free hop-on-hop-off shuttle that makes stops at most of the view points in the restricted area. The shuttles come by every 10-15 minutes.

At Hermitís Rest the interpretive boards informed us about Canadian-born prospector Louis Boucher who staked claims around 1891. 

With help, Louis carved a trail into the Canyon and for years lived alone at Dripping Springs. He was described as a kind and gentle soul. Though not a true hermit, Louis is the "hermit" for whom Canyon features are named.
After arrival at the Grand Canyon Village train depot, some Santa Fe patrons traveled nine miles by open-top touring stage to Hermits Rest. A mule ride to the river and an overnight stay in a tent at Hermit Camp completed a two day adventure at a cost of $18.25. 

Not to make it too uncomfortable at these exorbitant rates the tents included stoves, glass windows, real beds and wooden floors covered with Navajo rugs. Cabins eventually replaced tents and luxuries included telephone service.

In 1928, the US government gained control of the rival Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon Village and stopped tolls. With free use of the more convenient Bright Angel Trail, the Santa Fe Railroad abandoned Hermit Camp.

 

Besides the spectacular view at todayís Hermitís Rest is another of Mary Jane Colterís structures designed in 1914. It was originally designed as a resting place for stagecoach travelers taking the tours. It melds into the hillside and purposefully conveys a rustic appearance as if hewn by a "mountain man" out of natural timber and local boulders.

The focal point within the lodge is a fireplace within an enormous stone shell. Colter again took particular care of details that added substance and charm to the interior ... wrought iron wall candelabra, the chairs made from hollowed-out logs and the medieval-style andirons.

She even saw to it that by opening day the room was complete with soot, dust and cobwebs all adding to the image that this special abode was centuries old.

It was a place one wanted to settle into. Resting in one of the log chairs in front of the great fireplace with a hot chocolate in hand, we could have been tempted to stay until spring.

Returning, we got off at Hopi Point and walked the rim trail back to the Village (approx. two miles).

It was below Prima Point, after a daring boat run of the Colorado River, that geologist John Wesley Powell wrote in his journal on August 18, 1869, "I climb up the granite to its summit, and go away over rust coloured sandstone and greenish yellow shales .... I climb so high that the men and boats are lost in the black depths below, and the dashing river is a rippling brook; and still there is more canyon above than below. All about me are interesting geological records. The book is open, and I can read as I run." By "the book is open" he is referring to the vertical cross section of exposed rock layers that make up the canyon walls.

At another view point we looked over to a peak named after Colonel Claude Hale Birdseye. Does this mean we had a "birdseye view"? .... sorry.

Further along we could see a stark, metal frame rising above the canyon rim. It was once a part of Orphan Mine ... one of the last operating mines within Grand Canyon until the National Park

Service gained ownership and ended mining in 1988. Orphan Mine produced copper, uranium, silver and vanadium. Around 1905 men used wooden ladders to traverse the face of the canyon and to access the mines in the early days meant descending 1500 feet. Not for the faint of heart.

Suitably placed on the rim of the Grand Canyon is a memorial monument to the early explorers.

 
Near the end of our rim trail walk, an outlook point afforded us an opportunity to overlook the Grand Canyon Village and the Bright Angel Trail as it zigzags down the canyon toward the Colorado River. The Bright Angel is Grand Canyonís most heavily used trail with hikers and mules (who have the right of way) sharing the trail.

 

We left the Park about 3:00 in order to reach Kingman not long after dark.

November 20, 2003

Left Kingman driving west on Hwy 40 and started to see an abundance of cacti and a few palms as the hills rose in the distance. It was not long before we were in the hills and saw the landscape change dramatically as we headed towards Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam.

We parked the car on a hill in Arizona and then walked over the Hoover Dam into Nevada where we looked around for a plaque with the name of Terryís great-uncle who was one of the 98 men killed during the construction of the dam.

After walking back to the car, we drove back across the dam into Nevada and set the clocks to Pacific time (back to home time).

We made a quick stop at the Lake Mead Information Centre where we were able to take pictures of the end of the lake where Terry and Mike Haines had come in the 1960s and strolled through their sample garden where we were able to identify some of the plants we had been passing.
The Teddybear Cholla is most attractive. It may look fuzzy like a teddy bear but it is covered with wicked spines that are painful and difficult to remove. Pack rats transport the prickly joints (how we do not know) to use as a protective barrier in and around their nests.
Down the road a couple of miles we dropped into the Nevada Welcome Centre and browsed through their literature, made some phone calls and booked a room at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
It wasnít long before we were driving down "The Strip" past familiar hotel names like Circus Circus, Casino Royale, Treasure Island, Harrahís, Mirage, Flamingo, Caesarís Palace, Bellagio, Aladdin , Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Excalibur, Luxor, Tropicana and arriving at the MGM Grand.

The lobby, the welcome was everything one could expect from a class act.
The Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer decor has a vintage appeal and carried into our spacious room with a king-size bed, swoop back lounge and art-deco wooden furniture and headboard. Pictures on the walls, and throughout the hotel, are of 1930s, 40s and 50s movie stars.  My favourite hangs above the desk in our room and is of the MGM lion working with a camera man and sound man. 
Speaking of lions, after we put away our things (since we plan to stay a number of days) we took our first tour of the MGM Grand and paused with other tourists around the hotelís lion habitat.

We had dinner at the hotelís buffet - a sumptuous fare with everything imaginable from crabs legs and steaks to sushi, tacos and ribs, plus rows and rows of vegetables and salads not to mention the dessert isle we only walked past.

A few dollars into the slot machines and we called it an early night in the city that never sleeps.

 

November 21, 2003

A lovely morning .... no packing up .... just lounging around, reading, journaling and taking time to "just be". That all lasted until noon when we finally emerged from our room.

 

We toured more of the MGM Grand with itís Hollywood film theme before crossing over "The Strip" on the pedestrian bridge to  ...

New York-New York with itís scaled version of many New York landmarks and eateries. 

Again using a pedestrian bridge we went the Excalibur and were transported back to the days of knights and fair ladies and grand castles ... Sherrie even got to be a part of a stage act ... and then ...

onto the Luxor where we were immersed into its Egyptian environment. At the new Mandalay Bay they are in the last throws of finishing work bringing together its Eastern ambiance. We returned to the MGM Grand via tramway and sky-walks. All that walking ... all the sights and sounds to remind us of the excitement of Las Vegas ... and not once setting foot on a ground level sidewalk.

After supper we joined most of the other guests doing what people do in Las Vegas ... gambling. There would be no note-pad gambling as Sherrie had done at the horse and dog tracks. This time we were using cash. We set ourselves a daily-able-to-lose-limit and went off to experience. At an empty black-jack table we started asking questions. The dealer and the pit boss, a lovely lady named Hazel, were both informative and patient. They allowed us a lower ante limit than the table limit and guided us through some of the finer points of playing casino black-jack. Lessons were harder learnt by Sherrie who parted with her daily limit (and some of Terryís) while Terry made a little on the evening.

Time passed so quickly and we didnít get back to our room until after 1:00 am.

 

November 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26, 2003

The week we spent in Las Vegas was definitely a departure from the norm.  A week was just about the right amount of time ... enough to enjoy the rich experiences (one of the highlights of our trip), but after a wonderful week we were ready to move on.  Appreciating that our journey northward will bring us into colder weather ...  we are comforted by knowing we are also getting ever more closer to home's hearth and family.  

 

Continue to November 27, 2003 ...