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Bryce Canyon to Las Vegas

UNITED KINGDOM | Thursday, 15 October 2015 | Views [188]

I walked across the Rim just after sunrise to catch the beautiful colours on the rocks and formations, wonderful. Checked out after breakfast and drove south to the end of the road in the Park, at Yovimpa Point, over 9,000 feet. We walked the Bristlecone Trail; bristlecone trees can survive drought for longer than other pines and often sprout from the base if the main trunk dies. Very pretty, open forest, rugged countryside and great views. Given the clear air it was possible to see great distances, 100 miles on a good day.

We stopped off at other lookouts, Rainbow Point, Agua Canyon, Natural Arch, Inspiration Point, back to Bryce Point, all presenting fantastic views and many photographs later we hit the road for Vegas.
Heading west, it felt we were heading home, even though we still had two weeks to go. The road took us back out through Red Canyon where we stopped for our sandwich lunch, admiring the beautiful red cliffs. On and back to Panguitch where we picked up Route 143 the so-called Utah Patchwork Parkway. Before the road was built, settlers trapped by the heavy snow used patchwork quilts laid on the snow to get out and get food for their families. It was another wonderful drive, up onto the Markagunt Plateau, past the Panguitch Lake and climbing all the time until we reached Cedar Breaks, a 'National Monument' at 10,400 feet. The views were fantastic, again.....and there were warning signs about hiking at this altitude, so we didn't!

On the way up we passed birch groves and individual trees turning fro orange to gold, absolutely beautiful, and the edges of extensive lave flows, all black and rugged. What a wonderful drive. The road then dropped to 5,000 feet in 17 miles, some parts very steep, into Cedar City where we joined (rejoined) the Interstate 15. The same wide, high level valley, basically sage-brush desert. Which continued until we entered Arizona again and entered the Virgin River Canyon. An amazing drive, 70mph through a narrow river gorge, twisting this way and that, on a four lane freeway.

At Mesquite we entered Nevada, and nearing our destination, Las Vegas. Still a high speed freeway, we sped across the desert, this desert seemed even drier and sparser that the Mohave, with mountains either side it seemed we were being shoe-horned into Las Vegas. Eventually we hit the outskirts of the city, the road was in poor condition and cars were speeding right and left, it was mayhem and we wondered what we'd let ourselves in for. It seemed like miles before we finally came to the city proper. We swung left off the interstate and drove down Main Street. Gradually it became more what we expected until we reached 'The Strip' and bling took over.

We found our hotel, tucked in behind the Bellagio, and after a couple of passes through the entrance driveway, we checked in - valet parking only - and to our surprise we were upgraded. We were given a Panorama Suite on the 19th floor. It was a wowser! 270 degree views of Las Vegas, between the towering hotels that is. The suite was fabulous, a kitchen, sitting room, huge bathroom and an even larger bedroom with a king-size bed, electrically operated blinds and separate aircon for each room. It was wonderful.

Ruth phoned the concierge to get a table for dinner, and having laid it on a bit thick about special occasions etc we got a table at the best restaurant in Bellagio's, Michael Mina. We chose the seasonal tasting menu and the food was fabulous, so flavoursome and the matched wines were perfect. Menu below:

veuve clicquot yellow label champagne NV
heirloom melon, nori crisp, umeboshi
morgadio albarino, rias baixas 2013
bamboo rice, coconut curry
dr. loosen riesling kabinett, ‘wehlener sonnenuhr’, mosel 2013
dungeness crab, black trumpets, spring garlic
william fevre chablis, burgundy 2013
fava bean, lemon gremolata
qupé syrah, cuveé michael mina, santa barbara county 2011
crème fraiche biscuits, strawberry basil sorbet
royal tokaji, mad cuvee, tokaji, hungary 2012

We staggered out, quite a bit poorer, but sated. Out through the lobby of the Bellagio, a riot of colour, with autumnal presentations, all over the top. Out into the street and 90F temperatures, we decided to look at the Venetian Hotel, it has copies of the Campanile of San Marco, the Doge's Palace, the Bridge of Sighs, plus several other buildings. The streets were buzzing, people just walking, sightseeing, many people trying to sell services and sex, people sleeping in dark corners, it was somewhat grotesque. By the time we walked back to the hotel it was 1.30 in the morning and time for bed. Enough of Las Vegas.



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