Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer 2010 Road Trip

Today as I sit here and write this blog entry I am looking out at one of the most audacious manmade spectacles in the world.  My view today is from a hotel room in Las Vegas’ Mirage Hotel and Casino.  From my window I can see the splendor of the Venetian and the gaudiness of the Flamingo.

Since last Saturday I have been on a road trip with my friend Ruben from Costa Rica.  We bid adieu to the family last Saturday morning and left Denver heading west.  (Zack was staying home under the wonderful care of Shelly – so I felt very comfortable leaving him behind.   She does really wonderful things with him!) 

For the first 6 hours of our trip we journeyed through horrible rain and snow.  The cold temperatures in the mountains above Georgetown ensured that the roads were treacherous and covered in snow.  Despite my continued cursing about the state of the roads and the amount of rain that was falling, the conditions ensured that we were treated to amazing views of waterfalls tumbling down from the sides of the canyon walls high above the Colorado River as we neared Moab, UT.

(In the Colorado River Canyon near Moab.  A thunderstorm created these beautiful waterfalls.)

Our first stop on our trip was Moab.  This stop was to allow us to visit Arches National Park and see all the beautiful slick rock country that surrounds Moab.  In addition to spending time climbing some of the rock formations that make up Arches National Park, we also took a 4x4 tour of the slick rock desert above the Colorado River Canyon.

On Sunday we drove to Tusayan, AZ which is the gateway to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  On our way to the Grand Canyon we drove through such memorable areas as the Painted Desert, Monument Valley and Canyon of the Gods.

At the Grand Canyon we spent a considerable amount of Sunday afternoon and evening climbing around various points to get great views and take some wonderful photographs.  The following day before departing the Grand Canyon, we took a helicopter sightseeing trip.  For both Ruben and me this was first time either one of us had been on a helicopter!

The true adventure of the day though began around 7:00 PM when my car suddenly died about 3 miles on the Northern side of the Hoover Dam.  Talk about being lucky!  Had the car died when we were in midst of the Arizona Desert, we would have been screwed.  Thankfully I did have some cell phone coverage where we were and was able to call Shelly who did a fabulous job tracking down a tow truck service and finding a garage in Las Vegas to repair the car.  (It was my 1998 Ford Explorer that broke down.  The problem turned out to be a broken fuel pump.)  Our hours of sitting by the side of the road were interesting as we saw a lot of stuff.  The tow truck driver who was named Paco amused both Ruben and me when he finally arrived and kept us laughing for the entire ride into Las Vegas.

We have spent the last 3 days doing all the things that you tend to do in Las Vegas.  Ruben is a freak about Cirque du Soleil and he wants to see 6 of the 7 shows that are currently running in Las Vegas.  This evening he is seeing the last of them.  I wasn’t as ambitious and only accompanied him to 4 of the 6.  I on the other hand have been much more interested in the gambling!  I love to come to Las Vegas and play cards – primarily Blackjack.  I can sit at the tables for hours and hours playing, though thankfully I have gotten good enough at it that the few hundred dollars I allow myself to play can usually last me for my entire stay.  (I set strict limits for how much money I will ever allow myself to spend while I am gambling.  I stick to them and ensure I don’t regret what spend!)

On top of the shows Ruben has jumped off the Stratosphere bungee jump and has gone skydiving.  It might seem like Ruben has done everything but the way he thinks about it is that most of these activities are not available to him in Costa Rica and he kind of doubts he will ever get back to Las Vegas again – or at least not for many years.  So... it makes sense for him to definitely do them!

Tomorrow we will begin our journey back to Denver and the end of vacation.  The end of vacation is always a time for contemplation for what you have done during your time away from your day-to-day life.  Though the things we have seen and done have been fabulous I know what I will really appreciate about this vacation is the time I have gotten to spend hanging out with a good friend!

And as always – thanks and peace to all!

PS - I will add a lot more pictures to this post once I am home and can easily add them.  For some reason my laptop is taking forever to upload pictures today.

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