Five years ago, in October of 2013, I went to Phoenix, Arizona for the first time with my mom. She had a marketing conference at one of the city’s large desert resorts and asked if I wanted to join her for a few days and do my own thing while she was at the conference. The plan was to then do a trip to the Grand Canyon post-conference (mostly because I wanted to go).
Effective immediately, all government institutions closed and government workers were furloughed, including about 400 parks and their staff.
With the plan set, I went online, looked at various tour options and booked the one I thought worked best for us. Fast forward to a few days before our trip to Phoenix, and the news broke of the government shutdown due to Congress’s inability to decide on the budget. Effective immediately, all government institutions closed and government workers were furloughed, including about 400 parks and their staff.
At first I thought, surely this won’t last that long because this is seriously impacting people’s livelihood and would definitely be fixed very quickly. Well, not necessarily the case. As the days ticked by and the government shutdown remained a reality, I, admittedly selfishly, got worried about our Grand Canyon tour. The tour company, understandably, were taking things day by day but advised that in the event the shutdown was still taking place, we could either go somewhere else like Sedona or get a refund.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely disappointed to be missing out on the Grand Canyon.
Long story short, by the time we got to Arizona, the shutdown was still in effect, so my mom and I opted for a Jeep tour of Sedona and had a great time, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely disappointed to be missing out on the Grand Canyon. And I knew it would be years before another opportunity presented itself.
Well, that opportunity came about a few weeks ago when I found out I had to go to Phoenix for work. The first thought that popped into my head after learning about my work trip was “Yes! Another chance to go to the Grand Canyon!” So once again, I looked at a few tours and settled on a small group day tour from Phoenix with Detours of Arizona, which got rave reviews on TripAdvisor and Viator.
On the day of the tour, the large van pulled up to my hotel exactly on time, and I got on for what would be several hours of driving with the occasional stop. Along the way, we spotted hot air balloons dotting the morning sky as we climbed in elevation and the well-known cacti of Phoenix began to disappear (they don’t thrive in the temperature of the elevated terrain).
As we approached the Canyon, the vivid blue sky started to disappear and a dark ominous cloud hovered right over the canyon.
After a morning rest room/snack break, we continued on until we we got to the town of Williams, Arizona, one of the last remaining towns along what was formerly Route 66. Then, it was back in the van until we got to the Grand Canton. As we approached the Canyon, the vivid blue sky started to disappear and a dark ominous cloud hovered right over the canyon.
Really? I thought. It was so nice and sunny literally right until we got to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Despite this, my first view of the Grand Canyon was a stunning one. The clouds gave the canyon itself a gloomy, ominous feeling that didn’t detract from its incredible vastness.
Before getting out of the van, our tour guide Brandon had told us that for those not doing the helicopter ride, there was a hiking trail that we could check out in the two hours we had until it was on to the next stop. Neither dressed appropriately nor wearing the right shoes for hiking, I debated for a few brief seconds if I was going to check out the trail, but of course how could I come to the Grand Canyon and not?
I huffed and puffed my way up the the now hot and sunny trail, sweating in my inappropriate non-hiking clothes.
So, after lunch, I walked over to the trail and started to follow its path as it wound its way down into the canyon. Many people passed me both ways, some puffing and moving slowly as they determinedly worked their way up (after starting out at the bottom hours ago). All were dressed in hiking and workout clothes, so clearly I was the only one who didn’t get the memo. Regardless, I continued south until I decided to turn around to make my way back up. And that’s when the sun started to come out. So I huffed and puffed my way up the the now hot and sunny trail, sweating in my inappropriate non-hiking clothes but also stopping every 30 seconds to capture how beautiful the scenery looked as the sunlight shifted across the canyon.
Before I knew it, the two hours had passed and we were on our way to the next stop, which was another incredible viewpoint along where the South Rim starts to meet the East Rim. After a few more photos, a mini photo shoot and some elk spotting, we then moved on to the Yavapai Geological Museum, which detailed the history of the Grand Canyon and its rock formations and included some of my favorite views of the Grand Canyon (and now some of my favorite photos with the Grand Canyon).
After some time there, we piled into the van and began our journey back to Phoenix (emphasis on journey – we got caught in the Labor Day traffic back into the city and our return to Phoenix took SIX HOURS). Despite the extremely delayed drive back, I had an incredible time at the Grand Canyon and am so glad I was able to fit it in before my work meetings. Gotta love those bleisure (business + leisure) trips!
Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon?