Monday, January 4, 2010

Chopper Over The Grand Canyon



click on image to enlarge


When I called our friend the Z and asked him if he would like to meet up with us in Phoenix for a week end, he declined the trip but insisted we take an extra day and visit the Grand Canyon.
.
We've all seen the Grand Canyon countless times on TV, cinema, in books, on calenders. Going to see it never appealed to me enough to go through the hassle of getting there. I thought of it as just a big hole in the ground with some cool rock formations. Certainly not a big deal despite what they say on the Travel Channel.
.
"It's one of those things you have to see," said the Z. The idea just wasn't thrilling me. He continued with insistence, "You're already in Arizona. Just take an extra day and go see it." My mother also insisted we go. After much cajoling and instance from both of them, I took the advice and reluctantly booked an extra day into the non-refundable airline reservations. What the hell. A day looking at dirt and pretty rocks. How bad could it be?
.
Trail hiking really isn't our thing and the thought of standing around the edge of a cliff snapping some photos didn't seem all that thrilling either. So the question became; how to turn an otherwise dull day into something a bit more exciting? I looked into train rides, fancy hotels, mule riding...then I stumbled across helicopter tours.
.
Neither Husband or myself had ever been near a chopper. We only saw them on TV.
.
Hmmmm
.
Chopper ride over the Grand Canyon. That's the ticket...so I ordered two from Maverick Helicopter Tours and put them on the Visa card.
,
The original plan was to drive up from Phoenix, stand on the edge to snap a few photos, have some lunch, then go catch our ride. Well, the drive was longer than anticipated, Grand Canyon National Park is far larger then we imagined, the private airport was harder to find than we thought, we didn't see any restaurants....
.
Sometimes, the most carefully laid plans don't work out no matter what the effort. This was one of those times. Frustrated and hungry, we rushed into the airport parking lot with just enough time to check in. All I can conclude is that the Divine had a better plan for us than a few photos from the edge and a fast-food lunch. What I didn't know, was this new plan would be delivered with a giant, toothy grin.
,
I chose Maverick because we could chat directly with the pilot and ask questions instead of being at the mercy of a pre-recorded tape player. As six of us waited for clearance to take off, the pilot cracked some 'jokes' about helicopters and the military.


Waiting for take off.
Click on image to enlarge


We lifted straight up, hovered for a second, then took off. It was cool. The head sets were comfortable and we could hear each other clearly. Our fellow tourists were from Europe. None of us had ever seen the canyon before. That absolutely thrilled our pilot. He said a first view of "the ditch" from a chopper is the only way to get the maximum impact of the Canyon's nature.
.
After flying a good distance over forest we came to, what seemed to me, the very edge of the world. At this point our pilot, with a cliched sense of humor, turned on a little Wagner. I pressed my nose against the glass and the Divine grinned.



Here it comes....
maximum impact of the Canyon's nature.

Click on image to enlarge


As we crested the edge, the world dropped out from under us. It was breathtaking. Hunger and frustration completely left my awareness as I stared, drop jawed, at something so astoundingly huge and so stunningly beautiful, I was lost in tear filled awe.
.
This was not like on TV. No camera can capture it. There is nothing in all my travels that compares to that single, brief moment we sailed off the edge of the world.
.
I don't have an image of that instant. I was too astounded to even think of the camera.
Never the less, here are few shots from the rest of that ride.


click on image to enlarge



This formation is called "The Battleship"
click on image to enlarge


click on image to enlarge


We were really getting into the ride so I asked the pilot if he would buzz the canyon. He said no such luck. But if you book a private tour next time...maybe....just maybe.....


click on image to enlarge







It's impossible to see the entire thing in one view. Our 30 minute flight took us over only a very small portion of it. From what the pilot said, parts of it still haven't been explored. And yes, there are ocean fish fossils down there.



click on image to enlarge

When the ride was over, we drove around the edge for a bit stopping for a photo shoot here and there. What I thought was going to be a dull day looking at dust and pretty rocks turned out to be something else entirely.
.
I can't find the proper words to describe my emotional reaction to the Grand Canyon. Awe-some is so over used it's childish. Awe-inspiring is too weak. Visiting with God is closer to it, but that sounds hokey. Astounding, huge, stunning, amazing, fabulous....words are no better at capturing the spirit, size and beauty of the Grand Canyon than a camera is.


It's one of those things you just have to see up close and personal.

Photos from the edge.


click on image to enlarge



click on image to enlarge




click on image to enlarge

The above images are my own.

4 comments:

Dade said...

Eclectic!

A powerful post!!!!

The photos are fantastic, and the prose is sincere.

I went to the Canyon once, way back in the 70s, but your post has rekindled my slumbering desire to go back.

grrrr said...

HOLY SHIT! and I do mean HOLY!

Maverick Helicopters said...

What a beautiful piece about the awe-inspiring beauty of the Grand Canyon. We would like to thank you for sharing your Maverick Helicopter tour experience.

Kind Regards
A Maverick Team Member

Eclectic Dilettante said...

Maverick Helicopters,

I would recommend Maverick to everyone interested in flying over the canyon.The pilot was great; knowledgeable, friendly and happy to educate.

Maverick is a top notch outfit.