Grand Canyon Rail Road

November 13, 2011

A couple weeks ago my husband and I went with his family on a trip north to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. We went up there to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday, but I have to admit that I had such a great time that I sometimes thought it was my birthday.

Here is the first sketch of the trip. I drew this of Richard while we were having breakfast at the Flagstaff La Quinta, which earns a five-star rating in my book because it has the trifecta:

1) Fitness center     2) Jacuzzi     3) Free breakfast

Additionally, the La Quinta is pet-friendly, which I–being allergic to all creatures great and small–was a little worried about. But the hotel was very clean and I don’t think I sneezed even once. Also, having an elevator open to reveal a beautiful labrador standing there is not the worst way to start your day.

Next came the main purpose of the trip: The Grand Canyon Rail Road!

I am crazy about trains, but have had very few chances to ride them. I have been wanting to ride the Grand Canyon Rail Road forever, so this was a great adventure, as well as a perfect opportunity for sketching.

Here is a sketch of Richard, his ‘rents, and the ‘phews on the train as we rode from Williams to the Grand Canyon. I’ve been working with colored pencil ever since my Rim to Rim trip a couple weeks prior (see this post for more on that). In this sketch I’ve learned to pull back a little on the pencils, using them to splash a bit of color on the drawing, without completely saturating every inch of paper.

Here are a few more quick sketches of the fam on the ride up. That’s my nephew Ethan saying his trademark phrase, “I hungry!”

One of the great things about the Grand Canyon RR is the on board entertainment. There are musicians, train robbers, and lawmen. We chatted for a while with this sheriff who turned out to be from my home state of South Dakota.

And what’s a train ride without a little cowboy music?

Once we got to the Grand Canyon we had about three hours to hang out before we had to get on the train to ride back.  We enjoyed a fantastic lunch at a place on the south rim called “El Tovar” where my Arnold Palmer was so beautiful I had to document it.

Then we walked the rim trail and enjoyed the beautiful weather until it was time to catch the train back to Williams. I spent much of the ride back coloring the drawings that I did on the ride up.

The next day we drove back to Phoenix by way of Sedona where we stopped for lunch at a place called Shugrue’s (which was amazing by the way). I did this awful sketch while we waiting for our food.

The girl in the glasses is my sister-in-law Christa and these sketches do NOT do her justice. She is a beautiful woman and yet for some reason she is one of the most challenging people to draw. I have been trying and failing to capture her likeness for over ten years now. Some day I will get it right.

On the plus side, I don’t have to worry about forgetting the name of that restaurant. That is another benefit of carrying a sketchbook everywhere you go. When you go to someplace great you can write down the name so you won’t forget. I have also noted “get the quiche’.”

Please note that I did NOT do the following drawing. I found this in a newspaper in Flagstaff that was talking about a local exhibit and I found it so inspiring that I cut it out and pasted it into my sketchbook for later reference. The artist’s name is Susan J. Klein. I have since located her website which features many other lovely pieces.

At some point during the trip Christa told me about a crayon holder that her friend made for her kids, which inspired me to draw up these plans for a new pen and pencil holder for myself. Since I like to draw on the go I am always trying to figure out easy and efficient ways to carry around all my stuff (or my “instruments” as my boss Kathy calls them).

I have since purchased some fabric, and with some sewing tips from my pal Sharon, I have begun to make this new and improved instrument holder. I haven’t finished it yet but when I do I will post some photos and report on it’s effectiveness.

Thank you Paula and Jim, for such a great vacation.

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