Up at 5:15 to get ready to leave home at 6:00. Traffic all good so we made it in about 15 minutes, 1/2 hour early. Because I wasn’t being collected from my hotel I was able to have a later start than everyone else and meet them at the depot where everyone gathered for sorting onto the correct buses and collecting their breakfast and entry tickets for the different add ons – we could add things like the IMAX experience or a helicopter ride, I went for the IMAX experience, coz that movie is the most watched IMAX movie ever and I knew it would get me very excited about seeing the Grand Canyon. The whole check in, breakfast & ticket collecting and bus sorting was quite well organised as you moved from one queue to the next. Amy has been to the Grand Canyon before several times so she stayed home and graded papers for her students.
I managed to get on the huge black double decker bus, the only one that goes into the Grand Canyon, making it easy to find when returning to the bus. There were three buses departing for the canyon from that company alone, and every seat was full, so we had to be organised onto appropriate seats and I got to sit with a friendly family… the Jacksons, coz there were seven of them and they needed one extra to make up the eight pack in the downstairs section of the bus where the two face to face seats were complete with tables and cup holders, unlike every other seat on the bus that had nothing. The Jackson family even gave me a window seat and offered me Beef Jerky, but I declined the Jerky telling them it was far too early to be eating Jerky, I’d only just finished my coffee and Danish. The bus departed about 7:00.
First stop Hoover Dam – Awesome, we had 30 minutes to walk around and photograph the dam, there was a big queue at the bus stop toilets but we didn’t have to worry about that coz our bus had its very own toilet, another bonus of being on that bus! From there we drove through the Mojave Desert to Kingman a town in the middle of nowhere. They had a general store and a McDonalds. We had a 30 minute break there to stretch our legs and get some fresh air and stock up on snacks for the next part of our journey – a three hour drive to the Grand Canyon. The Jackson family bought beer and as we set off they all switched seats and I ended up with the three kids while the Mum, Dad & Grandparents played Poker. This part of our journey was through the Arizona Desert a vast stunning snowy vista, the Tour Guide told us it’s about 30 degrees out there – so I got my converter out to work that out in my temp and that’s 1 degree below ZERO!!! OMG I’m not dressed for that kind of weather, why didn’t they tell us it would be cold when I booked my ticket. I’m going to the Desert and in the movies it’s always hot in the desert.
Lunch at the National Geographic Visitor Center, followed by a quick walk around in the snow and the spectacular IMAX movie. It was cold but very warm in the sun so I was fine, I did not freeze to death.
From there we drove to the Grand Canyon – at long last – after a life time of dreaming about this moment, I made it. I took loads of photos with both cameras, so I’m sure I got a couple of print worthy images. We had one hour there then we got dropped off at a second view point with several souvenir shops and cabins, got some cool shots of the snow and icicles hanging off the cabins. One hour there too.
The ride back with the Jackson family was not so great, the drunk parents seemed to have forgotten their strict parenting skills and allowed the children to climb all over the seats and generally behave like children, plus they all developed bad coughs and sneezes which inevitably ended up all over me. 2.5 hrs later I couldn’t stand another minute of the Jackson family. So once inside McDonalds I asked the driver if there was a spare seat on one of the other buses he said no but he would see what he could do. He managed to swap me to upstairs next to a nice quiet Asian guy while some poor Aussie dude had to endure the last part of the journey with the family, but he probably had a blast & played poker with them while enjoying the last of their beer.
I enjoyed my nice quiet ride back to town, past the spectacular lit up Hoover Dam and the view of the fabulous lights of Vegas which I got to see easily coz I was upstairs.