Last month, my husband and I enjoyed a short, four-day vacation to the Grand Canyon. We’d visited on a car trip with two of our children years ago but found driving through the South Rim frustrating because of the high volume of traffic. Well, lots had changed. Not about the canyon itself--the gorge is still as beautiful and majestic as ever. Plus we were reminded more than once that the Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
The tour package included a night at a historic hotel with dinner and breakfast buffets in Williams (the closest city to the national park), a bus tour of the sights, a night in a hotel inside the park, and the feature we looked forward to most--the train ride. In our minds, the two-hour-and-fifteen-minute ride would pass quietly as we either viewed the scenery or read our chosen books. The ride itself went off like clockwork, but the management of the company must believe the passengers need entertainment for almost the entire ride.
Once I realized the tone, I settled back and listened to cowboy banjo music, entertaining facts shared by the conductor, accordion music by an energetic senior citizen, and a pseudo train robbery. (The conductor even coached us on how to respond and what to say.) We got into the spirit and played along.
The shuttle buses running within the park allow visitors to see the exhibits at their pace. I enjoyed not hassling with traffic and having to avoid unpredictable pedestrians. Clouds and a cold wind arrived close to sunset so we viewed the spectacular color display from inside a restaurant.
Theoretically, I knew the canyon was long--approximately 275 miles. But listening to the bus guide give the facts and figures made me realize what a shock early explorers must have felt when arriving at the edge. Depending on where in its length they encountered the gorge, they might have had to travel for almost two weeks to get around it. Think of the native peoples and the stories they created to explain such a geological feature.
The Grand Railway Hotel (Williams) is a great example of the accommodations provided to travelers many years ago—high ceilings, detailed woodwork, huge dining room, and efficient, friendly staff. Built in 1905 on the canyon’s south rim, the El Tovar Hotel is a national landmark and was originally a Harvey House (the subject of a future blog post). Just sitting on the porch made me feel like I’d been transported in time--especially as I listened to the Hopi flute player and let the plot ideas float in my head.
I’d love to hear suggestions for great spots to visit in the western states. One lucky commenter wins an ecopy of my only historical romance set in the same state as the Grand Canyon: Libbie, Bride of Arizona.
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