The first stop on the way to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas was Williams, Arizona, one of the towns on famous Route 66. This road linked Chicago to L.A. according to Nat King Cole's 1946 song. The American writer John Steinbeck in his book Grapes of Wrath (that's the novel that gave the Depression a bad name) called Route 66 the "Mother Road." During the Depression over 200,000 people migrated from the Dust Bowl along this route. If you stand near the road and close your eyes real hard, you can see Tom Joad and the family driving by in their non-airconditioned Model T Ford. At Williams the last leg of Interstate 40, which replaced Route 66, was completed in 1984.
Twisters, a gift shop and soda fountain in Williams (GPS 112:11.00, 35:15.08). This place is full of Route 66 memorabilia. The soda fountain is pretty much the way it was back in the 50s. The 50s never looked so good here. It made me sick to my stomach knowing I left behind such a wonderful era. Ike and Mamie, where are you?
Some of the scenery driving along Highway 40 to the Grand Canyon.
There are many of these buttes or volcanic pipes showing where the softer material has eroded away. Water is a premium in this area as there are no wells. That's why there aren't too many homes. If you want to live here, then you have to pay to have water brought in. Residents will pay $400/mo. in rent, but $800/mo. to have water delivered. In the Grand Canyon a cup of water is a $1.50! Oh, and how about $24 for a disposable camera in the Canyon! Probably because the Canyon doesn't have any disposable-camera wells, either. For that kind of money, I would never dispose of it. "Process your pictures, Sir?" "Are you crazy? I paid $24 for this camera. It stays right in the closet!"
More music to go along with the Grand Canyon
I joined the millions of people in this century who have stared down and across the Grand Canyon. But the Canyon is far more polite than us tourists. It never stares back. The Canyon is 10 miles wide and over a mile deep at this point. Many a tourist has tried to spit across the Canyon, but to no avail. In fact, that's why those braver souls who ride the mules down to the Canyon floor have to wear hats. The worse thing that can happen is to traverse the Canyon, and finally reaching the rim on the other side only to realize that you left your lap top behind.
I couldn't hang around long enough to learn the significance of this rock pile (GPS 112:11.59, 36:04.14). Perhaps it was prehistoric man's first attempt at a rocket launch. Is that John Glenn's Cro-Magnon ancestor peering from between the rocks with a Viagra pill in his hand?
Unfortunately, at every stop we were delayed because, we sat in the rear of the tour bus. When we stopped at a scenic point and tried to get off, there was an old lady in the front of the bus who had to get into a wheelchair. ITMT, the tour guide shouted to everyone on the bus that this stop would be for only 15 minutes. By the time we got off and ran to the Canyon rim, the tour guide was screaming for everyone to get back on the bus, or be left behind.
At this site Sharon spent all her time waiting in line at the restroom. She kept yelling at me from the line for me to tell her what the Canyon looked like. We spent $300 and 15 hours so she could wait for an empty stall in the Grand Canyon. And this restroom line didn't move any faster than the ones at sporting events or theater intermissions.
Seeing the Grand Canyon was worth the money and the 15 hours round trip from Las Vegas. In 1963 we had travelled Route 66 its entire length, but for some reason didn't stop to see the Canyon. Now 35 years later we were making up for that omission. And I imagine that the government hasn't done much renovating to the Canyon during that time. Maybe a little touch up here and there. "Oh, that part of the Canyon's colors are fading. Run to Home Depot and buy some paint."
As Roy Rogers once said as he rode off into the sunset, "Yo homey, Gabby. Do I have a piece of lettuce stuck in my teeth? I should have flossed after the champagne brunch back in Vegas." Maybe not words exactly like that, but this is the sunset of our Las Vegas trip. Goodbye mountains. Goodbye rocks. We're flying back to South Florida, the land of no mountains and no rocks. Adios, wide open spaces and prairie dogs. Hola, traffic jams and wiley Everglades alligators. At this tranquil moment I was looking forward to returning to Miami International Airport and getting back in my car with the flat tire.