Grand Canyon Adventure, Sixth of July, 2015

HA!  Said I'd be early, and I am even later than yesterday.  Oops.  Busy day!

So, yeah, we got up early-ish on Monday, had a little breakfast, dropped the ice chest at the front desk (the rest of our bags would be picked up directly from the room and taken back to Williams) and jumped on a shuttle to Mather Point.  And proceeded to walk to the South Kaibab trailhead.  About 6 miles or so.  Along the way, besides stunning vistas looking out over the canyon, we saw an elk, about 20 feet away.  Just watching us, watching him.  Until he got bored and turned away.  A little later we were positively accosted by a gang of squirrels.  Let me tell you about the Grand Canyon squirrels.  Clearly, they've lost any fear of humans, and will go about their nut and berry gathering mere feet away, as though you weren't even there.  But these 4 came out of the bushes and absolutely charged us.  So much so it scared my niece.  My nephew happened to be munching some Pringles, and apparently they wanted some, because they got about a foot from him, and raised up on two legs, begging.  With their little squirrel hands clasped together in a little squirrel begging pose.  You could almost hear them saying "Alms?  Alms for the squirrel-poor?".  We managed to avoid unpleasantness by cleverly (and illegally) throwing a few Pringles to the side of the path and walking away, staring straight ahead to avoid eye contact.
About a mile later we spotted 3 or maybe 4 deer walking a ways off the trail.  They clearly haven't lost their fear of humans, and ran when they heard us coming.  So mostly we just saw their rear ends as they scampered away.
Once we got to the South Kaibab Trail, we headed down in to the canyon.  With each step I was reminded how much harder it is to climb up than down, and how there still wasn't any air.  So after a 1/2 hour or so, I called it quits.  The kids were still raring to go, so I told them to go on for another 20 minutes or so, and I'd see them back up top in an hour.  I made it back up, but it was a near thing.  and about 45 minutes later, so did they.  Lotus was complaining that her feet were dead.  I told her all of me was dead so quit whining.
With that we got back on a shuttle to return to Mather Point and the big Visitor Center/Museum there.  Checked out the exhibits and watched a pretty good little film on the history of the Grand Canyon and all that, then got on a shuttle back to the Maswik Lodge to retrieve the ice chest.
I decided I just couldn't take another 2 hour train ride sucking my own knee caps in a Pullman car, so we walked over to the train depot.  Taking the Greenway over there we passed the stables where the mules are kept.  They seemed friendly.  Mostly looking for food is my guess.  But we stopped and talked to them for a few minutes, got some pictures, etc.
Upon arriving at the depot, I found they were more than happy to upgrade us to 1st Class for the ride back to Williams, so we got that done and had an hour and a half to kill before boarding, so we decided on a final lunch at the El Tovar restaurant.  Very fancy.  Formally attired Maitre d' and everything.  I wasn't sure we should go, considering we were dressed for hiking and not elegant dining.  I was ready if they asked to see a credit card or a cash deposit before seating us.  Except everyone else in the place was dressed like we were - shorts, t-shirts, dusty sneakers and back packs.  It was kind of funny, but I guess they're used to it.  No one batted an eye.  And it was worth it.  The food was the best we had on the whole trip.  I had a veal schnitzel sandwich, Lotus got chicken Cordon Bleu, Om had an Avacado and Brie burger and Eth went for the daily special, a grilled trout over corn and quinoa something or other.
After lunch we headed back to the depot and 10 minutes later boarded the train.  The 1st Class car was just OMIGOD better than the Pullman.  About 10 yards between reclining seats, air conditioning, a little buffet of cheese and crackers and fruit, soft drinks and coffee all laid out.  So, we trained home in style.  Again there was entertainment.  This time a lady playing the accordion and doing "Rocky Top" and "Happy Trails to You".  Oh, and of course a train robbery.  The best organized, politest train heist in history.  I am not sure authentic train robbers in the old West stopped and posed for pics with the kids, but these guys did.  So, that was fun.
We got back to the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel about 5, checked in to our room, found our stuff was already there, and decided to take a swim.  Unlike two days previous, when the pool was nearly empty, it was a complete mad house.  At least 30 people in the pool and 6 in the Jacuzzi.  But the kids were determined so I told them to enjoy, and I went and got my laptop and typed up yesterdays post.  After an hour or so they got out and we all got cleaned up for dinner.  Back to the all you can eat buffet.  Pretty much the same menu as on the 4th.  And the same guy at the pasta station, so that was cool.  After dinner we all agreed we were too damn tired to do anything more strenuous than watch TV, so that's what we did.  This time, they all conked before I did - but not by much.

And I'll go ahead and finish out the trip report by saying we got up at 7 this morning, had breakfast, bought some souvenirs and hit the road by 8, made it home at 2, and have been just chillin' since.  But I think we all agreed it was a great little trip.

If you'd like to do a Grand Canyon Adventure of your own, give us a call or email at Holman Travel - we'll be happy to hook you up!  760.265.3687 or daveholman@verizon.net or www.facebook.com/daveholmantravel !

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