The organization at the Grand Canyon Hotel in Williams, AZ, was a pleasure for me to be a part of. We had to have one suitcase apiece packed and by a certain door by 8:30 am. That meant two things; we had to get up to an alarm clock, and we had to leave some things in the car, like my pillow, the little cooler and our dirty clothes. We buried our computers safely in the middle of our clothing to take them with us.
The vacations package we bought gave us breakfast this morning, along with about 200 other people. The buffet, pictured below, was extensive and I enjoyed my veggie omelet slathered with guacamole. Each table got their own coffee carafe. I can’t imagine how many line the shelves when not in use.
From there all the people taking the train to the South Rim Hotel run by Xanterra went outside to see the “Wild West Show.” Well, it wasn’t wild, and I don’t think I know anyone that would have played one of the parts of an old-time cowboy, but it was entertaining and a great way to get everyone to the train on time. They pulled the tourist out of the crowd and accused him of cheating at a card game. He was a good sport.
Our car hostess was a cute young redheaded female that made the trip lively. She gave us lots of reasons it was all right to have a drink at 10 am. When she came to take orders she asked where everyone was from. Small world she went to the same central school, Wayland-Cohocton, I did for five years, and also lived in Wellsville, near where Bob grew up.
Above: Our train, we rode in a bubble, or on the top floor of a two floor car.
Below: my toasted almond.
The 2 ½ hour train ride took us 65 miles further north to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It took so long because they only do 40 miles an hour and sometimes slower. For us, having just driven three days through arid lands and then coming into trees again, the ride was a repeat of that scenery. It was relaxing and we had an older gentleman named Syd play a Roy Rodgers and a Gene Autry tune on his ukulele while he sang for us.
As soon as we got off the train, we got on a bus for a tour that included lunch in the Maswik Lodge cafeteria. Our driver, Terry, was a lot of fun and told us things we didn’t know about the Grand Canyon National Park. It is the only park in the US that has its own village including a school, clinic, magistrate, fire station, employee cabins, grocery store for employees, bank, (a gift shop in every building) and a cemetery. You have to have worked in the park for a specific number of years in order to be buried there.
The bus tour took us to two different lookout stations that were not accessible by car. I didn’t write the names down so will just post the best of my pictures. They are all taken a few feet from any ledge, most of which had no guard rails or fences. No wonder people fall off.
One of the fun things we have been doing is meeting new people. After a short rest this afternoon, we went to dinner with a couple from California that we had been talking to during the day. He is in construction and she just retired so we had a lot in common. Before we went to our table in the El Tovar Lodge, we took sunset pictures outside. I’ll post four as the light changes.
The El Tovar Lodge was the first hotel in the park. It is majestically beautiful, and our dinner was the best. I had a strip steak, pepper jack cheese au gratin potatoes and broccolini. We were all too full for dessert. It happened to be Gene and Gail De Young’s anniversary and Bob’s birthday is Friday, so we shared the celebration.
I think everyone should see the Grand Canyon once. It is so huge it’s indescribable. There are many tours you can pay for, and also shuttle buses if you want to make your own way around. It is a busy place until the sun goes down and then the public areas are barely lit. We had to use the flashlights on our cell phones to safely walk to the bus station where we caught a ride back to the main lodge, then we had to walk to our rooms in separate buildings still using the flashlights. They have this thing about light pollution, but in my opinion it was unsafe especially with all the unevenness of the paths.
If you are a hiker, or interested in riding a mule into the canyon the visit would be even more enjoyable. One can purchase a permit to hike in and camp. We saw elk very close to the employee village and I was unable to get a good picture of the mules in their paddock, but Bob got one of a mule in training. They have quite an extensive crew to take care of the animals.