What a bummer to have a big birthday during a pandemic. I refused to let the year of travel restrictions get in the way of celebrating turning 40.
I flew into Las Vegas, NV and stayed at one of my favorite resorts just off the strip. It’s called Tahiti Village, and I stay there through a transfer of my parents timeshare. The location is excellent, and the amenities on the property have been perfect for what I need each time I visit.
I’ve done Vegas a bunch of times, so I no longer feel the need to stay in the middle of all the action. This will always be my go to location. I will occasionally dabble into the Golden Nugget Hotel in “old” Vegas, because I just LOVE the vibe on that side of town.
Tahiti Village is very close to the strip. Maybe not walking distance for most people, but the resort offers shuttles (except when Covid is a thing) I opted to spend my time in their lazy river. The pool area really makes you feel like you’re in a tropical island. The rooms I’ve stayed in come equipped with laundry and full kitchens. I’ve saved so much money on food by having access to a kitchen.
During this trip I decided to check off three National Parks. None of which were close enough for a normal person to make a day trip out of it, be here I was, ready to roll in rented Ford Escape.
First up was Great Basin National Park. If you ever feel like driving 5 hours into the Middle of Nowhere, Nevada, this is the place for you. The downside of visiting National Parks during Covid is that the visitor centers were all closed. My typical plan of attack when visiting parks is to do minimal research prior to, and rely on the park visitor centers, rangers, and park movies to help guide me. My visit to Great Basin left me with a park map and limited cell service.
I made the most of being ill-prepared. I took a drive through the park, went to the closed Visitor Center for my park stamp to add to my favorite National Park Passport Book. I had a picnic lunch with some nice views, and then headed back to Las Vegas. I hope someday, I will be able to explore more of this park.
The next day I made the trek to Williams, AZ. I had plans to see the Grand Canyon at sunrise on my 40th Birthday. I woke up extra early to get to the park in plenty of time. When I got to the park, there were 3 cars in the parking lot and it was pitch black. I stumbled my way through some trees and found the trail that led to what I hoped was the canyon. I sat in complete silence for a half hour waiting for nature to wake up. At about the same time the birds starting singing, here came the swarms of people. I ended up moving viewing locations to get away from the chatter.
As the sun started to come up, I got my first view of the epic Grand Canyon! Wow! It did not disappoint. It felt like I was looking at a painting. After nearly an hour at my viewing spot, I decided to take the rest of the morning to explore the rest of the park views.
Next up, since I was in the area, I decided to take the 3 hour journey to Petrified Forest National Park. I stopped for lunch in Winslow, and I have to admit, I chickened out and didn’t grab a touristy photo standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona, (sorry Eagles). I will 100% redeem myself when I do a Route 66 road trip.
Petrified Forest National Park is really cool. It is known for its fossils, petrified wood from trees that existed over 225 million years ago. Also on the not to miss list are the petroglyphs within the park, the painted desert, the section of Route 66 that runs through the park and the numerous paleontology exhibits the park offers.
My trip then took me back to Las Vegas to enjoy more time in the lazy river, more Black Bear Diner breakfasts (if you know, you know) and one more visit to the Golden Nugget to play some of Vegas’ oldest slot machines.
Thanks for coming along on my 40th Birthday adventure! Stay tuned for another visit to Grand Canyon NP where I encountered an equally epic sunset!