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All aboard the Love Train, Woo, Woo!!
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Sorry, this dragon is in another castle. Hmm, it's been a month.. how about a comic, finally?

Yes, this is actually how you train your dragon: You put them on the Grand Canyon Railroad! The GCR is a popular attraction in Northern AZ (which is where we headed after CONvergence... yes, it's been that long since I did a comic. Bah.), going from Williams to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Normally, we'd just drive the distance, but since this was one thing in my home are that neither of us had done, I thought it might be a fun thing to do.

Arno was unimpressed when I said we were going on the train. Of course... he takes the train to work every morning. Another train ride, ho-hum. But then, I was more or less betting that his daily commute didn't start with a Wild West show, or have a guide pointing out interesting things along the way, or a train robbery, or a stop a the North Pole. (The GCR becomes the Polar Express around Christmas, when kids are taken to the North Pole to see Santa). I also had some personal ties with the GCR: Our friend Byron worked as an entertainer on the train for a while, and my former roommate Sarah worked at the Flagstaff ticketing office. ("Want to make a quick buck?" she told me once, "Buy Polar Express tickets early in the year and sell them on eBay. They're hard to get.")

I booked us first-class tickets for the way there, so we could have breakfast on the train and ride to the Canyon in high style, and got coach seats for the way back (definitely cheaper!). So we drove from Flag to Williams in the morning (which takes about 40 minutes), saw the Wild West show and had a look at an old steam engine... I gather that they still use these from time to time, but mostly they use modern engines that run on bio-diesel, which is processed fry-oil from local restaurants. We saw the Wild West show, boarded the train around 9, and reached the Canyon at 11. We had a delicious lunch at the Bright Angel Lodge, overlooking the Canyon, then went for a walk around the rim and had a peek into the Hopi House, which is a large shop built in the Hopi pueblo style, that offers mainly local Native American Indian craftwork: rugs, jewelry, art, Kachina dolls, and so forth. We got outside in time to see a set of Navajo dances: sash, basket, and hoop dances... similar to what we saw when we went to the Ceremonial parade in Gallup, except the hoop dancer was too far away to see, and as it's really a spectacular thing to see, I'm glad Arno got to see it here. Also, kudos to the dancers, who were performing with smiles in the summer heat at midday! After that, we followed the Trail of Time hike, which gives a cross-section of the kinds of layers in the Canyon, and that led us to a shuttle station where we could be dropped back off at the train depot.

On the way home, we were treated to entertainment by a very young Johnny Cash, and the train was robbed by the Cataract Creek Gang, who were all killed in the shootout in the morning. (Continuity? Pff...)

I'll let Arno take over from here while I pry the telegraph pole off my face...

Oh, also, Arizona has really fugly cows. We don't have the cute Jerseys and Holsteins... we've got the short-faced kind that plow through barb-wire fences and eat cactus. Don't feel sorry for the cow.

This dragon thinks the other dragon made one of her best comics ever!

Indeed I take the train every work day, and indeed it does not start with a Wild West show - Tuesdays is a wooden shoe dance, and every other Friday the train personel sings obscure Dutch operas, but that's about it. We also ge trobbed a lot less by formerly dead gang members, which I ascribe to our tightly run law enforcement. Another strike for the Dutch way!

So, that was a trip. I seem to have fallen into a habbit of waiting for Beedoo! to suggest something, and then nod and let her take care of it and see what happens. A train ride through the Northern Arizona landscape was a bit of a surprise, though, and it made for a very full day. So full, in fact, that I feel I could only properly relate it in the form of a list:

  • A lot of Arizona is cow-speckled sparsely grown land. Did you know this? The train driver had to use the horn to scare the beasts off the track, which only made them harder to catch!
  • The Grand Canyon is still pretty grand. This time we managed a relatively short hike along its rim. It was bueatiful; not just the distant view, but also the plant life and rocks framing it.
  • The Navajo hoop dancer was amazing, and contrasted sharply with the more methodical, slow, meaningful dances on display before. I had not expected something quite so spectacular.
  • I have lots of beautiful pictures of the canyon and spectacular pictures and movies of the hoop dancer. I will not upload them, because doing that always delays these posts way too much. You all will just have to go over there already. Come on, what excuse could you possibly have?
  • Beedoo! really enjoyed her lunch at the Grand Canyon. I don't think she ever enjoyed the taste of something that much!
  • On the way back we ere not in first class, but we did sit in front of a friendly, and very amusing elderly man who might have been my favorite part of the trip!
  • The entertainment on the train varied, but the best part was indeed the very young Johnny cash. The elderly man had a friendly chat with the young man and gave him a big tip. Then he and his wife started teasing their teenage granddaughters in the most hillariously embarrassing way possible: "16! He's doable, right?" "And he has a paying job..." Their expressions were priceless. They'll miss their grandparents, one day, I'm sure. ;)

I had a good time, and we managed to cram exactly as much into the day as would fit. Plus, there were cows fleeing before us. A fine day indeed. :)

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