We were taking a helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon. Jessi looked so cute with her headphone. She slept thru the whole flight
Friday, April 14, 1989
We were up pretty early. With a nine week old you really donâ€™t get a normal nightâ€™s rest. Margo has always done more than half of the nightly feedings and on this trip, she probably did most of them. Her maternal instincts had taken over, and she was going to focus all of her attention on the baby.
We knew we wanted to walk the trails around the immediate area and get over to Bright Angel Point, which would give us the best views of the canyon.
Plus, Margo wanted to get a pair of the moccasins we saw yesterday. So the general store was our first stop and we spent some deciding what she would get. I also ended up with a t-shirt that said â€śI hiked the Grand Canyonâ€ť on the front. On the back it said â€śIâ€™m lyingâ€ť. This was in tribute to my doctor. He had given his blessing for us to take this trip so soon after my procedure, but he warned me specifically not to hike the canyon, as it would probably be too much strain. I suppose we would find our today about straining. I had definitely not overdone it to this point. And I had no problems either.
Jolene looking a bit too serious
After our stop at the store we started our trip around the area, focusing on Transept Trail. We also could not fail to notice the helicopters and airplanes that were taking tourists on air tours of the canyon. We spent the next couple of hours walking the trail, admiring the canyon from different vantage points, and generally just enjoying being out in sunshine.
Our whole time the weather was beautiful. We didnâ€™t wear shorts, Iâ€™m not even sure if we packed any. The days were in the 70s and the nights, while cold, were not too cold.
That's a lot to keep track of and still keep us entertained. If he'd known how much we really heard, he wouldn't have bothered!
Near the southern end of park area, here on the north side, is the Grand Canyon Lodge and Visitors Center. We spent some time admiring the architecture of the building, and learning about how much effort went into its construction. We were still a quarter of a mile of so from Bright Angel Point, so after a short rest here, we headed back down that trail. It was worth the walk. The walk itself was just full of great views, between the evergreen and scrub oak that grew all along the side. Then when we got to The Point, you see why everyone says that pictures just donâ€™t do the canyon justice.
Words just fail to describe the vastness. The depth and width push the limits of the eyes. You are never sure if you are seeing a portion of the bottom or the other side. It just seems to go on and down in a progression of steep declines. We couldnâ€™t see the Colorado River, which would have been the bottom. We probably just didnâ€™t know where to look.
Appoaching the rim!
Having met our goal, we decided to head back. We were all a bit hungry. We had packed snacks, and did not fail to take advantage of the occasional kiosk or vendor to buy ice cream or a soda, so we werenâ€™t famished. But, we needed to eat a real meal just the same. As we sat down and ate, I brought up the subject to checking into the helicopters. None of had ever ridden in one before, and it would be quite the experience to fly over the Grand Canyon in one.
Margo agreed that it couldnâ€™t hurt to find our how much they cost, even though we had not budgeted for this type of extravagance. We were both pretty sure it was going to be outrageous. After eating we walked over to the place selling the tickets, and got a brochure. I do not recall how much, but they werenâ€™t cheap. Still the shorter flights, 20 minutes, were not completely outrageous. After a short discussion, in which we decided that opportunities like this are probably once in a life time we decided to charge it my credit card, and do the serious thinking later. We were confident we could pay it off, I mean we are only talking about $125, but that was a pretty good fee to pay in 1989.
We bought our tickets and waited our turn. We would be leaving in less than an hour. When it was nearly time, we were given head phones, to help with the noise and allow us to hear the pilot. Jessi looked very cute in hers. We boarded the helicopter.
I sat up front with the pilot, to help evenly distribute the weight. Margo, Jolene, and Jessi were in the back. We had ridden in a plane before, but we knew this would be different. After strapping in and getting all secured the pilot increased power, to the already turning engine. The sound of the rotor turning faster, and faster, until it beat the air into submission was exhilarating, and then suddenly we were airborne! I had good forward and left side visibility. The pilot was too my right, but I could still see pretty well. Plus there was Plexiglas at our feet, in the floorboard. This allowed me to look down as we flew.
Wow! Is there any doubt why this is one of the natural Wonders of the World?
The views were truly spectacular. They were much better than on the ground. The pilot narrated the whole time. I remember thinking â€śHow can he talk and fly at the same time?â€ť Stupid, huh? Thatâ€™s what I thought next, as Iâ€™m sure it was as second nature to him as driving car was to me.
I can talk and drive. Why shouldnâ€™t he be able to fly and talk?
Another great view!
Anyway, he pointed out various things, but I didnâ€™t remember them 15 seconds after he said them. With the breathtaking views of the canyon, checking to see how the rest of family was reacting in the back (Jessi was asleep. How she could sleep with all that noise was beyond me!), all gauges, bells, and whistles on the cockpit display, and defying gravity, there was just too much new information competing for brain attentions. The fact that this place was called â€śSomething, Somethingâ€ť or that Indians used to do something over here, or that famous explorer X did something over there, had zero chance of getting noticed by my conscience mind. This was even though I enjoy US History. I imagine Margo, who was experiencing the same thing I was, but cares less about history than I do heard â€śBlah, blah, blah, Indians, blah, blah, blah,â€ť Jolene, who was three, probably heard â€śBuzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzâ€ť.
It just keeps going and going and going....
Irregardless, we all loved it. The only bad part was the 20 minutes seemed to last only 5. We were up in the air, and then it was seemingly over. We landed and thanked our pilot. He did a great job. Iâ€™ll bet it would have been fun to buy him a beer and let him tell stories. Most helicopter pilots got their training in the service. He was of the right age to have served in Vietnam. Vietnam chopper pilots did not lead a boring life.
As you might have guessed, the rest of the day was pretty much all down hill from there.
It would have been tough to top that. So we didnâ€™t try too hard. We wandered a little telling â€śDid you seeâ€ť stories and getting Joleneâ€™s take on the whole thing. She thought it was just great. Jessi had managed to sleep through the whole thing. So how is it, if I flush the toilet back home, she is awake? The weather had been cooperating nicely. It was nice enough not to wear a jacket, in the afternoon. No wind to speak of. We finished up the later afternoon with dinner at the Lodge. Afterwards we proceeded to find a spot to watch our second and last Grand Canyon sunset. It was as good as the first. I did not even attempt to take a picture. I only had an old fixed focus camera, and taking low light photos was really not an option. So after sunset it was back to the camper, and then off to bed. Tomorrow we would head towards home.
Margo holding Jessi, with Jolene, just before sunset