1 – 16 August
Denise’s flight back to the UK is out of Denver so we are heading along I80. Maize, maize, potato an more maize. Bigger grain stores than ever before and endless trains waiting to load the grain. Nearly caused a traffic jam when a car full of young Arabic boys drove alongside of us waving and wishing us a great trip. Not much to see along the interstate so JC decided to come off and see some trains – apparently one of the largest marshalling yard in the world around here somewhere. First it was trucks, then it was tractors and now he has turned into a train ‘Anorak’! We drove down a sand track and into the bushes so that he could get some photos – it will be San Quentin next if he carries on like this! Back on the road again a wide load of hay passed us doing 85mph – speed limit here is 65 mph!. Finally, we enter Colorado and see the Rockies in the distance again – more big herds corralled together. This is definitely ‘beef’ country.
Strange feeling the next day getting onto an aircraft – didn’t think I would be doing this for a while. My flight will take me back to Manchester via Chicago whilst JC travels on to meet Margi, Michel and Aimee. Despite not having his navigator he managed to find his way out of the airport and onto his route South. Very busy traffic but lots of people pipping and waving as he goes along. Feels like he is heading for Argentina, finally instead of zig zagging across the states. Original plan was to take a slow drive across the Rockies and make regular stops but Denise is gone and he is going to “jab on” as usual in order to get to Phoenix as soon as he can. Through desert landscapes at 45 degrees heading into New Mexico and finally reaching Santa Fe after 700kms driving. Very popular place, had a bit of a problem finding an hotel – there by 6pm but took until 8.30pm to find somewhere.
He didn't stop............. Headed straight for Santa Fe................................
The next day following the I40 west, the temperature is 47 degrees and he drove into a sand storm. Desolate landscape – feels like the last place God made and I thought that was Tow Law! Strange to see hotels in the middle of nowhere with large casinos - who plays the tables here? Lots of old Route 66 towns running along the side of the I40. We will be driving more of Route 66 when Denise gets back and we start heading East again. Coming into Snowflake – bet its never seen snow ever – I finally started to climb and the temperature dropped two 19 with a spot or two of rain – bliss. Finally reached Payson after a very hot and sticky drive of 640kms ( still jabbing on – I’m sure this will change when she gets back!!)
Mybe somewhere for return trip?........ Didn't play....... Didn't need Mike.................
Heading for Scottsdale today, to meet the gang and got chatted up at a traffic light by a young girl who wanted to know all about the trip and whose dream is to go to Argentina. She put me on the right road and finally I had a call from Margy to tell me where they all are. It was good to hear her voice. She sent Michel to get me with his GPRS – I’ve come all this way with a map and he needs GPRS to come and get me from 15 minutes away – he’ll never live that a down. After stocking up on food for a barbecue tonight we went to the villa. Great to see everyone, Margy, Michel, Aimee, Gilbert, Sasha, Sana and Rochelle. They all made me very welcome and wanted to hear about our trip. Despite their offer to stay at the villa with them, problems they had earlier with the landlord made me check into a hotel until Denise comes back. That way I can spend some time with them and get on with planning the rest of our journey. My daily routine whilst Denise is away is swim, Jacuzzi, breakfast, plan the route, mark up the maps, check out other websites for shipping information out of Panama and then meet the guys for a beer, followed by dinner either a barbeque at the villa or a meal out somewhere. Many thanks to all of them for looking after me. Met with Margy for breakfast one morning and took her to the visitor’s centre to get some information which resulted in me doing two runs downtown to take the “girls” – all five of them to a train ride for the kids – you will remember we only have three seats in total!! Not long know before Denise is back – so I made a “test” run to Phoenix airport – learnt this from John McNeil!!
Finally the day arrives and Denise is back. Due to arrive at 0730pm, I finally got in about 0930pm after storms in New York delayed my arrival there and then maintenance problem with the plane taking me to Phoenix cause a delayed take off. All together I was travelling for 20 hours plus and went through two time zones, so I was completely shattered. Poor Margy was waiting with champagne cooling, for John to take me there. We haven’t seen each other since April so we have a lot to catch up on. Sorry to say I had to pass on that and we went straight back to hotel.
Looking forward to seeing them all, the champagne was open and waiting for me and I was greeted with big smiles, kisses and hugs from Aimee who has grown so much since April. By mid afternoon the jet lag and champagne kicked in and I had to get back to the hotel for a sleep but we met up later for dinner and planned the next day’s outing which involved an old western style town called “Rawhide” – remember the song! Have to say, at first glimpse it looked a bit sad – not many people about, the kids could not ride the donkeys as they weren’t tall enough, the petting zoo only had goats and a couple of deer, and the kiddie’s train trip took them through a cemetery! However, it redeemed itself later by Bob serving us the best margaritas ever and the excellent food in the restaurant. Bob kept on bringing the drinks and Rochelle was stacking up the beers. The kids were up dancing to the band and some of the grown ups followed them up there.
Rochelle and JC...................... The boys........................ The girls.............................
We left the next day for Las Vegas and the “gang” will follow a day later. JC very happy to be on the road again – he has missed driving his lovely Toyota. The road takes us through the desert – cactus and scrub again. Small towns and villages along the highway look like those we have seen before on I40. Drove past Hoover Dam as we will go in to see it properly on the way back. However, we had to go through a security check, where they wanted to see what was under the sheet on the roof. Fortunately, they had a ladder and one peek under the corner was enough to convince them that it was indeed a roof tent! After around 5 hours driving, we could see the skyline of the strip in the distance and the navigator, now back in the hot seat got us straight to our hotel – New York, New York. We had to drive along the strip – just what you would expect, loud, flashing lights 50 degree heat lots of cars and loads of tourists. We spotted one who must have been a Brit as, with the sight of a UK number plate driving towards him, his mouth dropped open and he was pointing us out to his friends. I guess its not often that someone from East Yorkshire drives along the strip. It’s all here, Ceasars Palace, Bellagios. Flamingo, Treasure Island and many many more. At one end there’s Barry Manilow, at the other its Tom Jones and in the middle at Ceasar’s Palace its Bette Midler. All this and gambling too – this city must never ever sleep. Our hotel even has a statue of Liberty and Empire State Building, as well as a Coney Island roller coaster running around and inside!
We have never seen anything like it slot machines flashing and ringing, roulette, black jack, craps, poker, sport betting. Unbelievable as Gilbert would say.
We chose the Tom Jones show – and had a good time surrounded as you would imagine by ladies – he can still pull them in. This despite his now teased hair and died beard! The music was great – he still has a fantastic voice and despite his age can still get around the stage jigging his hips to the music and having things thrown at him by his fans!! Good on yer Tom! On a roll from the show, we carried on drinking and partying at the Irish Bar until the early hours of the morning – the music was fantastic and the drinks just kept on coming. It’s funny to see how travelling has changed JC. I was watching him here at the bar talking to a young guy from New York who was dressed in big baggy white shorts, a white vest, white sunglasses and a white baseball cap on back to front. They chatted for ages. If this guy had walked into the Swan I’m sure JC would just have stared at him in amazement and then ignored him. Just goes to show first impressions are not always the right ones.
After our rowdy night we were late away on the monorail to do a bit of sight seeing – that is checking out the other hotels and casinos – not a lot else to see here in Vegas. The Sahara was very fifties, with big chandeliers and art deco designs, the Wynn – the newest and largest on the strip was recommended to us by Faye – if you stayed here Faye it must have been fabulous, much more elegant than the others. Ceasar’s Palace is of course – we all know that one and the fabulous fountains at Bellagio. The one thing you do notice here is that despite the elegance of the hotels, no one looks twice at people wandering around in shorts and crocs. Imagine trying to do that in Monte Carlo?
Inside of the Wynn.. and Ceasar's Palace...........................................
Met with Margy and Michel and had a good evening, just the four of us. Nothing against any of the others but it was wonderful to have the chance to chat together, that is until the music started in the Irish Bar and we couldn’t hear ourselves speak. Next morning we said goodbye to everyone. It was fantastic to see you – enjoy the rest of your trip and travel safely home. Keep in touch!
Heading back along I40 we stopped to have a proper tour of the Hoover Dam – an amazing fete of engineering and the new road being built near to it is another.
Now we are heading for the famous ‘Mother Road’ – Route 66.
Well everyone it’s great to be back – hope to be able to keep you updated more regularly. Just one more thing, contrary to what was published in our local paper back in Yorkshire – we are not married, nor did we get married in Vegas. Very happy as we are thanks.