Monday, January 7, 2013

The Grand Canyon

As promised before, I'm writing about my trip to the Grand Canyon-a natural wonder of the world. It is an enormous canyon formed by the Colorado river in Arizona. On our third day in Vegas, we took an organized bus tour (yes, we still don't drive!)

After scouring the internet for various discount deals, I realized that there is only one single company that conducts these tours and the tickets are sold by a hundred different websites. I booked the bus tour to the South rim of the Grand Canyon. They do have tours to the west rim too. But that one is expensive and I hear the view isn't as good as the southern rim. In fact, the western rim is not even a part of the Grand Canyon National Park. The website mentioned that the entire trip would take 15 hours. We were prepared for this and slept early the previous night. The bus was supposed to pick us up at 6.30 am!

 We diligently woke up and got dressed on time. We even managed to finish breakfast and as expected the bus was late-by half an hour. I could have happily used the extra time for some more sleep. The bus arrived and took us to their office, not far from our hotel. There, the south and west rim passengers were separated. Each of us was given a colored tag, a meal voucher, a danish, orange juice and coffee. Since we already had breakfast, we packed it all up for use during the journey.

It was a double-decker bus with a seating for 75 people. The driver announced that there would be three stops before Grand Canyon-Hoover dam, Mc Donalds and IMAX theatre (a hour show on the Grand Canyon on the big screen for those who purchased tickets).

We were told interesting facts about the villages we passed and about Hoover dam when we reached there. Most of which I have forgotten :D We drove through the Mojave desert and it was a very scenic drive. My idea of a desert was sand dunes but this was a rocky desert. Vast expanses of rocky lands and nothing else around.

We arrived at Hoover dam in about 45 minutes. This dam was constructed to control the flooding of the Colorado river and also to provide a means of employment during the Depression. It saw the influx of workers from all over America. The chief in charge of the dam was a ruthless man who ensured that nothing or nobody stopped the project. When workers developed carbon monoxide poisoning, he pressurized the doctors to falsely report their condition as pneumonia so as to not create a controversy that could potentially stall the project. We only had 15 minutes to see the dam and click a few pictures. There are separate dam tours for those who would like to explore it more.

Next stop was Mc Donalds to get a quick snack. No vegetarian food so I didn't step out. And then the bus began to slow down. It seemed like the engine was having some trouble. The driver continued to drive at snail's pace for about 45 minutes and then it began raining. He slowed down even more. After a while, he stopped and restarted the engine. This seemed to improve things. However, it started snowing. My first experience of snow and I was super thrilled. I had always wanted to see how it looked when it snowed. All the trees were covered with white flakes and the ground had a thick layer of white. It looked serene and mesmerizing. The bus slowed down as the roads were narrow, inclined and icy. We reached the IMAX theatre an hour later than we should have.

We were given meal vouchers and we supposed to get the food at the theatre canteen. The only problem was that all 75 people were queuing up with vouchers. Everyone was hungry as it was well past lunch time. I was glad that they had 2 vegetarian options. By the time my turn came, they only had one cheese pizza left. I quickly grabbed it and gobbled it down.

The driver wasn't sure if the Grand Canyon gates would be still open to tourists due to the heavy snow. The helicopter tours were already cancelled. Luckily, the gates were open and we reached the spot. First look at the snow covered canyon and I was amazed at how such a thing of beauty can ever exist. It was tall and wide and beautiful. I was freezing. I quickly took a few pictures, walked around the rim and the sun set. We got only about 45 minutes of viewing time and the show ended!

We headed back with just one stop on the way back-Mc Donald's again. It was dinner time and they did not have any vegetarian options so I had to make do with french fries and a milkshake. I have strong doubts that the tour company has some kind of contract with Mc Donald's. It was 11.30pm by the time we got back home.

Tired, sleepy, half-hungry yet satisfied at having laid my eyes on such a marvelous natural beauty.