We had a few days with Mitchell and Piper in Houston. Since our last visit he had settled into his own house in Cypress (a suburb of Houston), having previously rented in nearby unit complexes. He was working the last few days of his summer school commitments, they finish around 3 pm, and we spent the time looking after Piper until he returned for the evening. Some good recovery time from our Scottish travels. The four of us left Houston and headed off to meet up with the other parts of the Brown family in Las Vegas. Libby and Shane with their two kids, Alyssa and Jordan, together with Gillian had been doing their own touring around Southern California for a bit over two weeks.
We were meeting in Las Vegas to start a Colorado River rafting trip on the lower section of the Grand Canyon. The first day of the trip involved getting to the Bar 10 Ranch. We left Las Vegas around 11am on a bus and later transferred to a light plane for the flight to the ranch. We arrived around 1pm and spent the afternoon engaged in various ‘ranch things’ a bit of horse riding, looking around old parts of the ranch, some skeet shooting and generally hanging around the lodge. That evening, after dinner, there was some country and western entertainment performed by the ranch staff. Some was not too bad and some was well a bit on the rough side. Hey, but at least they tried! The food was good. Allthego, Mitchell and Gillian slept in the open under the stars on the lodge deck, the four Mc Conochies ‘roughed’ it in a lodge bunk room.
Early the next morning after a 6.30 am breakfast it was off to the river in a 7 minute helicopter ride, skimming across the landscape, down into the Canyon and then at a low level along the Colorado River. Great experience!
There were 20 other fellow rafters on the trip, plus 5 crew. Two powered rafts. Some years ago we had spent a few days at the top of the Canyon on the South Rim, looking down. After this experience Allthego had long had it as one of those ‘bucket list’ items to do a rafting trip on the river. There had been a couple of false starts in the past at organising a trip, but now we were here. River Runners at last! Homealone was not of the same mind though about this rafting stuff and stayed behind in Las Vegas with Piper (who was unfortunately too young to go rafting).
So, off we went down the river on the rafts. Some great scenery and views of the Canyon walls. The part of the river we are travelling is fairly gentle compared with the sections upstream from our entry point. The Canyon walls are also not quite as high. It didn’t take long to realise that taking photos of all these rocks was a bit counter productive. Whilst in ‘real life’ the rocks were spectacular and quite awe inspiring, endless photos were just more rocks. Better to sit back and take it all in! Experience the rapids and the gentler sections of the river where we could just drift along in the current.
We stopped along the way for lunch and some side trips before pulling in for the night. Sleeping out under the stars. One of the tricks of this river rafting is that it is National Park rule that surplus liquids have to be disposed of into the river, not on the land. Including pee! So one has to stand in the river semi submerged and do one’s business. For the other end there is a porta loo facility hidden up in the bushes for privacy. The water temperature is around 55 F, a bit chilly. It is also hot! We read a high temperature of 125 F, which is a tad over 51 C. So wading around in the water was also quite refreshing. Very dry heat, we also had a light wind to blow it around. No flies! Lying awake and trying to sleep at night one could feel the heat radiating from the Canyon walls. Eventually cooled off a bit.
Another early rise the next morning for a 6am breakfast, scrambled eggs, pork sausages and muffins for breakfast. It is very difficult to get beef sausages in the USA. Off down the river for some more rapids until lunch time. This particular river section had some more vigorous rapids than on our first day, which kept us damp!
After lunch we transferred to a jet boat to take us out of the Canyon and to our take out point on Lake Mead. Then it was a bus back to Las Vegas. The bus suffered heat stroke on the way back and after waiting about an hour we swapped onto another bus to complete the journey, arriving around 6pm.
All were pretty exhausted. But a great trip.
The plan was for the Brown siblings, Shane and the ‘kids’ to return the next day to Houston. Homealone and Allthego would have a couple of nights in Las Vegas before heading back home to Brisbane.