Saturday, October 22, 2016

A tourist day

The internet has been very slow the past few days so I haven't tried to load pictures or do a blog.  

We're enjoying our time here in Williams.   Its a neat old tourist town on historic route 66 that is thriving as a result of the daily train trips up to the Grand Canyon and the well oiled machine that supports it.   Decent restaurants, decent Safeway, decent kennel for guests, kitchy shops, historic little main street peppered with period cars and signs, clean, convenient rv park, large hotel all working to the train's schedule while managing to keep a low key vibe.

Thursday we succumbed to the lure of the train.   Dave thought a two hour drive with nothing to do but look out the window and enjoy the views sounded luxurious.

For most of the trips modern diesel engines pull the train but on Saturdays, and for special trips (pumpkin patch trip and the Polar Express excursion) two restored steam engines are used.   They have been refitted to use vegetable oil and collected water for fuel and steam.

I selected a first class ticket in the Desert View car, mostly because of the nicer seating, larger windows and the ability to have second cup along the way!

The Railway line has done an excellent job refurbishing the old train cars.  The fit and finishes are lovely in the first class and dome car sections.    Each car has a bar man and guide who answers questions, talks about what we're seeing as we move along, the logistics of arrival in the Grand Canyon, and just generally chats with the passengers.

second cup in the sun

We enjoyed the calm, rhythmic ride and the changing scenery.  It was lovely to move along, shoes off, feet up enjoying second cup.   I didn't even mind the occasional strolling cowboy musician.   When in Rome, right?

Since we were playing "tourist" I decided to go all the way and signed up for an hour and a half tour once we arrived at the Rim.   Our driver was pleasant, well informed and altogether very interesting.   We got to see a few areas that we otherwise wouldn't have gotten to (unless we caught one of the very full shuttles that run along the passenger cars).

I had forgotten the scale.....the sheer distances we were able to see, across and down.    We visited Mohave, Hopi and another viewpoint I can't remember the name of.    The light was not good for photography, I think it must take hours of waiting to get it just right.  

After the tour was finished we had lunch then walked around, visiting the mules used for the trips to the bottom of the canyon and historic El Tovar hotel.


They looked to be in good shape but were definitely enjoying their down time by rolling in the dust, eating, or simply snoozing in the sun.


I booked coach tickets for the ride back because of a computer glitch that wouldn't let me have the same seats we had on the northbound trip.   The guide in the coach knew we hadn't traveled with him before and asked what car we had arrived in.   He rolled his eyes and told us that they were having some problems with that particular site and he was sorry for the confusion.    I didn't mind it at cushy seats or snacks, but these coaches were restored as nicely as the higher class ones and were very comfortable.

In this coach there were more young children.  They were obviously enjoying their day, full of enthusiasm and good questions.   Our guide was personable and clearly liked having kids in his car.

We had a robbery.....a group of 4 bandits came galloping along the train, guns blazing and forced a stop.   They boarded the train to the screams and cheers of the children!   If it had been a car of all adults, it wouldn't have been enjoyable but the earnestness (is that a word?) of the kids, the little hands in the air, their serious faces, the timid questions made the theatrics worthwhile.     After the bandits moved on the children didn't stop chattering about the exciting experience!   I'm just glad I didn't have to share a hotel room with them that night!

All in all it was a really fun day.    I'm glad we played tourist for a day.

p.s.  Lewis wants you to know he's having a good time too!   Second cup outside Beluga always brings a little play time and he thinks he's going for a long walk in the forest today.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Again the wind

"is that my sister?"

Yesterday morning we all had a de ja vu moment as we broke camp and prepared to leave the Holbrook KOA.

Missy swoons, Elvis investigates possibilities

The motor home in front of us was packing up to leave also and when their door opened, a big old black lab girl spilled out.     Dave couldn't resist and had to go over to meet her.    Her tiny "brother" Elvis immediately found the treat pocket as
Dave petted and scratched old Missy.

Note to self.....remember to read notes to self.    We had vowed not to drive on a day that high wind warnings were issued.      Yesterday we ignored our own advice and drove west on I-40 on another of those horrendously windy days.

Flap, flap, flap went Beluga's bra.   Once again we pulled over and Dave tore off the remaining snaps and wrestled it into one of the basement compartments.

once again the wind tries to rip Beluga's bra away from Dave

A little further down the highway and the slide topper began to unroll and blow up over the roof and then crash down over the side window.    Sheesh, how stupid were we to start out on this kind of day....again!

This time a huge Casino came into view so we pulled into their large parking lot, out of the wind, and Dave used what supplies he had to wire and tire the slide topper and window shade down.      We had the choice of staying in the parking lot overnight (it was just noon) and wait out the wind, or continue 50 more miles to our next reservation in Williams, Arizona.     Since everything that could flap or unroll were already taken care of we decided to push on.

We arrived safely and settled into our site at the Grand Canyon Railway RV Resort in Williams.   We'll be here for the next week.  

second cup in the sun

Lewis enjoys postprandial play in the stones

We originally reserved only one night, but we're all happy here and with our Passport America discount we couldn't find a cheaper place to stay so we've extended to a week.

We're in a back in site on the end of a row and have a decent view of the piney mountains and grassy fields.    The railroad tracks are directly on the other side of the park and trains rumble through, horns blaring.    Its funny, neither of us mind the trains one bit.    We both talked about that fact this morning as a passenger trains passed us at second cup.     We're not sure if it was our Mexican motorhome/train trip experience in 2002 that instilled a pleasant association with the noise or if the distant rumble and staccato horn blasts remind us of the ships passing through the St. Lawrence River in the 1000 Islands.    No matter, we do enjoy seeing and hearing trains.

Our original plan was to drive Beluga down to Sedona tomorrow and stay at the Elks Lodge at the foot of Airport Mesa but,  since they don't take reservations,  we were hesitant to make the difficult drive only to find out there was no room at the inn.   Today we took the Jeep down to check out the situation, to see how full they were.

On the way we encountered two separate prescribed burns in the National Forest.  It seemed foolish to us to burn on such windy days, but they were doing just that.

We stopped above Oak Creek on 89A for lunch.   Lewis was with us and the plan was to stop for a quick romp in the water after eating, but we hadn't foreseen how many people we would encounter in the canyon.

We scrapped those plans and just enjoyed the spectacular red rock views on the way to the Lodge.

Sedona has embraced  so many people, it offers its beauty to all.    We selfishly wish it wasn't so, that we still had it to ourselves as we did in the 70's when it was a sleepy little town at the feet of those unbelievably magnificent rocks.   Almost a secret place.

Today accessing it's beauty requires a bit of patience.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Last day in Holbrook, Arizona

I really needed one of those pieces of petrified wood....I had a place for it in Beluga and I really wanted one, just a small one.

this old place used petrified wood as
building material!

On our way to Winslow yesterday we stopped at a few rock shops in the area, sorting through literally tons of petrified wood scraps looking for just the right piece.  Inside one of the shops there were endless displays of intensely polished rounds, stumps, book ends, etc. but we thought they were gaudy and unreal looking.    Outside, in a huge fenced in yard, there were piles and piles of natural "wood" along with mountains of geodes, sandstone pieces, obsidian chunks, etc.   I've never been to a rock shop, or a rock show of any kind, I was flabbergasted and had trouble tearing myself away from the mounds.  

a jillion geodes
I don't know how long we wandered there but at last we (I) found just what I was looking for and bought it for $8.  

We didn't really have a plan for the rest of our day except for checking out "downtown" Winslow and then trying to find a small city park/reservoir I'd heard about.  

The tiny town of Winslow, Arizona has a number of nice murals, but one is famous.....
"Its a girl, my lord, in a flatbed ford, slowin down to take a look at me...."

My only directions to McHood Park Lake (sometimes called Clear Creek Reservoir) were to head out of town, drive over the ditch by the prison and keep going til you seen a sign.    Alrighty then.

lunch with a view

McHood Park contains a small day use area and campground with no hook ups on the shores of the Reservoir.     It was a Saturday afternoon but the park wasn't very busy.   A celebration of some sort was going on in the day use area and there were a few trailers in the campground but otherwise we had most of the place to ourselves.

We explored a bit on foot then took the jeep past the campground and out into the surrounding desert to see what we could see.

a dredge at the boat launch

It is always a delight to find water in such a dry environment.  We drove over the small earthen dam and found a lovely marshy area below, full of birds.

I was still looking for the part of the creek that flowed through a deep, narrow canyon so we left McHood Park, crossed the creek on rt. 99  and turned onto a dirt road heading into the flat empty desert.  

We drove through interesting rock formations and lots of sagebrush but didn't appear to be getting anywhere so Dave made a sharp left and we made our own track toward what we thought would be the canyon.

huge boulders

I was afraid to drive to far out into the desert in case we came upon the lip of the canyon before we wanted we left the jeep and hiked out.

almost at the edge

Lots of cool rocks at our feet made it a slow walk, and I did take a few for my collection.

tiny stones, about thumb sized

Our perseverance was rewarded...

Tomorrow we're off toward Williams, Arizona.   Its been fun!