Monday’s hike was my favorite part of the whole trip: we travelled west from the Village along the Rim Trail to a spot called Hermit’s Rest about 7 miles away. Some of the group opted to take the shuttle, which ran on a separate road not far from the trail and stopped at eight big overlook points along the rim before stopping at Hermit’s Rest and looping back to the Village. There were ten of us that chose to walk, and it was a fun group. The trail was pretty and the views were amazing; it was just a great hike.
We ended up taking a shuttle the last three miles or so to Hermit’s rest, where we found an old (built in 1904) structure that had been converted into a gift shop and snack bar. Underneath all the modern clutter the primitive design was wonderful.
And now it was afternoon, and the one thing no one wanted to do was risk missing the train back to Williams, so we caught a shuttle back to the Village. The kids and I collected our carry-on stuff from the Lodge and then walked along the Rim Trail back toward the depot. We’d given ourselves plenty of time, so we stopped for ice cream along the way.
Luke had been wanting to look inside the Hopi House (like Hermit’s Rest it was built in 1904, designed by Mary Colter and eventually converted into a gift shop) ever since we’d arrived in the Village, so we stopped there next and had a look around. It was two stories high and crammed full of shiny merchandise, but the structure itself looked like a house I could see myself living in. It reminded me of my grandfather’s simple and beautiful hand-built shack, but with more fireplaces.
And then it was time to head down to the train depot…
…and settle in for the ride back to Williams.
We saw deer and elk from the train, but I wasn’t quick enough with my camera to catch them.
At one point we were overtaken and boarded by armed bandits.
They did a bit of comedy schtick that was pretty funny even to a cantankerous old fart like myself. The three of them came down the aisle demanding “money, jewels and prized possessions” from random passengers, mostly focusing on kids. When the first guy got to me and Luke, my boy dramatically turned his pockets inside-out to demonstrate his possessionless condition. While I was still laughing at that, the big gunman moved to the seats behind us, and I heard him suddenly exclaim in genuine surprise and bafflement, “She hissed at me!” I looked back and saw Elizabeth clutching her beloved picture of Espio to her chest and looking like the first robber that tried to lay a hand on her “prized possession” might lose it at the wrist. The bandit moved on without another word, and I didn’t blame him.
Sometime after the train robbers had left the car, Fiddle Guy returned. He told all the same jokes and played all the same bits of music as he had on Sunday, and they were still lame.
We rolled into the Williams Depot around 5:45pm, bought an obligatory Grand Canyon Railway Christmas ornament and a tee-shirt, and loaded up the Saturn for the long drive home.
I made one big mistake on this outing, and that was not printing out the driving instructions in BOTH directions. I didn’t think about it until we were already in Arizona, and then I figured it wouldn’t really matter because I could just follow my printed instructions except in reverse. The trouble was that without actual exit names and numbers, it wasn’t as simple as it seemed. Specifically, it turns out that there is more than one way to get from I-40W to US-95S, and I managed to take the wrong one. By the time I’d realized my mistake I figured I might as well just keep going, since I knew I had to be on the 95 eventually anyway. The worrisome thing was, there was no sign of civilization for miles and miles and the AZ/CA border did not appear to be anywhere near where we’d left it on our way to Williams. I confess, I was beginning to quietly freak out a little. But Luke and Elizabeth responded to the situation with a combination of stoic acceptance and cheerful sense of adventure, and pretty soon we were making jokes about finally making it across the Arizona border only to find ourselves in New Mexico. If I have to be lost in the middle of nowhere, my kids are the people I want to be lost with.
Eventually we reached a town, and I stopped at a gas station to fill up and find out where the hell we were in relation to the border. So that’s when I found out that my poor choice of exits had brought us to Lake Havasu, well north of where we should have been, but that staying on the 95 was still our best bet. We eventually crossed the border in Parker and got back to Anza without any further incidents. The next day I google-mapped our detour and learned that I’d inadvertently added about 150 miles to our journey home. The baffling part was that it didn’t really take us that much longer at all. We left Williams at about 6:30 Monday afternoon and were home by 1am Tuesday morning, so about 6.5 hours. According to Google it should have taken over nine hours to travel home the way we did. Not that I’m complaining, mind you.
[EDIT: And now that I’ve had more sleep and checked the route again, ACCURATELY this time, I see that my improvised route only added about 15 miles to the trip. That would explain why it didn’t take us much longer. Whew.]
We slept like dead people, but surprisingly had no trouble getting up the next morning and getting the kids off to school. As eventful and sleepless as our outing had been, it left us more energized than exhausted.
I’ll say it again: the Grand Canyon is amazing. It really is one of the great wonders of the natural world, something everyone should see at least once. The kids haven’t stopped talking about it since we got back.
Still…it’s good to be home.