Mexican Hat Jun 25, 2013 - Mexican Hat, UT

Mexican Hat, UT

Hey everyone, Here's whats been happening with us this week: Wednesday 19.06.13: Today we were due to leave Laughlin and head to the Grand Canyon early to snag a first come, first served (FCFS) campsite at Desert View Campground. We have tomorrow night booked out there at Mather Campground but could only get the reservation for one night with it being summer vacation over here - everything else was fully booked. We were having a talk about it this morning though and we both decided that in this heat (mid 40's) we'd probably be better off staying here where we have access to showers, pool and air con if we want to cool off, rather than at Desert View where there are no facilities at all. So it's a bit disappointing not to be off to the beautiful canyon today but we'll be there tomorrow so its all good. After we extended our stay here we spent the morning at home where I worked on the blog and then we made hot dogs for lunch. After that we hit up the pool again for the rest of the day. We pretty much hung out there all afternoon swimming, working on the blog and soaking up the sun. Today's drink special was $3 coronas which were great, but in a can, so that was a bit different with your slice of lime squeezed in the top haha. For dinner we grabbed chinese takeout from Panda Express and headed home to relax. The only downside then was that the mozzies came out to join us!!! On the positive side though, this is the first time we've seen mozzies since we left Oz so I guess that's not too bad huh :) Thursday 20.06.13: What a day! We had planned to get a really early start before it got too hot but neither of us slept very well last night and when the 5.30am alarm went off we both groaned & changed it to 6.30am. We finally hit the road to the Grand Canyon around 7.45am and I suspect if we didn't have tonight already booked out there we probably would've stayed another day here and kept sleeping... We stopped for fuel in Laughlin & had a look down Casino Drive which is basically their version of Las Vegas Boulevard - lots of casinos side by side all down the street. It's not as huge and full on as Vegas but its still pretty impressive. We had a pretty uneventful drive from there until we started getting wafts of our septic tank coming into the cab - not very nice let me tell you. We don't normally get any toilet smells thank goodness, but I guess the heat was warming everything up and because we were driving the tanks were sloshing around & so the smell was coming out... You know the smell a port-a-loo can get in the heat? Yep that's what we were experiencing - so gross!!! We had seen quite a few servos over here that have sani-dumps for RV's but of course today when we wanted one there was not a single one to be found. Murphy's law. In the end we just pulled into an RV park we were passing and paid to use their sani-dump to empty our tanks and get rid of the smell. In the process we discovered two things: 1) that the roof cover on our kitchen exhaust fan had come loose and was hanging off about to fall (lucky we stopped when we did & noticed it) and 2) that somehow the tank valve had vibrated open because when Ben took the cover off to attach the hose to the sewer he got wet feet - yuck, yuck, yuck!!!!! Not happy Jan! So after we emptied the tanks, cleaned ourselves up & unsuccessfully tried to re-attach the cover (we just stashed it inside to try again later) we were back on the road. The scenery on the drive out was quite pretty - I love how the landscape changes so often. It was really gusty & windy though so Ben had a bit of a job keeping Tobes on the road. All was going well until we got to Williams and Toby stalled at the stop sign coming off an exit ramp. Which has never happened before... He started up ok there so we came into town, stopped for lunch and also then had to get more fuel - another sign that things weren't quite right. Being a motorhome our gas mileage is never going to be fantastic but we've never only gotten 260km out of a tank before....He didn't sound quite right but was still driving ok so we decided to push on - it was only about 100km to the canyon by now. About 10mins out of the canyon he started surging, spluttering & losing power coming up hills and then when we came to more stop signs his idle dropped really low and he was trying to stall - Benny had to give him extra revs to keep him going while we were sitting there. So I was, quite simply, freaking out while Ben just stayed calm and just drove us into the canyon car park. I was just thinking of all the places to have engine dramas it had to be the middle of nowhere didn't it. I mean there are thousands of people around, but it's not like you have a heap of mechanics you can go to out here. Anyway we figured we were here so let's make the most of it and forget our troubles for the moment. We hopped out at Mather Point and walked around some of the canyon rim, it's just as spectacular as I remember it. We stayed there for an hour or two, its just so beautiful, words and photos cannot do it justice, you literally just stop and stare. I still reckon it's something you need to see with your own eyes to understand how truly magnificent it is. It did the trick in taking our minds off Toby's dramas anyway. He started up ok when we got back to the car park so we went and checked in at Mather Campground just around the corner - thank goodness we had a booking because they were full up. Yay for us being organised for once!! We drove up to Canyon Village shop for a look and to grab more beer (can't have no beer says Benny) and then went back to find our site and get set up. It's pretty basic, just a dirt campground with no hookups or lights etc but its so nice & relaxing and hey we're at the Grand Canyon :) I was just so relieved to get there and relax, there were times today where I was thinking we weren't going to go any further. I had visions of us on the side of the road waiting for the tow truck!!! We think we may have discovered the source of Toby's problems too. He has a double exhaust and I noticed that one pipe was now sitting a lot lower than the other, where they used to be side by side. Benny got under there for a look, gave the exhaust a shake and 'she's loose as a goose' (he told me to write that haha). So everything is still intact, its just that the manifold has come loose causing one exhaust pipe to drop lower so the bolts holding it all up need to be re-tightened - says Benny the mechanic :) However they're seized up and he can't do them by hand, he says we'll need a mechanic with a rattle gun to do that. This is one of those times when it's frustrating having no fixed address - you know, if this happened at home you can just go to your garage, get your tools and maybe be able fix it, buuut this is our home... At least now we know (hopefully) what the drama is and that explains why Tobes was struggling up the hills - poor bugger just can't breathe to get any power! He drives ok once you're going, just has a little bit of trouble up hills and of course he's idling really rough which sounds awful, plus we're burning through fuel like theres no tomorrow! But there's nothing we can do here so we decided that we'll just try and get back to Williams tomorrow coz it's a bigger town so we should have better luck with finding a mechanic. Around 7pm we walked up to the shuttle stop to get the bus back to the canyon for the sunset. It's fantastic, they have these free shuttle buses that do different loops around the canyon so you can just leave your car and get the shuttle bus to take you around without worrying about finding parking. It's a great idea - our visit was so quick last time, jumping on and off our tour bus at a couple of stops that we had no idea about the shuttles and we missed seeing so much stuff. So they dropped us off at Yaki Point and it was so worth going, the sunset brought out all of these amazing colours in the canyon, it was just gorgeous. So many people came down for the sunset, it's was like a big party atmosphere on the rim. We were both pretty buggered and just 'over it' after the day we'd had so we almost didn't come down but I'm so glad we made the effort. It's definitely something I won't forget in a hurry - watching the sun set over the grand canyon = amazing!!! :) It's a bit disappointing that we stayed the extra day in Laughlin now instead of coming to the canyon, because I forgot all about the elevation here. We're actually up a lot higher here so it's a lot cooler - I even wore a light jumper to the rim for the sunset. It's a shame because now that we're here we'd love to spend longer & we originally were meant to have another day - I just wish we had known but what can you do... Afterwards we hopped on the shuttle to come home and soon realised we were on the wrong one. There are 3 different loops that the shuttles do, and each one has a different colour. The blue loop goes around the village to all of the hotels, campgrounds and shops etc - this is the one we needed so we just hopped onto the blue bus. What we didn't realise till after we left and the driver started talking about the upcoming stops is that they go in both directions around the loop So if we hopped on the westbound bus our stop is one of the first, but if we hopped on the eastbound bus our stop is near last. Once we realised this we hopped off at the shop and walked the 5mins home, saving ourselves a 1.5hr bus ride all around the loop in the dark lol. Once we were home it was time to light the campfire, crack a beer and just relax! A great end to a memorable day :) Friday 21.06.13: I think we were both exhausted after yesterday's efforts because we both just crashed out last night and didn't want to get up this morning. We finally left the campground at around 7.45am and headed up to the shop. Benny had a brainwave this morning and tied the two exhausts together to hold the loose one up in place with a wire coat hanger. It worked perfectly until he went just one twist too many when joining them and it snapped (I won't tell you what he said!) so we're off to see if we can find some wire to use instead. The shop had just about everything except the wire we needed so we had the idea to use our little wire 'marshmallow toasting stick thingys' instead. I'm living with MacGyver here haha. It worked a treat, pulling the loose exhaust up to where it should sit and when we started Tobes up he sounded so much better. Not as good as he should but a hell of a lot better than yesterday that's for sure. Since we may have temporarily fixed the issue we decided that we're just going to hit the road and see if we can get to Vegas today like we'd planned. It figures that something happens the only time we have plans and want to be somewhere huh. At least if we can get to Vegas today we have 8 days to get him looked at and we can spend time with mum & dad, rather than finding a mechanic in the middle of nowhere and being stuck there while they fix him up. That's the plan anyway, fingers crossed haha. The closer to Vegas we get the better, because if we can't get any further and have to call for help then at least our roadside assistance will tow us into Vegas :) Before we got too far though we come across an RV just stopped on the other side of the road just outside the village. Cynical old me I'm like "Oh how stupid, what's this wally doing?" Ben's just as bad "Oh they're probably lost". Not so - I look across our side of the road in the woods and "Ohmygod Ben it's a reindeer!!!!!!" It seems they were stopped taking photos of a big elk haha. He was gorgeous (and huge) - Ben did the same thing as them and stopped so I could jump out to snap a few photos. It was then that I realised exactly how big he really was (larger than a big horse) and thought "**** he's pretty big maybe I should've stayed in the car" lol. But I think they're pretty used to people when they come in that close to the campgrounds & village. I stayed on the road & kept my distance but still he wasn't even fazed by me, just kept munching on his grass and ignoring me - which was great, I didn't want to tangle with those big antlers. We stopped in at Tusayan (the town just outside the village) to see the Grand Canyon IMAX theatre film. Now that he's discovered them, Benny is a huge fan of IMAX these days but they really just make me feel a bit seasick to be honest. The films are always amazing but I just feel a bit woozy from looking up at the big screen when they're over lol. Afterwards we grabbed a coffee and late brekky from the most expensive Macca's in the world down the road. We had been warned about the prices but I just wanted to see for myself... And now I've seen - it was about $18 for 2 brekky value meals - won't do that again, us unemployed folk can't afford that haha. We hit the road and didn't stop till we needed fuel in Ash Forks where we saw Toby's brother. It was the exact same Chev, just a different layout motorhome on the back. The driver sings out "Hey! I like your motorhome", we're like "Yours too!" and then he gave us a big wave and honked his horn on his way out. Woohoo friends!! :) It was a pretty uneventful trip from there and Toby seems to be holding up well. I was a nervous wreck though, every time I heard something I was like "What's that noise? Did you hear that?" Then if Ben dropped his foot off the accelerator and we slowed I'm like "Was that you? Or are we losing power again? Are we going to stall?" Lol relax already!! We only had about 130kms to go and he started surging a bit again when we were coming up hills, otherwise he drove like a dream. We finally got to Vegas around 4pm - it felt like the longest trip ever for me. Benny did a fantastic job driving - keeping us alive - and Toby just hung in there, such a trooper. He was fine on the freeway (except for occasional surging) so it was coming through Vegas where he wanted to stall at every red light that was the worst part. Buuuut we made it, and arrived just after mum & dad so everyones here & IT'S ALL GOOD! :) Our apartment is huge, like 10 times the size of Toby, I'm worried we'll get lost in here! But honestly it's really lovely and sooooo nice to see mum & dad again. We spent the afternoon relaxing in the air con, catching up over a few drinks - did I mention the temperature's in the mid 40's here too? Air con is going to be very welcome I think :) We're staying on the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard and we're about 2km from the strip here so we ended up going across the road to Gee Bees for dinner. It's a little local diner/pub type place & in true american style everyone's meals were HUGE but yum too. It's just a bugger that you're still allowed to smoke everywhere over here. We're eating our meals in a hazy, smoky environment which is so different to at home, but at least the food was good! :) Saturday 22.06.13: Wow we both slept so well last night. I guess knowing that we had made it here & don't have to worry about Toby for the minute, plus being nice & cool instead of hot & sweaty meant that we basically passed out when we got to bed last night haha! :) When we got up this morning mum & dad were going off to their Worldmark presentation so I put the coffee on and started the laundry. By the time they came back all the chores were done and we were ready to either relax or go exploring. Dad has come down with the flu and has a sore neck as well, so he isn't feeling very well so he came home, had a shower & went to bed. Mum, Ben & I decided to catch the Worldmark shuttle up to the south premium outlet shops to see what they're all about. We had a walk through and a look around then grabbed some food court Chinese for lunch that actually was fresh & delicious. It's all about timing at the food court! :) Afterwards we caught a taxi back to the Food 4 Less grocery store just down from our apartment block. Mum loves browsing all the "different stuff" over here as much as me so we took our time getting some groceries then headed home. Since we were only 2 or 3 blocks away and could see our apartment from the store we contemplated borrowing the trolley to walk home with & then bringing it back (since we had a couple of gallon bottles of water, a slab of Gatorade & a few bags of stuff). However that choice was made for us when we reached the edge of the parking lot and the trolley wheels locked up - I guess that's as far as the trolley's coming with us then huh. Like I said we weren't far from home, but in the hot sun and laden with quite a load it ended up being quite the walk. It's such a dry heat, it feels weird to be so hot and yet not sweating, but it was almost like the air was burning your face and in nostrils & throat when you breathed. So different to home! I guess no-one walks anywhere in this heat because we definitely got some strange looks! We were sure glad to get back to the unit & have a cold drink anyway. Dad was up when we got home, but his sore neck had progressed to one of his bad headaches so he still wasn't feeling great. Mum tried calling Worldmark Spa to get him in for a massage but no one would answer the phone. It was still a few hours till their advertised closing time so we stopped in down there and found that they'd closed early. We walked across the road to grab some beer and noticed there was a spa in the complex so thought we'd see if we could get dad in for a massage there. I've never seen such a dodgy spa lol. Their windows were all blacked out and the door was locked. There was a small handwritten note taped to the door saying "Ring the bell" next to a doorbell & security camera up above looking down on us. We all looked at each other like "Wow what kind of place is this?" and I know I was having second thoughts, but mum rang the bell and after a few minutes a little Asian lady answered the door clutching her mobile phone like we'd interrupted her conversation. Mum: "Oh hello, do you do massages?" Lady: (shaking her head at us) "No... No... No... No massage here. Just spa". Haha righto then, whatever that means - thanks anyway. I'm pretty sure "spa" is a code word though and if dad had turned up asking for a massage he would've been ushered right inside hahaha. She did point us in the right direction of somewhere we could get a massage so it's not all bad. We popped next door to the mini mart to grab some beer (where guys were smoking & playing poker - yes, in the minimart!) and then headed home for a BBQ dinner. Sunday 23.06.13: We had a slow morning around the apartment this morning before walking up the road to the shops. The massage place ended up being in the same complex as the Food 4 Less grocery store so it's not far at all. We walked in to see if we could get dad in for a massage and the poor little Asian lady (different one from yesterday) nearly fell over. "How many you want massage? I have call someone. It just me here". Once she realised it was only dad she was alright and took him on through. We went and grabbed coffee next door and then strolled around Walgreens (a big pharmacy chain with lots of goodies like Priceline) while we waited. Once Dad was finished and feeling a little better we caught the bus up to the strip and headed to Monte Carlo to pick up our tickets to tonights Blue Man Group show. We decided to have lunch while we were there and headed for the huge buffet. It's enormous and has just about anything you could want! The king crab legs were really yummy!! Dad still wasn't feeling 100% after lunch so he & mum headed back home. Ben & I started wandering up the strip heading nowhere in particular, till we decided that we might just prefer to head home and relax in the air con or by the pool to escape the heat. So we walked back to the Monte Carlo and caught the shuttle back to the hotel where we veged out till it was time to come back for the show. Blue Man Group was fantastic, they're so talented & funny. To be honest I didn't really know what to expect, I'd only seen YouTube previews of them playing music on pipes and didn't really know how they could make a whole show out of that... But they were amazing & did so much more. Yes they played the pipe music (which was really cool by the way), but they also performed comedy skits which were hilarious - BUT they never spoke a word! I was amazed at how funny a show could be when they don't actually speak, my sides hurt from laughing afterwards. They really have mastered the art of facial expressions! I'm definitely a Blue Man convert :) Afterwards we caught the shuttle back home where Dad, still not feeling very good, went to bed & we went across to Gee Bees again to grab some takeout. Once we had ordered our dinner we decided to chuck a few dollars in the slots on the bar to kill some time. Winner, winner, chicken dinner, the slots paid out so dinner ended up costing us something like 50 cents - thank you very much. I think Gee Bees could be our new favourite! :) We took our takeout home where we could get comfy and sat up till close to midnight chatting. Monday 24.06.13: I was so tired this morning and slept in, I literally didn't even wake up till 10am - I thought my sleep in days were over but I must've needed it :) We had a pretty quiet morning, just lazing around the apartment. It's a cloudy day and noticeably cooler this morning - it's meant to be a heatwave with temperatures in the high 40's next week so maybe this is just the calm before the storm!? The rental car company picked us up after lunch so we could pick up our hire car - a Jeep Patriot. Dad wasn't feeling up to an excursion so he stayed home in the cool to rest. After we had the car we stopped in at Lee's Auto Repair to see if they could help us out with Toby. As with most mechanics they baulked at the idea as soon as you say "motorhome" but once we explained that he's only 21ft (a baby really) they were fine. In fact Toby is actually smaller than some of the pickup trucks you see around town!! Anyway Tobes is booked in for Thursday so he can be all fixed up. That settled, we went for a little drive afterwards and came across Town Square which is basically a fancy pants outdoor posh shopping complex. It's really beautiful how it's all set up, but for window shopping only for me haha. We had a wander through Whole Foods Market while we were there which is an upmarket boutique type grocery store. By the time we were done the sun had come out and it was warming up again. We headed over to the South Premium Outlets again and had some lunch and a browse then over to Food 4 Less to grab something for dinner (more our price range haha). We were back home to the apartment around 5pm for a coffee and a relax. Tuesday 25.06.13: Last week Dad booked us all a surprise tour out to Monument & Mystery Valleys in Arizona, so that where we're off to today. It's a big drive out there - roughly 610kms, but about 7.5hrs drive so after getting ice for the esky, filling our water bottles & grabbing coffee we were on the road by 7.30am. The drive out was really pretty, especially when we came through Zion National Park. The cliff faces and dramatic drop offs were so scenic and gorgeous, I wish I had gotten some photos but I was just feeling lazy that day & didn't realise we were coming back home a different way, otherwise I would have. We were super organised and had pre-made our ham & salad rolls so we had a quick lunch stop in Page before continuing on. In the end we arrived out at Monument Valley National Park around 5pm, so we had time for a quick look through the visitors centre before meeting our guide Henry for our 5.30pm tour. Also in our tour group were 2 female friends and a father + son team who were mad keen photographers. Our tour vehicle was an old pickup truck with seats welded on the back (at least it had a shade) and it was actually pretty comfy. Plus it was fantastic viewing being up higher & out in the open air, we saw way more than you would if you were sitting down inside a car. The tour was fantastic, we had a couple of stops and plenty of photo opportunities. The road was made up of rock and sand so we were frequently bouncing and bumping over rocks and sliding through the sand, lots of 4 wheel driving!!!! It was fun though, you just had to make sure your were holding on at times! Our guide told us that out of about 400,000 visitors to the park each year, most do the Monument Valley tour yet only 1% of those will do the Mystery Valley tour that we're on. They really don't know what they're missing out on, it's so pretty out here and the colours were constantly changing as the sun began to set. Sunset was around 8pm so on our way back Henry pulled up where we could get a nice photo and we all sat and watched the sun go down, which was gorgeous. When everyone had enough photos we started heading back only to have the vehicle keep stalling out on us. Uh ohhhh... Apparently we had vapor lock which is basically where the fuel in the fuel line becomes too hot from engine heat and vaporises, meaning there's no fuel in the lines to run the car, hence the loss of power & stalling. I got the impression that this was not the first time Henry had dealt with the vapor lock issue lol. So that was an adventure which was somehow hysterically funny (thanks to one of the ladies contagious laughter that set us all off) but after a few stops and starts we all made it back in one piece. We are staying in a little town called Mexican Hat about 40km from here, so it was only about a half hour drive before we were checking into our hotel - Hat Rock Inn. Dad knew we would be home late so had pre organised dinner at the nearby steakhouse for us - we arrived there about 9.45pm and our dinner was only 10 minutes away. They had a really awesome BBQ that they cooked everything on - apparently it's been in the steakhouse owners family for several generations. It's basically a huge metal grill that they load up with food and lower down, then it swings back and forth over the open flames - check out my photo and it will make sense. But it's so cool, I want one - Benny!!! We were home, showered and in bed by 11.30pm ready for our sunrise tour in the morning :) Talk again soon, Love Benny & Loz xxxxxxxx

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