Our morning started early so that we could make our 9:30am train to the Grand Canyon. We were staying at the RV Resort, so it was a short walk over to the train depot from our trailer and it made the travelling easy. I was nervous at first about a train ride that was just over two hours with two young kids, but it ended up much better than I imagined. Nolan napped for at least an hour, and the passing scenery and entertainment on the train kept us distracted for the remainder of the trip.
The Grand Canyon Railway offers a variety of travel options, varying in price, but we opted for the Pulman Car which was the lowest fare option, and an original 1923 Harriman style coach car that they had refurbished. It made for an interesting ride and all four of us really enjoyed ourselves. It was definitely money well spent.
After an enjoyable ride, we were in for a real treat. The train dropped us off at the south rim of the Grand Canyon and the first thing we did was walk up to just stand in awe of the natural wonder. Halle's first reaction was that it was the most beautiful "picture" she had ever seen, and Brett had to explain that it was not a painting at all.
After taking in our first view, we found a comfortable spot nearby to sit and enjoy our lunch that we had brought. Afterwards we wandered around a little and looked into Halle receiving her Jr. Ranger badge. After picking up her booklet, we learned part of earning her badge meant sitting through a Jr. Ranger talk. We had just missed one close by, and the man at the store told me that the next one would be at the Geology Museum and pointed it out on a map. Upon first glance it looked like it was just over a kilometre away, so we began our hike making frequent stops to take in the view or look for something in Halle's Jr. Ranger booklet.
As we walked Halle started to complain about being tired and hungry and I started to wonder when we were going to reach the museum. It must be just around the corner, right? We had left the store at 1:15 and the talk was at 2 - surely we would arrive in time? We were distracted by the rocks that lined the path on the hike. Large rocks were displayed in chronological order, beginning with the oldest known rock in the canyon and descending in age until we reached the museum. It would have been more interesting if we weren't rushing by the end of the walk.
When we finally reached the museum, I stopped with Halle to finish the last couple of pages in her booklet while Brett went to track down the geology ranger talk. We were shocked to find out it was 2:25 and the talk was just ending... and also that we were roughly 5km from our starting point.
Thankfully Brett was able to track down the Ranger and Halle asked him a few questions about the rocks, and he signed off on Halle's badge and she took her oath... then we had to run for the shuttle that would bring us back to our train that was departing at 3:30. Just as we made it to the shuttle the doors closed and the driver told us "sorry, full" and drove off. In a panic we started searching for an alternate way to get back to the train depot. It was now 2:50 and the train started boarding at 3:15 - there was no way we would be able to hike it back in time. I started to cry, imagining we would miss our train and not be able to get back to our RV until the following afternoon - which would mean paying for a hotel room overnight, paying for another return fare for all of us and paying for another day at the RV park... not to mention leaving the dogs alone in the RV for far too long.
Our heroes arrived in cycling gear, and when Brett spotted them he knew they must have a vehicle parked in the nearby lot. He explained our plight and asked if they could kindly give us a ride back to the train depot. I could not have been more thankful to these kind strangers who loaded us into their rental car and drove us back to the train depot (it only took about 5 minutes to drive there).
Once we boarded we sat on the train, thankful that we had avoided the worst case scenario. The ride home was much more subdued for us after a long hike. Nolan took a shorter nap, and Halle fell asleep for the last half hour of the ride.
When we arrived back at the resort we took the dogs out for a nice walk, and then had a late dinner at a restaurant in Williams. We decided to enjoy a nice dinner out before we took off for Utah in the morning. That drive brought a whole new set of adventures and nail biting moments... I'll have to share those in another post later this week.