Monday, March 10, 2014

From Arizona to Santa Fe

Well today we drive back to Santa Fe and Regina's birthday trip comes to an end. So far we have had a great time. We decided we weren't in a great hurry to get started so we took our time getting ready and then loaded the car before heading into Williams. I wanted to get a couple of stamps that they have at the Visitor Center. After getting the stamps we headed to the Grand Depot Café for a quick breakfast before heading out. We arrived sometime around 9:30am because as we were being seated the train left for the Grand Canyon. Once we were done with breakfast we went to the gift shop so that I could pick up a book and then we made our way to the car and started our journey home.

We took I40 east and drove until we got to Holbrook. We took this exit and made a stop at Jim Gray's Petrified Wood Company. We had a coupon for a free ½ pound piece of petrified wood. We also did a little shopping and the continued to the south entrance of Petrified Forest National Park. After paying the entrance fee we made a stop at the Visitor Center to get Passport Stamps and walk the Giant Logs Trail. Then we began our 28 mile drive through the park. During the drive we made stops at different points and took pictures and did some short walks. The places we stopped at were Agate House, Crystal Forest, Jasper Forest, Agate Bridge, The Teepees, Newspaper Rock and Puerco Pueblo. By this time we were getting pretty tired so we didn't stop again until we reached the Visitor Center at the north end of the park. I got some more Passport Stamps and then we headed out - both of us were ready to be in Santa Fe. We only made two stops along the way - one to put gas in the car and go to the restroom and then one in Albuquerque to get something to eat. We finally arrived in Santa Fe sometime around 8:00am and I was tired. We visited with Thomas for a little bit and then I took a shower. Now that I have gotten this done I can get some sleep. I take Regina to the airport tomorrow and I really hope she had a great birthday and trip. I know I had a great time and I am glad I got a chance to visit with my friend.

Here is a slideshow with a few more photos of the trip. I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

More at the Canyon and then Train Ride Back to Williams

We spent last night at the Maswik Lodge at the Grand Canyon and today we had until 3:00pm to do things. Since we had a good part of the day we decided to not set an alarm and just wake up whenever. That ended up being around 8:00am. So we got our bags packed and put them in the little hallway leading to the door so that they could be picked up and brought to the train for our return trip to Williams. Now we were ready to see more of the canyon.

We caught the free shuttle in the front of the main building of the hotel and rode to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. We went into the Visitor Center and I got my National Park Passport Stamps and then we went to the Café at Mather Point and had a little breakfast. Next we walked over to the Bookstore. Here I got more Passport Stamps and a few other things and then we headed out for our walk along the rim back to the train depot. We filled our water bottles at a water filling station and then we were off. Not far in our walk we stopped at Mather Point and took lots of pictures then we headed out on the trail to Yavapai Point. Here they have great observation areas and a geology museum and I also got more Passport Stamps. After a few more pictures we continued on our walk. This trail is known as the Rim Trail but they have given it another name - Trail of Time. The trail is marked along the way showing different geologic features at different periods of time - you can even find your age along the way and see how things have changed. Here are a few links about the Trail of Time . . .

The New Trail of Time at Grand Canyon National Park - A Review
Grand Canyon's Trail of Time Receives National Recognition
Grand Canyon National Park to Dedicate the Trail of Time
Trail of Time is a Must-see at Grand Canyon National Park
The New Trail of Time at Grand Canyon National Park

Along the way we took pictures and enjoyed the views, we even found a great place to sit and look at the canyon and have a little snack. I am not sure how long it took us to walk the trail, but it was easy (paved and flat) the entire way. But before we knew it we had arrived at the El Tovar Lodge. It was sometime around 1:00pm and we decided it would be a good time to have a little lunch. And since we were at the El Tovar we decided to eat there - El Tovar Dining Room and Lounge. We had a nice relaxing and delicious lunch and visited for a while. When we were done we headed over to the Bright Angel Lodge to get some ice cream at the Bright Angel Fountain. After that we walked to the train depot, but we were early. So we found a picnic table outside and sat and relaxed until they were ready for us to board the train. We ended up visiting with a nice couple from Estes Park. They had ridden with us on the train yesterday in the same car.

It wasn't long before they called for boarding and we were back on the train headed back to Williams. One thing I forgot to mention was that by this time my allergies were full blown and I was feeling like crap. But no worries all I had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride. During the trip back they had snacks (sodas, cheese, crackers and fruit), we had another entertainer play guitar and sing and we had a champagne toast to celebrate the trip. Oh, and train robbers took over the train - yes, we were robbed - just as a stunt. In no time at all we were back in Williams and the first thing I did was buy some Claritin and then we went over to the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel to check in. Back in the room I took my allergy medicine and then we got settled and waited for our luggage to arrive. When we got our luggage we freshened up and then headed into Williams. On Friday night when we walked around Williams we saw a place with pie and stopped in - but we weren't hungry for it then so we didn't get any. But we had been thinking about it so we stopped in and each got a piece of pie to bring back to the room. From the pie place we went to the Grand Depot Café for dinner - but I don't think either one of us was very hungry and I wasn't feeling all that great, but we ate a little and then returned to the room. I decided I wanted to get my things packed and organized for our drive home tomorrow, so I got that done and then I took a shower. Now I need to get some rest so that I am feeling better and I can enjoy the trip home.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Riding the Train and Seeing the South Rim

Today was our train ride from Williams to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We were up at 7:00am so that we could get ready and bring our luggage down to the lobby so that they could load it on the train. After dropping off the luggage we headed to the Grand Depot Cafe for some breakfast and then we made our way to the depot to wait to board the train. There was a wild west shootout show but we didn't go and watch it, instead we walked around and took a few pictures. Then we lined up to board our car - we rode in the Kokopelli Observation Dome Car. You sit a little higher and have great views. Once on board we got settled and in no time the train left the depot headed for the Grand Canyon. While on board they had snacks and drinks available for us and we had a singer come and entertain us. His name was Calvin Kristoffersen and I really enjoyed listening to him. I even ended up buying one of his CD's. The train ride was a little over two hours and when we arrived at the Grand Canyon we immediately boarded a bus for an hour and a half tour along Hermit Road. We didn't actually get very far down the road but we did make two stops - one at Hopi Point and one at Mohave Point. There are great views of the canyon at both of these areas. We had about 30 minutes at each stop. As we were heading out on the road we encountered a few elk - they are huge. The tour bus then dropped us off at Bright Angel Lodge. Here we did a little shopping and then went into the lounge and had a little light snack while we thought about what we wanted to do next. After eating we decided to walk along the Rim Trail for a short distance. We left Bright Angel Lodge and walked west. Our first stop was at Lookout Studio - here we walked out to the terrace for an absolutely great view of the canyon. We didn't stay out there long because it was a bit windy and cold, but we definitely loved the views. From here we went to Kolb Studio. At the Studio I got my National Park Passport Stamps first thing and then we looked around a bit before heading out again. Next we took a short walk down the Bright Angel Trail. We didn't go very far, just a little ways past the first tunnel and then turned around and went back to the Rim Trail. This time we walked east along the trail stopping at any view point we encountered. Then we went into El Tovar Lodge just to look around and see what it was all about. Next we crossed over to Verkamp's Visitor Center where I got more Passport Stamps and we looked around the gift shop.

By this time we were ready to call it a day and decided to head to the hotel. We followed the Rim Trail back to the newly renovated Bright Angel Trailhead (here are pictures of the trailhead renovation and here is an article about the renovation) and then walked down Village Loop Drive to the Maswik Lodge. We got checked in and walked to find our room which was in a separate building from the registration desk. Thankfully it was still light outside because we had a little trouble finding the building and I am not sure we could have found it if it was dark. After getting settled in and relaxing for a few minutes we headed back to the main building to get something to eat. The eating area is like a food court. They have different sections with different types of food and they have a separate pizza pub. After eating we returned to the room to get some rest.

We had a great day on the train and walking the rim around the Grand Canyon Village. Now it is time to sleep as we have another full day tomorrow.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Driving to Williams, AZ

Yesterday my friend Regina (we went to Physical Therapy School together) flew to New Mexico to spend a long weekend with me and celebrate her birthday. The actual plan was for her to fly to New Mexico and then the two of us would drive together to Williams, AZ to take the train to the Grand Canyon. And that is what we are doing.
Today we left Santa Fe at 8:15am headed for Arizona. The drive was pretty uneventful - I25 south to Albuquerque then I40 west to Williams. We stopped along the way to fill the car with gas and at a couple of rest areas for the bathroom and to take a few pictures. We did lots of talking and planning on what we would do at the Grand Canyon. We arrived in Williams around 3:30pm and made our way to the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel to check in. We got things settled in our room and then decided to go walking in town. First we went to the Train Depot and picked up our tickets for weekend. We also looked around the gift shop and then headed up the street to the Williams Visitor Center to get some maps and brochures. Then we walked a little ways up and down Route 66 in downtown. Around 6:00pm we made our way to the Grand Depot Cafe for dinner. After dinner we settled in our room and relaxed. It was a good day and we have lots more things to do this weekend.