19.03.2013 - 19.03.2013 7 °C
A wake up call was organised for 5am so that we could get to our limo pick up. The limo was longer than a football field and the driver Anthony loved the word AWESOME. On a trip lasting 20 minutes to the airport he would have mentioned AWESOME at least 20 times. Still he was pretty good in giving us some history on Vegas and his view of the ride ahead on the tour of the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam.
Arrival at the heliport required a security check in and thankfully no X-ray. ID was required and I hadn't read the fine print meaning that Mandy had no ID with her and I was in the shit.
We were allocated by weight to a tour number 69 with 4 other people. Our pilot another Anthony was also very informative and a budding comedian. After a safety check and instruction on emergency vacation of the aircraft we were off. I couldn't help but believe that the briefing about getting out and use of a life vest was useless. When helo's go down they don't glide and it's rarely a good outcome for the pilot, crew and any poor passengers.
The company Sundance Helicopters have a gold mine of an operation. About 7 flights per day max per aircraft and with on my count, 20 aircraft at $400 per person makes for a pretty healthy profit.
Settled into the aircraft by weight meant that Mandy and I were in the back with Mandy in the middle. This wouldn't have given her the best view and the pilot indicated that she would have a front seat coming back.
Leaving Vegas and seeing it from the air so close just brings home how much money has been spent on the city. The size of the hotels and the obvious number of visitors ploughing money into the slots must be something else indeed.
A 40 minute ride via Hoover Dam to the bottom of the Grand Canyon for breakfast was the plan. Hoover Dam from the air is fabulous, the length and size of Lake Mead is about 500km around and it took nearly 10 years to fill after it's completion.
The are a number of companies flying into the canyon and each have their own landing sites. This is a big business but the enormity and scale of the canyon is massive. Landed for about a 40 minute walk and breakfast. The floor of the canyon is very volcanic and the rocks very loose.
The flora was also very special albeit sparse. The cactus were different to what we have in Oz.
The colorado river was close yet so far. Interesting story from the pilot about the Powell expedition of the mid 1800's that first travelled down and through the canyon.
All to soon it was over and time to leave.
Mandy had a front seat going back and I sat next to the pilot. He kept asking me to fly it but the best I would do was to start the rotors.
Our flight back took us over the Vegas strip and the casino's, hotel's and resorts. We never saw a single wedding shop and so we stayed the way we were.
We arrived back at the heliport at around 930am after nearly 3 hours and it was back into our limo with Anthony AWESOME.
It had been 2 very long days so after arriving back at the Venetian we put $2 into a slot as our contribution to the mob. Lost the lot and then off to bed to catch up with some sleep. We had a late check out at 4pm but ended up hitting the road around 2pm for our drive to Flagstaff. On picking up our car I couldn't help but notice the roof in the parking area was a replication of the Cistine Chapel.
And then it was off on the next leg. This was another 4 hour trip but with less stress than leaving LA.
We stopped along the way at a local indian shop for a rest stop and photos. The scenery is very sparse, flat and brown. What else can we say, its the same for 100's of km's. When we fill up with petrol I couldn't get the pump to work. Good one, I finally worked out that you have to pay the attendant first and then fuel. Petrol was $3.90 a gallon or $1.03 per litre.
We stopped off for a coffee and rest stop at a place called "grasshopper junction" and I shit you not, this was a one mule town. Complete with the original wagon with a coffin in the back. This is definitely outback USA style.
We arrived in Flagstaff around 6pm and this area is still partly covered in snow. The area is very mountainous with lots of pine trees. One could describe it after what we've been through as almost "deliverance country". It is much colder than the desert plain that we've been driving through.
Stayed at the Radisson in Flagstaff which is probably the largest of the hotel's and is located on the old Route 66. We have been on Route 66 since leaving LA and this part is the old road. Route 66 goes from the east to west coasts and is mainly dual highway. As a minimum the highway has been 4 lanes and at times 8 lanes in both directions. Makes our National roads look poor. What has been very noticeable is the lack of litter on the roadway's and no graffiti. No maybe we've been in the better areas but it certainly is a big difference to what has been occurring in Oz.
A late dinner in the restaurant (wrong order too), some washing and an early night after a big day.