How to Get There From Here – Vegas to the Grand Canyon pt 1

Google says 3hrs, 47 min, but does Google include pee stops, donut breaks, lunch and scenic pullouts?

Google says 3hrs, 47 min, but does Google include pee stops, donut breaks, lunch stops and scenic pullouts?

All we had to do was get from Vegas to our hotel in Flagstaff, AZ, south of the Grand Canyon. Maybe see the Hoover Dam if we had time. Maybe stop for lunch.

But that’s it. (Though, ‘it’ was a four-hour drive from Vegas to Flagstaff without stops!)

Oh, yeah. Also.

There may have been a birthday supper booked at the best Mexican restaurant in Flagstaff, (as featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri)  but I began to fear that would not quite work out. It would all depend on how fast we could get going and how important it was to rush. If we rushed too much, we could miss out on those magic moments, but if we didn’t, then the birthday dinner would be a bust.

Our chances of making the reservation in time dimmed right from the start. Somehow the tags came off my luggage and being me, and loving black, when I bought new luggage, I chose the black one… like a thousand other people.

Then The-Youngest, with his keen eyes, spotted it and raced over to lift it off the conveyor. Being 9, though, my luggage nearly pulled him onto the conveyor. It could have made a funny YouTube video (or at least a vine,) but instead of filming him, I ran over to rescue him, even though he did not want to be rescued in any way, shape or form.

Worse case for him, he got to ride my luggage like a pony around the conveyor belt. Worse case for us, he fell onto the conveyor, got his arm caught, then ripped off, and as he flailed around, screaming, he fell into the luggage loading hole and somehow found his way into a threshing machine.

So no video.

Our ride from the airport to the car rental lot. The-Oldest couldn't look more happy.

Our ride from the airport to the car rental lot. The-Oldest couldn’t look happier.

With our bags in hand, we went in search of the shuttle to our rent-a-car. Only two ways we could go and, yes, we chose the wrong way and had to march back again to the other end of the airport. But we had super light luggage so it really wasn’s so bad.

Stopping The-Youngest from using the wheeled luggage as a bowling ball to knock over lines of tourists, though, was more of a challenge.

Outside, nice weather. Hot. It’s a dry heat. Boyz not impressed. They said they’d felt hotter in our backyard. It was 96 outside and they were in the shade.

The shuttle took us on a long journey to the rental lots in a land far, far away. It is a bit odd, but whatever. Vegas is as Vegas does.

At the rental place, Aussies the size of small tanks got angry that they had to wait in line. I guess there are no lines in Australia. Or maybe the steroids made them angry all the time. Personally, I wouldn’t like to face down a 6’6” guy with a thick red neck and a throbbing vein in his forehead,  but a 5’1” guy did just that, mostly by saying “I understand, I get why you’re angry, we’ll get to you as fast as we can, ” until the Aussies wandered away to go lift Volkswagens or something.

Hyundai Sonata. A decent enough car. Certainly it was big enough for all of us.

Hyundai Sonata. A decent enough car. Certainly, it was big enough for all of us.

Car was a Hyundai sonata. Red. Comfy inside. Steered well.

I think the most dangerous part was getting out of the lot. People zooming in at the last moment, backing out to get on the road, wheeling luggage without looking around of just being German or deciding to chat in a large group and not move while people are trying to get in and out of parking lots.

Despite the need to make time, we had to stop for food. Denny’s. Remember the goal of keeping the boys fed? Well, no way we’d survive a 4-hour drive with 2 hangry boys. So, we stopped and by doing so, had a cool little encounter.

See, this is what you get when you don’t rush. I need to remind myself of this. And eating a lot of chocolate before bed keeps me awake.

A grab machine. I have no idea what it's really called. A claw machine? A clawinator?

A grab machine. I have no idea what it’s really called. A claw machine? A clawinator?

While waiting to be seated, a special needs person wanted to play the grab-a-toy-game and couldn’t figure it out. He was confused and was getting upset so I asked The-Youngest to come over. He’s an expert on these machines. More than the makers, I think.

Anyway, he took the time to show the guy what to do. Push that. Move this that way. There you go. Let it drop down. See. You got something! Great!

The-Youngest can be the coolest kid sometimes!

The other guy was delighted in a way that only mentally handicapped people or Leaf fans can be. I was proud of The-Youngest.

It was an encounter, an adventure I couldn’t have predicted.

At Denny’s, I actually had a healthy meal. Well, Denny’s healthy anyway. Veggies and eggs on some potatoes. No free food though. On your birthday at Denny’s, you get a free meal, but only a Grand Slam and The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World wanted an avocado chicken burger. They didn’t sing, but did bring her a burger (not on the menu), cuz, you know, it was her birthday.

We grabbed road supplies, forced The-Youngest to put back an American-large bag of chips, two bags of nibs, one box of bubble gum, and a super large bottle of pop. He still took a big bag of Cheetos, a bottle of water and some candies. Me, I bought M&Ms and got mocked for it since we’re going to the M&M store at some point.

On the road, the plan really began to fall apart. We were way behind schedule. The chance of making the birthday supper was now 20/80.

No time for the Hoover Dam.

We’d see it when we got back.

There was a point I would have to call off the birthday supper, but there was a part of me that wouldn’t do that until all hope had died.

Leaving Vegas

Leaving Vegas

With the sun behind us, slowly dipping in the sky, we buckled up and sped off, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World navigating, The-Oldest listening to classical music and conducting in the back seat, and The-Youngest starting to crunch away on his gigantic bag of candies.

About Joe Cummings

Aquarius. Traveler. Gamer. Writer. A New Parent. 4 of these things are easy. One is not. But the journey is that much better for the new people in my life. A life I want to share with others, to help them, maybe, to make them feel less alone, sure, to connect with the greater world, absolutely.
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