Grand To Grandiose

We enter Grand Canyon late evening and drove about 20 minutes inside the park even before reaching the canyon, with the sun in our faces. We finally decided to pull over and feast our eyes on this majestic beauty. It overwhelmed our senses and Ollie was so mesmerized, he started talking about moving in the canyon. Maybe all the driving was making him lose his mind! Although, I must admit it was beautiful enough to warrant another Game of Thrones secretive kingdom here. Having been at Antelope Canyon at lunch time and now being at another one of those bucket list item places really drove home to us why we’re taking all this time off work.

One of the first views
One of the first views

We went to the campground and found the office shut and a sold-out sign up. We met a sly looking fellow outside who told us how to find an empty site with no late visitors expected. The park rangers don’t do a round before 9 am so we could either get away with it or just go up and pay for it. We bought some dinner from the marketplace, found an empty site and ate dinner on the bench. We went for an astronomy tour and a quite funny guide showed us a few constellations, Venus Jupiter and iss satellite, in the totally star-light night sky as walked delicately around the rim. Grand Canyon is not supposed to be a dark park (usually they are supposed to be for star gazing) and it was still gorgeous. He also inspired us to come back and do a full hike of the grand canyon on a full moon night where you don’t even need a torch to come up the canyon. We also saw a campfire at the bottom of the canyon where the campers were anxiously trying to get their night’s sleep before the hike up the next morning.

We could put in a photo of stars here, but we’re not going to.

We went back to our chosen site and were happy to see that no one had come to claim it. We put on a few layers of clothes to battle the dropping temperature and decide to not put our tent. We had only one sleeping bag and fortunately I got it for the night. Poor Ollie had the two silk liners to help him survive the cold night. We heated the car for a few minutes and then slept. We were perfect tinkers!

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The Morning After

Ollie had cold feet that night and woke up even before the crack of dawn, literally, it was 5.08 am. He drove us to the visitor center so that we don’t get caught for using the camp site. I was awake by then and we walked up to the Maher point to see the sun rise over the canyon. We were joined by some other early birds of Ollie’s species (don’t know how people can wake up so early) and we all stood there in silence and awe of what lay in front of us. I think even the best writers and photographers would struggle to capture this beauty in their pens and lenses. This is something that you should witness with your own eyes!

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We saw a lot of elks who looked like they were doing a night shift in the visor center, hanging outside the doors while the employees were going in for the day.

Two bemused species
Two bemused species

We went for a 5 kilometer run, this time together, so we (read I) would not get lost. The views from any spot on the rim were mind blowing.

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Bucket List – Tick
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Way too much energy for 6.30 am
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What a view to run next to

We reached back to the car to find out that Ollie had forgotten the car keys at a vista point when he was posing for his photo op. He had to run back adding another 3 miles to his run. He really didn’t care. He was still considering moving there, and I think he spent some time alone looking for a patch of land to settle on.

Feet Up - Taking a break after finding the keys
Feet Up – Taking a break after finding the keys

It was only 8 am but felt like we accomplished a lot. After a peanut butter sandwich breakfast on the rim, we went down half-way through the canyon for a hike. The whole concept of a hike is inverted here. You climb down first and then come up. The lower you go into the canyon the hotter it gets. The beginning of the hike is much pleasant as its downhill and you tend to underestimate what the latter half of the hike will take. We met a lot of people and families that were coming up from the previous day’s hike. They suggest not going down and back up the canyon in one day and make you rest for the night at the bottom of the canyon. I’m sure that is an adventure in itself.

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Promising ourselves a good treat in Vegas, we cleaned up in the car and started our drive. We made a quick stop at Hoover dam on the way. Somehow we could find entrance room only the Nevada side and not Arizona. We then parked for free (tinkers don’t pay for parking) in the Arizona side and walked out to admire the humongous man made structure.

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We entered the Las Vegas strip just as the early evening lights were coming on. We had a managed to bag a good deal on Hotwire.com ($25), but were not expecting much from the room in Paris. To our surprise, we were given a fantastic room, despite our not-even-showered backpacker look, with a full view of the pool and the Eiffel Tower. I was slightly disoriented every time I looked out of the window either thinking I should be in Paris or not feeling like a tinker / traveller at all.

View From the Room - Opposite side of this photo are two very smelly tinkers
View From the Room – Opposite side of this photo are two very smelly tinkers

We treated ourselves to a nice dinner and a Long Island punch bowl to make us forget how tired we were. We saw the Bellagio fountain show and decided to stop just for a few minutes at the roulette stall before getting a much deserved and luxurious night’s sleep. It took me 5 minutes, 10$ and a free drink to win 300$ before Ollie dragged me out worried I was going to lose our travel money to a gambling night!

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P.S. We did hit the infamous Route 66 for a bit in search of a veggie burger. Found it at this little place

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