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Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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southrim

Day 17 – Rt 66 trip

When you take a trip like we are, you learn as you go, especially about the questions you should have asked when making reservations. Night before last I mentioned I might not have internet when we got into Grand Canyon Park. Well, I didn’t know how accurate that statement would turn out to be. Bob had trouble getting emails on his phone, I didn’t. We could only connect one device in a room at a time, but then it didn’t work. I’m sure you’ve seen that thing on Facebook in the past few months; could you go without internet for a year? Well, maybe if I planned ahead, but if one is trying to blog daily and your husband is trying to be available to his boss when he’s on a month long vacation, the Grand Canyon is not the place to go. I finally posted yesterday’s blog about 7:30 pm, Arizona time. Vent over!

Packing the suitcase and getting in the car daily is starting to wear us out. It was nice to take the train yesterday and just sit. We slept late this morning deciding we didn’t need to pay for another tour. While still in the room I could see different birds in the woods behind our room. One was the size of a big sparrow, but was blue. I didn’t get a picture, but will look it up when we get home. There were also Ravens. A bit bigger than a crow with a hooked beak. They are professional beggars. Our bags were picked up from our room on the south rim and then delivered back to the Grand Canyon Hotel in Williams. That’s service.

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We wandered around the public areas of the South Rim today, visiting different buildings, sights, and seeing the canyon from different spots. There are shuttle buses that will take you from place to place, free of charge. A constant, other than people, were the squirrels. There are signs everywhere with warnings not to feed them. They are known to be the most dangerous animal in the park because of their aggressiveness and bites. They often carry rabies. We took a picture because they are so different from our grey squirrels in western New York state.

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I also took a picture of a cactus, maybe it’s a succulent, because that’s one plant I don’t have at home.

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Below is a noon-time picture that shows more of an expanse of the canyon.

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Below is a picture Bob took. The clouds are gone and you can see a thin line through the center of the photo. That is a hiking trail. We didn’t see any people on it. While writing post cards to the grandchildren this morning I realized I am a bit afraid of the viewing spots that have no protection from falling over the edge.

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A lot of our view today was near the Bright Angel Lodge where we had lunch, at 2 pm. We asked for a table at 1:30 and were told the wait would be about 20 minutes. That wait turned into a little over half and hour. The couple behind us, from Bozeman, Montana, were also hurrying to get on the same train back to Williams that we were so we invited them to join us at our table instead of waiting for one of their own. Richard and Shirley are still Harley riders, as we used to be, and I have a love affair with Montana, so there was plenty to talk about while we kept checking our watches.  Lunch at the Harvey House Cafe was good even if the service was a bit slow. They were busy.

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As soon as we finished lunch we headed for the train.  IMG_1461

Above: inside our bubble on the train. Christina was our hostess today and Clyde sang us some tunes. We saw antelope on the way back to Williams, and yes, I had another Nutty Almond to drink. Bob had another local beer. He is taking a picture of each one and will post a city by city, beer by beer collection once we get home. If you want me to share it, please leave a note in my comments box. Below is a picture of the bubble car from the outside. It is considered first class, so we had a “free” champagne toast today, to our military, the Grand Canyon, and the US with all its faults and strengths.

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Back at the hotel in Williams, we retrieved my pillow from the car, then sat a while in our room so I could finally post yesterdays events. Now I am writing in the lounge, where we had pizza and a night cap. The service wasn’t wonderful tonight, but the pizza was good and there is blues playing in the background. All good!

Since I didn’t take many pictures today I thought it would be a good time to share how I take my notes, they are from the 9th, then end up giving you all the details. I don’t expect you to be able to read my hen scratch, sometimes I have trouble deciphering it myself.

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When I post this we will be back up to date. Bob and I can have an early night, thankful for life, each other and the internet.

 

 

 

 

Day 16 – Rt 66 trip

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.

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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.

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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.

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Above: Our train, we rode in a bubble, or on the top floor of a two floor car.

Below: my toasted almond.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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