14 (June 19, 2008) Grand Canyon
We’ve already hired and paid a trip to Grand Canyon’s South Rim for the
whole day with Scenic airlines. It is located in the state of Arizona
to which we’re going to fly.
So the plan for today is easy for us: we must be ready at 8 AM to be
picked up from the hotel
When coming back to hotel, we will have our last night in Las
Vegas in front of us to visiting what we miss the previous days.
We wake early today as we don’t want to miss our
Grand Canyon, so we’re ready at reception after breakfast at 8
AM. While waiting I’m thinking how this picking up works as there is a
long row of people for accessing the desk and I don’t think they will
join, and then what if they do? How are we called? As this is a huge
casino. Something is wrong here so I ask the women to wait there as I’m
going to check hotel’s entrance, but there is all about going and
coming cars taken and delivered by the valet. When we’re together again
it’s 15 minutes pass the picking up time and I join the row at desk to
ask how this trips use to work. I’m told the normal is they pass by a
place called “Rotunda” and they give me indications about how to reach
it. It is an open area with a roundabout in front of it. There is a van
full of people, but it is not for us. I’m thinking about they’ve
already passed. I was confident they would call to my cell phone –
which number they got – in case of any issue, but now I’m thinking we
missing the trip is not an issue for them as it is already paid. So I
call to the number in my voucher and I’m confirmed the van passed and
informed about the three persons missing. I say we’re going to the
airport by our own and they answer if I arrive on time for the flight
there is no problem.
We go to the main entrance of Excalibur hotel
(number 0 at map below) and join a small row –
which seems eternal
to me - for a taxi, which I ask to be taken to the airport. The airport
can be seen in the map and it is really close to here, so I can relax
as everything seems to be solved. I explain this issue to the taxi
driver for he understand our stress, but he comments we should assure
where we must go as these kind of trips don’t use to fly from
International airport McCarran where we’re going (number 1 at map). So
I call again and
they confirm it is another airport indeed (number 2). They try to
explain how to
go there but I don’t know about the references I’m giving for the way.
The taxi driver shows his hand asking for my phone and I give to him. I
see how they’re getting an agreement so it seems to be going rightly.
When they finish I’m delivered my phone back and explained the airport
we must go is quite far and it’s going to be 50$. I answer 50$ is
nothing if thinking about losing the 1050$ of the trip (350$ per
Our taxi driver is a good guy, he has dealt they will wait
for us and, when we arrive, he gives us a lower price than those 50$,
but I give to him the whole bill as he has well earned it. As the only
we can see is three white modules, as ship containers, with a couple of
windows and a door, in the middle of the desert and nothing else. We
cannot see a single person or dog or… Our driver says he will wait for
a confirmation from us everything is ok before leaving. We try to open
the door from first module but it is locked. Then we try the one in the
second module and it is closed too. Is this some sort of macabre show!?
The door for the third and last module opens and we can see a tiny
waiting room with a desk in front of it. I ask about our trip and we’re
on time, so I’m going out to make a sign to the taxi we’re fine so he
This room is a sort of
airport terminal. At our right there is the coffee and restaurant area,
which here is a coffee and vending machine. Besides there are the gift
shops: a display with postcards, key rings and some other small things.
Check in desk is a girl after a table and, besides, the door to outside
where the aircraft is “parked”, which is the boarding gate.
I go to the girl at desk as I want to end with the
procedures and complaining about don’t being called and not being
explained about the airport when in my first call I said I was going to
go directly to there. Was she really thinking the airport I was meaning
is that three containers in the middle of nowhere which don’t know even
Vegas’ taxi drivers? But before I could do any attack, when I’m
identifying me, she strikes first asking me for our passports and
saying she know well who we are and we should be waiting at our hotel
in time. I explain we were waiting a lot before the time, it’s just
nobody told we should wait in a specific point of the hotel. Then she
answers it mustn’t be that difficult if after years taking dozens of
people from hotels every day we’re the first ones on missing the
transport for not knowing where to wait. I’m shocked and don’t react,
this girl has just called me stupid and it was so unexpected that I
just can say they forgot to tell where to wait to us and wouldn’t for
the rest. Anyway, to the hell with this girl, we’re going to see the
Grand Canyon and will enjoy it. I’m still must be grateful for being
waited. But after 30 minutes seated in the chair with the other
tourists I’m feeling as they weren’t only waiting for us.
We finally are asked to board and the group goes outside wearing the
pink “Scenic” sticker in our chests with proud. In our boarding passes,
pink too, we have the assigned seat number but, if the plane looks
small from outside, inside it is not for my size and I don’t manage to
seat as there is not enough legroom for mine. One of the staff persons
move me to the last seat because it is a single one and I can fit on it
if I seat sideways.
An air hostess stands in the middle of the pass
way to explain the typical security information. This is something
lived several times before, but here is a bit different: there are just
6 rows of seats and she cannot be completely stood so she must do it
bended down and in loud voice. Just when taking off we can see we’re
going to enjoy wonderful views during the flight. All passengers are
using their cameras through the big windows. We’ve got headphones in
order to following the audio guide about what we’re saying, starting by
Lake Mead, which appears fantastic in the middle of the dessert. We can
see Hoover Dam, which is the cause of the lake and Louis Lane’s death.
Yes, I remember well this Dam from Superman movie, where his love dies
in the middle of an earthquake because the superhero is busy saving
people around. He then decides to save her by the bizarre method of
travelling backwards in time by changing Earth rotation direction. A
very Kryptonian idea as here humans know rotation is the cause of the
gravity instead of the time, so the only Superman was doing is making
all the people to float to the sky and then make them fall against the
ground when the planet rotates again killing millions of people. What a
mistake! In the movie it works, although they don’t answer the question
“who is saving all the people now Superman is chatting with Miss Lane?"
Obviously, our audio guide is not mentioning anything of that
and later on we find out the incredible landscapes of Grand Canyon.
Inside the plane, the silence, as everybody is amazed by the views of
these huge natural scars in the land. You can see in the pictures how a
vast flat and barren land has become in a nature wonder just by the
pass of small and continous water caudal and a lot of patience.
Flight is so short when you’re watching something so amazing,
we leave the plane quickly thinking the next now is getting a closer
look of that. Somehow, we’re got into a coach and delivered some
tickets we must show in the theater entrance. It seems we’re going to
see a movie first.
We go through what seems to be Grand Canyon Visitors Center to join a
row of people where we’re checked for the tickets. I go for coke and a
popcorn bucket as the rest of people is doing and I’m surprised by the
question “What do you want with the popcorn?”. It seems they have a
list of stuff to put over them and I make the woman to tell the whole
list, then I choose cheese. Popcorn with cheese!
seconds after the movie starts we’re done with our snack. The movie is
a documental about the Grand Canyon with some parts seeming a
commercial for making people visiting it, which I don’t understand as
all the people here are in our way to visit it.
After the movie we’re back to the coach and I ask to our guide what is
going to be next stop: a lookout to Grand Canyon. Ok, now we're talking!
Grand Canyon is huge, so big that it goes
over different states and, in the most of the cases, it is a nature
border between them as any land transport gets truncated by its cliffs.
So, the way of visiting it is getting close to one of its rims. That’s
why there are defined four points to visit it: West Rim, South Rim,
North Rim and East Rim. West Rim is the closest one to Vegas and there
are a lot of day trips by road from the city and, therefore, cheaper.
Somehow, it seems the best is the South Rim, the one where we are, and
it needs air transport from Vegas for a day trip. It is more expensive,
but the views from the plane are definitively a must-do.
We cannot wait for having these first views from this South Rim, but we
can only see pine trees and stones when going out from the coach. We
still must walk a little bit to access the lookout, at the edge of the
cliff. We need some time to make space between all the crowd in so
magnificent balcony. The views are stunning. It’s not the camera is not
enough for taking something of so vast landscape, but the eyes are not
These large “wounds” in land are creating a big range of
colors, as if the depth could be represented graphically and, in some
points, the earth is shown red as if it was raw.
The panorama is great but sun and hot air is hitting the
visitors. We could be hours spent just by looking to this quiet show,
but seated at shadow. We’ve got time enough, though, until time to
coming back to the coach is reached, but first we go to the stone
little house in the parking area because it is a toilet and we need to
use it and refresh a little bit. I take some vouchers about this area,
which seems to be called Tusayan. Next stop is for lunching.
We stop in a big hotel; it’s not a big building
but a large area with small two floored buildings around. I guess it is
a working design for a place where space is not a problem. We get into
one of these buildings and we can see it is all decorated with a
hunting theme. Buffet is upstairs. I’m happy it is an all –you-can-eat
because I’m starving but we can easily notice the big differences with
Vegas’ buffets: no luxuries and a few choices. But being pasta on it is
enough for filling me. This lunch was included in the trip price.
Back in the coach we know we’re going to a
different lookout. Looking at the info I got before I can see the view
point we were before is called “Mather Point”, where the pictures above
belong, and now we’re going to “Yavapai point” and the pictures below
are for this.
On that sort of stone hut in the edge
of the cliff there is a big gift store, with a lot of Native thematic,
where we purchase a couple of things. The landscape is similar to the
previous one, so it is equally stunning. The views are beautiful but is
really the size what is most impressive, you can only giving up in
front of something like this.
When we arrived to this point, the guide told us
this is a reserve for the few remaining Californian condors and we can
really see a couple of them flying far in the sky. They’re not
together, it must be dozens of kilometers between them, but the sight
is so open here that you can detect anything in the sky for hundreds of
But when we’re about to leave, one of the birds approaches to
us. I want a picture of a condor and I keep waiting and making pictures
to the sky until I get a decent one. This one:
We still have time to see a squirrel and a lizard
being back to the coach for our final ride in Arizona: the one to the
airport. On our way, we still have our heads in the canyon. We would
want to visit all the rims and going inside it to have all the possible
views from this wonder. It is happening at plane too, where we can see
it again for a good bye. At least, I’ve been located to a place where I
can seat sideways again.
Everything is quick once
back in Nevada, we’re asked for the hotel to be delivered to and split
on different vans depending on the destination. We’re with eight
Japanese who go down at Montecarlo’s, and then we get into our room at
Excalibur and rest for a while. We still have a few things to do before
leaving Las Vegas tomorrow: visiting Fremont Street in downtown and
Luxor, just besides our hotel, for which we even have a pass way
between both hotels and we must dinner in the middle of it
Around 8 PM we take the car to drive to downtown, out of the
Strip. Beyond Stratosphere is a new world for us and we can see,
without leaving the same street, the typical icons of Las Vegas in our
way: express wedding chapels, the famous rhomboid sign of “Welcome to
Las Vegas”, only this is adding “downtown” at the end… When we arrive I
can find a big parking building where I put some quarters and walk the
20 meters to the lights of Freemont Street through a dark alley where
we can see some figures which makes a difference with the Strip: one
man shouting to a prostitute and another one walking more like a zombie
than like a person.
Under the lights of Freemont Street one feels save between so
much tourists, but they’re leaving as we’ve just arrive when the show
has just ended and the screen is off now. It goes all along the street
and we’ve missed to know how spectacular it can be just by a few
The casinos at both sides of this street have a lot of lights and the
most of them are very popular, as the Golden Nuggets or the cowboy
moving his arm, which is appearing very small in the picture at left.
But as this place is getting empty of tourists the environment is
getting weirder and we don’t want to get so far from the car. So we do
some pictures to the further area and walk back slowly to the parking.
There is not a single policeman in this street and we don’t want to be
the last tourists here.
In our way back we stop at Paris for dinner. We wanted a great
buffet but, as it is closed, we take our meal in a Japanese restaurant
with views to Bellagio and its fountains. We can see five different
performances in the time of dinning.
Once in our hotel, free from the car, we walk long underground pass
ways to Hotel Luxor. There, it’s all Ancient Egypt thematic. Outside we
can see the Sphinx, some big statues and a temple. Behind them there is
the pyramid which, being black, is one with the night, but we can still
see it because of the city lights reflected in their walls and the
strongest beam of light in the world which goes from its tip to the sky
We walk all around the pyramid knowing this is our
last visit in Las Vegas, which we’re going to leave tomorrow morning, a
city built for offering good times to the visitors and for owners
earning big money too.
We’re going to bed knowing
after the last night in one place is a night in another new one.
Tomorrow is going to be for the desert