Sun, rocks, sun, and the scariest fellow tourists around

When I last posted, we were in Flagstaff.

It’s a quiet little college town. Decent beer, not a lot going on. Knowing that we had all day today free to do whatever, I poked around for scenic things within a short drive, and came up with Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument, just a little to the north.

Sunset Crater has nothing on our PNW volcanos, but there were some neat rock formations and scraggly Ponderosas.

We hiked half a mile straight up a hill to check out one of the crater views. I need to get more exercise so things like that don’t make me want to throw up. We were hiking at about 7k feet, but still.

The pueblo ruins at Wupatki are amazing. They date back to about 1100, and were already abandoned about 150 years after that. I’m amazed that so much of it is still intact. I would really encourage anyone who happens to be passing through this area to check the site out. One thing my home region lacks is much in the way of big archaeological structures.

Here’s Lucas playing explorer at the Citadel Pueblo, just down the road from Wupatki.

Afterward we drove back south and west to Williams, “Gateway to the Grand Canyon”. His mom booked us a rail/hotel package here (very sweet of her). I like what we saw of the town on the way in, there’s a wild west theme that looks weathered enough that it’s not annoyingly hokey. We don’t have a lot of time available to look around, so I hope we’ll come back through here on a future trip.

The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel is comfy, and I’m looking forward to the train ride to the south rim tomorrow, even if it does have some silly touristy aspects like a rail bandit “shootout” before we board. We were talking about how we’re not usually package tour people, but this one seems like it’ll be fun, and we’re completely on our own for three hours once we get to the canyon (it’s only a day trip this time because we have to get back to Golden Valley for Thanksgiving), so we can mostly do our own thing.

On the other hand… the package also includes a buffet dinner and breakfast, which didn’t worry me until we got down there and saw what our fellow tourists were like.

Imagine big, lumpy, slow people who can’t tell they’re bumping into everyone else. Little girls in matching pink velour track suits and triangular poodle haircuts. Glazed eyes, wide open mouths, no problem with cutting to the end of the buffet table because there’s no one in front of the bin of chicken wings right this moment. It was a living, breathing caricature of everything people hate about suburban “middle America”.

And the food was essentially cafeteria grub. It’s been a while since I’ve seen jello and banana pudding available as dessert options (maybe college? Or my high school job at the retirement home dining hall, where pasty goo was considered a good thing because it’s easy on the dentures?). Edible, but the kind of meal that makes you wish for a do-over. They had mac & cheese topped with some kind of yellow paint that had absolutely no cheese flavor (Kraft Dinner may be artificial, but it’s way better than this stuff). There was a room full of people gobbling it all down.

It’s a good thing the Grand Canyon is a big, big place.

I’m a little sunburnt, and my eye is having a slight problem I only hope is due to the dry air and not some kind of infection, but onward. Tomorrow I’m going to see one of the wonders of the world.

One response to “Sun, rocks, sun, and the scariest fellow tourists around

  1. Looks gorgeous! I’m envious. Glad you guys are having a good vacation. See ya after Tday!