Saturday, June 28, 2008

Day 3 Grand Luxe Rail Journey - Grand Canyon

It's been a wonderful day. We drove right up the edge of the Grand Canyon in the train, and took a tour with Wayne Ranney, a geologist who had been traveling with us and lecturing since we left Albuquerque. He is very knowledgeable, so it was a real treat to tour some of the highlights of the South Rim with him. We purchased his book, Carving Grand Canyon, and I look forward to reading it as he was such a delightful tour guide.

Mitch and I reminisced about our previous trip with our kids, and how our two-year old daughter had given us such a fright because she was at that age where all she wanted to do was be free and explore. Translation: leaping off the rim. We ran into a mother that was experiencing our same dilemma of the past.

The Grand Canyon is one the few places I have ever been that just defies the camera, and even more so written description, but Mitch managed to capture a few really good photos despite the smoke that was blowing in from California wildfires. We toured two different trails, first going down into the canyon briefly. We walked through a blasted hole in a butte to where we could view some cave drawings that were about 400 years old according to Wayne. An added bonus was seeing a number of California Condors. Back up into the numbers of over 200, the magnificent birds with a 10-foot wingspan were down to 23 left on the face of the earth. It is my understanding that the experts took into their own hands to bring the less-than- two dozen into captivity to get them to breed-- pretty risky venture at the least.

Okay, I admit to having a bit of vertigo, and Mitch held onto me, but then the dizziness faded and I was keeping up with our group better. We backtracked and walked out on the rim with Wayne as he pointed out fossils that had once been on the ocean floor. We were treated to several spectacular lookouts. But by the time we were led back to Kolb's Cabin where we purchased several books including Wayne's, we were ready for some cold ice cream. We toured the lobby of the El TovarHotel and then it was time to go.

Riding back down to Williams, Arizona, we enjoyed the sites of the desert in the club car, where passengers have use of the train's Internet network.

As we ate dinner, we said goodbye to Arizona. Friendly conversation and too much desert were our activities in the club car after an amazing dinner of Elk cooked to perfection. I haven't had a bad meal on this train yet.

After saying our good nights, we climbed into the bunk by our window and watched the desert sky filled with stars pass by as the rocking motion of the train rocked us to sleep.--Ruth Mitchell

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