25.06.2008 0 °C
Off to the magnificent Grand Canyon ... vegetation almost exclusively Ponderosa Pines on the way in ... a good look around the one of the rims and a small trek down, the thing with these tours is that they have to format it for wide appeal and to see as much as possible so we didn't stay as long as I may have wished but we got to go back at sunset .. stunning .. and then up early for sunrise, not quite as stunning but still magificent
Almost missed the helicopter ride !! completely lost track of time ... big rush to chuck everything loose in suitcase, as we were on the road from there, held the bus up 5 minutes ... but as it turned out we were at the helicopter base on time. What a buzz the canyon by helicotor (sorry couldn't resist it) .... unfortunately I had a seat one away from the window but it didn't matter that much ... more the experience than the photos, and I still I think I got some goodies.
We had a cruise out into a water filled canyon .. stunning scenery, you could see from markings on the crater wall that due to a prolonged drought the level had dropped probably as much as ten metres, although it didn't seem that much in the dock area where we left from (perhaps that had had to be rebuilt?). Great scenery and a nice dinner afterwards
Got up at sunrise and caught one of the few sunrises I have seen on this trip, quite spectacular.
A stop at Bryce Canyon ... hoodoo country ... lovely colours and pinnacles, more great scenery. One thing about the trip is that has been plenty of spectacular scenery but it has all been quite varied one day or place not alike. The hoodoos are like the pinnacles out by Cape Palliser on the East Coast of NZ, but on steroids, really big ones !!
Zion National Park got the treatment the next day ... free to explore as much a possible on trails ... Kelvin was a bit crook and stayed back at the hotel so Jen & I teamed up and did the Riverside Walk and Upper & Lower Emerald Pools .. lots of exercise which was great.
Last morning of this tour and really only the drive back to Vegas ... one brief stop on the way at a mormon town of Saint George ... Claim to fame is that it was the winter home of Brigham Young and it had the first mormon temple in the west ... built in 1877.. the bus had hardly stopped before some of the church were offering us peanut brittle (and the way to enlightenment no doubt)
A long layover ( 10 hrs) at the airport waiting for the flight to Floida .. I found a large unused part of the airport with power adn wireless and one chair .. time to update blogs .. post photos .. check future arrangements and get some photos tidied up
Eventually I reached Orlando .. got into the hotel about 11.30 AM and by noon I was lunching with my Fotothing friends Debbie and Carolyn, they were very taken by my accent and how they could misconstrue my words for a laugh.
Tuesday was a rest and relaxation day ... and with Debbie & Carolyn I wandered round a few bars for drinks and dinner. Of course I knew these lovely ladies would be a barrell of laughs and I wasn't disappointed.
Missing them the moment I left Orlando
Wednesday was a very full day at the Kennedy Space Centre ... fascinating ... lots & lots to see. Always amazes me how small those original Mecury and Gemini capsules were, but then again Apollo wasn't much bigger. Like flying Economy class all the way to the moon without the ability to go for a stroll down down the passageway
Thursday was moving day ... off to Washington DC via a long wait in Miami airport but I managed another lunch with the girls and a sad farewell. Debbie baked a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies which was very handy for the long trip to Washington DC. it was a great few days and a lot of laughs, was nice to see two people who were obviously great friend with each other and so generous in their time for me, pity it wasn't the weekend, but would I have survived :-))
In the airport I overheard an older lady saying they couldn't find any food and were hungry, it sounded like her son was with her and they things were a bit tense. Reinforced by the "What would Londi do?" mantra (she is so caring this thought often pops into my head when it needs too) I wandered over to offer some of Deb's cookies .... well sometimes you should just heep your head down. Turns out they were dossing down in the airport because they had nowhere to stay. The older lady (who was American) told me they were waiting for a substantial inheritance, there lawyer told them it would be 20 days at least, in the mean time they had no money. Of course they did have property in South Africa and I shouldn't think they were vagrants !! The airport police had asked them to leave .. but they were now dodging them in the terminals, they may try and get some sleep ... but if I saw the police I was to try and warn them ... okkkkkk thennnnnn ..... I retreated to a seat the other side of telephone booths and after a few minutes snuck away to another terminal !!!
Apart from that all was well, some very long emails were composed ... lots to say ... travel blogs were composed (but still I am behind) & fotothing was hammered. All went well and eventually I was off to Washington.