The Grand Canyon to Amarillo

When we were planning this trip one of the places we had to visit was the Grand Canyon. I found out that you could take a train ride from a town called Williams to the Grand Canyon Rim and back again. So we decided that had to be the way to do it!!

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We arrived in Williams and parked at the Grand Canyon Railroad RV Park. Williams is a small town known for two things, 1) it is the town where the Grand Canyon Railroad track runs from and 2) it is one of the best known towns on Route 66.

View down Williams Main Street.
Café 66 in the middle of Williams.

The following day we boarded the train after an early morning gunfight staged as part of the day.

The Grand Canyon Railroad train. If you are lucky on certain days they run a steam train.
These are the Gunfighters taking on the Marshall.
A volunteer being briefed
The Marshall tidying up the town. One dead, two more to go!!
Boarding the train.

The actual train trip is 2 hours there and back, so they have strolling musicians and a conductor in each carriage who provides entertainment.

One of the strolling musicians.
Our conductor. He was a local wildlife expert and had stuffed toys representing all the local wildlife, which he let the kids stroke as he told you all about them. Very, very good and he certainly knew his stuff, we learnt a lot.
The train trundling along on the way to the Grand Canyon.
We have arrived, and from here it was short walk to the Canyon rim.


The Grand Canyon.
You can’t quite see it but behind Anne to the right a rainstorm was on the way in. We retreated to a restaurant for lunch!!
And after lunch the sun came out.
And it got warmer.
Panoramic view with storms in the distance on the right.


We then got back on the train.

When the train got close to Williams it was held up by the outlaws in the gunfight.

We was robbed!!
And again.
And the marshal came last.
The steam train that is used on Special occasions.
Back at Williams.
The engine at the end of the line.

A very interesting trip and a long day.

After a day of rest we decided to explore an area locally that has huge volcanic cinder fields and remains of Pueblo Indian dwellings.

But before we did that we revisited Sedona and the Red Rock country from the north via Flagstaff. We did this by driving down RT 89A which took us down Sterling Canyon which reminded us of Cheddar Gorge only on a slightly larger scale.

Sterling Canyon
A parking spot halfway down the Canyon.
Getting closer to Sedona the rocks started to turn red.
Some of the Red Rocks we saw last time when we visited Sedona from Phoenix when we were on our way to California.
An Iron bridge that carried RT 89A over a canyon to Sedona.

We had a coffee in Sedona and then headed back to the Cinder field. There must have been a lot of active volcanos around here as the cinder fields were huge.

Huge cinder hills all over the place.
And more.
An overlook that shows you the extent of the fields.
Very fine cinder and cinder dust.

From here we drove down through Sunset Crater National Park to the site of some Pueblo’s.

This was the first and the biggest.
Very inhospitable land to have a house in!!
Built on a rocky outlook which gave it good views.

We then visited another Pueblo in a box canyon.

The sun was going down at this point.
The Box Canyon from the ruin.
Another Pueblo further up the Canyon.
How they managed to live here.

We then moved on to Holbrook so we could see the Canyon de Chelly, and the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park.

Canyon de Chelly is a red rock canyon on a Navajo reservation north of Holbrook which has been home to native Indians for thousands of years.

It has a North and South branch and you can look down into the canyon from roads and overlooks, but if you want to actually travel on the canyon floor you have to do that with Park Ranger or Navajo guide who use 4x4s. This is because the canyon itself is rich farmland and it is still farmed.

To get there we went through some of the Painted Desert.

At the Visitor Centre they have some examples of native Indian buildings.

The Canyon is massive with over 1,000ft drops to the floor below.
Farm buildings.
Pueblo buildings built into the side of the Canyon.
A view down one branch of the Canyon.
This Pueblo building is known as the White House for obvious reasons.
A lookout area.
Closest I have seen Anne to steep drop!!
It also contains steepling Buttes like the ones in Monument Valley.

The Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest were next on the itinerary. It is north of Interstate 40 and the Petrified Forest is on the South side.

The Painted Desert is part of what is known as the Badlands and some of you may recognise the area as it has been used for many films.

Colours are from a mixture of mud and sandstone rocks.
This explains how they were formed.
Beautiful day and Anne’s top matches the colours.
Pink as far as you can see.
And more.
An adobe hotel that used to be on Route 66. It is a museum now.
It contains some painting by a local Indian artist.

And some elaborate windows in the ceiling.

From here we followed the road across I40 towards the Petrified Forest.

There was still more painted Desert.

And then we came across a petroglyph site. These are pictures scratched on black rocks that are thousands of years old and are thought to have been done by Pueblo Indians.

The we started to see the petrified trees. Small amounts at first but they soon became almost forests.

Individual trees.
How petrification occurs.

Still more eroded painted desert.

This was originally a petrified tree that formed a bridge, but started to fail so someone built a concrete platform under it to support it.
There were whole areas covered in stacked trees. You can actually buy petrified trees for your garden, but not from the National Park as this is illegal. They are lying in fields outside the park.

A polished log showing the variety of colours in the logs.

We then moved on to Albuquerque as we gradually moved East towards New Orleans.

We explored Albuquerque, home to the famous Balloon Festival (we were too early as it was mid October).

We entered through the Old Town.
A plaque in the central Plaza.
Police transport.
A view across the central plaza towards the Church.
One of the oldest churches in the USA.
Magnificent interior.
Because it was founded by the Spanish coming up from Mexico it is one of the oldest towns in the USA and celebrated its Tricentennial in 2006.
Some interesting pieces of art in the Albuquerque Museum.

Later we drove to the top of Sandia Crest, a mile above Albuquerque and 2 miles above sea level at 10,678ft. Driving there seemed to go on for ever but the views were worth it.

Albuquerque a mile below us in the setting sun.
Mountains all around.

Managed to get a photo by balancing the camera on a rock!!
On the way down we met some deer.

The next day we went to Santa Fe. This is another old Mexican town but a very interesting place with lots to see.

We started off at the Loretto Chapel , home of the “miraculous staircase”. When the chapel was originally built there was no access to the choir loft. Building a staircase to access it seemed to defeat most carpenters, until, so the story goes, a carpenter appeared and built what all thought impossible, a spiral staircase to access the loft.

It is said the carpenter disappeared after it was built without being paid, so no one knows who he was, how he built it and what wood it was made of.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
Its beautiful front door.
The main altar.
Stained Glass windows.
The ceilings were beautifully painted.

As were the windows.
A lot of the area had colonnaded walkways, some of which were decorated.
On the left is the Palace of the Governors, on the right a market in the plaza.
An unusual clock.
Santé Fe police transport.
A view across the plaza.
Various cars were being driven around.

We then moved on to Amarillo, famous for that song, but it is also home to the Cadillac Ranch. This is field where a farmer has buried 10 Cadillacs nose down and invited people to spray them with aerosol cans.

Very colourful.

We also visited the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum on the campus of West Texas A&M University in Canyon just south of Amarillo.

It is really about four museums in one and no amount of photos are going to do it justice, but if you are nearby make sure you visit it.

One huge exhibit is a complete cable tool drilling rig.

There is a large gun exhibition with guns from the Civil War to a complete case of Enfield Rifles from the UK.

There is also a large vintage car exhibition.

Another area shows teenage bedrooms from 1950 to 2010.

Other floors had a Native American exhibition and a Cowboy exhibition.

Various cattle brands.
A full Indian headdress.

The next post will be the journey down to New Orleans to pick up our friends from England, Kathy and Anne.

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