Most of this day involved us traveling from the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas. But first, we had to witness one of the most beautiful sunrises in the world.
Our morning was nothing short of unbelievable. We got ourselves out of bed around 6:30 am, gathered our things, and headed out on Hermitt Road to Powell Point to watch the sunrise (7:36 am). We had watched the sunset the night before and honestly I thought it would be a bit more spectacular. The sunrise, on the other hand, was a whole new ballgame.
Fun fact: Hermit Road is closed to private vehicles all year except for winter. It had just opened it up on 12/1. Throughout the rest of the year, there is a shuttle that goes out to all the points. Since there is barely anyone there in the winter, traffic isn’t a concern so there’s no need to keep it closed.
We opted to drive to our destination because it was bitter cold and the walk would be 2.5 miles; too far to reach before sunrise. The road was really icy in some spots and when you’re driving along the rim of the Grand Canyon it makes your heart skip a beat every so often.
It was about 7:00 am when we arrived at Powell Point so it was already pretty light out. We quickly hopped out of the car and made our way out to the edge of the cliff. This particular lookout spot was on a long cliff jutting out over the Canyon. It was also about 500 ft higher in elevation than the village where we were staying (~7,200 ft).
There was a platform/monument that we could climb up to give us an even better vantage point. Eric set up his phone to take a time lapse while I opted for regular pictures. The wind was amazingly strong; at a few points, I thought it was going to knock me over. This also made it even colder. Neither of us brought touch gloves, so we were barehanded while taking pictures which was so painful. However, looking back at the pictures we got, the numbness and the windburn were so worth it. Here come lots of pictures…
After the most perfect sunrise, we headed back to our cabin to eat a light breakfast. Check-out was at 11:00 am, so we had some time to soak up our last incredible views of the Grand Canyon before leaving.
It was amazing how few people were at the Grand Canyon while we were there. I know winter is not prime time for tourists because of the weather, but what’s worse: being freezing cold or not being able to enjoy one of the 7 natural wonders of the world because there are too many people? If you’re curious, I’d choose the first option any day (even though I absolutely hate the cold). I just couldn’t imagine fighting crowds to snag a few pictures or constantly getting stuck behind people that don’t know trail etiquette while hiking. We had the most perfect experience.
We walked around a bit, bought some souvenirs, and checked out the Hopi House. This was built in 1904 as a Native American marketplace to showcase the local Hopi people’s artwork and is still used as such today.
Around 10:30 am we ventured back to our cabin one last time to gather our things and check-out. We were so sad to leave; I hope we get to come back to this beautiful place again one day.
Before we started our journey traveling from the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas, we decided to stop at the visitors center at the entrance since we weren’t able to when we arrived. It was huge with Disney sized parking lots. My only experience at the Grand Canyon has been during the winter so I have no idea what it’s like during the warmer months. However, based on the size of this center, I can only imagine Disney sized parking lots come with Disney sized crowds.
The center was beautiful with enormous maps outlining all the trails and various important points along the rim. We walked in and were only joined by maybe 20 people; it was wonderful. We didn’t have much time with our long drive ahead of us, but we did stay for a 10-minute video projected on a giant globe all about the creation of the Canyon which was so wonderful to watch after being there. The age of the Grand Canyon is mind-blowing. There are some parts that have been there since the creation of Earth; it’s hard to even fathom things being that old!
We left the center around 11:30 am and continued our journey to Vegas. About an hour later, we arrived in the little town of Williams, AZ on Route 66. I used my go-to travel site, TripAdvisor, to find a great restaurant and our choice did not disappoint! We decided to eat at the Red Raven Restaurant. It was a cute and quaint restaurant with really nice people. Eric ordered the soup of the day, southwestern corn chowder, and the turkey club and I got a burger. Both were great! After the lackluster food we had at the Grand Canyon, it was a welcomed meal.
The town looked like it hadn’t changed in 50 years. When we drove through Williams, AZ on our way to the Grand Canyon, every single store and restaurant was covered in lights and Christmas decorations. I wish I got a picture of it then!
We left Williams around 1:30 pm to continue traveling to Las Vegas. Something interesting that we noticed along the way was there would be absolutely nothing for miles and then all of a sudden there would be a little house out in the middle of nothing, with no civilization for like 30 miles in either direction. Sometimes it wasn’t even a house; just an RV out in the middle of a field. Very strange.
We got back to the airport car rental place around 4:00 pm and called an Uber. She was not very friendly and I think only said 2 words to us the entire time. I didn’t care though, she knew where she was going and that’s really the only thing that mattered.
It seemed like the enormous casinos just popped up out of nowhere. It kind of takes your breath away at first glance of all these glittering, colorful, over the top buildings. We pulled up to the Bellagio and…well… we definitely weren’t “roughing it” anymore!
The lobby of the Bellagio was a marvel in itself with the gorgeous Chihuly covered ceiling. The fact that they were all decorated for Christmas was the icing on the cake; it was gorgeous!
We made our way to our room and after being in a tiny old cabin from the 1930s for 2 days, this was a complete 180°. We walked into a gorgeous room with the most beautiful view. It might not have been of the fountains, but still gorgeous none the less.
We took in our fancy room for a little bit then decided to head to the casino for a little fun before our 8:15 pm dinner reservation at Lago.
We started the night with $20 in a $1 slot machine. This was my time to SHINE! I hit the button… nothing. Hit it again… nothing. The 3rd time, I got some bonus thing! I have no idea what it was, but it made a lot of noise and I tripled my money! $60 woohoo! I wanted to quit but we were still waiting for our drinks to come so Eric told me to play until I got down to $50. Fair enough. Long story short, the Bellagio got what they wanted because my $60 turned in to $40 within 10 minutes. Oops.
After we got our drinks, Eric wanted to play Roulette. We decided to stick with machines. He got our money back up to $70! At this point, we decided to quit and go get ready for dinner.
While we were down in the casino, we went to scope out our dinner restaurant. Then I had the bright idea to ask for a window table so we’d be right up close to the fountains. The hostess said they couldn’t guarantee it, but they would do their best. Well, we got down there and BAM: window table! I was so excited; we were literally right next to the fountains.
We had a $120 dining credit with our room reservation which was why we decided to treat ourselves to a nice first-night dinner. Lago was an Italian tapas restaurant, so most plates would be small and meant for sharing. We decided to get 6 plates and a bottle of wine (it ended up being 5 because we were full).
Yes, we got a lot of tomatoes and cheese. We tried for a meat dish with that flatbread, but it was completely inedible. Then we got full so oh well.
The thing I loved about this restaurant was there was no rush at all. We ordered 2 plates at a time and enjoyed the fountain shows in between. We were there for 2.5 hours and loved every minute! Carlos was our waiter and he was very Italian. I love having a true Italian serve me Italian food. Carlos was very nice so it was only a little embarrassing when I tried to pronounce the food we were ordering and he repeated it back to me in his mellifluous Italian accent.
The best part of the night was when he asked if we were celebrating anything. We told him we were celebrating our anniversary even though it was 2 months ago. He looked at us with a charming Italian smile and said, “Well it doesn’t matter when you celebrate. Congratulations!” Then he brought out a GORGEOUS complimentary dessert. It was a lemon mousse cake with a shortbread bottom, candied mango, and a mango reduction with a side of lemon sorbet. DELICIOUS!
Carlos was the best. Not only did he agree to take our picture, but he took around 10 of them with and without the flash. I wish all waiters were like Carlos.
Dining credit… GONE. Worth it? YES!
After dinner, we ventured out to the casino once more and stuck around until 1:00 am. Time flies when you’re losing money!
Just kidding… we actually left the floor that night up $80!
Bon Nuit Mes Amies!
Continue reading the Western US Travel Diary: Day 4: Exploring the Las Vegas Strip