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The following trip report was a collaborative effort between Andrew and Jennifer. The narrative was written by Jennifer and edited and enhanced by Andrew....
Grand Canyon Backpack
Introduction and Background
I have wanted to go to the Grand Canyon for a very long time, and am so thankful for this opportunity have gone. We were guided by our fearless leader, Andrew, who expertly led our motley crew through the ages of rock and wonder.
Preparing Gear
Andrew began talking about this trip soon after I moved out here to Ottawa, mostly in response to my excitement and interest in geology and visiting the Canyon. This excitement was spurred on by Shannon, who was equally as excited about the prospect of going to the Grand Canyon. Caroline, with her never-ending sense of adventure and enthusiasm for the outdoors, was next to sign up. From years of his own adventures with Andrew, Brian was keen to get back into hiking and he was the perfect compliment to our rather wacky group. There were also a few others who were going to come along...namely my Dad who, upon careful consideration, decided his knee might not make it and in the end chose not to come. Luke and Sophie also wanted to come along, but other travel plans kept them from going.
We left on Friday, April 1st (April Fool's Day!!). Our flight destination was Las Vegas , NV - a natural destination choice for anything in the so-called "Desert Southwest". We all skipped work a little early to make our mid-afternoon flight. Shannon was (surprisingly ;-) that is for anyone who knows her) on time, and drove Andrew and myself out to the airport and left the van for her boss to pick up later. Caroline was already there waiting, and Brian shortly followed.
Waiting for Departure
Shannon's quality reading
Whittlin' away the time
We got through Customs relatively quickly and had a very friendly and chatty customs officer who seemed to really be loving his job; and when we told him that Brian, Shannon and Caroline would shortly be following us, he was quick to call them over when he saw them in the line up. Apparently his chatty demeanor continued with them.
Approaching DTW
CRJ-200 center panel
The plot thickens
We had a brief layover in Detroit , which has a very cool airport. The connector tunnel is surrounded in constantly changing colours. There is a train that runs right through the terminal above everyone's heads! I spent most of the longer flight (from Detroit to Las Vegas ) reading my Dad's new book, "Murder in the Monashees" (which is an excellent read, by the way!)
DTW's groovy tunnel
As we were approaching Vegas, you could see the entire "Strip"....millions of lights, and huge hotels. This was like nothing I had ever seen before (except for on CSI, of course!). We arrived late in Vegas (at least to me it was late, because of the time difference). Andrew went to get the van from the rental company while we collected the luggage, but after he'd left, there was some confusion as to where to meet him. So, we covered all our bases, and split into 2 groups.... Brian and Caroline waited with the luggage at the arrivals pickup, and Shannon and I waited at the original pick up which happened to be departure drop off. While Shannon and I waited at our station, we couldn't believe the cars that were pulling up, some all pimped out, and the hoards of people all departing Vegas, and all looking a whole lot broker. Once Andrew showed up with the van and we reunited the 2 groups (it turns out that he was at the arrival pick up, not where he thought he was going to pick us up), then we were off!
courtesy CDoucet
The famous sign
Yes, we're there
As we drove up to the strip we were greeted by the famous old "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign, and we couldn't resist jumping out of our van and taking some photos. I couldn't believe I was actually there!
Giant bug attractor?
The Luxor's skybeam
Bug closeup
On our way to the hotel we saw the massive spotlight above the Luxor hotel. I wondered what the white stuff floating in the spotlight was, and Andrew informed us it was billions of bugs. I think we were all a little skepitcal of this, so Andrew proved it using his zoom lens on the camera. It was unbelievable! I imagine this would be a huge buffet dinner for a bat!

After this we headed further down the strip and quickly checked into our hotel, dropped off our stuff and went to check out Vegas! Brian and Andrew had been there several times, but it was all new for the girls, and we were really in awe of it all. Shannon 's eyes were lit up at all the shopping she could do in Vegas...we were a bit worried that if started, she might not ever stop. After a bite to eat in one of the casinos and much walking around, the feet in Shannon's high-heeled boots started complaining mightily (what were you thinking, Shannon? Note: As it turned out, Shannon 's feet seemed to have had a traumatic adventure of their own on this trip and will be a consistent theme in the account of the backpack).
Jenn sightseeing in Venice
Shannon in Paris
Paris, LV
Not wanting to wreck her feet before even starting our backpack, she, Brian and Caroline waited curbside while Andrew and I got the van (which was some distance away) and picked them up. V.I.P. service! It was about 2 am Vegas time (5 am Ottawa time) when we got back to the hotel, and we were exhausted. Andrew said we could all sleep in to at least 9 maybe 10. Hmmmm....I thought...I was skeptical. Anyone who has traveled with Andrew knows of his early rise times. So 7 am rolls around, and who should wake up, but Andrew. We let Shannon sleep a little longer, then got her up and met with the rest for breakfast at the Luxor . Wow! This hotel is amazing and the buffet breakfast was huge! It really must be the fastest way to kill yourself with a fork!
Venetian shop
Breakfast tradition
Shannon wistfully wonders
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