Friday, June 11, 2010

Goodbye California, Hello Arizona

I left Oceanside feeling a bit apprehensive about spending a day in Los Angeles. As it turned out, all I saw of LA was Union Station. I had about 3 hours to kill before catching the train to Arizona and wasn't sure if that was enough time to get anywhere interesting and then get back. Also, I couldn't find anywhere to leave my luggage. Union Station is quite impressive as far as railway stations go – huge, of course, but also quite stylish in an early 20th century way.
The Southwest Chief was scheduled to leave on time and it did. We took off just before 7pm and arrived at Williams, Arizona at about 4.30 in the morning. I had a young girl in the seat next to me and after a while I renamed her “Sleeps With Flailing Limbs”.
From Williams we were transferred by bus to a hotel in Williams Junction where we were given a few hours to freshen up and have breakfast. Great looking hotel and I'll be back there tomorrow night.

Grand Canyon.
The day started in earnest at 9am with a “cowboy show”. Slapstick and quite funny. Then we boarded the train to the Grand Canyon. The scenery on the way up wasn't much – scrub for the most part. I could see mountains in the distance, that was about all.
On board entertainment was provided by a singing cowboy. 'groan' He then asked everyone in the carriage where they were from and told stories for each answer about places he'd played in this town, that city, etc. He's never been to Australia so he didn't talk to me much. Just moved right on along.
The 'host' in our carriage then explained how the Canyon was 4 thousand and something years old. Created during the Flood that made Noah famous dontcha know. More internal groaning from me, especially when he engaged in earnest religious conversations with like-minded passengers. I stared resolutely out the window and kept my mouth firmly shut.
Anyway, we arrived at the Grand Canyon village just before noon and boarded our tour bus for an hour and a half's guided tour of a couple of good viewing spots. The tour guide/bus driver was informative but a bit officious about not letting people linger at the tour stops.
Ran into a couple of Aussies at one of the stops. That was cool. I think they're going back to Williams this afternoon though.

The Grand canyon – what can I say? Incredible. Breath taking. Awe inspiring. Hazy. Windy. It's a mile deep and between 4 and 18 miles wide, the average width is 10 miles I think. All carved out by one river – and it does look to be carved in places. I could see the Colorado River in a few spots and it looks totally inadequate for the task. Colorado means red colour in Spanish but today it is a blue-green colour. There needs to be stormy weather to get the red colour apparently.
I took a few photos (or several) and will go back for some sunset shots later.
There's plenty of equally spectacular landscape in Australia, especially up through the Centre, but nothing on this scale. You can't help but stand there and go “Wow!” Many times Wow. Awesome!