Grand Canyon.

In America, bigger is better. That goes for their portions of mac n cheese, their gun crime and their canyon. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long. To put that into perspective, especially for someone from Essex, that’s Basildon to Durham. It’s huge. We spent a day walking around the Rim (ha, rim) and everything we could see only accounted for ten percent of the total of the Canyon. It’s 1.2 million acres. That’s 1.2 million times what your dream property in Thorpe Bay has, to put that into perspective for someone from Essex. A week on, it is still hard to deal with what I got to see and enjoy in my time in America and it helped me understand why only 46 percent of Americans have a passport (and understand that Asia is a continent and China is a country).

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Here are some things I observed about America;

– Everyone is really nice. Too nice. I was highly suspicious
– You can buy knives and hot dogs everywhere
– Nobody said they loved my accent even though I was purposefully being more English
– A small is a medium. A medium is a large. A large is a bucket with a straw poking out of it
– Biscuits and gravy are not a suitable breakfast
– You have to tip everything. I slipped a dollar bill into an automatic door that opened for me
– A pavement is a sidewalk and an idiot is called a Trump
– There are so many more kinds of processed cheese than you realise
– Knowing how to wrangle a horse is expected of all men
– Everyone has nice teeth
– If there is space for it then everything has a gift shop attached. America is big and there is always space
– Both time and Vegas are constructs of man and are entirely separate

Despite how problematic America can be, it doesn’t change the fact that the landscape is beautiful. We drove from Las Vegas out to Arizona and back again and the views rivaled those out of Morocco. It’s strange and beautiful and then you get to a truck stop and feel like you’re on a set. It’s the best of both worlds.

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As far as the trek goes, it was the first time I have trekked with a static campsite so we were limited in how far we could go out before having to turn back. We also, to paraphrase Crowded House, took the weather with us, and were presented with more rain than Arizona had seen in the last year. The canyon is a weird place to hang out. A lot of the time you’re so busy making sure you’re not about to walk over the edge of something or tread on a spider that you can forget to look up and see these incredible geological lines cut into the sides of the thousand foot walls around you. The vibrancy and the colours seem to have been ramped up, the saturation is at 100%. I met some amazing people and had a brilliant time. I climbed and I fell and I bashed my knobbly knees, I ate and ate and ate, I gambled and walked away when I saw for myself what could happen to people. I met a tattooed entrepreneur from Scotland at a roulette table called Ian, I got referred to as One Direction by a security guard who would later show me to the Business Suite and I finally got to eat a mythical corn dog (well, four of them).

The problem now is that I want more. I want all the America there is. I want to get in a car with my lady and drive from coast to coast and never look back. I want to eat burgers and smoke Marlboro. I want to live it and love it and be. There’s just the short issues of having to work and not having the money. I’ll get there though. In the meantime, I have National Novel Writing Month starting in a couple of days and a bonny new travel story to write.

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Grand Canyon: Day 6.

For the last day of our amazing challenge, we leave the magic scenery of the canyon behind as we have a tough, but exhilarating trek back up to the canyon’s rim. Once at the top, we will be met by our vehicles and transferred to the thrilling city of Las Vegas with a side trip to the Hoover Dam. Tonight we mark our achievements with a Vegas-style celebratory dinner!

I have already decided that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas especially any money I have.

Grand Canyon Trek: Day 5.

Today we start with a visit to Supai Village for a Tribal Blessing from one of the Havasupai elders, who will share the story of the tribe’s history and offer an official tribal welcoming and blessing. We then proceed to Rock Falls and Little Navajo Falls for lunch with the inevitable quick dip. The afternoon offers exploration of Carbonate Canyon and the mine and if we have enough energy then we trek an old trail with views of Havasu Falls. For our final evening we will relax in the shade of spreading cottonwoods while enjoying our last back-country dinner.

Grand Canyon Trek: Day 4.

Today we begin our exploration of one of the most beautiful places on the planet! The enchanting turquoise waters of the creek and the breathtaking waterfalls of the canyon are a tropical paradise and a true anomaly in the southwest desert. Our hike involves creek-crossings, climbing in and out of gorges and plenty of scrambling around as well as swimming and jumping from some of the falls. Once the group has had the chance to appreciate the full grandeur of the canyon we will make our way back to camp for a delicious dinner.

Good Morning Arizona. 

It’s five am and I can’t sleep. It turns out I’m not immune to jet lag in the way I’m apparently not immune to death. Yesterday we walked the rim (yes, that’s hilarious). 
It is so beautiful out there. It’s like someone fired a shotgun into the Earth and just let the raw wound of twisted rock sit and scab. As far as the eye could see only accounted for 10% of what the total of the Canyon is. Grand Canyon National Park itself is 1.2 million acres. The parks here are as big as the portions and GC has been super sized (*makes a note of that for the book and congratulates oneself*). Everyone here is so friendly it puts me on edge. They all want to know how I’m doing and they won’t settle for anything less than “swell!” as a response. We went for dinner in the most American “family restaurant buffet” going. There was an old man in the corner doing bad covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival songs and the man on the table next to us was wearing a masked intruder t-shirt and kept disappearing, leaving his young family to fend for themselves. The waitress tottered about remembering everything off the top of her head. I refused to eat food I hadn’t heard mentioned in the Hollywood movies of my childhood so got a plate of brisket, shrimp, corn dogs, mac n cheese and ice tea for dinner. 
I’m tired but I can’t sleep. 
I’m hungry but even the bread tastes like diabetes. 
I’ve seen enough tarantulas but not enough hiking. 
Today, as Jamiriquai famously said, we are going deeper underground. 

  

Grand Canyon: Day 3.

After an early breakfast we head along the canyon to the Hualapai Hilltop and the trail that represents the only land access to Supai Village, home to the Havasupai tribe. The hike begins at 1,645 metres and descends, before leveling off in a beautiful red sandstone canyon. After 13 kilometers of hiking and a descent of 600 metres, we arrive at the Supai Village, where the Havasupai Indians have made their home for many centuries. A further 3 kilometers brings us to Havasu Campground where a spectacular dinner and exploration of nearby Havasu Falls will round the day off.