I had been to the Grand Canyon once before. Which is not to say that when Kyle and I discussed visiting the Grand Canyon on our trip to Vegas last year, I was like – “yawn, snore – seen it, no thanks” — but I figured you should know this for two reasons:
- Because I – for some completely stupid reason – believed this made me an expert on all things ‘Grand Canyon’. At least once I said, “No, we need to go this way. I remember from when I was here before.” (Keep in mind that I can barely remember where I parked my car in the Target parking lot after thirty minutes – but, sure, I remember this dirt path from my two hours spent at The Grand Canyon four years ago.) And also –
- I was the WORST tour guide. For someone who has actually BEEN to the Grand Canyon before – I know shockingly little about it. We pulled up to the entrance where they were doing helicopter tours, and I actually said “Oh wow, they do helicopter tours?! That’s so cool!” So. There’s that. *Also – in case you didn’t know, they do helicopter tours.
I won’t bore you with details about my trip there from 2014. Mostly because it was two hours spent walking around with my friend saying, “Oh, will you take a picture of me by this rock?” and then taking pictures of my friend when she asked, “Hey! Will you take a picture of me on this ledge?” And then we left. Because once the profile-picture-taking-game was over, we ran out of ways to entertain ourselves. “The Grand Canyon seems like more a ‘family’ vacation spot,” we said – whatever that means. Like it’s the equivalent to Sea World.
We checked out of our hotel in Las Vegas that morning, rented a car, and embarked on our journey through the desert. (Note how I used the word “embarked” because it sounds much more fun and adventure-y than telling you we dragged each other out of bed, grumbled a lot because it was seven AM and then argued about what kind of music to listen to in the car.)
We also bought matching sunglasses at one of the touristy shops at the hotel. See? Fun and adventure-y.
If you type in “Grand Canyon” to your GPS from Las Vegas, it will give you – like, three different locations. Which was very confusing to us – because one of them was two hours away, one was four hours away, and one was six. Those of you who have been to the Grand Canyon before know that it’s a decently sized area. Like, hundreds of miles long. So the fact that GPS will give you a few different spots to enter sounds totally normal.
Unless you’re me. I’d been there before and apparently forgot how big it is, because my reaction was: “No… I don’t think that’s right. Hang on.”
“Just type in ‘Grand Canyon’.”
“I did. But there’s like, three of them. I don’t want to go to the wrong one.”
“How can there be three of them?”
“I don’t know. It says one of them is only two hours away. But that can’t be right… I thought the Grand Canyon was closer to Phoenix? Maybe this is just like, a gift shop or something.”
Again – have visited before. Should not be hired on as a tour guide.
So Kyle said – “Just pick the one that’s two hours away. We’ll check it out.” This ended up being the entrance for helicopter tours (or at least one of the entrances – who knows, there may be more.) We pulled up to a tent situated in the middle of the desert. Which, to me, looked like some sort of government training bootcamp facility (mostly because I have no idea what an actual “government training bootcamp facility” looks like, other than the movies I’ve seen where there are soldiers sitting in a tent in the middle of the desert.)
“Are we allowed to be here?” I asked. I thought maybe we’d just stumbled onto Roswell (Which is in New Mexico, by the way, not Arizona – but who knows, maybe they moved it.) I was waiting for guys with machine guns to shoo us out.
“Yea.” Kyle said as he parked the car next to some helicopters that were taking off on the other side of the fence. “Why not?”
“Uh…” I looked around. “I’ve been to the Grand Canyon before, it didn’t look like this. It was more… you know, like a big hole in the ground. This is just desert.”
‘I’ve been to the Grand Canyon before’, ‘It’s a big hole in the ground’. <—Do they need any help writing the visitor pamphlets? Because – obviously – I’d be a shoe-in.
After he convinced me to go inside the tent – where no one chased us out with machine guns – we realized this was… well, I still don’t really know what it was. They were definitely doing helicopter tours there. And the inside of the tent was like, a gift shop? (I was right.) There were sweatshirts and magnets and postcards and a lady behind a desk who handed us each a pamphlet and said, “Seventy five dollars per person.”
And we were like, “What?”
“Seventy five dollars.”
“EACH?” Kyle said, and looked at me. I shrugged.
“It wasn’t seventy five dollars when I was here the last time.”
He turned back to the lady behind the desk. “We just want to do the Skywalk. How much is that?”
“Seventy five dollars.” Apparently everything was seventy five dollars, but I still don’t understand what it was we were paying for. A bus tour? A helicopter tour? “We have lockers for your phones and cameras.”
“We can’t even take our cameras?” He asked. She shook her head.
“That doesn’t sound right.” I whispered to him. “When I was here before, we were allowed to take pictures wherever we wanted. And it definitely didn’t cost seventy five dollars.”
He took my word for it – you know, as the experienced Grand Canyon-er that I am, and agreed to keep driving. At least until we found ‘the big hole in the ground’ that I remembered from last time.
It took us another four hours to get to the South Rim. This was the second destination point in our GPS “Grand Canyon” locations. But it didn’t cost us seventy-five dollars to get in, and we were allowed to take pictures wherever we wanted – so this was where we wanted to be.
We pulled up right before sunset. Which meant we had about two hours to see everything we wanted to see and take all of the pictures we wanted to take, before it got dark.
Two hours. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon – but trust me, two hours is not a long time.
So we hustled. We walked one way, took pictures – walked the other way, took pictures. Climbed out onto some rocks, took pictures. Eventually we found ourselves near other people who offered to take pictures of the both of us.
I kept trying to take pictures sitting on the edge of 400+ foot drop-offs and Kyle kept worrying that I was going to fall to my death. Heights don’t bother me. To me, the scariest part of the Grand Canyon was worrying that I might see a snake. (And THEN fall to my death.)
Eventually the sun had finally set and it was starting to get cold – and SUPER DARK, it turns out they don’t have too many lamp posts sitting around the Grand Canyon. Because, you know, nature. – so we headed back to the car.
“That was fun,” I said. “Much better than whatever was going on with that tent in the desert. See? I TOLD you I knew where I was going!”
And if we ever go back, I’m sure I will be just as annoying.
Have any of you been to the Grand Canyon? Share your stories in the comment section!