Our Grand Adventure started outside our hotel at 6.25 am when Kevin, our driver and guide for the day picked us up in the mini-van. There were four people in the van already; in the first row, a young couple from England, and behind them a middle-aged couple from Minnesota. We got in the third row and went to pick up the fourth couple from another hotel. This last couple on the bus were a retired/semi-retired couple from Florida. The woman, whose name I never got, basically talked to us all day, she was a lovely, lively lady, and by the end of the day she was practically inviting us to stay at their house should we ever visit America again.

Our guide, Kevin, was very good, he told us lots of facts and stories about the land as he drove through the different areas. The first stop was for breakfast at McDonalds in Boulder. The cost of breakfast was included in the price of the tour and went on Kevin’s tab.

After breakfast our next stop was at the Joshua Tree forest for a leg stretch and photos.

Joshua tree

Then we drove on an unsealed section of road. I think they were grading it or something at one point as we were delayed for a while.

At the end of the road, Kevin parked the van and we all got on the shuttle coach to the gift shop. We hadn’t budgeted for any souveniers, so we just used the rest room and had a look around the shop for the 15 minutes we had there before boarding another coach for the West Rim.

The West Rim was packed! People were so near the edge, it was scary. I went nowhere near the edge, it wouldn’t take much for me to get knocked off accidentally.

The packed edge

Kevin looked after everyone’s bags, and we all got in the queue for the Skywalk. We took about 20 minutes to get to the front of the queue, then we had to put disposable covers over our shoes so we wouldn’t scratch the surface. Mobile phones and cameras were not allowed on the Skywalk. They had professional photographers there, and you could buy the prints in the gift shop on the way out. We weren’t going to buy a photo but when we saw it we couldn’t resist buying one, and we put it on the credit card. Naughty.

The Skywalk was freaky. The edge was opaque and that was where most people walked, holding the reassuring rail as they walked around the loop. I couldn’t walk across the see-through bit until quite near the end, by which time I had come to trust that I was not going to fall through it.

After the Skywalk, we went to have our picnic lunch, that Kevin had in his backpack. We had ordered our sandwiches in advance when we booked the tour. I had a veggie one, and Chris had a beef and salad one. We all sat together at the picnic table where Kevin had guarded our bags. With our sandwiches we also shared grapes, crackers, and orange coloured cheese, and washed it all down with bottles of cold water.

After lunch Kevin took us around the American Indian village, showing us examples of different homes and sweat lodges. One of them had a very peculiar smell in it, someone had just smoked pot in there.

American Indian structure

Kevin also showed us the bushes that are hallucinogenic when you chew enough of the leaves. Only one person was game enough to try a bit, the lady from Florida of course.

After our wander through the different American Indian dwellings, we all followed Kevin up to the highest point. It was not a difficult climb but there was one point where I had to bounce a couple of times to jump up onto a rock. Kevin asked if I was doing OK, I said, “yes, climbing is fine, it’s edges I don’t do.”

It was a good feeling at the top, and although there were still lots of people around, it was amazing to be there.

The top

Kevin was brilliant at taking lots of photos for everybody on the tour, and some for other people too. We had allocated a $20.00 tip for him from our budget. He was worth every cent, he knew all the best places for photos.

Sue saving Chris

Living on the edge

On our way back down from the highest point, Kevin showed us Guano Point, and told us all about us about bat shit, that ironically was not boring.

When we had finished at the Grand Canyon, Kevin gave us the option of visiting the Cowboy/Indian village here on the reserve, or going to the Hoover Dam. We all chose the dam, we’d seen a natural wonder, now it was time for a man-made one.

The dam was huge and Kevin told us a few facts about it, like the white marking around the edge being deposits from the high water mark, and the line of buoys being the top of the torpedo net. The bridge we were stood on cost $250 million!

bridge on the hoover dam

We drove down under the bridge to have a closer look at the dam itself, and so we could see the bridge from a distance, which was cool in more ways than one. By this time it was late in the afternoon, the sun was going down and the wind picking up.

the dam

We got back in the van and crossed over the dam once more, and the state line between Nevada and Arizona. Soon our grand adventure would be over.

The drive back did not seem long. We had a stop at the Fabulous Las Vegas sign, where we saw at least three brides and bridal parties waiting in line for photos. Kevin took all ours slightly to the side of the sign so we wouldn’t have a long wait for an ‘under the sign’ photo.

Vegas sign

And that was it, our grand adventure was over, and Kevin took us all back to out hotels. It was a lovely day out and we’d been looked after well.

Tomorrow we would have another adventure, we would be renewing our vows on a trike at a drive-through wedding chapel: as you do.