Goon Squad Goes West: Part IV

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During the final leg of the trip, the Goon Squad became quite small with only Ian and I trekking on to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and Bryce Canyon…

Sad to see our friends part ways, we consoled ourselves with slot machines, craps tables, and ridiculously expensive G&Ts at the MGM Grand in Vegas. In fact, we essentially didn’t leave the MGM the entire time we were there. Casino? Check. Nightclub featuring Tiesto? Check. Lazy river that had to evacuated because an adult pooped in it? Definitely check.

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After the constant chaos that was Vegas (I don’t think I could have told you whether it was day or night the entire time we were there), the North Rim of the Grand Canyon was music to our ears. Relaxed, uncrowded, and insanely beautiful, it was the perfect Vegas hangover cure. We sipped coffee on our porch rocking chairs, ate bison in the lodge restaurant, and hiked around the rim during our much too short visit. But hey, I saw the thing – life goal accomplished! And also took a thousand pictures, not that any of them did it justice…

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The Grand Canyon marked our last official stop on the GSGW trip, but that didn’t stop us from making a quick detour to Bryce Canyon, which my father had recommended. It was freaking amazing. Bright red rocks, charred trees, not a single person who actually spoke English – the place was a straight up Salvador Dali painting. The canyon is incredibly easy to hike into and you feel like you’ve entered some unwritten land from Lord of the Rings. We even got to see a rainbow over the canyon at sunset. Good call, Dad.

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The rest of the drive home was a blur of gas stations, sleeping in the car, and taking bird baths in Target restrooms. We had an especially memorable lunch at Runza, Nebraska’s exclusive fast food chain for farmers over 80, and listened to basically every This American Life and Radio Lab podcast produced in the last two years. A huge thanks to my great friend Kelly for letting us crash at her place in Rock Island on our last night! I can’t even imagine what we smelled like, but we couldn’t have asked for a better bookend to the trip.

That’s it for Goon Squad Goes West! More adventures coming soon. Like really soon.

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