Working at the Grand Canyon we have some perks the other companies do not have:
Discounts at the Canyon grocery store and a few others that they own
Free Camping Rentals
Discounted Rafting Trips (Which I found out about….one day BEFORE we left the Canyon)
Better employee housing
The other company got other (better) perks. We’re talking about $6 helicopter rides over the Canyon and free mule rides down the Canyon. Two of the things EVERYONE wants to do when they visit the Grand Canyon.
Fortunately, working where I did, you get to meet a lot of different people. I had a couple regulars on my line on a weekly basis who were helicopter pilots operating in the park. I was told to stop by and they can get me and a friend a free helicopter ride. Now this is what I’m talking about.
Adam and I showed up one morning in July to look into getting our free helicopter ride. We were expecting to show up and get on the first flight. Then came the bad news…There were some minor details about this that slipped the pilots mind. One being: they do not give complimentary helicopter rides for my company anymore. Lovely.
The pilot obviously felt bad. I’ve been hearing about this free helicopter ride from the pilots two months at this point. After the pilot persuaded one of the ladies at reservations we were on standby for the next available opening.
Hours passed (five to be exact). No openings. What is July one of the busiest months of the year? We are sprawled out on the waiting room chairs. I think they are actually uncomfortable for a reason after this experience. I’m fighting the urge to sleep and every half an hour we are going up the the desk to check for openings. Now, if I’m being completely honest, we looked like hell. We’re tired, bored (back in the days where smart phones weren’t as smart as they are now), anxious, and getting annoyed. I think woman got tired of seeing our faces felt bad for us because suddenly something opened up.
We stood in line, paid our $12 ($6 fee per person to fly over the Canyon), and waited to get on the helicopter.
The helicopter started to take off. On the way to the Grand Canyon, we got a view of the San Francisco Peaks in the background:
The views from the helicopter was amazing and you were able to get such a different perspective:
We got to fly over the Colorado River and see some of the rafting tours on the river:
The thing about helicopter rides in the middle of July is the fact that…there is no air conditioning in the helicopter. The sun is just baking on you for an hour or so as you fly around. The pilot and the passenger next to him were basking in the glory of having AC. We, on the other hand were sweating up a storm. I was sweating in places I did not know could actually sweat. They say you learn something new everyday, but I think I could have lived without knowing that.
Around this time we started to get copter-sick and started suffering from heat exhaustion. Now, we’re talking headaches, sweating, nausea, lightheaded. I’m tell Adam to just take more pictures. We can’t focus. We can’t look out the windows at this point because of how terrible we feel. We are just holding our heads in our hands. I’m telling him to just keep taking pictures and we will see later how great the views were. We are just trying to make it through the trip back to the helicopter base.
Looking back at this helicopter ride now we laugh…a lot. Near the end we were so desperate to leave the helicopter and land. We ended up taking some of the BEST photographs of the Canyon that we ever took this day (despite feeling like death). It’s also really amazing to see the Canyon from so many different views to really understand and try to comprehend how completely massive it really is. However, note to self: helicopter rides in summer-not a good idea!