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!!
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.
The following day we boarded the train after an early morning gunfight staged as part of the day.
The actual train trip is 2 hours there and back, so they have strolling musicians and a conductor in each carriage who provides entertainment.
When the train got close to Williams it was held up by the outlaws in the gunfight.
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.
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.
From here we drove down through Sunset Crater National Park to the site of some Pueblo’s.
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.
At the Visitor Centre they have some examples of native Indian buildings.
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.
From here we followed the road across I40 towards the Petrified Forest.
The we started to see the petrified trees. Small amounts at first but they soon became almost forests.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another area shows teenage bedrooms from 1950 to 2010.
Other floors had a Native American exhibition and a Cowboy exhibition.
The next post will be the journey down to New Orleans to pick up our friends from England, Kathy and Anne.