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The Grand Canyon Experience

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Steffanie Rivers and Smokey Bear

Steffanie Rivers at the entrance to Grand Canyon National Park, September 2020

*Traveling to the Grand Canyon just for a photo op, without actually hiking the trails, is like opening a bag of chips to eat just one then throwing away the rest. It’s like baking a sweet potato pie just to eat a fork full then throwing away the rest. It just shouldn’t happen!

This year I chose to make the Grand Canyon one of my vacation travel destinations for the physical challenge of its hiking trails, surrounding outdoor activities, the ease of getting a flight there and – last, but not least –  the majestic beauty of it all. 

In a virus-rich world it helps to choose outdoor activities with plenty of space where there is less crowding! Always up for new adventures, I’ve committed to at least one major hike every year for the rest of my life. Or at least as long as I’m physically able. The last thing I want is to have to be rescued off the side of a mountain in the middle of a national forest – by a donkey. That’s how they do it, in case you didn’t know. I’ve seen it. It’s not attractive. Even when I’m hiking I want to keep up appearances. But I digress. 

I prefer beach destinations as my go-to vacation spot. But there I was standing at the top of the Grand Canyon south rim waiting to start my hike with a paid tour guide.

I’m no shrinking violet who needs to be led around by the hand on a hike. But this was just my second official hike; the first one being to the top of Half Dome at Yosemite National Park last year. 

It took my hiking partner and I eleven hours traversing that mountain. It was dark by the time we found our way back to the car. So this year when the fear of contracting COVID caused him to forego our planned Grand Canyon trip I decided to go alone. 

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Steffanie hiking in the Grand Canyon

Steffanie Rivers at the Grand Canyon, September 2020

I was scheduled to meet my hiking tour guide at 7am. I was there. He wasn’t. No cell phone reception kept me from calling the tour office to inquire about the mix-up. So I started the 6-hour hike alone. I was determined to have a great experience and be back in my hotel room before nightfall.

Hiking in the canyon is different than in a national park: First you hike down into the canyon. Then you hike up and out of the canyon. It takes twice as long to hike up. So if you start early enough in the day you won’t get caught in the dark. 

I was less than half way into the hike down into the canyon when I observed a man wearing tour guide paraphernalia talking tour guide lingo leading a group…on a tour. Turns out this was my group. They had left without me. 

Shane, the tour guide claimed he wasn’t aware I had signed up for the tour, therefore he thought all participants were there. Turns out there was a second Steffanie – different spelling – on the tour that day. It’s a detail the guide overlooked. So they left without me. At least that was the story he told me.

I joined the tour for the remainder of the hike. I made up for lost time by asking the guide plenty of questions while following at his heels. Shane assured me my fee would be refunded because of the mix-up. Still, I made him work double-duty as my photographer. 

A woman fell to her death a few weeks before my visit while – of all things – trying to snap photos. I wasn’t trying to go out like that!

Two hundred miles separate the south rim in Arizona from the west rim near Las Vegas. And just to confirm that, I took a white water rafting tour along the Colorado River that runs through it! IMG_3155 (1)

When we weren’t riding through rapids getting water splashed in our faces with the force of five water log rides, we stopped to swim in the river, eat on beach landings and we even hiked to a hidden waterfall. A couple on the excursion with me also got engaged! 

It was my first time river rafting experience, but it won’t be my last! 

If you’re contemplating a vacation put the Grand Canyon at the top of your list. But if you go promise me you won’t just snap photos from the rim, but you’ll hike to the bottom and swim in the river too!

Steffanie Rivers (screenshot1)

Steffanie Rivers

Steffanie Rivers is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. Email her at [email protected] with your comments, questions and speaking inquiries. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TCBStef.

 

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Automotive

JeffCars.com’s Review: 2020 Genesis G90

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2020 Genesis G90 (Photo Credit: JeffCars.com)

*Standard Equipment (Premium): 19-inch wheels; rear wheel drive; an 8-speed automatic transmission; a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system; a navigation system; complimentary service valet; a push button keyless starter; Nappa leather seats; a suede headliner; power front seats; heated front and rear seats; ventilated front seats; a power sunroof; a 3-zone automatic temperature system; a heads up display (HUD) system; an automatic radar activated cruise control system; a front seat wireless charging system; a power tilt/telescopic system; a power rear side and rear sunshade; power door closure; a hands free power operated trunk; and carpeted floormats

Other Trim Levels:

5.0-litre Ultimate

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 17-speaker Lexicon system AM/FM/HD audio system with SiriusXM

Apple CarPlay/Android: Yes

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes

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2020 Genesis G90 (Photo Credit GMA)

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 3.3-liter, 6-cylinder/365-hp (horsepower)

Recommended Fuel: Premium

Standard Fuel Mileage17-city/25-hwy

What’s New: The first generation G90 has undergone a mid-cycle refresh.

To continue reading the review, click here.

Jeff Fortson of JeffCars.com

Jeff Fortson (Photo Credit: JeffCars.com)

About The Reviewer:  Jeff Fortson is the host of Auto Trends with JeffCars.com, the only  multicultural syndicated automotive radio show on the airwaves. The 30-minute weekly show, which airs on SiriusXM 141 and a number of FM radio dials, includes one-on-one conversations with many of today’s pioneers and influencers. The engaging show, which goes beyond traditional car talk, can be heard via all mobile and stationary infotainment devices by tuning in here.

 

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Arts & Culture

8 Remote Corners of the USA to Visit This Winter

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Family hiking

Family hiking, enjoying winter travel.
Photo: Canva.com

*There are those who tend to fly away from winter, and then there are those who want to revel in it. Either way, thanks to the diverse landscapes, the US has several locations that are appealing to both groups. 

As you are counting the days until your Christmas holidays, it may be time to let go of college-related stress. Delegate some tasks to the writers from EssayHelp.com to tackle some of the pressing assignments and deadlines, and carve yourself some time. 

With the extra time available check out these fantastic destinations that are ready to welcome you with the winter magic. 

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Photo by David Merrick on Unsplash

Hood River, Oregon 

Though well-known as the world’s windsurfing capital, Oregon’s famous gorge is not as loud as the other winter counterparts. The place is stunning, with plenty of scenic hiking and mountain biking trails. It is not only the nature enthusiasts who will find the site appealing. 

The region is lined with wineries and craft breweries. For exclusive winter activities, you can find snow sports such as skiing and snowshoeing. No matter what your interest, you will find Hood River County has an answer for you. 

100-Mile Wilderness, Maine

This 750000-acre expansive landscape is one of the most mysterious in the country. Dotted with rugged mountains and hills, broken down with pristine lakes, and with the sizzling rivers and streams, the 100-Mile Wilderness has always been a hiking favorite. 

The Appalachian Trail is only one of its many paths. If you venture here for spring, get a room in a cozy lodge surrounded by wilderness. You will be spending holidays in awe-inspiring scenery.

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Photo by Jim Harris on Unsplash

Whitefish, Montana 

Whitefish is packed with winter adventures for holiday seekers. The place has a bit of everything for everyone. There are resorts with various terrains for the skier, and trekking and biking available for the non-skier. 

The Glacier National Park welcomes all with fantastic food and tailored activities for their interests. These include the 20 craft breweries to quench your thirst and curiosity. 

Apostle Islands, Wisconsin

Even if you did not know the name, you are highly likely to have seen spectacular images of Apostle Islands all over the internet. There are a few reasons to visit this spot during winter, ranging from ice caves to frozen waterfalls. 

For hikers and trekkers, there is the Mount Ashwabay, Lakeshore trail, and the Nordic trail. If you need a little more buzz of activity, you can head to Madeline Island for some holiday parties. 

Santa Ynez Valley, California

For those who prefer a little more sunshine and a lot of wine, the Santa Ynez Valley is the perfect place. Only a few miles from the beaches of Santa Barbara, the valley crowns the gorgeous autumn colors and the small-town charm for you. 

There is also the Californian cuisine that you can pair with either wine or an assortment of beer. And if you need more, there is also a surprising Danish history in the air. Take your choice between the six towns of Santa Ynez, with a long list of restaurants, inns, and the perfect winter getaways. 

Dahlonega, Georgia

The streets of this small-town in Georgia will make you feel like you are in a Hallmark movie. Dahlonega embraces Christmas in every way. The town kicks off the Christmas celebrations in late November with carolers and extravagant light displays. 

There is no shortage of Christmas markets, parades, horse-drawn carriage rides, holiday concerts, and plenty more. As we said, you will be taken to a Christmas wonderland and will also get to do tours of wineries and vineyards. Now, isn’t it a great choice?

Chimayó, New Mexico

Want to stay away from the snow-drift or cheerfulness of Christmas? This Southwestern destination is right up your alley. Forty miles close to Santa-Fe, this town has only around 3000 residents but has a sacred ambiance that people flock to experience. 

The place was once the home of the Pueblo Indians and was discovered later in the 17th century by Spanish Settlers. There are still a lot of remnants in the town, such as the El Santuario de Chimayó. If you are looking for a quiet winter holiday with new adventures, this historic town might be a great option. 

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Saranac Lake, New York – Photo by Sam – Unsplash

Saranac Lake, New York 

Want to visit the big city but need a couple of days away? This village of Saranac Lake can tick off both the boxes. Five hours away from New York City, this spot is closer to Canada, which you can reach in over half an hour. 

However, you might not experience too much silence here. The place is known for Winter Carnival that begins in January and lasts for ten days. There are also winter activities such as snow sports, races, and more. You will be finishing your holiday with a fireworks show as well. Aside from the Carnival, the place is just as scenic if you are looking for a relatively calmer getaway. 

Wrapping Up

So what is your take for this winter? Do you want to drown yourself in the glimmering Christmas lights or spend a quiet weekend in a cozy lodge? 

In any case, you will definitely find something to your liking in the list above!

 

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Black Women’s Pilot Group Aims to Increase Diversity Through Mentorship (Watch)

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Sisters of the Skies

*There are less than 150 Black women pilots in the United States. That equates to less than one percent representation in the entire career field.

Sisters of the Skies aims to change that. The professional group of Black women pilots formed with the goal of boosting their numbers through mentorship, professional development, STEM, outreach and scholarships. They’re hoping that through their programs, more Black women will get their licenses to become airline transport pilots, military pilots, commercial pilots, or certified flight instructors.

“Young ladies don’t know what they can accomplish because sometimes in order for us to be something, you have to see something,” an SOS member told Good Morning America. “I have been mistaken more times than I care to count for someone other than a pilot.”

“Most people they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re the actual pilot?… You do the takeoff and the landing?’… I’m like ‘Yeah, it was us,’” said another member.

Watch a GMA digital spotlight on the group’s mentorship efforts below:

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