Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday, April 20, through Monday, April 30, 2012: In Arizona:
We started out today for the RV park at the Meteor Crater that is 40 miles east of Flagstaff. Midway, we decided to change our plans and go all the way to the RV park at the Grand Canyon Railroad Hotel/Depot in Williams,

so we could more easily visit the canyon and see some old friends. That added 75 miles to the trip, making it a total of 215 miles. We will be here four days, then go on the Verde Valley, which was where we initially expected to spend almost two weeks. (That plan has also changed.) We arrived about 1:00PM, having gained an hour by entering Arizona (which is in the Mountain Time Zone but does not recognize Daylight Saving Time), and set up in a nice site in a virtually empty RV park. (The train, hotel, and RV park are all operated by our old employer, Xanterra Parks & Resorts). We have stayed here previously. It's a new park, very nice, but quite sterile. On Saturday, we ordered some new eyeglasses for me,

and then went to our favorite Thai restaurant in Flagstaff---Pa To (located in the historic---and recently remodeled---Monte Vista Hotel). It was delicious, as usual.

We then filled up with diesel---for less than $4.00 per gallon for the first time in months---and spent the rest of the day relaxing.

Sunday morning, we walked to the depot to watch the train leave for the canyon. The sole reason was that, for the first of only four times each year, they hooked up the very old steam engine to lead the train.

Becky loves steam engines and wanted to see it and take some pictures of it. It was a fun sight. (The ecstacy of the moment was interrupted by the sight of the diesel locomotive just behind the steam engine; the locomotive was actually pushing the steam engine and pulling the ten passenger cars that followed.  So much for the romance of the olden days.)

Becky then took Ramsey on a 5-mile walk, which had the intended effect of tiring him out,

followed by a stop at the local Blockbuster machine to pick up Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which, frankly, was extremely long and incredibly boring.

Monday was set aside to go to the Grand Canyon to see old friends. 

We headed up (110 miles, roundtrip) early, stopping at my last workplace there, The Grand Hotel, first.

Then into the park to Maswick Lodge, Bright Angel Lodge, the El Tovar Hotel, Yavapai Lodge, the Engineering Department, the Transportation Department, and the Accounting office.  We saw a zillion people.  It was great.

Tuesday, we headed for the Thousand Trails preserve in Verde Valley, near Cottonwood.  It's only a 100-mile trek, so it was easy.  We arrived before noon and set up in a nice site.  This is one of our favorite Thousand Trails preserves, yet we realized we hadn't been here in nearly six years.

Wednesday, I actually played pickleball (not very well, I might add), so I was hurting on Thursday.   Fortunately, it was supposed to rain on Thursday, so we planned to spend the day shopping and eating in the Prescott area.  We had lunch at Murphy's, a favorite of ours in a historic building just off the courthouse square in the center of town. 

Then we headed for Prescott Valley to shop at Costco, and to take a look at the RV park at the Yavapai County Fairgrounds, where we might spend a month near the end of next year.

Friday morning, I played a little pickleball again, and in the early afternoon we watched We Bought A Zoo.  I had very low expectations for this film, but was pleasantly surprised.  It was actually a lot of fun. 

At 3:00PM, we went to see some old Xanterra folks from the North Rim in 2006---Priscilla and Roger Lasch and Tom O'Dell---at the Lasch's home in Dewey, near Prescott.  We ate and drank too much, but it was great seeing them again.

Saturday and Sunday were everyday affairs---pickleball for Becky, mostly---and we actually went to the pool (for about a minute) and the Jacuzzi (for ten minutes) on Sunday.

Our last day in the area, Monday, was great:  We took the Verde Canyon Railroad trip into a beautiful and historic area outside of Cottonwood. We kenneled Ramsey for the day, and had a wonderful time on the train.
The tracks have been in place for 100 years to provide freight access for the copper mine that operated in the area. The freight service survived the closing of the mine, and is still in operation. Just over 20 years ago, a new owner showed up and decided to add passenger service since he thought the path of the tracks went through some beautiful country and might attract visitors. He was right. The passenger operation is very nice, and has now eclipsed the freight operation. It’s really a nice way to see the canyon.

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