6/08/2019 to 6/11/2019
Williams, Arizona, Gateway to The Grand Canyon
Saturday 6/08/2019 We left Lake Havasu this morning and traveled 172 miles to the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park in Williams, Arizona. Williams is known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon”. It’s the closest town to the south entrance of the Grand Canyon (still about 60 miles away) and it’s main road, Route 66 was by-passed when they built interstate route 40. They’ve managed to turn it into a very nice tourist destination. I tried to get reservations inside the park months ago but they were fully booked so I decided to stay in Williams because they have a passenger train ride that drops you off at a depot within walking distance of the edge of the Grand Canyon.
We arrived at the RV office, they gave me our site number and I drove to our site. I had no problem pulling in, but when I tried to straighten out the trailer, I couldn’t back up. I got out and discovered that the trailer had a broken leaf spring. Of course, it was a Saturday and I had to wait until Monday morning to find out if the RV repair company I was able to contact could find the spring.
We set up the trailer and then took a walk to the train station to pick up our tickets for tomorrow morning. On the way, we saw the stage where they host a Wild West Show every morning for passengers waiting to board the train. We also toured the hotel that’s connected to the RV Park and gives campers permission to use their amenities. Also, just a walk across the street was The Grand Canyon Brewing Company, so we stopped in for dinner.
After dinner, I took a walk to watch the train returning from today’s ride into the Grand Canyon and took a few photos.
Sunday 6/09/2019 Today was our much-anticipated train ride to the Grand Canyon. We needed to be at the Wild West Show at 9 am after which the train began boarding at 9:15. The show consisted of four cowboys verbally sparring with each other and ending with a gun battle. It was a cute show that kept you entertained while you were waiting to board. At 9:15 everyone boarded and the train began moving at 9:30. We booked seats in the Observation Dome car. It was the second level of a train car and was enclosed on the ceiling and sides with glass. The ticket included breakfast pastries, coffee and juice in the morning as well as some old-fashioned entertainment from a cowgirl playing the accordion. The trip was about two hours and fifteen minutes long and as we exited the train we immediately got on a tour bus who’s first stop was our buffet lunch. We spent about 45 minutes enjoying the buffet in one of the lodges and afterward re-boarded the same bus to begin the tour of the canyon. The first stop was Yaki Point which is closed to private vehicles so only the tour buses can stop. It was fun to see Danny get his first glimpse of the Grand Canyon. We only stayed about 20 minutes and then continued on to the second stop called Yavapai Point and Geology Museum. We again only spent about 20 minutes here. Just enough time to stroll around and take photos. After this stop, the bus drove back to the train depot where we had about a half hour to walk another viewing area near the Hopi House which is a Native American information center and gift shop. Danny bought a few souvenirs here and then it was time to board the train back to Williams. On the return trip, we were treated to a sparkling wine toast (apple cider for the young ones and me), some cheese, salami, and crackers and even survived a train robbery. Courtesy of the same cowboys we saw gunned down in the morning. We really did enjoy the train ride but were a little disappointed that we didn’t get to spend more time in the canyon area. The train ride itself took four and a half hours, the buffet lunch took 45 minutes, the bus ride took time – so we actually only spent about an hour and ten minutes viewing the canyon. I’m glad we are planning to drive into the park tomorrow so we can spend some more time there.
Monday 6/10/2019 We didn’t get an early start this morning because I had to make some telephone calls trying to get the leaf spring on the trailer fixed. I’ve been communicating with Danny’s RV Service (I figured his name was a good omen) and he said he would have to order the spring and it would be delivered the next day by noon and he would be able to put it on. So, once I got that settled we began the hour-long drive to the visitor’s center at the south rim of the canyon. The parking lots were full and after driving around for a while, I dropped Rose and Danny off so he would be able to visit the center and see Mather Point which is the most visited section of the canyon. Luckily I was able to find someone leaving just a few minutes later and joined them at the visitor’s center. We walked the short distance to Mather Point and then walked down the rim trail to the Yavapai Point which we saw yesterday on the bus ride. It was a beautiful day for a walk. The weather was perfect and the views were stunning!
Next, we headed east and took a 30-mile drive to The Desert View Watchtower. We found a nice picnic area and ate our packed lunch and then we walked to the tower. The tower was designed by American architect Mary Colter and completed in 1932. There’s a really nice viewing area outside but the great part is that you are able to ascend the circular staircase to elevated viewing areas. Once again the views were stunning. The inside is decorated in an American Indian motif. And of course, there’s a gift shop inside.
On our return drive, we stopped at the Grandview lookout. There’s a hike you can take here but we only walked a short way down and took some photos before we hiked back up. Years back ( in 1893) there was a hotel at this spot. (Danny looks like he was a little too close to the edge in the one photo – doesn’t he?)
After Grandview, we drove the hour back into Williams, parked the truck in the RV park and then we took a walk into the old downtown Williams. It’s a cute town with plenty of diners and gift shops. We had dinner at the Pine Country Diner and afterward took in a street show with more cowboys shooting it out.
Tuesday 6/11/2019 We hadn't made any plans for today because we were waiting for the mechanic from Danny's RV Repair to fix the leaf spring. He came in the morning and crawled under the trailer to inspect the broken leaf spring. I'd hoped he was there to repair it but he didn't have the spring yet and would stop back later because it was being delivered today. I was getting a little anxious because it was our last night at this campground and we needed this repaired today. I'm unable to move the trailer without a new spring. He showed up around 3:00 with the spring and went to work. It took him over three hours to complete the job. This was a relief but I feel these RV mobile mechanics often take advantage of people in need. They know you are far from home, in a strange town and can't do much price comparisons. I don't mind paying for someone's time but I feel he overcharged me for the spring. Thankfully, the trailer is fixed and now we can move on to our next adventure.
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