Snacks, Soaring and SkyWalking

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Apologies I was unable to write yesterday, but due to being up for a total of seventeen hours I was literally falling asleep with my head on the keyboard while trying my hardest to enthusiastically recount a fabulous day. So I thought I’d wait until today when I can tell you all about it without a mess of words that don’t make sense and a ‘qwerty’ print on my forehead…

We got up at 5:30am. Shudder. We headed through the corridors of the hotel (which still smelt like wet carpet…) as a trio of zombies with tourist backpacks on, occasionally stopping to head down yet another elevator that blasted ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ into our numb heads. It was only when we saw a huddle of other zombies that we began waking up and feeling excited for the day ahead… THE GRAND CANYON! We planned to all asleep on the bus as we had three hours to kill, but as it turned out the drive to the canyon was so beautiful it would have been a shame to miss it. Also, the exuberant tour guide shouting about self-sufficient desert plants and beef jerky through the overhead speaker would have kept waking us up.

Around forty-five minutes into the journey we arrived at the top of the Hoover Dam and were permitted a twenty-minute break to use the ‘restroom’, visit the gift shop and take pictures of the stunning yet terrifying view. Mitchell and I took the opportunity to continue our tradition of buying a pin from each significant place we go.

We also stopped at little odd gas stations along the way for fuel and yet more bathroom breaks. I managed to snap a couple of really cool pictures that I thought looked straight out of an old western film.

[As a little side note: Mum bought us a large packet of ‘Twislers’ as they are something you can only get in America but they were awful! Tasted a lot more like liquorice than they looked. However, taking the advice of the tour guide we also picked up a pack of beef jerky. Oh my goodness. I’ve decided it’s my new favourite snack – it tastes just like salami – but much to my disappointment $11.00 for a small packet means that I definitely can’t be chewing on it all day…]

Back onto subject…

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The landscapes that we saw on the way were amazing and the funny little tour guide, who was very much growing on me by this point, informed us of some interesting facts about the surrounding area. For example, this is home to poisonous rattlesnakes and mountain goats, eek – due to my irrational fear of goats I wasn’t even worried about the snake…

After a quick bus change and farewell from the tour guide we began the bumpy approach to the canyon. It was made a lot more bearable by the people we met on the journey down. A very difficult exchange of handshakes across the chaotic bus taught us that a man named Steve and his brother had been here many times before, and that an Australian woman named Leanne and her daughter Maddy were doing the boat and helicopter ride along with us, so we decided we should stick together.

At the main canyon terminal we were separated into the groups who chose different activities they paid to do that day. As the helicopter ride was the first activity we were due to do, we were first weighed to see where everyone should sit in the aircraft. We then went outside to the landing area where a running helicopter was awaiting our arrival. I was called forwards first. I was then bundled in the front of the craft next to the pilot (oh my God) and desperately tried not to knock any of the hundreds of buttons in front of my with my shaking knees. I was scared as it was about flying over a canyon hundreds of feet deep, let alone scared I would push an emergency-landing button. All I wanted in that moment was to be huddled between my Mum and brother in the back seat. However, after everyone screeching over the sound of the moving blades above us about how “the front seat is the best view” and convincing me they were all “super jealous”, I felt better and we were off.

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We stayed only a few feet off the ground on the approach to the canyon and I thought, huh, this isn’t too bad, in fact I was worried it was going to be boring. BAM. Suddenly we were hundreds and hundreds of feet off the ground as we launched off the cliff face and over the river in the canyon below. It really was breathtaking. All of a sudden I felt completely safe. I felt like a bird soaring high above the ground and I have never felt freer. I wanted to extend my arms and yell at the top of my voice, however I composed myself and my thrill was conveyed only in a grin that reached my ears.

We descended to the bottom of the canyon where we were to get a boat tour down the river. However when we arrived there was already a crowd of around twenty people waiting for the only boat that was working that day. There was no drinking water, no wind and no shade to relieve us of the 45 degree heat and the scorching sun for the next hour of waiting. I had never felt so hot in my life, it felt like my blood was close to boiling and my head was starting to get faint by the time our names were called. It turned out to be worth it though.

Finally we were on board being lead by a very friendly guide who actually belonged to the tribe who were the Native Americans that own part of the Grand Canyon. It was cooler on the boat and the breeze on the water made a comfortable journey down-river.

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Our next activity we decided afterwards was no-where near as good as the others, and wasn’t really worth paying the extra amount – in case any of you were considering such a trip. It’s called the SkyWalk. It is a glass bridge hanging out over the canyon where you can look below your feet and see…well, thousands of feet of thin air (the hole below was deeper than three of the Empire State Buildings), and vaguely make out the bottom if you looked close enough. It sounds fabulous, but when we were on there it was terrifying, and you weren’t even allowed to take your own photographs, so when we got off five minutes later, bored of the same view, we succumbed to paying $25.00 for one photograph of us, in which you can barely see the view through the protective glass.

So yesterday felt like a true Langcaster-James tourist trip, and I’m now sure you can understand why I couldn’t write yesterday!

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