Following on from our first motorhome road trip USA post, today we share day 2 of our adventures. This trip was taken in June 2018, on day 2 we learned basic vanlife skills and take an amazing rail trip to the Grand Canyon.
First night sleep in a van
(Miche) Our first night sleeping in a van was interesting. As part of our motorhome hire, we were handed a ‘bedding pack’. This consisted of two cheap sleeping bags, two pillows and two sheets. Perfect in the 100 degrees heat!
The van air con, we soon discovered, was deafening when switched on. This improved our sign language skills, but it just wasn’t up to the job in the extreme Arizona heat. Having hastily thrown our bedding pack above the front cab, Dave kindly suggested I go first, climbing into bed, what a gent. There were no visible steps or ladder so I clamber up very un-lady like using the back of the sofa.
Dave’s chuckling away, stood back enjoying the show as I clamber up the furniture. Go camping he said, it’ll be fun he said…
Having reached the sleeping area I try to arrange the sheets across the bed but I’m kneeling on them. I throw the pillows up one end of the bed, banging my head umpteen times in the process. There isn’t enough room to sit up in bed so after several minutes of huffing, sweating and head banging I settle in bed squashed up against the front wall feeling claustrophobic and no room to turn over. Dave climbs in, lays down and falls asleep in seconds. Just brilliant!
The air con is still screeching out warm air during the night. We tried switching it off to go to sleep, which lasted about 2 minutes before we were melting and couldn’t breathe. Air con screeching it is then.
Wide awake club
At 5am we’re wide awake (jetlag still playing havoc) on Day 2 in Williams Arizona. We are bloody freezing and are curled up like two tiny chrysalis pods with teeth chattering and brain freeze headaches.
Dave bounds out of bed to make our morning coffee, except the burners won’t light. At this point we discover the vans ‘welcome and essential items pack’ doesn’t include matches so you can light the bloody gas hob.
Luckily our particular model of luxury hired van included a microwave. Dave had already worked out how to hook us up to the electric post outside so I microwaved some water. Dave then reminds me that we can’t drink from the tank water. I repeat the process and microwave another jug of ‘bottled’ water.
Dave the hunter gatherer
At 6:30am Dave turns hunter gatherer and goes out looking for fire lighting apparatus. The only place open is a nearby hotel. He pops in for matches but spots the guest buffet breakfast. Hellllooooo. Armed with two paper cups of coffee and two bagels up his jumper, he nonchalantly walks out and runs across the parking lot giggling like a naughty school boy caught smoking behind the bins.
Meanwhile, whilst Dave was out hunter gathering I attempted my first “Navy shower” in the van. The shower hose was connected up to the sink taps. The shower lever wouldn’t stay in the ‘shower’ position so I had to hold it open with one hand and try and wash with the other. I then spent a couple of minutes elbow crunching and dancing in and out of the hot/cold/hot/cold shower dribble. I felt like I’d completed a fitness workout by the time I’d rinsed off the ‘I’m not going anywhere’ shower gel kindly provided in our van welcome pack.
On hearing all the clatter and elbow crunching, Dave went out hunt gathering again and this time sourced the keys for the camp showers from the now open campsite shop. 20 minutes later he returned to the van looking fresh as a daisy having had a lovely hot shower. Smugness.
Grand Canyon Railway
I’m pleased to say the rest of Day 2 was much more fun. We’d booked ourselves onto an all-day train trip with the Grand Canyon Railway. Having checked-in, we were treated to a cowboy show and introduced to our train host for the day.
We’d booked ourselves onto the last train carriage as it included access to an outside platform. We spent much of the trip stood on the back of the train like you see in the western movies.
We had such a fun day, our carriage host provided local stories, history facts and figures about the area and the Grand Canyon where we were headed. Having spent a few hours wandering around the Grand Canyon National Park (south rim) we were back on the train late afternoon heading back to Williams.
As well as refreshing drinks and a buffet we were entertained by cowboy musicians travelling up and down the train singing western songs. We were robbed at gun point by a rowdy group of outlaws. On horseback they chased down and stopped our train before boarding and insulting all the passengers and robbing us. Following a shoot-out, the local sheriff managed to restore law and order and the train continued on so that we arrived safely back in Williams in time for dinner.
Highly recommended: If you’re ever in Arizona consider taking a day off of driving. Instead relax and have fun on the Grand Canyon Railways. We absolutely loved standing on the back of the train, watching the track glide away from us, with spectacular views.
Back in the van, we spent a second night at the Grand Canyon RV Park in Williams. The RV campsite was situated next to a hotel, so we popped in to grab a bite to eat. There was only one veggie option on the menu so we snacked on a soggy wrap and had a wander round the hotel grounds and our campsite. The American RV vans parked near us were enormous as were the trucks and trailers. We walked back to our bean can sized hired RV saying how cool it would be to own a motorhome and where we’d go if we had one. Little did we realise that within two years we would be the proud owners of a brand new van.
To finish Day 2 we put our feet up with another warm beer, the fridge was doing a great job of keeping everything inside the fridge just as warm as outside! Night Night tomorrow we’re back on the road.
Summary: What did we learn on day 2?
Remember to buy bottled drinking water to use in the van. Drinking the on-board tank water is not a good idea.
Fridge warm? Shower lever not working! Gas hob won’t light! – When renting a van check that everything is working before setting out on a long road trip.
Miles travelled: Van = 0 miles / Railway = 65 miles to the Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim)
Campsite: Grand Canyon Railway RV Park 233 N. Grand Canyon Blvd. Williams, AZ 86046
Coming up – Day 3 of our first motorhome road trip. Join us as we leave the lovely town if Williams and head to Wupatki National Park before heading on to our new campsite for the next 3 nights.