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Old 8th September 2008, 01:43   #1
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Default 210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon

Lets embark on a journey that I have nurished since my childhood. I have seen it numerous times in Discovery or Nat Geo, and it was probably the time to face it. The Labor Day weekend (Sep 1) was coming up and the planning was in process. I was pounding furiously at my laptop just to ensure that all my projects at office are in good state, before I leave for the long weekend.

The post from 1100D (Anirban) could not have come at a better time. Some tips from him made me plan my tour better and also encouraged me to include Monument Valley in my itinerary. I was so happy that I did it.

Rudra-da also helped me solve some corner vignetting problems that I was facing with my lenses and a big thanks goes to him.

As the plan stands, I have taken an additional day off, Sep 2, to make it a 4 day trip. I have distributed these 4 days, into 1 day at the sin city, Las Vegas and 3 days at the Grand Canyon. I knew it was going to be a very tiring 4 days, covering almost 1500 miles around the canyon along with an additional 300 miles of drive. It was going to be more of a reconnaissance tours for me, trying to cover the Grand Canyon (GC) as much as possible, before I visit again with my family on a less tiring trip. So, here is how the plan stood:

Day 1:
Leave Greenville, SC by noon and drive to Atlanta (150 miles) and take a 4hrs flight to Las Vegas, across 3 timezones and pick up the rental car from Hertz
Reach Las Vegas in the evening and explore the main attractions.

Day 2:
Leave Las Vegas as early as possible and reach the North Rim of GC, cover Marble Canyon and then spend the night at Flagstaff

Day 3:
Leave Flagstaff early and reach South Rim, then move onto West Rim and further to Monument Valley, before retiring for the night at Flagstaff

Day 4:
Leave Flagstaff and follow the East Rim,
Take the Historic Route 66,
Cross over Hoover Dam and back to Las Vegas airport where I would return the rental car and take a flight back to Atlanta.
There would still be a 150 mile drive left, for me, to reach home at Greenville, SC.

I always knew that it would be a race against time for the last 3 days and I was ready for it.

Day 1:
I leave my home at Greenville at 10:30am and pick up my friend and soon we were gunning down Interstate 85, driving towards Atlanta airport in my trusted Mazda3. We reach Atlanta airport by 1:30 pm, drop the car at a ParknFly parking lot near the airport and take the airport shuttle which dropped us at the Delta terminal. After checking in and having lunch, soon we were airborne, jetting towards Las Vegas.

The weather was mostly clear and we see the first views of the GC from air, as we were preparing to land at Vegas.
Here are some of the pics taken from the flight:

The first sight of the amazing landscape
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-p8300013-large.jpg

One of the best sights I have seen from air
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-p8300016-large.jpg

It keeps getting better
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-p8300020-large.jpg

This is probably Monument Valley in the far end
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-p8300023-large.jpg

First sight of the mighty Colorado
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-p8300033-large.jpg

Lake Mead formed out of Hoover Dam
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-p8300052-large.jpg

Count the shades of brown, if you can!!
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-p8300056-large.jpg

I had a 1500 mile drive ahead of me and wanted a car that would be sturdy, reliable and also a bit fuel efficient. I had booked myself a Mazda 6 (Obsessed with Mazda ) online with Hertz. Back of my mind, I was always very tempted to book an exotic car. How about an Audi A4 or a Mustang Shelby GT-H? Vegas was one such airport locations, where these cars are easily available for rent. However, I did hold back my temptations and walk over to the Hertz desk at the Vegas airport and show my confirmation receipt. We have a corporate tie up with Hertz and always get special treatment from them. That was the last saving grace to get away from the Mazda 6.

With fingers crossed as I stood, the lady at the counter pull up my booking on their system. She looks at it and smiles back at me. "Sir, is it ok if I give you a ******* instead?" It took me 2 seconds to comprehend and I involuntarily uttered, "Oh yes, of course". The thought of fuel efficiency went out of the window and there I was, holding the keys of the *******. I am still required to pay $20 per day only for the car which also included with LDW (Loss Damage Waiver), which means that I can simply walk away from the car, if something happens to it and bear no liability. Oh yes, did I say that it came with a GPS, as requested in my original booking?
I familairized myself with the car and soon, we were out of the parking lot and onto the streets of Vegas, driving towards our hotel, The Stratosphere. I park the car safely at the parking lot and check in.

It was already 5:45pm and we only had the evening to ourselves before we leave Vegas.

We leave the hotel around 6:30pm, to take in the sights and sounds of famed Vegas. We decide to walk around and leave the ******* behind in the parking lot. For those who have not been to Vegas, all major hotels in Vegas are located along the 4 mile long Las Vegas Boulevard, also know as the Vegas Strip. The major hotels are built around a theme and all of them carry out free shows for the public. In the Circus Circus hotel, you can see free circus for every 15mins. In the Treasure Island hotel, there is a Pirates show with acrobatics and fireworks, the Flamingo hotel has a musical fountain display. There are other hotels like MGM, New York and Paris, built around the theme of these places. The Venetian is built around the theme of Venice while Caesar's Palace brings a mini Roman Kingdom into Vegas.

What can be a better place for a Ferrari ad!!
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-p8310090-large.jpg

Will upload the hotel pics in the next post, due to limitations of number of pics per post.
While walking, on the way, I came across 2 Lambos and 2 Ferraris. What more can you expect in Vegas, seeing these cars roar on the streets within a span of few hours. One of the Ferrari's was standing at the red signal, first in line and roaring to go. I held my breath to see it zoom as soon as the light turns green. I was so mesmerized that I forgot to take a pic. As soon as the lights turned green, all the prancing horses came to life, filing the air with a roar that only a Ferrari can give out. In a blink of an eye, it was gone and away.

210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-p8310107-large.jpg
There is much more than these in Vegas which I cannot mention here . However, we did not intend to spend much time and planned to return to our rooms by 12 midnight. The various shows took away most of our time and when we returned, it was already 1:30am. Vegas was coming to life and the night was still young, while we prepared to sleep, thinking about the 3 days ahead of us.

I was very excited about what to come next. Knowing fully well that we will be having a very tiring 3 days ahead of us, I barely catch any sleep, due to the excitement. We planned to leave Vegas by 7am latest as we had a full 490 miles of drive ahead of us, for the day, before we could rest at Flagstaff.
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Old 8th September 2008, 01:49   #2
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does the stars mean you got a mustang ??
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Old 8th September 2008, 05:20   #3
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Default Day 1 continues..

Here are rest of the pics from Vegas:

Hotel Stratosphere, where I put up for 1 night
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-p8300064-large.jpg

Believe it or not, this machine actually moves
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-p8310098-large.jpg

210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-p8310100-large.jpg

The interiors of Caesar's Palace shopping mall
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Caeser's Palace from outside.
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-p8310131-large.jpg

The Venetian from outside
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-p8310142-large.jpg

210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-p8310143-large.jpg

Our Day 1 ends here. We plan to leave Vegas by 7am tomorrow.

Still to come:
Day 2: Zion National Park, Grand Canyon North Rim

Day 3: Grand Canyon South Rim, West Rim, Painted Desert, Monument Valley

Day 4: Grand Canyon East Rim, Route 66, Hoover Dam

While I prepare for Day 2, lets see how many of you can guess correctly, what ******* could be.
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Old 8th September 2008, 05:58   #4
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Good show so far. Sure more is coming. Curious about which car you got. The hotels look nice. Have been to Atlantic City once and spent one whole day in Donald Trump's Taj Mahal there. What a horrendous reproduction of the Taj there. But the Vegas reproductions look better.
Keep the pics coming.
Sudipto
PS - You helped me with the route to GPKot !! Hope to take help from you for this as well in the near future
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Old 8th September 2008, 07:49   #5
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Great stuff Saurabh. Nice pictures and eager to see more ... This is one place where I would love to drive and hopefully, one day I shall do that. For me, it would be in a Jeep Grand.
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Old 8th September 2008, 08:19   #6
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Good photos. What did you get, a Touareg? Citroen?

Cheers,

Rajan
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Old 8th September 2008, 11:20   #7
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Good photos from air. Grand Canyon is special indeed, good that you had 3 days to spend there (including going and coming). Please keep the pictures and travelogue coming.

I did the GC trip last November, and had to literally fit it over the long weekend. It was fabulous experience though very hectic (I was on a business trip to D.C.) - got tempted to share in your thread (hope you don't mind)

* Friday
- Fly from Munich to Washington D.C. & arrive at 3PM or so.
- Take a Jet Blue flight at 7PM and land at about 10:30PM Vegas time
- Rent a car and drive to MGM Grand where I turned in by 1AM (after a stroll in the hotel casino and around the hotel)

* Saturday
- Get up and take a walk on the LV Boulevard (Strip) and take some photos of the hotels and their miniatures (NY-NY, Paris, Pyramid etc)
- Get back and have a quick breakfast and check out
- By 11AM, on the highway towards Hoover Dam
- Traffic pileup at Hoover Dam takes 1hour to cross
- Took several photos of Lake Mead and Hoover Dam area from the car while driving using my phone
- Great drive towards Tusayan, AZ (noticed that the clock changes by 1hour from NV to AZ at Hoover Dam) - stopped at a scenic viewpoint of the Colorado River
- Steadily drove at 85-90mph (speed limits 65mph for most part) occassionally touching 100mph - was trying to get to South Rim before sunset
- Reached Tusayan, AZ at 5:30PM (the 1 hour time shift and 1 hour jam cost me dear) and enquiring from NG GC center, was told I cannot make it into GC for sunset :-(. So, checked into the Red Feather lodge ( a fine inn on the main road)
- Came back to NGC to buy tickets for a NG Guided tour of South Rim, and watched the IMAX GC movie for the night :-)

* Sunday
- I started at 9:00 AM for the 4 hour tour in a mini bus and went through the main spots on South Rim with nice anecdotes and info from the tour guide. The Canyon just takes your breath away..
- Wanted to do a helicopter tour of South Rim (and/or West or North Rim) but there were no scheduled flights due to off season (they have to get enough numbers to make a flight). At the last moment, managed to get a aeroplance ticket for a South and North rim tour on Grand Canyon Airlines
- The 1 hour flight was grand, and enjoyed it thoroughly
- At 2:30PM, made a drive through at McD, and started back for Vegas
- Drove at 90-100mph not wanting to get delayed and miss my flight back to D.C.
- Hoover dam was again horrible taking 1 hour to cross.
- Reached Vegas at about 7PM
- Parked the car at MGM, and took the MRT to visit NY-NY, Paris (go up the model Eiffel Tower and got to see the beautiful musical fountain at Bellevue), Caesar's Palace briefly, and got back to MGM
- Drove to the airport (having a quick dinner at Taco Bell's) and reached the airport at 10PM
* Monday
- Reached Dulles Airport, DC at 7AM, and rented a car and drove straight to the meeting near D.C. area

--------
Cheers,

Last edited by lancer_rit : 8th September 2008 at 11:21.
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Old 9th September 2008, 03:01   #8
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Quote:
Good photos. What did you get, a Touareg? Citroen?
I was not that fortunate to get a Touareg. Citroen is not available in US

@Sudipto : I have heard about Trump's horrible Taj Mahal. Did not have the misfortune to visit it.

More pics coming soon.
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Old 9th September 2008, 03:21   #9
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pontiac? brilliant photography of the GC. would love to see that place one day.
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Old 9th September 2008, 04:17   #10
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Hertz hmmm -Mustang V6 for sure... There's no other 210 Bhp car in their stable to match the mid size spec.
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Old 9th September 2008, 04:34   #11
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Default Day 2 - Zion National Park

Day 2 - Zion National Park

We wake up at 7am in the morning. Roaming around the streets of Vegas last night has taken its toll. We were supposed to leave Vegas by 7am. The plan for the day was to pass through Zion National Park, onto GC North Rim before finally retiring at Flagstaff for the night. It would be a total of around 500 miles to be covered, with an estimated driving time of around 9.5 hrs.

Finally we manage to leave the hotel by 8:30am. I think its time to reveal the *******. Well, itís a Mustang. Here you have the first glimpse of it.

The 7 stars!!
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-dsc_0042-large.jpg

Soon, we were gunning down Interstate 15, towards a town called Hurricane!!. I get a first glimpse of the arid Arizona region. For miles across, you wont find anything except sandy/rocky surfaces with bushes at places. The speed limit was 75mph and I comfortably settle down for +10 on the cruise control. It was time for me to start admiring the Mustang.

The God Forbidden Land
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-dsc_0015-large.jpg

The car is quite heavy, low slung, a very precise steering, though a bit on the heavy side, has fat tires and is ultra smooth at high speeds. You wont realize that you have crossed 80mph, unless you see the speedo.

We stop for breakfast at a Mac and soon we reach Hurricane. After Hurricane, the roads start winding up the mountains. The Mustang remained undaunted as I took the curves with little care to slow down.

Peanuts for the Mustang
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-dsc_0006-large.jpg

We were racing against time. We need to reach North Rim to explore the surroundings and also watch the sunset.

On way to Zion NP
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-dsc_0013-large.jpg

The "freeway"
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-dsc_0067-large.jpg

We entered Zion NP by 1:00pm. The landscape is simply out of the world and needs to be seen to be believed.

First Glimpse of Zion
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-dsc_0017-large.jpg

Passing through Zion
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-dsc_0043-large.jpg

There's always light at the end of the tunnel
210 Horses around a River - The GRAND Canyon-dsc_0044-large.jpg

The rock structures are straight out of a Structural Geology book and I was just unable to stop me from taking pictures. Ideally, one should take a hike or two to see Zion better, but, we were just passing through.

Behold nature's creation
Attachment 47163

At one place, we came across a Mountain Goat, happily munching on the thorny bushes.

The Mountain Goat
Attachment 47162

Stay tuned, we have not reached the Grand Canyon yet
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Old 9th September 2008, 05:19   #12
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Mustang!!! It is great as long as you are not in snow country... Just 1c of what i heard.. My senior who graduated got a Mustang GT and had a hard time holding that car on the snowy road w/out sliding off. moroever he had to drive for on 7 hours in snow for his graduation ceremony. Awesome car though, but he told no amount of traction control on that could match a plain FWD.
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Old 9th September 2008, 05:29   #13
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Well done Mohit and Abhiram for making the right guess.

Quote:
It is great as long as you are not in snow country
I would agree with you though I have not driven a Mustang on snow, but the low GC is in itself will be a problem in snow. Your senior must have had a harrowing time. However, I must say that I was thoroughly impressed with its road handling capabilities on dry tarmac. It is simply awesome. It was fun driving a RWD car after a long time. The car was perfectly weighted, very precise steering.

While returning from North Rim, I had to tackle a rabbit that suddenly came on the road, out from the forest. I was doing 85mph and I just flicked the steering so that the rabbit stays between the wheels. The car simply did great. In the RVM, I could see the rabbit still treading merrily across the road, as if nothing has happened
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Old 9th September 2008, 05:37   #14
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My senior had the added issue of having more torque and power on the road than regular FWD cars, which would make wheelspins everyime - or the wheels would just lock up and traction control light comes on. But he loves his GT in Indiana where he works.

How did you find the interior space??
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Old 9th September 2008, 06:23   #15
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Fantastic. What are those cracks on the road in that picture before the Zion? I must say your photographs should be seen on a good computer monitor to fully understand the brilliance of the colours and the effect it creates. I use a Mac at home and a Dell at work - the same pictures looked brilliant at home but pretty dull at work, especially the night ones.
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