They advise arriving an hour ahead of the scheduled departure, and I'd suggest now that I'd done it to do so two hours ahead in order to have enough time to look at the information signs, visit the small museum, and have a look through the gift shop. Also, if you want to buy some food to take on the train, you need to allow time to order and collect it. As the train starts boarding 30 minutes before departure, it's worth taking the extra time. We weren't able to give it that much time because my Day Jobbe stuff took more than the four budgeted hours.
We had booked seats in First Class,
with a table for two
(plus a small stuffed bear).
After we left Clarkdale, I ate my lunch and supplemented it with the very nice snack buffet, then made my way to the open-air car, which was located at the end of the train just forward of the caboose. This meant it was possible to take good shots of the train ahead on curves, such as this one over the "S.O.B. Bridge."
The railroad follows the Verde River and traverses amazing scenery. Also wildlife. I saw (but was unable to photograph as I couldn't jump fast enough) mule deer, a bald eagle, and a flock of wild turkey.
Lisa's camera has better zoom than mine, making it easier to take a picutre of the head end of our train from our car near the rear.
The car immediately behind the locomotives is a generator car that provides electricity to the rest of the train.
There are fewer passengers in first class, meaning the observation deck car is less crowded, making it easier to take photos and video.
I mentioned the caboose. It's separate seating, available for groups of six. Apparently the car has been made very luxurious inside. If I had a group of five other people, I'd want to give it a try.
The formation at the top here is known as "Turtle Rock."
There are places where you could reach out and touch the rock walls, but that's a really bad idea, as is looking overboard and backwards, as a tree or rock outcropping could put a premature end to your excursion.
There is a tunnel about two-thirds of the way out. They warn you not to lean out here.
I quickly ran out of superlatives to decribe the land.
At Perkinsville, the outbound trip ends, and the two locomotives cut off and run around the train to take us back to Clarkdale.
In this case, as the head end passed our car, the crew on the train handed our attendant a box of ice cream sandwiches for the passengers ($1 each).
Lisa took pictures of me on the observation car. I had this big smile for the whole 4-hour trip, I think.
Between Lisa and me, we took a whole lot more photos than what are in this entry. See the Verde Canyon Railroad Album I created on Flickr if you want to see the whole lot. It's a really nice trip, and I think it was money and time well spent. I wish we'd had more time to go through the museum and read all of the information signs, but we did buy a copy of the route guide that should have additional historical information to be absorbed at greater leisure.
It's only about 15 minutes drive back down to Cottonwood on Arizona 89A. (We drove up to the railroad on historic route US-89A and back on the more modern state route, for variety.) We'd intended to immediately head out to the Black Bear Diner for dinner, but it took me more than an hour to get the photos from both our cameras uploaded, and as you'll see, I didn't try to label or geotag them precisely, as it would have taken even longer. As it happens, it's a good thing we were in the hotel room for some extra time, as I'll explain in my next entry.