Grand Canyon/ Vegas Trip

After looking at more than a thousand photos from our Grand Canyon and Vegas trip, I’ve narrowed it down to a handful to share with you all. It was such a wonderful trip filled with a ton of adventure. Garrett’s family was gracious enough to invite me to come along. They promised fun and adventure, and boy did we get it! I hope you enjoy this little recap.

Day 1:

This day was filled with smooth travels…minus the time Garrett got stuck behind a lady who reclined her seat in the plane. That doesn’t bode well for his large frame. Regardless, we finally arrived in Las Vegas. We met up with the rest of the group (Grandma Murphy, and Garrett’s aunts—Kristen & Melanie) who were coming from other parts of the country and set out for a late dinner. We ate at a Mexican restaurant near the strip that had the best tacos and the coolest lighting. After that, we were all pretty pooped, so we decided to call it a night.

Day 2:

We ate breakfast and hopped on the monorail to head to the strip.

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We started at one end and worked our way down. Ya’ll, the strip is really long, and we definitely did not make it down the whole thing. After exploring Hershey’s Chocolate, eating at Gordon Ramsey’s Burger joint (best pork burger ever!), and looking at a lot of the sites, we went back to the hotel to change for our show that evening.

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We went to the LINQ to see Matt Franco, a magician. If you don’t know who that is, look him up on YouTube. He was super good and funny. We even got souvenir playing cards from the show. After the show, we headed to… well the food court. We each chose various places to eat (Garrett and I chose Panda Express…unique I know). The real winner, though was in the Venetian (my favorite hotel). In the Venetian is gelato!! When I went to Italy, I fell in love with gelato, and what they sell in the stores just doesn’t cut it. This, though, was the real deal. As you can tell by my face, I was excited! It was a perfect way to end the day.

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Day 3:

We started the day with brunch at Payard Patisserie & Bistro in Caesar’s Palace. Super yummy pastries and omelets were served!

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Afterwards, we explored Vegas more. Our last stop on the strip was Circus Circus. We had a little too much fun playing ski ball, arcade games, and winning tickets for prizes. I walked away with a cup and 5 whole Tootsie Rolls. The kid came out in all of us.

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Once our prizes were claimed, we went back to the hotel to change for dinner and a show. We ate dinner at Mon Ami Gabi in Paris with the most delicious steak. We then went to the top of the Eiffel Tower and watched the Bellagio light and water show from the top. While cold at the top, the view was awesome!

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Finally, we booked it to Treasure Island to watch cirque du Soleil Mystere. Let me tell you, that was the oddest show. Good but odd. There were amazing costumes and acrobatics, but there was a weird story-line involving adult babies. I was left a touch speechless at the whole thing. That would round up our third night in Vegas.

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Day 4:

We said bye to Vegas and looked to a more natural landscape. On our 5 hour drive to the Grand Canyon, we stopped at Red Rock Canyon to travel the scenic drive and hike some. There were some gorgeous views.

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We also spotted bighorn sheep. Of course, I didn’t bring my zoom lens the one time I needed it. I still took pictures, but they aren’t too close. We hiked to a waterfall, that ended up being more of a trickle. Nonetheless, it was a really nice stop and adventure. Once we got back on the road to the Grand Canyon, we stopped at In ‘N Out Burger for lunch. I’m a proponent for them bringing those to North Carolina. Milkshakes and animal fries are where it’s at. The sun was setting when we arrived at the Grand Canyon, so we headed to our hotel rooms and got dressed for dinner at the El Tovar. The El Tovar was built in the early 1900’s . I think it was my favorite meal of the trip. I had chipotle tomato soup and prime rib with potatoes. The desserts (creme brulee, tarts, and more) were also to die for. I was a huge fan. It was a good thing that we ate a big dinner that night. I would need the sustenance the next day.

Day 5:

The morning started with a quick hike to the rim to make sure the Canyon really did exist. Once that had been established, we grabbed breakfast and made a game plan. The plan was to hike the rim trail until it was time to grab our flight over the Canyon. I think we hiked about 2 miles of the rim.

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We then went to a tour place that had flights. We hopped into an 8 passenger plane and flew over the canyon whilst listening to a guide. It was really cool to see the Canyon from that point of view. I was nervous about the takeoff and landing of a little plane, but it ended up being smoother than any of the big planes I’ve ever ridden in!

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After our flight, we went back to the Canyon to hike the Kaibab Trail. We (Me, Garrett, Michael, Emma, and Dr. See) wanted to hike the trail before it got dark. This trail goes down the side of the canyon in cutback dirt trails.

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They say that however long it takes you to get down the trail, it will take you twice as long up. It took us 30 minutes to reach Ooh Ahh point and see a view that literally will make you say oohh ahhh. Best view of the week!

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We turned around to go back up, and suddenly I was doubting my decision to hike so far down the trail. We had gone a mile down with 700 feet drop in elevation, and now we had to go back up. There were no flat spots; it was a constant uphill. There were several times I thought I was gonna die. I may or may not have stopped to “take pictures” just so I could catch my breath. Finally, we made it to the top. Once I caught my breath, I no longer regretted my decision to hike the trail. When we got to the top, two older women came up and said they had just hiked all the way down to the bottom and back in a day. They hiked 11 hours with only 45 minute break for lunch. I felt like a total wuss after listening to them. It’s ok, though, I did it.

Once we had all learned to breathe again, we went back into town and grabbed Wendy’s for dinner and headed towards the Imax theater to watch a show about the Grand Canyon. It was the perfect way to end the eventful day.

Day 6:

You’d think that after the Kaibab Trail, I’d be over the whole hiking down the canyon deal…not so. We started the day with breakfast and started a hike down Bright Angel Trail.

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This trail was very similar to Kaibab, but slightly less strenuous. We only went down 500 feet that day. It was infinitely better. It also helped that we hiked at a much more leisurely pace.

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We even spotted petroglyphs. We also checked out a museum featuring photographers from decades ago. We then grabbed lunch and drove down to Desert View Drive, where we would stop at certain places for hikes. These hikes were very flat and leisurely, but still had amazing views!

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At the end of the drive, we toured the Watchtower. The tower was built to look old and built by natives, but in reality it is just designed to look that way.

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Finally, we watched the sunset. The night ended with dinner at Bright Angel Lodge and some souvenir shopping.  We called it an early night so we could be up by sunrise the next morning.

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Day 7:

5am came early. I didn’t worry about hair or makeup, but I did worry about layers of warm clothing. I even borrowed a blanket from our hotel room. We found a good spot to watch the sunrise and got our cameras ready. Although, way early, it was quite magical to watch the day begin at the Grand Canyon.

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Now that the sun had risen, we headed back to the hotel to actually take a shower and get ready for the day. Our time at the Grand Canyon had come to an end.

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We packed up and headed to the Hoover Dam. I love the history of Hoover Dam, and it always amazes me what man can build.

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After our stop at the dam, we continued our way back to Vegas. Once back in the city, we stood in line to take pictures at the iconic Vegas sign, ate way too much food at the Golden Nugget buffet, and went to Fremont Street.

Ya’ll I have been to Fremont Street before and it was definitely PG-13. They have bumped up the rating since then. My eyes hurt a bit after some of the sights that I saw. Nonetheless, the light show, experience, and live bands made for the perfect last night in Vegas.The next morning we’d be headed home.

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Day 8:

Just kidding! We thought we were done with Vegas, but Delta had other plans. We stood in line for 5 hours that day, waiting to get new tickets because the storms had made a hot mess. The issues had still not been fixed 4 days later. We heard many a horror story of people’s luggage being sent on without them, but they had to stay behind, or sitting on a plane until midnight only to have the flight cancelled and told to get off. It was so much fun! Delta did give us vouchers for hotel, transportation, and food, though. We wouldn’t be getting out of there until the following day at 11pm. The food vouchers could only be used in the airport, though. So, we grabbed airport Wendy’s, grabbed a cab, and checked in to another hotel. We decided to grab a show last minute that was on sale. The Mentalist was really good, but I was terrified he was going to pick me to participate. Thankfully he didn’t! We ended the evening at a delicious nacho joint.

Day 9:

The decision was made to purchase 2 tickets for Michael and Emma on another airline so they could get home early as Michael had to work. After seeing them off, Garrett, his parents and I hit Vegas again. We went to the pawn shop that is on the show Pawn Stars. That was really neat. After grabbing lunch, we grabbed our luggage and went early to the airport…just in case. Today was not nearly as bad as the previous day. We checked in no problem. We used some of our food vouchers at Chilis for dinner, but we still had a bunch left. The rest of our time was spent going to all the different stores buying food with our vouchers. We went to Starbucks, a smoothie place, Hudson News, and cookie store. The vouchers were for $15 and you could only use it at one store. So, if you only bought $5 worth of stuff, you lost the other 10. Therefore, we tried to get as close to the $15 mark as possible. Just so you know, jerky and a bag of chex mix is $14.98. Boom! We ended up with a lot of snacks for the plane, but it was fun to use them all up.

It was finally time to board our flight!! We were standing in line when over the speaker, they said you have 30 minutes to get on this flight or it is cancelled. What?!! Mind you they don’t just let you on. You have to go on according to your zone. People slowly made their way on the plane. I don’t know if people didn’t hear the announcement, didn’t believe them or thought that if they made it on the plane they were safe, but they could not get a second gear. One lady asked for ice. Ice! Those of us (me included) who were taking the 30 minute deal seriously were telling folks to hurry up. I even grabbed one person’s luggage for them so they could sit faster. The guy in front of us had been on 2 planes already that day and had them cancelled. Still, people would not hurry. I was texting my mom giving her a play by play. Prayers work, though, and all of a sudden, the door closed and we were moving towards the runway. People started to say, “oh, I think they were serious about cancelling the flight.” Ummm yeah they were. The pilots were about to time out. It all worked out, though. We flew overnight (not fun) and landed in New York at 8am, hopped another plane, and finally landed in home sweet NC. We were all pretty tired, but safe and home. Our luggage made it, and we headed to the car only to find the battery dead. Oh Monday, you do show yourself up sometimes. We got that fixed and finally headed home.

I grabbed a shower, and went into work in Raleigh. I finally made it home to my neck of the woods around 8 that evening. With that, the adventure was over. Our trip went longer than expected, but we had a blast! If you’ve lasted this long through the whole dialogue, thanks for reading! If you decided to ignore the words and make this more of a picture book, that’s cool too. Happy weekend!

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