I'll always giggle when I write out what we did on Day 5.
It has its own blog post for a reason.
We woke up (at The View Hotel) to the sunrise over the Monument Valley (I hadn't warned Joe of this - the alarm went off before dawn and I'm sure he thought I had entirely lost my marbles at that point).
But roll over we did NOT! Up we were, sitting in our coats, arm in arm, huddled together as the pinprick of light came up over that vast desert. It still goes down as the greatest sunrise I've ever seen - I wonder if anything will ever beat it? The silence, the colours, the light, the company. It just doesn't get much better than that. In instances like these, hours stretched on for days in my mind, and it didn't feel like we were rushing at all.
Time especially stretched on, seemingly for hours, as I saw the red bars of battery on my phone (and camera) disappear like the moon.
I should say at this point that one of the Top 5 things that irritate Joe most about me is my utter disregard for the simple fact that devices require charging. I'll go morning and night without plugging them in and complain that they're dead the next day. Optimum frustration occurs early in the morning, when we have had a good 8 hours of prime charging time and it has gone unutilised.
By the time the sun was rising, Joe had pulled the car up to the viewing area and I was hanging half out of it with the phone plugged in to charge. It had shut itself off and the sun was racing the lit-up Apple symbol to the finish line. Apple prevailed! And we got some stunning pics. Thank GOD. Not sure we'd be married today if we didn't. Tempers were warm like the sun.
By 8 am, we were in the car and off to the Grand Canyon. We enjoyed a helicopter ride from the south rim.
Tip: There are loads of tours etc from Vegas that all fly to the North Rim. If you can, make the trip from the South Rim - it's arguably the better vista.
I had put my name down for the front seats of the six-seater helicopter, and clearly my ridiculously early booking paid off (I had booked this experience in bed on my iPhone one night after a bad day at work, about five months before we left!). We sat right beside the pilot - who was an awesome chick and a total hoot.
When you take off, you proceed out and over forest that seems to stretch for miles. Then, on the horizon, you see the earth just drop away. The moment when the helicopter sweeps you right off that edge is a serious adrenaline rush! My stomach leapt a little - breathtaking. The tour takes you over the widest and deepest sections of the canyon - where you could stack six Eiffel Towers on top of one another and still not reach the edge. Photos will never, ever do it justice. You simply must go.
We had a picnic for lunch in the national park and then off we went again. We drove back to Vegas, dropped the car off and we hopped on a red-eye to New Orleans via Atlanta.
We had practically no sleep - there was turbulence and the flight was uncomfortable, with the added delight of a 3am layover in Atlanta for an hour and a half. We were easily the most tired I think we've ever been coming off that flight and straight into New Orleans at 9.30am on Day 6. This method of travelling is definitely not for everyone! But we pushed on - and boy did we have a good time! We ate freshly shucked Gulf oysters with a beer sitting up at the bar at Acme (a must-visit!), walked down Bourbon Street with giant cocktails in our hand, and visited the vibrant jazz scene on Frenchmen Street.
We headed to The Three Muses and had a spectacular night of food, cocktails and music. We caught another cheeky nightcap before crashing out again at our brilliant hotel - The Frenchmen - right there at the junction with the famous Esplanade. We covered over 4,500km that 'day'. And I'd do it again in a heartbeat!
Tip: We much preferred the Marigny Quarter over the French Quarter and can't recommend The Frenchmen enough.
Next blog: The Bayou, Memphis, Nashville and beyond...