I am exhausted! This tour will have covered over 5500 kilometres by the time I reach Las Vegas. This distance has been reached in 6 days, and although I've seen a fair bit, we have covered too much ground in too little time. We have averaged 15 hour days, and I have not been able to enjoy the wonderful accommodation provided each night because we arrive far too late.
This morning, I arrive in the foyer at 5am, ready for the provided breakfast. The breakfast nook is in darkness and it is strange that the other passengers have not yet arrived for breakfast. I approach the reception desk and ask the night manager the time.
'4am,' she says.
Apparently there are two time zones in Arizona, which confuse phones, therefore alarms. I am now one hour early for breakfast. Coffee is hot and it isn't worth my while returning to the room, so I sit and read with a hot cup of coffee. I could have done with the sleep, but since it is a four hour drive to the Grand Canyon, I will take a nap in the bus.
And that is what I do.
I have visited the Grand Canyon on a number of occasions, and have seen the West and North Rims. Today, however, we are visiting the South Rim. We first stop at the small township of Tusayan so we can visit the visitor centre. Some people are seeing the IMAX film, 'Over the Rim and Beyond, Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets', whilst others are taking a helicopter ride down into the canyon. I'm not doing either, as I've already seen the film and taken a helicopter ride into the canyon. Instead, I explore the little town and wander through the visitor centre until our bus returns to collect us.
The sun is climbing high into the sky as we arrive at the South Rim of the canyon. The hazy view turns the opposite rim into a blue colour. The day is heating up already and I'm glad we are here early enough in the day to enjoy the scenery before the crowds arrive. Not that crowds matter that much; some people on the bus are very rude. Today, one old lady physically pushed me out of her way. Imagine this - there is an entire rim, which spreads out along the viewing area. A very long path. Our bus of 54 people are the only tourists at this location, yet someone wants MY spot in order to pose in front of the canyon. I'm sick of this nonsense. Some people have no manners, and I have probably seen some of the worst mannered people I've ever encountered on this tour.
Although I politely tell them I'll move when I've finished taking my shots, I quickly move, as I'm not sure I want to be upended into the canyon. My opponent is THAT aggressive.
Before long, we stop for lunch in the town of Williams, then we start on the five hour final journey to Las Vegas. Many of the passengers are continuing onto Los Angeles tomorrow, but my tour stops today.
The hotel is wonderful; the Park MGM, and I don't have to check out until 11am tomorrow. After a short rest I get changed and arrange for a cab to take me to the Flamingo Hotel. I'm a bit shocked when I see my cab. it is painted red and across the door are the words Med Men. On the top is a sign that says, Cannabis Delivery to your door. I question the hotel bell boy whether this is actually a cab, but he opens the door and virtually pushes me into its interior. The meter is mounted on the back of the front seat, so I am in an official cab, but it looks as though I'm the 'Uber Dope'.
The Flamingo is still familiar to me. Nothing much has changed as I walk to the box office and collect my ticket to see Donny and Marie Osmond.
Unfortunately, I'm not permitted to take photos, but I do enjoy the 90 minute show by these iconic entertainers. Donny's comedic repertoire is excellent, as is Marie's incredible range of songs; from opera to country, with popular songs thrown in for good measure. I won't comment on the amount of plastic surgery they have both had to retain their youthful looks, but they are not hiding their very toothy past, as the early photos of them performing are proudly displayed.
My short interlude in Las Vegas is over. I return to the hotel, exhausted and ready for a long sleep and to prepare for the next part of my incredible trip.
TITLE QUOTE: Frederick Lenz
ACCOMMODATION: Park MGM, Las Vegas