Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Train Ride to the Grand Canyon

Hi all, Dianne here.  We drove for two days from Cochiti Lake, NM to our next destination, Williams, Arizona.  The scenery was great the whole time, including the sky.  One of the things Roger and I like about being "out west" is that you can see storms from so far away.  

This photo shows that it looked like we were really driving into something bad, but by the time we got up to it, we just had sprinkles.  I'm sure you folks who live out west take it for granted, but for us, the huge skies and expansive views are new and exciting!

We had reservations at the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park. A few months ago, Roger (a/k/a "the planner"), scoped it out, and made reservations for not only the campground, but a day trip by train to the Grand Canyon, and even doggie day care for the boys.

Early the next morning, we walked the boys to the kennel (right at the campground), then made our way to the train depot.  Before loading the train, we were ushered over to a short cowboy show.  Kinda cheezy, but it was fun.  Above is a photo of one of the cowboys after he'd been "shot."

The train ride took just over two hours.  We were entertained en route by a very talented singing cowboy, with guitar and harmonica.  

We had opted out of the Grand Canyon bus tour, so after disembarking the train, Roger and I had about four hours to ourselves. 

Our first stop was a food vendor, where we had a very overpriced lunch of tuna salad sandwiches, chips and cookies out by the rim.  But oh, the view!! 

 When we got our food, the vendor warned us that the local squirrel population was very aggressive.  She wasn't kidding!   One practically ran up my leg to get to my Cheeto's.  I managed to fend mine off, but this squirrel had better luck with someone else's meal.

 Intrepid hikers that we are, we came prepared with our hiking belts, hiking stick, bottled water, and snacks.  Our plan was to walk down the famous Bright Angel trail (dodging mule poop) for just a bit, timing ourselves and allowing twice as much time to get back UP the canyon as it took to go down.  (Going down is the easy part.)

We heeded all the warnings about the altitude and steep climb back uphill. So, we only walked down for about a half hour, thinking it'd take us an hour to get back to the top.  We had a train to catch, after all, and the conductor made it very clear that the train would leave without us if we weren't back in time.

Turns out, even though it was very steep indeed climbing back, and we were huffing and puffing and stopping to catch our breath, we made it back to the top in about the same amount of time as it took us to go down.  That meant we had additional time to kill before heading to the train depot.

We hit a few gift shops, with our big purchase being a 30-cent postcard for our granddaughter, Kaia.  Then we hiked along the rim trail for a bit.

Roger wanted to walk out onto a rock outcropping for me to take his photo.  Notice how far back he stayed from the edge.  He's usually unfazed by heights, but this time he was really creeped out when he looked down, and made a quick trip back to the main trail.  We then watched in horror as a Japanese tourist walked even farther out, and a woman with him wearing high heels walked down a loose-gravel section off the trail to get a better photo of him.  Luckily, she didn't fall over the cliff, but I couldn't bear to watch her.  That really creeped me out!

  One of the displays I found very interesting was samples of the different layers of rock which make up the canyon.  Here's a photo of the polished rock tower along the rim trail to illustrate the different types and ages of rock.  The rock on the bottom layer is some of the oldest exposed rock on earth.

When our four hours were up, we boarded the train for the trip home.  We were entertained by more music, this time from a talented banjo player. 

Then, you guessed it, we had train "robbers" who stopped and boarded the train.  Another cheezy/comic routine ensued, but it was actually funny and fun, and the kids on our train car were fun to watch during our "hold-up."

Roger and I had been to the north rim of the grand canyon before, but this was my first trip to the south rim.  Of course, our photos don't do it justice.  It is truly an awesome place.

We've now made it across the Mojave Desert in California, and we're gearing up for more adventures.  We're going to try to include a "whippet photo of the day" to our blog.  (Thanks to Nellie of "Diary of a Midlife Cruiser" for the photo-of-the-day idea.) 

 Here's the first one, entitled "ghost dog under a blanket."  We think Chaplin was getting into the spirit of the Calico Ghost Town we were camped near outside Barstow!  


Nancy and Bill said...

We have been to the Grand Canyon and I really think everyone should see it sometime in their life. It is very difficult to truly describe it. My memory of my first visit was that it left me speechless. It is truly awesome!!

We hiked the West Rim when we were there. I want to ride the donkeys to the bottom, but Bill won't get off his BIKE!!

Loved your pictures and thanks for taking us there.

Oh, by the way, we love your new blog photo... very attractive couple!!

Margie and Roger said...

Like the Whippet photo of the day. I didn't realize they liked to be under the covers.

You are right, no photo of the Grand Canyon does it justice. You have to be there.