The first stop after leaving Las Vegas is an easy choice, the Hoover Dam. You've just got to stop here. If this place was good enough for the Clark Griswold and his family, it's good enough for me. We didn't stop for long though. Just snapped some pictures and then were back on the open road heading towards the Grand Canyon.
Our destination was a remote, almost secretive place deep in the canyon that I had only been told about by other travelers (Billy, my cousin, and Mimi from Big Sur). They told me of beautiful blue water waterfalls deep in the canyon. Beauty amongst the desert, a real life mirage that looks too good to be true, but for once is real, and we were headed there. We found the dot on the Atlas and aimed for it. A few hours after leaving Las Vegas we stopped to get gas, and use the phone so we could call and make camping reservations. Yes, this is something we should have done before driving almost all the way to it. The phone conversation went something like this:
Me-"We'd like to camp at your reservation"
Worker- "We're booked solid for the rest of the year, sorry."
Me- "No, No, I just want to hike down to the waterfalls and put up a tent."
Worker- "Sorry we don't have any vacancies. We open up reservations on January 7th and we sell out the entire year by January 14th. So try again next year."
Me- "Wow. That's interesting, but I don't need a room, we have our own tent."
Worker- "Sir there is no room."
Me- "There is no room in the desert for a two person tent?"
Worker- 'I'm sorry, have a good day, goodbye."
Tobi and I were in shock. To add insult to injury some Germans were at the gas station with us and told us how the waterfalls were the most amazing things they ever saw. They would have payed anything to see them again, done anything, and they will never forget them. Of course they booked their stay a year in advance. Tobi and I had known each other for 22 hours and weren't able to plan a year in advance, so we did the what we thought would be the next best thing.
It was getting later in the day, and we were near the "only road into the Grand Canyon", Diamond Creek Road, so we thought it was worth a try. We'd camp there, discuss our options, and then get started again the next morning. It seemed like the safe option. That was until the Ranger told us that it's easy for cars to get stranded on Diamond Creek road. She warned us of popped tires, broken gas tanks, rocks, flooded road ways, bumps, etc... They took a look at our rental and said, "I wouldn't take the chance, but I can't stop you." and she was right. We couldn't be stopped.
We pressed on, with your Dodge Caliber, and hoped for the best. They told us the road was 5 miles long, a small miscommunication I guess because it was 18 miles long. 18 miles of unpaved desert ground that reminded me of my driving experience on Fraser Island in Australia. The majority of which were done with a fear of becoming stranded in the middle of nowhere fresh on our minds. The scenery was spectacular though. Every turn showed a new view of the canyon until we were actually in it. Small streams along the side of the car turned into the mighty Colorado, and we only decided to hike about the last mile of the road to our campsite.
We camped right on the Colorado. Read books before the sunset on cliffs in the Grand Canyon. Went to sleep under the brightest moon I can ever remember with sounds of rushing water nearby. We were both very please with our decision to stop here. Who else has driven a car in the Grand Canyon? You? I doubt it.
However, the BIG decision still hung over our heads. What to do about going to see the waterfalls. Should we try and go anyway? If they turn us away it will be a wasted day because it's so far away from anything else. Should we skip it and possibly miss out on the greatest beauty in the world without even trying? It didn't look good, but we talked and thought we'd figure it out in the morning, bright and early.