Just wow. Kevin and I just returned from the Grand Canyon - neither of us had ever been. In planning for our trip, we talked to many people who had been there and all of them said that the moment you first see the Canyon is indescribable. No kidding. It's THE most amazing thing I've ever seen. Awe inspiring, really.
We arrived at the Grand Canyon by train. It was an amazing journey from the small town of Williams, Arizona to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The train ride was beautiful. And peaceful. And very relaxing. (An aside: Why did society choose to fore go train travel? I realize that it's a slower method of travel, and a bit less convenient, but what it lacks in convenience, it more than makes up for in soul-soothing charm. You still get to where you need to go and the bonus is that you're much more relaxed and at peace when you arrive. How is that bad?) Arizona is funny; in my mind, I've always pictured desert - lots of cactus and dry desert landscape. And that's true - in Southern Arizona. However, not so in Northern Arizona. In fact, having left 100 degree temperatures and a great deal of humidity in our area, we arrived in Williams to high 70-low 80 degree temperatures and thunder storms. You know that old saying "If you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes (and it will change)"? That's what we found in AZ.
The morning started out gorgeous - beautiful sunny skies with nary a cloud in sight. We had breakfast, watched a wild west show and then boarded the train.By the time our train hostess finished her talk about train rules and regulations, complimentary snacks, and what we might see along the trip, the skies were filled with high, puffy clouds. Within another 20 minutes or so, the high, puffy, white clouds had turned a dark, stormy gray. The hostess predicted that, between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m., we would have some pretty generous thundershowers. She's in the wrong business; she's far more accurate than most weather forecasters you see on TV. At 1:00 p.m., it began to shower. A few drops first, then, a bit heavier just as we were heading out to sight see at the Canyon.
It was amazing. Our first real close-up included the Canyon in sun, clouds, thunderstorms (complete with lightening strikes!), and fog. It was absolutely breathtaking.Isn't it incredible?! We kept trying to capture a lightening strike in progress, but they proved to be elusive. We'd hear a clap of thunder and then try an anticipate where the lightening would strike - inevitably, we chose the wrong place!
While the top of the Canyon tangoed with the clouds, the view of the Colorado River down below was so clear you could see the rapids.Is this Heaven? No - the Grand Canyon! We had such a wonderful trip. Everything about it from start to finish went perfect. We packed up early Thursday morning to hit the road driving to Williams, Arizona.(Ummm...yeah, that book we're holding? It's an atlas. Guess it kinda loses something since you can't see what we're pointing to, eh?) Mom and dad watched our baby Slippers for us (thanks, Mom & Dad!), and while she was a bit mopey, she was just fine. The drive to Williamsis about 7 hours from our home (far from the 3 and a half to 4 hours the hotel's website indicated!) but the drive went by really quickly. Really! I'd gone to the library a day or two before we left and picked up a book on CD. Not just any book, but Wally Lamb's 'The Hour I First Believed'. Not familiar with it? It's one of those huge tomes that scares you away from selecting it because of the enormous number of pages within it's covers. Read (or listen to) it. REALLY. You will not be disappointed. The volume contains 20 CDs. TWENTY. It's such a compelling story that we were both completely engrossed - on the way up as well as on the way back. In fact, we only finished half of the CDs, so last night we sat in the living room and listened to two more. Only 8 more to go!
The small town of Williams is directly on Route 66. It's one of the many don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it places on the map. Kevin said, and he's probably right, that it's one of the places Disney/Pixar used to model the town of Radiator Springs in the movie Cars. The town is a bit hokey, but charming in it's own way. It's an interesting mix of western heritage and Route 66 tchotchkes - but it works.(I just love this little guy peering over the top of the stagecoach!)Honestly, if the town didn't have the railroad, I think it probably would have perished by now. But, luckily, the Grand Canyon Railway lives here, and so the town of Williams, while not thriving, continues to hold it's place. The Railway is THE main attraction here. Okay, probably the ONLY attraction here!, but it's quite the attraction indeed.This (and the other) hard working cowboy works the town. Literally. They hold two Wild West shows a day - one at 9:00 a.m. and one at 7:00 p.m. During the day they act as entertainment...errr...train robbers on the Railway, and then walk the town talking up the shows and inviting folks to watch.All in all, it was just magnificent. The trip, the scenery, the experience. All of it. Grand Canyon National Park. Grand indeed. A true national treasure. If you've not been to the Grand Canyon, I urge you to go. Okay, not necessarily this very moment, but soon. Why? Obviously the Canyon isn't going anywhere - it's been there for, well, millions of years. However, at the rate things are changing in our nation, and the rate at which national historic landmarks are closing (if you live in the state of California, you know exactly what I'm talking about), who knows if you'll be able to see the Grand Canyon in years to come. Or how much you'll be charged to see it. Take the time. Make the time. You'll be grateful for the lifetime of rich, wonderful memories.