Las Vegas, NV
Wednesday 26 th
We had a wake up call booked for 6 am due to our early tour start but I was up early which was lucky as the wake up call seemed to sleep in! The automatic shutters opened to reveal another sunny and magnificent cloudless day. Perfect for a plane flight and helicopter ride out to the Grand Canyon.
The walk over to the neighboring hotel, Aria, to pick up the tour was interesting: many folk were still at the tables and poker machines from last night…. or else they got an earlier start than we did. Maybe that’s where our wake up call dude was!
The pick-up bus took us the 30 min drive out to Boulder airport where our flight was to leave from. This seemed like a most appropriate name given that is basically what the landscape is out here……gravel and boulders. The journey out from Vegas posed some other interesting sights too with the middle-road nature strips alternating between fake astro turf and, then, gravel. There seems to be a lot of fake stuff out here.
The flight from Boulder airport to the Grand Canyon airport took 40 min and that was where we boarded our helicopter for the 30 min tour of the Grand Canyon South rim. The Grand Canyon is one of the seven wonders of the natural world and rightly so. It was just jaw-dropping amazing and words cannot do it justice. Hopefully the images capture some of the magnificence for you. I was scheduled for the front seat of the helicopter and was fortunate to get the most amazing view of the 5 of us on the flight: Mark, Tom, myself and two Germans. I had wanted to give this seat to Tom but we weren’t allowed to swap seats. Lucky for me for a change. Our pilot was Travis and he was very friendly and also rather pleased, for our sake that is, that it wasn’t too choppy. Otherwise, he might have had to use those little white paper bags in his console!
After leaving the helicopter we were ushered on to a bus that took us up to ‘Bright Angel Lodge’;a lodge at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Our driver, Bob, gave us a bit more information about the Grand Canyon area whilst driving us there:
- 277 miles long 1 mile deep.
- Narrowest 600 feet. Widest 16 miles.
- Only 35 miles accessible to public.
- Animals in the area: Elk, deer antelope. Black beats. Wild pig. Cougar or puma. Both are mountain lion. Wild turkey. Wild pig. Bald and wild eagle. Condor. Hyenas.
- Trees:Mostly Ponderosa Pines.
- Polar Express: There is a train line that runs into this part of the Canyon and the movie Polar Express was based on this route. The train makes the journey up through the snow in December The movie has made this tourist trip so popular now that one needs to book them 12 months in advance.
- Grand Canyon discovered by white folk in 1540. There was no mention of Indigenous settlement or habitation!
- The only US national park to have its own school system: only 6 high school graduates last year though.
Bob also gave each of us a lunch pack as we alighted at Bright Angel Lodge and we then had 90 minutes to have lunch and wander the south edge of the Canyon. There were some very aggressive squirrels that Mark took a dislike too. It was lucky for us that we could buy food there as well as Tom was still hungry and in need of a hot dog and milk shake. Milk shakes seem to come standard with masses of whipped cream so make sure you remember that for future reference!
By 1.15pm it was time to hop back on the bus to head back to the Grand Canyon airport for the flight back to Boulder and, then, for the bus back to the hotel. The bus eventually dropped us back in at Las Vegas by 4pm and we stopped in at the Aria Hotel, right next door to the Vdara, to make a dinner reservation at ‘Lemongrass’ before heading back to the room for a bit of a rest.
We headed over to Aria and to one of their 5 restaurants, Lemongrass. It was 39C out so we were glad it was just a short walk there. The evening was lovely and I go on record as saying that it was the best Thai food I’ve ever eaten! So, one to note guys if you’re ever out this way.
We went for a stroll along ‘the strip’ after dinner but it was so hot that we had to head back to the bar at our hotel and then turned in at around 10pm.
We head to Death Valley and Lone Pine tomorrow en route to Yosemite where we’ll be looking for Yogi and Boo Boo!