Thursday, September 17, 2015

Big World, Small Car

April 9, 2015
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, NV
Hoover Dam, NV-AZ
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

Continuing on our journey from Anaheim, CA back to Houston, TX, we spent the first night of our road trip in Las Vegas, Nevada. We planned for an early start the following morning so we could catch the sunrise. However, the long drive and crazy traffic along I-15 from California to Las Vegas took a toll on us that we had to sleep in for an extra hour.

First on our agenda for the Las Vegas leg was the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The view leading to the park's entrance was simply amazing. Spectacular vantage points abound along the way. 

From afar, it is without a doubt that these rock formations look breathtaking. But once you move nearer and actually get to see the rocks up close, you get a better sense of its enormity and grandeur. It is then that you realize that the rocks are even more massive and impressive than you initially thought. What seem to be just ordinary small piles of rocks are actually gigantic.

The best part about this park is the fact that you could just drive around a scenic route which practically takes you to major overlooks with the best views. We took a couple of stops to take in nature's beauty, and of course steal a few shots. The 13-mile scenic drive didn't feel long at all, what with all the beautiful and unique views the park has to offer. 

There are numerous unique panoramic views along the route. These views are really majestic. However, these beautiful images can somehow distort a person's perception of space and size. The whole park seems so small when you view it from a distance. Having the opposite end of the park in plain sight gave us a completely false sense of how vast this place is.  This place is huge. 

The towering rock formations and the mountain ranges seen in almost all directions can make one realize just how small we humans are. Even the medium-sized 240D seemed like a tiny car dwarfed by the natural peaks and lost in the vast expanse of the Earth.

That 13-mile drive along the scenic route was definitely a very humbling experience. It felt like the Earth was reminding us of how small we are compared to the greatness of this universe. 

After spending almost two hours in the park, we decided to head on back to the busy part of the city - the strip on Las Vegas Boulevard. We were really hungry by the time we got to the strip because we had no breakfast. So we decided to walk down the strip and look for a place to eat. With the help of the ever-so-useful Yelp, we discovered a "secret" pizza place in the Cosmopolitan. The pizza was good. The pizza was also expensive, but the place was definitely unique. Yes, you get it, nothing extremely special about the pizza. After the pizza stop, we picked up the car from the hotel parking garage, drove around for a while, picked up In-N-Out burgers for dinner, and left the Sin City to continue our journey.

Just a few minutes away from Las Vegas is the Hoover Dam. This man-made structure is indeed an incredible feat. 

Despite the low water level, the dam and the lake still look impressive. 

We wish we had more time to walk around and explore the area, but we were time-pressed as it was. So we hit the road once more and spent most of the golden hours driving. The light started to soften towards night time and we really wished we were already at the Grand Canyon, our final stop for the day.

It was already late in the night when we reached Williams, AZ, where we got off Interstate 40 and drove onto Arizona 64. From that point, we still had roughly an hour of driving to go in complete darkness. Nothing to fear though, for the lack of artificial light pollution gave us a chance to gaze at and appreciate the star-studded night sky. 

We arrived at the campground close to midnight, and it was freezing. We hurriedly pitched our tent, ate our cold burgers, and went to sleep for another early start. Second day was logged on the odometer and the adventure was one for the books.

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