3 States and 2 timezones in one day
After leaving Zion, we landed right across the border of Utah in the next state: Arizona. While our stay in this state will be short-lived for now (we will come back to this later, don’t worry), we opted to take this route south to visit Pipe Springs National Monument. After the orange rocks of Utah – whose slogan rightfully so is ‘Utah Rocks!’ – we land on the highland plains in another blazing heat. Our stay is on the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation, in what quite possibly is one of the best value campsites we have stayed in. Spotless hotel-like facilities and foreseen of all the trimmings, including electricity to run our AC. For the first time the boys stay inside to play, the heat is really unbearable although luckily some clouds are rolling in from the south.
The Pipe Springs National Monument tells the story of this area, called the ‘Arizona Strip’ right below the Utah border. Of course its original inhabitants were Native Americans, the Kaibab Paiute tribe, who lived of what the land had to offer, circling the spring that provided them with much needed water. As the pioneers came from the East, it was mostly Mormons that started settling in these outposts, which did not always go in a peaceful manner. Being caught between the Navajo tribe and the Mormons, the Kaibab risked being stuck in the middle and took a lot of heat from both sides. The National Monument gives a great insight in the difficulty of all these different cultures sharing the same physical space.
As we crossed the state border, we also moved from Mountain time to Pacific time, giving us 1 extra hour to play with! As our drive out of the area cuts through Utah, then back through Arizona and then into Nevada, we literally change states and time zones several times in one afternoon… very confusing, but while we thought we arrived late at our accommodation for the night, it turned out our time zone change actually made us early 😉. Harvest Hosts were very limited in the Utah and Colorado states, so we were excited to find Windy’s Rescue for a night – an animal shelter. Needless to say the boys were ecstatic, but the parents enjoyed the line up of pigs (dozens of them, including the cutest little piglets), emu, donkey, dogs, cats, ducks, geese, goats and others just as much. The promise of helping to feed them all in the morning put a smile on the faces before bed… and made them forget about their upcoming Covid-19 test.
Lake Mead & the Hoover Dam
The next morning, the boys roll up their imaginary sleeves (waaaaayyy to hot for them) and help feed the animals. The help is much appreciated, and they are having a fantastic time with all the cheeky animals coming out to play with them. We decide to drive along Lake Mead down into Las Vegas, as we have an 11 o’clock appointment for a Covid-test. See as we are enjoying all those states, we decided to try and visit as many as possible, so we will be flying out to HAWAII!!! Woot woot! Call it a birthday present, call it a treat, call it deserved after a few months in a small RV, but we are going to enjoy 8 days of island life. Unfortunately though, the Hawaiian authorities do require a quarantaine or proof of vaccination/negative test, and of course our Dutch vaccination papers are not accepted. Hence the whole family has to go in for a mandatory test (adding 500+ dollars to the bill, KACHING)… *sigh*…
After the test though, we speed out of Vegas again, and roll down the interstate towards Lake Mead National Recreation Area and the Hoover Dam. We planned to bikeride the 3,5 mile rail trail between the two visitor centers, but the rangers advised against this, saying there have been casualties… Currently temperatures are over 40 degrees, truly putting our ability to deal with heat to the test, and so we decide to accept the advice and opt out of biking. Instead, we spend enough time in the visitor center to get yet another badge, and learn about the coming about of Lake Mead, while enjoying the view of a very empty lake.
Hoover dam turns out to be quite commercial, or we have just forgotten what it is like to pay for popular landmarks as we flash our America The Beautiful pass everywhere? We park the RV to have a walk over the (very impressive) dam, again crossing the time zone as we do so, and then drive back to cross the only 10 year old bridge high up behind it for some stellar views down. It is still too hot to do much, even at the end of the afternoon, so the only thing left is a refreshing dip in Lake Mead itself, before we call it a day and park our RV out in the desert.
Las Vegas Baby!
Of course we were not going to fully pass up on Las Vegas while we are there, so after a slow and relaxed morning start (early because of the heat, slow for the same reason), we drive into the city center. We have booked a campground on the Strip, right behind and part of the Circus Circus casino, so we are perfectly set up to go and explore on foot. Helped of course by the fact that most of the walking is indoors in the aircon of these massive hotel/casinos. It is a surreal experience to walk here, and our boys are even more amazed at what they are seeing.
Only here do you go from Paris to Venice to Rome, while being bombarded with shops of all kinds and of course floors filled with slotmachines and black jack tables. To have a break from all the walking we buy tickets to a magic show, to add to the overall experience. After a good pizza/pasta dinner, we finalize our adventure with 2 free shows; The Bellagio Fountain and the Volcano at the Mirage. We can not decide which one was best, but to see them after dark was quite exhilarating. Exhaustion kicks in from the impressions had, and thankfully our RV has cooled off tremendously from running the aircon all afternoon, which means the boys fall over into their beds and are sound asleep in 5 minutes.
Travel day – Las Vegas to Hawaii
As we are getting ready to bid the mainland farewell, and with that the intense dry heat of the Nevada desert, we still have some chores to do before we can drop off the RV. Best way to do that is to have the boys out of the way, so they spend the morning by the pool and the playground of the campsite, while we get everything ready. Sheets laundered, RV cleaned out, perishables eaten or thrown away (I keep having this feeling I left something in there to rot in the 40+ degrees heat… I guess we will find out when we come back 😉) and the luggage packed and ready.
Our previous Harvest Host Janice of Windy’s Rescue has been so kind to check with a friend if we could park the RV there, which means we can leave it at a secure place only 10 minutes away from the airport! Lucky us 😊. We have never been this early before a flight, and enjoy the sight of the Las Vegas airport, where they even have slot machines in the baggage claim area – sad but true. The first flight is a short one to LA, fully booked and right on time. Our flight to Honolulu is delayed with an hour though, and is a 5,5 hour flight with just some salty snacks and a soda… American Airlines is not our favorite airline as you can imagine.
The flight goes by quickly though, and as we have done all the prework before getting on the plane in terms of covid testing and registration with the Hawaii authorities, our arrival is also very quick. Necessary as well, as the boys are exhausted with the time difference and in desperate need of a long night steep.
Oahu Hawaii – Enjoying the island
After a midnight arrival, we finally get to see the island, with the first stop being BREAKFAST! Covid regulations are becoming more tight again on Hawaii, and thus the breakfast café only does take away, but with beautiful beaches everywhere finding a place to eat is never difficult. With our rental car, we explore the northern side of the island, driving along the coast with stellar views of the ocean backed by a lush green volcano. There are a few drops of rain – a weird sight after the drought on the mainland – but the temperature is great. Sven finally has his much needed haircut while we do some groceries (Apple Crisp Latte at Starbucks included), and then it is on to the beach!
Our accommodation is a vacation rental that kindly foresees in everything beach, so the boys have hauled the bodyboards and all the beach toys they could find. Needless to say we opted for a surfable beach this first day, in the shape of Waimanalo Bay Beach. The waves are great and we all enjoy the boards and the jumping in/over/through/under the waves for the rest of the afternoon. The drive back is a bit long, but that of course does not stop the men from still taking a plunge in the pool next to our accommodation to complete a day of fun, sun, sand, surf and swimming.
The next day we stay a bit closer to home and explore the touristy town of Hale’iwa. Loads of fun shops, with a big focus of course on surf and beach wear (SO eager to buy but we managed to hold off) and fun galleries with all kinds of local art. Next stop was Waimea to hit the beach there – a feast with a sandy cove (Three Tables), but also a tidal pool like area which serves as an aquarium you can snorkel in right out to the adjacent Sharks Cove. Plenty of fish, a small turtle and very colorful sea urchin that almost seemed not real.
We can of course not leave Oahu without going to our ‘own’ beach, Turtle Bay right outside of our accommodation, so this is the last stop of the day. The bay is another great spot for the boys to play around with the bodyboards and do some nice snorkeling as well. Especially Bo is really getting more comfortable in the water, which is great as he just had his diploma before we left on our travels. Both boys are in the water for hours on end, which means the grownups also have time to chill and relax that travel weary body a bit – G&T anyone? :-).
Next week: Some more of Hawaii, and on to the next state – California!