A Train Ride to Arizona’s Big Hole

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Today was all about going to see one of the 7 Natural Wonders. It really was awesome.  I say awesome because I am somewhat infected having spent the day surrounded by completely over-the-top Americans doing thing like high fives, clapping along to cowboys songs and whooping.  Actually the train journey from Williams to The Grand Canyon was pretty beautiful but it was somewhat polluted by the ridiculous show put on by the rail company. 

First was the Wild West show.  Some washed up old blokes pretending to shoot each other at high noon.  Then there was the 'coach cabin personal attendant' who must have been on some sort of drugs.  ‘Miss Jeanie’ as she called herself was new to the job and clearly keen to please.  The idea of paying a good deal of money to enjoy a spectacular train ride across Arizona in a relaxed carriage was beyond this nutcase.  It was as if she was a 6 year old kid who had just been given a microphone for Christmas.

Then came the photographer, so desperate to catch the ‘special’ moment on board.  When we said we did not need a photo she turned into a dragon and started digging at the British way.  More about her later.

Having survived some ‘cultural’ musicians in the carriage we jumped off to then join a line for the shuttle bus.  Am I whinging?  From this point we were blown away.

The Grand Canyon was breath-taking (Miss Jeanie later went on to say that "life is not about how many breaths you take, it is about how many breathes it takes away".  God that woman was annoying).  The canyon cannot be appreciated without a visit, the rock formations seemed inexplicable and the vastness cannot be described by figures.  It was a seriously big hole.

We really loved our day off and feel very lucky to have visited this mighty show of geological history.

Back on the train to Williams the craziness intensified.  Ms Jeanie got back on the mic to tell few jokes ( Following “What do you call a sheep with no legs =  Answer a cloud; one of them was “What do you call a deer with no legs? = No ideer.  The joke is actually “What do you call a deer with no eyes?”, hence ‘no eyedeer’. At the point of wanting to give Miss Jenie a lethal injection, the photographer resurfaced.  Our conservative British way seemed to have upset her and she presented us with a special photo which was free of charge.  Resisting the temptation to challenge her on sticking a lens in the face of people who enjoyed looking out the window, I let her go and thanked her for her free sample.

We really had a great day at The Grand Canyon.  We managed to enjoy it away from the crowds by doing a magical two hours walk along the South Rim. It was of course helped by some very well made sandwiches and the odd encounter with insightful Americans (“New Zealand has good golf courses because it is such a huge country just like the US” said the lady from Ohio).  No, seriously, it was a magical stroll and we gazed down at the track that went from South to North rim with envy and a plan to come back and do it again one day. Even on the train journey home we got into the spirit of things as the train was held up by cowboys who robbed us all for jewellery and cash (Pols and I could spot the horse trailer attached to a jeep hidden behind a bush but our enthusiastic fellow passengers didn’t!).

Back on camp we enjoyed a cool and blowy supper watching the condors catch the thermals high above. Flagstaff tomorrow and hoping for a wind in the right direction. Also great to here Murray is on the semis.  I suggest someone finds Rafa and stamps on that bad foot.

Miles Cycled:  4 to catch the ‘fun’ train
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Jojo on

What a fantastic experience - is it really just one great big volcano? Pity about Miss Jeanie and the photographer CJB always wanted the ability to turn people like that into chickens (unfair on chickens as I rather like them). Do people really walk DOWN those hairpin paths - they obviously don't think ahead to going back up them. It was sure worth te visit though.

auntbymarriage on

Have just had MASSIVE catch up with your blog and inadvertently found that I'd drunk 2 litres of water as I was reading about the desert crossing! Am engrossed by the blog. Here in Bos we've had the Classic Dayboat Revival and Giles raced! Not with us sadly, I think he thought we were too small and that he'd get too wet. Huh. Where are you off to next. Can't decide whether it's bettter to read you every other day or have a big juicy catch up. Played bridge with Trig last night. None of us had any wine and we've now decided that we play better when we've had a few glasses. Which is a result. Stay safe on those roads and the heat. XXXXXXXXXXX

triciagick on

Utterly fantastic - wow, lucky, lucky you two - bet you enjoyed the walk on your own too. Just been painting in Dan's old room - now Geoff's - it will all look very different by the time you get back. Also just signed up for the Solar panel green option, so yet more changes. Dad's got an evening sail tonight, but I refused to go as Dan the Man is coming round for a steak and I can't wait to catch up with him.
We must get the timings sorted out so we can have a chat - am around this weekend (Dad's got a stag and I'll sort out the food and send them off) - so maybe we can skype.
Enjoy the journey to Flagstaff - not sure what goes on there. All love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Ernest on

So your stroppy about the heat Polly; 47C?, I would be DEAD! a little smoking crispy thing blown away on the desert wind., I wilt at 27C. That was a harrowing read. Your stamina and ability to survive is staggering. I'm pleased that things are a litle more comfortable now and Las Vegas looked fun, in an extravagant American way. I liked Cheeky, I wonder how far she had cycled!

The QCA's are over and St. A's is racing toward the end of term. I thought of you on the Chithurst Monastery trip Polly and wondered where the last year has gone. The coach driver negotiated the very narow lane although he told me that not all are as skilled as he. Evidently the last driver took out three windows as he negotiated the bend. The Temple was as peaceful as ever and the children were absorbed asking questions continuously for 40 minutes. TJ was in lengthy animated conversation with Thita who remained smiling throughout and the mad woman who was having her hair cut off thankfully did not appear this year.
C-OJ and JN have had some spectacular gardening successes. Yr. 6's Bee Garden was chosen for the final entries in a RHS competition at Whisley, although beaten by an African compost garden which I can only assume 'ticked all the right boxes' Yr 6's entry for the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show also has been selected from the South East entries and will be displayed from 4th July. Scarecrows dressed as characters from Alice In Wonderland is the theme and they are magnificent.
AW and I took the school council to The Boat Project at Thornham Marina, part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and the children were intrigued by a boat constructed with wooden donations all having a story to tell . Alice contributed a cross for St. A's and I gave my 40 yr old T square.
Sports Day was as successful as ever and we managed to avoid the showers forcast. I made an idiot of myself by sticking the winners labels on the wrong team in the Tunnel and Wheel.Canterbury knocked Durham off the top spot this year
Another mile stone you will rember Polly, the Poetry Assembly is tomorrow. This year I have written the script and like last year the theme is the sea, my chosen poem being John Keat's sonnet ,The Sea accompanied by Frank Bridge's suite The Sea and a recording of the sea itself. The children like last year are fantastic in rehearsal.
Next Saturday I am off to the Old Vic with C O-J to see Kevin Spacey in Richard III. I can't wait.
I have rambled on as usual but you are now updated with St. A's main news from a pleasantly British Summery Southern England ( bit too much rain)which I hope as you read will help to keep you cool as you venture accross the wild west.
Take great care. x

Mum on

Great to hear from you again and what stunning scenery.Unbeleivable.Amazing too that you have seen condors-impressive bird spotting!America is certainly a whole new scene and we continue to enjoy all the great pictures.Speak soonxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Lindy on

Your photos of the canyon are great and I loved the description of the train ride!!! Am still amazed that you are on the last leg and will be home next month - not sure how many miles you still have to go but really looking forward to my tour of the USA and improving my knowledge of the geography. Hope you are enjoying cooler weather. Keep your fingers crossed for Andy today - think I only want to watch if I know the score!! - not good for the blood pressure!
Take care love Lindy

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