The next morning, we efficiently packed up, had breakfast at Cocos, and then made to fill up the rental cars and return them to the airport. And then Jenn's Jeep ran out of gas. All that idling the previous night at the Hoover Dam in traffic must have thrown off the gas gauge.
Bob and I made a quick dash to a nearby shell station, purchasing a 5-gallon gas container, and returned to get enough gas in Jenn's vehicle to make it to the station. Fortunately, we had enough margin in our morning schedule to absorb this, so we still managed to pull into the car rental return with almost two hours to spare before our flight. We made it over to the airport and, due to some vagary of airline seat allocations, we were assigned 'gated' boarding passes. Apparently in this case this meant there was a decent chance of us getting bumped up into business class!
We were slightly disappointed when we received our seat assignments: they were economy class seats, after all. This wasn't the end of the story, though: Bob and Jenn got assigned what are essentially flight attendant reserve seats. As a result, soon after the flight took off, they were indeed ushered to the hallowed front of the plane, where they enjoyed themselves merrily.
Back in economy, I sorted through crumpled receipts, starting the process of apportioning our trip expenses.
Meanwhile, as we were winging our way back north, Cathy and Mike were feet-up poolside at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, enjoying refreshments from the bar. A hidden casualty of the Grand Canyon backpack was revealed (see picture): Mike's toes. Apparently he'd suffered a number of blisters and bruises of which I was unaware. Hopefully he didn't scare too many people at the pool that day!
Eventually we all made it safely back to our respective homes. In the days and weeks following this trip, there was the inevitable longing that occurs as one returns to the hum-drum of everyday life. All that was left now of our trip were memories. Great memories, though, of incomparable views and campside chats; of luminescent wildflowers and star-studded skies. This trip went remarkably smoothy: everything fell nicely into place and everyone was a great sport, something for which I thank all on the trip.
In the end, Cathy summed it up best: in a very nice thank-you card she sent some weeks after we returned, she wrote:
"...It was the trip of a lifetime in so many ways! There is no lack of appreciation of the wonder, splendour and magic of the Grand Canyon - we will take that with us through our life."
Yep. That about sums it up.
As a final farewell, have a look at this light-hearted video montage of the good time we had - which we had to have, because we weren't there for a long time.... ;-)
Grand Canyon 5-day backpack - Video Montage