01.05.2008 - 04.05.2008 15 °C
Grand Canyon.... what a place, and definately one of the seven wonders of the world. After Vegas we set off on the 6 hour drive (which incidentally is not a big deal over here) and hit the Grand Canyon National Park.
I don't think I need to tell anyone that its spectacular. That's a given.
We arrived mid afternoon and it was bloody chilly compared to the desert that is Nevada - you guessed it, we were still in shorts and sandals. We swept through a couple of vantage points and then headed off to our Motel, saving the next day for proper viewing and givign us a chance to dress appropriately :-)
We did get a few shots in though.....
(The 1st view we were greeted with)
(I think this gives a good perspective of scale)
The path that runs along the canyon at the most popular viewing place on the South Rim is amazingly close to the edge, and its a drop of at least 500 feet until the first land below. and then much further down to the bottom - about a mile or two. There are no railings or warnings, and that's fine. We are both believers that people should be able to look after themselves without all the over protection that we are now becoming familiar with in the Western world. All the same, we were very suprised it was like this and we wondered how many people had fallen over in the past. More worryingly parents were happy to let their kids run riot. That, we found astonishing.
(That is the path you can see, and then a few feet away.... whooaaa!!!!)
So with a few pictures, a general feel for the place, and a need for rest and beer we headed off to Cameron for our motel.
Cameron is about 50 miles East and you drive along the Canyon itself to get there. Pete recommended Cameron as a logical point to stay as the drive is nice. Understatement of the year! The drive was something dreams are made of. The first half was a twisty road through a forest , for a good forty minutes - great fun in the Merc and beautiful scenery. Then.... we burst out into the open again and followed the Grand Canyon as it sank below us, so we were driving along the plains with the cravass which is the canyon, just visible as a gaping crack, the view changing as we rounded each corner. It was something to behold. Like the painted desert but on a scale 100 times bigger. We were both astonished.
Hot clear evening, fast winding roads and scenery to die for. And the best thing? We had to do the same rout in reverse in the morning :-) - not often you relish going over old ground....
(this was the kind of view we had along the way)
When we arrived at Cameron we soon realised we were wise to book ahead. There was only one place to stay anyway! - the Cameron Trading Post - a preserved original trading post from the days of the Wild West. There was nothing else there bar trailer parks in the dust. It was a lovely place and at $70 a bargain.
So we checked in, dumped our bags and headed for the restaurant, noticing, incidentally, that the check in girl was a "Native American" (Indian), as was the girl at the restaurant desk. "Are you here for dinner?", "Actually, we'd just like to grab a couble of beers for now".... "We don't have alcohol sir". "Oh, Ok, where can we get some, is there a store near by?", "nearest is 8 miles down the road in the next town".
Turns out Cameron is part of a Navajo Reserve, and it's a dry one.
We drove 8 miles, stocked up with beer and wine and headed back. Phew! - though I later read it's illegal to even have booze on you in the Reserve. No one noticed, though when I read about it I brought in my beers that were chilling on the doorstep outside :-)
I also did some research on accidents at the Grand Canyon, and sure enough, people go over the edge. The majority seem to be over zealous amateur photographers, though this year, tragically, a 4 year old girl fell over the edge, pretty much where I took the photo of the path......
The next day we headed back, once again enjoyoing the amazing scenery. We stopped at few different scenic points, mostly we were the only people as the view points were on the far side, which none of the coaches go to and most people can't be bothered to drive to. No less breathtaking than the previous day.
......... scenery schmenery... we had an appointment with a helicopter flight over the canyon :-)
We checked in with the tour company and then watched the dull safety video. At this stage I noticed you could pay an extra $50 each to get the front seats in the helicopter so I enquired with the lady (ok, I flirted) at the desk as to whether we might get them by luck anyway, if no one else paid the extra. She informed me that is was entirely possible depending on body weights as they like to balance the helis.
Whatever. I was fairly sure my irresistable charm had already done the work :-)
When it came to boarding, we were lined up in two rows (7 of us altogether) inside the building. Me and K in one row and everyone else in another. I had a good feeling about this.... and sure enough... we both got the two seats by the pilot!! :---) result!! - I've flown in helis a few times and know for a fact the only place to be is in the front, heck I've even flown one myself once ! :-)
So my charm worked. Or the lady was a lesbian. The two other admin ladies surely were - Rayban Aviators, smokes, and crew cuts.
(Happy as hell! :-) )
(Best seats in the house/heli)
(Our transport for the day)
It was a fantastic flight. Kirsty has never sat it the front before and she was blown away.
All in all a great experience and throughly recommended.
After that we drove back to Phoenix, set Pete's alarm off, stopped the Police from coming ang gunning us down (quick thinking on my part - guessed Pete's alarm password!) and then flew to San Francisco......More to come on that shortly. We are having a good time, but we've both realised we don't like Westernised cities unless there are some major attractions. A city us a city, unless you have a bundle to spend.
So much so that we've now curtailed out New York visit by four days. That means we have changed the dated to fly back to Europe twice now, but even then it saves us a lot of money. You can't do USA big cities on the cheap and we ar done with cities for now.