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Published: April 14th 2014
Greetings from a grotty little town in the middle of nowhere. Apparently there's a nice canyon out there somewhere, but the wind has whipped up every bit of sand in the desert so the canyon has vanished. Perfect opportunity to relax in my posh hotel and finally update my blog.
Flying over Canada, giant icebergs as far as the eye can see. Awesome sight. Bit high up to see any polar bears though.
Elrod Rabbit Baylee, aka Meat Loaf, putting on a Vegas show. Complete with juggler, fire eater, tap dancers, chippendale and 2 clowns who got shouted at by Mr Loaf for being scary.
Day 3, 4
Las Vegas. Take the tackiest bits of most major cities and stuff it all into 1 long street in the middle of nowhere in the Nevada desert. The place is nuts. And huge. I think I can walk 3 blocks down to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. In 90°f, 3 long blocks takes an hour, and feel much longer. Not much else there but hotels, but they are quite impressive hotels. Huge with limited attention given to taste. Each has a massive casino, which was a distraction from the Eiffel Tower, Sphynx, Grand Canal and Volcano.
The undoubted highlights are the Bellagio Fountains which are out of this world. And Penn and Teller, who were superb. Very funny with interesting magic tricks. You can tell they've been doing it for decades and really know what they doing.
There is someone else who I've followed for a while now who's been touring for decades, has a huge catalogue of work to use, and a team behind him that everyone in the world would be jealous of. And who's been keeping me happy since I was 13. After 20 years, the opportunity came up to say Thank You. Not an opportunity that any sane person would pass on. By following my heart out to Vegas, I was rewarded with the best night of my life.
I finally got to meet my idol, tell him I adored him and I was grateful for the many years of fantastic music. And put my head in his shoulder for the official photo. He is a sweetie, extremely nice, chatty, charming, little scruffy, but he's the ultimate rock god so he's allowed to ignore the combs in his dressing room. I could not stop shaking afterwards, and haven't stopped grinning yet.
Another bonus of the Meet and Greet is you get to meet other sensible people with the same obsession. Including a couple of Wolves fans, nicely proving that Wolves fans also have perfect taste in music as well as promoted football teams. I also got an invite back to someone's room to wait for the concert. Lovely woman called Cathy who was lucky enough to be retired and could get to Vegas for all 24 of his concerts. I'm really jealous. She also had a suggestion for a bar we should try after the concert.
The concert was spectacular, fantastic, funny, life affirming and awe inspiring joy, as usual. Meeting the band in the bar after the concert put a final seal on the day. Paul Crook, a man who can do the motorcycle guitar and go straight through into an awesome solo in Bat Out Of Hell, and whom I've admired for many years, has the sweetest smile. They are all incredibly nice, sweet chatty people who seemed genuinely happy to meet us. And also quite impressed that I'd gone all the way to Vegas just for Meat Loaf. They were also joined by the guitarist from Lynyrd Skynyrd. A Day surrounded by rock legends. Life doesn't get any cooler.
Hoover Dam. It's a big dam, kinda ugly. Ladybower is much prettier.
Day 7, 8
A big whole in the ground. Well, a really really big whole in the ground. The Grand Canyon lives up to expectation. Enormous, mysterious, beautiful. As the light changes throughout the day, it reveals different sides of it's personality. I could happily sit and stare at it all day. Watching the sunset over the canyon was mesmerizing.
Sadly there was a bit too much cloud cover to sit and watch the stars by the canyon. I also turned into a big wuss late at night when there was only one other car left in my car park next to one look out a few miles from civilization. Curse my imagination, every shadow suddenly becomes Jeffrey Dahmer.
About 1000 years ago, a volcano erupted, near where many other volcanoes had also made a mess. The result is a fantastically varied landscape, with a river of lava left to solidify in the middle of it all. You can see the texture of the lava where it's flowed like liquid, or exploded into a hail of giant boulders. Very unusual and interesting place to explore.
There were also a few old crumblies nearby. North America's desperation to pretend they have some history. 3 old sandstone huts and a store room doesn't compare to the full size crumblies I was treated to as a kid. Or... ahem... Machu Picchu, which trumps any stone huts in the world.
And to today. What I failed to mention earlier was that while the canyon was obscured by a sand storm this afternoon, this morning it was gorgeous sunshine. I got a private 3 hour tour inside the canyon, from a charming young local man. Johnny Depp's tour guide when he was filming the Lone Ranger in the said canyon. A film which I now have to watch, if only to say 'been there' while watching.
The canyon itself is amazing. Full of cave drawings, and homes built into the caves. There are some bats in there somewhere, but they are in hiding at this time of year.
I'm heading North tomorrow. Monument Valley, Utah Canyonlands and whatever National Parks, big daft monuments, forests, lakes and mountains happen to be in the way. Driving round here is easy. The car is manual, so built for people who couldn't cope with the complexity of gears. If they could discover the roundabout and stop leaving every junction to chance, that would be nice. Turning down the sun occasionally would also be nice.
Whatever happens though, this is a properly awesome holiday.
I MET MEAT LOAF!!!!
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