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Driving During Our Trip To The Grand Canyon

Driving was an adventure in itself.

Rental Cars at Las Vegas Airport

If you do not have easier transportation options, renting a car is definitely a viable option.  Our main consideration was getting enough vehicle for the best price.  A compact car can be rented for about $15/day.  An SUV will more than triple that price.  We seriously considered an SUV when we learned the weather called for snow.  Finally, we decided on an economy and, after checking prices online, we booked a vehicle from Budget for $16/day. 

Upon checking in, I was asked if I would like to upgrade to a Standard vehicle.  I declined but then he told me they were out of Economy cars.  So, we were upgraded for no additional charge.  I had also planned to decline all additional insurance knowing my auto coverage should take care of any problems.  When I was asked to sign the bill, the additional insurance had been added on.  I contested it originally.  However, knowing that there was snow in the forecast, the added insurance seemed like a reasonable expense for peace of mind.

temperature in the car at the grand canyon
This picture shows the temperature gauge in the car at 2 degrees F.  The temperature dipped to -3 that night.

In the end, I was glad to have paid for the extra insurance because there were one or two close call incidents.  Our car was a Ford Taurus.  The car handled the weather fine including the 8" snowfall in Flagstaff our first night. 

The rental agreement stated that we could drive in NV, AZ, UT, and CA.  I have heard that their rental cars have GPS units which will alert them if you drive outside of this coverage area and you will be penalized heavily.  I have also heard rumors that you can be penalized if you drive significantly over the posted speed limit.

Finding the Budget rental counter upon return was a HUGE hassle.  I am sure it was my fault by being severely rushed and not knowing the area.  We finally pulled in with less than 30 minutes before our flight departed.  Drop-off was no hassle once we found the counter and I am sure the clerk laughed as all my belongings were strewn in the parking lot since I hadn't yet found time to pack.

It was a great car with no problems and I will not
hesitate to rent from Budget again.

ice on the windshield.  it gets cold in arizona
Ice covered the windshield after snowfall
and a sub-zero night.

A GPS is a constant hiking companion.

A GPS receiver was our constant companion.  At this point, we are crossing the Arizona Divide and the GPS reads 7347' altitude.  The GPS never displayed more than 20' difference than what was posted at side-of-the-road elevation markers.

It is a Garmin etrex and there is a description of how I used the GPS for our Grand Canyon hikes later in the tour.

gps usage for our trip to the grand canyon

Driving in snow to the Grand Canyon:

Road hazard signs continually reminded us of the impending severe winter weather.  Ummm....who's idea was it to drive to the Grand Canyon during a winter blizzard?  With a quick text message to friends back home in case we were never seen from again, we pressed on.  The Taurus handled the coming of the next ice age with ease even as others had to pull off to the side of the road.

driving in snow at the grand canyon

Male Goat Milk

This is a bit risqué but as we drove to Atlanta to catch our flight, we, for some long forgotten reason, made jokes about male goat milk.  This bumper sticker at the Grand Canyon just added to continuation of the bad jokes.

male goat milk

I-93 on the way to Flagstaff:

I-93 was fun to drive.  One stretch is about 60 miles of straight road.  The speed limit is fair and traffic was negligible once we were a few miles past Hoover Dam.

I-93 on the way to Flagstaff

Heavy snow on I-93:

As the snow got heavier, I wondered if we would
wind up on the 6 o'clock news with a massive
search for our whereabouts. 

heavy snow on i-93 to flagstaff

Snow in Klingman, Arizona

The snow hadn't really gotten heavy yet.  Just outside of Klingman, the roads were covered with snow until we finally outran the storm.  The snow caught up with us again as we approached Flagstaff. 

You'll see some great shots later.

Snow in Klingman, Arizona

Get your Kicks on Route 66:

The main thing we got on Route 66 was a killer Chicken Fried Steak absolutely smothered in thick gravy at LuLu's Diner.

"Can I have an angioplasty to go with that?"

Get your kicks on Route 66


NEXT:  Trains




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