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Experiencing Arizona by CarAuthor: Shipmatesforlife (More Trip Reviews by Shipmatesforlife)
Date of Trip: October 2007
Sat. Oct. 20 Williams/Grand Canyon: We got up early (we were still on Ohio time) and packed our bags for our train ride to the Canyon. We were very excited about the ride since we had no idea what to expect along the way. We checked out, left our tagged bags in the lobby to be picked up by the porter and loaded on the train. We took our large suitcase to the car. Then off to eat breakfast at Max and Thelma's. I must say, their food selection was very good. The dining room was nicely decorated and large enough to accommodate everyone without feeling crowded - and there were a lot of people there.
After breakfast and before our train ride, we watched the wild west shoot out at the corral. It was quite nippy outside and we were sitting on metal bleachers. We could have done without the "shoot out at the OK corral". It was very "staged" but they did get audience participation which was nice for those who participated. (needless to say we did not) It was part of the package so we sat through it. We finally boarded the train at 8:45am.
We had upgraded our train seats to the dome car which was very nice. I would recommend it, at least going to the Canyon. They provided water (although we had our pouches and pockets loaded with bottles of water that we bought in Scottsdale.) The upgrade also included complimentary veggies and other little snacks but you had to maneuver down a narrow stairway and then back up - on a moving train. I sent John to get the goodies.
Shortly after we left the depot an ole cowpoke came to our car. He sat on a stool and strummed his guitar while singing old country songs including "Home On The Range" and "Happy Trails". It sure brought back memories from my childhood. He was selling his tape (imagine that) for only $10. Well, of course, John bought one. After his performance was finished, another cowboy took his place and told old cowboy stories. It was nice entertainment, considering we were in the wild, wild, west!
It was neat to watch the countryside change as we neared the Canyon. The land was very desolate at first and then it became dotted with fir trees then an abundance of trees.
At 11:15am we arrived at the Grand Canyon Station located at the south rim of the canyon - elevation 7,000 ft. The south rim, opposed to the north rim, is the more popular destination for travelers. There were deer grazing at the station. They seemed to be everywhere. My husband is an avid deer hunter. He could not believe his eyes. We got off the train and actually walked up close to three of them. They appeared to have no fear of humans. Of course they know they are safe here John's didn't bring his gun!! (just kidding)
We were told our bags would be taken from the train to our room at check in time so we didn't have to worry about them.
From the parking lot we could see rock formations off to the one side but we could not actually see the canyon. Then we noticed several buses were parked in the lot and the passengers from our train were loading onto the buses according to their scheduled tour. We hopped on our assigned bus and anxiously waited for the tour to begin. Our driver/tour guide, Oscar, was a very large Native American with many humorous stories.
At our first stop we were so excited to look out over the canyon. The feeling in my stomach standing on the edge was unlike anything I have experienced before. We were many, many feet from the actual edge (no rails here) but we acted like we were inches from the edge. We walked very slowly and held on to each other. It was a very strange feeling but the view was breath taking.
Oscar pointed out various points of interest and told some tales about those who lived here long ago. The canyon seemed to go on forever. It was so far down we couldn't see the bottom. Mainly because we didn't stand close enough to the edge to look "down". We decided to wait for a look-out that had a railing.
We stopped at several other locations and again the view was spectacular. It was impossible to take it all in and to imagine the eons of evolution that created this wonder of the world. I could go on forever trying to describe the view but it would be fruitless so we took a multitude of pictures to attempt to capture the beauty. One frame of a picture cannot possibly capture the depth, width and breadth of the canyon but we tried.
The majority of the canyon does not have protective railings but at the best scenic areas there are rails and low cement walls to deter you from getting too close to the edge. Not a problem with us!!
We arrived back at the Maswik Lodge around 1:15 and had a buffet lunch, part of our tour package, which was very good. Since this was where we were staying we said our farewells to Oscar and the fellow passengers who were staying at other lodges in the area. We went to the desk and proceeded to check in at 2:00.
Behind the main lodge/dining room there were several little two-story mini-lodges with about six hotel rooms in each. Each little building had a different name. Ours was White Fir. As we opened our door we saw our bags waiting for us in the rustic but very nicely decorated room. From the window on the back wall we could see a huge wooded area. John hoped to see deer wander by.
We unpacked a little then we were at a loss as to what to do next. So we decided to walk back up to the main lodge and check out the gift shop. They had many interesting items. One was a book describing the hundreds of deaths that occurred at the canyon. We bought the book the next day. Today we bought a picture frame along with cards and other little things.
As we looked at the map of the canyon and surrounding vicinity posted in the lodge, we asked the attendant if there was a Catholic Church in the area. He said, "Certainly!" He gave us directions, assuring us it was a short walk and easy to find. So tomorrow we would be attending Sunday Mass at the Grand Canyon. But we still had tonight!
Another tour seemed to be in order, so we decided to book the sunset bus tour which was to leave at 4:00. As the time approached there was no sign of the driver and we were worried about missing the sunset at 5:30. He finally showed up and we left at 4:30. It was very cold and very, very windy. This tour went about the same places we had gone earlier in the day but we did hit a couple new spots too. At sunset (we made it!) the driver/tour guide volunteered to take our picture. He was a whiz. He took a picture (with the flash on) of us with the setting sun in the background. The picture turned out great. (Temperature: when we left Scottsdale it was around 85 degrees. It is now around 33 degrees)
The tour bus dropped us off back at the Maswik Lodge around 6:00 and we went directly to the bar. Since we were full from lunch we had not eaten supper before our sunset tour - now we were hungry. The Cleveland Indians were in the play offs but they were getting slammed by Boston. This may be the end for them but we watched the slaughter anyway with a few drinks. I had a dish of ice cream along with a vodka/tonic. John got a sandwich. That was supper. We went back to room around 8:45 and played cards and - again - to bed early.
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