Epic American Adventures 2014 #7 – The Grand Canyon (aka Real America)
I am currently sitting in my mother-in-law’s kitchen, snacking on cheese, chips, and diet coke and feeling sorry for myself.
I had a really great Saturday night, and now the post-weekend blues are well and truly kicking in. Going to work tomorrow just about sounds like the worst idea in the world, and there’s nothing left to do except distract myself from the misery by updating my blog and telling you all about the day we found the real America.
“Well, I can’t believe a whole week has passed already! We got up bright and early today to get on our 6.15am bus to the Grand Canyon. I keep reminding myself that we’re ‘travelers’ not ‘tourists’ (despite our experiences so far), but still, the early wake up was a struggle. Not only that, but we had to catch the bus from New York New York – luckily that casino is linked to ours with a pedestrian bridge so it wasn’t so difficult.
We got on the bus, prepared for our three hour journey, and then were promptly told that this bus was only taking us to the depot, where we would have to get on a different bus.
We arrived at the depot about ten minutes later. Along with about 500 other tourists, we were given a spiel about how this bus company was the greatest and the best because of yadda yadda yadda and no one could beat their travel itineraries etc etc… Hang on, I’ve already paid, spare me the B.S and let’s get this show on the road!
We finally took off, after somehow paying $94 for two $35 tickets to the skywalk Grand Canyon experience (I swear the Americans have a tax for everything) – in hindsight, I would DEFINITELY not bother wasting our money on this tourist trap.
Our tour guide was quite a character – he was an African-American by the name of Thomas, and he provided an over-enthusiastic, somewhat ghetto commentary along the first leg of our journey. The landscape on the drive made up for any discomfort at the early morning or gormless faces of the fat tourists we were travelling with. This is what I’ve been waiting for!
It took us an hour and a half to get to Hoover Dam, where we stopped for 20 minutes to walk up the 70 steps, take a bunch of photos, and scurry back to the bus out of the wind. I have to admit, I was a little underwhelmed by the massive man-made structure. I could appreciate the benefits it provided to the people of Nevada and Arizona, however I was hanging out for some natural beauty.
When we finally arrived close to two hours later, we were ferried onto yet another shuttle bus which took us to the first of 3 locations. The first stop, a ‘ranch’ as it was described, was set out like the Wild West set at Movieworld, and was about as cheesy as Movieworld as well. Here, we were told, we would be shown the hospitality of the native people who owned the land at the west rim of the Canyon. Sadly, the only genuine thing about it was the song and dance put on in the food hall by some of the few descendants of the local tribe. It made me feel almost ashamed to be taking part in what I’m sure was a far cry from how they felt the land should be appreciated.
The second stop was where all the action was at – the western rim of the Canyon itself. Being afraid of falling kept me from the very edge, however it was hard not to be overcome by the beauty and the enormity of the massive gouge in the Earth. I think the words that first came to my mind were ‘epic’ and then ‘holy shit’ (deep, I know). It was great fun trying to find a place for some good photos, and seeing some of the more brave people risk falling off the edge for a good photo was a little scary (for me at least).
We went on the expensive skywalk (which took a grand total of ten minutes) refused to pay $30 for a single photo (though of course we weren’t allowed to take our own cameras on there for ‘safety reasons’), and then headed to the third destination on the shuttle, another food spot which was pretty much 270° of Grand Canyon lip around the seating area. We ate, took some death defying photos, watched some disgruntled grips and prop coordinators be ordered around by the director of a Subaru commercial which was being filmed at the location, and then grabbed the shuttle back to our original drop off point for the 3 hour (hopefully only) bus ride back to the hotel.
I’m glad we took the time to make the trip to the Canyon. It was amazing to see something worth coming to America for that actually had a bit more substance than fast food and alcohol. The drive back was great in that I felt more peaceful and relaxed than I have so far on this trip, in the hustle and bustle of the bright lights and big cities. I am even more looking forward to the areas of South American wilderness we will see over the next two months.