Saturday, May 5, 2018

A Grand Time Is Had By All

April 25-30, 2018
Williams, Arizona

This is our first time to caravan with other RVs. For a fun change, Anna rides with me while Bill goes with Donnie for our 150 mile drive from Laughlin to Williams. She agrees the views from the motorhome are superior (they have a truck and 5er), but is less thrilled with how we can feel the wind gusts. We stop in the little town of Seligman for lunch, and are set up at Grand Canyon Railway RV Park in Williams before 2:00. It's our fourth time here because we enjoy the clean, level spaces with close proximity to the little town. We also like being right next to the railroad tracks, which we're glad our friends also think is a plus! And because we're taking the train to the canyon this time, it's even more convenient. With the Passport America rate, it's a very reasonable option.

The skies put on a show for our first Williams' evening.

Turning to fire along the hills.

The grand finale.
Thursday the other two couples are off to Elephant Rocks Golf Course to play 18 holes. I pick up our tickets for the train and bus tour before we take a drive in the forest. On our way we catch our friends at the ninth hole. Coming back we time it perfectly again and meet them at the 18th! They suspect we're watching them via satellite :-)

The train depot is surrounded by Spring blooms.

Enjoying perfect weather.

Also enjoying perfect weather :-)

The surrounding Coconino and Kaibab Forests provide wonderful places to play.

This rough trail ends up at a dead end so we get to do it twice.

A really beautiful course, they all agree they'll come back to play again.
My favorite eatery in Williams is the Grand Canyon Cafe/Anna's Kitchen, and we all enjoy a late lunch at this little gem. It's so much food that none of us need dinner. The guys play a few games of Cribbage then we all call it a night.

I've always lived in California and never saw Yosemite until last year. So I'm not surprised that Anna has never been to the Grand Canyon although she's lived in Arizona her whole life. Thursday we all board the train to remedy that!

Not surprising, Donnie is "volunteered" to play cowboy poker at the pre-boarding wild west show.

Donnie, Bill and Anna - we're on our way!

Jimmy and Maggie

There are several seating options, and we're happy with the comfort and quality of our Pullman Car. 
Fluffy Dog agrees traveling by train is comfy!
The last time (my first time) we were here we came by car and didn't take the shuttles because the crowds were crazy. As a result, we didn't see many of the best viewpoints. So when Maggie suggests we take one of the tour buses with guaranteed seating I know it's a good idea for us. In 1.5 hours we see twice as much of the canyon as before, don't have to wait in line or look for parking, and avoid most of the crowds. I definitely recommend it when you are going for one day.

Anna's first view, she's overwhelmed. Remember your first time?
45 years ago we never imagined we'd be together here. (Tessa wonders why we're missing the view)

No place else is this.

So happy to share this special day with Anna.


Maggie and Bill

A glimpse of the river. See the rafts?

30 foot rafts look like another great way to see the beauty of this amazing place.

The vertical flow at the bottom is the oldest known formation on earth at over 1.2 billion years old.
After our tour we find lunch (the signage needs a lot of improvement) then re-board the train for home. On the way we manage to survive being robbed by masked bandits. 

The get-away vehicle.

They probably got a bigger haul from the first class and luxury cars.
We didn't make it to Bearizona during our last visits so we take two vehicles to see it with our friends. We ride with Jimmy and Maggie, and Lizzy and Tessa share the middle of the backseat like the good girls they are. They're also completely un-interested in all the critters we drive past in the first section.

Mule Deer

 American Burros express their joy at our presence.

Alaskan Tundra Wolf  (in Arizona?)

All the Black Bears are napping.

I had no idea there were this many White Bison in captivity.

Brown Bison sporting a Don King hairdo in the wind.

What big feet you have......

Even lying down these guys are enormous.
Unlike other zoos we've visited, no service animals are allowed in the walking area. Jimmy and Bill opt to stay with the dogs while Maggie and I join Donnie and Anna to see the rest of the park.

I continue to struggle with the oxymoron of "wild life parks". Saving injured and ill wildlife in a safe setting while educating humans on the importance of conserving them and their habitats is a noble cause. However, seeing two dozen seemingly healthy bears, and being told that more are being bred here, makes me question the need. The habitats are a decent size and all of the animals appear healthy and active. Still, I just don't know.

Porcupines prepare a tasty salad.

How do they stay so clean??

The playful North American River Otters keep the kids entertained.
Little bear

Sun belly bear

Kissing pigs (Javelinas).

Gorgeous Red Fox

Post-lunch zoomies.
Post-zoomies hydration.

Well groomed Badger.
The Jaguar is stunning, but all alone and agitated, he makes me sad.

Sweet little fox, I don't remember the breed.

Bobcat in the bathhouse.
The interior of the huge gift shop and Canyonlands Restaurant is beautiful and well thought-out. Current construction includes a small stage and more retail space.
Sunday is Donnie's birthday and we suggest that he show us where they Elk hunt nearby so we can enjoy a day out in nature with all our friends. The winds are high with gusts of 35 mph, a good day to see a beautiful place from inside our vehicles!

Anna makes a delicious chicken salad which we enjoy with chips among the juniper and pinon pines that cover the hills here. 

Donnie gets a birthday hug from Maggie.

Lizzy and Tessa graze on low grass - yummy doggie salad.

Much better to see these beauties in the wild.

Elk hunting camp site.

Beautiful views all around.

Donnie tells us about their last hunt while Anna glasses the nearby hills.

So fun to be out doing what we love with our friends.

What wind??
The Red Raven is a small restaurant with exceptional offerings. For our last night together we celebrate Donnie's birthday and the end of our first of many adventures together.

Thanks for a great time dear friends!


  1. I am also sad that the panther is not happy. It seems like it might be too hot for some of those animals, and what is the purpose of breeding? I agree with you in questioning the need. :( On a happier note, how fun to see these places with friends! We love Williams, too. We went there in our first year of fulltiming and it holds fond memories for us! Safe travels as you continue on your journey!

    1. For such a little town, Williams is a great stop we've enjoyed each time through. Agree sharing it with friends was the best!

  2. We'll have to take the train ride to Grand Canyon some time. Looks like fun. We've been there on a motorcycle trip, but never by train!! The animals are beautiful but I do feel sorry them. The bears are huge! Those paws are gigantic. Glad you had a good time traveling with your friends:)

    1. The train was surprisingly comfortable especially since we took the "cheap seats". The "entertainment" is a bit campy, but lots of fun for families making the trip. Not being at the mercy of the shuttles was a huge plus for us.

  3. Great blog Jodee! The train and the tours might just be the way to see the Grand Canyon--I've been many times but Mike hasn't been since he was a child. I'm with you about zoos, etc.--they make me sad, thus I don't do zoos.

    1. I think the train car and tour bus reduced the feel of crowds for us a bit. Knowing we had a designated spot to return to and that we didn't have to navigate "best places to park" was a nice feature. I can't imagine seeing the canyon as a kid - it's just so BIG!!

  4. Wow...gorgeous 'Tessa approved' views, Jodee! What an awesome get together with friends. Fifth wheels definitely handle the wind well, but the view isn't as massive as what you have. Amazingly, Diana's Escape has a bigger windshield then the Super Duty. :)

    1. Our IMAX window is definitely a plus for us, driving and parked. Lucky Diana to have the bigger view on travel days :-)))

  5. I have yet to take the train to the canyon. My first visit to the South Rim in 2005 I said, I'm going to work here. And yes, rafting is awesome. Never been to Bearizona and don't plan on it. Would break my heart. Lizzy looks like a miniature Tessa. Grand fun with friends.

    1. How wonderful you were able to realize the dream of working the canyon for so many years. Lizzy has a very different face, but they do look like sisters with their coats and coloring. She's a sweet and well behaved dog too.

  6. Boy it really looks like the perfect time to be there. Beautiful skies, gorgeous trees. I have to remember, late April. Can’t imagine going to Grand Canyon for a single day. You sure got great pictures of it. Love the pictures of the blue Colorado so far down below. Your colors are just wonderful especially on the last picture. Photographing the canyon in mid day is very tricky. I’m totally with you on the too many animals in “wildlife parks”. How did so many require being out of the wild? I just can't imagine their sorrow at being so restricted. Not much of a life me thinks.

    1. Some day we'd love to spend a few days along the rim, but every time of year is soooo crowded. Getting to see the river below was such a treat, and really adds to the depth!

  7. Lots of fun and good people. I especially enjoyed "the getaway vehicle." Your captions often crack me up.

  8. We enjoyed staying at the Railroad RV Park several years ago and exploring Route 66 in town. But we've never actually done the train ride to the Grand Canyon. Looks like you had a great time with good friends!
    I'm with you on the issue of wild animals in captivity. It just makes me sad. The only park I've been to that felt okay to me was the Wild Animal Park in San Diego. Lots of space for the animals to roam, and very much like their natural habitat.
    By the way, Bill looks great in his hat!

    1. Many visits to the zoo in San Diego, but I still have to get to the big park - I've heard it's the best by others as well. Bill says thanks :-))

  9. A grand time indeed :-) I still haven't been to Grand Canyon. Now that I know about the train and buses, I may just give it a go when I get there. How fun to be caravaning. How long are you planning to stay as a group?

    1. We split up after Williams, but are hoping for some more joint travels in the future. You'll love the canyon and I highly recommend the tour for a single day visit!

  10. Grand Canyon is one of my favorite places in our travels so far. We visited several years ago and promised to go back. We haven't done the train ride because of time restraints as we leave our pups at home so I have certainly enjoyed your's and others pictures and stories about the ride. Nice to be surrounded by friends and how special to share Anna's first visit there and experience it with her.

    1. One of the smart things about the rv park we stay in is their highly rated kennel next to the depot. Getting to see so much more of it, I can say it's one of my favorites now too :-)

  11. Fun times in a beautiful area.