The sun in Las Vegas is relentless, I was with my cousin Tomas driving to the Heliport outside of town for a helicopter tour over Grand Canyon. It was a miracle that the car’s plastic dashboard hadn’t started to melt under the intensity of the sun’s glare. When I stepped out of the car the heat hit me like a wave of steam, scorching my lungs when I breathed in. As I dashed towards the nearest patch of shade I could feel sweat trickle down my back, my body trying desperately to stay cool in the oppressive heat.
Inside the heliport was like stepping into a different country, the AC was cranked to frosty and I let out an audible sigh as the cool air surrounded me. In front of the registration desk was an ominous metallic rectangle, was this some form a James Bond style trapdoor? It turned out to be a scale, all passengers had to weigh in. Weeks of american cuisine and my foolish endeavor to try eating at every burger chain, had taken it’s toll. I was informed due to my podge I would have to sit in the rear of the helicopter!
Our pilot came to greet us, he was a cheery Mexican fellow who had previously been the private pilot of a cartel boss but had changed career as cartel flying too often involved bullets…
The helicopter we were flying in looked reassuringly new, we got buckled up and put our headphones on. The rotors shuddered, sluggish on their first revolution, then picking up speed. Things got noisy as the blades started cutting the air, the whole craft vibrated and shuddered. We were ready for action and this helicopter was yearning for the sky! Taking off in a helicopter is very different from a plane, one second we were stationary on the ground the next we were heading into the heavens, going straight up. There is no easy way to describe it, helicopters are just very cool.
We left the Vegas suburbs behind us and headed over to Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam. Just a few days before I had been marveling at the size of the Dam from the side of the road. Now I was amazed at how small is seemed from the air. How could that tiny bit of concrete keep back an ocean of water?!
A small mountain range faced us in the distance, the helicopter climbed, we crested the peak and the earth dropped away beneath us. All of a sudden it felt like we were very high. I could feel my heart beating faster with nerves and excitement. We crossed over a winding river that fed into Lake Mead and headed towards a dark shadow on the horizon.
Gracefully the helicopter soared over the arid desert, our shadow a tiny speck far below racing to keep up with us. The dark mark ahead grew until I could clearly see the mouth of the Canyon. The scale was awesome. It was a majestic experience, flying between huge pillars of stone that rose solemnly from the desert floor. The canyon isn’t one single valley, rather it’s a maze of winding ravines that lead off in all directions. There are a thousand mountainous peaks that surround and overwhelm you with their brutal and inconceivable scale.
A stones throw to my left I watched an eagle soar through the canyon, the feathers of it’s wings fluttering graceful in the wind. Far below we could see other helicopters, some landing on the canyon floor, some following the same path as us. They looked tiny against the backdrop of the canyon, just pinpricks on natures grand tapestry.
We continued deep into the canyon, exploring the endless crevasse. Only when the fuel gauge started touching the orange quarter mark did the pilot turn us around. We headed back towards Vegas sprinting over mountain ranges, rivers, lakes and even solar energy farms. Eventually we saw Las Vegas on the horizon it’s skyscrapers sticking up like the ribs of some alien carcass. A turbulent zephyr stuck the helicopter and we lurched in the air. I felt queasy as my tummy questioned just how safe it was to be in this flying contraption. The helicopter leveled out and we continued with a smooth descent. I offered a silent prayer when we touched down, very happy to be back on solid ground.
During my six weeks traveling around the West of America the Grand Canyon was my most memorable experience, I was stuck by it’s raw beauty and breath taking scale. It’s worth traveling all the way to USA just to see it, and if you are was stuck by it’s raw beauty and breath taking scale. It’s worth traveling all the way to USA just to see it, and if you are an American that hasn’t visited then get planning!
Experience travels in another way. Experience gifts by Tinggly: