We headed out from El Rancho in Gallup, NM this morning about 9AM, with a first stop planned at Starbucks, just four miles West – heading in the right direction for a change! Today’s end goal was to be Flagstaff, AZ.
Yesterday, we walked around Gallup and went into Michael’s Gallery where I bought a really cool ring made by Melinda Salazar (no relation to our friend Eleanor), and this wonderful little Frida Kahlo shrine that I mounted on the dash:
Before I knew it, we were crossing the Arizona line – so unexpected that I didn’t even get a picture of the Welcome to Arizona sign. But, within a few miles, there was the Indian Village right at the same exit as the visitor welcome center.
Next surprise was a sign for Chee’s – Indian-owned shop selling authentic Indian-made pottery, jewelry, etc.
So what’s the surprise there? FRY BREAD – according to one of their signs, the best Navajo Fry Bread. So, I stopped in and bought my first Fry Bread…
For some reason, I hadn’t realized we were on a trajectory to the Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert, but as soon as I caught on, it became our next destination. I took many, many photos today, and rather than try to write a lot about what we did, I’ll let the photos do the talking.
I mean, seriously, who wants to hear something like: “We drove 1/2 mile and stopped at blah, blah lookout and took this photo: then we drove two miles, and…”?
Pictures are worth a 1,000 words, so here goes:
At the Puerco ruins, we met a couple from Damarisotta, and had a nice chat. They have been traveling since mid-January; visiting their son in San Diego and renting a car to come out to Arizona for a while. It’s always nice to run into folks from home; sometimes it’s the license plates, sometimes it’s Max that opens up a conversation.
For all you crow lovers out there, and especially my friend Carolyn, these two crows were hanging out at the Nizhoni Point lookout and let me get within five feet to take pictures.
And I swear they were the same two at Puerco Ruins, who only flew far enough out of Max’s range to tease him!
We stopped and walked the Crystal Forest trail:
After the park, which was a day filled with lots of awe, we headed back towards Holbrook, and the junction of I-40, and on to Winslow, AZ (remember the Eagles’ song and yesterday’s post? Winslow turned out to be another totally uninteresting town for me, so we kept on going…)
In Holbrook, we came across the Wigwam Motel on old Route 66. Closed, but still interesting to run into it!
And for my friend, Lori, who told me on the phone last night about her experience with a huge snowstorm as she tried to get from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon, here’s a picture of that sign you told me about!
I am still marveling at the beauty of this vast landscape. In spite of my desire to drive on two lane roads, the interstates in the Southwest have taken us through such beautiful country. With broad sweeps of sky, vast expanses of sagebrush all around, and red rock everywhere, I can’t imagine how poking along on two lanes would be any better.
Interstates in the Northeast are clogged with traffic, and the “views” aren’t that majestic. But out here, the traffic is light, and the views are sensational. Plus, we can make some serious time every day – which is becoming more important to me as we approach the West Coast (and take these interesting side trips to places like the Painted Desert and the Grand Canyon).
Ever onward, we arrived in Flagstaff about 4:45 and found a La Quinta where we are safely and happily settled in. When we arrived, the temperature was around 54, so that alone is enough to make us both happy.
Tomorrow, the Grand Canyon…