This is the story of Day Three of the Grand Road Trip. Today’s itinerary held only one entry: the Grand Canyon. With that in mind, my usual accomplice and I arose early, dressed, and awaited the arrival of room service. And awaited. And awaited. Finally, we looked outside and found the little order form dangling from the doorknob, exactly where we were supposed to have left it (and exactly where we had left it) the night before.
The last time I tried placing an order that way (at a different hotel) it didn’t work either, so I wasn’t counting on it working this time, but I was beginning to think that perhaps the one time it did work was due more to luck than anything else. However, today we were on something of a schedule. We had tickets for the Grand Canyon Railway, and the train would be departing at 9:30, with or without us.
So we left without breakfast. I wasn’t really all that concerned with the skipped meal, since I knew that pastries and coffee served would be served aboard the train. What I didn’t know was how comfortable and stylish the ride up would be. Our car, the Grand View, was a domed observation car dating back to 1948, and was originally used on the California Zephyr line. It was in beautiful condition.
So once the train got underway, there was nothing to do but sit back in the plush seats with a cup of coffee and a danish and enjoy the ride. Two hours, four cups of coffee, three danishes, and a performance by a country-western singer later, we finally arrived at the Grand Canyon.
Well, it was big. Much wider than I ever imagined, and much deeper. I could look down and see tiny trees and a tiny river and could assume that I was looking at the bottom. Then I could follow the tiny river into the distance and see that it did, in fact, spill over a cliff into an even deeper part of the canyon. I could look into the distance and faintly see the north rim of the canyon. Then I could recall that the canyon actually ran east to west, and realize that I was actually looking across its narrow dimension.
Unfortunately, we only had three hours to take in the sights. Fortunately, there were shuttle buses to get folks out to the various vistas and back again. So we figured we’d do that. Unfortunately, the bus stop was mobbed with people, so much so that when a bus stopped, loaded up, and drove off, the crowd didn’t seem to have shrunk much.
I consulted our map and saw that the first view spot was only 0.7 miles from the bus stop, along a paved trail. Perhaps we could just walk there and catch a bus either to another stop or even back again if we started to run out of time. So we did that. What I did not realize was that the trail went uphill, somewhat steeply in places, and what I failed to account for was the high altitude: 7,000 feet.
So, while we did make it to the next shuttle stop, by that point, we didn’t want to do much more than to ride around to a few other stops, there to look around for a bit before getting on the next bus. So that’s what we did.
Eventually, we returned to the train depot in order to make the trip back to the town of Williams. As exhausted as we were, having to drive back would have been a chore to say the least. I was quite grateful for the opportunity to simply recline my seat, shut my eyes, and daydream of burritos.
Yes, the day’s light breakfast had indeed caught up with me, and all I’d had to eat up at the Canyon was a candy bar and some Vitamin Water. When we finally arrived in town, we spotted Pancho Mc Gillicuddy’s, a Mexican restaurant, and made plans to head over, after returning to the hotel to change clothes. We were both really pleased by the chimichangas (or were just really hungry) and the live music created a fun atmosphere.
Afterward, we explored the shops along the main street. Among the shops was a Gas Station Museum, and one of the items on display was somewhat enlightening.
Now I understand why a prank caller would ever have asked for Prince Albert in a can in the first place.