Canyons 2015: 36,000 feet

(Reader Advisory: you may need a cup of tea and a comfy chair for this one. You see, I had 10 hours on a plane with not too many distractions and so I may have written and photographed just a tad too much. Ah well. Sit back and I will begin.)
The bed was comfy. The shower was great. Maybe that’s why it is called a deluxe room…

After breakfast,which we enjoyed in the hotel, we got ourselves ready and took our bags over to bag drop at the terminal. 

Not much queue and we had special stickers on our boarding cards so we were also able to go through the premium (fast track) lane for security. This worked well until Andrew’s bag got pulled for a search. We had predicted this; I always get Andrew to carry all of the electrical chargers (which are numerous) and it is always his bag that gets pulled. 😉 

This delayed us by 15 minutes or so, by which time it was time to head to the departure gate. We whizzed past the queue there, too, and so were soon on board, settled in and enjoying something sparkly! (At this point I chose to think of it as pre-pre-lunch…).

We pushed back two whole minutes early, having first observed the two minutes’ rememberance silence on board. After take off we turned north and flew overhead home…

The flight was a bit lumpy over the first couple of hours and the seat belt sign was on and off, but it wasn’t really bad. Virgin did their usual excellent job of serving endless food, starting with snacks and a drink, then the main meal, followed by ice lollies somewhere overhead Greeland (7am ish new time), pizza snack over the north west shores of Canada (breakfast? 9am or so on Vegas time)… And at some point later on I felt a bit peckish so helped myself to coffee and a shortbread biscuit. And then was a sandwich and crisps for lunch. (Yes, lunch. Again. It was 12 noon again, after all). How can sitting on a plane make me so hungry?! 

Talking of being overhead Greenland, we had one of the best views today. No clouds below made for a fantastic opportunity to see the mountains, glaciers and fjords of the southern region from 36,000 feet up.
Northern Canada also stretches a very long way. As in REALLY far. And there is nothing but ice. Well, OK, there’s some snow and sea and lakes as well, but it doesn’t look like there are any people out there. Truly vast but beautiful from this perspective. Probably a bit cold and less scenic if you’re trying to live there.

With few clouds below all the way across north Ametica, the landscape continued to roll past the window: lakes and water in south west Ontario; straight roads and square agricultural fields after we crossed over the USA’s northern border above Minnesota; the Missouri River. 



But it is over the Badlands of South Dakota that anticipation really starts to build (we definitely have to go there some day). These are wild and remote and barren and I reckon just my sort of place even if I have only seen them from 36,000 feet up for now. Today we passed Sioux City and Mount Rushmore on my side of the plane. Special bonus points if you can see the sculptures in my photo…


From there the land rises up and we cross the Rocky Mountains, although today we passed over southern Idaho and between the larger mountain ranges. Even so, the higher elevations and cliffs had an exciting dusting of snow as we clipped the north west corner of Colorado.

 But I really get like a kid in a sweet shop when the red rocks start. I’d be hanging my head out of the window if I could. As it is, I clamber and wriggle around in my seat to get a better view, all pretense at being a sensible adult gone with the scenery. I pick out the Book Cliffs, Bryce, Cedar Breaks and even tap Andrew with enthusiasm when I spot the I-70 interstate before we start our descent into Las Vegas.

 From there we swing over Lake Mead and, once on final approach, spot the Vegas skyline (the air is unusually clear today – no smog). The landing was so smooth you would hardly have known you’d arrived.

Immigration didn’t take too long, considering there were over 400 people just on our plane. I was still excited to be there and I may have bounced in the queue… Our officer turned out to be chatty and we compared notes on hiking at Grand Canyon while he processed the paperwork. Our luggage arrived on the carousel quickly  (all three pieces!) and we went to catch the shuttle bus to the car rental centre. I was still excited. I may have danced in the queue…

I will save you the car details for a slow news day. But we have one and once Andrew was comfortable with it we set off for Springdale. It usually takes 3 hours. But we usually arrive on a weekday and encounter rush hour traffic. Today was much quieter and Andrew achieved a new PR for us by arriving in 2.5 hours. The sun set while we were on route, so we have yet to see the canyon scenery. I’m excited about waking up!

We checked in, nice room (more tomorrow on the room) and went for pizza for tea, hungry again! We picked up some local beer and have now have had a great post-flight shower and are relaxing. I have taken over 60 photos today. Considering we were on a plane, that’s some going! More tomorrow!


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