Cruising along historic Rt. 66, we stopped in the tiny town of Seligman to take pictures and get a bite to eat. The diner was more of a gift store, welcoming us with cut-outs of John Wayne, Betty Boop and Marilyn Monroe and a display of Cars mugs, road map t-shirts, and Rt 66 stickers (we got one, of course). A sign for a library points down an empty road to a small one-story building, which the young man at the diner told us is the elementary, middle and high school all in one. There’s nothing much here, he told us, except for this famous highway. In a few months, when he turns 18, he’s joining the Air Force.
Further along Rt. 66, just off Interstate 40, sits Williams, Arizona, the self-proclaimed Gateway to the Grand Canyon. Our campground in this sweet little town is right next to the train tracks, which might seem noisy but is actually a wonderful thing; twice a day, we hear the horn blow as the train departs and we wave to the passengers bound for the Canyon, sixty miles north.
We opt to drive to the Canyon, a long, straight two-lane route with nothing to look at but sagebrush scrub and the occasional peppering of black cattle in the distance. Far off to the east, you can also see snow-capped Mt. Humphreys, the state’s tallest mountain and highest point at 12,800 ft. Driving in this nothingness, it seems impossible that the Earth would open up to such a spectacular site. Everyone’s Grand Canyon photos must look the same, desperate failed attempts to capture the magnitude of this geological wonder. All the colors of the southwest are here, layer upon layer of golds and coppers, burnt oranges and brick reds, and the grey-greens that turn dark blue and purple as the sun shifts.
We fail again at a family selfie but have a wonderful visit on a bright and sunny day. We’ve timed it right; the roads were icy last week and they expect more freezing weather soon. Now, there is just enough snow to build a small snowman. We leave him there to gaze out at what we collectively described as a “big, rocky, vast, breathtaking crack in the Earth.”
Back in Williams, we take advantage of the town’s best tourist offerings: a ride on the zipline, which is dressed as a sleigh this time of year, and pie at the Pine Country Restaurant. The zipline was exciting. The pie was amazing. And there was that canyon too. All in all, a good week. Tomorrow we turn back westward to Lake Mead and Las Vegas, where we are hoping to find a nice spot, a good meal, and some sound advice on how to fix a water problem in the Woodebago. There is always something, it seems, but we are undaunted and ready to add plumbing to our bag of tricks. Already, we are thankful for getting this far.