A Cowboy’s Town (Chicago 2)

Day 2

The following day, after a series of delays, we arrived in Grand Canyon probably by 5:49 am.* The sky was a dark, puffy grey from the thick clouds that looks like it was oil-painted over a white sky with a light salmon horizon.

Williams Junction, Arizona

Otherwise known as the Williams stop, this stop is not accessible by private vehicles. Oh, the irony. It is the closest stop to the Grand Canyon located up north and is connected to the Grand Canyon Railway.

The rest of the scenery were big, late-August clouds with less-saturated blue cast over a flat terrain of army green shrubs.

The pink-yellow sunshine was coming through. The grass and shrubbery were a vibrant dark green, and the ground was a shade of adobe red. We were traveling at 82.6 miles per hour but the train chugged down by 6am to a stop. The grey sky now has a brilliant yellow and red hue from the white-looking sun. I couldn’t help but take several photos of the beautiful scenery. I looked at the landscape with open eyes

A freight train chugged beside us, going even slower than ours (35mph) that we seemed to be moving in opposite direction. Soon, the freight train was faster than ours (17mph). Even though it was August, outside was already at 47F.

Tall, beautiful evergreen aligned the route. That morning rained a bit. The rain dropped stroke down the window. It surprised me that it would rain in the desert during summer.

Flagstaff

Had we followed the schedule, we would have arrived in Flagstaff at 4:30 am in the morning, but we didn’t. Here, we stepped outside briefly for a quick photo shoot even though it was sprinkling.

Winslow

We passed by many ravines, and one of them was very spectacular. It carved through the sedimentary rocks and was filled with lush greenery. Since we were now the last car, we could see the breathtaking prairie-like view, accentuating the depthless rails from the back of the train.

We made our way to the train cafe. We had completely underestimated the amount of water we should have brought. The two water bottles were emptied last night, so we bought some drinks.

Through the windows was the red Winslow station. Along the track was a train that said, “Pennsylvania.”

Farms, Arizona landscapes, and large puddles in the red mud passed by us. The most gorgeous view was the muddy river next to us. Yet again, we passed another freight train in Holbrook, AZ.

Gallup, New Mexico

It rained in Gallup. The raindrops trickled down the window making one long zigzag in the midst of sprinkled raindrops.

In a field with a backdrop of red rocks were bright yellow flowers-too small to distinguish. The flowers were in a large cluster that highlighted the scenery. The foreboding clouds never seemed to leave us until suddenly, there were no more sign of rain.

The cloud turned white and parted to reveal a deep blue hue over red dirt. The landscapes were magnificent. In one of my photos, I captured an adjoining oak-brown rail tracks in contrast with the busy small bush pattern of the desert landscape.

I finally understood the beauty of the western landscape and why it would capture a cowboy’s heart.

Albuquerque

If the landscape didn’t convince you that were now entering deep-seated cowboy country, perhaps the name Albuquerque did. We had a half-hour stop in the middle of New Mexico and was advised not to venture out of the station.

A few stands near the railroad sold unique jewelry, postcards, and collections of art. They were set strategically just to catch tourists waiting for the train.

After ruminating over the jewelry with my friend, I settled on a southwestern Navajo bracelet made of turquoise and ghost beads for protection. After all, this trip was going to be long and we’re basically on our own.

Ravines after ravines later, we passed the New Mexico Rail Runner train, or it passed us. Since we were delayed, the conductor informed us that we have been crossing paths with trains we don’t normally pass, delaying us further.

Lamy

I squinted my eyes at the far distance in Lamy, New Mexico. Could that be…? A blue lake seemed to camouflage with the distance low blue mountains. By now, it was 5pm or 6pm if you counted the time change, and we should have left Lamy at around 1pm.

In our New Mexico passage, there were cows after cows. It was truly a cattle country.

It became clear on our way to “Las Vegas” that we were going to miss Colorado. As the train rounded a big turn, I captured a photo of our train in a beautiful pastel sunset. It was an exclusive scene that could be seen with the right amount of lateness.

Las Vegas, NM

It was 8:21pm when we arrived. Snapchat captured a dark photo. There seems to be dark looming silhouette of buildings or mountains with an emerald green backdrop, like from Wicked. A single lamp highlighted a low concrete wall.

Raton

Night in the train began. We got ready to sleep, probably even before arriving at Raton. It was nearly two hours from Las Vegas to Raton through the canyon.

Trinidad, Colorado

The conductor wanted to make up lost time during the night. As predicted, we missed Colorado completely to the night. Colorado was meant for another trip.

 


Footnote: *Snapchat confirmed that we were at Williams, AZ at 5:49am

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