City and Colour

After Zion and all its biblical glory, we visited its antithesis Las Vegas.  I had been looking forward to a city—convenience, a hotel room, eating out, etc.  I did not expect Vegas to be as Vegasy as it was.  It was overwhelming with all of its lights, sounds, smells, and consumerism.  My eyes couldn’t take it all in, and the flashing lights of the city and casinos were a lot less glamorous than you might think.  Las Vegas is like a giant arcade with 1000 more games than are actually needed (or wanted), and like 100 different flavours of cotton candy and you can only choose one.  It’s too much and too many and too big and too sinful.  Yes, there is a reason it is called Sin City.

The major disappointment was that in casinos in Las Vegas, people are allowed to smoke.  GROSS!  We were so disgusted by the odour that permeated every single building that we didn’t once sit down to play even a penny slot machine.  I never thought I’d go crazy with gambling, but I did imagine spending an hour trying out three or four machines, just for fun.  Nope, that did not happen.  In order to get to the elevator of the building to take us to our room, we had to traipse all the way through the casino of our hotel which was filled with second hand cigarette smoke.  We just wanted to get out of there as fast as possible.  Thankfully our room itself did not smell of smoke and is the reason I didn’t venture out of it much while we were staying there.

We did go to a couple of shows, the one more notable one being the Celine Dion concert.  YES!  I have loved Celine since I was about 12 years old and put on her cd with my friends, my sister, by myself (All By Myself) and belted out every ballad with the kind of passion only 12 year old girls can feel.  My love for Celine carried on into my 20’s when I brought my cd case to my art classes.  One time, after hours when I was working on a large sculpture with a (straight male) friend and classmate, he flipped through my cd collection and commented “Wow, you have Celine Dion…” to which I replied “Jason, do you want to listen to her?”  Silence.  “Jason, I can put it on and if anyone comes in and judges it, I’ll say it was my idea.”  “Okay,” was the reply.  I promised I’d never tell anyone about his love of Celine and I have kept my word.  Jason Thorne.  That was his name.  But I never reveal anybody’s secrets.

At the concert, we sat next to a couple of “dude-bros” who were just as excited as I was.  It was a very thrilling concert and it took all of my willpower not to sing aloud to every.single.word.  Because I knew them!  Yes I did.

We left Vegas behind as fast as we could and drove to the next major park of our journey: The Grand Canyon.  It was very cold there and we had to layer up.  Also, we had to sleep under our sheet, blanket, alpaca blankets, sleeping bag and towels in order to feel warm.  I slept with my hat on.  The campground we stayed in didn’t have a single tree growing on it, so that might be one reason it was so cold at night.

The canyon itself was indeed grand.  It is so big that your eyes can’t really comprehend the depth of it.  I was just a teensy bit disappointed though about the colour.  You know how when you’re somewhere and you think it’s so beautiful that you can’t stop snapping picture after picture?  And then when you look back at the photos, they’re all dull and sort of hazy and the exposure is off, and you feel disappointed?  Because your camera can’t capture how beautiful it truly was?  And you realise that things are much better in real life than in photographs?  Yeah, that wasn’t this experience.  I actually felt like what I was looking at was impressive in its size and scope, but wasn’t…. that….pretty.  Maybe it was the time of year, maybe it was the pollution, and maybe it was the fact that we’ve seen a canyon in Peru this year that rivals the Grand Canyon in beauty and in depth.  Whatever the case, I felt like I was cheating on the Grand Canyon for not loving it more than anything we’ve seen.  I felt a bit guilty.  Don’t get me wrong—I am so glad we went and saw it!

We did do a hike while there called “3 Mile House” which took us exactly four hours to do, total.  It was FREEZING when we started, so we were all rugged up and wishing for another layer perhaps, but within an hour or so, we were peeling off layers like a hard boiled egg because it was so hot the further down we hiked.  It was a nice walk and took us to some great overlooks of the canyon.  We sat for a long time just appreciating the view.  It grew on me after a while, and I started to appreciate the beauty and artistry of it after some time.  All the bushes that grow on the sides of the canyon and the shadows look like they’ve been added to a watercolour painting with a black felt tip pen.

I’m glad we didn’t really have time to go down to the actual canyon floor and back in one day because I was nervous about the ascent.  It took us (me) exactly one hour and twenty minutes to climb down to 3 mile house, which I’m guessing was 3 miles, and then two hours and forty minutes to get back up.  So, the “double the descent time for the ascent time” thing was very accurate in my case.

We spent the rest of our time doing little drives along the south rim of the canyon, stopping at overlooks whenever we felt like it.  We watched the sunset over the canyon one night, and while the colours were more impressive at this time, it still wasn’t the rainbow from pictures that I’ve seen online.  My suggestion is to see the Grand Canyon before seeing any other in USA.  And for heaven’s sakes, don’t go to Peru before seeing it.  Go after.

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