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Li Xiaohu's Journey

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Grand Canyon

Western U.S. – The Moon in Las Vegas 7

Nevada is truly a barren land! So when a glorious golden city suddenly appeared on the horizon, we were absolutely moved.

Rarely people travel one-way from Grand Canyon to Las Vegas. Not many options except a tour bus of local operator. When rushing to the bus as the last two passengers, we realized it was the bus of one-day tour from LV because most of passengers looked so tired >_< It was such a long-haul trip, 5/6 hours one-way.

The bus stopped twice and passengers got off  to buy coffee and use washroom. It also slowed down when passing the Hoover Dam. I still remember the hot coffee at the lonely rest stop, it warmed me up with aroma smell.

Even through Li Xiaohu is not really into Casino or shopping, I’d like to call Las Vegas ‘Man-Made Marvel’. When the bus climbed over a slope, a shining city appeared in the middle of a desert and its golden lights spread widely.

Only one night here. After settling down in the hotel, we went to see the replicas of the pyramids, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower…on the LV Strip. Many visitors rejoiced on the road, with colorful drinks. The whole city was like a huge party.

One of the most impressive place was the Bellagio fountains. But it was a little bit too short.

We had Burrito dinner in a Mexican restaurant. It was nice to have some rich, tasty food after a long trip.

 

 

 

The Statue of Liberty under the Moon. The lights of LV really changed the scenery.

 

 

Another Statue of Liberty was made out of candy:)

 

 

 

 

The Las Vegas in daytime was quiet and clean (??) . The picture was taken through our hotel window so its color looks weird. Btw, the MGM Grand hotel is big and old. The mountain could be seen clearly.

It was time to catch our Southwest Airline flight (I like Southwest Airline). We took taxi to the airport. Actually we should try to walk there next time, since it looked so close to the LV Strip….(surely we will be exhausted and regret).

 

It was hilarious at the airport. When Chen Tu played slot machines (>_<b ‘When in Rome’), I went to Starbucks. As usual the barista asked my name. But, when I got my mocha, I noticed she misspelled it…

Ahhhhhhhhhhh, she wrote ‘Kyoto’ on the coffee cup…Is my name that funny???

Chen Tu: ……

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Western U.S. – Grand Canyon East 6

Li Xiaohu didn’t realise there’s a Grand Canyon East until we saw some pictures on the wall of Yavapai Lodge lobby. It is also called ‘Desert View’. The Colorado river in one picture attracted our attention. Then we decided to join the tour.

The old lady driver was very talkative and introduced the preservation of Grand Canyon all the time. She spoke with her old, raucous voice, which I like, hahaha. Along the East Rim Drive, we visited a few distant viewpoints such as Moran point and Yaki point. Fewer tourists had been here, I guessed. The emerald-green Colorado river was underneath the cliff.

On the roadside, there were some pale or dark, dead wood? The old lady explained sometimes lightning hit trees here and burned them down……Wow, why I’m so looking forward to seeing lightning??

A stylish watchtower stands in the East Rim, our destination. Definitely it was built by modern architecture designer. But at least, it pretended to be native>_<

Not really interested in the souvenir shops inside the watchtower, we began to hike down from the East Rim to explore a little bit more.

 

 

 

 

 

The hat-like mountain in the picture below was called ‘painted desert’. Frankly, their notion of desert is quite different. LoL. For me, ‘desert’ usually means a hot, barren place composed of sand only, as the Mongolia-China border, where a camel train carried us to a well for water. Here the rocky surface was also called ‘desert’, furthermore, ‘painted desert’ with green plants and layered rocks.

We walked along the sandy and rocky path slowly. There were some short bushes. It was quiet around here. Rarely tourists came down, and we met 2 or 3 of them only.

In the lowest place we could achieve, around 20 youngsters sat down and studied in a group. The tutor was reading their book out loud. Her ringing voice was sent by the blowing wind. A Geography class??

It was nice peaceful day. The sun was not as bright as in south rim. The river and valley far away looked like a red-style oil painting under the clouds, just like the oil painting we saw on the wall of Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. We couldn’t help but imagining a journey towards the river valley, on the back of a mule, and surrounded by red cliffs all the way.

We sat down beside these young and quiet students, and enjoyed the scene and the peace.

 

 

Nobody noticed the passing of time. Eagles flew in the sky, making quick-moving shadows on the red mountain ridge.

On the way back to the watch tower, we ended up with realizing how much we had hiked down. This side of mountain was steep. So that’s so-called ‘Trekking in the World’.

Western U.S. – Hiking along the Birght Angel Trail5

Li Xiaohu’d like to call it ‘hiking’ rather than ‘trekking’, although we really suffered from jet lag after a long journey from Asia to West Coast, to Arizona. After sleeping from 5PM to 6AM (local time, why we spent over 12 hours sleeping??>_<), we went for sunrise, and then, started hiking along the Bright Angel Trail.

Among all the places we have been for hiking, Mt. Annapurna was the most pleasant experience with a rapid change of scenery: farmland, Hindu temple, waterfall, jungle, snow mountain, vibrant sunset and bright clouds. On the other hand, Mt. Meili was a isolated, mysterious world where the basement had been abandoned for ages and all the tracks and paths were hidden under snow. When we climbed over the mountain ridge on the way back to the village, we heard a snow slide.

But hiking in the Grand Canyon was more like wandering in our own backyard – well, without the ambition to hike down to the campground at the bottom. First of all, tons of information were available on the internet. Before departing from Hong Kong, we were aware of the three premier trails in Grand Canyon. I was attracted by the South Kaibab trail, but for certain reason (??) Chen Tu liked the Bright Angel Trail better.

Now he was hiking on the icy trail, carrying the big camera bag covered by his down jacket. ‘Like a camel’.

It was the end of March, the season for flower blossom in Hong Kong. Here, one side of the trail was exposed to the sun and easy to walk. Another side in the shade, where ice was melting, was very slippery.

Some rocks have holes in them. People really enjoyed taking photos through these holes. There were many tourists walking along the trail. Luckily we met a pair of mom and daughter, who took photo for us.

‘Look ‘ Chen Tu said, ‘the mom is, more or less, the same age as your mom. She’s still doing some hiking (I appreciate it!!)’ I answered: ‘Well, my mom never did any sports which would make her sweat, even when she was 20/30 something.’

Rock squirrels were everywhere, however, unfortunately, not welcomed in Grand Canyon. Hahaha, these cute, furry animals bite.  Every year some people have been bitten.

We had to enjoy this little rock squirrel from a distance.

The temperature changed dramatically when we walked down. We set off in the Winter. At the three mile rest house, It was almost in the Spring. We overlooked the green forest at Indian garden. Some girls just wore tank tops and long shorts, comparing to our heavy, black, down jackets…..

Hiking in Grand Canyon was totally different from my imagination……actually, much better. Before I watched a few pictures and videos, just like—-walking forever in a dry desert……

It was still very dry, but was painted green, with growing bush. Some helicopters passed by and left white smoke lines in the sky.

Now it was time to walk back up. Again, had no ambition to finish the trail within one day. The Bright Angel Trail descends 4380 feet to the Colorado River. Maybe we will cross the river next time^_^

Western U.S. – Sunrise and Sunset at Yavapai point4

However the sunrise was staggering beautiful at Yavapai point, when morning sun was shining on the peaks and the valleys were still in the dark.

We stayed in Yavapai Lodge for two nights. It is quiet, surrounded by pine woodlands, far away from the rim where many tourists crowd. We met rock squirrels on the way to our room^_^ The downside – need take shuttle bus to the rim.

(No particular reason to choose this one…When booking through Xanterra website one month ago, this was the only thing available. Especially…Phantom Ranch at the bottom, which I wanted to hike to, accepted reservation from 13 months ago…

Uh, why people plan what to do 13 months ahead? I’m not even 100% where I will be next year >_<b)

According to travel book, Yavapai point is always the best place for sunrise and sunset. We got up at 6AM and spent 30 mins in walking there. It was early morning in March and was frozen. Some cars passed on the road – most of people traveled to Grand Canyon with their car, except for us.

The camera couldn’t get as much details as there were. There are hundreds of thousands of rocky mountains in Grand Canyon. Every mountain looked vivid and colorful now, rather than the dim and grey rocks at noon.

The sun was still very bright. Chen Tu’s transforming glasses totally changed to black!

Warmed up by the Sun, we wandered back and crossed the woodlands nearby, with pine trees’ fresh smell. One guy was running with his dog and passed us in this pleasant morning.

We returned to the same place for sunset. The flying clouds looked like a oil painting. The golden light was fading from all the mountains quickly.

Get a closer look.

Western U.S. – Still on the Road3

Grand Canyon train has really cute car, with old leather chairs. Most of passengers were with their kids. As I read from Lonely Planet before: …it is not (young and strong) backpacker’s choice…

Probably we are only Asian faces in the car. Why? It did’t do enough to promote itself in Asian markets?

When leaving William town, the two cowboy actors waved their hands, saying goodbye to us. We watched their show ‘Wild West’, but it’s more for kids^_^. Anyway, this little town is petite, lovely and extremely cold – maybe only for me.

Rested in the Grand Canyon Railway hotel, it was so cold outside! Poor us! We had our best breaky buffet here. I had plenty of bakery while Chen Tu had enough protein to survive T_Tb. Their coffee was mild but picked me up.

Li Xiaohu: The American people are quite good at baking scone, loaf, pie…

Chen Tu: of coz, in Asia we always call scone, loaf, pie ‘western cake’ !

The train crossed the desert area in Arizona. Not sure if it is real ‘desert’, for someone coming from a town where it is rainy every day — the scene showing in picture window was astonishing enough.

Some place refreshed my memory on my few train trips ten or twenty years ago. Trains across my home province, if there is, always go through tunnels and over bridges. So inside the car it is light and dark, light and dark all the time.

Clouds floated in the sky.

There was an accordion player on the train. He played an old folk song (?no idea what it is), and others followed.

 

 

(As a revenge on the internet filtering in China, Li Xiaohu decided to change her channel to English.

Li Xiaohu: It’s a fighting back! From me, a Chinese literature geek ! Let’s call it even then.

Chen Tu: ……)

On the way to Grand Canyon!

美西,旅行在路上2

于是在雨后初霁的阳光中到了 Union Station,搭去往Arizona州的火车。

这座火车站也十分老旧。但是却让我感到一些不同于L.A.其他的地方的,杂乱和温暖。反正我就是不喜欢L.A. !!!这种不喜无关理性。这座城市像钻石一样明亮,像钻石一样洁净,像钻石一样冷洌,李小狐的感情直白而朴素—–反正我就是不喜欢钻石!!!

可能再过几年,会喜欢钻石。就像十年前的我也并不知道,会觉得香港more like home.

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据说 Amtrak的火车从未成功赚到钱,靠政府资助存活—- 不过火车票比飞机票到还要贵些—-可能因为是卧铺,也可能飞机太便宜,航空公司纷纷濒临倒闭>_<

空间非常狭小,和当年在天朝坐什么”动车”(好像是吧)完全无法相比,现在高级的“高铁”没坐过。

优点是有一块布帘子,隔开对面不认识的人:p

可怜的陈兔穿着羽绒服,挤在狭小的空间里,窗外掠过一望无际的,平坦的城市。

李小狐:这种古老的火车也有其可爱之处!—–笨拙的可爱

陈兔吐槽:这有啥可爱?—-可爱个毛线

还在这个可爱的餐厅吃了一顿饭,其实还挺像“一顿饭”的…..

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于是大清早的,我们来到这旅程中第一个好的地方—-美丽小镇William!

Easter在香港已是春天了,William的道旁还有积雪。接我们的女司机热情地说着周围树林子里的野生动物—-鹿,牛,还有熊。

于是,车灯扫过的地方我就看到了一只活蹦乱跳的动物,两只耳朵的,兔子!

李小狐:  Wayayayayaya!黄兔??灰兔??是不是陈兔你家亲戚?!

不理解李小狐的幽默的女司机:它不是黄兔或者灰兔,我们通常叫它bunny

囧————————————–

到达Grand Canyon Railway Hotel,虽然是凌晨,人家看我们来了就燃起了壁炉,于是—–李小狐的摄影之魂燃烧了!

(不要嘲笑我们没见过世面,一狐一兔是第一次看到这种真的有火在燃烧的大壁炉,激动之情溢于言表。)

天亮了就去等着坐大峡谷的小火车。

清晨的小镇William异常美丽,也寒冷刺骨。走过一些人家的时候,狗狗冲我们直吠,而且我们走到了另一边,他们还绕过来继续冲我们吠。

李小狐:吠什么吠,都要冻死了!看我把你们煮来吃了!

 

这个小镇为什么这么美丽,日出前的亮光照在冰凌的池塘,和屋顶结的霜,整个小镇像星星一样闪亮。李小狐冻到吐血了也要在外面走。(早饭在餐厅吃buffet,一个人灌下一壶咖啡)

这里是山区,群山怀抱。山上的云气流动,像被疾风吹着一般。

太阳终于出来了。

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