The expansive nature of Grand Canyon is no secret. People flock from all over the world to experience the vastness and endlessness of this beauty. We (my husband & I) were two among the many who made their way to the Grand Canyon Village this past December 2015. We did not want to drive to scenic view spots. Instead, he planned something more adventurous, a chopper ride above the Grand Canyon.
The drive from Scottsdale, Arizona was 3.5 hours. It was a long drive but such a spectacular one. From the pleasant 50 degrees in Scottsdale, we soon hit 32 degrees within an hour and half of driving. The road were long and winding, and slowly we could see grainy white gravel on the side. It was my first snow spotting for this winter (we have not had snow in the Northeast yet, how ironic!).
As we progressed, the powdery snow turned into piled up inches, and I could feel the cold creeping inside the car. Then from nowhere, along the turn, whoosh, a snow peaked mountain which was Flagstaff, the ski resort destination. All the desert landscape is long gone now. It is coniferous trees much like a scene from Virginia countryside. I used my long lens and zoomed all the way for the photo below.
And as soon as we turned away from the mountainside, the snowing stopped, and we hit the road the takes us to the natural wonder of this earth! 64 North, I am so glad I caught this landmark post. I was quick to react when I saw this and click!
This road is a single file stretch that last almost 45 miles! OMG, no overtaking. There are two places where it opens up as two lanes, but this also does not last too long. I keep myself busy clicking pics and waiting for the first sight of the Grand Canyon. I wanted to capture that moment… see the tiny bump at the end of the road?
As we came closer, I was jumping in my seat. We had chartered a helicopter via Papillon Grand Canyon tours. Below is a chopper that was landing when we arrived at the tour center. Here it was super cold. We check in, and they ask us to step on the weighing machine (yikes!) to assign our seats. They played a safety demo video; then we are badged and escorted to our flight. I was waiting for my first chopper ride with baited breath.
The guide who walked us from inside the facility to the chopper helped us to wear the seat belts, and closed the door. Next the pilot, a very friendly guy asked us to wear headsets and started explaining what we were to expect from this trip. I did not even realize he had taken off and was hovering; it was super smooth!
At first, all you can see is a plateau of green. And as the chopper approaches the Canyon, you can see the distinct change in the landscape. It is a steep fall from the flat green!
It was unfathomable, boundless, and breathtaking. Trying to take pictures from the chopper would be counter-intuitive because the convex glass kept reflecting the passengers. I decided to shoot a few and enjoy the ride instead. He explained so many things that went right through my head because I was so mesmerized by the views. This ride felt like it lasted 30 seconds although it was a good thirty minutes.
As we turned back, I got a glimpse of the meandering Colorado River. It is very deceiving that from this height, the river looks so gentle and serene, when in fact, it is a known that the rapid waters have devoured many who have tried to explore and conquer her territory.
As we head back to the port, the familiar scenes of the roads and building appear, and the gentle landing ended this amazing experience that left me feeling like speckle of dust in the history of civilization.