The Grand Canyon and showgirls in Vegas

Grand Canyon Travel Blog

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Sky walk

We were a little bit grumpy with Las Vegas after flying in the night before. We landed at 11 o’clock, but after an hour wait for the shuttle bus to come and an hour wait in line at the Imperial Palace just to pick up our room key and find out our trip to Zion National Park had been cancelled, we finally trudged through the banks of blank faces inhabiting the casino floor at 3am for a quick nap before our 5am wake-up for the Grand Canyon tour.


We perked up on the road, as we drove from Las Vegas, over the Hoover Dam and into Arizona. The Hoover Dam is meant to be one of the 100 Great Wonders of the World (according to the book by that name that has usually come up trumps) and I’m sure it was really difficult to build, but it wasn’t really that amazing to see.

The desert here is the Mojave desert, which is the desert region of southern Nevada, south-east California and western Arizona between 3000 and 6000 feet. The reason why this elevation is called the Mojave desert (as opposed to the Great Basin at lower elevations and the Colorado Plateau at higher elevations) is the presence of the Joshua tree, which is restricted to 3000-6000 feet. The Joshua tree was certainly the most distinctive feature of the desert, a member of the Lily family that can grow up to 40 feet tall and live for a thousand years, with peculiar arms that spread out. Then we drove across Arizona (stopping at a few weird truck stops/gift shops) up to the Colorado Plateau and to the Grand Canyon.


The Grand Canyon definitely deserves its position in the top 100. The canyon is 446km long, 6.4-29km wide and 1.6km deep. Until research released yesterday came out it was thought that it formed by the Colorado River gradually cutting out the river gorge over 6 million years as the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. The Science paper released yesterday, however, proposes that the canyon has actually been forming for 17 million years, but for the first 11 million years it was a series of caverns linking up an underground river until finally the river undermined the structure enough that the roof caved in, forming the canyon.


We saw the West Rim of the Grand Canyon, starting at Eagle’s Point. The Hualapai Tribe own this region and have a Skywalk set up.

This is a horseshoe-shaped loop made of glass, so you can walk out and look down 1.2km to the canyon floor below. Some of the people on the loop were absolutely petrified to be walking on glass that high up, and clung with terror to the railing, refusing to look down. The Hualapai also had a dance demonstrating which was really interesting, especially the hoop dance and the fancy dance. After Eagle’s Point we caught a bus further down the West Rim were we had lunch and walked around the edge of the Canyon. We watched prairie dogs keep lookout for danger in the rocks and ravens glide out over the canyon. There was some old mining equipment still in place and the canyon itself was just glorious, a staggering cut through the earth with a slow muddy river inching its way along far down below.


On our drive back to Las Vegas they played Pirates of the Caribbean on the bus.

Prairie Dog
We had a busy night planned, so once back in the Imperial Palace we caught the monorail to Mandalay Bay (the hotel’s theme is aquariums). We had dinner at a burger place there recommended by Lonely Planet. It was easily the best burger I have had since leaving Australia, with fried egg, pineapple and beetroot, served with a really refreshing Belgian apple ale. After dinner we went across the sky-bridge to the Luxor hotel (confusingly built like the pyramids of Giza rather than the temples of Luxor, with black glass coating the pyramid and a beam of light projected from the zenith into the sky).
Lydia had a chat with a few bored girls selling glass pyramids etched with your photo, they were excited to hear that she was Australian because they thought very highly of “Thunder from Downunder” the male strip show showing nightly across the road at Excalibur (they approvingly noted that if one Australian was ill they would cancel the show rather than let a non-Australian go up). They said that being under-21 Vegas was extremely boring, since there was almost nothing there they could do without drinking or gambling. At Luxor we saw a showgirls show called “Fantasy” which was quite well done except for the painful comedy interludes, especially the horrific comedian who struggled to make the show dirty and puerile rather than artistic and elegant. It is an unfortunate aspect of popular American culture that is puritanical and prudish, giving any appreciation for sexuality an adolescent dirtiness.


Overall an excellent day, but an exhausting one, finally getting into bed at 2am.

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Sky walk
Sky walk
Prairie Dog
Prairie Dog
Raven in flight over the Grand Can…
Raven in flight over the Grand Ca…
Grand Canyon
photo by: Sunflower300