August 1 to 23, 1998
Saturday August 1 : departure for Roissy CDG airport. Arrival at CDG at 8:30am. After baggage check and security point we go on the plane for take off at 1:15 pm. In the plane everything is ok. Stopover in Philadelphia where we land at 3 pm local time. After a wait of 5 hours we take off again for a 5 hours flight to Las Vegas. Landing in Vegas at 11 pm. Fly over Las Vegas by night. That was quite impressive. We claim our baggage (in the middle of slots machines) and we go to the Avis desk to get the car. They give us the paper of the car, then shuttle to to the parking lot where the car is. Then towards the hotel (Quality Inn on Paradise road) to the center of Las Vegas. What a pain to find the hotel. We were wrong a few times. We finally find the hotel. But the day is not over. When we ask for our rooms at the registration, the guy tells us that the booking has not been confirmed before 6pm, the booking was cancelled. Our travel agency had not paid the room for tonight and the two last nights of the trip. The guy finally find a room for us, but we have to pay it 57 $. The night was short as we go to bed at 2 am, exhausted.
Sunday August 2 : up early (6 am). Breakfast at the hotel and then we take the road toward Bryce Canyon. The automatic gear car is quite easy to drive. The road was long. Arrival to Bryce at 2:45 and installation at the campground of the park. We buy the golden eagle pass that give access to all the National Parks for only 50$. Then walk in the park. It's beautiful.
In the evening we return to see the rocks. We go to bed early. Cool night.
Monday August 3 : wake up at 6:30 am. Breakfast and departure for Moab and the Arches National Park. Long road. We arrive at Moab at 3:45 pm. Installation at the Koa Campground. We go to the visitors center and then we go shopping. We then go to see the sunset from a viewpoint to see Delicate Arch from far. It's not bad, but as it is a little far, we stay on our hunger.
Tuesday, August 4 : first walk 4 miles long in the Arches NP. The trail allows us to discover Landscape arch, a long and very thin arch in places and that may break at any time. After this arch, we continue on a path that goes up more. We arrive at Double O arch where the view is breathtaking.
Back at the campsite. Shopping. Around 4 pm we return to the park to see the sunset over Delicate Arch. The trail is about 3 miles long roundtrip with a high gradient of about 146 meters. But the climb is well worth the effort and the show is breathtaking. The arch is there, alone.
It is beautiful. What we had seen yesterday was beautiful, but what we can see here is a thousand times better. The sight of the arch that blushes when the sun goes down makes you want to protect nature and makes us realise that only nature can create such beautiful things. Unfortunately for the arch, people did pay little attention and the only thing of interest is to be photographed below or on it. What a shame because it also sees its days numbered. The 2 to 3 hours we spent sitting in front of her are a feast for the eyes. We have a lot of trouble to leave this sublime place.
Wednesday, August 5 : departure from Moab to Monument Valley. Along the way we pass on roads completely straight to the horizon. Installation at Monument Valley campsite. From where we are, we overlook the three buttes. By early afternoon, we go around Monument Valley with the car.
The Indians are not good for the roads, it's full of potholes. Reservations for horseback rides. In the evening we watch the sunset over Monument Valley from our campsite. What a spectacle. We have the feeling of being the masters of Monument Valley.
Thursday, August 6 : waking up early to see the sunrise. In a word: beautiful. In the morning departure to Natural Bridges. Visit of the three arches. Back to Monument Valley in the early afternoon and then at 4:40 pm, we go to the totem pole for the horseback ride with the Indians. At 5:20 p.m. start of the ride. In the group (8 people) I'm the only one never to have ride a horse. To go to the camp of the Indians in the heart of Monument Valley, it takes 3 hours in the saddle at the trot and gallop. The gallop is impressive. One wonders how we can stay on the horse. The trot on the other end, hurts the ass. It's downright hassle. I have more and more bad ass. After 3 hours of tape-ass, we get (finally!) to the camp. We take the meal with the Indians. Then a show is organised with Indian songs and dances. At 11 pm everybody goes down under the stars and a beautiful sky. But before going to sleep, the Indians and especially our two guides reward us with a chorus of farts and burps. Awesome! We can nevertheless get to sleep.
Friday, August 7 : up at 5:30 to see the sunrise. After a quick breakfast, we go back in the saddle to take the way back. The sunrise is beautiful. In return, one of the guys in the group fell from his horse and was brought back by ambulance. Although this has cast a pall on the ride, it is quite successful and will result in two days of bad ass. After returning to camp, shower: the best I've ever made (though the shower in Monument Valley is rather a Karcher with just a pipe coming out of the wall). I think I have two blisters on my buttocks. It hurts. Then departure for Page and Glen Canyon. Arriving in Page we will eat at Sandwich Place and visit the gallery of Michael Fatali. Installation at Wahweap Campground. It is 39 ° C. In the evening, dinner at Denny's.
Saturday, August 8 : swimming in Lake Powell in the morning. By early afternoon, we do some shopping and in return we stop at the Glen Canyon Dam for a guided tour of one hour that allows us to descend to eight turbines which operate. These are at 161 m below the level of Lake Powell. A storm erupts which forces us to dinner at Denny's (Oreo shake for dessert: it's excellent).
Sunday, August 9 : beach and shopping in the morning. In the afternoon, visit of Antelope Canyon. Only the Upper has been visited since the lower undoubtedly was closed because of threatening weather. Evening meals at the campsite.
Monday, August 10 : shopping in the morning. We decide to visit the Lower Antelope Canyon which was closed yesterday. We have better luck today. Unlike the Upper, the Lower is narrower and more difficult to access. It was in this canyon that, in 1997, eleven people died, including 7 French because of the rising waters. When we are inside, we better understand why they could not escape. However the light is truly sublime and the visit is great but too short for my taste.
After another move to Fatali Gallery in Page, the person of the gallery tells us where is Horseshoe Bend. We go there then. After a walk of 0,7 mile we get there and there it is really amazing. The camera are shooting a lot. Evening at Denny's and last night in Page.
Tuesday, August 11 : up early for departure. Before leaving, shoot on the beach of the lake. Breakfast buffet at the Steakhouse. Then departure to Tusayan and Grand Canyon. Installation at the campsite of Tusayan. Grand Canyon Visitors Center. We learn that the descent to the bottom of the canyon requires a permit to reserve well in advance. So we decide not to do the descent. At 6:30 p.m., IMAX movie "Hidden Secrets" which traces the path taken by John W Powell on the Colorado. It is rather impressive. Dinner at Denny's.
Wednesday, August 12 : after breakfast, head to the visitors center for the walk of 8 miles of the View points. Impressive views of the Grand Canyon. There are few people on the trail so we can better enjoy the views.
Sometimes we are on the edge of the canyon and the slightest deviation can be fatal. At 3 pm, after 5 hours of walking, we arrive at the last viewpoint. Back to the visitors center with the Shuttle. Back at the campsite. Shower. Then head to Mother Point to watch the sunset. Magnificent spectacle, splendid colours. Dinner at Denny's.
Thursday, August 13 : up early to make a part of the descent into the canyon. We decide to go down to the second point of water which is still 3 miles from the top. Round trip it is still 6 miles. The descent was rather easy in about 1:20. The rise is more difficult but relatively fast, about 1:35. It's still tiring. Back at the campsite and dinner at the campsite. Bed early because tomorrow morning we expect the sunrise over the Grand Canyon.
Friday, August 14 : get up at 4:30 am to see the sunrise scheduled at 6:22. This sunrise was disappointed because I expected more colors. It was still beautiful but not as much as I expected. I preferred the sunset. Back at the campsite for breakfast and then departure at 9:15am for Tusayan airport for helicopter fly above the Grand Canyon. Take-off at 10:15 for a 30 minutes flight. The view from above is beautiful and the feelings are particularly strong when the pilot turned the helicopter. The landing is very soft against. Then we go to the gift shop to buy T-shirts. Back at the campsite to eat. Tusayan stores for some shopping. In the evening we will see the sunset from the village. But it is somewhat marred by the clouds. We leave disappointed. We will then have dinner at Denny's. Back at the campsite where we spend the night in a Tipi.
Saturday, August 15 : early departure from the camp towards the Petrified Forest. This step was added at the last moment, because we could not go to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Perhaps we should have stayed in the Grand Canyon as the Petrified Forest is truly of no interest. There is nothing to say about it. So we return to Flagstaff to install at the Woody Mountain Park. Then we decide to look for the Lowell Observatory. What a pain to get around Flagstaff. We find, however, but the observatory is closed. We are returning in the evening hoping to look in one of the telescope. Unfortunately the weather is overcast. Back at the campsite.
Sunday, August 16 : visit of Meteor Crater, a huge crater caused by a meteorite. Back at the campsite. In the afternoon, shopping in Flagstaff. We will go in a store where they sell Stetson. But they are expensive. In the evening, dinner at the inevitable Denny's. It is always as good.
Monday, August 17 : after breakfast, we go shopping at Smith and then we take the route to Kingman. We take the I40 to Seligman then Route 66 to Kingman. Arrived in Kingman we head to the Mountain Park Walapai but a really rotten weather forces us to turn back to Kingman and go into a hotel on Route 66, the 1st hotel value at about $ 20 a night. After installation we jump into the pool. Evening : Denny's right across from our motel. Small note about Kingman: it is really bad. There is nothing to do there. The city is described as follows: motel-restaurant-gas station. There is nothing else.
Tuesday, August 18 : departure from Kingman to Las Vegas a day earlier than scheduled. Along the way we cross the Hoover Dam on Lake Mead. Arriving in Las Vegas around 11 am. We decide to pay for a great hotel: The Luxor. We are given a room on the 22nd floor. The rooms are really big. This is the great luxury. In the afternoon, we go on the strip and then we return to Luxor to eat the buffet. In the evening we are again on the strip. Night at Luxor.
Wednesday, August 19 : for once, we raised relatively late at 8:30 am. Shower and then we go to the Excalibur for the breakfast buffet. Then we bend our luggage. We will then go to the Quality Inn for check in but it is too early (noon) and we are asked to come back after 3pm. Meanwhile, we walk. Then at 3 pm we return to the Quality Inn. In the evening, buffet at the Circus Circus. It's really bad, there is not much choice. We decide to go to the Denny's for a dessert: strawberry cheesecake pie.
Thursday, August 20 : breakfast at Ceasars Palace. This buffet is great. There is everything you want. Back at the hotel. Pool. In the afternoon, shopping, evening dinner at Planet Hollywood at Caesars Palace. It's expensive and not great. Then we will play at the casino in Ceasars Palace. Back at the hotel around 2am.
Friday, August 21 : last day in Las Vegas. Raised at 8.30am and not to waste too much time, we take breakfast at the Quality Inn. We give our cooler and many other things to a group of Suntrek. We decide then to get rid of our gas cylinders. We will still took an hour to get rid of it. Nobody knows what we can do with it. However, we are able to give them to a hardware store. Then we park the car on the strip and we spend the rest of our time and dollars to go shopping. In the afternoon, we go to Denny's to eat a small dessert: Oreo cookie shake : delicious. Around 7 pm we head to Avis rent a car to return the car and take the shuttle that drives us to the airport. Baggage check. The guy at US AIR, seeing our way for the return (Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Charlotteville, Philadelphia, Paris) really hallucinating and in 10 minutes it changed everything. We will finally travel from Las Vegas to Philadelphia and Paris with an expectation of 12 hours in Philadelphia. Dinner at Pizza Hut and then we board on plane at 10:25 pm for a takeoff at 10:50 pm. Off with a little delay.
Saturday, August 22 : landing in Philadelphia at 6:30 am for a long stopover of 12 hours. Breakfast and wait until 5:30pm for boarding. There are more delay because of a problem with the air conditioning and hydraulic system. Off with about 30 minutes late.
Saturday, August 23 : landing at Roissy Charles de Gaulle at 7:15 am. We descend from the aircraft but there is a suspicious package. We expect 1 hour before it is destroyed. Finally we get our luggage and find our families. The weather is rotten : fog and 11 degrees. It's cold.
Copyright Magali and David BELLEC