Thursday, July 4, 2013

it's a grand old . . . canyon

today is the 4th of july, as good a time as any to write about the fourth day of our journey (see here and here and here and here for the prior days and other stuff, if you please.)

it was the one day on our trip that we didn't have to do any driving.  we stayed in the grand canyon railway hotel, ate there, too, and could walk across the lot to get on the train.

of course, there were plenty of gift shops to pass by, so we had to stop.  and browse.  and buy.  a train, of course, because i had packed all of his trains and didn't bring any along.  ander then proceeded to find people to show off his new train to and inform them that we were headed to the grand canyon.  he was a bit surprised that other people were headed that way, too, as though he though i had reserved the entire train just for our family.

what a interesting ride it was! our psa (passenger service attendant), amber rose, was funny, family-friendly, and full of tidbits about the train, the canyon, and everything in between.  we also walked to the snack car, tried out the onboard toilet, and listened to the traveling minstrels sing and play their guitars.  so, i didn't have a relaxed, restful ride, but i was definitely entertained.

ponderosa pines. wish we could have smelled their divine vanilla scent.

we're here? at the grand canyon?!?

amber rose suggested that we head to bright angel lodge's arizona room for lunch.  it had large windows with lovely views.  also triangular crayons that did not roll off the tables.

and plenty of room for track-arch building.

this is it!  the grand canyon!


yup, that's me. had to get at least one photo of me at the canyon.

while ander and steve played with trains or hung out in the shady gazebo of el tovar...

...diana and i explored the art inside on hopi house.  i was pleased to learn that i was permitted to take pictures - i don't think my memory could serve for all of those intricate details on the beautiful pottery and textiles.

every since diana started weaving back in california, i have been fascinated with looms of all kinds and am irresistably drawn to photograph them.

we love kokopelli
we looked at all the things in the gift shops, i think, but came away with the ubiquitous postcards, video, and books:

haunted highway: the spirits of route 66 by ellen robson and dianne freeman

it happened at grand canyon by todd berger

i was really, really glad that we had not booked a bus tour, too.  the idea of  traveling by car for several days, only to hop on a train for a couple of hours, and then transfer to a bus to get on and off at multiple stops - too touristy for us.  as it turned out, we were smart to plan our move around the day at the canyon.  it was spring, so it wasn't too hot (we had to wear jackets to protect us from the chilly wind), and the full, often oppressive force of tourism wasn't in effect.

it wasn't what i had expected, or planned, or hoped for, though, for my family.  i had visited the canyon many, many years prior to having children of my own.  my brother was in law school in arizona, i was in graduate school in louisiana, and my parents drove down from ohio to pick me up and take me to spend christmas all together as a family.  i recall the drive to flagstaff from tucson, all of us smashed into a small car, just as when we were little kids driving to new york to visit with extended family, playing "dead guy" logic puzzles to pass the time.  i remember my father's encouraging words as i breathed heavily in the cold air, willing myself to hike back up the switchback trails (no, we didn't go all the way down that day, but the rest of my family did on other occasions, including my parents, who white-water rafted down the colorado and stayed overnight at phantom ranch).

i also remember the profound feelings i had when sitting quietly, by myself, out on a ledge, gazing into the distance, pondering my physical presence in that space, really and truly comprehending the utter insignificance of momentary events in my life when compared to the vast timeline of this natural wonder's creation.  it was a life-changing experience for me, an epiphany, a mental shift.  why i expected or even tried to plan for a similar experience for steve or diana or ander is, to me, now, foolish or simply wishful thinking.

the train ride back had a fresh entertainer, just on his first gig with the railroad, and ander liked his voice so much that we bought a cd so we could listen to him again and again.  we were amused by the mock hold-up, too, so much so that ander willingly took part in giving the "robbers" some money as though he was offering a tip.

don't get me wrong - we did have a good time.  we did get to cross this off our family bucket list.  but it was not until the next day that i got to see my family so entranced by a geological feature that they wanted to gaze into it like i did at the canyon.

day 1 - woodland, ca to yosemite bug = 178 miles
day 2 - to san marcos, ca = 390 miles
day 3 - to williams, az = 576 miles
day 4 - round trip train ride to canyon, estimated = 120 miles
miles traveled after day 4 = 1164 miles

on to the next travel post


  1. It's neat to see these photos and to know exactly where you were.

    1. thanks, kathy. if i recall correctly, you did the same trip, right?