Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas in Arizona

Happy New Year to all. But before I can move into 2011, I feel I have some unfinished business for 2010. I have a race report from Lake of the Sky, a DNS report from Lake Chabot, but most important, I want to do a little write up about our wonderful Christmas.

About 5 years ago when Caitlyn was just a baby, my mom and dad accidentally stumbled into Williams, Arizona, during the Christmas season. There they discovered thousands of children all wearing pajamas and when they asked what the occasion was, learned they were at the jumping off point for the Polar Express. Mom was thrilled and called to tell me that when Caitlyn got a few years older we just had to do this. Well, Sara showed up a couple years later so that pushed our plans back a bit but this was to finally be the year when it would happen.

The girls are 4 and 6 years old which we felt would be perfect. We started making plans and I mentioned it to my cousin who has 3 kids. She mentioned it to the rest of her family and before we knew it, we had 16 relatives all converging on the small town of Williams to ride the Polar Express to the North Pole to visit Santa Claus.

Some of those from the second and third generations:

We all waited anxiously as the Polar Express arrived. We boarded, found our seats, and soon were headed north through the night.

First, cookies and hot chocolate were handed out,

Then the reading of the Polar Express by Chris Van Allsberg:

We had our own copy:

After making it to the North Pole and picking up Santa, we started heading home. Soon Santa came to our train car and was handing out bells. And I have to tell you, we must all be believers because we could hear lots of bells ringing.

Everyone wanted a bell, and got one: (even my cousins little girl Izzie)

It was a magical evening spent with wonderful family. It was fun to think that a plan hatched 5 years earlier had finally happened.

The next morning most of the family had to get back to the real world of jobs and obligations which left my parents, Pat and I, and the girls to board another train and make our way up to the South rim of the Grand Canyon. It was about a 2 hour trip which went by quickly as we enjoyed the beautiful views and entertainment.

Once we got to the canyon we had about 3 hours to enjoy the sites and have lunch before the train would return us to Williams. It was sprinkling lightly and chilly so we quickly made our way to the El Tovar hotel to get warm and make a plan. The hotel was splendid in its architecture and Christmas decorations.

We made our way back outside as the sun started peeking through the clouds which created amazing light and colors in the canyon. The views were stunning.

We had lunch at the Bright Angel Cafe and checked out the assorted buildings and history of the canyon. Way too soon it was time to get back on the train for our trip home.

To keep folks entertained, there was a train robbery that was quite fun. Well, for most of us. Caitlyn wasn't sure what to make of it but she tried to remain brave. One of the "robbers" even asked her for a hug. Before she realized what she was doing, she jumped up and hugged him. It was only after she sat back down that she started to have misgivings.

We watched the sun set through the amazing cloud formations as we headed south. Things quieted down and I think everyone was contemplative about what a wonderful few days we had just had. Even the weather cooperated. We awoke the next morning to 6 inches of fresh snow. It made a special place utterly magical.


Anonymous said...

Catherine, you did a beautiful job of telling our story and how much fun we all had. It was great. Thanks. Love you, Mom.. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing about your wonderful trip.
It sounds like everyone had a wonderful time.
Pictures were great.
I know your parents loved every moment.

Anonymous said...

Catherine, your mom sent me the link & I just loved the stories & pictures. We were thinking of yall as you did the Polar Express. Wish we could have joined you - but ABQ is where we need to be at this time. We do need to get together this year though. Sammie (Dan too)