- Get your kicks on Route 66, the Mother Road.

San Diego Miata Club Road Trip to the Grand Canyon & Grand Canyon Railroad

1w ago


One of the joys of belonging to a car club is going on club runs and road trips. These typically provide special opportunities to enjoy driving while you share your experiences with like-mined people. They provide companionship, suggestions for cool places to go, guidance on how to get there, and what to do along the way and when you arrive. Two-way radios can provide car-to-car communications to further enhance the shared group experience, and to provide the welcome reassurance that you are not alone if something goes wrong with your car.

G​athering for a San Diego Miata Club drive in the East County.

After being away from Miatas for several years (I previously owned several in succession), this year I bought another one. I missed the camaraderie that I had enjoyed with the San Diego Miata Club. Upon my return to the fold I dived in full speed ahead.

Recently several of us drove our Miatas on a wonderful road trip to Arizona’s breathtaking Grand Canyon. We drove much of the way along historic Route 66.

I had forgotten what it was like to pack a Miata for a days-long trip. To make things even more challenging, my new Miata had an even smaller trunk (4.8 cu. ft.) than my previous models – and I tend to overpack.

For help making the most use of that limited available space, I turned to Roadtrip Luggage (www.roadtripluggage.com). They provide luggage that is custom-fitted to the nooks and crannies of what are often space-challenged sports models of automobiles, including Mazda’s several generations of Miatas. They sent me a three-piece set of their soft-sided luggage for my fourth-generation (ND), 2019 MX-5 Miata, to review here.

R​oadtrip Luggage, custom-fitted for a f​ourth-generation (ND) 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata's trunk (and other cars too)

One of the three pieces is made to fit in the trunk’s large, recessed well. Each piece includes a shoulder strap and a large, zippered, outer pocket. The luggage is well-made and the material is durable.

F​ourth-generation (ND) 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata's trunk, showing the recess at the bottom.

Our road trip’s organizer and leader was a long-time member of the San Diego Miata Club. I knew him from when I last owned Miatas, and I had complete confidence is his ability to plan and execute a great getaway for us.

He had planned stops for us along Route 66, through California and Arizona. Included were many points of interest, including several Route 66 museums.

J​an on Route 66 in Barstow, California.

T​here are many derelict, abandoned buildings along Route 66.

H​ave you ever seen anything like that? You will -- on Route 66!

T​his is Wagon Wheel Restaurant's recipe for the absolute best strawberry salad dressing ever!

T​his photo of me with some of my friends from the San Diego Miata Club on our Route 66 road trip is what makes marque car ownership extra special -- going on drives with people who share your interests.

O​atman, Arizona, where wild burros roam the town

Our trip included a visit to the small town of Oatman, Arizona – a place that I had previously visited on another SDMC road trip many years ago. Oatman is famous for its wild burros that freely wander around the streets and even walk into the shops! Just watch out. They kick each other – and you, if you happen to be in their way!

E​ven the UPS driver had to negotiate through the wild burros in Oatman, Arizona!

T​hat's enough of that. Before one of us -- or our cars -- got kicked, we got out of Oatman.

O​ur road trip to the Grand Canyon continues...

U​nfortunately they were closed when we arrived. That negatively impacted my collection of roadside souvenirs!

Police department patches from around the world.

A​nother group photo of my friends from the San Diego Miata Club on our Route 66 road trip.

B​ack on the road again.

A​ sad roadside reminder of better times long ago.

A​ stop in Seligman, Arizona for ice cream and a reminder that the Pixar movie "Cars" featured Route 66.

F​ooled again by the old plastic mustard trick!

B​urma Shave -- "The American safety razor" -- roadside signs were popular back in the day. They still are.

M​iles and miles of miles and miles, punctuated by Burma Shave signs.

T​he Grand Canyon

The highlight of our trip to the Grand Canyon was a two-way train trip from Williams, AZ to the Grand Canyon via the Grand Canyon Railroad. I made arrangements to review that, along with a motor coach guided tour of the Grand Canyon.

There are six classes of service to choose from in restored vintage rail cars: double decker Observation and Luxury Dome cars with panoramic glass windows above; Pullman, Coach and First Class; and Luxury Parlor, with an outdoor rear platform that offers incredible views.

T​he Grand Canyon Railroad (departs from Williams, Arizona).

A​ car from one of six classes of service on The Grand Canyon Railroad.

T​he outdoor rear platform.

One of the unique features of the Grand Canyon Railroad is its highly interactive western theme. Before boarding the train, passengers are entertained with a Wild West show.

S​an Diego Miata Club members enjoying the Wild West show.

A​ll Aboard

Friendly, very knowledgeable guides in the railroad cars describe what you are seeing and answer your questions.

The ever-changing terrain varies from high desert to prairie, and prairie to pine.

On the train, guitar-playing musicians walk through the cars, play music and sing.

W​e've arrived at the Grand Canyon

​The train, at the Grand Canyon station.

At the Grand Canyon you can explore on your own, hopping on and off convenient buses to get around the canyon.

You can also take guided, informative bus tours, with or without lunch. Since our time in the Grand Canyon was very limited, that is what I did, along with other members of our group. Advance reservations are highly recommended.

T​he Grand Canyon

J​an at the Grand Canyon

S​tanding this close to the edge of the Grand Canyon is not recommended.

J​an again. I get dizzy just looking at this picture of myself. It did not seem that close when I stood there.

I​t's time for lunch at the buffet, included with the bus tour.

I​ was very, very hungry after all that sightseeing!

N​ow it's time for some more sightseeing!

D​eparting the Grand Canyon, but there is still plenty to see and do

On the return trip, six-shooter-toting bandits ride up to the train on horseback and walk through all of the cars, robbing the (willing) passengers.

Bad guy riding up to the train to hold it up at gunpoint.

S​tick em up!

A​s the sun begins to set, o​ur journey on the Grand Canyon Railroad comes to an end.

For more information and to make reservations for the train, accommodations and tours, go to www.thetrain.com.

In the rearview mirror -- so long to the Grand Canyon

S​ouvenirs to remind us of our trip

I got more than a little carried away with souvenirs.

I​t's time to call it a night.

Copyright © 2019 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #609r3

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