The Great American Road-Trip – Day 4

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Approximate route of Day 4,  385 miles, about 19 hours

Screen shot 2013-08-24 at 4.15.46 PM

Day 4

 

Wednesday, Aug. 16th, 1967, before dawn at Imperial Point, North (East) Rim, Grand Canyon. 

With flashlights, Tom and I drowsily but carefully walked down a path to near the edge of the canyon and would witness the indescribable vista brightening before us. Outcroppings, gorges and trees stretched thousands of feet below, with views out over the distant Colorado River and eastern plateaus. Perched on separate ledges, with virtually no sounds except an occasional hawk, we leisurely watched the changing colors as the warming sun began to rise.

Sunrise from Imperial Point Lookout, Grand Canyon

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The two or three hours we would spend there was a re-generation of our spirits and energy, and a long contemplative break from the nearly non-stop driving of the past few days. In the ensuing reflective down time, Tom and I would write to our girlfriends and families back home. 

Writing home

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The MGB started at 2015 miles into the trip. Time would allow a few more sights in the park, including Angel’s Window with it’s awesome views across the canyon to the south, and those at the iconic North Rim Lodge.

Angel’s Window (note people on top,) with Humphries Peak near Flagstaff, about 56 miles south.

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The South Rim is about 12 miles distant in this photo. (Historical note: There were fewer people and fewer handrails then, allowing considerably more access; like myself here, onto the outcroppings.)

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By 1:00 PM, we filled the tank with $3.00 of gas, (more expensive here than elsewhere, so far,) and headed north on Arizona Rt. 67, back to Jacob Lake and US 89 Alt. towards Utah. The clear, cool fresh air of the 8000 ft. elevation was giving way to the intense heat of the lower desert terrain, spawning some impressive thunderstorms, but offering only brief relief.

On US 89 Alt., northern Arizona, the 10 minute downpour would not give much relief from the heat, especially after we put the top up

08.053                    1967, August, MGB California Trip_edited-1

Kanab, Utah, about three miles north of the Arizona state line, would be the first town of any respectable size we’d seen since Flagstaff, over 200 road miles back – and where we would have a good lunch at a cowboy/family-style restaurant called “Trails End.”  We were now headed towards Zion National Park, initially fascinated by “Checkerboard Mesa,” a massive geological scouring just inside the eastern entrance. Exploring along Utah’s Rt. 9 in the park would capture the attention of our cameras for miles, winding past colorful buttes, monoliths, mesas, canyons and arches; and the awe inspiring Zion – Mt. Carmel Tunnel, bored right through the side of a towering mountain cliff. Over a mile in length, we paused midway at one of it’s large open rock “windows” for a view and pictures of Pine Creek Canyon below. Regrettably, our schedule did not afford much time for more than a perfunctory glance at this intensly beautiful region, vowing only to come back again some day.

The western entrance to Zion – Mt. Carmel Tunnel, a masterpiece of 1920’s engineering.

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The switchbacks into Pine Creek Canyon, as seen from one of several cliff-side windows

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At about 5:30 PM MDT, Tom took the wheel for the first time today just after leaving Zion. As we drove along Rt. 9 towards the neat town of Hurricane, Utah, the mountains behind provided a world-class scenic experience, particularly for me as I had reversed the seat-back again, now relaxing contently with an open air, rear-view panorama. (Historical note: The population of Hurricane was under 1400 at this time, but estimated at 14,000 by 2011!)

Along Rt. 9 in Utah, SW of Zion National Park – a quick jaunt off the side of the road for this first  image; and as seen from my reversed passenger-seat perspective

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Just after St. George, we got on Interstate 15, passing back into NW Arizona back in the desert, and then into Nevada at about sunset. The anticipation was heightened as we drew ever closer to Las Vegas with the top still down and hearing radio temperature reports of 105 F (40.6C) and now seeing lightning ahead reflecting surreally off the mountain ridges around us. There are no speed limits out here, but we maintained an “easy” 70 mph as we first started seeing the tiny glow of the city far ahead.

The legendary, hot night-time town of Las Vegas with it’s energy and excitement, bright lights, entertainment, casinos and fun soaked reveler’s frolicking contrasted diametrically with the surrounding desolation of the silent night desert. It was hard to hold the enthusiasm at bay while approaching. But we did – by checking into a small roadside motel for $8 a few miles outside the center city, giving us the opportunity to clean-up, and even do some wash….and finally drive on to busy Fremont Street, enthralled in the festive; and in one case enduring the playful antics of several young women in a passing car, one tossing a milk shake in our direction before they laughingly sped off. 

Fremont Street, Las Vegas – about 11:00 PM

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The “Strip” and Sands marquee with Dean Martin headlining

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Sahara with The Smothers Brothers, Vicki Carr, Pat Paulsen

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For a few short hours, I would be feeling the magical allure of the clubs, the draw of the casinos, the magnetism of the “singing” slots – feeling joy at the ringing bells and falling coins, which in the US was legal only here in Nevada. My first experience at casino gambling was good, up $20.00 before giving it all back; but Tom may have been a little less excited than I, as his luck was akin to his gambling legality – NIL, he being a few critical months younger than I and subject to an occasional escort back to the street. Regardless, by the early morning hours, we were ready for a long night of rest, actually in a motel, ending the day 385 miles further, and, 3300 miles into our trip.        

It was….a memorable day!

Day 5:  http://wp.me/p37YEI-Jp  

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About mvschulze

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17 Responses to The Great American Road-Trip – Day 4

  1. Great travel log and gorgeous pictures! Sounds like it was a perfect adventure for two young men.

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  2. Jenny Trozell says:

    So sweet how the sight of the Grand Canyon made you want to write home 🙂 Very nostalgic.

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  3. ailsapm says:

    Woah, this is so, so cool, I love it, I’m going to have to come back and read your trip from the beginning, just as soon as I finish up my travels I’m popping back over here to get caught up!

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    • Mvschulze says:

      Ailsapm: Thanks, (Sorry for this late response!) This series was inspired by your impressive posts, great pictures (Jealous) and writing (Jealous!) (Loved your Mt. St. Helens experience.) M

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  4. Pingback: The Great American Road-Trip – Part 9 (Final,) Days 10 and 11 | mvschulze

  5. Mitzie Mee says:

    Fremont street is really cool.Did you get a $1 shrimp cocktail? 🙂

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    • Mvschulze says:

      Mitzie Mee: At the time no, but my wife and I did love the same thing known as “walk-a-ways” in the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco some years later. I can still taste the shrimp and sauce! Love following your journeys. M

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  6. Ben says:

    What a fantastic trip and great writing to tell the story. The shots from sunrise at the Grand Canyon are brilliant. That must have been a defining experience I’d love to have some day. I’ve only been to the eastern rim on a tour bus, really need to hire a car and explore both the north and south rims. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    • Anonymous says:

      A belated thanks, Ben. I was actually inspired to do this project by other travel bloggers on their “recent” road-trips, as mentioned above by Ailsa’s “Where’s My Backpack!” and Jenny Trozell’s Travel on my Mind – and many others. M

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  7. disperser says:

    It was interesting seeing nearly the exact same photos I would be taking 46 years later.

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  8. MV, I still can’t believe these three fantastic posts & your trip….how ambitious to take the trip & document it writing so thoroughly & showing us America with your great photos!!!! My admiration! And thanks for the “Like” for my recent post on the Churchill book & the Alan Turing movie!!! Phil from excuseusforliving.com

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    • mvschulze says:

      Thanks, Phil. It was a trip of a lifetime My favorite days were 7 and 8. You might like my take on haight-Ashbury as Viet Nam was weighing heavily on our minds, and the scenery continuing thru and beyond Yosemite was awesome. I really enjoyed your interesting info on the Churchill war efforts and am looking forward to seeing the Immitation Game. Interesting connections! On M 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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