|The Mother Road, Route 66: Day 7 (Map)||
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Albuquerque, NM to Williams, AZ (via Winslow, AZ and Flagstaff, AZ) - 773 km (480 mi)
As we left Albuquerque and continued across Western New Mexico, sandstone outcrops emerged and gave more of a stereotypical New Mexico/American Southwest impression.
The towns we drove through now had 1-story adobe homes instead of the working-class, standard homes of Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, etc.. The traditional adobe flats also added to this American Southwest feeling & experience.
It was starting to feel a lot more like we were on a substantial road trip instead of a short jaunt.
The next major city was Gallup, New Mexico.
New Mexico's 13th or 14th most populous community gave us some delicious Taco Bell.
Continuing along, we were trying to follow the Route 66 step-by-step directions as we drove straight through an intersection and onto a dirt ranch road.
The back road allowed us to see some isolated ranches along with a plethora of these little guys - prairie dogs.
The back road returned to our original point after 10 minutes. Finding our way back onto the Route, we drove over a cattle guard and suddenly we were in open pasture land.
While I wouldn't want to hit a cow, they didn't look like they had much interest in getting in our way anyway.
Dumbass horses had to be kept behind a fence though.
As we entered Arizona it was still early, especially seeing as we just gained another hour upon entering The Grand Canyon State.
Our first destination of the day was the Painted Desert - a protected area with a complex geologic history that resulted in a cacophony of colours from slate gray to lavender to dull pink in the dry flats and sharp peaks.
At the first stop in the Painted Desert, I noticed this raven chilling on a nearby pillar.
I crept closer & closer with baby steps to take a better picture, but fully expecting the raven to quickly fly off...
...until I got pretty damn close! (this picture is without any zoom)
Once I was within 3 or 4 feet, the raven started to move his head very slowly to examine me. Without moving his wings or feet, he simply continued to stare at me as I moved a bit closer, inch-by-inch.
The distance in the picture is as close as I got. The raven had instilled some fear in me & I did not want to further instigate the bird, because apparently it wasn't scared of me at all...and that's a bit intimidating.
Adios Mr. Raven!
There is a dedicated road in the Painted Desert which follows an interesting route, instead of Route 66 which simply cuts straight across (the Painted Desert). Driving on this road, we stopped at that raven spot, another lookout & at this location to see some petroglyphs & small ruins.
These are the first petroglyphs I've ever seen...
Abutting the Painted Forest is the Petrified Wood National Park.
I recently had a co-worker tell me about her goal to visit every National Park in the U.S., something which I couldn't even comment on as this was my first U.S. National Park (there aren't exactly a bunch located in the vicinity of Detroit)0.
While I made fun of U.J. for wanting to stop here, the Petrified Forest ended up being pretty neat as the Petrified Wood was really large, impressive and not minor league.
This special wood is formed when decaying vegetation is buried beneath sediments and water passing through the sediments brings minerals into the vegetation structure to replace the organic cells lost to decay.
Back at the parking lot, this raven was scratching some poor bastard's Sequoia.
Leaving the petrified wood behind & en route to Flagstaff, we had to stop in Winslow, Arizona.
You do know why, right?
"Standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona, such a fine sight to see. It's a girl my lord! In a flatbed Ford, slowing down to look at me..." ...from The Eagles' hit "Taking it Easy"?
So obviously we had to stop and take our pictures standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona. The corner complete with murals of a flatbed Ford & a girl in a window.
I felt like a complete dork, but there were a bunch of ornery bikers being all gitty and taking each other's pictures on the same corner - although this made me question their orneriness. Wild Hogs anyone?
Of course I would take a picture of the Bank of the West in Winslow, Arizona instead of The Eagles' corner - so click here if you want to see the corner instead.
After Winslow, we high-tailed it to Flagstaff to meet U.J.'s friend who was driving up from Phoenix to meet us for late lunch.
As we moved down the highway, half of our view was dominated by smoke from a forest fire (thankfully) to the northeast of Flagstaff. We could see the smoke & originating point for miles & miles as we drove down the highway. It never got all that smoky for us, equivalent to a light fog as we neared the eastern side of the forest fire. Studying the horizon, I imagined that anywhere downwind of that forest fire would be in a lot of trouble.
Apparently you wouldn't have any knowledge of the forest fires if you lived in Flagstaff, as it was an impeccable day in the mountain village.
Parking at the historic train station, we walked to some restaurant that was in a very cool old hotel, but unfortunately served mediocre food.
As for Flagstaff itself, it seemed like a nice enough place that others may enjoy; but for me it was too much like Whistler - a ski village in the mountains without that midwestern/working class feel that I truly enjoy.
We had to cut our time short with U.J.'s friend as we had somewhere to be before nightfall. It was an additional shame as we sped along the Arizona Highway 180 out of Flagstaff, as it was a stunning road which led us through the alpine mountains with short grasses and tall pines, resembling something more comparable to Switzerland than to Arizona. I would have absolutely loved to camp here and it was amazing how instantly this road transformed our arid day into something entirely different, enjoyable and memorable.
I will have to go back there one day. Another item for the bucket list I suppose.
Anyway, we were in a hurry because we had to see the Grand Canyon before the night fell.
Notice the people at upper right for scale...
I don't think any descriptions, especially my played out descriptions, are needed for the Grand Canyon - there's a reason so many people long to see it in their lifetime.
I was equally impressed & moved as so many people are. I often want to leave places quickly after seeing them, but I was in no hurry to return to the parking lot this evening.
We probably stayed at the Grand Canyon past the recommended time, as we both wished we had a 40 or a Jooze to sip on the edge. Eventually we fished our way back to the car through the darkness & headed out of Grand Canyon Village because we didn't want to pay the tourist prices for a place to spend the night.
Before we left though, we went to a liquor store to buy some Coors tall boys. I got i.d.'ed and the young man working the counter was very excited as he had never got a Newfie before...he asked me a few questions about Newfoundland and I didn't have it in me to break it to him that he still hadn't met a Newfie.
We would drive about an hour before spending the night at the Route 66 Motel in Williams, Arizona1.
Windsor,ON to Mooseheart,IL via. Michigan City,IN
St.Clair,MO to Bentonville,AR via. Cuba,MO & Mt.Magazine,AR
Conway,TX to Albuquerque,NM
via. Armadillo,TX & Tucumcari,NM
Albuquerque,NM to Williams,AZ
via. Flagstaff,AZ & Winslow,AZ
Williams,AZ to Rialto,CA
via. Oatman,AZ & Needles,CA
Rialto,CA to Pasadena,CA
via. Salton Sea,CA & Mexicali,Mexico
via. Big Sur,CA & Monterey,CA
San Jose,CA to San Francisco,CA
via. Lick Observatory,CA
San Francisco,CA to Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
via. Sacramento,CA & Carson City,NV
Hickison Petroglyphs,NV to Casper,WY
Casper,WY to Winner,SD
via. Keystone,SD & Oral,SD
1 - ArizonaLeisure.net - Painted Desert Arizona
2 - Petrified Wood - Wikipedia
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