Friday, July 22, 2011

Just a big hole innit (aka Grand Canyon trip report)

After day 1 of this year's Main event, I headed out of Vegas on a 2 day road trip with Mark Dalimore, Mick Mccloskey and my son Paddy. We got to Williams, Arizona late in the afternoon and decided to spend the night there. We stopped at a place called The Singing Pig on the famous Route 66 for some ribs. When you spend 6 weeks in Vegas you get used to seeing unusual or surreal sites on a daily basis, but still: the sight of messrs Mccloskey and Dalimore in pig masks was well weird.

Next port of call was a Mexican stroke Irish bar stroke restaurant rejoicing in the wonderfully bewildered title of Pancho McGillicuddys. Not many seem to realise the Irish Mexican connection via the San Patricios, and this not many included Mick and Mark, so I bored them for a few minutes with the story.

After checking into a hotel on the infamous Route 66, we ate in an authentic diner and had some drinks in a local bar, where Paddy got hustled at darts by Mark, while I maintained my unbeaten record at pool this trip. Game selection was the crucial component to that success.

I was pretty wiped out still from my day one so elected for an early one. Mark, on the other hand, elected to stay up all night, and by the time we woke up, he had seen the sunset, apparently driven through some sort of swamp (we were leaving a mud trail for the rest of the trip), found some bears and who knows what else, and was still buzzing with enough energy to supply a small city. As Paddy and I trailed around a local supermarket looking for something that might do as breakfast, Paddy said with more than a hint of desperation in his voice "How the Hell are we going to tire Mark out?"

We headed for the Grand Canyon national park which, it has to be said, was pretty spectacular. We walked along the rim and every angle gives you a completely different view of the canyon. Paddy and I climbed out on a hidden ledge at one point and shared a sneaky "herbal cigarette" which was pretty awesome.

Towards the end, myself and Mark made an attempt at winding up some locals.
"Gets a bit boring just looking at rocks".
"Yeah. Basically just a big quarry innit? Got one of those in Slough".

After walking for a few hours, we headed out of the park, stopping to eat in a place running by a local Indian (Native American). Mark was trotting out his "Indian expressions" (basically "How" and "I come in peace"). The occasion was clearly getting the better of Mick because after receiving the princely sum of 6 cents as change, he went all in on the tip jar with the six cents. The tip jar was empty up to that point so tipping clearly wasn't the norm here, but nevertheless the Indian proprietor looked like he could hardly contain his disappointment that the first tip he received didn't involve any coinage other than cents. It's hard to watch a grown man have his dreams of generous tips shattered like that, so I dropped a few dollars in the jar.

We drove back to Williams to visit BearIzona, a wildlife park that is home to a variety of the world#s most lethargic animals. Mick who likes value for his buck started complaining about the lack of energy from the supposedly ferocious bears and wolves. He quietened right down when we all started agreeing that the only course of action was to dispatch him forth from the car with a stick to poke a bit of life into them.

As we drove out of Arizona into Nevada, we hit some mini sandstorms, lightning and then a full scale flash storm. Suddenly the highway looked more like a lake and visibility dropped to a few metres.

Thankfully it disappeared almost as quickly as it had appeared. We stopped off at the Hoover Dam and O'Callaghan Tillman bridge. At this stage we were in a battle on two fronts against the fading light and rising winds: as we started across the Hoover Dam on foot, one of the locals warned "It's pretty windy so good luck with that".

We got pulled over by a cop in Boulder City for speeding. When he saw Mark's driver's license, he wondered aloud why overseas drivers always seemed to speed. Things weren't looking too good when he offered Mark the option of a night in jail or a fine of $508 (a suspiciously irregular amount that suggested he might be bluffing). As Mark mulled over those two unattractive options, the cop relented and let us on our way with a warning. Who knows, perhaps the extra $8 is intended as a tip to Indian restauranteurs who otherwise would have to make do with the occasional six cents here and there.

All in all, a very enjoyable trip made better by the company. Mick kept us well entertained with tales from previous roadtrips that involved getting run out of small towns in Nevada. He suggested it was for rowdy drunken behaviour and scalping the natives at poker, but the suspicion lingers that inadequate tipping may have been involved.



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