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 route....no 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 all.....no 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.