Monday, 23 August 2010

Rails to the Rim

We arrived at the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park in Williams last Sunday. On Monday morning our trip on the Grand Canyon Railway started with a Wild West Show at the Grand Canyon station.

The train left at 9.30 a.m. and headed off on the just over 2 hour trip to the Grand Canyon. On this railroad the steam train is only used a few times a year, usually it’s a diesel train.

Not long after the journey started, a fiddler played songs and danced up and down the carriage.

The scenery on this route is mostly through the flat plateau, in places there are still the remains of old train stops.

Grand Canyon station is more or less in its original condition.

The train leaves for its return journey to Williams at 3.30 p.m. promptly, so we had just over 3 hours at the canyon, they don't hang around so if you miss the train it's either a $145.00 cab ride or a very long walk!

We had decided to walk to the observation point but as we were walking along the trail, we could see a storm blowing up out of nowhere, so we ducked into the visitor centre, just in time. The lightening flashed, the thunder rolled and the rain poured, it only lasted about a half hour but it was spectacular to watch.

Once the storm was over everywhere smelt fresh and clean. We stayed for the ranger talk and watched another storm building on the north rim.

Navajo Dancers perform outside Hopi House most days they were very good we watched them

before sitting on the wall just admiring the view.

On the return journey there was an accordion/harmonica player who walked up and down the carriage. He was selling small harmonicas for $5.00 each some of the kids bought them, bet the parents loved that!

Just outside of Williams there was a hold up, train robbers on horseback (not Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, ah well!) forced the train to stop. The Sherriff wasn’t far behind them.

We arrived back in Williams around 5.30 p.m. we had a great day out.

Have fun, we are!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Sort of up to date

We're sort of up to date now. Well, sort of in that we moved to Williams, Arizona last Sunday, so we just have a few days worth of stuff to update instead of a couple of weeks! I never knew being retired would be such hard work!

Hopefully everything will get done this weekend.

Or maybe I'll just have another margarita?

Have fun, we are!

Navajo Nation - Window Rock

Window Rock is the capital of the Navajo Nation and most of the tribes administrative offices are based there.

The Navajo tribal museum has some interesting exhibits, one of which was silver jewellery. Luckily for Mike the necklaces I really liked were on loan from private collections and so not for sale. After checking out the museum we took the short drive to Window Rock Tribal Park.

In the park is a memorial to the Navajo Code Talkers of WWII.

It’s a small park but very interesting.

Have fun, we are!

Hubbell Trading Post

Hubbell Trading Post was established and operated by John Lorenzo Hubbell.

The rear of the trading post.

It is still an active trading post today, although now it is operated by the National Park Service.

Some of the rugs for sale are absolutely gorgeous but the amount of work that goes into making one means they are way beyond my budget.

John Lorenzo Hubbell is buried on Hubbell Hill just behind the trading post. It was certainly a very interesting place to look around.

Have fun, we are!

White Mountains - Kinishba

A short drive from Fort Apache is Kinishba Ruins.

The entrance fee to Fort Apache also allows you to visit the ruins you are only allowed to visit with permission so the museum staff date stamped our guide in case of any queries by the Tribal Police or a tribe member.

A dirt road takes you out to the site which was reconstructed during the 1940’s.

At one time there was a museum a caretaker who lived on site and Apache guides would provide tours. However, the museum was closed due to vandalism and now you take a self guided tour.

A stream runs on one side of the ruins.

Even with all the reconstruction it’s a very evocative place.

Have fun, we are!

White Mountains - Fort Apache

Fort Apache is on the White Mountain Apache Reservation, we started our visit in the museum, they request no photographs inside the museum. We took a seat in a gowa (wikieup) where we watched a DVD explaining the Apache creation story, it is a very interesting museum.

Back outside you can take a walking tour of the fort.

General Crooks Log Cabin.
Officers Quarters.
One of the buildings on the fort is used as the post office for the Fort Apache Area.
The Theodore Roosevelt School still occupies some of the buildings and a lot of renovation work is underway.

It was very hot, but we enjoyed our tour of Fort Apache.

Have fun, we are!

La Posada, Winslow

La Posada hotel is a National Historic Landmark and was designed by Mary Elizbeth Jane Coulter.

The hotel was designed to look as though it was once the grand home of a wealthy, well travelled Spanish family who had lived there for generations.

As most travellers were expected to arrive by rail, the main entrance was and is still from the railway tracks. Paved roads were practically non-existent in Northern Arizona in the 1920’s, cars and guides could be hired to show people the surrounding area. Passenger trains still stop three times a day.

The restaurant was staffed by Harvey girls, but instead of their usual distinctive black dresses and white aprons, Mary Elizabeth Jane Coulter designed a uniform more in keeping with the hacienda style, bright aprons with desert flowers and cactus on them.

Part of the garden.

All sorts of famous people have stayed at the hotel, to name but a few, John Wayne, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Shirley Temple, Howard Hughes.

The hotel opened in 1930, just in time for the great depression, and closed in 1957. After that it was used for many things including as the offices for the Santa Fe Railroad. Most of the original furnishing were given away, thrown away or, in some cases destroyed. At one point the building was almost derelict and due for demolition.

It was saved by the current owners and has been and still is undergoing renovation. It’s a lovely place and one of the highlights of a trip to Winslow.

Have fun, we are!

Take it Easy........

‘Standin’ on a Corner in Winslow Arizona, such a fine sight to see’ sing along now, I bet you know the words!

Here is the girl in the flatbed Ford.

Take it easy............................

Winslow was once a thriving town on Route 66, it was so busy that Route 66 became a divided highway to cope with the volume of traffic.

Then along came I40 which bypassed the historic downtown slightly to the north, so that is where most of the businesses are now situated.

Route 66 in Winslow.

The friendly lady in the visitor centre was very helpful about places to see, we enjoyed our visit.

Have fun, we are!

Monday, 16 August 2010

A hole in the ground, it's big and sort of round!

I'm way behind with our blog, again! We left Colorado over a week ago and moved to Holbrook, Arizona, where it was hot!

While we were there we visited Meteor Crater which is 6 miles from exit 233 on I40. The drive to the crater is through the open range of the high desert.

Meteor Crater was formed when a huge meteorite weighing about 1,400 pounds crashed into northern Arizona 50,000 years ago, creating a crater 700ft deep, 4,000 ft across and 2½ miles round.

For many years meteor crater was thought to have been caused by volcanic activity.

Part of the original meteorite.

Early in the 20th century a mining engineer, Daniel Barringer, from Philadelphia obtained mining leases for a 2 square mile radius including the crater. He was convinced that the great mass of the meteorite was buried in the crater floor. Although he spent 20 plus years drilling he was didn't find a thing, but as scientists now know the meteorite mostly vapourised before it hit the ground he was definitely out of luck.

Until the early 1970’s NASA sent Apollo astronauts for training at Meteor Crater because of certain similarities to the lunar landscape.

We did wonder exactly what there was to see and say about what is basically a hole in the ground, but it was very interesting and we spent a good couple of hours there.

Have fun, we are!

Long House Tour, Wetherill Mesa

Before we left Colorado Mesa Verde National Park beckoned, Wetherill Mesa in particular. Wetherill Mesa is only open during the summer and is much quieter than Chapin Mesa.

Leaving early we reached the entrance and started up the long drive to the top of the mesa, as the road is currently being resurfaced the Colorado Welcome Centre recommended allowing for a 2 hour drive. We reached the Visitor Centre had a look around and then joined the small queue of cars waiting for the gates to Wetherill Mesa to be unlocked at 9.00 a.m.

Wetherill Mesa itself is reached by a 12 mile drive along curvy roads up

and down various canyons and mesas.

From the parking area you can take self guided tours using a mixture of foot travel and/or the park tram to Step House, Badger Community, Kodak Overlook, Long House Overlook and Nordenskold Site #16 Overlook.

There are also various ranger guided tours. This particular day we had tickets for the 10.00 a.m. Long House tour.

Ranger Alison led the tour which climbed down the side of the canyon, and, of course, back up! The tour lasted about 1½ hours.

After hiking partway into the canyon we reached Long House and climbed up into the interior. Once everyone was inside Ranger Alison went through some of the things the Ancestral Puebloans would’ve used from the surrounding area.

The Ancestral Puebloans view into the canyon.

These rooms perched high up in the dwelling, would probably have been used as granaries, the doors would’ve been sealed with blocks of stone and mortar in an effort to keep rodents out.

Long House
Long House from Long House Overlook

On the way home, we stopped at various points along Wetherill Mesa to enjoy the wildflowers

and the spectacular views into Montezuma Valley and beyond.

Have fun, we are!