Las Vegas, NV
Completed a lengthy walking tour of the Strip, from the Vegas Sign in the south up to Stratosphere in the north. Highlights included the marvelous buffets, the roller coaster at New York (Casino), Gordon Ramsay’s BurGR (oh my), meeting Pia, and Hakkasan (preferred it over Omnia). Vegas is very much a rich person’s playground; almost anything of high quality and enjoyment (and possibly sin) will cost you a fortune. Still, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
Zion National Park, UT
I don’t recall much (to those younger than me, I’m sorry I’m old; to those older than me, I’m sorry you’re older than me). I have memories of standing next to a river for photos, and at an overlook seeing a vast valley. Also, I turned into a raven.
Bryce National Park, UT
The lowest point on our trip… in terms of temperature. Damn, it was cold. You’d think leaving the Midwest for the Southwest would take you to warmer pastures, but Father Winter had other plans (“Screw you!”). That didn’t deter us from visiting a few (foggy) overlooks, and hiking a few (icy) trails. The highlight was a very successful #dawnchasers attempt at observing the sunrise.
Horseshoe Bend, , AZ
The Horseshoe Bend is basically the picture you get in your head when you think of a river coursing through a canyon, making a perfect “U”. Except it’s the real thing! Pretty cool, and that canyon is PRETTY DARN DEEP. Now, I’m not normally afraid of heights, but knowing that my companions and I were standing mere feet from certain death was enough to bring out Overly Cautious Ashwin. Give me a nice harness, zipline, or parachute and I’d happily jump into that bastard, but otherwise… Pass!
Antelope Canyon, AZ
This was my favorite stop of the entire trip. I mean, just Google that shit. It’s absolutely beautiful even in overcast weather, with a ton of interesting sights and photo opportunities. It helped that our guide was helpful and hilarious (“I saw a snake drop on a lady once… Not cool, man.”).
Grand Canyon, AZ
Well, this is the one place we’ll have to return to. It was COMPLETELY BLANKETED IN FOG! Again, thanks winter! It made for a very unique sight (I doubt many people can say that they stood above the clouds at the Grand Canyon), but still… bummer. Certainly brought the group morale down (for a short time).
Meteor Crater (Barringer Crater), AZ
I had no idea that this famous (well, if you read up on astronomy) crater would be on our route! Basically, it’s the most well-preserved crater in the world (in that you can observe its contours clearly to this day). It was really cool to see a crater in person, and some of us (won’t name names, but will be worried if they ever entered public office) enjoyed destroying Earth and its inhabitants in the meteor simulation game. Check out this video by Discovery about meteors.
Spent more time driving to and back from this city than in it. I wish that I could’ve seen it standing in all its glory in the daylight. Regardless, we played mini-golf (completely destroyed everyone else, thanks for the putting practice all those years ago Dad) and visited a Malaysian restaurant (BP Street Cafe). The food was average at best; Penang (the restaurant chain… and I suppose the island as well) still stands supreme.
Hoover Dam, NV
A civil engineer would marvel at this wonder. A concrete slab holding back all the force of the Colorado River. An aerospace engineer… well… would just go, “Wow”.
Companions and Final Thoughts
Surprisingly, Hong Zhi didn’t attempt to murder the entire group again (by accident) – this in comparison to the #SummerRoadtrip (funny stories I’ll bring up when I meet you in person, dear reader). Wai Kien was charitable in his donations to casinos and in his usage of water in the shower. Dao Kai was a funny and responsible Malaysian. Yan Ni was assigned the role of Selfie Taker, and soon learned that Ashwin was always quick to get into position as soon as the selfie stick exited her pocket. My voice grew hoarse multiple times due to singing with Joyce in the car. Finally, Ai Li impressed me when she called me out – for lamenting someone’s disposal of a Starbucks cup in the desert, but not taking action. I was compelled to pick that cup on the way back.
All in all, a fun and wonderful trip that I was glad to take with this group of people (though curse you Chuan Yean for your cursed luck). My bank account is still crying in the corner, though.