Susan's Blog - Grand Canyon Day 3

Our last day at the Grand Canyon and we decided that if we were going to do it, we should do it right. So we opted for a 40ish minute helicopter ride over the canyon. They had a shorter route (see first picture) but we figured that we might as well do the longer route. For me, it was my first time ever (that I remember) in a helicopter. Here is the route map .. we did the red one, which took us up over the canyon on the south side, the east side, up to the North Rim, then back across. I grabbed a couple pictures of the helicopter before we took off. Tom and I were seated in the back seat (there were 2 in the front in addition to the pilot, then 4 of us in the back). I got the window seat, so I took all of the pictures.

Okay, so I'm really not good at selfies!

And here we go ... I took a few as we were taking off from the small airport. And yes, the nerd in me thought it was cool that I could get a picture of the shadow of the helicopter, or the shadow of the helicopter blades.

We flew at about 400 feet above ground level, zipping over the trees on the South Rim side. We started seeing the Canyon in the distance, although it didn't look like a canyon at the time, because the South Rim plateau is about the same level, although the North Rim is about 1,000 feet higher than the South Rim.

As we get closer, we start getting more and more of the canyon walls visible.

And here we are just about at the edge .. it is an interesting thing ... we're going along and looking down, and you can see the land just below you (okay, so 400 feet) .. so you go ... ground ... ground ... ground .. ground ... holy cow no ground!! as you pop right over the edge of the canyon and now the ground is about 6,000 feet below you!

So now I'll just have lots and lots of different pictures. A few will get some glare from the windows but they came out a lot better than I actually thought they would! I tried to grab some with the Colorado river itself in it as well.

The North Rim seemed to have a slightly different climate (cooler and wetter, perhaps because it is up another 1,000 feet) and we saw a lot more trees. As it was September, we were just getting the start of the color changes and you'll see a bit more yellow in the foliage. We also flew over an area that had been damaged by a fire. At one point, I guess there were some Bison visible on the other side of the helicopter, but he didn't swing around so that we could see them on our side.

And then we swung South and headed back over the canyon a bit further West of were we started. We got the same canyon feel .. steep cliffs and slope-y areas, but a lot more green vegetation growing there. Then we left the canyon behind and headed back to the airport.

And that is it for the canyon itself! But we didn't actually stop the day there! We headed back towards Phoenix, via Winslow Arizona (from the song) and the Meteor Crater. The first couple pictures are from us driving up towards it ... doesn't look at that impressive, huh?

Meteor Crater is the world's best preserved meteorite impact site. It is about 3,900 ft in diameter, 560 ft deep, and is surrounded by a rim that rises 148 ft above the surrounding plains. The center of the crater is filled with between 690 and 790 ft of rubble lying above crater bedrock.

This is the picture that they have, showing it from the air...

And this is my picture from the observation deck!

Now the history .... scientists date the crater back to about 50,000 years ago. The area was an open grassland dotted with woods, in a cooler and damper climate. The meteorite that made the crater was about 160 feet across and it impacted going somewhere between 8 miles per second and 12 miles per second (there are debates on the exact speed). The impact event is estimated to be about 10 megatons and the meteorite was mostly vaporized upon impact. In crater itself was known since the 19th century but it wasn't until 1903 when Daniel Barring suggested that it may have been produced by a meteorite impact instead of volcanic activity. His company staked a claim to the land and started looking for iron ore that would have been left. I tried to get pictures to show the size and scope of it, but again, pictures don't always do it justice. In the little film they had, they superimposed 20 football fields in the bottom of the crater and indicated that if then then built stands around the edges, it would fit 2 million people ....

This is the view outside of the crater ... so literally ... just flat, barren land .. and then a crater in the middle of it!

Again, a few flowers that I find fascinating that can survive in the rocks and no-rain area.

So then we headed back to Phoenix, driving through Winslow, Arizona .. "and such a fine sight to see." ... although we drove through so we were not "standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona" and we never say "a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin' down to take a look at me" :-)

Okay, so back to my day job .... more images of our drive from Winslow down to Phoenix. It was an interesting route, initially heading East and going through a totally flat plains with the edge of the painted desert to the North, and then as we turned South, we went through part of the Kaibab National Forest again and through heavy trees. I grabbed a few pictures at sunset, attempting to capture the sun dropping down behind the mountains.

This was dinner at Mariscos Playa Hermosa. It was established in 2002 by a Mexican couple originally from Guanajuato, Mexico (a small colonial town about 3 hours North of Mexico City). Our server had mentioned that this dish (which you can get either for 2 or 3 people) is their signature dish (I forgot the name of it), and it includes fish, shrimp, chicken, and steak around the edges of this very hot stone bowl, and then in the middle is green sauce (you could have red hot sauce but I'm not a very spicy person) with octopus and cheese. It came with rice, beans, salad, and they included a seafood tostada kind of thing as a "house appetizer". And of course .. margaritas!

And then .. it was all over ... and we had to go back to work :-(