We arrived into Las Vegas on Tuesday evening and had dinner at our hotel. We played Keno for the first time, using all our birthday numbers and won a $1. Wahoo! Then we went for a walk down the strip. The boys (and I) had a hard time with all the "cards" being handed by out by people on the streets and the way everyone is drinking alcohol as they walk around, but as Colin said, everyone is in good humour! The buildings are so amazing as are all the neon lights. We went to the Paris hotel and casino and saw the eiffel tower all lit up at night. Neil got me to get a free $5 players card and I tried a kind of slot machine as the boys looked on. I didn't even know I had won when I did and then I won again...I won $22 within 30 seconds and 3 pushes of a button and that was it for me as far as gambling goes. We took in the water show at the Bellagio which we all liked. Thank goodness for the guys all selling bottled water for $1 as it is still so so hot late into the evening.
On Wednesday night we went to the pirate show at Treasure Island and then the volcano show at the Mirage. Again, everything is just so over the top here!
And a little animoto recap of our evening adventures...
The streets are just full of people at night...it is actually hard to walk it is so crowded and everyone is looking around at all there is to see.
We are in Las Vegas and in order to beat the 106 degree heat (thank goodness for AC and for misters on the streets) we are...
enjoying the pool at the Flamingo hotel
seeing the sites on the strip such as New York, New York
as we head to air conditioned restaurants and stores. Today we went to the Coca Cola Store and M&M World
and then to Gameworks for some virtual bowling, skeeball and football.
I can't get over how HUGE the hotels and casinos are here and how everything is done to excess. As Colin says, Las Vegas it over the top in so many ways! We've had to have some interesting conversations with the boys about some of the things here ;) We're trying to chalk this visit up to an experience and that it is, for sure.
1) The landscape here is amazing. Somewhat similar to the badlands in Alberta but the rock is more varied and red in its colour and the canyons are just enormous.
2) Bryce Canyon developed about the same time that the dinosaurs were becoming extinct.
3) The hoodoos here are huge. The are formed in three different ways - sedimentation,uplift and erosion. The area has freezing temperatures 200 days a year which makes it ideal for hoodoo formation.
4) The National Parks here do an amazing job with information. We've received all sorts of bulletins. The first page of one lists the four main cause of death at Bryce Canyon (nice) - heart attacks, falling off cliffs, lightning and vehicle accidents.
5) The lightning here was pretty scary. We've never been in the midst of a storm like that before. When we went for our hike last night, we were warned to get back in our car ASAP if we saw any signs of lightning. That and the sign warning about rattlesnakes freaked Colin out a bit ;)
6) They've warned us again about heavy rains and thunderstorms for the afternoon so we got out and about this morning. We surprised the boys with an ATV tour...something none of us have ever done before.
7) We saw a herd of antelope grazing and the log cabin of the original settlers of the area. We rode out to the north rim of the canyon which was beautiful in the morning.
8) And a little animoto of our ATV trip for your viewing pleasure...
9) This afternoon we are driving south by Zion National Park and then crossing through Arizona on our way to Las Vegas, Nevada. It's a three state day.
10) As the boys have been writing on our postcards home, Utah Rocks! Las Vegas should be a whole different experience ;)
This morning we are driving into southern Utah to visit Bryce Canyon.
We're all really looking forward to the geography and getting outdoors to enjoy it!
Update added: What a day we have had! We drove down the highway and turned off to head to the Dixie National Forest area. We got pummeled with rain and hail from a huge thunderstorm. It would let up every once in awhile but then when we hit the Red Canyon we actually hit flooded roads (we later found out it is monsoon season in this area) and a rock slide that stopped traffic. We waited for 40 minutes for the sheriff to come and create a way for us to cross. For awhile, we weren't sure if we were going to get to Bryce Canyon. What a crazy experience but we'll have stories to tell for sure!
Listen for the thunder and rushing water in this animoto!
We got to Bryce Canyon and checked in to Ruby's Inn. What a huge compound it is, with all sorts of amenities. After a swim in the pool, we bought our park pass and headed to Bryce Canyon National Park. Wow!
We walked along the sunrise to sunset rim and then hiked down into the canyon. The rocks and hoodoos were spectacular. We were so lucky to get in a hike between thunderstorms!
There were lots of cute chipmunks and deer along with all the rocks! We visited the Visitor Centre and that's where we found out that July is monsoon season in this area and that there are often heavy rains in the afternoon. This may change our plans for tomorrow ;)
Last night we had dinner at the Blue Plate Diner, another Triple D location. We're getting smarter here and sharing meals (the American portions are SO big!). The diner was fun. I loved all the original artwork on the walls. The boys had old-fashioned fountain sodas with their dinner which they loved!
After dinner, we drove into downtown SLC and walked around Temple Square. I have read/researched so much about LDS/the Mormon religion that it was quite amazing to actually be walking around Temple Square. It was so well kept and pristine...kind of like Disneyland ;) The boys couldn't get over how large the LDS office building was and I tried to explain the business aspect of religion. It was neat to be able to walk into the Tabernacle and see where the choir sings. We looked into going to the service this morning for the experience but it was being held in the convention centre instead of the Tabernacle. At the visitors centre we saw a model of the inside of the Temple which was so detailed. They also had displays showing how the Temple was built by carefully cutting and laying stones by hand. It took almost 40 years to build and is an amazing structure. It really was very special to have visited.
This morning we drove out to the Great Lake Salt State Park. The beach was crunchy and glistening with salt. In Colin's words, it was "encrusted with salt". Over 400,000 tons of table salt are extracted from the Great Salt Lake. Its salinity varies from 15-25% making it the second most salty body of water in the world. And since there were no signs saying we couldn't, Adam collected a sample of salt to take home for his rock & mineral collection.
We visited our first SUPER Target and then went to Sonic for lunch and I had my cherry limeade. Tonight we went back for a cold drink and we had real fruit slushies. Yum-o! After a swim in the pool and hanging out in our air-conditioned hotel room for awhile during the 95 degree afternoon heat, we headed out for some mini-golf and a drive up to the Wasatch mountains to watch the paragliders and get an amazing view of the Salt Lake valley.
What we'll remember about SLC: Temple Square, the salt, everything being closed on Sundays, Triple D diners, the mountains and the valley.
This morning we are driving to Twin Falls, Idaho to do a bit of a hike and then on to Salt Lake City, Utah.
Today is Pioneer Day in Utah, a state holiday celebrating the Mormon settlement of the SLC area. We're hoping to get to Temple Square this afternoon to take part in the celebration.
Update added: Driving through southern Idaho was kind of bleak...pretty much the same scenery the whole way...dry, dry fields and some irrigation. We did see a crop duster doing its thing which was cool. We left the highway to go to Twin Falls which was a great break. Snake River Canyon was amazing (or terrifying as Colin saw it).
We went for a hike at Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls which was beautiful and good to get our bodies moving a bit.
We got into Utah in time to go to to Roy, Utah to the Burger Bar (another Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives find) for lunch and yummy malts. We sure felt the difference in the heat outside.
We drove into Salt Lake City and I got to go to another great scrapbooking store - Heartland Paper Company and then we headed to the hotel for a swim in the pool before heading into downtown SLC.
We're planning on having dinner at another Triple D location!
the house is being taken care of and we have our maps and GPS ready to go!
We're driving all the way to Boise, Idaho today.
Update added: We arrived in Boise in the late afternoon. The boys went for a swim in the hotel pool before I went to my first Archiver's and then we went to dinner at the Westside Drive In. We saw it highlighted on one of Adam's favourite shows, Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives (that would be Triple D to those of you in the know!). Dinner was great and then we had their "famous" icecream Idaho potato for dessert. Yum-o!
The boys are heading back to the pool and then we're up in the morning and on our way to Utah!
Today was spent doing laundry and packing, making sure we have every thing we need for our big road trip. We're doing a driving loop through seven states and all sorts of different geography and weather. We're going to places we've never been before which is always exciting. We have our audio books loaded for our long driving days and have tried to anticipate all possible ailments or minor injuries and made sure our first aid bag is stocked. We have a bag just for chargers for all the technology that is accompanying us. Funny how things change.
In anticipation of this trip, I have already stocked up on scrapbooking supplies. I have always loved My Little Yellow Bicycle and their Pack Your Bags line was perfect for this road trip. I always journal every day on a road trip so I ordered their travel journal and am ready to go. There are pockets for "stuff" and I'll add a few photos when we get home. I also got the boys one of these pockets each so they could record their top ten favourite things about the trip.
I also bought a plain two-up photo album from London Drugs and plan to fill it with lots of photos and add a few blocks of written highlights for each day. When we were in San Diego, I bought some of this Rusted Sun line from Fancy Pants that I thought would be great for our summer trip...both for the desert and the beach.
I'm hoping to keep up the blog with lots of trip highlights...don't want to ruin by Project 365 record!