WHAT’S UP WITH SANTA in Verde Canyon?

Verde Canyon Arizona

Celebrity-Trioby Irene Butler

Published in Travel Writers Tales e-zine

It’s never too early to check out the goings on of the Clause Family and their Merry Elves…

Santa has been sneaking away from the mall on certain days during December. The paparazzi found him gleefully swinging from the side-ladder of the powerful engine of the Verde Canyon Railroad Train in Clarkdale Arizona. Much laughter and singing resounded from within the coaches on these days, and there were sightings of Mrs. Clause and Elfie through the train’s panoramic windows.

Is Santa sloughing off during his busiest season? Is he planning to trade-in the old sleigh and have Rudolph (et al) fly this train brimming with gifts across the sky instead? Or perhaps the old boy just thrills in riding the rails. Known for our private-eye propensities, my husband Rick and I are sent to investigate.

We purchase our tickets and mingle with the crowd on the station platform. Moments after the conductor crows, “All Aboard”, we are nestled in the comfy coach seats. The train pulls out of the station and into the wilderness of Verde Canyon for a four hour trip to the ghost ranch of Perkinsville and back.

The splendour of crimson cliffs reaching into a brilliant blue sky is mesmerizing. I catch my breath looking down from lofty trestle bridges at the shimmering Verde River snaking below on the valley floor. Deer, elk and javelina emerge from the forest of Cottonwoods and Sycamores to quench their thirst. A Great Blue Heron cruises along its emerald waters.

As nature’s extravaganza unfolds outside the windows, Molly, the train’s narrator enriches our experience with historical facts, “This line was completed in 1912 to haul copper ore and supplies to the once booming mining town of Jerome. A miracle of engineering, it took just one year for 250 men using 200 mules, picks, shovels and lot of black powder explosives to lay these rails.”

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