Thursday, June 02, 2016

Leaving the Grand Canyon (home again home again, jiggety jig)

One of our last views of the Grand Canyon from near the Hopi House.   
At 3 P.M. on Monday afternoon, we boarded the Grand Canyon train to head back to Williams for one more night.  Everyone was pretty quiet on the ride back.  Some folks had only been there since 9 A.M. that morning, some two days like us, and some probably had been there longer.  You can get different packages.  Anyhow, after strolling around the canyon all day, getting on and off the shuttles, we were pretty tired.  

One of the robbers
At one point the "marshall" boarded the train and warned that train robbers were in the area.  A few minutes later we noticed some shady characters outside our window, galloping their horses alongside the train.  Before you know it, we were being robbed.  We had been told that if we wanted to be robbed (ha!) to put money on our person where the robbers could grab it easily; the money goes to the upkeep and preservation of the Grand Canyon.  After it was all over, the lady in charge of keeping us entertained on our coach asked us if we enjoyed our robbery.  "I've had better," I told her.  

At the big hotel in Williams, we went to our room to find our two suitcases weren't there, as they were supposed to be.  The lady at the front desk told us to go ahead and eat dinner, and when we returned it probably would be there.  She figured the crew just hadn't had time to unload it.  Those of you who have followed this whole saga know that we haven't seen our luggage since.    

I really expected the luggage to arrive yesterday by UPS, but no luck.  The hotel's insurance guy had already been in contact with us, so I called him.  He said we should give it until Friday afternoon (tomorrow, as I write this entry), then contact him again and we'd get the ball rolling.  I'll start working on a list of stuff that was in the suitcases.

We had to be up at 2:30 the next morning to wait for the van that would take us to meet the train at Williams Junction.  I hadn't slept a lot due to concern about our loss, and although I had told the lady at the desk we'd need a wakeup call, it wasn't necessary.  I was awake already when the call came.  There was a family of three waiting in the lobby with us.  None of us had much to say at that time of morning.  

At first I thought the idea of no clean clothes to wear and our lost luggage in general would ruin our Amtrak trip back to Kansas City, but sitting on the train waiting for the sun to come up, I made a decision to let it go:  Nothing in those suitcases was worth ruining my only train trip over.

We felt like seasoned travelers on our way home.  We knew the ropes!  We know how to flush the stool in the sleeper car, how to find the dining car (very easy, this trip, because it was the next car).

We met more people in the dining car:  

A man and his wife from the south of France, Harley riders who had rented a motorcycle for much of their tour of the U.S.  She had lots of tattoos and was very quiet, but he was quite talkative.  He was originally from England.  When they went home, their plane would land in Spain.  When I got back home, I looked up France on the map.  

A man from Malaysia with a heavy accent.  Cliff is hearing impaired anyhow, and any accent handicaps him further, but I try to "run interference" for him.  This guy was very friendly.  He said he works for Exxon.  I asked him if there were troubled times in his country and he said no, it's peaceful there.  There's a temperate climate (t-shirt year around, he said) and they get a lot of rain.  He was on his way to see a niece graduate college in Milwaukee.  When I got back home, I looked up Malaysia on the map. 

At one point Cliff and I were seated at a table in the observation car on the way from Kansas City to Williams and a couple of Amish fellows, father and son, joined us.  We had a great conversation with them, the father doing most of the talking.  I mentioned to them I had just sold my last heifers and missed milking a cow.  He made squeezing motions with both hands (as if milking) and said, "We milk cows this way."  I answered, "So do I."  

One lady across from us at a meal had spent two years in New England living with her dad because he had asked her to.  He recently died, and she was going to live in another state now.  People just weren't friendly up there in New England, she said.  

I had written down notes about some of these folks so I could write about them, but the notes are in the lost luggage.  We sure did meet some people!  Most of them seemed to be seasoned Amtrak travelers:  Some would even shake hands and introduce themselves as soon as we were seated at the table with them.  It was quite an experience for this introvert.  I'm always saying the wrong thing, which is why I often avoid conversations with strangers, but there was no avoiding talking to the folks we ate with.  I don't think I accidentally insulted anyone too badly.  I have a way of doing that, you know.  

I loved traveling by train!  On the way home Cliff and I slept like babies in our bunks, and napped several times throughout the day.  We agree that although the Grand Canyon is something to behold, and it was a big deal to see it (again, for Cliff... first time for me), the train travel was the highlight of our vacation, unforgettable in every way.  Everybody says, "Would you do it again?"

I would do it in a heartbeat, lost luggage and all!  (Amtrak didn't lose it anyhow, it was the hotel people.)  We won't be traveling by train again, because we really don't have that kind of funds, but it was worth every penny for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  What a great 50th anniversary gift to ourselves.

And I have my Kansas City Russian Jewish friend to thank for it, because he's the one who originally suggested traveling by train.   


DesLily said...

that was a great anniversary gift to yourselves..I think we tend not to treat ourselves the way we treat others.. so I am glad you had such a great trip and great anniversary!

Jackie said...

Well, you answered my question! I wasn't quite sure whether you would want to travel again via train, but it looks like you sure would, if you could afford to. I'm glad you two got the chance to cross one more thing of your bucket list. I sure do enjoy the heck out of your stories. Thanks for sharing, and I hope you get your luggage back soon!


Happy 50th. It sounds like you really did enjoy the trip despite the luggage fiasco. Sometimes LETTING it GO is the only thing you can do.

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

So glad the two of you got to have this adventure! I have enjoyed hearing about the people you encountered.

Barbara, blogging at Life & Faith in Caneyhead

Jon said...

Okay, you finally have me sold on train travel. At first I was very hesitant, but the more I read your posts the more intrigued I became. Actually, I have traveled by train a few times - but that was when I was a small child and Lincoln was President. Things are different now.

Your traveling companions on the train sound like the characters from an Agatha Christie novel. I was almost expecting a murder and a who-done-it plot.

Jon said...

I can strongly identify with what you said about being an introvert and having a fear of saying the wrong things. You probably won't believe it but I'm exactly the same way. I wasn't that way in my youth....but I'm painfully introverted now.