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.
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.”
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.
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.