The not so grand canyon

Trip Start Feb 22, 2005
Trip End Feb 11, 2006

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Thursday, January 26, 2006

This is entry is coming to you all from the great city of Las Vegas, but since I only just got here this afternoon I haven't done anything in the town yet to report to you, but the last couple of days however have been quite interesting. I arrived in Flagstaff at midnight on Tuesday only 10 hours behind schedule thanks to the wonderful greyhound bus service. A little piece of advice for travelling in America folks, if you can, avoid Greyhound like the plague, they're terrible and I'm glad I've only got 1 or 2 more trips to take with them. On monday I left Austin for Flagstaff which was scheduled to be a 24 hour journey with two brief stopovers, 1 in Dallas and the other in Amarillo. It all started off ok, I got to the station in Austin at about 1:45 for my 2:45 bus and got my bag checked in and then the boarding call at about the expected time but then as seems to be quite normal there was a long period of sitting around on the bus with no word on why we were still there 15 minutes after we were suppposed to have left. Eventually we get the message that the bus next to us which is also heading for Dallas has apparently broken down, so that the passengers from that bus would have to transfer onto our bus which of course meant about another half hour of crap with transferring the passengers and their bags and then on top of that there were about 7 or 8 people from the first bus that missed out because our bus filled up so they got the raw end and had to wait several hours for the next bus, no doubt without receiving any sympathy from the staff.
So anyway about 45 minutes after the scheduled departure time we got on our way and at this stage I was getting a bit nervous as I only had a 35 minute layover in Dallas and so sure enough we arrived 45 minutes late and my bus to Amarillo had left meaning that I had to wait around for the next 5 hours until the next bus which in turn meant that I missed my connection in Amarillo so that when I arrived there at 7 in the morning I had to wait another 5 hours until the next bus to flagstaff, all the while with no explanations or apologies from the staff who almost act as if it's your fault the bus was late.

Anyway, enough bitching, I eventually arrived in Flagstaff after a 34 hour journey and swiftly put myself to bed. The next morning I managed to jump in with a couple of Canadian guys who had a car and were heading to the Grand Canyon. This worked out well because it saved me about $50 compared to what it would have cost to take the public transport and we were able to stop off and see a few other sights along the way, although not too long into the trip I was starting to doubt my decision as the two Johns were constantly bickering about routes and whether or not to stop here or there. One was from Quebec the other from Ontario and they were both into their forties at least, yet the french John was acting like a spoiled little kid. Apparenly he hadn't wanted to go to the canyon that day as he'd been before and cos the weather wasn't very good, so he kept making comments saying to Ontario John, that 'YOU wanted to see the canyon, me I want to stay in the hostel' and then he would periodically show us pamphlets for other parks in the region as if to say we should have gone here and here and here. To add to that I was almost tempted to take the wheel from Ontario John who seemed more concerned about scanning the hills for animals rather than watching the road and seeming to be deaf to any directions given to him by the navigator. Anyway, annoying carmates aside we did eventually get to the canyon by which time the clouds had well and truly closed in and the snow was falling heavily which resulted in a somewhat underwhelming view of the canyon. There were still some quite dramatic outcrops and ledges and things that we could see if they were close enough but for the most part you couldn't see more than about 50 metres in front of you and there was certainly no chance in hell of seeing the bottom, let alone the other side. On the way home we stopped at the nearby Imax cinema which was showing a grand canyon film, so that had to serve as my proper canyon experience although more than anything I think it just rubbed in the fact that I'd missed out. Looking at the professional images on the screen compared to what I'd seen with my own eyes, it was hard to believe that they were actually both the same place.
Today worked out well though, for starters the weather had cleared to a beautifully sunny day and I managed to catch a ride with a girl from the hostel who was heading the same way, so I got to swap the cramped seats of the greyhound coach, not to mention the inevitable screwing around by the staff, for a comfortable front seat and some amazing scenery on the road across Arizona. I got a nice little surprise as we were nearing Las Vegas when I found out the road actually went across hoover dam which the greyhound bus wouldn't have done so I was able to stop and have a look around there. I've got to say the scenery around that whole region of the country is remarkable, there are big wide expanses of flat desert which will suddenly have mountains popping out of it and the approaching hoover dam we crested a hill to be greeted by what was in itself a pretty damn grand canyon.
So to sum it all up, I'm at my hostel in Vegas waiting for the Australia Day barbecue to kick off in a little while before hitting the strip tomorrow to check out all the shenanigans before jumping on the champagne limo tour tomorrow night.
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