Our Sessions/Zastrow/Spottswood family trip to the Grand Canyon began with a one night stay at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. Tradition dictates a stay there the night before the early AM boarding of the train to the Grand Canyon. Before boarding, passengers are treated to a Wild West shoot-out complete with cowboys and the town sheriff. Of course no cow-pokes were harmed in the process and visitors are allowed to mingle and take photos the actors afterward. (These same cowboys made another fun appearance on the return trip - details later:) Upon boarding the Grand Canyon Railway you're given a glimpse into the past. Classsic railcars, second level glass-domed seats, and parlor cars complete with bars and lounges transport you to a time of slow and deliberate travel where one could comtemplate life amidst the vast beauty of the West. A snowfall the day before our arrival painted the landscape a wonderous white. Though the temperatures hovered in the forties and forced us to occasionally bundle up, it offered a view many people fail to experience when visiting the Grand Canyon in the summer months. Our tickets for the parlor car (an adults only car for anyone traveling without children) allowed us access to the entire train while providing a level of privacy when desired. Entertainers along with the cast of the Wild West shoot-out mingled with passengers while trying their best to stay in character. Arrival at the canyon is an easy affair. Porters made sure our baggage was delivered to our rooms at the famous El Tovar hotel. The hotel itself is an amazing structure, built right on the edge of the canyon which provides amazing views from any room. The Fred Harvey Suite, which Mom and Earl booked to ensure extra family hang-out space (perfect for cheering on the Green Bay Packers as they battled Arizona Cardinals), boasted of amazing views of this "Grand" national treasure. From sunrise to sunset, every moment from the terrace was picture perfect.