Williams, Arizona to the Grand Canyon and back
The package tour. OK, so we were real live tourists! 🙂
The company that owns the train (and the hotel, and the depot) goes to a reasonable amount of effort to make sure the people who travel to the Grand Canyon have a good time. The train cars are all “vintage” but very well maintained and clean and comfortable. F’zer and I decided to spend a bit extra for “first class” travel, which meant we got better seating, a small buffet of various snacks, and free beverages.
The train car we were in on our way out to the Canyon was constructed with seating on both ends and the bathrooms (with small “lounges”) in the center with a narrow hallway running between the two sides of the car. In our half of the car, we sat with two other families from California, but oh, what a difference between the two. The family immediately in front of us came from a notoriously wealthy community not far from where we live, and I think it sums it all up to say that they were traveling with their two mostly unsupervised small children, McKenna (girl) and Troy (boy). Those two were, if I remember right, three and not-quite-two. The mother also had a daughter who was 20. Mommy looked to be of an age where the older kid was most likely a teenage indiscretion from a previous relationship. Mom and Dad mostly spent the trip saying things to each other that were supposed to be funny, but were mostly of the “hee hee, I’m sticking a knife in your back, ho ho” variety. That got old about as fast as the “lookit me being cute” antics of the children.
However, the family across the aisle made up for it. They were a Hispanic family that included a married couple who looked to be a bit younger than F’zer and me, the wife’s elderly mother, an older daughter (she was 20, if I remember right) and two boys, ages 7 and 4, who were spectacularly well behaved without being unnatural about it, if you know what I mean. Because Mrs Yup-Yup in front of us was incredibly nosy, we found out that the mom and grandma were originally from Equador. (Yup Yup Mama also actually said “What language are you speaking?” apparently living so far in the ozone, usually, that she had no idea what Spanish sounded like. Uh HUH.)
Each car had a host or hostess who told the passengers about the areas we were passing through, answered questions, served drinks and generally tried to keep the atmosphere lively as we traveled through yet more rather unremarkable scenery. Ours did a good job. After a while, a “cowboy” with a Gibson guitar came through, settled himself in, sang us some songs, told some jokes and generally helped to keep things interesting in the car, although the yuppie puppies weren’t interested in listening to him and kept running around the aisles.
I tried to take a series of “video snapshots” with the camcorder, starting at the beginning of the trip in Williams. I haven’t looked at any of that tape yet, and I’m hoping I can dump it to the computer for editing, because otherwise there will be some embarrassing spots where I started taping with the lens cap still on. Duh!
After the train pulled into the Grand Canyon depot, we all wended our way over to a series of buses parked nearby. We had hoped to stay with the Hispanic family, but as it happened, we got separated and ended up on different buses. Our bus driver was a real relic of the 60s and it would be impossible to reproduce the way he talked as he shuttled us from overlook to overlook. But he obviously knew a lot about the area and we two old hippies found him to be a familiar, kindred spirit.
I don’t think there are words to describe the Canyon itself, and we only saw a minuscule amount of what there was to be seen. We are already planning to take another trip, where we can stay at the Canyon longer and see a lot more of the area. We even talked about taking a mule trip to the bottom and staying there, but the upper limit for weight on the mules is 200 pounds… um, well, we both have to plan far enough ahead that a pre-trip diet is included in the preparations. 🙂
Another buffet lunch, which again, I wouldn’t go out of my way to try again, but it wasn’t bad. And since our bus was filled mostly with people our age and older, the dining room was pleasantly quiet.
Our tickets placed us in a different train car on the way home. This one had the bathrooms at one end of the car, rather than in the middle, so there were more people to interact with along the way, although we didn’t talk with our neighbors as much this time around. The hostess was very lively and talked a lot about herself as well as about the scenery and so forth, and a different cowboy entertainer came through and stayed with us a bit longer than the other one had.
We saw a herd of deer off to one side of the road, and lots of ravens. Supposedly there were elk somewhere around, but alas, we didn’t see those. We did see one spectacularly antlered mule deer, though.
Just as it was beginning to get dark, the train stopped. That was so the “train robbers” could get on. As the hostess said “We couldn’t find anyone who was willing to jump from a moving horse to a moving train for minimum wage.” The robbers came through and did their thing, and a few minutes later the “marshal” came through in somewhat less than hot pursuit. The kids in the car, of course, had great fun telling the marshal that the robbers went thataway.
After the marshal marched the bad guys back up the train and made them return anything they’d persuaded the passengers to give up, the hostess served us sparkling cider or champagne. She managed to pour from two different bottles into slim flutes without spilling any, on a moving train, which I thought was nothing short of remarkable.
And then she told us more about the scenery as we chugged back through the twilight. She talked about how there’s a lawsuit going on between some ski resort owners and the Hopi tribe over whether one of the Hopi’s sacred mountains will or will not have a ski resort on top of it, making snow with recycled water. She referred to this as a case between “progress” and “cultural sensitivity,” which made it pretty clear which side she was on. I doubt she’d see it as “progress” if the Hopi decided to put up a casino in the middle of the Crystal Cathedral!
At any rate, that was the only small sour note on the entire trip. We pulled into the Williams junction just as it was approaching full dark, got stuff unloaded in our room, had yet another fairly good buffet dinner, watched House and drifted off to sleep.Hope you'll recommend my posts via your favorite social media. Just don't copy the material as your own.