Wow, what a long drive from Vegas to the Grand Canyon. At times it was interesting, then long and boring, but we managed to find some interesting points along the way. From shakes along Route 66 to memories of home, road trips are about finding the unexpected.

Our trip across the Hoover Dam was interesting because an oncoming rally of bikers was getting a police escort across the bridge towards us. They were waving at all the stopped cars like they were movie stars. Shortly after that we encountered a bit of a traffic jam in the middle of the desert. Turns out it was line painting in progress, and we were soon past it. It truly amazes me how much traffic goes through the desert. And I’m sure they all don’t have 2 gallons of water per person in their car.

We were going to stop in Santa Claus, but it seems it was only a couple of buildings dedicated to old
St. Nick that had long ago closed.

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Delgadillo's Sno Cap Drive In, Seligman, Arizona

One of the highlights was stopping along  Route 66 at Seligman. We were a  bit worried when we saw a tour bus pulled over  in the small — almost ghost — town. But I think it’s what keeps it alive. There aren’t many businesses, and those that are still there seem to cater to the nostalgia of the old highway. I wondered if it was the inspiration for the small town featured in the movie Cars.

If you’re ever in Seligman, you have to stop at Delgadillo’s Sno Cap Drive-In. It’s been a family-run business since 1949, and they have certain family traditions. We ordered two chocolate shakes. While he’s making them, we looked at all the business cards, photos, money and other kitsch that is taped and stapled all over the walls of the tiny walk in order area. At one time it must have been a drive-in like the old A&Ws. I suppose we could have driven in, but we walked in instead. He brings us our shakes, and there are no straws to be seen. You can’t drink a shake without a straw, right? So he asks if we’d like a straw. We respond yes thanks, and he pulls out some straw, as in from the field. Then he asks if we’d like mustard. And while I’m thinking “mustard in my shake?” he’s already pulled out the squeezy bottle and is squirting me with mustard. Only it doesn’t get all over me, it goes right back in the bottle.

He smiled and said, “You look like you need waking up!” And it made me smile, chuckle and woke me up. But so did the shake, because by now the temperature had dropped to about 61 degrees F.

The rest of our drive was long in spots, but  interesting. The scenery changed from sandy with low scrub brush and tumbleweed to bigger shrubs and then to full forests.  Finding radio stations was the biggest challenge, and I’d take the I-pod next time.

We’re now in Tusayan, the last village before Grand Canyon Village, neither of which are in Bridget’s brain. It’s basically a strip along the highway into the canyon. But we lucked out at the Best Western, opting for the cheaper room, and then getting a free upgrade. It was extremely cold when we got here, and we both had to change from sandals to hikers, and Rob put on his new fleece. I put on my merino wool sweater, but the wind was absolutely biting.

Once we checked in, we set off for Bright Angel Lodge in the park to see about a mule ride. And we were in luck! We’re booked with four other people, and have a private room with queen bed. Once we’d gotten all of our instructions (you’re only allowed to fill a small clear plastic bag with your stuff), we decided to check out the trail we’ll be going down.  Remember that wind? Well it felt like it was going to blow you off the trail. On the way down, we encountered a couple who were coming back up. Although they should have taken the outside track, based on etiquette, they were cliff huggers and we were forced to the outside.

Then when the wind became really strong, we ducked in behind a rock so that I could take a photo of the spectacular view. A group of hikers were coming back up and having a discussion about whether the path that went up from where we hiding behind the rock was a shortcut. The conversation was actually more like this: Hey Michel, shuh pense que c’est un short cut la.  That’s when I realized, they’re from Quebec!  After they passed, Rob went to sit on the rocks of the switchback for a posed photo to prove we were actually here, and then it was my turn. Right around this time  I didn’t find it too bad. So I think I’m ready for tomorrow.

On the way out, we saw the mules, and they didn’t look too scary. I just keep telling myself to remember how much I enjoyed the bungy jump in New Zealand once I got over that initial fear.  I’m sure it will be the same tomorrow!

On the way back we stopped at the general store to look for a fleece for me. And we made an unexpected discovery … large bottles of Steinlager that I haven’t seen since New Zealand!  So we picked up a couple for the rest of the road trip.

Back at the hotel, I bought a fleece from the souvenir shop to make sure I can survive the possible snow that is in the forecast for tomorrow morning. Thought we were escaping that! At the bottom it should be 15 degrees warmer, but definitely not swimming weather. There’s no Internet or cell service at the bottom, so those will stay behind.

In the process of figuring out what to bring for tomorrow night, I’ve made a discovery that bringing nail polish up at altitude is not very smart. That’s twice it’s leaked out, once on the way to Vegas, and this time coming to the canyon. My toenails look pretty, but Rob had to go find nail polish remover at $5 a bottle to get rid of all the polish on my hands.

For dinner, we opted to stay at the hotel. It was another scrumptious meal. We both had the special: salmon and filet mignon served with roasted vegetables and a really yummy mashed potato that I think had bacon in it. And surprisingly the restaurant got quite full. I guess everyone was out hiking or on the mules today when we arrived. But I think the best part was finding the two wood-burning fires. We both warmed up in front of the fire on our way back to the room.

Well that’s it until after the mule ride.

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