Grand Canyon Railroad

It’s a chilly morning out there but the sun is shining so it will probably warm up as the day progresses. We’re on our way up 89 A, through Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff and then on to Williams to ride the Grand Canyon Railroad. I guess it gets light earlier in May than it does in October because I seem to remember this drive in October as being dark and cold. This time it’s a bit chilly but the sun is up.

We arrived with time to spare but boy was it windy. By now it had warmed up enough that when the wind didn’t blow it was comfortable with a light jacket but that wind was powerful and cut right through you.

We picked up our tickets and wandered around the gift shop and grounds while we waited for the Wild West Show to start. Eventually we headed over to the Wild West set to try to find seats that might be a little protected from the wind.

One of the cowboys was already on the set with a couple of horses.

 The horses looked like all they wanted to do was take a nap. 🙂

 Can’t say I blame them. Pretty soon more tourists started to arrive and fill up the bleachers. The other “players” came onto the set and the show was underway almost before we knew it.

 It segued from the cowboys chatting with the audience right into the show. People were picked out of the crowd to participate and jokes (really bad jokes) were tossed out right and left.

For example when one of the cowboys asked “Where are you from?” His hapless victim said “Canada”. The cowboy paused for a moment and then asked  “Do you know how Canada got its name? We’ll start with C, eh?” Groaner Ha Ha…and it continued along those lines. One cowboy kept getting shot” and then revived to play a different part.

 I think they did that about 3 times. It was fun and ate up the time we had to wait before the “All Aboard” rang out.

We are traveling in the “Dome” car or Observation car for the ride north to the Canyon.

Our return will be in First Class. A simple buffet of Danish, muffins, coffee and juice and some fruit was put out for the passengers in the dome car and first class.

The Dome class is neat because it has a great view. The windows wrap right over the car so you have a pretty much unobstructed view. It’s quite a long ride so we are entertained along the way. The “PSA” ,basically the attendant assigned to the car, was a fellow named “Bobby”. He was very funny delivering his announcements with stories and jokes. We also had a singing cowboy for the ride north. He was fun too. He had a great voice and also had a good repertoire of jokes. It takes skill to deliver a joke and make it funny. We were lucky that both Bobby and the Cowboy had that skill.

Upon arriving at the Grand Canyon we were directed to the bus for the tour we were taking. Once on the bus we were told that we would have lunch first and then take the rim tour. That’s a switch from my last trip but it works for me. As the bus pulled out of the depot the driver told us to take a look at our first glimpse of the Grand Canyon.

 It is as majestic as I remember but just as before it didn’t seem real. It’s so huge my mind insists it must be a mural! The bus took us to the Maswik Lodge where a hot buffet awaited. There was salad , spaghetti and meatballs, fish, chicken  soup and more. If anyone went away hungry it was their own fault. Lunch finished it was back on the bus for the ride along the south rim of the Canyon.

The stops were different from my last visit but no less interesting. I will say right here and now..the pictures cannot do justice to the canyon and I am not articulate enough to be able to describe it adequately. You just have to see it for yourself. Still if you haven’t been there, I will do my best to give you a glimpse of what it was like.

We made 3 stops in all. The first stop gave us a fairly long loop trail to take us along the canyon rim and then wind back to the parking lot and the bus. The high winds that the area has been experiencing was stirring up sand and dust so that it looked like a “mist” was hanging over the canyon but our guide said it was this dust.

The Canyon is spectacular enough alone but at the 2nd stop there was a biologist with a tracking device. He was tracking condors. Oh how I would have liked to see one of those magnificent birds. The Biologist was very gracious taking time to answer our questions. For example, he told us that all but one of the condors in the canyon are tagged so he could track them and know which bird he was tracking by the signal it was emitting. At that moment he was monitoring a female than was on a nest. The nest was on the cliff face  below where we were standing so we couldn’t see it from this angle. He said the bird usually flys about once per hour. Unfortunately it didn’t fly while we were there. The biologist also said we had missed about 9 condors that had been soaring over the Canyon in the morning. Just our luck!

Moving on to the last stop we found out that one of the other bus passengers had seen a Gila Monster at the previous stop and had the picture to prove it. The bus driver said that was unusual on the rim but that it certainly looked like one. Also at this stop we could see a trail along the canyon floor with hikers like little dots.

 It gives some perspective to the depth of the canyon. Too soon it was time to go back to the train for the return to Williams.

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