Visiting the United States had never been a priority for me; with all its influence over and similarities with the UK, I felt that I almost knew it already. On the other hand, being the geology lover I am, I’d always wanted to see the Grand Canyon for myself. So when Steve suggested I come with him to the US before he headed out on a cruise, this great ‘natural wonder of the world’ became our starting point.
Las Vegas became our fly-in, fly-out point, and the drive out to the canyon blossomed into a road trip around Nevada, Arizona and Utah’s other National Parks. I read about the slot canyons of Page, the hoodoos of Bryce and the steep mountain trails of Zion and got really excited. Soon we were hiring an open-top Mustang, booking a cabin on the Grand Canyon’s rim and finding out which restaurants on our route had featured on Man Vs. Food. This was going to be big.
The reality turned out to be even bigger than our plans. In fact, everything we saw on our trip can be defined in extremes. Vegas’ neon-lit hotels resembled super-sized children’s playsets of castles, pyramids and cities. On the road we drove through seemingly endless landscapes, for hundreds of miles at a time, in a bright red convertible. Hikes took us down one of the world’s deepest canyons and around the sides of mountains higher than the clouds. We ate gigantic plates of indulgent food, and drank neon cocktails the length of our arms.
Other things were extraordinarily small. Slot Canyons so narrow we had to squeeze through sideways, and rock columns so thin as to seem impossible. A small cabin in the woods, from which we spotted tiny chipmunks and birds. Miniature glasses of wine and beer in alcohol-averse Utah, which cost far too much!
We played music loud and photographed animals in silence. We woke early to watch the sunrise in solitude, and stayed up late to party amid thousands. We drove nearly 1,000 miles and walked more than 100,000 steps. We gazed up at the twinkling stars of a silent sky, and down at the flashing lights of a city that never sleeps.
This is the story of two Brits’ road trip around the south-west United States (SWUS).
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All photos and text (c) Juliet Langton, 2016. All rights reserved.