This morning, we awoke in Holbrook, and went to a local café — ??? – for breakfast. This café has been featured on documentaries about Route 66, and there was tons of Route 66 memorabilia all over the place, as there was in the whole town.
We drove through Holbrook, and headed toward the Petrified Forest NP down Highway 180, stopping to smell the roses (or petrified wood) as we went.
The Petrified Forest NP (and Painted Desert) didn’t disappoint. It’d been over 10 years since I last was out here, and it was just as beautiful as I remembered. To cover the 28 miles or so of road took us over three hours! Needless to say, we smelled roses – plenty of them – along the way.
Probably the most intriguing thing to me in the park is Newspaper Rock. Here, the ancients carved petroglyphs into the rocks, which have long since tumbled into a gorge. From the observation point, however, I got some great photos of them – a real link to the distant past.
We rejoined I-40 at the north end of the park, and drove west toward Holbrook again, where we ate lunch at Mr. ???. This was an amazing Mexican restaurant! I had a combo plate, which was slathered in some of the hottest red sauce I’ve ever had. I keep forgetting that red sauce is HOT out here, unlike my days at Taco Bell. I ate it, though, enjoyed it, and carried on the next stop.
Our next stop was a corner shop that dealt in petrified wood, and had many, many dinosaur statues surrounding it. Becky found a piece that she liked for the hearth, and I picked up a couple of geodes for Sio and me to crack open later. I didn’t take any pictures of the dinosaurs – a quarter to snap a photo solo, 75 cents to snap a photo with a dinosaur and you, and 98 cents to put your head through a standee and have your photo taken. A little too rich for me! 🙂
We had originally planned to stop in Winslow AZ to look at the statue depicting the line from The Eagles’ “Take It Easy” (“…standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona…”). However, we didn’t know which of the three exits was the right one, and we were really wanting to see Meteor Crater before it closed, so we skipped it. BTW, in case you’re wondering, it’s exit 252.
As we pulled off I-40 for Meteor Crater, we discovered it would close at 5PM – it was now about 4.15! We barreled down the two-lane, headed for the “other” big hole in Arizona, and arrived about 4.20, just in time to buy tickets ($12 *each*!). We walked to the high observation deck, where the wind nearly knocked us over. Of course, we were huffing and puffing, too – the altitude and attendant thinner air out here is really a killer. We took our shots, and headed down to the lower observation deck, and looked around again.
We jumped in to the theatre, which was showing the last film of the day at 5PM, and enjoyed sitting down for a few minutes. Good film, and free (after paying the $12 to get in!). The gift shop was a little disappointing – lots of stuff, but like so many others out here, very oriented toward rockhounds.
As the place was closing, we escaped from the parking lot, and headed toward the Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. We had reservations inside the park at a lodge that purported to be only a half-mile from the rim.
Flagstaff is a beautiful town, and I wish we had more time to spend in it. We zoomed through, and continued up Highway 180, looking for Highway 64, and eventually the park.
We saw beautiful pine vistas, dotted occasionally with stands of birch trees, all above 8000 feet. Since there’s only a little bit of that span that is above 8000 feet, the birch trees quickly passed us by, but the dying sunlight upon them was truly beautiful.
We also saw evidence of a damaging fire atop the mountain. Whole glades scorched, with nothing but burned trunks, limbless and barren, were on both sides of the highway. I’m sure that nature will recover – it always does – but this was particularly painful to see.
We finally traversed the last miles to the park, discovering that when the park entrance station is closed, you can just drive in! We did, and finally found Xanterra (sp?), and our rooms. A quick dinner in the cafeteria, and we were off to bed.
BTW, the highest gas we’ve seen was here — $2.139. We’d seen $1.939 at the Petrified Forest, but that was chump change by comparison! The cheapest, by comparison was in Hereford TX, at a lowly $1.519.