We were done with our 7th Std Half yearly Exams and our teacher was giving out the answer sheets and calling out our marks. It was my favorite subject- Geography! I had scored 98/100 and quite kicked about it. Went home and showed it off to mom & dad. Now this is the part where I don’t really remember specifics. All I know is that I had received a postcard of The Grand Canyon courtesy my uncle who had recently visited the place. The next day I took the postcard to school to show it to my classmates and Geography teacher. Well, what do you know, she not only envied me for receiving one all the way from across the globe, but also gave me extra 2 marks, thereby making my total 100/100. Imagine my joy and happiness? Yep, I was over the moon.
And that is when I started dreaming of the day I would get to visit The Grand Canyon and walk around it… Little did I know it would happen a few decades later and I would be there on my own, taking it all in. J
When I began planning my USA trip, I was fighting quite a few battles in my head- where all should I visit, what all should I do, what were the places I MUST visit and what were the others that were ok to SKIP. The one place that sat right on top of the list was…. no prizes for guessing- The Grand Canyon. Everything else could wait!
From LA, I booked myself on a bus tour that would take me to Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Horseshoe bend and back to LA in 3days. Now even though Vegas wasn’t really on my list, I decided to just go with the flow and enjoy it. The bus guide gave us two options with ref to The Grand Canyon- we could go to the South rim [Entry fee of $30- 5hours from Vegas; offered panoramic views, unending vistas and a chance to walk around as much as we wanted] or West rim [entry fee- $90, 3hours from Vegas; no cameras or phones allowed. Visitors could walk on the skywalk [those fiber glass flooring where you can see below your feet @ $25 and collect photos clicked by the staff at the spot @ $30 a piece]. I instantly picked the South rim and no regrets! Infact, nearly 90% of the bus chose the West rim and the next day when we exchanged notes, they weren’t too happy about the visit, yes the view was beautiful, and it was a fun experience, but they felt the fee was too high and it was over hyped.
On the 2nd day morning, we left around 5.30am, and most of the way I slept, except for the times when the bus stopped for breakfast run and pit stop. We were about 10 of us in the van, from various corners of the globe. There was a monk from Cambodia, a guy whose friends were sloshed and hung over in their room with this guy out alone with us [from Thailand] and then there was a team of 4 from UK & Europe. There was also a couple [slightly weird. I say weird cos the girl was unwell and slept in the first seat while the guy sat next to the driver and yapped away nonstop in Mandarin-to a point where I had to ask them to shut it]
By 11ish we had reached the parking lot of The Grand Canyon and the driver told us from here it was a short walk to the viewing spot and we could walk left & right and beyond… Told us to be careful of monkeys and squirrels that would come begging for food and slippery slopes. We got out of the bus and were slapped by cold crazy winds…Oh yes, it was cold and windy alright and most of us had on just one jacket. Who knew it was going to be this wild!
I loved the chill and the wind, but had to walk slowly as it would otherwise blow me off. Within half a km I spotted The Grand Canyon stretch in front of my eyes. That is all I remember. Few hours later I had to drag myself away from this natural beauty, back to the bus else I might get left behind.
Words fail me whenever I try to explain what the place was like or how I felt.. It was magical. Yes, I do agree it was just endless stretches of mountains with the river flowing between it, but still it was WOW. I couldn’t believe I was actually there. Here it is, The Grand Canyon in all its glory.