Las Vegas and Grand Canyon
The city slowly revealed itself from below the horizon. Like a mirage, it shimmered in the heat. Rising heat from the Nevada desert floor blurred our vision in the distance. We had chosen to drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, our desire for an all-American road trip experience. The heat was unbearable and the temperature was edging on 45 degrees Celsius. In 2015, the hottest temperature of 55 degrees celsius had been recorded. I had lived in Brisbane Australia and I thought I knew the heat. I was shocked to see signs on the road advising people to turn off their air-conditioning to prevent their cars from overheating.
Pocketed amid the valleys and surrounded by the Spring Mountains, Las Vegas was an oasis of fun in the otherwise barren Nevada desert. One of our Uber drivers described it as adult Disneyland. I had heard many things of the city of sin but one thing I was not expecting was the multitudes of children on the strip. At risk of sounding like a prude, I found myself being surprised at the little children dragging at their parents' arms roaming the infamous strip and prepubescent boys ogling at strippers to and from their way to work.
Sadly we were only in Las Vegas for 2 nights, which a part of me regrets because each hotel offers visitors unique experiences. From the nightclubs to the restaurants, pools and casinos. On one night we went to XS nightclub at the Encore hotel, Diplo happened to be playing that night so we rocked out to a pretty sick set. We also checked out the display at the Bellagio, a wonderful underwater dreamland as well as her famous musical fountains. For some reason I'd expected the musical score would be some sort of classical piece but they were playing Bruno Mars and Justin Beiber lol.
The lights were mesmerizing and in my amateurish photography skills I failed to capture their magic. Casinos restaurants and airports were littered with slot machines. The city reeked of excess and fun. littered with tourists like me, the strip was a navigational nightmare through the snaking crowds. But that was half the experience. The vibe of the crowd mirrors a city that begs to be enjoyed and lights that dare entice you.
The Grand Canyon
The vastness of the Grand Canyon is bewildering. As the helicopter rose above the plains and flew over the rim, I was in awe of the greatness of our dear planet earth. We flew over the increasingly shrinking basins of Lake Mead, once declared the nation's largest reservoir. Our pilot told us a story of a once flourishing fresh water lake that flowed into the arms of Hoover Dam. Due to increasing global temperatures, Lake Mead's water level has dropped about 36 meters (120 feet) in the last 16 years. It's getting hotter and every year the lake loses a little bit of itself to our warming planet. These changes are affecting residents in California, Nevada and Arizona and a shortage or water supply is forecasted to be declared in 2018. I was surprised to hear the pilot tell us about how many of his passengers continue to think climate change is a myth even after witnessing the effects so blatantly.
Turbulence tossed our comparatively minuscule helicopter, as the wind that bounced off the walls of the canyon. As we dipped and dove deeper into the canyon it was hard to imagine a time when the entire formation was under sea level. Apparently if one were to fill the canyon with water from all the rivers of the world it would still only be half full. The Grand Canyon is 446 km long and 29 km wide, created nearly two billion years ago. About six million years ago the Colorado River cut its channels through layer after layer to reveal years of geological history of the North American continent. As we flew we saw a trail of once active volcanoes that left trails of hardened black lava and geometric shapes created millions of years ago by comets. I love immersing myself in nature, it brings to me a sense of humility and great awe simultaneously. Here I was in a single moment witnessing a place where mother nature had coordinated herself in a particular way to create this particular set of formations. It did not happen elsewhere and could not be stopped. It did happen over night. She was patient and over time different forces came together to create the immense vastness that is Grand Canyon.