More on that later. Now, to the essence of this blog.
Prasanna’s posting to the US, rather the extension of the posting, necessitated Vasanthi’s visit to the US accompanying Preethi and Jeevthi, and also gave me an opportunity to visit the US which otherwise I would have never expected to happen any time soon. So, thanks to Prasanna, Preethi and dearest Jeevthi.
I was reading an article in one of the in-flight magazines in which the author, a contest winner, was answering to a query on what his travel advise would be to the younger generation in his family. He had said ‘pack light’ would be his only advise, and had given a valid reason for that – that you can never expect several things which are almost taken for granted in the US, to be available in other countries. These included large size SUVs, disciplined road-traffic system, technology on-the-go such as GPS and ticket-vending machines, public facilities and stroller-friendly roads and platforms. In fact, what strikes you on the face when you land in America is exactly that – the vast space, cleanliness and miles and miles of excellent roads on a very disciplined traffic system and neat pathways on which you can push or pull even heavy strollers (or wheel-chairs or prams) with ease. There is no need to have cash, as credit card is accepted at almost all places and even for very small purchases of less than a dollar too.
My three weeks in America flew fast. The first three or four days was spent at home with Jeevthi, with enough rest at odd times in between for adjusting to jetlag. Prasanna took me to the Desert Botanical Garden about an hour’s drive from Phoenix. It was a nice place with beautiful plants and trees that you can see only in desert regions, cactus growing to more than 20 feet high. With Jeevthi accompanying us, we had a good time particularly in the butterfly garden there.
I knew the Grand Canyon was so near to Phoenix, but Prasanna was busy with office work that he had told us he could not accompany us. We had therefore booked with a tour operator to visit Grand Canyon on a Thursday. But we received a call from that company the previous day saying as there were not enough seats filled, they were cancelling the tour for that day. Prasanna somehow made himself available the next day, and we made the trip, Prasanna driving all through the day. I was happy to see him drive so well, more so when it was the first long distance drive for him.
I was astonished at the efficiency of America’s road infrastructure. The road from Phoenix to Grand Canyon (via Flagstaff) is a beautiful one, with enough rest points on the way. The weather was quite cold, but manageable. Ice had formed all through the way, as you can see in the photographs.
It was quite a long drive of about four and a half hours from Phoenix. The first point we reached was the IMAX theatre, where a picture about the Canyon’s history was being shown. Believe it or not, we thought we would have a tough time with an infant like Jeevthi, but she was the one who most enjoyed the movie!
We had prepared food for lunch. After the IMAX show, we took food sitting in the car itself and then proceeded to the South Entrance. In America, you must be prepared for long walks everywhere you go, and the Grand Canyon is no exception at all. From the car park, it takes about 15 minutes to get to the first view point. The weather was very cold with chill wind blowing hard in the face, but it was nevertheless an enjoyable experience. We were delighted by the presence of cute birds all along the way.
One must visit the Grand Canyon to believe the amazing beauty and sheer size of this national treasure. The beautiful landscape created by the erosion of the soil by the flow of the Colorado river over a period of 4,000 years, winding its way along shapely bends all along, is a sight to behold. If one is left speechless at the first sight of the Canyon from to top, imagine his amazement on reaching the bottom!
As a nature lover, I would have loved to stay for a day or two and undertake treks to the bottom, but unfortunately I did not have time in this trip to do that. If I am able to make another trip to Phoenix, a three-day trip to the Grand Canyon is surely on the cards.
We made our way from the Southern Entrance to the Eastern entrance, stopping at almost all the view points on the way. Towards the evening, the cold air began to pierce our skin so we had to cut short the duration of our stops at the last few points and quickly get in the car on our way back to Phoenix.
How we struggled to get some veggy food on the way and how GPS fooled us around is a different story, better not told here!