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27 January 2015

Grand Canyon

Last summer, my sister and I decided to take a little road trip to a magnificent place we had never been to before - a place that was a mere 8 hour drive from our home and separated from us only by a historically scenic and at times wonderfully peaceful route. Here's a little chronicle of our 3 day trip to the Grand Canyon.

Hoover Dam

Adriana and I took a slight detour to visit the Hoover Dam before heading to the Grand Canyon. I believe it was 110 degrees Fahrenheit up there. Sweltering, suffocating heat. It was windy, too. We snapped a few quick pictures, walked the length of the dam, reveled in the fact that we were in two states at once at one point, and headed back to the shelter of the air conditioned car. We then made our way onto historic Route 66, which would take us all the way to our destination: Williams, Arizona. 

Route 66
Along Route 66, we made two pit stops. The first, at a little convenience and souvenir shop called "The Hackberry General Store". It's right on Route 66 and we passed it because we were driving at speed limit. It looked like a lot of fun so a few meters away, we turned back and pulled into the makeshift parking lot. The place was like an old gas station (not in operation, of course), and was littered with old cars, gas station signs and coca-cola and pepsi dispensers, all arranged in an intentionally haphazard display. It has a retro, fun, very movie road trip feel to it and is a great place to check out and take photos in as part of a Route 66 tour.

People from all around the world have visited the Hackbery General Store. 

The second place we stopped was Seligman, Arizona, another cute retro Route 66 town. They had shops, old cars painted in bright colors and junk yard items turned into chairs and photo ops. It seemed a little dead, to be honest. Not a soul around. It was a ghost town when my sister and I stopped by, as if everyone had gone into their bunkers because of a tornado warning we failed to hear. It was creepy but it was that much funner because of it. We didn't get to go inside the shops, though - they were all closed.

After about twelve hours (thanks to our detour and pit stops), we finally made it to Williams, Arizona, where we would be staying at the also historic Grand Canyon Hotel - the oldest (though recently renovated) hotel in Arizona. The hotel is a boutique hotel so all rooms are different. We reserved via hotels.com and when we arrived, our room had already been paid and only one set of guests had checked in. We got to pick out our own room from the rooms within our paid price and we chose to stay in the Missouri Room. The town and the hotel are both best described as "quaint". Williams has an old west town feel and the hotel's decoration and overall atmosphere has been arranged to match that western theme. 

The day after we set off on our road trip, we made the trek up to the Grand Canyon, which is about an hour north of Williams. We chose to pay the individual entry price ($12/person) rather than the per vehicle price ($25/vehicle) because we didn't want to drive around up there. We left the car in the parking lot of the IMAX theatre in Tusayan, Arizona (the gateway to the South Rim entrance) and took the summer shuttle bus up to the Canyon. (More on fees and Grand Canyon planning here). I don't need to tell you that the Grand Canyon is a spectacular place, you can already imagine that yourself, and if you can't, a short visit will suffice. Needless to say, the view up there is breathtaking; it doesn't even look like a real place - it looks like a painting, a beautiful, vast as the eye can see painting. My sister and I walked a bit, explored a couple of viewpoints in the Canyon, caught a performance by a group of Navajos, bought some souvenirs, and were caught off guard by the altitude (we were quickly out of breath and google informed us that we were about 6,500 feet higher than we're used to). It was a wonderful, warm and sunny afternoon. 

My sister exploring new heights. 

Tired but satisfied, Adriana and I headed back to Williams, showered and walked out into the rain to catch an old west cowboy show on the street in front of the hotel. We walked around a bit, did some souvenir shopping and had some pizza and beer at the restaurant across the street from our hotel. The next morning, we headed back home, taking a shorter route (via freeway I-40) to get home in time for the fireworks. It was the 4th of July. 

"I get my kicks on Route 66"

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