New Mexico was great, and gave a pleasant injection of culture over the rest of the States so far. Spent the first night in Taos, full of adobe-walled buildings from the Pueblo Indian tribes. Just outside the village is the Indian settlement of Taos Pueblo, a very weird looking place. The weather was well up into the 80’s as well so was also a vast improvement from recent times. Also just outside the town is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, allegedly the second highest suspension bridge in the US at 620 feet or something (strange, as it is not actually a suspension bridge….) Anyone who’s seen Natural Born Killers would recognise it as the bridge on which they get married. This featured another legendary night out, we met an English guy called Bob who was shit faced and took us to a couple of places and we ended up mingling with a load of locals.
Next we moved onto Santa Fe for a couple of nights, also a pleasant town but a bit lacking in bar life for us. We spent the day there white water rafting the Rio Grande. Then we travelled West on I-40 to Flagstaff in Arizona, about 80 miles South of the Grand Canyon. This was a great town, also with fantastic weather and plenty of bars and night life. There is a railway going though the centre of town with a 1-mile long goods train coming through about once every 15 minutes, all day and all night. They blow their sirens every block as they go over the level crossings of the main streets, also all day and all night. How the hell anyone lives there is beyond me..
Then the momentous cock-up happened – we called the Grand Canyon to try for accommodations the following night. It turns out you need to book up 2 years in advance and the best they could do it wait list us. For this we needed to show up at 6:15 am at the Canyon rim so see if we were successful or not. We duly woke up at 4:15 to give us time to get there, showed up only to discover that it was 5:15 when we got there. After much puzzlement we found out that Arizona does not do summer time and so we had spent the last 3 days an hour out from what we expected, D’OH!!! This was annoying realising that we had in fact woken at 3:15 and could have had an extra hour in bed… I suppose we should have guessed by the fact that the clock in the bar the previous night was wrong by an hour, as was the automatic clock on the phone…
Anyway we got in, and it was well worth it. We hiked for 3 hours down the South Kaibab trail to the river in the base of the canyon, some 4,800 feet below. We had 2 beds in a dormitory down there which was very comfortable apart from the fact they wake you at 4:30 am and check out is 7:30, just what you need after being up since 3:30 the night before and hiking nearly a mile vertically downwards.. Then we began the ascent out of the canyon, up the Bright Angel trail, which was absolutely brutal, especially in the 90 degree temperatures. But the views were fantastic on the way up, just as they were on the way down of course. This took us 5 hours which is actually a pretty decent time. It was amazing how many people we saw heading down without any water or packs of any kind, how the hell they got back out is a mystery.
Last night we travelled back into Utah, stopping off at the impressive Glen Canyon dam across the canyon and the Colorado River. The town is Kanab, we had to drive a few miles out back over the Arizona border to get a beer as we are back in Mormon territory here (see postings from near the start of the trip!)
Must dash now, we’re heading out to Zion National Park and Las Vegas tonight.