Friday, March 13, 2015

Vegas Warhammer and a Snowy Grand Canyon


I flew from Albuquerque to Las Vegas to meet Greg. He drove our NV camper van from Los Alamos, NM to Vegas. See prior four posts for details of his adventure! 

We were in Las Vegas (Nevada not New Mexico) to spend a weekend with family. Our nephew Ben, who lives in Utah, was there competing in a Warhammer Tournament at the Flamingo and my cousin's daughter Eliana, who lives in Northern California was competing in the JAMZ National Cheer and Dance Tournament at the Orleans. 

When Greg and I first started dating in high school (I know - what a cliche), he was in the chess club and played a new game called Dungeons and Dragons. D&D was one of the first, fantasy, role-playing, strategy games. Our nephews love Warhammer which is a science-fantasy strategy game with physical miniature characters (think models) that you paint. The book in the lower right corner of the first picture contains the rules and powers of each character. The early version of D&D was played with grid paper and dice. The dungeon master would design a dungeon and characters built up their powers and money over time to make it to different levels of the dungeon. It was awesome to see a whole, huge room full of people playing a strategy game with no computers!

Ben  (brown shirt) came in 5th place overall in the Warhammer Tournament
Very exciting for his first tournament. 

We were surprised how big a turnout for strategy gaming\
Meanwhile - Eliana was in Vegas with her mom Berenice for a cheerleading and dancing competition. Greg, my sister Merrily, her middle son Joe and I all met up with Berenice and Eliana for a wonderful inexpensive breakfast at our favorite place in Vegas - La Salsa!
My cousin Jesse (Eliana's dad) is a wonderful artist. He has a painting displayed at Kid Robot in the Cosmopolitan. So we took a walk over there to see it again and take a group photo. Here is a link to Jesse's website to see more of his artwork, murals and collectible, highly sought after art toys.

Me, Berenice, Eliana, Joe,
Merrily and Greg at Kid Robot
Ben was back at the Warhammer Tournament
Greg heard about a new show at the Wynn's called Show Stoppers. Merrily, Greg and I went to see it on Saturday night. We got our tickets online very early and were shocked when we went to our seats and were literally in the first row, front and center. It was almost too close. Awesome seats and fantastic show especially if you love Broadway! Loved it.

During the middle of the show a dancer came down the steps off the stage and messed up the hair of the guy next to us. Greg was glad it wasn't him.



Happy Chinese New Year at the Wynn
This was a fast trip for me. I flew into Vegas on Friday. Greg and I left Vegas in our camper on Sunday morning (Feb. 22). Our original plan was to drive to the Grand Canyon, spend one night and then leisurely drive back to Los Alamos on Monday. Saturday night we heard that a snow storm was possible on Sunday at the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff. 

Thus started our big debate. Do we go for it and stick to our Grand Canyon plan or go south and head back via Tucson or Phoenix? We hemmed and hawed and finally decided to go for it. I haven't been to the Grand Canyon since I was a teenager. I told my boss before I left that if the weather turned on us - I might not be back until Wednesday. I must be psychic.  

Storm clouds in the distance on the turnoff to the Grand Canyon
When we first arrived at the Trailer Village RV Park near the rim, it was a mix of rain and snow. We went for a walk to the canyon's edge and saw a white bank of thick clouds and not much else. I have to say I was disappointed, but hopeful the next day would be clearer.

We made dinner in the camper and settled in enjoying the sound of the rain and snow on our roof. Trailer Village has hookups, so we survived the chilly 16 degree night using our electric blanket and Mr. Buddy Heater. (We paid $39 per night for an electric hookup.)

The office had a sign warning campers to unhook their water and sewer because of the overnight freezing temps.  We did have a small problem with the Mr. Buddy heater shutting off even though we had the window slightly open. When we got back home we read, that if the heat keeps shutting off, you should open a door to let more oxygen into the vehicle. We stayed plenty warm.

Trailer Village RV Park when we first arrived before the snow fall

A snowy morning
In the morning, we woke up to a lot of snow. For those of you who don't know - our hometown of Los Alamos is at 7,600 feet and usually gets plenty of snow. This wasn't a unique experience, but not what we were expecting. The forecast for the day was for another 7 to 11 inches. Because of the rain the night before, there was also a nice under layer of ice on the roads. Yep, we would be staying another night. No way, no how, were we going to try to drive out and over the pass outside Flagstaff in this mess.

Here is a big difference between full-timing and us part-timers. We weren't expecting the snow and didn't have all our winter gear with us. Bad planners! We always have sweats and wool socks, but I didn't have proper footwear. Not that it stopped us from going on a couple of walks through the snow each day.

So, we made the most of it. We jumped on the Park Bus which picked us up right in the campground and headed to the El Tovar for an amazingly delicious breakfast. When Greg told the waiter he didn't want any bread because he was gluten free - they offered a basket of homemade gluten free muffins which were yummers! The meal was so delicious, we went back on Tuesday morning for a second breakfast.

Just hanging around waiting for the clouds to clear

El Tovar's Dining Room

Hopi House at Grand Canyon Village

We walked a short ways down the Bright Angel trail which was too wet and icy


We weren't going to let the snow or cold weather
keep us from doing our daily 1 1/2 hour walk
So beautiful! 
We spent some time walking around the Grand Canyon Village Historic District. We were surprised to learn that the donkeys went into the canyon even on snow days. We had a fun time. 

On the walk back to our camper, we stopped at the Canyon Village Marketplace. I think they have the biggest general store I have ever seen in a national or state park. The store was almost bigger than the stores in our hometown. The first night we ate soy dogs, chile and rice that we cooked in the microwave in our camper. The second night, we splurged and bought salads at the store and took them back to our camper. We had a relaxing evening reading and listening to the snow falling on our van roof. 

Even though the temps remained below 20, we were toasty warm.  

A cozy dinner in our warm and toasty camper.
The second morning (Tuesday) we awoke to more snow and low cloud cover, but with a few patches of blue skies. The roads in the park were still snow packed and icy. We checked online and found that by about 11 or 12 there should be a break in the weather. Our plan was to go back to the El Tovar, have breakfast and head out to take advantage of the weather break. 

On our walk over to the Village, we were alongside the canyon rim on the geology time trail. The clouds partially lifted and we were able to glimpse the beauty of the Grand Canyon. We were hungry, but luckily decided to stop and take a bunch of photos. Good thing! By the time we made it to El Tovar, the clouds/fog closed in again and you couldn't see anything. We literally were in the absolute right place at the right 15 minutes! Yeah for good timing.  



Oh, what a glorious morning!

Awestruck
After breakfast, we cleaned off the snow and ice from our camper and packed up to go. We left about 11, wanting to wait until the roads were warmed up enough to melt the ice.

Don't EVER stop for gas in Williams, AZ. It was almost $1 more than anywhere else. Lesson learned.

It lightly snowed all the way home, but we made it! The funny thing was that our toughest part of the drive was once we got near home. There was dense snow fog on the hill up to Los Alamos. We almost got stuck on our street trying to pull into our driveway. But, we were still glad we made the mad dash home. The next day was clear, but then Friday, Saturday and Sunday were some of the heaviest snow days we've had all winter.

What an awesome adventure!

3 comments:

  1. The snowy canyon photos are beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  2. There's something uniquely stunning about seeing the Grand Canyon in all the different patterns of weather. We learned the hard way to always carry winter gear. 3 years ago while staying in Tucson, we experienced a rare snow storm. It was beautiful but cold.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The snow was beautiful, but I look forward to the day when we can follow the nice weather.

    ReplyDelete

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