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May 20, 2008

San Jose
Click for San Jose, California Forecast
Helicopter at Golden Gate Ali at Lake Tahoe Mt Whitney from Lone Pine Silver - The Lone Ranger's Horse Furnace Creek Inn, Death Valley Denise and Kate at Grand Canyon, Arizona Lake Mono, California Las Vegas, Nevada Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam Ali at President Nixon's Library, Orange Country, CA Welcome sign at Phantom Ranch Taliesin West - home of Frank Lloyd Wright Ronald Reagan outside his library in Simi Valley, CA
Vacation 2008 - Grand Canyon and lots more

The focus of the trip was to join our friends Denise and Richard from Seattle at Grand Canyon and hike to the bottom and back. We've been talking about an adventure like this for years - and now the time has finally come to undertake the trip. Thanks go to Denise for fixing 2 night's accommodation at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Canyon.

And I'd also like to thank Kate and Barkley for their company on this adventure. Kate and Denise roomed together in San Diego about 30 years ago and have remained friends ever since. Kate and Barkley live in Flagstaff, AZ - so they're locals. Thanks guys for your company.

However the Grand Canyon Adventure was sandwiched with a couple of great slices of California and Nevada which we've always wanted to visit. Before arriving at Grand Canyon, we visited Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake, Lone Pine, Death Valley, Las Vegas and Hoover Dam.

On the return, we visited several places in Arizona including Flagstaff, Montezuma's Castle, Phoenix and Taliesin West. We arrived back in California at San Diego and drove via Los Angeles and Route 101 home to San Jose. We visited the Presidential Libraries of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan along the way.

It was a really great trip. 2574 miles. Quite a trek. It's hard to pick off the highlight of the trip because every day was interesting and enjoyable in its own way. So we'll award the gold star to Grand Canyon and Phantom Ranch, however Mono Lake, Lone Pine, Death Valley, Taliesin West and President Reagan's Library were also unforgettable.

We've lived in this wonderful country for 8 years now, and visited 46 states. This is the first time we've revisited anywhere out of California. Revisiting Grand Canyon, Flagstaff and Phoenix were all fine. And the trip down memory lane in San Diego was interesting. I hadn't been there for 25 years and it's clearly prospered and grown considerably since the early 1980s.

Vegas was as seedy as I suspected. We didn't bother to leave the car when we drove down the strip. As I get older, I get even less interested in cities and mass entertainment. Ali and I are much happier to go hill walking than visiting a place like Vegas. It was astonishing to see how much construction is going on in Phoenix and Vegas. Building sprawling cities in the desert doesn't make sense to me. With climate change approaching and higher energy costs, it's hard to see how living in those places can be sustained into the future. And there's the matter of water supply. Lake Mead is 100 feet below its normal level. The folks in Vegas could empty it in the next few years. I'll watch with nervous interest and concern.

We bought a new camera for the trip. A Canon S5 IS - just great. And it can take multiple shots and make them into panormas - even 360 wrap-arounds. Here are our panoramas. You'll need QuickTime (free download from Apple). These are about 7mb each:

Golden Gate
Mt Whitney
Bright Angel Trail
Air Force 1
Mono Lake
Death Valley
Montezuma Well
Reagan Memorial (360°)
Panum Crater
South Kaibab Trail
Taliesin West
Last Chance (360°)
And coming up....

We're looking forward to a visit to California from our son Jamie who lives in England. He's going to be with us for 10 days at the end of June.

And while Jamie's here, we're all going to the Western States Endurance Run. This is a 100 mile ultra marathon and I'm "Station Captain" at the Last Chance Aid Station (mile 43). Photos and story from 2007: click here.

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