Day 14/15 – Denver

We woke up with the weather again being dark and dreary.  We grabbed a Starbucks on the way. We walked to Denver Zoo which was brilliant. Probably the best value zoo I have ever been too.

We then popped back into town to look at the mall. By the time we got back it was about 4pm, so we waited for a bit before going out to Steubens, which was just around the block. I had a lovely pot roast, whilst Emma had some substandard fried chicken. Denver was a bit disappointing as the weather had been bad and this didn’t stop during our visit. The next day, we went to the Denver Museum of Science, which was a real surprise how good it was. The only negative was the amount of schoolkids here. We then drove to the airport and got ready for the flight back. This was on an older 747 and the ride was bumpy but fine.

All in all, it was a great trip, and I can’t wait to plan the next one…!

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Day 13 – Denver

We had another 4 hour drive today to get from Grand Junction to Denver across the Rockies. Waking up slightly late, we managed to miss breakfast and decided to get on the road. In the end we stopped in Glenwood Springs, which was beautiful. It was definitely my favourite place in the States and felt really quaint and a lovely place to live. This was 70 miles down the road and took about an hour to get there – probably the furthest I’ve ever driven for breakfast…! We ended up at a place called Daily Bread which was brilliant – the waitress kept my coffee filled up, and my omelette was incredible and served with rosemary fried potatoes. Emma had a cream cheese and berry stuffed french toast.

We set off towards the Johnson/Eisenhower tunnel and Silverthorne, which was a outlet centre in the middle of the mountains. The snow was falling quite thick up here but the roads were relatively good. Not much was going on here and we ended up getting to Denver at around 4.30ish during rush hour. We had a stroll but with the weather not being great, just retired to the hotel room, had a look at the rooftop pool and grabbed a Starbucks.

Day 12 -Moab

Today was a big day in terms of driving. We had about 2 and half hours to drive until we got to Moab, before an 1 hour 45 minute drive from Moab to Grand Junction where we were to spend the night.

We set off along I 70 for the first leg of the trip. There were a lot of rest stops along the way that were well maintained and great as a place to stretch our legs. The road took us along the great forests and plains of Utah and was very scenic. We did end up driving from the sun into the dark clouds which became slightly more worrying as the thunder and lightning started to hit the closer we got to Moab. It then really started to piss it down. We got to the entrance of Arches National Park and asked whether it was safe to enter to which he replied yes if we stayed in our cars when it thundered. Emma did not like this, but I decided to drive on to Delicate Arch and venture out. On the walk there, there were some lovely flowering cacti.

Before we knew it, the sun had come out and we began the ascent up the hill. This seemed to take a long time as we had no idea where the walk would end! It was also a bit slippy but we made it up regardless! I’m very glad we did as the views were spectacular. An old man had sat in front of us and loudly farted. Cue us laughing. He then let out another really loud fart and looked around shocked at everyone else. Whether it was the altitude, we were in hysterics all the way back down, which hardly took any time as we now knew where we were going!

We then got back into the car and drove back, taking in a few of the arches that could be viewed from the car. The water from the rain earlier had flash flooded the road back, but we managed to get through ok!!

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We took a scenic route along the Colorado River on SR 128. This was incredible as either side of us was the steep canyon that went into becoming the Grand Canyon further west. We drove along the canyon before making it back on to the I-70 and getting to our hotel in Grand Junction. Having had a brief stop, we went into Grand Junction for food and ended up going to Mx Tapas. The food here was decent but on the way home it both started torrentially raining and then hailing! We also drove past a large cordoned off police area. When we got home, we had found out a 17 year old had shot a driver and ran off, before being shot by the police…! We went to Safeways and drove back to our room for the night.

Day 11 – Bryce Canyon

We woke up and got on the road to Bryce. The weather got colder and colder the higher the elevation and it was probably about 10c – not a great time to start the day in shorts..! The day before we had heard that there had been ice/snow that had closed parts of the park which was slightly worrying but decided to go for it anyways.

On the way there, we saw the back towns of Utah. There were some run down shacks with a lot of old rusty cars in the front yard etc. We turned off the main road and made our way to Bryce, past the airport (which was a dusty strip of land) and the accommodation centres (which was basically just populated with fast food places). We got to the park, noting that it was above 8000ft! In typical fashion, you could drive to each of the scenic view points.

We walked to each of the scenic points, and we could definitely start to feel the altitude! We drove a bit further down the park and saw a Pronghorn at the side of the road and stopped to take pictures. We then got back into the car and drove to Richfield. Richfield was a hick town. It really was. We ended up going to Walmart, picking up more supplies, before checking into our hotel. The two people who served us were either brother and sister or lovers – we were definitely amongst the Mormons!!!

The room we had was non-smoking but absolutely stunk of smoke. We were knackered so ordered a Pizza Hut direct to our door – this was the type of America I loved!

Day 10 – Zion National Park

We had heard that Sunday was a bit of a nightmare to leave Las Vegas, especially after 12pm, so we decided to leave early, even though we were going the opposite direction of the majority of people going to California.

Hitting the road, we drove about 45 mins before coming into Mesquite and stopping at the Walmart there. We loved how Walmart was basically the same everywhere you went, selling the same products at the same price. We grabbed a few things for lunch, topped up our bottled water supplies, and set off again. We then drove through our third state (granted only for about 20 mins!) of Arizona before entering our fourth state (Utah). The drive on I-15 between Las Vegas and St George was quite boring, but from then on, we entered a world of red rock canyons and forest.

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We stopped off at Springdale, found a suitable place to park on the road, and waited for the buses that drive along the village picking people up who want to go to Zion. As it was now after 12ish, we would never had got a place in the car park there as it was rammed. The weather was hot and sunny and we set off on an easy trail called the Emerald Pool Trail, we walked the Lower Trail and Middle Trail before making a loop up to the Grotto. There were some fantastic views, cacti flowering, and we saw a deer about 5 metres away foraging in the undergrowth. We took our time to stroll the route.

One thing to note is that the red rock is quite slippy at times so wear appropriate shoes! There are also quite a lot of people who seem to think that the trail belonged to them – when you are halfway walking up steps for one person and another person decides to walk towards you when you are already half way up, you’d expect them to wait but no….

We made our way to the Grotto, got back on the bus and made it to the Visitor Center for a drink and walk back to the car. We then drove along the canyon pass – you have to retain your NP pass to get through unless you want to pay another $25. What was really annoying was that the traffic on this drive was really stop-start, and large RV made certain sections perilous. We got to the Thunderbird Lodge at Mount Carmel, passing a Bison farm on the way.

The Lodge was on a golf course, with a restaurant on site famous for its ‘ho made pies’. We ended up going their for dinner and it was ok – Emma’s coconut cream pie was the highlight.

Day 9 – Las Vegas

Woke up late again today – I think all those days of walking have caught up with us. One thing about Vegas that really did throw me was how large the distances between the casinos actually was. We regularly put in 20km+ walking on our activity tracker without feeling like we had got anywhere. Yes you can see the casino you want to walk to and it looks like it’s close, but in reality it will be at least a 1-2 mile walk away. Even walking from the Vdara to Caesar’s Palace, which seems really close, is over a mile.

We ate our fruit platter we bought from the day before and decided to sit by the pool for the day. It was a lot less windy than the day before and the sun was out. The Vdara pool area is quite small and visiting it on a Saturday is not recommended. It was really crowded, although as we had gone out relatively early, we managed to get ourselves a nice place to sit. It was funny to watch all the Americans get ripped off when they ordered drinks using pool service – I’m pretty sure a group of girls ordered four drinks and ended up paying $50…! What also was weird was that our bags got searched before we went in for non Vdara food and water, which was a bit annoying. If you have paid for a 5 star hotel, then you should surely be able to bring in your own food and drink!

We got a bit bored and decided to go back to the room for a bit to freshen up before getting a late lunch/early dinner. Even though I was not into basketball, the playoffs were on so I ended up watching the Golden State Warriors and Steph Curry destroy some other team before heading out. Some bloke had asked me whether the ‘W’ on one of the sweatshirts stood for the Warriors to which I replied ‘I have no clue what you are on about’, but from then on I adopted them as my team.

We went to the Cheesecake Factory, and ordered the Nachos again. We both ordered burgers, and another bit of cheesecake to go. I’m pretty sure my arteries felt like they were going to fur up and clog at this point and the walk back to the room was hard. We watched a few of the Bellagio fountain shows and enjoyed the last few hours of the greatest hotel room we have stayed in to date.

Day eight – Las Vegas baby

Woke up quite late following a great night’s sleep. The bed’s at the Vdara had memory foam mattresses I think that were brilliant. We knew we had to pick up our tickets to the Beatles Cirque de Soleil show, so ambled up the strip towards the Mirage.

Before we left for Vegas, I had downloaded a free app called ‘MyVegas’ and had amassed some loyalty points. This had allowed me to get certain deals that made the cost of Vegas significantly cheaper. We had a 2 for 1 at the Mirage buffet (which didn’t work) and 2 for 1 on Cirque tickets (which did work!). Picking up an M Life card and getting the bonus loaded up was hassle free.

So we got to the Mirage, which looked fantastic from the outside, and looked for the aquarium in the lobby – this was large but quite disappointing as it was behind the check in staff, so you couldn’t admire it close up. We went to Cravings, the Mirage buffet for the champagne service. It cost $38 for both of us to get in and was quite good. We had our Mimosas topped up constantly and the food was good. There was an omelette station, a prime rib/carving station, a Mexican station with make your own nachos, Italian, Japanese, waffles, salad bar and dessert bar. Even the drinks station was awesome, with loads of juices and coffees to try.

I picked up buffalo wings, bresoala, pizza and a host of junk other junk food to start (not everyday you have things like this for breakfast), and then a sweet place with brownies, waffles with white chocolate and peanut butter, some fruit, some doughnuts etc.. It was all very filling!

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We picked up our tickets for Cirque from the ‘Love’ box office and went to explore the other casinos this end of the strip. We watched the gondolas go past at the Venetian and loved the decoration down the main hallway. We briefly went to the Palazzo, before continuing south through Harrah’s and Bally’s I think. These two casinos seemed really rowdy and less clean than the others so we didn’t stay long.

We went back to the Vdara and went by the pool for a bit. It was really gusty, so all of the parasols had to be put down, but we managed to get some relaxation time in which was nice after all those hours walking! The pool area was nice but a bit small, and they didn’t allow you to take your own food in which was weird!

We went back to the room at 4ish, got changed and got ready to go back to the Mirage. On the way we stopped and grabbed a sandwich at the Bellagio – I had a Turkey and swiss one which was nice, and I think Emma had a tuna one. Bloody expensive for what they were but oh well. We got there slightly early, so decided to do a bit of gambling on the monopoly slots – I managed to get returns on 28 cents overall – woop woop!

We were in the back row of 201 in the Love theatre and the whole show was fantastic. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone but when the music for Get Back starts playing, just get ready for the place to go wild. After the show we stopped at the Bellagio Fountains, picked up some food from Walgreens and went to bed.

T x