When I was young I left my home
And went away, to Vegas
With my guitar and my dreams,
I had to try to play and sing, in Vegas
But my momma told me I was wrong,
And she begged me to stay at home
But my will was strong and
I had to make it big, in Vegas
They’ll put my name up in lights where I play,
And the lines out in front will be long,
I’ll get a standing ovation from the people,
When I start to sing my song,
When I turn ’em on in Vegas
– Buck Owens
Sunday 5 November 2017
I should probably be sleeping now, given that it’s nearly 10:00pm and we have an ungodly 4:00am wake-up call for our flight to Denver, Colorado, but today was so much fun, and so memorable, that I want to put some thoughts down on…err, my computer screen, before I hit the sack.
We went to the Grand Canyon today. The western rim of what has to be one of the greatest and most awe-inspiring natural landscapes there is anywhere in the world is about a two-hour drive from Las Vegas, across the Nevada-Arizona state line, and into Hualapai (pronounced wal-a-pie) territory. The Hualapai – the name means ‘People of the Tall Pines – are the traditional guardians of the western edge of the Grand Canyon, are a federally-recognised tribe, currently with over 2300 enrolled members.
When you reach the edge of Hualapai territory, you park your car, buy what amounts to an admission ticket, and get onto a shuttle bus that takes you to two separate destinations along the canyon rim. First stop is Eagle Point, where the SkyWalk is – more on that in a few paragraphs – and Guano Point. We had mostly-sunny skies and little wind, despite dire forecasts for gusts of up to 65km, so both vantage points were stunning.
The shuttle bus first takes you to the Hualapai ranch, a cleverly-constructed mock-up of an old western village – not unlike the sort you might’ve seen in Arizona one hundred and fifty or two hundred years ago. Aside from whip-cracking, pistol-shooting, horse-riding and watching people amusingly try to stay on the mechanical bull for more than seven seconds, you can get a really nice meal. I had baked chicken with a barbeque sauce, corn bread, beans, pasta salad and a cookie. If it seems like a big meal, that’s because it was!
Fed and watered, we went to Eagle Point. The Sky Walk is a u-shaped bridge that juts out over the edge of the Grand Canyon – you can look straight down between your feet, to the base of the canyon, where the Colorado River flows. I’ve been on it before, and you’re up so high that what looks like a shrub is actually a large tree, all the way down.
The attraction is incredibly and especially popular with Asian tourists, so they were swarming all over the place. There aren’t any fences around the Grand Canyon west rim, so there’s actually a security guard asking people to keep ten feet or more back from the edge. As you can probably imagine, it’s a bit of a madhouse.
The other stop, Guano Point, is my personal favourite. You can see the Colorado River threading it’s way through the canyon far below, which is very popular with scenic helicopter flights. Climbing to the top of Guano Point provides an epic view of the canyon, one that makes you realise how inconsequential the human race is, in comparison to something that’s been formed over many millions of years. We’re small fry, really.
I’ve been to the Canyon four times before, but it’s one of those places, like Yosemite National Park, that never fails to take my breath away. No photo does the place absolute justice. You need to come and stand on the edge of the valley to really understand the magnitude and beauty.
Late-afternoon arrival back in Henderson. We watched a hockey game tonight, and I am glad to report that I’ve finally hit on a North American sport that mum enjoys watching. Just as well, considering we have a couple of NHL games (one in New York and one in Chicago) coming up soon.
It’s been a great week in the Las Vegas area, and it’s a shame to leave our Airbnb rental, which we’ve all enjoyed staying in. It felt like home, and that’s the best compliment I think you can give an Airbnb place.
East to Colorado tomorrow!