Keen to get away from the tack and crowds of Las Vegas, I was pleased to be headed to the Grand Canyon which I have always wanted to see. On the way, we visited Hoover Dam where we had an interesting tour and learnt such fascinating facts as it being over 720ft tall and, at its base, around 660ft thick. It is a massive structure and I really enjoyed the tour.
We then continued our journey, which was a little less scenic than previous routes but the speed limit was 75mph instead of the usual 65mph so we were able to make more rapid progress which Aaron enjoyed. After checking in, we headed straight to the Grand Canyon National Park and walked some way along the Rim Walk. We stayed to watch the sunset at around 7:15pm, which was truly spectacular.
The Grand Canyon surpasses all expectations and I can't quite put into words how amazing the scenery is. After sunset, there was a mass exodus, and we headed to the IMAX to watch a 3D film which was cool. We then had some dinner in Wendy's, a posh-ish McDonald's-type chain which Aaron has grown rather fond of (he knows how to treat a lady).
Tuesday and Wednesday were spent exploring as much of the Grand Canyon as we could muster. Tuesday morning we had a helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon which was amazing - having never been in a helicopter before that was quite an experience in itself, but to do it over the Grand Canyon made it doubly so. Annoyingly I had forgotten to put the memory card back in the camera after transferring the previous batch of photos so I could only take a maximum of six photos from the sky! However I did get some good ones.
Later in the day we took a couple of shuttle buses around to the various stop-offs and view points to get some amazing views and photos, and took a couple of short walks (1.5 miles or so) along the rim walk. At the time you kind of want to capture every view you see along the way but on returning and viewing them on a laptop screen flicking through a thousand variations of the same thing from a slightly different angle, you realise that actually photos can't really do the place justice. It seems a little odd to be able to say we've visited and seen one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Quite probably the only one I'll see, too, given that a general lack of fitness means I'm unlikely to see Mt Everest, lack of scuba diving skills means I'm unlikely to see the Great Barrier Reef, and lack of interest in going to the Arctic means I'm unlikely to see Aurora Borealis!
Wednesday we got up at an ungodly time (5am-ish) in order to get out in time to watch the sunrise over the Grand Canyon (bizarrely, this getting up early idea was actually mine). This was fab, although would have been better if it had have happened later in the day so I didn't have to get up! After breakfast, we decided to take a hike actually into the Canyon. There are various trails available to do this and we chose the Bright Angel Trail, which in total is about 8 miles long but we opted to walk to the Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse and back, which is a drop of over 1000 feet. It took us about two hours to do the round trip, excluding stoppages for photos and water, and was good exercise but didn't leave us too knackered to do stuff the rest of the day. There were many many signs around the canyon warning people not to go all the way to the end and back in a single day, but surely noone would be foolhardy enough to ignore those warnings... would they, Adam?
As I type, we are now sat in a hotel in Kingman, on our way towards Santa Monica for our final "big" stop (LA/Hollywood/Santa Monica) before heading back to San Francisco. It's a non-descript place with little other than hotels and restaurants, but it's handy for us!