Apr 26, 2014
We left the Desert Shadow Resort at 1030 this morning and headed north for Williams, Arizona. We traveled on I 17 rather than State Route 89 suggested by Ross’ brother Dave. Ross spoke to another party about 89 and was told that by the time we arrived in Williams we would be cussing Ross’ brother out from here to Sunday. The weather was good with clear skies and light traffic. As we traveled north the elevation changes and the temperature drops. It was in the 80’s when we left Phoenix but in 50’s when we arrived in Williams.
At the check-in desk we asked about staying an extra night so we could travel the State Highway 89 that was suggested by Ross’ brother Dave because he said it was such a scenic drive. We planned on traveling the road in our pick-up truck rather than the motorhome.
The Grand Canyon Railway RV Park is a part of the larger Hotel and RV Park complex. The park has 124 full hook-up sites and all are equipped with 30/50 amp electrical, free WIFI, and cable. The sites and streets are asphalt with red-rock gravel between each site. The entire facility is very well maintained and well managed. Everyone we have had contact with has been very helpful and cooperative.
After we got settled and connected we visited the depot and picked up our tickets for the train ride into the Grand Canyon on Thursday.
The train for the Grand Canyon leaves Williams at 0930 and at 0900 there is a Wild West Show at a simulated western town constructed adjacent to the rail siding where the train arrives around 0915 and everyone staredt boarding the train around 0920 for the 0930 departure. The show in Ross’ opinion was very juvenile but there were a lot of people that thought it was entertaining which goes to show the reason there are red cars and green cars, because everyone is different.
Unlike Amtrak, the Grand Canyon Train pulled out of the station exactly on time. The primary engines used by the trains are diesel engines although there are two steam powered engines. However, the operating costs of the steam engine and because it’s environmental pollution footprint is dramatically greater than the diesel engines they are not used frequently. The steam engines are used only a few times during the year and those days are published and are only during the very heavy summer season. The weather was cool with the temperature in the low 40’s and temperatures in Grand Canyon were predicted to be in the mid 50’s.
The country side through which the train travels includes pine tree forest, open plains, and heavy forests with old growth pines as you approach the Grand Canyon. The altitude goes from about 6900 feet to over 7100 feet in the 60 miles traveled by the train.
After arriving at the Grand Canyon Train Station we boarded buses which took us to a cafeteria for a buffet lunch. After lunch we re-boarded the bus and drove to two viewpoints where we spend about 30 minutes each viewing these two sections of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River which is located about one mile below the canyon rim where we were viewing the canyon.
After re-boarding the bus at the last viewpoint we were returned to the train depot where we spent an hour walking up a steep hill and 47 steps to a hotel where there were opportunities to empty your wallet if you were so inclined. We were not.
The ride back to Williams included free snacks and soft drinks or alcoholic beverages for a fee. A free champagne toast to the trip was held by the train car attendant with champagne for the adults and apple cider for the kids onboard. A mock train robbery was staged about 10 miles from Williams using the same characters as were used at the show earlier in the morning. Once again Ross’ opinion was another juvenile show and again others felt different.
After we got back to the motorhome we fed the dog and walked him so he could do his business and then we returned to the depot restaurant for another buffet meal. Neither one of us would have bothered with either of the buffet meals if they were not included in the package we purchased.
Today we traveled a portion of the State Route 89 that Ross’ brother recommended we travel for its scenic value. We traveled twenty miles west to the town of Ash Fork where we turned south on State Highway 89. Prescott, Arizona is about 40 miles south and when we arrived in Prescott we found that there was a detour in downtown Prescott due to an annual three day bicycle racing event. We found our way around the detour and proceeded south on 89 and we ran into a curving, steep up and down roadway. We traveled that road for about 10 miles and decided we had had enough of State Highway 89. The other party was absolutely correct in saying that if we took the motorhome over that road we would be cussing out Ross’ brother. We turned around and returned to Prescott where we had lunch at a restaurant called the Fire House. Marge had a calamari taco which she said was excellent. Ross had a chicken sandwich which was made with a chicken that must have been lifting weights because it was the toughest piece of chicken he had ever eaten.
Following lunch we drove to the Prescott Costco to re-fuel and to use the restrooms. Costco has both diesel and gasoline at this location. There are two sets of three fuel pumps with one set having both gasoline and diesel. The price of diesel was $3.25 and that is the lowest diesel fuel price we have seen on this trip. However, it was not low enough for us to travel the 100 miles round trip to re-fuel the motorhome.
As for the scenery on highway 89 the only thing we saw that we considered to be noteworthy were the rock formations we observed as we entered Prescott from the north. (See included photos)
After returning to the motorhome around 1530 we rested and feed the dog and took him out to do his business. Afterwards we drove into Williams and found Twisters. Twisters is a 50’s vintage ice cream shop that looks just it did back in the 50’s when opened. Marge had a milk shake and Ross had a banana split. Both were excellent.
April 26, 2014
Today we were expecting to head east but we woke up to a snow storm and heavy winds. The temperature is around 34 degrees and we are experiencing high winds. We called the front desk and have arranged to stay another night because Ross does not want to drive the motorhome on snowy roads. The weather forecast is for warmer temperatures and sunshine tomorrow.
That is all for now,
Ross & Marge
This note is for anyone planning a trip to the Grand Canyon in their RV and plan on camping in the Grand Canyon Railroad Campground. We were going to purchase our tickets on-line for the train ride and use our Passport America membership to get a discount on the campground fees. However, we had some questions and Marge called the 800 number for the campground and was informed of a travel package offered that resulted in a significant savings in the total fees we paid for the campground and the train ride together. We got a further discount using our AAA card rather than our Passport America discount and the package included the bufffet lunch and dinner as well as the snacks and soft drinks served during the train ride to and from Williams.