Good morning all. Firstly I have to confess that this post has nothing to do with Turkey; going there, living there, coming back, or even eating it. This is a post about the last ever extremely expensive holiday I am going to be able to afford as a wage earner.

And what a holiday it was! I started off with 2 days in Las Vegas – a place everyone should visit at least once. It is very much a ‘marmite’ place – you either love it or hate it. Unfortunately I fall more into the hate it category. Sure, it’s a great place to go with lots of mates on a stag/hen do or if you are looking for a 24 hour party and, thanks to Prince Harry, we all know a lot more about the place (and what his butt looks like) than we did a few weeks back. But all I see are the people slumped in front of slot machines at 8am with a beer and a cigarette and over-sized billboards with Celine Dion’s picture on them which is, quite frankly, scary.

But, luckily, this wasn’t my main reason to visit the USA. After 2 days of glitz and glamour I headed towards one of the most stunningly beautiful natural wonders of the world – the Grand Canyon. Here myself, 19 other visitors, 2 guides, 2 helpers (swampers) and 2 rafts embarked on an 8 day/7 night motorized rafting trip covering 280 miles of the Colorado River courtesy of Grand Canyon Expeditions (www.gcex.com).

Drifting along, engines off. Listening to stories of life gone by

Just one of our idyllic lunch stops

The sand was our carpet and the sky was our ceiling. We got up with the sunrise and went to bed at sundown and our eyes rested on some of the most magnificent scenery I’ve ever had the good fortune to look upon.

Looking down on the rafts from a short hike

With the motors switched off and the rafts drifting quietly along the river, the guides filled our heads with stories about past explorers, both man and beast, both successful and unsuccessful, and showed us billions of years of history in the space of a few metres both from the water and from within the mighty caverns just a short hiking distance from our rafts.

One of the secret canyons we found, we labelled it ‘Spray Tan Canyon’

I’ve never done any camping of any form before and did wonder how I would cope but discovered that I can live without internet, mobile signal, clocks, mirrors, showers and flushing loos for a lot longer than I ever thought possible.

One of our amazing campsites

My favourite camp, night 2

The toilet facilities did take a little getting used to though and consisted of a metal box with a loo seat on the top of it (which thankfully was exchanged for a new one every 2 days). The tour group wanted to make the toilet feel like part of the family so, of course, it needed a name. We settled on Jeffrey and now there are 24 people dotted around the world who will never again be able to go to the toilet without saying a quick ‘hi, how are you?’ to Jeffrey. Maybe it will catch on. Maybe in 10 years time Jeffrey will be the official name for a toilet. Maybe I should copyright it.

The man himself, Jeffrey

The evenings were some of my favourite times. The food was amazing and ranged from halibut to filet mignon. And, of course, there was alcohol. Oh dear, this is where it all started to go wrong. I’m not one of the world’s biggest drinkers and, in fact, have not had an alcoholic beverage this year. But, hell, I was on holiday wasn’t I? I was in a remote place with 23 other people, my bed just a stones throw away. What could go wrong? Well, apparently, if your first drink for 9 months is straight Tequila then quite a lot can go wrong. I rashly decided that despite wearing a dress that had food stains on it from a previous meal and despite not having had a proper shower for a week, it would be a good idea to suggest to our raft guide that me and him slip off somewhere quietly and get some sand in places it hadn’t been before. You may well be surprised to learn that he turned down this amazingly tempting offer (hard to believe I know) and slunk off back to his raft before I could stumble over for a second attempt.

Luckily, he didn’t ban me from travelling on his raft and I made it to the end of the trip in one piece and actually shed a tear when we transferred from the rafts to a jet boat to travel the final 40 miles of the Canyon to where our coach was waiting.

 

If you want to do something different with your life, want to escape the rat-race for a while, want to take stock of how things are going in your world and want to make some new lifelong friends along the way then I can think of no better way of doing it than this. Go on. Do it. You won’t regret it.

And if you get a raft guide called Art, be gentle with him, he scares easily.

Advertisements