I call it a loop because we have driven this more than once and have a route we take that keeps us from back-tracking. We had originally planned to drive Wayah Road out of Nantahala, but I talked the hubby into doing the Cherohala Skyway. This is a much different drive in the late summer than the late fall, which is when we last did this loop. During the spring and summer the greenery tends to obscure the views both along the drives and at some of the overlooks. The late summer months do produce a few wildflowers, most notably the Bee Balm and the Turk's Cap Lily.
The anniversary of our first date is celebrated each year. To me it is as important as any other anniversary or birthday celebration that we have. We were married 447 days later. Anyhow, we took off for the Blue Ridge Parkway in the morning. Once we began to gain elevation outside Cherokee, we needed to have our jackets on but up to that point the weather was perfect.
Left Las Vegas this morning to head home. It has been an exciting, interesting, aggravating, beautiful, and fun adventure. We spent the entire day on the road, reflecting on the trip and what we took from our adventure.
Super-duper breakfast buffet at Circus Circus. Massive and over the top like everything here in Vegas. Cruised the strip and did a little shopping. Decided that what I wanted to do on my birthday was nap after 15 days of non-stop go go go, that is exactly what we did. Hit THE STRIP again as evening rolled around and caught all of the street shows, both staged and not-so rehearsed. Had a blast.
This morning we headed over to Lake Mead to see the Hoover Dam. The sheer size of this man-made structure was impressive. The 5 year project which began in 1931 claimed 112 lives. The first death was J. G. Tierney, a surveyor who drowned on December 20, 1922, while looking for an ideal spot for the dam. His son, Patrick W. Tierney, was the last man to die working on the dam's construction, 13 years to the day later, when he fell to his death from one of the intake towers. The heat amongst all this concrete was pretty intense. It was enough to keep me from going up on the US93 Bypass bridge to take photos.
We headed back into Vegas and checked in to our reserved room at The Quad. Shrek found that The Quad is linked with Caesar's Entertainment which we use back home in North Carolina and he surprised me with tickets for FRANK MARINO'S DIVAS. What a wonderful 42nd birthday gift. I have been wanting to see this show for over 10 years. Shrek may be an ogre, but he knows how to keep his princess happy!
Frank Marino's DIVAS Las Vegas
"Ms. Las Vegas" for his longtime starring role as Joan Rivers in the Las Vegas drag revue Frank Marino's Divas Las Vegas.
Marino has a star on the Las Vegas Walk of Fame, a street named for him, and was honored with a day named for him in 2005.
Initially performed at the Riviera Hotel and Casino and moved the show to Caesar Entertainment in 2010 and their Quad Resort and Casino. He is the longest running act in Vegas.
We are in VEGAS!!!! Wow, what a flashy place. This has to be the capital of weird, so far. We got into town early so we stayed in North Las Vegas/Paradise until our reservation opened on the strip. So what do we do on day one? Head straight for The Fremont Experience... home of the drunken tourist and locals trying to make a buck.
Today we left Kodachrome Basin State park headed for Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. First stop was Kanab, Utah to wash the sand out of everything we owned. The plan was to get our tent site setup and then tour the state park with the 14th day being reserved for Zion National Park. Let's just say that when we reached the DESERT full of ATV's; keyword DESERT, I had had enough. Zion and hotel were the new plan.
Zion National Park
Almost 12,000 years ago Zion's first peoples, who are now almost invisible, tracked mammoth, giant sloth, and camel across southern Utah. Due to climate change and overhunting these animals died out about 8,000 years ago. Humans adapted by focusing on mid-sized animals and gathered foods. As resources dwindled 2,600 years ago, people tuned life ways to the specifics of place. Such
a culture, centered on Zion, differentiated over the next 1,500 years into a farming tradition archeologists call Virgin Anasazi. The Anasazi moved southeast 800 years ago, due probably to drought and overuse. Soon after, Paiute peoples brought a lifeway fine-tuned to desert seasons and thrived. In the 1860s, just after settlement by Mormon pioneers, John Wesley Powell visited Zion on the first scientific exploration of southern Utah. By hard work and faith pioneers endured in a landscape that hardly warranted such persistence. Flash floods destroyed towns and drought burned the
crops. Only the will to survive saw Paiute, Anasazi, and European descendants through great difficulties.
~ borrowed in part from the above pictured national Park Service literature; titled
In a Haven of Habitats
One of the grand plans of the trip was going to be seeing Bryce Canyon. Today was the day. It was more than I had hoped for. I read so much about it during the planning stages of our trip, I thought that maybe I had removed the wonder of it all. WRONG! I was amazed. The Grand Canyon was breathtaking but this, this was truly a site. Such a big difference. Grand Canyon gave the impression that it was to be enjoyed from afar. Bryce Canyon beckoned you to get in, to touch, to listen, to walk and climb. It exceeded anything I could have imagined. Utah is BEAUTIFUL.
Bryce Canyon National Park
First established as a national monument in 1923 and later in 1924 as a national park, this area named after Ebenezer & Mary Bryce is one of scenic and scientific value. Archaeological studies have turned up evidence of people living in the area as far back as 2,000 years. The area is 55 square miles with more than 400 native plant species. Some of the Bristlecone Pine are 1,600 years old. Mule Deer and Pronghorn are the most abundant mammals seen. Mountain Lions and Black Bear inhabit the park but are rarely seen by day visitors. There are also over 200 species of birds and the federally protected Utah Prairie Dogs are making a comeback.