My sister Libby, mother and I have been talking about bucket lists. I haven’t developed a bucket list, as my family genes give me a good chance of staying on this planet for a long time. But our lives have changed over the past year, and so we have discussed things we want to do before we “kick the bucket.” One of those is to see the Grand Canyon.
We decided to do it. Driving wouldn’t be smart; we would drive for three days to get there, look around, and then climb in the car and drive right back. I thought we should fly into Las Vegas, rent a car, and drive, killing three birds with one stone – the Grand Canyon, good food, and shopping!
According to the map, the Grand Canyon is within driving distance of Vegas, so we could drive there, look around, and then drive back and eat dinner at a great restaurant. My mother refused to ride the burros either around the rim or down into the canyon. A helicopter was also out. We would just drive and gawk.
I should have known immediately that something would go wrong: I had reserved a car at Enterprise, but it was too far from our hotel – and Las Vegas traffic was horrible! We instead rented a car from Avis at our hotel, though it cost more.
We had decided to go to the North Rim instead of the West or South, but when we mentioned our trip to the Avis representative, without even looking up, she announced, “The North Rim is closed. You can’t get there.” I began getting nervous.
She gave us alternate directions, and we set out toward Lake Mead, stopping at the Visitor Center, where Mark, a helpful park ranger, spent 20 minutes giving us five sets of directions to five different locations. Though the North Rim was indeed open, driving there over mountainous, winding roads would take six hours.
We realized the Grand Canyon was out. It was 11 a.m., and driving time alone would get us back to our hotel no earlier than midnight. Disappointed but undaunted, we opted for Plan B.
Continuing east, we soon saw the signs for Hoover Dam. Prior to arriving, however, we reached the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, named for two Arizona war heroes. The bridge overlooks the dam, and so the best view is from that bridge – 900 feet up! And it was 115 degrees!
Libby and I trudged upward and out onto the bridge, where the grandeur of the Hoover Dam took our breath away. I could never have imagined its size. We hurried back to the car where mother, not wishing to make such a climb in hot weather, waited.
Then we drove a few more miles to the dam, taking mother to the observation deck so that she could see a portion of what we had seen from that bridge.
From there, we drove north through the desert surrounding the very blue Lake Mead, until we found a little oasis – Callville Bay – where we had lunch. Then we went onward to the Valley of Fire, a state park where petrified red rock mountains, estimated to be 150 million years old, rise out of the ground, looking like huge piles of cinnamon.
We oohed and ahhed and then headed to the park exit, where Park Ranger Debbie convinced us to go back to a particular turnoff , which would present us with the most spectacular landscapes in Nevada. We followed her instructions, and she was right. The vistas were awe-inspiring.
Finally, we left and agreed that Plan B had been just fine, that planning was good, but sometimes, a day’s surprises are exactly the right thing. This had been one of those surprising days, and we were thrilled with the results.
We went out to a delicious dinner, and I did some shopping, finding great shoes. I didn’t buy them, though. Even on sale, their price began with a 4, and that’s too much for me – although, I suppose, others have lost more on the casino floor. Maybe I will opt for Plan B and call the store. Nah.