Thursday, September 18

Grand Canyon Trip: Day 1

Williams, AZ

Last night Eric and I drove down to his parents' house to stay the night so we could get on the road early and get started on the 7-8 hour drive to Williams, Arizona, where we're scheduled to catch the Grand Canyon Railway train tomorrow morning. It wasn't as painful as I thought it would be getting up at 4:00 a.m. The excitement of setting off on a road trip helped dull the pain, I think. Thanks to our early start we were well out of L.A. before any of the weekday commuter traffic got started. Once we were out of the city, I promptly fell asleep in the backseat of the truck, my head uncomfortably wedged against the window. Eric's mom was in the backseat with me, Eric's dad drove, and Eric sat shotgun. Uncomfortable as sleeping in the truck was, I fell in and out of sleep for about half our trip. By the time I decided to wake up, we were in Kingston, Arizona and it was breakfast time. I must be getting old, because getting out of the truck my muscles stiffened and cracked and creaked. They didn't used to be so painfully expressive.

From that point on, watching the scenery zip by, I began to recognize where we were. The last time I traveled I-40 through Arizona was 2002 when Mom and I were headed to California in a U-Haul. It is a really pretty drive, alternating between desert, green forests, and low mountains. We made it to Williams well before our check in time at the Grand Canyon Railway hotel, so we drove another half hour into Flagstaff to check things out. There were several little shops to explore in the historical district downtown, but no one found anything that caught their fancy. I did, however, spot a Dairy Queen--a rare treat for me since they're hard to come by in L.A.--and it didn't take much for me to convince my fellow travelers to stop and order up a Blizzard (cookie dough for me!).

Later on when we were finally able to check into our rooms and rest up a bit after the long drive, we crossed the railroad tracks that run through Williams to the main drag. Williams is one of those dots on the map that sprung up next to the railroad, much like my hometown back in Illinois. Unlike Neoga, Williams isn't much more than the Grand Canyon Railway hotel, railroad tracks, and the restaurants and little shops along main street (a.k.a.Route 66). There are a few houses and other miscellaneous buildings, but not many. I imagine most people in Williams make their money off of the Grand Canyon/Route 66 tourists. We whiled away a couple of hours wandering through the shops.

After dinner at the hotel I'm more than happy to lounge in the hotel room. Tomorrow is a relatively early start, and the train to the Grand Canyon leaves at 10 a.m.

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