|We stayed in Williams, AZ at the Railway Hotel and took the train to the Grand Canyon|
No, there were no tumbles over the rim or falls down the steep canyon walls, although that was on our minds as we inched toward the rim's edge and took in the numbing immensity of the Grand Canyon. What happened was a flat tire on the drive home from Williams. Just a flat tire.
|View from Yaki Point on the south rim|
But . . . it was a flat tire out in the middle of nowhere. We limped 20 miles down a road into the Petrified Forest National Park and parked at the visitor center to look at our deflated tire, but there are no services there, no gas station or any kind of mechanic. Triple A was far, far away.
Jim had popped his shoulder out before we left and had spent the trip one-armed, babying a painful right arm. He could drive, and limited mobility didn't diminish his awe at seeing the Grand Canyon from the south rim -- what a sight -- but changing a tire was beyond him.
He got the jack out and was manfully going at it one armed in the parking lot when a very nice family from South Carolina came over. The husband immediately stepped in and got that tire changed, while I commiserated with the wife about the hurricane back where they came from, and their young kids waited patiently to start checking out the petrified trees. The family was a little worried about their home.
|Ancient logs turned to stone in the Petrified Forest|
Tire changed, sincere "thank yous" and "not at all ma'ams" exchanged, we were on our way, riding on the donut spare.
We had 250 miles to go to get back home. We couldn't go more than 55 mph on the spare, so that's a long, long trip. But we made it, and got to drive through the Petrified Forest on the way, ambling along at slow speeds and stopping often to check out the sights. It was incredible.
|Blue Mesa in the Petrified Forest National Park|
And it was incredible that the little donut spare tire held up for a couple hundred miles all the way home.
You may recall we have catastrophes when we visit any of the wilderness parks -- the washed out roads on our trip to Chaco Canyon made for a Very Scary Drive, and the day after a snowstorm hit the Great Sand Dunes, we had a small river of snowmelt to cross barefoot to get to the dune field.
It's the empty enormity of the west that scares me when these little hazards arise. A flat tire, a washed out road, a river of snowmelt in the way -- normal mishaps seem so frightening out in the big open spaces where no one else is around and help is many, many miles away.
But we're good. We made it home. Nice people helped us.
And the Grand Canyon was magnificent.