As I mentioned last post, I parked my rig at the Grand Canyon RR RV park and since my train trip wasn’t for 2-3 days, I got to wander around Williams several times with my bike enjoying the historic towns downtown and various old-timey and newer restaurants. It’s morphed into a tourist town since the RR started to get popular so nearly every shop was filled with tourist crap. But since it was early in the season, I did have a comfortable time wandering around in them without having to jostle with thousands of other tourists.
Weather was very nice in early May. I shudder to think how hot it would be in mid-summer. Glad I missed that.
Tried a 70 year old restaurant and had a very nice bowl of soup. Visited the downtown art gallery, read up on the history of Williams, talked to a few shop owners about prospects for the town long term. Saw nearly every era of the towns life represented by the buildings. Some spiffed up and now historical edifices with interesting histories, and others, mostly from the ’50′s that could use some work. Then the occasional closed and shuttered business that couldn’t survive the tourist downturn of ’08.
Had a great time here in the Red Garter. It was remodeled just a few years ago and it was obvious that it was a labor of love by the owner. He did his best to retain the flavor of the old hotel. Would have been interesting to spend the night there but I only had lunch. And yes, it was once a brothel. That’s the old train station across the street.
Had dinner at the Italian place shown above one night. Very good food. Cool decor. Friendly and efficient wait staff. Enjoyed myself so much there that I even bought a weird local wine as a gift for my brother.
When I arrived at the RV park I told them I wanted a spot with the best chance of getting good WiFi. They put me right next to the washroom, restroom, building. It has the WiFi antenna right on top so I was only around 50′ away. Still didn’t get very good signal though. This place is another of those ‘resorts’ that hire some big company to run their web site and WiFi system for them. In general, they suck at it. Every place I’ve stayed at that have a front porch that you have to enter to access the internet slows down the signal so much as to make it very annoying. I know that they are tracking any users as they surf, so they can get more revenue by targeting them for ads. A-holes.
Can’t complain about the park to much though since everything else there was very nice. They did warn me that I’d be parked next to the RR tracks and that a train came through early in the morning and sometimes woke people up here in the back row, but I don’t mind. Grew up next to RR tracks and kind of like that. Turned out that I never got woke up though. To use to it I guess.
So the day finally arrived for the train trip up to the Grand Canyon. The day before, I’d gone to the station and asked if I could take my bike. Sure, not a problem. So, I arrived with my bike and one of the conductors came over and soon had it aboard. Cool.
They had one of those dumb pre-train departure old western shows close by, guns, horses, damsels, but I never bother with those. Just hung around the train and enjoyed the weather.
And soon we were allowed aboard. Very nice, modern train. With some old time touches here and there.
My car’s lower section. All those other people you see in the window are going to the 2nd class cars.
Up in the vista cruiser section. See that nice food layout there? Everything you could want for a 2 hour train ride. Very good coffee. Fresh fruit. Cottage cheese, different cheeses, pastries, breads, rolls, etc. There were two 12-13 year old girls running around and since this car serves liquor, even this early in the day, I overheard someone asking the server how they got an adult ticket? On this adults only car? She said that they aren’t allowed to check IDs but they’ve already told the mom that they’d better behave or off they go. And of course they wouldn’t serve them any liquor. Turned out they were well behaved. Quiet, respectful. But excited by the trip. As were most of us.
This is a one of the two restored RR stations.
The crew didn’t mention much about the horsemen other then pointing them out and giving us some history about those old passenger cars back there and of the railroad lines origins and history. It was built originally in 1901 as an ore and cargo train but soon added passenger cars for those throngs of tourists that had heard of the Grand Canyon and wanted to get a look at it. Even under primitive conditions. Big plus was that the cost was only $3.95 whereas the stage coach ride was $15. Four years later there were several hotels at the rim of the canyon and the train was a going concern. After years of operation, it was shut down in 1968, a victim of the automobile and the ‘road trip’ culture. It wasn’t until 1989 that some folks brought it back to life. Saving it from scrap metal furnaces. The cars were restored, modernized, and put back to work. The restoration story is very interesting too, so you should take this train trip and learn about it.
How about that. A windmill generator.
I did enjoy the spread several times. A little here, a little there.
And finally, after 2 hours we reached the train terminus at the Grand Canyon. A short up hill walk with my bike, and you’re right at the rim.
Next post will have many more pictures of the GC. I took a hike along the rim, left my bike at GC Village. Wished I’d hadn’t done that later, but, oh well.
Anyway, thanks for reading.