I should never go away, however DH and I had planned for several weeks to travel southwest from Colorado through Santa Fe, New Mexico and on down to Williams, Arizona in order to take the Grand Canyon Railway Tour to Grand Canyon National Park. Even though I knew there were three design commissions lurking in the wings with deadlines that would fall after we returned from our travels, we went anyway … and as it turned out, we are very glad we did!
If you’ve never taken the delightful two-and-a-half-hour train ride on the Grand Canyon Railway, I highly recommend it. Package tours are available that include lodging at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel (2 nights, including 4 meals) and, if you choose, an overnight stay at Maswik Lodge in the national park, plus a bus tour of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
This was one of the most enjoyable vacations we’ve ever had. It was also one of the most successful as far as non-injury … we made it through the whole week without tripping, falling or being blown into the Grand Canyon by gusty winds! We also timed our travel perfectly to avoid the arctic blast that hit Colorado the day after we left on the road trip.
Since we traveled many miles by car, there were several hours of knitting/crochet time available (not so when we were out of the car, however — too much to see and do!) I managed to complete a “travel” baby set consisting of two baby hats and a baby washcloth in Lion Brand Yarn ‘Casey’. The patterns are Better Late Than Never Beanie, Knit Hat (for anyone) and Baby Washcloth.
Grand Canyon National Park was a special place this time of year, less crowded, relaxed and quiet (except for those pesky winds — we had to hold on to our hats and the overlook handrails for safety.) After arriving at the Grand Canyon Railway Depot in the national park, we hopped on the Freedom Tour for an hour-and-a-half bus ride to various scenic points along the South Rim. After all the tours were over, the next day we were able to explore more of the park on our own, using the numerous shuttle buses that take you point-to-point, with pickup every 15 minutes along the route.
And that’s where the owl comes in …
While we waited at The Abyss shuttle bus stop, a little owl flew overhead and landed in the tree above us. DH and I were the only two around to spot it so we were able to get some good photos as it posed for several minutes. When the bus arrived, the driver was amazed to know there was an owl out in the daytime. She quickly took a closer look and got a photo, while several tourists on the bus ran out to take pictures too. The driver radioed the sighting in to park headquarters thinking it might be one of the endangered spotted owl species. I showed her the photos captured on my digital camera and she suggested I send them in to the National Park Service/Grand Canyon National Park, which I did after we returned home. While waiting for identification of the owl, I did some investigating on my own and determined that it looked like a Northern Pygmy Owl. A few days later, we were told yes, it was a Northern Pygmy Owl and that they are common in the daytime (and I must say, very cute!)
To us, the unexpected owl discovery was one of the high points of the trip. Of course, there were gift shops along the way and I couldn’t resist bringing home one of the soft-toy mules (the gift shop clerk called him “Brighty”) …
… plus this raccoon discovered in another shop, the cutest one I’d ever seen. He was the only raccoon in a huge display of assorted plush-toy critters. I told myself if he was still sitting there unsold on the last day of our stay in the national park, a few hours before we had to board the train for the return trip, I would pick him up and bring him home. Here he is!
Now that our travels are over I’ve begun tackling the design commissions that await my attention. It’s difficult to come back from a road trip vacation where you’ve been dining out every meal and haven’t had to cook for a week! At least I have something to look forward to: several new pattern releases scheduled for publication in various books and magazines in 2015 (watch for them next year on my Ravelry designer page) so that will motivate me to finish the commissions at hand. Plus, while I’m knitting and crocheting, I can daydream and relive our fun railway travel experience, the visit to spectacular Grand Canyon National Park and the marvelous owl encounter!
P.S. … Not to mention the blue-eyed horse!