The next few days are scenic ones. It’s hard to describe them in words, so I’ll have to use photos. I have uploaded a whole bunch of them to Facebook so far, and will eventually get around to Photobucket, so that I can show the off here, but if you’re interested in seeing the photos sooner, rather than later, email me and we’ll arrange something on Facebook.
The trip from Vegas was where we finished the last post. It’s a shorter (relative to some of our other drives) trip across Route 66 (or parts of it) to the Grand Canyon. This natural wonder would be our next stop – and I was hardly excited. I was keen to see it, but a few people I had spoken to had really gone to town on the Grand Canyon, calling it just a big hole. I, thus, didn’t want to go there expecting much at all, because I didn’t want to be disappointed.
To pass the time, David had pre-planned (by telling us on the way in to Vegas) that we would be doing a little introduction session. We would move around seats, converse with the person we found ourselves with, and then had to go up to the front of the bus with our partner and introduce them, where they are from, and where they were most looking forward to, followed by an embarrassing story of your own. Like I said, he told us this going into Vegas, so when the whole kicked out of a casino thing happened, I knew when to save that story for.
I ended up sitting beside a guy named Matt, from Canberra. He was clearly still drunk from the night before, if our conversation is anything to go by. He was the one who came up with my nickname for the whole trip. Here’s how it went – he sat down, we introduced each other, and then he turned to a few seats behind (where one of his friends was sitting) and said “I’ve got moustache.” I asked what that was about, he said because his group didn’t know my name until now, they’ve all just been referring to me as Moustache. I said that he didn’t need to call me that anymore, seeings he knows my name now, and he agreed.
We went up the front of the bus. Matt: “Hi everyone, this is Moustache.” And that was it. A couple people called me Thomas out of respect (because I really didn’t like the nickname to begin with), but eventually it caught on, I embraced it, and it was a bit of a pet nickname for some of the people.
Probably as a reference for people who don’t know me off this blog, I started growing a moustache a couple months ago.
Matt and I did our bit, and I was going last. I said that my embarrassing story, unlike other people’s who happened a long time ago, actually only happened a day ago, and would explain the bruises and marks. I told the story as best I remembered it, and it was wildly popular – roaring laughter, and when I finished I received a round of applause. A couple of the guys high-fived me, and some of the girls, intrigued by this enigma of a person who had gone from shy on the first day to a drunken loon on the first night, to a security-fighting crazy on the second morning, were asking all sorts of questions.
The story was never forgotten, though it was eclipsed by my antics further into the trip. But for the first week and some, the Moustache was a bit of a cult figure on the bus. I would get all sorts of people asking me for card tips – whether it be how to play, how to win, or how to count cards. A pilot was on the trip, and would have been among the group of people who could actually call themselves quite intelligent, and he showed a keen interest in learning the technique of card counting.
Everyone did their introduction, and after a stop or two for supplies, we finally made it to the last town before the National Park. A lot of people brought a lot of alcohol. I brought some more snacks, and a copy of USA Today, but that was it. We watched an IMAX film on the Grand Canyon in a town that has no more than 10 buildings. And there was an IMAX. Rather strange. The movie was very good – but not so good that you felt the need to applaud the screen, though some Americans did.
And then, finally, we went into the Grand Canyon National Park. The drive to our cabins was reasonably long – but beautiful. You go through a very old forest, dense and green. It’s like a movie set, where there were perfectly positioned trees fallen over, animals, creeks, and clearings. Then you get to the area where there are visitor centres, cabins, a canteen, a restaurant, and some other administration building. Between them, you get your first glimpse of the Canyon. It wasn’t much to judge the whole thing by, but when I saw it, it look majestic.
We were dropped off at our cabins, on the North rim, where we unpacked, and I quickly grabbed my camera, my Akubra hat (which I had been wearing all round Vegas, and would wear everywhere we went), and started out. I went out alone to go and (as I put it) get some thinking done. This holiday was a chance to get away from ‘it all’ back home. I thought that some alone time here would be a chance to have one of those needed reflective moments. I started walking while the sun was past high, and went North. I intended to watch the sun set from the best position possible – 7 miles down the path (as the map said) where there was a shoulder on the rim that jutted out further than the others.
Anyone who says that the Grand Canyon is just a hole in the ground obviously doesn’t appreciate some of the more amazing sights that the world has to offer. I was taken aback at how great a sight it was. It was extremely impressive. I don’t think I can describe it in such a way to make you comprehend how great it is. Nor can photos or videos. You really have to see it to get any idea of what I’m talking about.
I didn’t see anyone I knew from the tour on my walk – and I was somewhat glad. Occasionally I’d stop to just enjoy the view. I’d walk off the track, into the rough, and towards the edge where you could invariably find a rock to sit on and just watch. Eventually I made the shoulder with a decent amount of time to spare. Two people had staked out the prime position before me: Right on the very edge, with legs dangling over into the vast space below. I didn’t mind, and took a seat on a bench that was nearer to the path, and waited. An American family rocked up, and the kids and father went to the edge while the mother sat on the bench. We had a good conversation for 15 minutes or so, then they were on their way.
More people came and went, but only myself and that couple on the edge were the constants. We knew that this was the place to be. When the sunset was drawing nearer, I went and took up a position near the point of the shoulder and took many a photo as the sun dipped below the horizon. When all that lit the sky and canyon was an orange glow, I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding and realised that I had just watched the sun set over the Grand Canyon.
By the time I returned to my cabin, it was pitch black, and no one from the tour group was in sight. I didn’t mind, still being in an ‘isolated’ mood, and bunkered down for the night. I didn’t want to go out to tea, so settled with some snacks I had brought at WalMart prior to the Grand Canyon, and watched television until I started to fall asleep. I was eager to get an early night because the next morning I was signed up for one of the best optional activities that was available – a helicopter flight through the Grand Canyon.