March 31, 2014

Up at 3:30 a.m., I had gone to bed early the night before. I checked out of the motel, stopped by a gas station for diet soda, then took AZ 89 northward. I’d catch the sunrise at the Grand Canyon. Driving in the dark, I sure felt good. Taking AZ 64 into the park, I came to Desert View by the dawn glow. The restroom was open, and I endured the chilly wind to stand at the prime viewpoint for photos of the Canyon view and sunrise. A few others were also there, waiting for that glorious sight.

There were red clouds, then the sun peeked out over the ridges to the other side from the Canyon. It was too cold to set my camera for a time lapse video, as the batteries would deplete. I was to find a few spots further, to shoot the views from within a heated car, but of the light hitting the canyon, not the actual sun coming up. I have seen better views for the light, online and in other photos, but you can’t win them all.

Motoring west, I made stops at other viewpoints. Not many people, so few prepared for the wind and cold. Actually, some young people in T shirts and shorts. They couldn’t stand it for long, and I stood there for about 45 minutes in my many thick layers. Then, I camp and sleep in the snow. There were morning vistas at Navajo Point, Lipan Point, Moran Point, then at Grandview Point.

Finally coming to Mather Point and the main visitor center, I wandered over to the amphitheater, for my selfie videos. Once, again, as in 2012. There were more people now at the railed viewpoints, better now with the new technology. Some can do panoramas with their smartphones. I did a shot of a squirrel, then went by the visitor center. Too busy for my questions. I wasn’t hiking on the canyon trails, today, and with never any partners or fellow travelers, doubt that I ever will. And down, then up, isn’t normally my way to go.

On my diet, I skipped a brunch at the Bright Angel Lodge, and headed south out of the park. Back to Interstate 40, I zoomed west at 75 mph, again. Few stops, as my health is coming back. In Kingman, AZ, I got a dollar burger at the fast food, noting cheap flagship burgers, as once in the past. There are deals to be found about my travels, and I keep now photo notes. However, perhaps like my old peak buddy, he and most would rather throw away thousands than ever listen to me!

Motoring northwest on U.S. 93 went fast. I stopped at the vista point about 5 miles before crossing the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, then took the road over to the Lakeview vista point. Making another stop at the closed visitor center for Lake Mead, the restroom was open. The garden there had some cactus flowers.

Onto the freeway, it was then to I-215, and then to Interstate 15 northbound. Passing the Strip hotels made for some sights. Taking the exit for my economy lodging, I could beeline it for my garage parking spot. Carrying in my things, I had to stand in line to check in, which wasn’t too bad with the fine, efficient staff.

Getting my room on the 23rd floor, I took photos of the view to the south. By some coincidence, the highest ferris wheel in the world was now open, this day. Going to their website, the High Roller wasn’t too bad for the ride fare, and with the wind, the TV station advised, as “unnerving,” the ride. I declined to make reservations online, figuring to just go by, and if there was an opportunity, I’d do it.

As night fell, I went for dinner. I took the Deuce bus with a 24 hour pass, and rode to the drug store for some ATM cash. Walking back north on the Strip, I took photos and video, enjoying being back here after my last Southwest Loop. Coming to the Linq, I found a spot for meals, and got a table. Not real busy. Sticking to my diet, I had a light meal, then ambled over to the line for the High Roller. They told me to go elsewhere to get a ticket, so I walked back to currently inoperative fare machines. Speaking with security, the man told me to go to the Sky store, where I got my ticket, and went into the line. This being the newest and latest thing to do in Vegas, millions of riders are expected.

Going through the processing, my day pack was checked, and I was shown into the boarding area after using a convenient restroom. The wheel doesn’t stop. It moves slowly, and you must be no klutz to step on board. I had a pod to myself till two other guys, then a couple stepped onto it. The doors closed, and we were on our way. Beginning with my video, I snapped away with my main camera. One of the couple was loud and noisy, so I had to mute the sound. There was a computer commentary, and visual displays, with music. The wheel pod slowly circled up, and I moved about getting the night views in all directions. The others were doing the same. With the 30 person capacity, it must be awkward seeing the views, when full.

The ride goes for some 30 minutes. I did my camera work, as they said photography is allowed. Like the Bellagio Fountains, there may soon be thousands of hits doing a search on images and video. At the apex, the view was centered in the midst of the big hotels, and the best new urban view that I have seen. A fine cap to this road trip! There was a stop as we descended, then we were back and shown out quickly to the exit. Into the gift shop, I took three T-shirts. I will wear these about, back home. Taking the Deuce bus back to my hotel, this was such a stroke of luck! I didn’t gamble a penny here, as the Linq is a non-gaming, shopping venue, although casinos are right adjacent.

2014 New Mexico Road Trip Home, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 1, 2, Movies