A Travellerspoint blog

23 Grand Canyon Here We Come

View Ruth & Ralph's Round the World Trip 2014 on RuthWinmill's travel map.


A new Tour van driver today, Rick. Friendly with a good sense of humour. A bit too lenient with giving people deadlines for getting back on the bus though so he ended up being a bit panicy for time.

Nice drive to Grand Canyon, first through Oak Creek Canyon. Great geology here and we drove through and up very windy road like in NZ and onto the great plateau then over the plains

Juniper trees groing every where. Very flat lands and kept seeing signs for the Highway to L A. Seemed strange to see. Pondarosa pines became more predominant and another variety that were shorter and the forest very sparse compared to our pine forests at home. Very dry here.

We had decided the day before to book a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon as the price was better than Ralph had thought it would be.....still quite pricey but we will only do this once, and Tor had reports of it being a 'must do'.

Finally arrived at the Grand Canyon Airport and went to get our flight tickets then wait our turn. Getting very excited. A computer calculated where we should sit according to our weight, so no fights. I got front right!! Ralph directly behind me. 7 of us plus the pilot who joked with us he had only been in this job for 5 days!!! No 5 years. All bolted in and safety brief over and we were off....ACDC music playing and lyrics about Angels and Death.....great for the poor girl next to him who was scared about the whole thing.

Well, skimming over the tree tops, seeing the ground getting a bit further down.....a oit 7mins to the rim. Then Oh My God as we went over the edge.....!!!!! What an incredible experience....OMG is all I could say for thr first 10 seconds or so. It was indescribable....the size, the colour the magesticness of this place and the hole in the earth that it is. Felt surreal and awestruck. We got to the North Rim across the Canyon after flying for 20 minutes and were told that it woild take 5 hrs to drive to that point. For rafters who go down the Colorado River it takes them 7 days to do the Grand Canyon Section...WowWow.

Getting the vidoe of our flight sent to our home. Should be there when we arrive.

Back on the mini bus and still in awe of this experience. Would sooo recommend it. Arrived Grand Canyon Town, look and pics at tne Rim there. Still looked incredible. Said farewell to Tor and the group and were dropped off at our Hotel. Different as our room was in a block of 4 in the pines. Hot and a bit of a mission to drag our bags there over the pine cones etc.

Looked out onto sparse short pine trees, stones, woodpeckers and squirrels.

Some laundry a rest and then a walk.

Found oit where to head along pathto the Rim near us. Ever differnt as the sun moves around. Had a walk down the donkey/mule track. Not too far though as pretty dry and dusty. Lots of stops and pics as its just so captivating.

Heard the big Diesel train leave with its great load of day trippers. Slept well but very hot and laundry dried in super quick time.

Posted by RuthWinmill 08:07 Archived in USA Comments (0)

22 Friday August 29th. 2014

Craig's 7th Anniversary

sunny 32 °C

AUGUST 29TH Craig's 7th Anniversay. Friday

Early breakfast, already hot. Dan, our tour guide arrived and off we set to pick up 1 more person.....Tor, a nice guy who was just checking out a few places at the end of his conference.

First stop, Montezuma's Castle. But by the local Indian's about 1000 yrs BC. Amazing mudbricks in the

cliff and up high now but prob not so when it was inhabited as erosion has worn down the valley floor. A lovely stroll here and in the outdoors seeing the Arizona countryside was great. Saw the typical big cacti and heard how lightening strikes heaps of them as they are the tallest things around. Lots of Juniper trees grow everywhere, and the berry smell is qiute strong. Not a Gin distillery in sight though.

Arrived in Sedona around midday and went to some lookouts and areas where Dan told us the energy vortexes were. Bell Rock was one and then he drove us the to this amazing Church called the Church of the Holy Cross. Made of red concret and sort of wedged in between two huge outcrops. What an amazing place and the feeling in there was awesome and very tangible. By now Dan, Tor and us were getting along really well and were all 'on the same page' so to speak. Went and had lunch around 2pm at this lovely cafe under the trees in Oak Creek Canyon. It was delicious and the best foodwe had enjoyed for a while. Ralph was on the mend......and able to taste it all and enjoy it....yay!!

Nice views from our Hotel here out over the beautiful red rocks landscape. Strolled through a little of the town. Very nice chats to people in the Crystal shop and purchased a very beautiful one of course. A Brazilian rare Green Citrine.Checked out the night sky hoping to see lots of stars but like at Lake Titicaca, but too much lighti g around the nearby pool and balcony.

Have to say after almost 3 weeks in South America it was nice to have conversations in English and be understood.....and the 'toileting' was back to normal a d we can drink the water from the taps if we want to

And not get sick, and eat fruits and salads freely.

All that said though, we loved South America and it's people, places and the comfort zones it certainly pushed, including the Altitude breathing challenges.

Posted by RuthWinmill 06:54 Archived in USA Comments (0)

21 Goodbye Mexico

Hello Phoenix Heat

View Ruth & Ralph's Round the World Trip 2014 on RuthWinmill's travel map.


Time to leave Mexico City. Ralph still very weak, washed out and thin looking. Not much interested in food but getting better slowly.

Flight to Pheonix went quickly but quite late when we got to Super 8 Hotel/Motel. Couldn't find my visa at check in and remembered last using it at Starbucks the day before. Had the receipt from there but pretty sure they didn't give me my card back. Called our Mexico City Hotel and they were going to check.

Also the young Taxi driver at Phoenix airport was rough with my bag when he put it in the boot and I checked when he dropped us off......yes torn underneath. Told him I wasn't happy and only paid him $20. Called the company to complain, said they would get back to me........still waiting.

With that and the huge heat in Phoenix ..like 38 deg at 8pm.....we were a bit frazzled by the time we got to bed.

Early start next mornas we were getting picked up at 6.40am by our Detours van to begin our 3 day tour...Sedona, Grand Canyon to Las Vegas.

Posted by RuthWinmill 06:33 Archived in USA Comments (0)

19 Mexico here we come

Up at 2.20am



6hr flight to Mexico arrived earlier than expected and picked up by transfer company to our Hotel in Central city area. We liked what we saw on the way.

Very different look to Peru etc. Tidy and more affluent looking. The drivers and streets weren't crazy with tooting drivers all vying for the same piece of road either. All very orderly and civilised.

Our Hotel Zocalo Central.....overlooking Zocalo Square and the old Cathedral and the Presidential Palace and central area where there was a big rock concert on.

Beautiful hotel with impecable staff in all ways. Balcony Restaurant on the 6th floor overlooked all the above. We both said the whole place felt more European than Mexican. Early to bed after 2.20am start in La Paz.

Breakfast next morning we met the Hotel CEO who had written a nice welcome note that was on out bed when we cnecked in. Vladamir, had seen Ralph's Lindeman Is. Club Med shirt and came to chat to him. Vladimir was the Manager of 26 Club Med's previously and so was interested to see when we had been to Linderman. I told him 2007 Oct and he recalled who was the Manager there when we stayed. A lovely man and he told us if there was anything at all we needed just to ask him. Very nice from the CEO.

Next off on Pre arranged tour for the day. Mario our guide this time. Called Ralph Mr Henry whichwas cool. We were the only English speaking couple on this tour of about 12 of us, so Mario had to translate everything about 3 times. First call was to the ruins at 3 Cultures Square. Made up of Aztec ruins, Spanish architecture and Modern buildings. The Aztec stuff from the 1300s. The Aztec Temple became a Spanish church. The Aztec built layers with Andesite blocks which stepped up with more layers on top where they made offerings to the Gods. The Spanish converted the Aztec Indians to Catholicism and the 1st Baptism was in 1700s. Very nearby is a memorial site where in the old Square in 1968 350 peaceful protestors were killed by the Mexican Police 1 month before the 1968 Mexican hosted Olympic Games.

Under Military rule at the time and no memtion of any of this massacre to the outside world at the Games Opening......

Then on to the Bascillica (a modern Cathedral which is the most visited place in the world by Catholics outside the Vatican and St Peter's Square in Rome) and the Shrine of Guadalupe. Very famous are due to a vision od The Virgin Mary that appeared on the Poncho of a Priest who was getting messages about building a Church at this place. They asked for a sign if this was really to happen and the vision appeared on hid poncho after he had gone up the hill to pray. There were also roses flowering at the top of the hill which were not usually there and it wasn't Rose season anyway. So they figued thise were pretty good signs and the fisrt churchwas built in about the 15th century. The Original Poncho is on display at the new Bascillica. An amazing piece of modern architcture. We went into the Bascillica, there were hundred of people at the service that was on, and it was soooo beautiful in there. Many people take offerings of Roses the the place was stunning. We were able to pass right near the Poncho and take photos. Ralph and I both commented at the magical reverent energy in the place, you coul feel it regardless od your religious beliefs. 90% of the population of Mexico are Catholic. The population of Central Mexico City is 10million with another 14million in the rest of the city. 24 million and us two......wow, we thought 10mill in Lima was a lot!

Posted by RuthWinmill 06:26 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

18 Bolivian haircut and Valley of the Moon

Last Day in La Paz


SATURDAY August 23rd

Some of our group now on flights to their next destinations.

About 8 from our group booked a city tour in the morning. EDUARDO was our guide again which was nice. Went to local witches (medicine markets) very interesting. Daily Fruit and vege market was amazing...huge Papayas and soo much fruit. All the locals go there to shop for fruit and veges.

Tour of lower upper class residential area...some nice homes. Then to Valley of the moon, named due to the landscape of eroded mud pinnacles. Erodes very much in heavy rain. Deep chasms and very interesting. Hot here and altitude around 4,000mtrs again. Did pretty well climbing and breathing here considering there was 40% less oxygen.

Headed back towards our hotel via the upper class area of housing, not on the hills with a view like you would expect, but down in the valley.Big mansions, one with a Police guard on duty all the time. A shame most of the places had been graffitied all over their walls by vandals.....not a good look so didn't get any pics. Called at nice lookout. Lovely seeing the Bolivian woman dressed traditionally with the bola. Hats. They are the country women who come into town apparently that keep the tradition. Also very full skirts with about 5 skirt layers we were told. Beautiful pettycoats in 4 layers then an outer skirt. Costs them about 50 US $ to kit themselves out we were told by Eduardo.

Back to hotel for a bit of lunch then to get Ralph's prescriptions and a haircut for him. Lines and lines of barber shops along some streets. Eduardo said pay no more than 15 Bolivian $. Asked a guy in front of his workplace 15 $????? Yes he indicated so in we went. He did a great job.....when finished I gave him a 20 note and he protested that it was 50 we were to pay. We protested back 15.....he tried to insist 50 but we weren't playing the game as I had seen a local pay one of the other barbers in the same shop a 20 and got 5 change. So we told him keep the 20 and call it quits......he did agree but did look defeated. Just trying to rip us off.....didn't work. At 20 that was still under $3NZ for the haircut so all good.

Met up with Rod and Christine for dinner at our Hotel. (we are all on the same early flight back to Lima at 6.30am in the morning) Really lovely meal and so beautifully presented. We all only had entree and dessert but I tell you we have never seen a rice pudding look so beautiful and it tasted great.

Early to bed as taxi coming at 3.30am as need to be at airport 2 n a half hrs before flight. Our group now getting spread far and wide as some by now in different countries or soon heading there like us.

Farewelled Rod and Christine at Lima airport as they were flying back to Aussie that evening and we waited to board our flight to Mexico City. Nice new friends made.

Posted by RuthWinmill 02:34 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

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