Well, there’s another thing to check off the list of things I do before I die. I’ve always wanted to take a road trip through all that John Ford country, seeing the Painted Desert and all that Panoramic Beauty of the American Southwest stuff, ending up at the Grand Canyon. My attention span is too short for a road trip through desert, though; my mind tends to wander about halfway through the Grand Canyon diorama at Disneyland. So on Sunday of the Vegas weekend, I took one of those plane tours. It’s a little pricey, but a good way to see everything without taking up the whole day.
The group consisted mostly of Japanese tourists visiting Las Vegas, so all the tour narration was done in English and Japanese. It was kind of neat, although it was a little disconcerting that those of us who don’t speak Japanese were missing out on all the good material — the group kept laughing at punchlines that we just didn’t get. On the other hand, I did feel a little bit vindicated that I could understand the times we were supposed to get back on the bus (“ichiji gofun == 1:05”), so all those language courses weren’t completely useless.
The planes are small and have high wings “to insure everyone gets a window seat.” My window was right next to the propeller, so that messed up a lot of the arial photos, but that’s a minor complaint. The real views are from within the national park itself. And you have to admit, it is spectacular, and it really is something everyone needs to see in person. I’m happy with the photos I took, but I’ve seen pictures of the canyon before and never really got how impressive it is.
We only got to spend about an hour at each view point, which doesn’t leave much time for thoughtful introspection or coming up with poetic descriptions of it. Just pictures and the occasional “hey I can see the river!” Still, the tour is a good, painless way to get a glimpse of it and decide if you want to go back. I do still want to do the whole road trip thing and spend some real time there. I’m hoping that next time, I get to see the dinosaurs.