There is a canyon out there. Somewhere...

Trip Start Nov 29, 2007
Trip End Jan 30, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Thursday, December 20, 2007

Its easy to get Zac up some mornings.  If you whisper in his ear "Zac, there is snow on the car", he is up in a flash, almost bouncing out of bed.  This was one of those mornings.  There had been more than 15mm of snow and the car was covered.  Best part was, it was still snowing - and real North American flakes, not the tiny little Aussie snow flakes we have back home.

We had been waiting and hoping for this the whole trip and this was one of the last pre-skiing opportunities for snow.  It did not let us down.  Zac was catching snow on his tongue and as fast as he could clean the car with our ice scraper and brush, it would be covered in snow again.  Heaps of fun and lots of laughter from him.  Fortunately we had stayed so close to the canyon rim - the elevation is great enough to catch snow like this.

And it was also fortunate we had stayed close to the canyon, because driving was slow.  It took us about 30 minutes to drive the 8 miles to the rim.  But that was ok,  we were having fun.

When we arrived at the rim, there were only long distance travelers there - Europeans, a few from the east coast and the three of us.  Everyone had a huge grin - because no one could see the canyon - the clouds filled it and you could see nothing.  Everyone thought a visit to the canyon without seeing it was a riot.  Poor Zac - he falls asleep yesterday just as we arrive and today, there is just cloud beyond the safety fence.  But he does not know or really understand what he is missing, so there is at least some relief in that and he does not become upset.

Junior Rangers seem to be the order of the day and we head off to the visitors centre.  The centre is big and impressive but only mildly so, compared to other centres we have seen.   A surprise, given the prominence of this park.

For the first time this trip, we are required to sit through a ranger-led presentation in order for Zac to gain his junior ranger badge.  We had already figured out what we thought was the best presentation - some geology session about the make-up about the canyon.  The ranger did his very best and was clearly interested in the subject.  As for the six audience members, interested was not an apt description.  It was dreadfully boring.  And long.  Too long for a five year old who only wants to slide around in the snow.

Highlight of the presentation came to the following question - "where do you think the sand came from" (in reference to a layer of sandstone in the formation of the canyon).  Quick as a flash, Zac calls out "the sand pit".  A brilliant answer.  At least we thought so, in between chuckles.

The ranger had to sign off on Zac's activity book and asked Zac what he had learned.  Zac said "nothing" - an honest and forthright answer, even if it did make us squirm.

A quick trip back to the rim and some of the cloud had lifted.  Just enough to let us see the bottom.  Zac's description of the limited part he could see "that's awesome" (which really is his catch cry for the trip).

But the weather closed in on the canyon again and although we did not have any more snow that was as much of the canyon as we would see - just a glimpse and just enough to understand its magnitude.  Fortunately, it was not a first time for Cassandra and I.  For Zac, it was all he needed.

And with all of the hikes below the rim completely off the agenda, due to ice, fog and generally miserable conditions, we finished the junior ranger program and headed off.

Heading south, we had met all of the pre-arranged commitments we had until Saturday and still had not decided what to do.  We did not make our final decision about what to do next until we had passed the turn off we belatedly decided to take - we decided to treat Zac to an extra day in Legoland.  He had been such a trooper during our park adventures and we knew it was something he really wanted to see.

On the way we took a detour to Seligman, a small, old route 66 town.  It features on the special features of the Disney/Pixar movie, Cars and is credited for at least a small revival of interest in the old route.

We stopped at one famous place (Delgadillo's Sno Cap) for a milkshake, but it was closed.  Out back, they had a series of old cars painted up kind of like the cars from the movie and Zac loved wandering around them, seeing the characters for real.

The other Delgadillo brother used to run the barber shop down the street and we walked down there to check it out.  He is in his eighties and only does ceremonial and promotional haircuts these days (pity because I really need one - refer to the photos a bit later, if you must).  His daughter runs a small shop out of there instead.  Its the kind of thing you would expect on route 66 - good old fashioned hospitality - the kind of thing many of the other places we visited have lacked.

Seligman has been our favourite Route 66 detour so far.  If it was lunch or dinner time, we could have dined at the Roadkill Cafe, but unfortunately, we had places to be.

Drove on to Kingman.  Interesting place.  Stayed at the Knights Inn.  Be advised - don't follow our lead.  Has to be one of the creepiest places we have stayed.  The outstanding features included (1) a major train line just out back (or at least it sounded that way); (2) Apu from the Simpsons on the front desk; (3) Misspelled words in the sign out front; (4) a missing security chain on the front door; (5) the car for the room next to us had a cardboard box for a window; and (6) there were some VERY unsavoury channels on the TV (which thankfully, we managed to avoid).  In fact, the only thing it did not have was a vibrating bed or an hourly rate.   But it has been three weeks and this has been our first and only bad choice.  Nothing else comes close. Cass says there was one redeeming feature - there were some carolers at about 1.30am.

But it was our fault.  We were tired and forgot the Equine Rule of Accommodation (or ERA).  And we forgot that knights ride horses.  We first encountered the rule on our honeymoon, 14 years ago and it states that if the name or logo of the proposed accomodation has anything to do with horses, it will most likely be dodgy.  Although it only started as a theory, we have tested it for fourteen years and every occassion we have stayed somewhere horse related, from the Spanish Horseshoe in Towsville (vortex-like beds) to the Jockey Club in Las Vegas (two week old turkey dinner in the oven) and everywhere in between, it has proved true.

The casual traveler would be well advised to remember the rule.

Drive - 200 miles
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