It’s pretty hard getting up today when the alarm goes off at 5:30am, but we wait bleary-eyed for our ride out to the airfield whilst the early morning/late night gambling is still going on around us.We arrive at Maverick Canyon Tours and meet our pilot Richard.
We go out to the sleek grey and red helicopter and strap ourselves in, hovering then taking off. It’s a weird sensation and I do give a little yelp as we tilt forwards and then ascend off out over the strip. we head towards Lake Las Vegas where the likes of Elton and Celine own homes, and onwards to the outskirts of town.
We fly out over the suburban areas where the homes look like monopoly houses with our birds-eye view. We head over Lake Mead, a rich turquoise man-made lake fed by the Colorado River, and born out of the construction of the Hoover Dam.
We also fly over the Dam itself and it’s pretty hefty, Richard telling us it’s made out of 4.5 million cubic yards of concrete.
We continue over a blackened now extinct volcano and past Boulder City, one of only two towns in Nevada where gambling is actually illegal.
We make it to The Mojave Desert, where flash floods from former monsoons have created dry river beds that thread vein-like through the sand.
It’s surreal flying over it in this way, and all I see for miles around is desert, mountains and the ever changing rocky outcrops of the shifting ground.
We approach the western rim of the Grand Canyon in a little under 45 minutes (which is great as it’s about a 6 hour journey by road) and pass the skywalk, which looks tiny from our vantage point.
It’s a mind blowing moment at 7:30am to fly above, then look down into the canyon, which is at this point a cool 4000 feet above the snaking river below.
I’m really lost for words as to the size of this thing, and it’s as if I’m looking into a crater only the smashing of a planet into the earth’s crust could have created. By flying in we get to experience just how huge the canyon is-and our helicopter is a tiny speck inside it.
We swoop back around and land in the canyon looking out down over the river, not too from where Evil Knievel made his legendary jump.
It’s amazing and we get out to try and take it all in as Richard pours the champagne.
We take photos and enjoy the overwhelming silence. All of us are pretty speechless in this moment, feeling insignificant in comparison to our surroundings.
All to soon it’s time to leave, and we take off once more, Richard swooping us around the ridges and drawing gasps from all of us.
On the way back we fly through the Valley of Colour, where different mineral deposits have shaded the rocks contrasting colours. We gaze down at red, black and tan edges lying together like lines on a sandy shore.
We see The Valley of Fire – a bright red sandstone park, where they filmed scenes from the original Total Recall (Richard’s impression of Arnie is surprisingly bang on).
It’s a truly breathtaking journey and a sight I would never have set eyes on we’re it not for this experience. I feel like a bird sitting up front looking out-the whole world below me, and I don’t even feel the 180mph we are travelling at.
We land and make it back to the hotel before ten, so grab a power nap and lunch, before spending the rest of the day alternating between sun lounging and gambling.
At 10pm we head back to The Bellagio as we have tickets to the Cirque de Soleil ‘O’ show.
It’s set in water and I’m pretty excited. It starts with circus clowns performing a skit as the audience takes their seat, and opens with actors moving all around the theatre before it moves to the stage.
But when it does, boy does it! There’s a giant pool of water which is the stage floor and acrobats are able to perform in it without breathing it seems. It shifts depths and actors are able to appear and disappear out of it at will; one moment it’s shallow, the next a high dive from the rafters plunges a swimmer in head first.
No wonder it’s called ‘O’ as that’s certainly the shape of my mouth the entire time I’m watching, completely aghast.
The costumes are out of this world too, bright amphibious skin tight wetsuits, footmen, ballerinas, animals-it’s completely captivating.
I don’t want it to end, but it does all too soon, and I’m feeling inspired.
We head back to our hotel-I’m exhausted after our long day, and feel I could not have had two more varying experiences if I had tried.
From taking in the awesome natural wonder of the Canyon this morning, to the man-made creativity of human imagination and skill; both have been equally amazing and beautiful in their own right.
O, what a wonderful world indeed.