Sent: Wednesday, January 09, 2002 4:45 AM
Subject: Days 3 & 4
January 8, 2002
[Note: SLIGHT CHANGE. MARRIOTT IN ALL CAPS; HALEY IN UPPER & LOWERS]
This time I get to do the more serious commentary and Marriott gets to interject comments and make fun of me. ACTUALLY, I'M WAY TOO TIRED TO BE INTERJECTING MOCKING COMMENTS TONIGHT. MAYBE TOMORROW. ;) ALTHOUGH I COULD BRING UP THE PARKING.
Day 3 we awoke in Flagstaff, AZ, and after a frantic search for a Wal-Mart to get some supplies, we got on the road an hour late. (But still, we were on the expressway by 10). First stop: Meteor Crater about an hour outside of Flagstaff. We followed a winding road over flat plains that led to the sight of an impact crater from 50,000 years ago. It was so large it was nearly impossible to comprehend the scale of what we were looking at. I mean, one rock on the edge of the crater was the size of a house, but it didn't look like it. ONE OF THE COOLEST THINGS ABOUT IT IS THAT YOU FOLLOW A WINDING TWO-LANE ROAD ACROSS THE GENTLY SLOPED ROLLING PLAIN TO THE POINT THAT YOU CAN'T SEE THE HIGHWAY OR ANY SIGN OF CIVILIZATION BESIDES THE METEOR CRATER WELCOME CENTER AHEAD AND SOME POWER LINES IN THE DISTANCE. THAT SENSE OF SPACE IS AWESOME. ALMOST AS AWESOME AS THE CRATER. WE GOT TO TOUCH PIECES OF THE IRON METEORITE THAT CAUSED IT, TOO. HOPE WE DON'T HAVE ALIEN COOTIES NOW .
Then it was on to the Petrified Forest National Park. Another fabulous location. "Our Park" as we came to call it just because there were so few people and vehicles around. I guess a Monday in January is a great time to see a natural wonder. The petrified logs had incredible color variations, but I'm sad to say after a while they got to be so commonplace we wouldn't stop to marvel over them. WE CASUALLY (WELL, MAYBE MORE LIKE GUILTILY) IGNORED A ROAD CLOSED SIGN SO WE COULD HIKE OUT TO TWO ADOBE RUINS MADE OF THE MOST GORGEOUSLY COLORED AGATE ROCKS I'VE EVER SEEN. VERY COOL. AND NO ONE YELLED AT US, SO NO HARM DONE. (THEY WERE DOING CONSTRUCTION
ON A VERY SMALL PART OF THE PARKING LOT, SO IT'S NOT LIKE WE WERE IN THE WAY OR ANYTHING.)
We continued through the park and over a rise got our first views of the Painted Desert. Wow! They were gorgeous. Unfortunately, they are too broad-sweeping to photograph well. NOT THAT WE DIDN'T TRY. WE'RE POSTING SOME ON OFOTO TONIGHT. THERE WERE SO MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF TERRAIN THERE. AND FORMATIONS I'D NEVER SEEN BEFORE. VERY, VERY COOL.
We left the park in the afternoon and were on the road again. At about sunset we hit the New Mexico border. (Even though we LOVED Arizona, it was a relief to finally put another state behind us on this trip.) Beautiful cliffs reflected the red of the sun as we drove through. At this point we were starving from not having any formal meals, and made a dinner stop at The Ranch Kitchen, which is an old Route 66 restaurant in Gallup and quite satisfying. AND, AS IT TURNED OUT, A STOP I'D MADE ON MY HARLEY RIDE CROSS-COUNTRY A FEW YEARS BACK. IT WAS THIS WEIRD DEJA-VU FEELING AS WE PULLED INTO THE PARKING LOT, EXCEPT OF COURSE I REALLY HAD DEJA VUED IT.
THEY DID SEVERAL NEAT LITTLE CHEESY THINGS LIKE ASK WHERE YOU WERE COMING FROM AND PUT A FLAG OF THAT STATE ON YOUR TABLE. SO YOU COULD LOOK AROUND THE RESTAURANT AND SEE WHO WAS TRAVELING FROM WHERE. IT REALLY IS INTERESTING. WE'VE MET (OR SAW FLAGS FOR) PEOPLE FROM NORTH CAROLINA, VIRGINIA, IOWA, ETC.
It was now full dark, and would remain that way through most of New Mexico, which was unfortunate as it appeared to be a fabulous state that I would like to come back to. We pushed on and made it to Tucumcari by about 10 p.m. Very tired, we fell into our beds.
We were up at the crack of dawn again this morning -- on the road by 7:30, only to lose an hour after we crossed the Texas border and entered the Central Time Zone. THE TIME ZONES ARE KILLING US. WE'VE GOT SO MANY THING WE WANT TO SEE AND SO MANY MILES TO DRIVE IT IS HORRIBLE TO LOSE EVEN ONE HOUR A DAY. We somehow managed to drive past the Cadillac Ranch, and decided it wasn't worth turning around for.
At this point we joked that we should be careful in our driving because it seemed as though a yellow SUV with California plates would be a prime target for a police man to pull over. On our way to Palo Duro Canyon -- just 30 minutes after making that observation -- I had a run-in with the local state trooper, who fortunately only gave me a warning ticket for speeding. (Now, honestly, I was moving with traffic in the right lane and going no more than 5 miles over the speed limit. Definitely the yellow SUV/California plates thing!) I CAN OFFICIALLY WITNESS THAT WE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN GOING MORE THAN 5 MILES OVER THE SPEED LIMIT. BUT HALEY DID JINX HERSELF WITH THE "I BET THIS ISN'T A GOOD PLACE TO BE BIG AND YELLOW WITH CALIFORNIA PLATES" COMMENTS NOT 20 MINUTES BEFORE WE GOT STOPPED.
Once we arrived at the Canyon -- which is supposed to be the second largest canyon in the country -- we were disappointed to learn that most of it was closed due to road construction. Hmmm. All I could think was that I would have been very irate if I'd actually gotten that ticket on the way to this place! IT REALLY WOULD HAVE BEEN QUITE A NEAT PLACE IF THE ROAD HAD BEEN OPENED BECAUSE YOU CAN DRIVE DOWN TO THE BOTTOM AND SHOOT THE ROCK FORMATIONS FROM THE GROUND LEVEL. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN NEAT TO SEE THE DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE, BUT NO. THE WORST PART WAS THE WHOLE, 16-MILE ROAD WAS CLOSED BECAUSE THEY WERE WORKING ON A SMALL PART OF THE SECOND MILE!
We had lunch in a truck stop then drove the exact speed limit out of Texas. (Thank goodness we only had three hours of expressway traveling in that state). In Oklahoma, we decided to finally stop at one of the Indian trading posts that were continuously advertised along the freeway through the entire Southwest. The one we picked was kind of cheesy and touristy -- and had the feel of a glorified truck stop. Oh well. BUT THEY DID HAVE A SMALL SELECTION OF THINGS MADE BY LOCAL INDIANS. OF COURSE, THE STUPID TEENAGE CASHIERS HAD NO IDEA WHAT TRIBE THE LOCAL INDIANS WERE, BUT REALLY HOW MUCH CAN YOU EXPECT FROM A 17 YEAR OLD? I BOUGHT A PAIR OF SUPER-SOFT, BEADED BABY
MOCCASINS FOR MY FUTURE NIECE/NEPHEW.
We hit Oklahoma City at sunset and had spectacular color as we viewed the Oklahoma City National Memorial at the former Murrah Federal Building. The memorial was so much more moving and pretty than I had expected. Photos just don't do it justice.
Then it was on to Shawnee (a suburb of Oklahoma City) for the night, where we treated ourselves to Billy Boy Bar-be-que and ice cream for dessert. MMMMMM. FRIED CATFISH AND FRIED OKRA FOLLOWED BY A HOT FUDGE AND PEANUT BUTTER SAUCE ICE CREAM SUNDAE. HALEY WAS MUCH MORE HEALTHY, BUT MY SOUTHERN GENES CAME OUT AND WOULDN'T LET ME ORDER ANYTHING WITH LESS THAN 2,000 CALORIES A BITE.
Tomorrow it's Tulsa and (we hope) St. Louis by nightfall. SEE YOU SOON.