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Grand Canyon Tour

11 September 2014

We signed up for a full-day Grand Canyon tour during our weekend in Las Vegas! I was pretty excited to see my first wonder of the world!

Carys picked out the tour (saving me the research effort, heh) and I was told it was one of the best around, even if it was a bit pricey.

The tour van picked us up at about 8.05am. It was slightly later than the scheduled 7.55am, but we overlooked it as we’re guessing that it might be due to delays of the earlier participants. After picking up everyone, we went on our way to our first stop… Breakfast!

Heh, yes, good ‘ol McDonald’s! The cool thing was that we could order whatever and as much as we wanted! It was all included in the tour price! Awesome or what? ;D

After breakfast, we made our way to our first stop…

Hoover Dam

To be honest, I had no idea what Hoover Dam was and what’s the big deal about it. But I bet you also dunno, right?! Don’t worry, I’ll tell you cause I’m nice like that.

Well, you probably already know dams control floods, are a form of water supply, power supply etc so I’ll skip on to the more interesting bits.

Transformers filmed here! Amazingly, it was Fu who told me that. He probably wouldn’t remember my name if he didn’t see me everyday and yet he remembers the name of a dam. Damn.

Another famous movie that filmed here was the 1978 Superman!

Okay, now to show you our photos!

Notice the distinct white line? That’s caused by the minerals in the water and the highest the water level has ever been, nearly flooding the dam.

Yes. They are the exact same two views, just with people in it. What? They’re the best views!

We were here about… 30 mins-ish? Then it was time to move on to the next mini stop.

Route 66

Errr… again, I had no idea what Route 66 was. As you can tell, I will be very swiftly kicked out in the preliminary rounds of USA Trivia.

So. Route 66. It was built in 1926 and is also known as “Main Street of America” or the “Mother Road” as it connected a hell load of states and stretched more than 2,000 miles. For comparison, Singapore is only 30 miles on its longest from east to west.

However, in 1985 its position was usurped by the new Interstate Highway System and it was removed entirely off maps! So sad! :C

It’s like she has been been loyally serving people and carrying their humungous loads (you think trucks very light ah?!) for so many decades, weathering storms, taking severe beatings from the sun (it passes through Texas, you see), surviving frigid winters all so that people could continue to commute from state to state. But what happens when a new young thing comes by? They cruelly ripped her off the maps and discarded her without a second thought.

Fortunately, some portions have been designated “Historic Route 66” and are returning to the maps. At least some people have a conscience.

Route 66 was also featured in Disney’s “Cars“!

I think we had something like 20 mins here, and we got to walk around, visit the souvenir shops and take some photos!

After this, we were finally headed for the star of the day!

Our tour guide (also the driver) was Kevin and from the start of the tour, he shared with us lots of information about the places we were passing by as well as interesting stories and random tidbits. I only wished I could hear him better.

Grand Canyon

The first sight that greeted us when we entered the Grand Canyon National Park was these mule deers. I thought I heard Kevin say they were elks, but upon googling, I don’t think they are. Maybe what he said was that there were elks in Grand Canyon (which is true).

Apparently there are also rattle snakes, mountain lions and what not. But we didn’t meet any of them, unfortunately. Or fortunately.

Our first lookout point was at Bright Angel Lodge.

Here is our first view encounter with the Grand Canyon!

While leaving, I witnessed a single, super fine trail of lightning hit one of the rocks! It was such an electrifying experience!

Unfortunately, that also means that bad weather was upon us :(

We were running very late, but Fu the greedy boy just HAD TO have the ice-cream that he saw everyone eating so as he ran off to the toilet to take care of his emergency, I dashed madly towards two old ladies, startling them. I think I had a crazed look in my eyes as I pointed to their ice-cream cones and asked them where they bought it. They laughed and pointed the way to me.

So worth it though! The ice-cream was delicious! Chocolate peanut butter cups and ribbons of peanut butter weaved into the creamy vanilla… mmmm! (they’re Dreyer’s btw, but can’t seem to find this flavor in the supermarket) And no photo because we were so busy devouring it haha!

We were supposed to have a picnic lunch, but we ended up hiding in the van to escape the rain and wind.

Lunch was  provided and consisted of sandwiches (roast beef and roast turkey), grapes, cheese and ritz crackers and yummy chocolate chip cookies! Lunch was a bit late at about 3.30pm, but we were told in advance and we (er, ok, I think only I) dabao-ed food from Macs earlier so it was ok!

After lunch, it was still rainy :(

We sat out the rain for a while and boy were we rewarded!

We spotted DOUBLE RAINBOWS!!! One of them was a full rainbow! It didn’t capture well on camera, but it was amazing to see!

Kevin brought us to several lookout points, and they were all gorgeous!

To be honest, I thought we would be hiking on rock-strewn paths. But they have proper paved footpaths here!

I also like that Kevin introduced plants along the way to us! Here, he’s telling us that the fibers from this plant can be used for suturing! I’m totally filing this piece of information away in case I ever get stranded on an island ala Lost and need to stitch someone up…

Humans are such insignificant creatures in the face of nature

What’s this? Oh, just a beautiful rainbow shooting out of rocks. Y’know, just another day in the Grand Canyon…

At the edge, having a zen moment and contemplating life

At the edge, having a zen moment and contemplating life

Fu caught this squirrel and it was so adorable! No idea what it was thinking. Maybe about whether or not to take the evolutionary leap to become a flying squirrel. Geddit??? Evolutionary. Leap. Flying Squirrel. LOL!

I’m the only one that finds it witty?
Right. Never mind then.

Moving on.

I don’t have any pictures with Carys! I suspect (and hope) they’re on her camera instead…

We had 3 hours at the Grand Canyon and we started to get restless while waiting for the sunset.

Many more nonsensical photos later, it was time to relocate to the vantage sunset point!

GORGEOUS!!!

Inspired by the beautiful background, I told Fu to pose with a pensive look and he went and sandwiched his nose between his fingers T_T

I told him he looked like he was blowing his nose. LOL.

After some directing, this was the final product:

A while later, the sun twinkled out as it dipped below the horizon.

With that, we bounded back on to the bus and started the 4-hour drive back to Las Vegas.

That wraps up our Grand Canyon tour! I’m thankful and happy I got to see one of the natural wonders in person! (as opposed to documentaries or Google Earth…) I hope I will be able to witness more of nature’s wonders with Fu in the coming days!

Review: Grand Canyon tour

For the record, the tour operator we went with was Grand Adventures and I heartily recommend them!

Kevin was very friendly, filled us with food and information, had the answers to any and all questions that we had, and also doubled up as the group’s photographer!

The group was deliberately kept small – we had 9 on our tour –  and I think it’s a great size.

My only complaint is that the ride back was quite uncomfortable. It was super bumpy and at times I literally bounced a significant distance above the seat! It wasn’t obvious on the way there probably because there were several stops, and there was also more traffic thus the speed was lower.

It DOES cost more than other similar Grand Canyon tours, but I think with the quality of service we received, it was well worth it. This will be my (and most people’s) one and only time going to the Grand Canyon, so better to go with a trusted service and make it count!

Grand Adventures is highly rated among Grand Canyon tour operators, so it’s definitely reliable. You can’t go too wrong with 2,000+ reviews and a 5* rating!

We went on the Grand Canyon Sunset tour, and it took about 16 hours in total (8am till midnight) and costs USD $160. That was the all-inclusive price and the only amount we had to pay on the entire trip (apart from our personal spending and tipping).

TIP #1: Bring a waterproof jacket in case of rainy weather! I was so cold!

TIP #2: Gratuities (i.e. tipping) was a headache for us. As usual. To tip or not to tip? We actually had to google this on the way back lol. Our research showed that $20 per person is in the acceptable range so that was what we gave.

2 Comments

  • Reply Terrorizing the roads of Austin • tripleRIN 2 October 2014 at 2:26 am

    […] From the Grand Canyon trip a month ago -_- Fu only finishes work after the post offices have closed, so I didn’t get any […]

  • Reply Thank you, 2014! • tripleRIN 1 January 2015 at 6:25 am

    […] also saw natural wonders of the world for the first time, and I saw TWO of them! The Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls (ehem, post not written yet *shifty […]

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