After nothing happened in Vegas the previous night, the obvious decision the morning after was to head to the ‘Heart attack grill’. The main purpose of this restaurant is to compact as many calories as humanly possible into a burger; the beef patties are fried with lard; there is no salad and excluding the optional 20 rashes of bacon (also cooked in lard) totaling over 8,000 calories. If anyone reading this has had the hangover blues and developed a craving for a certain type of food, whether this is a traditional English fry-up or a plate of pancakes, the last thing on your mind would be this burger.
The quirky, yet slightly sickening nature of this restaurant permits anyone who weighs over 350lbs (159kg) to eat there entirely free; with their double cream milkshakes or the lard drenched french fires. Unfortunately after Johno (the ex body builder) and myself were weighed we fell slightly short of the target. We had found out however, that the week before a person had had a heart attack there; entrenching their name.
The other four chose to take the hangover relatively easy and go for the ‘Double heart bypass burger’ without the extra bacon. I however had not taken part in a food challenge in the USA yet and decided the ‘Quadruple heart bypass burger’ with extra 20 rashes of bacon was a battle I must win.
The look on Matt’s face when the first bite was taken described a picture with a thousand disgusting words, a significant amount of liquid fat fell onto the plate below; with the unwelcomed assistance of Paul adding a good helping of full fat mayonnaise to my face and burger, I went full bore.
30 minutes and a gathering of bemused tourists later, I hit the wall; the sensation was overwhelming as only one quarter of the burger remained. My mind was still determined but my body was on shutdown; the ability to swallow any more cow vanished and the last three mouthfuls became agony.
The huge scales beckoned me and as I stood on the weighing platform; I had gained 3lbs (1.3kg) in one meal.
Left defeated we headed back to the taxi; however the cow had the last laugh. Throwing up a portion of beef I had only just seen 20 minutes ago into the charity bucket is one of those low points where you are constantly reminded of in the future with a smell cooking beef. I have still yet to eat another burger…
After a scenic photo shoot at the Hoover dam the drive towards the Grand Canyon began; the taxi pulled into the motel at 9pm and the realisation that the heater unit hadn’t been reconnected became apparent. The temperature outside dropped below freezing but the heating problem was ignored in favour of sleep.
Waking up at 4:30am to get to the Grand Canyon at sunrise, the two cars headed down the dark in sub zero temperatures, conditions were unbearable in inside Hannah and suddenly the realization that the engine was overheating kicked in. Pulling in on the side of the snowy road in the middle of Arizona; steam billowing out of the bonnet; the team was too cold, tired and in a rush to get to the view point in time. Locking Hannah up and leaving a note so hopefully she wouldn’t be towed we drove away in the other car; returning in the afternoon where the temperature would increase and parts would become available.
Anyone who has visited this natural wonder of the world before will understand when the sheer size and grandeur of this gigantic scar in the Earth is overwhelming to the human senses. The snow lay on the peaks of the canyon walls and caught the light as the sun rose; giving way to an amazing gradient of colours and an excellent set of photos.
Collecting some repair supplies from a hardware store we headed back to the stricken taxi; fortunately she was still there and the weather had warmed up. An abandoned vehicle notice was placed of the windscreen by the local police department who obviously didn’t read our note (Paul’s horrendous handwriting probably aided in the notice). Within an hour Hannah was back to life and the drive to Prescott, Arizona was underway.
Overland Journal and expedition portal are based in the town of Prescott, Arizona. Anyone who is into overland travel will know these guys. A sunset photo shoot outside the offices showing off Hannah’s limited off-road capability ended the day.
If you were born in the USA you will have lost this by the time you were very young, maybe even before you could drive. In the UK however we have yet to experience this phenomena; I am talking about guns. Yes, guns are used for crimes and violence against other people and animals; but when a person tells you that in Arizona where the gun laws are not lax, they’re just aren’t any, the idea of shooting turns you into a giddy little child.
We drove 50ft away from the nearest road (yes 50ft!) and we were allowed to shoot. The only main restriction that exists in Arizona is that you have to apply for a fully automatic weapon and pay a cash bond for the purchase of a silencer. That’s about it.
A pile of ammo, a 22 rile, Walter PPK, AK 47, M4, 45, and a Swedish rifle we had never heard before were placed in front of us. Chaz, from Overland journal went through some safety rules, which pretty much boiled down to ‘don’t shoot anyone’ and we were free to start. Paul and Myself had never really shot before, Johno and Matt were both previously in the armed forces so had experience; but even they were excited by the idea of shooting without extremely strict guidelines.
Several Boxes of ammo later we had our fun, Matt shot off rounds from the AK pretending to be a lunatic and we all slightly amused when Paul took his stance before shooting (looked like he just defecated himself). Packing up and heading back in the bed of a pickup truck, we all felt a little bit country and a little less rock and roll.
The long drive to San Antonio began, 1050 miles in eighteen hours and Hannah finally arrived in the city. John was happy to show us around as he was now in his native state, Texas.
Like many people I had my stereotypical views on Texas, full of oil wells, desert, republicans, evangelist Christians, guns and cowboys. Only two out of six were true from what we experienced. We were in the triangle of Houston, San Antonio and Austin; an area where the civilised portions of the south are populated.
In San Antonio we were witness to a fake gun/cannon exchange re-enacting the battle of the Alamo and the start of the Texan war of independence, the short explanation is as follows. A small number of Texan rebels who wanted the right to own slaves and the reinstatement of the constitution; fired cutlery out of a cannon and shot a man from the Mexican army in the head with a fork; they were surrounded and murdered by a larger army, but held out long enough for the message to get to other rebels (basically the film 300).
After exploring the river walk which resembled a city in Europe than a stereotypical image of a Mexican border town we made our way towards Austin; a wild party city where streets are closed for the revellers in the evenings. Johns step brother’s step brother Justin who was 20 and underage for the consumption of alcohol; even though he had been studying in Austin, he had never been out. Within one hour he acquired the British accent, the ID and hit the town. Just like a kid in a candy shop, he went from bar to bar exploring the possibilities that were still just one year out of reach. Bless him.
An hour and a half outside of Austin was a ranch owned by John’s friend who had gladly invited us to come and shoot some more guns; he was out of town however so left the care and attention of the 300 acres of land over to us for the day.
Finding a spot by the edge of the lake we set up some clay and zombie targets (yes you can buy zombie targets as well as zombie ammo!) The second round of shooting began. It was late and the sun was setting when we finished off the last of the ammo. In three hours of play, $150 of ammo was polished off and not only a excellent finish to the day but a great start for the Texas Rodeo.
The final stop in Texas was the Rodeo, yes the rodeo. When we found out the world’s largest bull riding extravaganza was on this week in Houston the excitement could not be contained, this would top off our southern USA experience. Making our way down the food halls teeming with cowboys and cowgirls we made our way to the Alliance stadium where 80,000 people gathered to witness a man being thrown from a raging bull, awesome!
The crème de la crème appeared in two forms; a group of college students wrestling calves around the arena for the chance to have their college paid for. Mutton Busting has two ingredients, a small child and a sheep. Place the child on the sheep and see how long they can hold on for. Probably the funniest thing you can ever observe in a stadium.
Next stop Graceland…