Grand Canyon Adventures . . .

Trip Start Nov 12, 2008
Trip End Nov 15, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Nevada
Friday, November 14, 2008

   Blah! Another early morning!  I woke up at 4:15 to get ready, because we had to check out of Bill's as well as be ready for the pick-up at 5:05.  Thankfully we didn't go out and party last night, so no hangovers.  The clock strikes 5 and two zombies make their way out of the elevator to the casino floor at Bill's - and there are still plenty of bleary-eyed, messy haired people yanking away at slot machines with the same blank stares Claudia and I surely have on our faces.  People just shouldn't be awake at this time.  We're just not built to operate at full capacity . . . 
   Anyway - we checked out and trudged out to the curb to wait for our shuttle to come pick us up and take us to the Boulder City Municipal Airport for the airplane leg of our Grand Canyon journey.  5:05 comes, then 5:10, the 5:15.  No shuttle.  5:20.  Starting to get a touch worried, now . . . 5:25 I call and check with Grand Canyon Airlines - "Oh the driver waited at Bally's for fifteen minutes and you didn't show up.  We don't pick up at Bill's."  So apparently we misunderstood the directions, which was totally our fault.  We are the first to admit that - it even says on the paper - pickup at Bally's.  Alright - our mistake.  But honestly people, instead of waiting fifteen minutes, how about a phone call?  Is the driver of this particular shuttle the only person in Las Vegas without a cell phone?  Nice.  So our only option is to get a cab and try to make it to the airport in time - which is 30 miles outside of Vegas.  Luckily it is only 5:30 a.m., and there is no traffic.  So what does our cabbie do?  Hop on the nearest freeway and book it?  NO!!!  He takes side streets.  AND WE HIT EVERY FRICKIN' RED LIGHT IN LAS VEGAS!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!  Where is our cab driver from yesterday?  He would've loved the chance to get the car above 100MPH, and he would have flipped off a few people to boot.
   So, after our nice leisurely ride to the airport, we arrive about 10 minutes before our plane is about to leave.  Plenty of time.  We were able to leave our luggage at the airport (as you will see there was no room on the plane) and we went to board our Crop Duster 1000 Dual Prop Puddle Jumper . . . I felt like I was about 10 feet tall as there was no leg room whatsoever!  Good thing the flight is only about 55 minutes and the views are going to be enough to forget that I can lean my chin on my knees. I figure all I knee are a couple of kneepads and I could fold up like a lawn chair and sleep!  Once we get settled in we put on our headphones so we can listen to the "soundtrack" for the flight - did they hire John Williams to write and direct the score?  Probably not, but that is basically what it was - inspiring orchestrations filled with swells of music that fit the views you were seeing out your window.  Well, it was a good attempt anyway with the music, but the views themselves don't really need anything else.
   I guess I will simply write one paragraph on the views that I saw this day.  I can use all the different adjectives that might fit - awe-inspiring, panoramic, amazing, jaw-dropping, etc., etc.  The best thing I can say is for anyone who has never been to the Grand Canyon or flown over the Mojave Desert and Colorado River in northern Arizona; you must see it.  That is all that needs to be said.  We are lucky in America to have such a diverse landscape in one country.  Claudia reminded me that even though Americans think Germany is a large country - it is basically the size of New Mexico in terms of square kilometers, and about half the size of Texas.  There are so many amazing places just in our country and so many people never go to see them!!  Ok, the soapbox has been put away.  GO TRAVEL SOMEWHERE PEOPLE!!  DON'T JUST SIT AT HOME!!  Ok, now I'm done.
   The pilot tells us we will flying at 10,000 feet; this gives us great viewpoints without being too high that we cannot make anything out. We turn over Lake Mead, and wheel around to get a great look at Hoover Dam.  From there we begin to make a line over the Mojave Desert and head straight for the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  It's a five hour drive because there just isn't a straight line, but we are heading straight for it and it only takes about an hour flying.  After awhile, we start to see the canyons appear - parts looking like the world's largest half pipe - and in the plane there is simply silence, tempered by the occasional shutter snap or "Wow".  The flight was truly an international group - there is a Japanese couple up front, followed by a Russian couple, the hip and sexy American (that would be me, yes), the hot blonde German, a couple from Sweden behind us - all these different wonderful languages being spoken at takeoff only to reach complete silence a few moments later.  It was enjoyable to look around and see these couples share a hand squeeze or a smile between them; it is great to share something amazing with someone special.
   After an hour, the varying browns of the desert floor turn in to the dark greens of the massive pine forest that resides on the South Rim.  Signs of life spring up - the Grand Canyon rail line, a road here and there.  Soon enough we land at an airport seemingly cut out of that same pine forest we were flying over.  We taxi to a small building and YES! we are able to stretch our legs.  Ah, sweet relief.  We are directed to a shuttle bus which will drive us to two different viewpoints in the morning, complete with narration from our bus driver.  He is originally from Mexico, and he has a great speaking voice - great tone and volume - but his accent makes everything work.  Truly someone who should do voice-overs . . .  We arrive at the first viewpoint and he reiterates the importance of being on time.  He says that if anyone is not back on the bus on time he will assume that we do not want to go back to Vegas today.  He puts his "Rolex" - one of those plastic clocks where you can move the red hands - in the bus window.  "This is the official timekeeper - pay attention to the time on my Rolex!"  Funny stuff.  We get to the first viewpoint, and I think I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.  I am not a good enough writer to describe what I see . . .   Thirty minutes later, we are back on the bus heading towards the second viewpoint, at the head of the Bright Angel Trail.  It was another great view, with a couple of shops and an area where the pack mules stay for the hike down to the floor of the canyon.  We spent about forty minutes here, and then it was back to the bus for a sunny nap as it drove to where we were having lunch.  After lunch, most of the people went to the IMAX theatre to watch a 3-D movie on the Grand Canyon, but a few were off to the airport for our helicopter trip!  We waited until it was our turn, then we hopped in the chopper.  It was certainly a cool experience just lifting off the ground and hovering.  We took off and heading towards the canyon edge - again flying over the pine forest.  We finally crested the edge of the canyon, 
going from 200 feet above ground to 7200 feet above ground in a moment.  Once again, I will let the pictures speak for themselves.  The coolest part of the whole trip was the ability to look straight down and have nothing underneath you!
   The flight lasted about 35 minutes and it was another flight filled with quiet stares and amazed looks.  We made a large circle over the canyon and headed back to the airport.  Check out the pictures and watch the videos to get a better idea of the scope of the whole place.  We landed (also cool!) and walked right to where we lined up for the flight back to Vegas.  It was mainly nap time on the flight back as everyone was visibly tired - I fell asleep and woke up with some serious a serious sinus headache (still fighting a head cold) and so the last ten minutes were a little bit painful.  Once we got on the ground it was okay - we landed, got our luggage, and got into the shuttle back to Vegas.  We were dropped off first at the Luxor and checked in quickly.  After finding our way to our elevator (3B - where are you?) we got to our 19th floor room.  The view down to the hotel floor was great, but after the second straight 4:30 am wakeup I was done and it was time to take a nap.
   When we made it down to the casino we were looking for something to eat, but after the buffet lunch we just wanted something small.  We found Company - American Bistro which had small portions with great flavors.  We had some beef ravioli, kobe beef sliders, shachimi fries, Asian wings, and duck potstickers, as well as a couple of beers.  DEE-licious!  We made our way to Liquidity, the bar in the center of the casino at the Luxor.  They had some specialty drinks, and we discovered that the Jaded Mojito was the best drink in the place.  After three of those we headed over to LAX, the nightclub in the Luxor where we got in free because of our room key.  It was a good place with good music - I got to show off the great West dance moves.  Claudia?  Where did you go?  Hello?  Why I am standing by myself?  Maybe the dance moves are overrated . . . By 3 a.m. we had had enough and decided that 23 hours in a day was enough.  Talk to you tomorrow from Vegas!
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