Saturday 30 May 2015

30 Things before 30: The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon has always been a place I have wanted to see and I am extremely happy that I got to see it as part of my 30 things list. Since we were doing another Las Vegas trip this year, Uncle Beau suggested we leave a day early and fit in the Grand Canyon since we hadn’t had enough time last year to do it. Everyone agreed to this except for Adam and Amanda who decided to fly directly into Las Vegas and meet us there. When we were making arrangements I suggested that we fly into Phoenix, Arizona so that we could see different scenery on our drive. All of us (Beau, Honey, Mom, Dad, Amanda. G and I) were on the same Toronto-Phoenix flight which left Tuesday morning. The flight was okay – it was on Air Canada Rouge, which to be honest is a crappy air carrier. It’s Air Canada’s discount brand and the service, seats and experience match the cost. When we got checked in we were told our seats had been changed despite having paid extra to select the ones with a little more room (when I mean a “little” more room I truly mean it). When we got to the gate we were called again to ensure we knew about this change. Finally just before boarding Dad and Amanda were called up that their seats were changed to ones at the very back because their seats were needed for someone with accessibility issues. These new seats were at the very last row and not part of upgrade we paid. When dad asked about the payment being refunded the woman at the gate blew him off. When we went to ask her name she refused to give it to him stating rudely that he had no right to that information. Seriously?!?!? Using twitter I contacted Air Canada about this and did get the refund for the seats but they completely ignored my question about her attitude and the fact that apparently paying passengers aren’t entitled to know the names of employees who treat them with rudeness and disrespect. This is the third trip in a row that we have encountered issues with the attitude of Air Canada staff either at the gate or on the plane. Trust me, if possible I plan to never give this company business again unless it’s absolutely necessary – especially considering the amazing service we had returning on West Jet. Dad and Amanda ended up being moved again to a row in the middle of the plane whereas Mom and I had our original seats a few rows ahead. The flight attendants were not very friendly and made it seem as if we were inconveniencing them by being there and there was no entertainment offered unless you had downloaded their app on your own tablet or paid to rent one. Needless to say we were all happy when the flight was over.

We grabbed a late lunch in Phoenix and then began our four hour drive. The scenery was great – especially when we got to see all these different cactus’s. We planned to stop for some photos but put it off not realizing that the landscape changes the further you go. By the time we got to a certain point there wasn’t any cactus’s around which was sad. It just means I will have to go back to get my cactus photo!

We arrived at the Grand Canyon entrance just as it was getting dark and decided to wait until morning to go in. We stocked up on some snacks and drinks at a nearby store and went to bed early since we planned to leave by 3:30am. The hotel wasn’t the nicest – it was an older Holiday Inn – that clearly over charges and doesn’t care about upgrading because of the high volume of tourists in the area. It was really worn out – peeling paint, stained floors, cracks in the bathroom – but the beds were comfortable and we were only there for the one night.

The next morning we were up long before sunrise and piled into the van. By 4:00am we were parked and outside waiting for sunrise. We had thought sunrise was earlier then it was – or it was obstructed by the Canyon – but either way we were outside in the dark for a while waiting for sunrise.  Something I hadn’t realized was how cold it would be at this point. With the sun only just rising, it was freezing cold. I had a sweater on and that wasn’t nearly enough to keep me warm. A piece of advice to anyone traveling there – bring warm clothes! Despite it being May with the Daytime temperatures hitting 80-90 degrees – you will definitely need warm clothes for the early morning Canyon visit!  

The scenery was amazing and wroth the visit. It’s so impressive to see these massive rocks and their formation – it really makes you think about the history and the fact they have been here for so many years. I would love to go back at some point and spend more time there – visiting other parts of the Canyon and maybe some day being able to afford a trip down to the ground. There are helicopter tours that will take you right into the Canyon and allow you to see it from below. I think that would be amazing. Until then, I am glad that I was able to see it and am thrilled to have shared that experience with some of my favorite people.   

Afterward we made the drive to Las Vegas stopping along the way at the Flintstone Park – which was so silly but fun, and the Hoover Dam. The Dam was interesting, but of the two stops Flintstone Park gets my vote. It was so random and bizarre – just a really fun memory. Mom enjoyed it as she loves the show the Flintstones. Everyone else but Amanda opted to wait and drive around, but I think they missed out!