Day 2: Route 66 and the Grand Canyon

Back to the trip. I spent Friday night, my first night in the new motorhome, in the parking lot of the Walmart in Kingman, Arizona, and was up early Saturday, pumped to get to another shopping destination near Flagstaff and then to the Grand Canyon.

I couldn’t find any place that looked good for breakfast nearby, so backtracked a few miles to a large truck stop I’d seen. The truck stop across the road from it hadn’t fared so well.
Abandoned truck stop in Arizona
After a good, big breakfast, I wandered around the Kingman area for a bit, with no particular destination in mind. There’s some very interesting country in the mountains around there.
Highway 93 west of Kingman AZ
The historic Route 66 has drawn me for decades – how could it not for anyone of my era with an interest in cars? My wandering brought me to the Powerhouse Route 66 Museum, but I got there just after 07:00, 2 hours before it opened.
My little travelling buddy Nanook has so many new places to see! 🙂
Nanook on Route 66
Not quite finished with the area, I headed west on Hwy 68 for a look at Golden Valley.
By 09:00, though, I was far east of Kingman on Hwy 40, headed for a shop where I could get the equipment we need to tow our Chevy Tracker with the motorhome, as well as some general RV equipment and supplies.
Arizona Hwy 40 west of Seligman
A sign along the freeway that noted Seligman as the “Birth Place of Historic Route 66” prompted a short detour that turned into a 40-minute look around the heart of the very colourful little community.
Welcome to Seligman, Arizona
The Route 66 marketing in Seligman is as tacky as it comes – it’s wonderful! 🙂 There are old cars everywhere, the sound of 1950s music coming from some shops, a very good singer and guitar player performing outside another, and some really nice vintage signage amongst all the newer ones.
Route 66 shops in Seligman, Arizona
It took a lot of self-control to not buy anything. I really wanted something – even a coffee mug – but I need more “stuff” like I need a hole in my head (as my Mom used to say).
Route 66 shop in Seligman, Arizona

My shopping destination was Camping World at Bellemont, west of Flagstaff and a few miles past my turnoff to the Grand Canyon. It didn’t take long to have a couple of carts with over $1,000 worth of equipment stashed in the rig.

As I was taking photos of some flowers between the Camping World store and the tracks, this long BNSF train came along. BNSF Railway was created in 1995 when Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Pacific merged.
BNSF train at Bellemont, Arizona
This field of flowers was getting a lot of people to pull off the highway. I’d like to know what caused it – perhaps 100 acres in size, it was the only one I saw like this.
Arizona flowers

I turned north on Hwy 64 towards the Grand Canyon just after noon, with no solid plan as to how I was going to see the canyon. I had done minimal research on this trip, as I had no idea how it was going to go. All I really knew was that Route 66, the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon were all possibilities with fairly short detours from the most direct route home.

A sign pointing to the Grand Canyon Airport gave me an idea of how to get started, and a few minutes later I had a boarding pass for a 45-minute tour in N148SA, a De Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter / Vistaliner.
N148SA, a De Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter / Vistaliner
At 2:00 we took off, and I shot this video to show the approach to the Grand Canyon, then switched to stills.
One of the things that surprised me the most about the Grand Canyon was how it appears so suddenly. The early explorers were travelling through a fairly level open pine forest, when all of a sudden their world disappeared. It’s hard to imagine the thoughts that went through their minds – there can simply be no “Plan B” for a sight like that.
Aerial view of the Grand Canyon
Aerial view of the Grand Canyon
The Colorado River snaking through a canyon that is 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep. “Stunning” barely begins to describe the feeling – I was completely at a loss for words for days.
Aerial view of the Grand Canyon
After editing, I have 199 photos shot in the 27 minutes we spent over the canyon.
Aerial view of the Grand Canyon
The Twin Otters do the high views, the helicopters get down low. I don’t think that one would be better than the other, but they’d be very different.
Aerial view of the Grand Canyon
Having a few clouds added to the drama of some of the scenes below.
Aerial view of the Grand Canyon
Aerial view of the Grand Canyon
The North Rim is some 1,500 feet higher than the South Rim, so has a very different climate, and a much thicker forest.
Aerial view of the Grand Canyon
Aerial view of the Grand Canyon
We landed at 2:40, and 20 minutes later I was at the south entrance to Grand Canyon National Park. Admission is $25 per vehicle regardless of how many people are in it, and the pass you get is good for 7 days.

Nearly 5 million people visit the park each year, and most of them were there when I was. The parking lots were overflowing, the RV spots were full of cars, and I eventually parked in a hatched no-parking zone at the end of a row of cars for my introductory look.

Mather Point, the closest viewpoint to the main Visitor Center, is where most people go, As crowded as it was, though, it wasn’t overwhelming even to this country boy 🙂
Mather Point, Grand Canyon
This turkey vulture was hanging around Mather Point – looking for children, small dogs or people going over the fence for a better photo, no doubt 🙂
Turkey Vulture at the Grand Canyon
A more adventurous viewpoint off to the west of Mather Point.
Grand Canyon viewpoint
Not many people carry real cameras anymore, but when I saw a fellow with one, I asked him to take this shot for me. I often have people ask me to take photos of them, and am always happy to oblige.
Murray at the Grand Canyon
At about 4:30, I left the park and drove a few minutes to the Grand Canyon Camper Village where I got a site with water and 30 amp power in the nearly empty gravel lot for $46. My first RV park ever. Being a practical guy, I can’t help but think that I paid $46 for wi-fi, since I don’t need the water or power hookups except once every week or two. Oh well, I’ll get that figured out.
Grand Canyon Camper Village
Smoke from a forest fire off to the east a few miles moved in for a while, but after a couple of hours the wind shifted and it cleared again. Having elk wander through the RV park was pretty cool.
Elk in Grand Canyon Camper Village
Thunderstorms threatened but never did get us wet. There were 2 groups of tenters near me – one a group of 30 or so students from France, the other about a dozen young women travelling with G Adventures.
Storm at Grand Canyon Camper Village

It had been a very busy day, and I was exhausted. I had a bag of chips for dinner, a couple of beer, and was in bed early, with no plan for the next day except to continue north.


Day 2: Route 66 and the Grand Canyon — 4 Comments

  1. I enjoyed this as I have been there but never in the air. Then watched the other vids in that youtube link. Great way to finish up a (3) cup of coffee!

  2. The first time I went to the Grand Canyon I must admit to being under-whelmed. The light was very flat and a slight haze made the scene appear two-dimensional. As if it were a painting. The next time I hiked down from the north rim. Much better appreciation for the scale.

  3. Murray, think we might have taken same/very similar flight ( our plane Rego. was N227SA) in Oct 2009.
    Absolutely stunning, I spent much time whilst flying over and walking around, trying to keep my mouth from dropping open !!