Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Canyon of the Grand Variety

I never thought I would go so bonkers over the Grand Canyon, but today I learnt differently. T and I started by taking a helicopter ride - it was incredibly exciting when we approached the edge and then all of a sudden the ground fell away and we were flying over the vast expanse. 

IMG_2603 by you.

We followed this trip up by heading out to Monument Valley. We were lucky enough to see some deer (or elk?) on the side of the road as we were leaving the canyon. One male with huge antlers decided that he would cross the road. He looked very practiced at crossing the road as he appeared to look both ways first. 

 IMG_2712 by you.

We hadn't reserved accommodation in Monument Valley, and it got a bit desperate as we went from small town to small town and found no vacancy anywhere. Finally, we found a room in Mexican Hat at a place called the Canyonlands Motel. Our room actually belonged to the manager's daughter, but she and the manager had started renting their rooms out as the need arose some years ago. We had a great chat with the manager about travelling, her jewellery business and Monument Valley.

Monument Valley was a vivid red desert full of red rocky outcrops. It was a landscape like no other I had ever seen before. 

IMG_2780 by you.

We got back to Las Vegas that night and went for a long walk along The Strip. Las Vegas is an exhausting place given there are huge crowds wherever you go. The hotels are interesting from the outside - the Roman Empire recreated at Caesar's Palace, Venice recreated at The Venezian, you get the idea. On the inside though, they all look like the same dark, smoky rooms with row after row of slot machines and people blindly shoving coins into them like robots. All of this excess became quite hard to stomach, literally, given the dearth of vegan, vegetarian or even fresh/healthy food. It's all enormous New York steak dinners for $0.99 (offensive in itself given it is cheaper to buy an animal's life rather than spare it), all you can eat buffets and ridiculous over-sized serves of food (our cocktails from our first night in Vegas being a case in point). I started to feel a bit dirty given all this excess, and thought about what all the money spent in and on this city could do. On a positive note though, I am glad that we visited (and also that we didn't get married there!)   

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