A Travellerspoint blog

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
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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

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