It was a beautiful and sunny day with very little wind, and I knew I made the right decision to reschedule the helicopter ride. However, that tour was not until 3:30 p.m., so I packed up Olive, and off we went to Desert View.
Desert View is about 25 miles from the South Rim park entrance. There are many vistas and lookouts along the way, and we stopped at several of them.
At one of my favorites, a gaggle of women was daring each other to sit farther and farther out on the rocks to take photos. They were having such a good time, and we all took photographs for one another.
I told them about the book I purchased the day before and about how many people fall to their deaths in the canyon, unintentional or otherwise.
They just laughed and kept snapping photos, goading me to take this photo:
When we reached Desert View, I fell in love with another Mary Colter offspring. The Watchtower rises organically above the rim.
Every vista through its windows is a work of art.
The structure itself is a jewel, including the drawings and “petroglyphs” inside the tower.
The Watchtower is not a reproduction of any a famous building – it was the brainchild of Colter and a team of researchers who studied Indian artifacts and lore for years before completing this lovely homage.
Before I knew it, it was time for the helicopter tour! I was a bit taken aback when I stepped in front of the check-in counter, to find that I was standing on a scale. Yes, everyone gets weighed for proper weight distribution on the bird.
This chunky girl was too fat to sit in the front; the front row consisted of the skinny pilot and three Asian tourists. I was relegated to the back with three others. But, good news: I was not the heftiest of all! Yay! I sat directly behind the pilot with a direct view out the left window. I felt rather sorry for the even heavier fellow to my right, who took photographs in between bodies in all directions. I tried to give him as much “window time” as possible.
Taking off from the airport, we spent several minutes passing over trees and wooded areas.
The pilot then said, “Okay, you guys, welcome to one of the seven wonders of the natural world.” We rose above a ridge, then dipped down, creating a very roller coaster-like effect. At the same time, the entire Canyon lay before us. Everyone in the aircraft gasped in unison, both because of the change in altitude, and the view. I started crying.
Luckily everyone was too focused on the view to notice I was a big ball of emotion. For the next 20 minutes, we flew from rim to rim – 19 miles in between, while the pilot pointed out various rock formations and areas with names like The Vishnu Schist (1.8 billions years old) and The Dragon Corridor.
If you have been keeping up with the blog, you know that I was facing freezing temperatures and a lack of 50 amp service while at the Grand Canyon. I was concerned that a freeze might rupture the black water, or raw sewage, tank. Well, I am here to tell you that I would have endured an exploding tank of poo in exchange for that helicopter ride. Luckily, I did not have to; it was not an “either or” situation. But, seeing The Grand Canyon from a helicopter is, hands-down, one of the best moments of my life. I am so glad I got the opportunity to do it.
ADDENDUM: Based on Dawn’s comment below about flying through Grand Canyon airspace, I am attaching photos of the memorializations of the 1956 TWA/United Airlines crash. For some reason I cannot attach them to my reply to her comment.