Monday, September 24, 2012

My 1st USA trip: The Grand Canyon

When I knew I had the approval to go to the Keystone symposium, I have been planning madly how to squeeze in some sightseeing around. At Keystone, I was supposed to follow a tour to see the amazing intercontinental divide but that didn't happened due to some miscommunication. 

In the end, I managed to squeeze in Flagstaff + Grand Canyon for a weekend trip. Of course, I was greedy and hoped for more, but oh well...there's just so much time!!! A lot of hard work + research had gone into this to make it happen. I even joined Couch surfing group to try to get free beds, haha which workout fine. 

I did not stay behind for the last free & easy day of the conference and opted to fly out straight from Denver to Flagstaff (3-4 hrs from Grand canyon south rim). But it's just so hard to match all the connecting transportation, which ended up I missed the last public van to Grand canyon the same day I touched down (just minutes away??!!). 

I was pretty stubborn and persist that maybe I can hitch hike though it's forbidden in US law. And in fact I did had that prepared as my last option and done my research. Caught a cab to one of the nearest petrol station and tried my luck. However, hitch-hiking prove to be pretty hard when u are out of luck. It was approaching evening too, so everyone was heading home. Those I met at the petrol station if any just came down from Grand canyon and heading further south. One even offered US$100 to take me up there, but no way, the public van only cost 30$, I'm not that desperate, haha. 

Well, light was fading...and I knew there's no way anyone would give me a lift, so I walked!!! I knew that that town of Flagstaff wasn't far from the cab ride. So I dragged myself and the luggage (one happened to have a strap broken, arghhh!!!). When I thought I was totally out of luck, I managed to get a free ride from a local kid in his wagon (messy and hmmm...not clean in my mind, haha) to the nearest backpacker hostel in the town. Glad I got the ride, the journey though seem not far but tiredness seems to slip into me already.

And just when I thought of let's call it a day...the backpacker hostel I went was full and he recommended me another one which is a short walk away. The owner kindly guided me over, and I got a bed, yeah!!!
There were others checking in too, I thought to myself, everyone here must be either heading somewhere in Arizona, being in Flagstaff mean Grand Canyon usually. I tried my luck again, and out of my surprise, one of them was an Aussie from Western Australia named Daniel and happened to want to head to Grand Canyon too. To suit me, he evend agreed over  my proposal to head over earlier so that we spend more time exploring. Best of all, he OWNED a car!!! We checked into the same room, met another mate from US and decide to have pizza and explore the town for a little boozeeeeeee later, haha.

The famous route 66 which would take you through the amazing north west of US, Grand canyon is part of the stop. Some day I will definitely do route 66!!!

Well...the Grand Canyon exploration began here!!! 
Sitting on the other side of the car (asian driver seat) felt a bit odd and funny, haha. At times, I wondered can I drive on the left hand side (US system) if I did hired a car which I have considered previously.

Well, upon arrival, paid the entry ticket........
The Grand Canyon village is actually not small, and you don't see the canyon right on the spot, you have to drive a bit further in 
We stopped at the centre, wanted to call my couch surfer new friend, but alas, he did not answer (he was a bus/tour driver in the park). We had to call via the local phone booth because my phone wasn't in range as you can only call via certain telco much like the Celcom of Malaysia. 

Went to his home (he lived in the park) and he wasn't there either. 

Well, we thought thrash that, we have a car, we'll just find him later when we are done with exploration.

Well, what can I say? 
The picture should tell it all...
Though I saw heaps of photos and documentaries on this amazing nature wonder
The place still blows you away with it's massive'ness and grand'ness!!!
It's endless canyon!!! 
Nothing in Oz back then have I seen such a scale!!!

The weather was perfect too
Though there's plenty of UV I assumed, but the breeze and the view just mesmerized us.
We walked the rim all the way to Hermit's rest on one end and took the free bus back, thank god my newly met Oz mate is a traveller and likes the walk too!!!

The place was so MASSIVE that every corner you passed you seem to be looking at the same canyon though slightly different angle. 

We trespassed the boundary many times and went over to the edge ourselves, haha. 
Seriously, if you just view the canyon from the designated's really hard for you grasp how deep and wide the place is!!!
It's only when you stand/sit over the edge, you can get full perspective of the canyon!!!

Of course, there's a plenty of trails that you can walk, but we done none of it as all are time-consuming. 
One of them you can get to famous Colorado river that helped shaped the canyon for thousands of year??
But we were satisfied with what We saw from top. We were still able to have a glance at the river occasionally. 

I personally found this signboard very unique, haha. Mule- xing!!! much like our Malaysian broken english with the "ing!!!

One can get to the Grand Canyon via the train but it departs from another town nearer to the canyon instead of Flagstaff (well, you have to catch two trains then if from Flagstaff).

If I did not remembered wrongly, we didn't even had any lunch, haha and we straightaway head over to the other end of the southern rim. 
Here, there's the desert tower which provide a souvenir shop and a viewing tower of the plains beyond the canyon. 

Red indians's artwork.

A chimney, but for wat?? no idea...

From this view point, one can see the plain the surrounds the canyon and also part of the Colorado river clearer.

Again we did some driving around and walked some other smaller trails in the opposite direction to the desert tower.

View of the desert tower from nearby.

I must say the canyon looks almost ever-changing!! The different height, layering of the soil beneath, the formation, the different messas just makes the view non-boring. 
The east side was definitely a bit different to the west side.

It's worth watching the canyon when it's approaching sunset, 
see how the sun cast shadow on the canyon and how they progressively change.

on another trail, this one actually leads further down to a long FULL-day trek to the river and back, but we only did a small part of it.

This spot is one of the supposable sunset spot and the canyon formation here was really impressive!!!

Well, we waited patiently, chat , laugh...but the sunset was blocked by the massive edge!!! LOL
Oh well, still it was not too bad, and definitely very cold as the suns faded.

At night, we went over to my couch surfer's home, and this time he was there. He got extra 3 guests too from Crezh?? holland?? can't remember. The place was really small but he managed to put all in nicely!!! How nice of him!!! 

The couch surfer's house or should I call roomate ?? haha (the house was REALLY small, pretty much a master room). The girl was also very nice, friendly and I even requested her to play us a song with her classical guitar which she gave in. It was a nice self-written song (she did performed and sing in the past in bars).

We slept in and didn't bother with sunrise, haha. I left them all to catch my bus to Phoenix (capital of Arizona) to catch my next plane to the next city.

It was another 3-4 hr ride, but the scenery was great...1st time I saw so many gigantic saquaro cactus!!!

Waiting patiently for my next's gona be another late night!!!

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