So after driving all day and spending all night out on the town. 3hrs in our hotel was about the most anyone got. At 5am it was up and ready, bags packed, down to the coach ready for Hot Air Ballooning.
Stupidity was the common theme. What a stupid Idea to go out so hard the night before a 5am start. Or was it a stupid idea to be getting up at 5am after such a big night. Anyways yet again just a bunch of sore and sorry travellers getting back on the road.
So the way it worked the Balloon company came to our Hotel and split us into groups of 12 and pilled us into mini vans. We drove about 20mins out of the city to a wide open area where the Balloons were being set up. Despite us all being sore and freezing. Watching how a Hot Air Balloon goes from nothing to this giant floating vessel, with the most simplest of components is something else. As keen as we all were the day before, come time to jump in the basket and take off. Out came everyones insecurities. More than anything it's the simplicity that puts you off. A giant parachute with a cane basket tied to the bottom with rope and a giant flame to make it all work. A little freaky. As always my weird urge was the desire to jump out of the Hot Air Balloon once It reached its maximum height. I know im weird, way too many weird urges like that.
Once everyone got over the extreme intensity of the flame and the heat it produces everyone seemed to chill out in the calm nature of it all.
I must say it was a really great experience. So peaceful and carefree. I guess the closest feeling to being a bird… Im usually more of an adrenaline junky. But I did really enjoy the feeling of it all. Unfortunately our views didn't travel as far into the distance across the desert as I would have liked. Even once the sun had risen completely there was a haze still hanging around. Great experience all the same. Once we landed and the chase team catches up to you. They ever so kindly setup benches out in the middle of the desert and serve you a French style champagne breakfast. Again despite being freezing. It was a really nice experience.
After everyone had finished their Ballooning it was back onto the coach for the drive to Sedona, Arizona. Drive wasn't too bad, maybe 2 hours. As we got closer just amazing landscape. This is true wild west, rustic red desert. But filled with mountainous rock formations. Stunning scenery. Once we started driving through the town that was something else too. The authorities control the best interests of the area by having strict guidelines on how all the house and business look. Their colours must blend in with the natural environment. So lots of rustic reds, greys, teal greens etc. And the design must also fit the landscape. To the extent that all the business including McDonalds, Starbucks etc look absolutely nothing like the way we know them. The McDonalds is actually one of only 5 in the world that does not have golden arches. It only has a very small teal green arch on the side of the building. Was great to see it all blend in together naturally.
Once inside the town our activity was Jeep touring into the desert. Basically we all loaded in groups of six into the back of these special jeeps. Then a convoy of about 10 jeeps headed into the desert. It was really fun 4x4 driving through the rocky tracks learning about the amazing lanscape. Hopefully the photos do it justice. To tie off the experience all the guides are dressed up in full cowboy gear with boots and stirrups and hats and guns.. the whole works. It was a really fun activity.
Unfortunately luch in the town was not so fun. By far the most disgusting food I have ever eaten. And cost me an arm and a leg. To just come back up 10mins later anyway. Im sure I have told you earlier. But American food sucks so bad. Fried, fatty, oily massively oversized. I dread everytime we have to eat. So many of us are dying for good food.
Anyways after this back on the coach for an 1.5hr drive out of Sedona and to the town of Tusayan on the skirts of the Grand Canyon. The drive out of Sedona again revealed some beautiful landscape. Another place I would love to come back to and explore in detail. So once we arrived in Tusayan and jumped off the bus we quickly learnt that this area is super cold compared to where we had come from. Tonights overnight low is -9c and tomorrows high is going to be 12c. Crazy to comprehend in the middle of the desert. So a little bit of panic stations from people tonight figuring out how to dress for tomorrows big day at the Grand Canyon.
Most excitingly many of us are going on 45min helicopter flights over the Canyon first up in the morning. Heard so many great things about the Canyon, so I am very excited for the opportunity to explore it both from the air and on foot tomorrow.
As always its very late and I have a big big day tomorrow. Time for some zzzz's