Sunday, 8 November 2015

In Hualapai country (ticking another UNESCO World Heritage Site off my to-do list)

A bus picks me up at 7:39 at the hotel entrance. After driving to some other hotels we are transferred to a larger bus with a grumpy kill-joy bus driveress that drives us to Boulder City Airport. Boulder City originally was planned and built to house the workers that built Hoover Dam.
Boulder City airport

After checking in, being weighed (!), we get to board a modified Twin Otter De-Havilland about half an hour later.  

I have a window seat so the camera can see some action

a steep turn so the people on the other side can see Hoover Dam too

the sun reflecting in areas of fine-feathered waves

first hints of a canyon
The plane lands on Hualapai territory in Grand Canyon West.

The 4 people of my tour that booked a boat ride at the bottom of the canyon get directed to one helicopter, whereas I (no slow-boating here) get directed to a separate helicopter in which I am directed to sit next to the pilot.  Oh, did I mention that I have NEVER flown in a 'copter before?  When the thing slowly lifts and the pilot catapults it and me into a sharp bank the only thing escaping my lips is a ghostly "WOW!"

Not visible in these pictures:  Only a VERY small area delimited by white ropes is accessible to tourists and to take the above I had to step over one of those.

A shadowy figure kept in bounds by white rope!

Then it's time to sit next to a helicopter pilot again for the flight back up

When the helicopter has dropped me off (I am the only passenger again) I realize how well organized this outfit is.  An employee is waiting at the helicopter pad, knows my name and my schedule, and provides me with a scanable wristband that includes my lunch ticket and entrance ticket to the Skybridge.  A short bus ride takes me and other tourists to Eagle Point:

I'm in the no-pay zone but the PAY  Skybridge is in the top left corner
I pre-paid for the Skybridge (~$30) and in retrospect must say that it is NOT worth it.  Right outside the building I can walk right to the edge and jump if I want to. That takes the thrill out of the glass-bottom Skybridge.  Add to that the fact that cameras, cell phones, etc are not allowed on the glass floor and must be left in a locker.  Nominally to keep the glass safe from falling objects but I realize it also keeps their revenue safe when I spot company photographers snapping away at the guests and offering these pictures for sale at the exit.
NOT happy after the Sky bridge
Why is this place called Eagle Point?  Spot the spread wings (made of stone) in the following picture. 
After a couple of days it finally comes to me.  I have seen this view before.  As  a kid on a poster on my wall!  But then it was known as a painting by Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte.

Just one step ...

OK, I got the eebie-jeebies and CAREFULLY sat on my bum before taking this picture right at the abyss
I've seen enough of Eagle Point and walk over to the bus stop to be transported to the next destination: Guano Point.   Far from being a pile of bird shit, this proves to  be fun!
Always nice to be reminded that we're guests here
Eating time.  The  food is served  'prison-style' (Beef or chicken followed by a slop of the corresponding meat) by Hualapai and reminds me very much of the great food I've eaten at my Cree 'in-laws' at Thanksgiving.  Baked chicken, corn, mashed potatoes with gravy.  YUMMY!
What  surprises me is the large number of Chinese tourists here. Of the ~200 people milling around at least 50% are Asians.   This also explains the following: since when the Hualapai food servers are faced with Chinese tourists that can't understand the phrase "Beef or Chicken?" they quickly  say words that I can't decypher, but that make the Chinese nod their heads, receive chicken or beef, and reply Xie Xie.  The young Hualapai servers have learned Chinese !!!

On n the edge again

The landscape puts my shadow into perspective

The Colorado River below

Chinese mountaineers

The food place is at the other end of narrow Guano Point

Chinese ant hill

One last look and I board the bus that takes me back to the airport. I'm about 1/2 hour early so I use it to look at the jewelry, pottery, etc available in the Trading Post.  I hate to say it, but I'll keep buying my native jewelry on eBay; much better prices for comparable items to be had in auction land.

For the flight back we are not directed towards the twin engine Otter that brought us here, but towards a single engine Cessna

the eastern areas of Lake Mead again. Note the light water's edge regions indicating the missing water

at least he's not texting ;-(

Hoover dam is right behind that bridgge

An hour later I'm back at my hotel and can reflect on the day.  Today's excursion wasn't  cheap, but is one I will remember for a long time.  Again, I've seen and done things that I thought I'd never see/do and I believe I've broadened my mental horizon again, so money well spent!

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