April 23, 2009 GMT
Grand Canyon

Monday 20th April – What A Grand Day (by Paul)

Remember, if you click on one of the photos, it will take you straight to the online album where you can look at as many of the photos as you like.

At last a perfect spring day greets us as we leave our hotel in Phoenix. I’ve even taken the inner liner out of my bike jacket and only have a short sleeved shirt on below the jacket. Ahh, what joy..... birds singing in the trees, clear blue skies and bugger all traffic. Yip Yar !!! at last.

I’ve been trying to find a way of plugging my TomTom into the bikes power supply, so that I have some chance of navigating after my support crew head home on 26th April. It can easily sit in the clear plastic section of the Tank Bag but I need to power it. We head across town to find a place called Cycle Gear. Oops, I miss a turn off and head about 10 miles further than I should have. Then the difficult task of finding my way back. I want to blame Steve for being so slow and not being in front of me when we hit the freeway, but truth beknown........ what the hell, it’s his fault somehow. Anyway, I pull into the Hilton hotel that I find somewhere and they print out a google maps set of instructions and I eventually get there. Of course, they don’t have the part I’m after. Bugger, there’s an hour wasted.

Fortunately, we only have about 280 miles (450km) to do today so the time lost isn’t going to impact greatly on our day. We finally get out of Phoenix’s suburbia and onto the highway and what a pleasure it is. NO WINDS!!! I open up the throttle and leave Mickey and Minnie Mouse behind. There is some spectacular scenery in this southern desert. The cactus plant that you will see in the photo is amazing.

From Arizona
Some of these are 20’ tall. Look at your little finger and just the section where your finger nail covers it. It takes the cactus 5 years to grow that much, so now think about how long these things have been growing. That is 10 years to grow one inch x 12 for a foot, makes 120 years for one foot or 30cm. That would make a 20’ plant about 2400 years old. Enough for the botany lesson.

Anyway, I’m having a great day riding, there are very few vehicles on this highway and unlike the other major highways in the USA, this one tends to wind around the corners instead of being straight and boring. So it is nice to be able to actually want to lean the bike over instead of doing it to survive. LOL.

Some of the things that differ on the roads over here. The speed limit on most highways is about 70MPH or around 110kph, others are 75MPH. The standard rule is S+15. That is you do whatever the speed limit is set at, plus another 10 - 15mph. The police accept it. But the big difference at these speeds is the effect the trucks have on a bike. We had two pass us the other day, big Kenworth semi’s and they were doing around the 90mph (150kph). At these speeds the trucks create some kind of vacuum and you have to work on stopping yourself from being sucked under the big muvvers. Also, coming up behind them is really rough because of the air they displace. You start being buffered around about 90 metres away from them. On the positive side though, the drivers are really considerate. Both cars and truck drivers will move into the slow lane to allow quicker vehicles to pass. Take a lesson Australia.

But I digress. We make it into Flagstaff around lunchtime and I need fuel (so does the bike). We see a very rare Sizzlers store and head in there for a nice steak lunch for about $12.

Onwards, west towards Los Angeles and then north onto highway 64 towards the Grand Canyon. We find our hotel, the Canyon Plaza. This was my choice of hotels because it was only a few minutes from the Grand Canyon but it was also the cheapest. At $130 per room per night plus tax, it was by no means cheap. If we wanted good accommodation without breaking the bank, we would have had to stay at a little place called Williams about 45 minutes away. I’ve always had the motto “you get what you pay for”....... Well we paid more than what we got. It’s a dump, so if you’re coming this way make sure you can afford to pay about $180pn for something decent.

Now onto something truly remarkable. I said the other day that the scenery around Sedona was amazing and that my words and the photos weren’t going to be able to do them justice. Sedona fades into almost insignificance by comparison. To say that this place is big, huge, ginormous is an understatement. To say that it is beautiful would be a SERIOUS understatement. Here is a photo of just a few of the statistics of the place

From 12 Grand Canyon

When we arrived at the top of the south rim, I was gobsmacked. It actually took my breath away. I watched a film clip of one of the park rangers here. She said that the first time that she came here, it had the same effect. So much so, that she fainted at its beauty. This would have to be the greatest sight I have ever seen.
From 12 Grand Canyon

To top this off, we went back up to watch sunset. I thought beforehand, “yeah I’ve seen sunsets before. Cant be all that amazing” I stood there with hundreds of other people but I was on my own. I spoke to nobody as the sun was setting into the western sky. The colours and the transformations were again breathtaking. Reds and oranges turning into evening browns, whites turning into pale creams and the sky going through blues and purples. It was truly an emotional period of time for me and others around me.

From 12 Grand Canyon Paul

Sadly for us, Steve forgot his camera. Who comes to see the Grand Canyon and forgets his camera. At least I had mine and managed to take some before the memory card advised me that it was full. So neither of us got any photos of the sunset. Fortunately, we’re here again tomorrow night.

From 12 Grand Canyon Paul

So folks, if you ever come to the USA, the Grand Canyon is an absolute must see. We are here until Thursday morning and I’m sure it is going to be a splendid and relaxing few days.

Tuesday 21st April – Grand Canyon (by Paul)

Today is a rest day pretty much. We dawdled over to the Imax Theatre to see the most watched Imax movie ever seen on the Grand Canyon of course. If you’ve ever been to the Imax at Katoomba in Sydney’s Blue Mountains then you will have some idea of what was to come. The movie not only covered the magnificence and the beauty of the Canyon but the history as well. Of the original Indians, of the Spanish explorers and then the explorers who first ran the rapids of the Colorado River. It was so good, that I bought the DVD as a momento. No doubt it will be impossible to recreate the huge screen of the Imax, but I can show you some of the beauty of this place.

Afterwards, we listened to a Ranger talk of some of the people who have been through the Canyon. Some historical facts, some Indian folklore and some stories of missing explorers.

Lunch followed in the grand old hotel built in 1905. It was built to accommodate the travellers coming off the trains to see this place.

From 12 Grand Canyon
A restful afternoon followed and another visit to see the sunset later on.

Wednesday 22nd April – Grand Canyon (by Steve)
Well we had a really busy day today. We were up by 5am to be at the airport before 6am. Fortunately it is only a 5 minute drive from our hotel to the Grand Canyon Airport. We had booked ourselves onto a tour on Monday when we arrived at the hotel. We paid for our tickets and then sat in the waiting area until 6:30. At this time we boarded a 16 seater Vistamaster plane to take a flight over the Grand Canyon. We were in the air in minutes and over the Canyon in under 5 minutes. We have been awestuck by the Canyon since we first saw it. You get a whole new perspective once you view it from the air.

From 12 Grand Canyon Paul
It is simply majestic, and huge.

From 12 Grand Canyon Paul

Our flight lasted just under an hour and we landed at a town called Page which is located next to the Grand Canyon dam. First item on the list in Page was breakfast. The airline provided a boxed breakfast which was surprisingly good. We ate this in an outside area just next to the planes.

Half an hour later we were picked up in some open backed V8 four wheel drive trucks. First stop was an Indian shop where you could buy Indian souvenirs. In this instance, the shop was actually staffed by Indians. A quick look and we were back out the front – we are bit over these types of shops now. Paul had filled up his camera’s memory card during the flight (what was he thinking with a 30 meg card?) so he wandered off to find a larger card. The shop put on an Indian hoop dance for us.

Then it was back onto the four wheel drives for the drive to Antelope Gorge. This is a Gorge which is located on Indian land and has been formed by water and wind. A truly beautiful place. See the pictures here, but they can’t possible portray the real effect. We wandered through the gorge for an hour before it was back on the truck for the trip back to town.

From 12 Grand Canyon Paul

From 12 Grand Canyon Paul

In town we transferred to buses which took us to the bottom of the Grand Canyon dam through a two mile tunnel. At the bottom we then boarded our rafts for a 4 hour float down the Glenn Canyon (which leads into the Grand Canyon). This was a very relaxing half day just floating down the river and seeing a different perspective of the Canyon.

From 12 Grand Canyon Paul

After the four hour float it was back on the bus for a four hour trip back to the airport with a stop off at yet another Indian gift shop. Dinner was at a steakhouse in Tusayan where our hotel is located. Very large meals, reasonable value.

Posted by Paul Brealey at April 23, 2009 05:04 AM GMT

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