Life on the road…
A 65 mile train ride to the Grand Canyon, hiking in the Kaibab National Forest, driving through Bearizona Wildlife Park….Throw in a junior rodeo and you have the recipe for another awesome week.
Grand Canyon day started at the depot in Williams with an old fashioned shootout between the “Sheriff” and the “Cataract Creek Gang”. Then it was “all aboard” for the trip up to the canyon. I rode in a reconditioned 1930’s Pullman car that did not feature air conditioning. So we had all the windows open, which added to the thrill. The ride took more than 2 hours and was a masterpiece of nature’s beauty. From flat, level prairie to rugged mountain canyons…..and lots of wildlife, from prairie dogs to large elk….and cows…lots of cows. The cows were the highlight though. They would be standing near the tracks and when the train came along they would take off like a bunch of scared kids, running every which way. Our “Steward” told us the company has to pay market value for every cow the train hits so we didn’t travel very fast…. The Grand Canyon was magnificent. Talk about a huge hole in the ground! The photos are pretty good but until you stand on the edge looking over…Yes Flannery, I did go to the edge where there was no guard rail and peeeek over the rim. It was a major adrenaline rush… While there we were treated with a Navaho sacred dance display. Check out the little guy in the photos, he was a real show stealer. Interesting fact…..The most common injury to humans at the Grand Canyon is squirrel bite. Yes folks, its true…..the squirrels are more dangerous than the canyon itself… They have more signs warning of squirrel bites than death tumbles…..and some of the tourists are real daredevils, standing on the edge for photo ops. After about 4 hours walking the rim and taking over 200 photos, it was time to board the train and return to Williams. Oddly enough, the “Cataract Creek Gang” miraculously recovered from their death wounds and stopped the train to rob all the passengers. It really was quite a fun experience…. Enjoy the photos and if you have never been……..GO!
The Kaibab National Forest is part of the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the United States. Needless to say, the hiking is awesome. I walked so far into the woods, I actually felt myself becoming detached from civilization. It was so peaceful I could have laid down and taken a nap in the pine needles…..I would need my pillow though…can’t sleep without my pillow. Now I know how Rumpelstiltskin felt.
Before I talk about Bearizona I would just like to say that I am not a fan of wild animals in captivity. Having said this, I realize there are many people who devote their lives to caring for these animals who in most cases would not be able to fend for themselves in the wild. When I talked about this with the people who work there, I was left with mixed feelings. The animals are not kept in cages, yet they are not free either…..they are kept in their respective areas by electric fences. OK, enough said about that. Bearizona is a drive through wildlife adventure featuring animals from the surrounding area including wolves, bears, bison and others. It was pretty cool having a huge gray wolf standing in the road in front of the truck. I had to wait for him to move on before I could. They actually have monitors in booths near the edge of the wolf area to make sure people have their windows rolled up. The wolves are not the least bit afraid of the cars and they just walk right up to you. Same thing with the bears. Monitors at the edges of the area and bears that walk right up to your car. They also had a walking area where they kept other animals and featured a birds of prey show that was kinda fun. In one of the photos you will see a very large falcon fly right at me….very lucky photo.
OK, the junior rodeo. What a special treat for me. They had kids as young as 4 years old riding full size horses through what they called “Pole Bending”. Picture the national dog show where the handler is walking the dog through a simple back and forth maneuver through a line of posts….Now picture a 4 year old kid on a horse racing through that same line….incredible! And there were more girls competing than boys. The only difference between a junior rodeo and a baton competition is the smell…and the animals….and all the kids wear cowboy hats and cowboy boots…and the smell…did I mention the smell. In all fairness, I’m kinda getting used to the smell of livestock. I kept thinking about all the years and money involved in Chandler’s (1 of my 4 daughters) quest for a national title in baton twirling….all the traveling, hotels and gymnasiums……at least I didn’t have to buy a horse… :):)
I am now heading for Golden Valley and a temperature change of about +40 degrees….out of the mountains and into the low desert. I plan to visit an old gold mining town and mine. Hoping to stimulate my “Gold Fever”.
The Adventure Continues…..