A Travellerspoint blog

Sunday - Time to go home

Last minute sight-seeing before leaving New York

overcast 5 °C

As we had packed the previous day we managed to get down to the lobby early for breakfast. We wanted to cram in as much as possible before we had to check out. Today was going to be Central Park. One of the other places we see often on the TV. As it was Sunday it was quite quiet for NY. So we made our way up 7th Avenue and in a short time we got to it. Looking at the map we had I thought it would be a good idea to head for the fountain but I seemed to remember it being not so far away. Oh well we had a nice walk and Sue enjoyed seeing the joggers (as we see on TV) and the roller bladders (as we see on TV). We saw the carousel then walked a little further saw the Strawberry Fields Memorial to John Lennon, then on to the fountain by The Bethesda Terrace. I thought this was at the south end of the park but last time I was here I was sooooo tired I must have got myself confused. Anyway I could not remember the ceiling of the Bethesda Terrace decorated with Minton glazed tiles.

Bethesda Terrace

Bethesda Terrace

But since we returned I found out that the ceiling, was part of the original design of Central Park, and was first installed in 1867. Also these tiles were handcrafted in Stoke-on-Trent, England only 50 miles from where we live. The reason I had not seen it before was that the tiles had been removed for restoration work about 25 years ago which was only completed less than a year ago. I think this was the highlight of the day for me. It was a beautiful place and so unexpected. From here we waked up to the natural history museum where a night at the museum was filmed and then we walked across the park to 5th avenue. The last thing I wanted Sue to see was Trump Towers with the trees growing in steps. We did see the trees but being winter they only looked like dead wood but I think she got the idea. We then made our way back to the hotel only 10mins past check out time. Which wasn’t a problem.

After checking out we had the decision to either try to get to Newark Airport by public transport or by Taxi. Sue opted for Taxi I’m not sure if she just wanted a ride in a yellow cab or that she just wanted the easy option but seeing 2 people with cases on the street was a clear indication that a cab was needed and 2 stopped. I’m not sure where the cab driver came from, but we got ourselves understood and we were on our way to the airport we needed. $64 later we arrived. Nothing much exciting happened here at the airport check in was fine baggage control was fine and the flight to Amsterdam was fine. We were due to arrive there at 4am and take off again at 6 to get back to Birmingham. With our body clocks still on New York time it just seemed like a late night when we arrived in Amsterdam. We had a few Euros left from our last trip to Holland so we bought a couple of drinks and Dutch biscuits. For us the rest of the journey home was no problem. But there was still another person who decided to buy his duty free drinks and try to take them on the aircraft. Which he didn’t. And that was our trip to the US.

Valentino Pup and the Big Apple

Valentino Pup and the Big Apple

Hope you enjoyed reading it, and maybe found it useful if so please leave a comment.

Posted by SirRogue58 03:37 Archived in USA Tagged new_york john_lennon central_park newark amsterdam_airport strawberry_fields_memorial trump_towers Comments (0)

Saturday - Another full day in New York

Walk walk walk and sore feet

overcast 5 °C
View Alyson & Jeremy's Wedding on SirRogue58's travel map.

Today was the day we were going up the Empire State Building again, and as it was a Saturday we know it was going to be busy. We went down for our breakfast (in the lobby) and found it even more cramped this time as the weekend tourists were here. After managing to eat our bagels without dropping everything. We took our coffee out with us and made our way.

The weather was with us again it wasn’t raining and it was quite sunny too. So we knew we would have a good view. Getting there we saw that it was busy but because we had previous bought our tickets we were directed straight to the front of the security checks only one problem here. They would only let us take the non extending mini tripod. Maybe they thought the light weight 10 inch tripod could be used as a deadly weapon who knows. But we had to check it in and then made our way to the lifts. After another ear popping accent we got to the 80th floor and then joined the queue for the next lift. This time we had to wait for the photographers to take pictures of the visitors with the blue screen (Why bother??) we made our excuses when we go to them and carried on to the lifts. And on to the viewing deck.

New York

New York

It looks so different in day light you can recognise more buildings and see the traffic mainly yellow cabs going through the streets beneath. But it was busier and we at times had to jostle our way to get a better view. Just then a passing NYPD helicopter hovered in front of us for a great Kodak moment and Even Sue got a wave back from them hahaha. But after a while we’d seen our views and taken our photos and made our way back inside. But before we left Valentino Pup made another singing appearance, which was capture for posterity. Then down via the gift shop to street level.

Next place on the agenda was Grand Central station.

Grand Central

Grand Central

If you have seen major railway stations in the UK you would think how dismal they were even the ones in London. But Grand Central is fantastic. It looks more like a museum. With the painted high ceilings and the stonework and chandeliers. Another reason for coming here was to find out about leaving our luggage on the Sunday so we could have more time to sight see after we checked out of our hotel. But unfortunately we were told they no longer do that since 9/11. We looked around the stations other levels but did not stop as we had other places to visit. But we did make one more thing. Another appearance by Valentino pup hahaha. Next place to visit was The Chrysler building as the best building I feel in New York when you look up at it, it looks like something from the Batman cartoons. Gothic and modern mixed together.

Gargoyles

Gargoyles

When you get to the entrance its typical 1930’s deco. We went in to the foyer as I did as tourist last time there but this time there was a sign saying no entry unless on business. This was another restriction after 9/11. I was glad I had been able to see more of the décor close up last time I visited. But I think Sue was still impressed by the marble walls and marble pictures in the ceilings. And we could just see the lift doors with the inlayed designs.

After being a bit disappointed the next place on the agenda was the UN building I’d seen photos and it on TV with all the flags of the nations. It is a place I feel stands for peace but peace is something everyone should want to make it work.

We got the guide book out and made our way then we spotted a street vendor selling ear muffs we had to have a pair each hahaha Even though the sun was out the wind was still biting. We carried on walking and walking and walking and walking then I realised we had been walking in the wrong direction. Being mindful of Sue's back the day before I apologised for getting it wrong and we headed off in the right direction and eventually came to it. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm no flags.
UN Building

UN Building


Even the garden was closed so we cold not walk around that and see the peace sculptures. Very disappointing. I still took a couple of photos though so unless you know what you are looking at it just looks like another office block but you can see the empty flag poles at it’s base. Time to stop for a coffee and a warm up by this time it was getting on 4 in the afternoon. What to do now? Looking at the guide book we decided to find the Rockefeller Centre. It seemed a really popular place to be lots of people having fun but not as I expected. I thought the ice skating would be at street level but it was really good to be able to look down at all ages having fun. I’m sure I’ve seen it in a film somewhere.

Then back to the hotel to pack for our flight back to the UK on Sunday. We had some snacks we’d brought with us and decided to have that and the chocolate from Valentine’s Day instead of a meal so it was a good healthy way to end the day hahaha.

Posted by SirRogue58 03:31 Archived in USA Tagged new_york grand_central_station empire_state_building un_building chrysler_building rockefeller_centre Comments (0)

Friday - Seeing the sights in New York

Extra security limited our sight-seeing slightly

overcast 5 °C
View Alyson & Jeremy's Wedding on SirRogue58's travel map.

Time to get up and have our 1st New York “Continental“. Remember what I said about the small lobby? Well that was where breakfast was…… We could have taken it back to our room but we were dressed ready to go out so we got our bagels and fruit juice and Danish and coffee and tried to find somewhere to sit. The 4 chairs were occupied the windowsill was occupied and the bench was occupied but fairly quickly we managed to get a seat on the bench as I think people were self conscious about eating here. We balanced our brekkie on our knees and managed to eat it without loosing it and it wasn’t that bad really.

Then we were off out again. We had pre-booked tickets for the Statue of Liberty before we left the UK but for some reason only had the confirmation paperwork and not any tickets. We didn’t think this should be a problem but wanted to get there early rather than the last minute before the ferry left.

We walked back to the subway station we came from the previous evening and caught the train to Battery Park. This was a lot easier this time as we had no cases and Battery Park was the last station on the line anyway. But a couple of stations prior to the last the driver made some sort of announcement about the first 5 carriages. We kept listening and eventually realised that at the platform at the last station was only long enough for the 1st 5 and anyone who were in the other carriages would not be able to get off!! Which were we on? Would we be stuck? How much time had we got? Where there any more stations to be able to get out of our carriage and change to one of the 1st 5 if need be?

Oh well, if we have to, we’ll stay on and get off at the 1st station on the way back.

When the train arrived at the last station we were ok. We got off and made our way up to the sunlight. Found our bearings and made our way to where the ferry should be leaving. It was a good job we did too. Due to the extra security after 9/11 the queue was really long and as we needed to query our tickets we thought we better start queuing too. After about 15 mins there were people coming back down the queue and we heard an announcement that the tickets should be bought at the fort 1st. Hmmmmmmm should we stay where we were or go to the ticket office. As we had only waited for 15 mins it wasn’t a lot of time to waste so decided to go to the fort and check there?

We made the right decision! We went to the prepaid ticket window showed our confirmation and right away the guy there printed off our tickets and gave them to us. So now we felt we didn’t have to queue so long. Both Sue and I needed the bathroom by this time which was also in the fort. Whilst I waited for Sue to return (women’s bathrooms always have queues) I took a couple of photos one I took by zooming my camera and catching “living” Statue of Liberty and some piece of modern art behind him outside of the fort through a door way. I thought it would look good framed that way. When Sue returned we had a quick look around the fort and at some of the information boards. After checking all them out we decided to go back to the queue as we cold see the ferry previous to ours docking and wondered if we would be able to get on that one instead.

But we didn’t with all the security checks and baggage checks that ferry left before we got to the front of the queue. But we were not that far from the front. So we waited. About 30 minutes later the ferry returned and disembarked its passengers and then it was our turn to board. To be honest I wanted to sit outside even though it was a February morning but I’m not sure if Sue did but most of the seats inside had gone anyway. But the views from outside are a lot better.

It didn’t take us long to get there and soon we were getting our audio guides. It was quite interesting as it did explain the history and construction. We took a short break from the tour to give our friend Valentino Pup some fresh air. We decided that we would video Valentino singing his song at various places we visit in New York and maybe other places in the world too. We did get a few strange looks but it was fun and I know a few people did smile at this crazy couple in their 50s. After this short break we finished off the tour and went in side looked around the exhibits like the original flame and life size replicas of parts of the statue. We then made our way up inside the plinth but found we could not go any higher.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

It was a bit of a disappointment as back in 2000 I went right up into the crown but it was part of the aftermath of 9/11 again. We did enjoy the visit though, but it would have been a lot better to get a closer view of how it was made. We made our way back to the ferry grabbing a coffee on the way to warm ourselves up. And finished it just as the ferry arrived. This time we managed to get a seat inside.

After visiting Ellis Island we were dropped off at Battery Point and from there we made our way to ground zero. Which we had planned to do today. On the way we passed the “living” statue I had taken the photo of and then stopped to look at the “modern” art. But it wasn’t modern art it was a monument in remembrance of the people who died and suffered in the 9/11 attack. Here’s a description of what it is:

The Sphere

The Sphere

''The Sphere is a large metallic sculpture by German sculptor Fritz Koenig, currently displayed in Battery Park, that once stood in the middle of Austin Tobin Plaza, the area between the World Trade Centre towers in Manhattan. After being recovered from the rubble of the Twin Towers after the September 11, 2001 attacks, its fate was initially uncertain and it was dismantled into its components. Although it remained structurally intact, it had been visibly damaged by debris from the airliners that were crashed into the buildings and the collapsing skyscrapers themselves.
Six months after the attacks, following a documentary film about the sculpture, it was relocated to Battery Park on a temporary basis—without any repairs—and formally rededicated with an eternal flame as a memorial to the victims of 9/11. It has become a major tourist attraction, due partly to the fact that it survived the attacks with only dents and holes. It will be returned to its original home once the Freedom Tower project is completed.''

Looking at it I was thinking about the people I saw and maybe talked to in the twin towers last time I was there and wondering if they had become victims. I kept looking back at it as we made our way out of Battery Park. But eventually I had to stop looking as I became quite emotional. We made our way towards ground zero stopping off at some other sculptures pushing the sphere to the back of my mind and eventually we arrived. We were hoping to go to a church that Sue had heard about to pay our respects but the nearest church which we think was the one was closed. We walked around the building site but could not look in maybe I didn’t really want to look in I didn’t want to take photos either but there were some tourists around that did. It was quite sobering walking around as almost all the people we saw were not tourist but people going about their normal day to day business not even glancing towards the building site. This to me shows that life goes on no matter what tragedy happens. At this point Sue and I left the area.

Wall Street

Wall Street

We decided to find Wall Street which was another of the places we hear about and see back here in the UK. The 1st thing we came to was the Bull. I’d not seen it before apart from pictures even though last time I had visited Wall Street and did the tour of the New York stock exchange. Walking on further we found it, and some guy preaching in the middle of the street. He did have an audience but mainly because he was just loud hahaha. There was also NYPD there, dog handlers and what I could only imaging, SWAT. Even though they looked as if they meant business curiosity got the better of me so I asked one what was so special about the building they were in front of. They said nothing they just wanted to hang out there hahaha.

Next it was on to China Town we had planned this walk earlier and thought it would be a good place to have dinner. Sue having a bad back by this time was grateful for the rest and also the food which was scrummy yummy. You can tell a good Chinese Restaurant I feel by the number of Chinese customers and this place had some.

China Town

China Town

After eating loads which surprised us both we were ready to move on we walked up Broadway towards Time Square and our hotel and the slow lift which this time didn’t make a worrying noise when it reached the top. We settled down for an evenings TV and later slept soundly after our 1st full day in the city.

Posted by SirRogue58 03:23 Archived in USA Tagged buildings wall_street new_york security statue_of_liberty china_town 9/11 manhatten ground_zero world_trade_centre battery_park Comments (0)

Thursday - Valentine's in New York

New York by night WOW!!!!!

all seasons in one day
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Up bright and early we went down for our last continental breakfast in Arizona then back to our room for our cases and we checked out by 7am.

It was a nice drive back to the highway as the sun was still coming up but we thought we’d had enough photos by this time. What I wanted to take photos of were the cacti on the last stretch to Phoenix.
The drive went smooth and again we noticed new vegetation every time we went over a ridge then we came to what we were looking for.... Cacti!! Hahaha

There was loads of them up on crests of hills on the sides of the road but no where to park to take photos. When we did find somewhere it wasn’t but the big ones I desperately wanted to find. Eventually we saw a slip road off the highway which had them in the area. Off we went (I think I indicated) and there it was, a giant, but it was not alone. There looked to be a number of Chinese tourists around it, hahaha. We discovered that they had come down from Canada especially to see this sort of cactus. So I offered to take their photo with it hoping that they would do the same for Sue and me. But then I thought I was going to have problems as all the instructions and buttons on their camera were in Chinese!! But with a bit of pointing and gesturing we found out which button to press and they returned the favour.

Ok back onto the road again and foot down we hit the outskirts of Phoenix. Even though it was rush hour by now the traffic was moving freely and the directions back to the Car hire place were clear.

Next thing we knew we were on the shuttle to the airport to check in.

Uh oh! Problems. At check in we thought there was going to be a problem as the man at the desk said we had reservations but no tickets.

Huuuuuhhhhh?? That’s one thing that worries me about booking flights and hotels over the internet it’s not something we do everyday so in the back of my mind there could have been a mistake or a misunderstanding when the booking was made. After about 5 minutes the supervisor was called and with some convoluted way of clicking on icons pressing of “F” keys our boarding passes came out. Phewwww we were on our way to New York. Now the next different thing was that at check in they didn’t take our cases. We had to take them around the corner and remove our locks as the X-ray machine wasn’t working and all the cases had to be searched by hand. Hmmmmmmm will they be checked in time to be on our flight? We’ll see.

Nothing much more to do so we thought we’d go through security and again everything that needed to be removed was removed belt watch shoes sweat top etc for them to be X-rayed and obviously our back packs too. I did wonder what they would make of Valentino Pup in Sue’s back pack as it contained electronics, wires and batteries. But there were no alarm bells so we didn’t loose him. Unfortunately one of the other passengers was not so lucky.

We had managed to drink all the coke we brought with us just before entering the queue, as we knew no fluids were allowed to be brought into the cabin of the plane but the person behind didn’t think. He’d bought what seemed like a litre of brandy. Oooops!! That’s it!! Confiscated and no compensation either!!

Well we got to our gate and found out that the incoming flight was delayed but they would try to get it turned around as soon as possible. Which they did.

On our way to New York!!

The flight was ok and we even had a spare seat beside us, so Sue could stretch out a little and I stretch my legs. Going from East to West time goes faster well it seems it as Sunset came 2 hours early for us (2 hours difference between Phoenix and New York time) and we flew over New York about 7pm local time and it was spectacular. Every Avenue and Street on Manhattan looked like stretched gold threads. It was Beautiful we could not wait to land and explore the streets at night.

Flying in to New York

Flying in to New York

Not long after we landed and as it was an internal flight no immigration. It seemed like we had landed at a bus station this time as we walked a short distance to left luggage picked it up and made our way to the shuttle Only thing to note here, I did have someone ask if I needed help with my case which I did refuse 1 because I could manage it and 2 I had read somewhere that you should only let official “bag people” (or what ever you call them) help and I could not remember what made them look official. Any way we got out into the evening air and were surprised that it was not as cold as we thought. After spotting the signs we made our way to the shuttle and saw a “real” official who we asked what we needed to catch to get to Manhattan. I think she spoke English there were some words I recognised but she spoke so fast mentioning all the stations and changes what seemed in 1 breathe that I could not take it all in. So we asked her to repeat it again and then 1 more time. Ok I now knew where the 1st place we had to head to, was called - “The end of the line”.

We had thought the shuttle would have taken us right into Manhattan because we thought it was part of the subway system. But this shuttle was only to get us to the subway.

Tourists huh?

Any way, got to the end of the line but didn’t like the look of the area and hoped we didn’t have to walk the streets here. We had arrived at Jamaica station the place where we catch the subway train. But which station do we get off at? I think the girl who spoke to us before told us but my ears were going at a slower speed than her mouth.

We looked at the automatic ticket machine and decided to press select English. Phew it didn’t speak to us we just had to read. But damn. What were all these options? Luckily one of the staff came over and asked where we wanted to go and he pressed a few buttons and $14 later out came our 2 person ticket.

Next problem. How to negotiate turnstiles with suitcases. I didn’t want to push them through in case some helpful person decides to take them on further. I know it sounds as if I don’t trust anybody but we were in a new city after travelling for 12 hours, do you blame me? After the 1st attempt I gave up and went to the ticket office and with out much hassle he remotely unlocked the side gate to let us through.

Now which train was it we wanted? I think it was on the “A” line we needed found our way to the platform and after a short wait got on the train hoping it was going in the right direction (which it was). Now we had to figure which station we had to get off. We were heading for East 47th Street which was not far from Time Square. But we could not see any maps in the carriage like thy have on the London Underground. Out came the guide book but the map in there did not show all the stations Humph.

I know I said before that it seemed I wasn’t very trusting but I did find the people we came across that evening to be very helpful. The guy sitting opposite us must have overheard and guessed we were tourists. Maybe because of an English accent we stood out or maybe the large red suit cases gave us away. But he told us our stop was only a couple away and sure enough we read the station name as we came to stop. Off we got again with guide book in hand and another fellow passenger stopped to ask if we knew where we were going. She explained that we had to go to the end of the platform and up the stairs there to get to our next train.

After thanking her we set off and came to the stairway struggled up with them and then saw a lift to the next level we needed. As we got in so did this big black guy Oooops! Was this a mistake? I tried to look him up and down to gauge if I could take him if needed and spotted what I needed to know. He was carrying a library book. I could tell by the sticker on the spine. Now remember what day it was? Yes, Valentine’s Day. The book he had was called “Dating for Idiots” Maybe he was going on a 1st date and was a bit nervous. Maybe that’s why he started to talk to us. We explained where we were going and he told us t follow him I didn’t have too many worries this time and also I could see the signs directing us to the platform we needed. We were lead to another lift, where we let a man, with his home in a shopping trolley, exit. Got to another level where we would catch our last part of public transport for that day.

We exited the Subway about 5 streets down from 47th Street and all we could see were people so best foot forward we started to drag our cases. We could not help but look up at the buildings and I know I was smiling to myself and I’m sure Sue was too. Eventually we got to 47th Street but did not know which part of East 47th we were on but we need not have worried it was almost on the corner of 7th Avenue which we had just walked up.

I was surprised how close we were to Time Square for the price we were paying.

The lobby was small but what would you need a large lobby for in a small hotel right? We checked in and went up to our room on the 6th floor we didn’t think the lift was moving but the numbers were but sooooo slowly then we grinded to the top floor and waited for the lift to drop back to the ground floor. Well that was what it seemed like was going to happen after all the noises it made as the length of time it took the doors to open.

But eventually we were there and our room was only just around the corner. Ok the Room. Yes the Room. We read reviews on this hotel as we had the others and when it said the rooms were small we didn’t mind as we were only going to sleep in there. But was it small. Hahaha
It was a good job the TV was a flat screen one and even whit that on the wall I had to “limbo” past it as there was only a small gap between the foot of the bed an the wall. Hahaha.

We unpacked and managed to fit all we needed to in to the small wardrobe and stand our cases against the wall so we had enough room to get out of bed. Once we did that we hit the streets.

Even though it was 10pm, like London, the streets are always busy here. We made our way down to Time Square where we took videos and photos for our selves and for other couples who again returned the favour. There were a lot of couples about that night, I wonder why? I treated Sue to a Valentine’s Hot Dog well it was nothing special but Sue just wanted to have one from a street vendor like we see on the TV. More photos later we walked down Broadway and then we came across Macy’s another Icon of New York but now we were not far from our destination, the Empire State Building. We had bought 2 pairs of tickets before we left England. 1 pair was for tonight as I did not see the views at night from the top last time I was in New York and I knew Sue would love it too. The Empire State Building was lit up special for tonight as it was Valentine’s Day. The colours were Red, White and Pink. There were no queues at all when we got there as it was gone 11pm by this time. We went through security. Showed our Tickets got in the lift and in the time it took the hotel lift to do the 6 floors we had reached the 80th. We didn’t mind the ear popping as we were going up as it was part of the experience. We then followed a maze of tape and signs avoiding the photographers wanting to take our photo in front of a blue screen and eventually arrived at the next lift to take us to the viewing area. A couple of minuets later and......

WOW!!!!!

Midnight on the Empire State Building

Midnight on the Empire State Building

What a breathtaking view. There were only a few couples up there but what a view. I never imagined it would look so fantastic at night. The last time I view took my breath away was when I was in a church the Santa Maria Assunta in Venice. We were there gone midnight spellbound by the lights of New York. The only problem was the cold. So we eventually made our way back down and up through to Time Square. Our body clocks were saying 11pm but the time in New York was 1am could we find somewhere to eat? Only a 24 hour McDonalds. I don’t normally do “Fast Food” burger places but we were in the US hahaha. Almost had some problem with the change but got that sorted it may have been our 1st night in NY but I was used to the money. Finally back to our tiny room ready for a good nights sleep before we explore more of Manhattan.

Posted by SirRogue58 03:14 Archived in USA Tagged planes new_york arizona sedona car_hire phoneix valentino_pup empire_state_building manhatten Comments (0)

Wednesday - Visiting the Grand Canyon

Sue's first helicopter flight

semi-overcast 17 °C
View Alyson & Jeremy's Wedding on SirRogue58's travel map.

We awoke knowing we had a bit of a drive to do this day. So after breakfast it was out to the car and up the road to the Grand Canyon. We decided to take the back road as we did have 4 hours to drive what we thought would be a 2 hour journey.

What a good choice we made.

As soon as we had gotten through Sedona we came across Oak Creek
8Arizona__020.jpg
it was so pretty with the reflections of the trees and rocks in the water we just had to stop. And stop. And stop again. I don’t think we caused any traffic delays as we always managed to pull over onto some land off the road but the further we got along the road the more difficult it was as the road became more twisty and steeper.

We didn’t realise we were climbing out of a canyon. Maybe if we looked at a map we would have seen it called Oak Creek Canyon. We went higher and higher and we saw more and more snow on the sides of the road. We then noticed that there was a viewing point up ahead and even though we had stopped numerous times to take photos we decided to stop at an “Official” viewpoint.

The snow here was deeper and the view fantastic we even bought some “local crafts” as gifts from some Indians. I’m not sure if they were made by them but it was a good story to tell. Then we went on towards Flagstaff.

Higher and higher we climbed and at one point we were 8,040 feet above sea level. Then, we hit Flagstaff. We could tell it was a place for winter sports by all the hire shops we saw. But we didn’t stop here as we knew we had a helicopter to catch.

We made good time from Flagstaff. It was a nice drive but nothing spectacular to see like we had seen before so we made steady progress. Not far from the Grand Canyon we stopped off at a “Trading Post” I know it was to catch the tourists but it was really interesting. Looking around at all the furs and trying on a few hats hahaha. I bought Sue a stone heart that I spotted, just a little extra for Valentine’s Day. Then a bit later she asked me to leave the shop as she wanted to buy something hahaha I was guessing she had seen the stone hearts too. So I went out to the car and started to go through the paperwork for the helicopter flight.

“Please contact us when you book into your hotel”

SH1T!! I didn’t do that but it should not be a problem as they had my mobile number if there was a problem.

“Please bring photo ID for each passenger taking the helicopter flight”

SH1T!!!! All I had was my driving licence which has my photo on it but nothing for Sue.

I thought I’d better not say anything to Sue and try to talk my way around it when they asked for her photo ID.
Out comes Sue and we carry on down the road and in the back of my mind I’m thinking “It’s too far to go back to get the Ids now”. “We don’t look like terrorists.” “Sue may be sooooo disappointed if she can’t go on the flight, but then again she was sooooo nervous about going on it so she might be ok”

On we drive and the voices were getting louder and louder until we arrived at the airport. We parked the car and made our way to check in. Sue goes off to the ladies room and I make my way to the desk.

“Hi” I say. “We have a booking for the 2:30 flight in the name of Fox”. “Hi Can I have your credit card and photo ID?” I pass over my card and driving licence. “That’s fine” can you stand on the metal plate so we can weigh you. That’s fine” Sue returns. Hi can you stand on the plate please so we can weigh you?” That’s fine Mr Fox here’s your credit card and your flight will be in 45 mins.

Phew!! They didn’t ask for Sue’s ID!!

We ask if there is anywhere for a coffee and was told that there was a Café just down the road and that we had plenty of time. Off we go but we could not find the place we were told about so we called into McDonalds. That was when I told Sue about the photo Id. I’m not sure if she whished that there had been a problem so she did not have go on the flight but she didn’t seem to be worried. As we drank our coffee we watched a few helicopters and light planes fly low over the area. And then it was time for us to return.

We sat near another couple and the doors so we could see the helicopter and a conversation started. This couple were from Manchester in England and they asked us where we had come from. When we said Sedona they said that they were there a few days before on the Saturday and that they had me a young couple who were getting married on the Monday, an American and an English girl.

What a small world!! We showed them the photos that were stored on my camera and it was Alyson and Jeremy!

Then the pilot came to get us. Do we have 2 Rogers and 2 Susan’s? Hahaha out of the 6 passengers there were 2 pairs of names. The Roger was an Australian and the other Susan was the woman we had just been talking to. Any way after all the pre-flight briefings we all got in strapped up and put our headsets on and we were off to the sound of mission impossible playing hahaha I gave Sue a look to make sure she was ok and she was beaming. She was in love with helicopter flying from the second we were off the ground now she was wishing she was sat in the front where as before she was hoping to sit in the middle with her eyes shut when we first booked it.

This was my second flight in a helicopter the 1st being in New York in 200o but this was by far the best. After flying over the trees we came to the edge of the Canyon. What a view! With our headphones on we could talk amongst each other but I think the scenery was too much as all that was said for the 1st 5 mins was Oooops and Aaaaahs and a few Wows thrown in.

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It was nothing like the flight simulators you can go in. It was so smooth and the view was all around you. It was a good choice to fly the Canyon as we were seeing a different part of it than we would later at the South Rim as the pilot explained flying where the people could view from the South Rim was banned.

Seeing the snow clinging to the sides was strange as was realising how deep it was and how old the rocks were that were exposed at the base of it. All too soon we were coming back out of it and back over the trees to airport. The pilot tried to se if there was any wildlife about amongst the trees but even though we could see tracks in the snow I think they were well hidden.

Finally we land and then have our photos taken with the helicopter and the pilot. I think its great how people offer to take photos for each other, we do that often as there is nothing worse than having someone missing from a group and maybe you will be remembered for doing it.

Nice to be remembered.

Now it’s off to the Southern Rim We get there quicker than expected then realise that the flight took us over a different part of the Canyon, We park up at the viewing area and walk to the edge Which is fenced hahaha Sue would kill me if I climbed over for a better shot as I give her kittens when we’ve stopped at other places to take photos usually on the side of a mountain road. But this time I was being very good. Slip, and that would have been the last of me.

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But what a fantastic view again. Being stationary you have time to look at all the colours in 1 spot and the vegetation. A cactus in the snow for example. There were so many tourist here I’m glad we didn’t come in the summer as it would have been heaving.

A little later we called into the information centre to find out more about this fantastic place and to find out about other viewing points. We did find out that the “Sky Walk” was about a 5 hour drive away which Sue thought was great as she would not have to see me go on it hahaha.

Even though there were busses to take you along the south Rim road we decided to make our own way by car. For one it was getting late and I wanted to see the sunset rather than wait for busses and the other It was freezing and too cold to wait in the open.

We drove for a couple of mins and came across another view point. Even though it’s still the same Canyon it all looks different when you are looking over the edge. We then drove on a little further and found where the Studios are. I think these were all originally holiday homes of some type but now the older ones are shops where we bought our gifts.

There was one Studio that had fantastic views and it was here we saw a storm coming in. It’s hard to describe how everything changes with the light. The colours get deeper and the shadows seem to change the whole shape of the rocks. But then it started to get too dark to make any good photos so we decided to make our way back to Sedona but as we were coming out of the National [par area we spotted a building that had it’d entrance stairs covered in ice that was out last Kodak moment at the Grand Canyon.

By now it was getting really dark and as in country areas in England you see the caution signs about wild animals. Yea right. A few rabbits maybe a hedgehog but Damn I became more aware of what we could hit when I saw a dear on the edge of the road which had not long before been hit and killed by something. All the way in the unlit area I kept my beam on full and was so aware of any thing in my head lights.

Further on I was wondering about petrol. Did we have enough to get back? Did we have enough to get to a filling station? Maybe taking out the extra for flat tyres and running out of petrol the guy at the car hire place was trying to sell us was a good idea. But with just under a ¼ tank left we came across an open garage and filled up enough to get us back to Sedona and onto Phoenix the following morning.

The journey from here on was uneventful. We came to Flagstaff and then went on the freeway to get back to Sedona where we arrived by 9. Time for something to eat. A pizza!! Hahaha

After eating this back at our room we packed our cases and watching a bit of TV and finally settled down knowing we had to be up early next morning to drive to Phoenix and then fly on to New York. Would it match up to the Grand Canyon? We’ll see.

But just before I turned out my light I had a surprise for Sue, Valentino Pup sang her a song. Well the next day was Valentine’s Day and we did have to get up early.

Posted by SirRogue58 03:09 Archived in USA Tagged grand_canyon arizona sedona helicopter flagstaff oak_creek_canyon valentino_pup Comments (0)

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