Gallup, NM to Williams, AZ
We awoke with no undue alarm clock issues. (Old hotels have old alarm clocks. I understand them well enough to make sure they are off.)
It was rainy and cool in Gallup. We checked out, grabbed a quick, non-blogworthy bite and headed west on Old 66, seeing some more of the old businesses along the road.
We didn’t cover as many miles today as some others, but we saw as many interesting things today as we have any day so far. I won’t try to mention all the names of the towns, but we did drive through Defiant, which Marian wanted to see just because of the name. We also went through Holbrook, home of the Wigwam Hotel. (We got a photo, not a room.)
Early in the trip, the most interesting item each day invariably was human– a person we visited with or something someone made. As we progress west, the land begins to take center stage. And crossing into Arizona, that trend accelerates. To show that, I’m posting most of the photos below in large format.
Today three activities took our time and attention. In order of appearance, here they are:
Painted Desert & Petrified Forest (outside Holbrook)
I had always heard of the Painted Desert, but assumed it was largely over-hyped. Some pretty colors but probably over a small area. Same attitude about the Petrified Forest; some petrified wood, sure, but nothing that could properly be stated as a forest. However, I always wanted to see both because I learned about them from my aunt, Oleta Wade, who was also my first and second grade teacher. So we went.
Was I ever wrong on both counts.
We went in, with Marian proudly sporting her National Parks Membership badge for free entry. The park has a long drive that takes you past various sights. We turned the first corner and I was speechless. The second corner was even more amazing.
The Park Ranger told us the best time to see the Park is during or immediately after a rain, because the colors are more vibrant. She was right. The bright and contrasting colors of the various rock strata were spectacular. And the petrified trees were large and numerous. Clearly this had been a forest. (In fact, the Park Ranger said when the forest had grown when this area of the continent was located roughly at the equator, as this had been a rain forest.)
I could exhaust my supply of adjectives here, but I will just post the photos. Anything particularly worth describing I will mention in the caption of each photo. (If the caption isn’t showing, hover your cursor over the photo).
particularly worht describing I will mention in the caption of each photo. (If the caption isn’t showing, hoer your cursor over teh photo.)
Also posted is a photo of unofficial park personnel who diligently policed the grounds for anything edible (or shiny, for that matter).
Quick story, as we get to the Park the sun comes out so we bundle up and put the top down for the drive through the park. Better view of the panorama and we love having the open air. At the second or third photo stop we walk away a short distance to get a photo. As we turn to head back, it starts sleeting–mostly sideways! We run to the car and get the top up, laughing all the way. (The top stayed up the rest of the day.)
Winslow (La Posada) and the Corner
After the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest, we drove over to Winslow and ate a late
lunch at the Turquoise Room at La Posada Hotel. Cathy Besson, our good friend in Phoenix, had recommended it and we are glad she did. Wonderful food, wonderful service, wonderful place. La Posada is located right next to the train tracks in downtown Winslow. In fact, it serves as the Amtrack station. It has been renovated and looks great. Just as importantly, all the staff were invariably helpful and happy. It really added to the day. Marian wants to come back and I presume we will someday (perhaps by train).
After lunch we went a few blocks down the street to a certain intersection there in town.
Made famous by the Eagles’ song “Take it Easy,” this corner has become a major attraction for people coming through Winslow. As you can see from the photo at the top, we had our photo taken there as well. (We figured it was easier to take a photo than to explain why we didn’t.) Most people don’t know the background for the tourists photos. So took an extra photograph to show you.
We then raced down the road in an effort to get to the Meteor Crater before 5PM closing. We barely made it. As we walked the pathway to the observation deck, it starts sleeting again. HARD! And the wind was whipping the sleet sideways. HARD! I was a little worried the wind might knock us off the walkway, but as we went down a level into the observation deck we had some shelter from the wind.
Again, the Meteor Crater is something I’ve always heard about. I knew it would be big, but I was amazed. The video we watched afterwards stated it would hold twenty full-sized football fields, along with seats for 3 million fans to watch the games.
With hard sleet and a hard wind, it doesn’t take me long to observe a meteor crater. As we were leaving, the sleet turned into a heavy, wet snow. We were pretty soaked by the time we got into the car.
A Snowy Drive
From the Meteor Crater we got in I-40 and headed about 60 miles to Williams. The snow and sleet slacked off a bit as we drove to the freeway and for the first 20 miles or so, but by the time we got to Flagstaff (about halfway to Williams), it was coming down hard and the slush was staying on the freeway. When we listened to the local news we learned that Flagstaff received nine inches of show, a record for them at this time of year.
We saw a few people slide off, but I was able to get behind a semi-truck and stay in the cradle until we got to our exit. We pulled up to the hotel. It had snowed about 2 1/2 inches here. The show was very dry and powdery. Because there was no wind, the snow just sat on the tree limbs, giving everything a enchanting appearance. (This daytime photo is from the next morning.)
Tomorrow is a day off the Road, and a day on the Train. We’ve never seen the Grand Canyon. Tomorrow we will fix that.