As our time west of the great continental divide comes to an end, and the big drive east of our Coast to Coast journey looms on the horizon, we still have the Grand Canyon, the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) and Southern Arizona to visit and explore.
The Grand Canyon was certainly appropriately named, as it’s nearly 450km long, up to 29m wide and nearly 2km deep! Even though the Colorado River is believed to have only been eroding through the sedimentary layers (as the surrounding land has been uplifted) for six million years, it has exposed nearly two billion years of Earth’s geological record. A unique and fascinating sight indeed, but seeing we were expecting that, I couldn’t help be a little underwhelmed…maybe we’d been spoiled by so many incredible desert landscapes recently. However, it needs to be on everyone’s bucket list for sure!
From the Grand Canyon we headed south to Phoenix where we would stay two nights. Phoenix is nice, a surprisingly big city in the middle of the desert. Some travel commentators say you should avoid Phoenix as there isn’t a lot there, and they are probably right unless you like perfect all year round weather! While in Phoenix we had our first dinner at Hooters which of course is a classic American experience; I can tick that off the bucket list. We also took the time to visit the Arizona State University campus. ASU is known for having a great college nightlife so wanting to see it for ourselves we headed out. We did meet some locals who were pretty keen on our pimping 70’s van!
The next stop, Tucson, was the real reason we came this far south, we wanted to visit the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) as we had some plane buff onboard. AMARG is the place where the US military sends all of their aging aircraft for storage, maintenance or disposal and being a desert environment, with low humidity; it’s the perfect environment for outdoor storage with a reduced risk of corrosion.
Any visit to AMARG needs to start at the PIMA Air and Space Museum which is one of the largest independent aviation museums in the world! There are over 300 historical aircrafts, from a Wright Flyer to the most modern commercial airliner - the 787 Dreamliner over an 80 acre site. Through PIMA, on a first come first served basis, we joined a bus tour of the ‘Boneyard’ which is a surreal experience getting a guided tour through row after row after row of military aircraft totaling some 4,000 aircraft. I highly recommend visiting if you are in Arizona and are into that sort of thing.