Michael James shares his Grand Canyon experience
After returning from our helicopter trip the night before (and the requisite pre-beddy-bye gambling), it was about Zero Dark Thirty when we went to bed.
Unfortunately, the alarm went off quite soon and we were greeted by this…
One of my bowling buddies, Glenn, had organized a Grand Canyon tour for our group as a way to get out of the casinos for a day. Only my family (my wife, son, aunt and uncle) joined Glenn and his mom, which actually turned out to be a manageable group. Since it was his idea, I made Glenn find the right bus tour, which he found and booked for all of us. We chose to meet at Planet Hollywood (free parking, you know) because the seven of us were staying in four different places.
The bus picked us up at – gulp – 6:10 AM. (Side note; were you aware that 6:10 AM happens every day in Las Vegas? Neither did I.) However, we were all at the pick-up location on time, where we boarded a coach bus with about 30 other people.
It was to be a four-hour ride to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, so the bus driver regaled us with all manner of tidbits about the desert and what we’d experience along the way. They also had packaged sweet rolls for munching. I had already met my alarm at 4:45 AM (Side note; even my clock back home doesn’t have a 4:45 AM) so there was no chance of a proper breakfast, so packaged pastries it was!
The first stop was a brief stop at the Arizona side of the Hoover Dam, then back to the Nevada side for a glimpse of Lake Mead.
Thankfully the stop had a small convenience store for the acquisition of coffee (morning was really early). Back on the bus, we wound through the brown, lumpy abyss as we headed towards our designated lunch spot in Seligman, AZ which is right on the original Route 66. Numerous times, the driver mentioned our stop at Westside Lilo’s Cafe, and that the little old lady that owns the place and makes fantastic German recipes.
After hearing all about the wonderful German food here, we picked-up our boxed lunch of a ham (or turkey) sandwich, a bag of chips, an apple and a couple of snack-sized Snickers bars. I guess I would have preferred NOT to hear about the origins of the cafe.
We grab our boxed lunches, and turned around and saw…
Down this road – the original Route 66 – were some neat looking, touristy businesses that cater to the Route 66 history. But this wasn’t a Route 66 tour, so the bus never stopped for photos. You’ll just have to Google it yourself. Or wait. Click here. I just did it for you.
It was about 11:00 AM when we left Seligman… and just in time to log into MLB.com and listen to the Milwaukee Brewers game, which had started 20 minutes earlier. I don’t know if I can explain how enjoyable it is to drive through the desert while listening to Bob Uecker call a baseball game.
Around 1:00 PM, we arrived at Mather Point along at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and were given the option of staying for an hour and re-boarding the bus to a different point, or to take a 2-1/4 mile walk and meet at the Bright Angel Lodge in two hours. We chose the hike, and I am glad we did…
Upon our return to Bright Angel Lodge, we met the tour bus as described, and we left without leaving anybody behind. On the ride back, we stopped in Kingman, AZ for dinner. The tour guide said something along the lines of “We are contracted to stop at this McDonalds, but if you were to walk to Arby’s, Burger King, Jack in the Box or Taco Bell and be back here in 30 minutes…” as he didn’t complete the sentence. We crossed the street for Arby’s for a dinner. Arby’s Has The Meats, you know.
The ride back was uneventful, which kind of stunk as riding for four hours in a coach bus in the dark isn’t a lot of fun. However, the smart guy that I am, I had brought my DVD player and popped in Men of a Certain Age (which, by the way, is criminally underappreciated if you are a man of a certain age). We arrived back at Planet Hollywood at around 9:00 PM.
Glenn booked the bus tour through Viator (Tour code: 18262P1) which cost $78, but I told him about a promo code for 10% which he used for a total of seven tickets.
We were on the tour for about 15 hours, with about two spent at the Grand Canyon. For as great as the day was, I may have preferred driving, so that I could spend a little more time stopping and smelling the roses along the way. However, if you aren’t into driving four hours while on vacation, I certainly recommend this trip.
[Author’s Note – I know this was five months ago, but if you want to read all about my adventures in Las Vegas last spring, please see my full trip report on the Vegas Message Board.]
[Photos – Michael James, Melissa James, Barbara James, Glenn Schwandt]