Hey folks, It's Jessica again! I'm so honoured that you enjoyed my last blog post. I recently went on a trip with my parents to the Grand Canyon and I am excited to tell you all about it!
Stop 1: Las Vegas, Nevada
One thing that I admire about my parents is their undying adventurous spirit – they love the outdoors and are avid hikers. Luckily for them, our hometown sits directly on Canada’s longest footpath, the Bruce Trail, which they've completed end-to-end from Niagara to Tobermory. And when I was younger, we took quite a few road trips to visit various parks across Canada, from Banff in the west to Fundy in the east. So the natural next step was to check out the parks of our neighbours down south. It has always been their dream to visit the Grand Canyon, and I of course couldn't resist tagging along.
We began our trip in Las Vegas, Nevada, flying in on Air Canada Rouge. Ricky had just taken his first class trip the week earlier, and throughout the whole flight I was doing my best to channel his experience, if only to make my own seem a little less plebeian.
Las Vegas was everything that I thought it would be. It was luxurious, seductive, and gluttonous. Prior to the trip, there wasn't a single fiber of my being that particularly wanted to indulge in Vegas's sinful delights. But from casinos to over-the-top burgers and buffets, I was constantly amazed by the lavishness of the city. I spent time lounging my the pool, went to see Cirque du Soleil's Mystere, ate too much food, and spent some time at the slots losing far too much of my mother’s money. But it’s all part of the experience right?
With the horrific violence on the Las Vegas Strip occurring just the week before, it was inspiring to see the city come together to heal. The strength and the unity of the people was palpable at the memorials adjacent to the site of the shooting, as well as by the Fabulous Las Vegas sign. The Gofundme for the families of the victims is still up, if you wish to donate.
After a self-indulgent weekend in Vegas, we rented a car and headed towards Arizona. Along the way we passed through Hoover Dam. It was very fascinating, especially for my engineer dad, who spent some time admiring the intricacies of the design
Stop 2: Sedona, Arizona
Our next step was the beautiful Sedona, Arizona. The city is known for its magical red sandstone formations and its scenic hiking trails. There are dozens of footpaths in the captivating red sand, a paradise for thrill-seekers like my parents. We spent the majority of our days hiking the various trails, only taking breaks when the sun was at its peak. (Side note: the Arizona sun is no joke. If you go, make sure to pack at least a Costco-sized bottle of sunscreen!)
The sandstone formations are particularly special to those who believe them to be spiritual vortexes – sacred places where energy radiates from the earth. While I consider myself a skeptic, being present among the rocks was a truly breathtaking experience. I was awestruck by the natural beauty of the rocks, and I could keenly feel the sense of peace as I looked out over the eye-catching landscape. Whatever it was, there was definitely something enchanting about the rocks, and I'll have to go back sometime soon to discover more about the spiritual side of Sedona.
On one of our hikes, we met a gentleman who had been coming to the same rock every day for the past six years. Day after day, he would sit on top of a vortex and play a tune on his flute, sending healing energy to all the hikers beneath. It was something straight out of a storybook, and greatly added to the magic of our time in Sedona.
Sedona's vortexes attract artists and spiritual seekers from all over the world, and the town is full of New Age crystal shops, where you can make use of a psychic's services or join up with a spiritual tour. It was a nice treat after hiking in the mountains all day to unwind a bit by looking at beautiful art and crystals.
After spending three days eating organic foods and hearing too much about chakras, we headed towards the highlight of the trip.
Stop 3: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
There aren’t really any words that can truly describe the beauty of this place, and I don’t even think that I – an experienced selfie taker – can do the Grand Canyon justice through my photo lens.
In the months leading up to the trip, my mom had researched every possible itinerary and trail within the canyon. I love going on trips with her for this exact reason – she is efficient and comprehensive in her trip planning. Most of all, when she sets her mind on something, she will accomplish it.
When she started to plan the trip, she was determined to hike to the bottom to the Colorado River and stay at the Phantom Ranch located by the river. If anyone has tried to book a night there, they know it's a very difficult process. I will be writing about this cabin in another post, but in short, reservations need to be made 13 months before your stay. We actually didn't get a reservation, but two days before we were expected to arrive, we decided to call in and try our luck. To our delight, somebody had cancelled and there was a cabin available!
And so we made the hike down from the South Rim. It took us around five gruelling hours to hike to the bottom of the Colorado River. The next morning, waking up before sunrise, we started at 6am to hike back up. It was worth every minute. We met many others who were also on the same path, and everyone made it to the top at about the same time. It was a feeling of true accomplishment to finally arrive at the sign signalling the end of the trail and to have many familiar faces congratulate you at the finish line.
After we arrived back to the car, we drove back to Vegas to catch our flight home, but not before stopping at a Chick-fil-A for my first-ever Original Chicken Sandwich. I've been obsessed with the idea of going there ever since I heard everyone on YouTube fawning over the fried chicken restaurant. Let me tell you, after walking 30,000 steps and eating only trail mix and drinking electrolyte replacers, it was well deserved. It marked the perfect ending to the perfect trip.
I cannot wait to go back to Arizona and the Grand Canyon. Everyone whom I talked to on the trails has said that it's a place that they keep coming back to, and as a budding hiker, I completely understand why. There are countless paths and new sights to behold, and the contrast of jagged red rocks against a clear blue sky is something that never gets old. From the bottom of the canyon, there was nothing that mattered more than your connection to the great outdoors; it was the perfect escape. My mom is already planning the next trip, and I hope I'll get another invite.
Shameless plug: If you would like to come with me on my adventures, you can follow my Instagram at @heyjessydi!