All Aboard

This trip started with the declaration that I wanted to take the kids to see the Grand Canyon.

Actually, as is the case with most of our trips, we kinda’ go wherever I want to go and then sprinkle in a few fun stops that everyone else will enjoy.

There are benefits to being the mother.

The Canyon had long been on my list of things to see; in my mind’s eye I could see its majestic beauty, could feel the searing heat and envision the encircling buzzards waiting to pick at my carcass at the bottom of the ravine after I fell over the edge.

Okay, maybe that part wasn’t so pretty, but the thought of being around nature without a guard rail did give me pause ergo the nixing of the mule ride.

Some friends of ours visited the Canyon last year and told us to skip driving and take the Grand Canyon Railroad.  “Skip driving” sounded pretty good to me, considering we’d have a couple of thousand miles under our belt by that point, and since the boys had never ridden a train and Travis is obsessed with them, it was a perfect match for us.

Right after we told him we were going to ride the train

And he insisted he bring his friends along for the ride

We kept the train ride a secret from the kids just in case something went sideways and sure enough as soon as we told them and went inside the train depot to pick up our tickets (which we had reserved two months in advance), we were told that the train was full and that the coach seats were oversold and they didn’t have room on the train for Travis’ wheelchair.

You cannot imagine the depths to which my heart sank.

Two seconds later, however, the wonderful ticket agent followed that sentence up with “We’d love to upgrade you at no additional charge to our first class train.  There’s plenty of room there if you’re willing to wait 15 minutes.”

Exsqueeze me?

Did someone say “first class”?




First class meant plenty of legroom, coffee, fruit and pastries on the ride up and appetizers and drinks on the way back.  It also meant lots of time with the cast of characters that roamed the train and entertained us.

The Marshall that taught my boys questionable jokes. Great.

The Native American who sang Happy Birthday to the boys in Navajo.

Sipping Sprite while reclining and watching the countryside. Can we say SPOILED?

I think I mentioned before that so many things about this trip were unexpected.  I didn’t expect the South Rim of the Canyon to be so wooded.  I had always imagined driving through the desert and pulling up to the edge of the crevasse, not winding my way through pine trees at an elevation so high that my energy flagged after walking half a mile down the observation walk.

Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised at being winded after doing a meager bit of activity.

That’s pretty much par for the course.


And I know all you people with mack daddy cameras are cringing at my iPhone snapshots at arguably one of the most beautiful places on the planet but I was more concerned with not losing my children over the edge than I was with framing and light and I can always buy a postcard if I need to remember it in greater detail.

We spent about three hours touring the area which sounds like we had a purpose but really we just walked back and forth, stopping to rest every twenty minutes because the altitude was seriously getting to us lowlanders.  Even though we were high, the sun was hot and there weren’t a lot of shade and after a while Travis was fading to the point where I started to get worried about him and we were dousing him with water and forcing him to drink every five minutes.  It wasn’t until we got back on the train and dropped a couple of thousand feet of elevation that he perked back up and was game on again.

The train ride back was the most fun.  My battery died on my phone before I could snap pictures of the bandits that “robbed” the train and of Rose, the traveling cowgirl singer.  She had a face with enough makeup on it to set up three Mary Kay women in lifetime Cadillacs and she had the most joyous spirit as she led all of us in a spirited rendition of the Chicken Dance accompanied by her trusty accordion.  We spoke to her for a while and I asked her how she came about riding the train to the Canyon daily and she told us how she was a wanderer and after retirement she and her husband sold their home and moved around from location to location just so they could live in some of the most beautiful places America had to offer.  She was a delight and obviously doing what she loved.  I so want to be like her when I retire.

Minus the accordion.

Have a nice day.

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20 responses to “All Aboard

  1. Love the picture of you at the Canyon.
    And the unexpected train upgrade, Awesome!
    I am so using ‘exsqueeze’ me today, my kids will love it! 🙂

  2. Dear S. When U get around toit, sent me a direct wmail so that I will have yours/
    I leave tomorrow for a while. love, Nelda

  3. Accordion for Christmas!

  4. Yes, I think you should go ahead with the accordion!

  5. How very fun! I love it. And your boys will never forget the trip, I’m sure. Great memories. I can’t wait to take my crew… of course, it’ll be a few years…

  6. Awesome! We had to postpone our trip out west until next summer but I am getting some great ideas. The boys will never forget this trip.

  7. I went to the Grand Canyon when I was your boys’ age…desperately want to return with grown up eyes!!!

    THUMBS WAY UP FOR YOUR UPGRADE!!

  8. What a completely wonderful adventure! I want to go to the Grand Canyon!!! 🙂

  9. What an amazing family adventure! Such great memories to have. Great idea for the train ride too!! And a first class upgrade?!? Hallelujah and praise the Lord! 🙂

  10. Elevation and dry climate. Bad combo. Been there. Okay, so I live there now.

    It is surely hard on you when you aren’t used to it.

    The Mary Kay line was GOLD.

  11. Looks like fun! 🙂 I’m glad they upgraded you too – I love unexpected treats!

  12. Nature sings God’s praises. Awesome location. Awesome mom.

  13. So fun! Kind of wish my people were that age again, it was always so fun to watch their faces when they experienced new places and things. Kind of. Ha
    And I don’t care how you get it… First Class is ALWAYS a good thing.
    Just sayin’

  14. I don’t think you can take a bad picture of The Grand Canyon..the train sounds like a great way to go.

    Oh, and that Mary Kay line was priceless!

  15. So fun! I love the GC…never get tired of looking at it. And I am totally going to go on that train ride next time I’m there….only I hope to go in the winter when its not so smokin’ hot.

  16. What a treasure of a vacation!! Absolutely love the smiles on your boy’s faces!! Doesn’t such beauty just shout that there is truly a Creator?!?

  17. I have always wanted to see the Grand Canyon.
    Sounds like you had a fun trip. And I can see you entertaining people (with or without an accordion) on a train one day!

    P.S. IPhone pics of the Grand Canyon? We need to talk. Hee Hee.

  18. I love the Grand Canyon. Haven’t been for 15 years, I haven’t been with the children yet, for my fear of them plummeting to their deaths. (even though I should know better… they’re old enough for sure now) You’re a brave girl.

  19. Yay upgrade!

    How about kazoos? We could play kazoos.

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