We left Gallup bright and early and headed out on the road, and what a road! No highway for us, no sir! We were on a long curvy rural route. We rolled through gorgeous deserts, turned through hills with vegetation where Donkeys grazed free at the side of the road. We were giddy at the sight of the prairie dogs as they bounded away from our car, the likes of which they don’t often see. We gasped at incredible views, we talked over each other, describing things. Then it was rough road. Then it was dirt road. Then it was a closed road: private property. We turned around and headed back the way we’d come. New views were presented to us and despite our disappointment, we were able to remain grateful for the gorgeous little ride we’d had. (This serves as a metaphor for the previous mentioned adoption-placement that wasn’t.)
We were only a little touchy because our big destination for the day was the painted dessert. The clock kept ticking, the sun kept rising and our ability to enjoy the dessert without the mid-day sun beating down on us was quickly disappearing. We found the correct road. It was a far less attractive stretch and the speed limit was slower. Ivo asked if I wanted to just get on the highway and forget the “mother road” (no seriously, that’s the name of Rt 66!!!!) in order to find a rest stop sooner. He’s so sweet, but this stretch is SO desolate that we really did need to record any and every water stop for potential cyclists. We kept cheerful and our c’est la vie attitude and headed into Arizona. Heading into Arizona also means heading into a new time-zone!! We were so thrilled! We wouldn’t wander the dessert in the scorching heat after all! Halleluia!
The desert was incredible. We decided to drive the 28 miles, stopping at certain panoramas and do a small hike around the blue mesa. It was like “being on the moon” (to quote a ranger at the end of the park). The massive boulders and conglomerations (those tumor-looking bulgy rocks) were incredible. We were in the portion that is blue and purple, having driven through the pink and red portion. The sights, soundlessness and smell can never properly be described here. Likewise, our photos fail to do it justice.
We took another little jaunt to see the oldest, largest petrified tree there. It’s amazing how different the petrified trees and logs look here, compared to the ones in California. (As I write that sentence I feel that my cup runneth over again and again. I am so grateful.) They are far more colorful here in Arizona, but it feels as if everything is potentially more colorful here. The beige expanses can reveal these gashes in the earth that are so vibrant and scarlet that I can’t believe my eyes. I’m in the desert and I’ve never worn my sun-glasses less (sure, I wear my sunglasses too often). I shade my eyes with my big silly hat and try to limit anything that may detract from the natural palette all around me.
From the painted desert, we headed to Winslow AZ (yes, like the Eagles song). We were on a wait-list for a hotel there and were getting nervous. Booking a room for a Saturday night in summer was becoming difficult. When we arrived in Winslow we saw why. There were a few run-down motels, but otherwise, the only businesses that seemed to be doing business was the hotel with it’s wait-list, it’s restaurant and a Laundromat. I went to do laundry and Ivo went around town searching for any other opportunity. There were none, so we booked a room in Flagstaff and decided to push on another 60 miles or so. We were so relieved to have a room booked that the trip to Flagstaff was a joy. We had a beautiful day behind us and our evening was looking good.
We even had time, energy and interest to go look at a massive meteor crater. Um…it was big….and round…but c’mon! I’d just seen a PAINTED DESERT! Seriously it was impressive and incredible to consider. I’m glad that we had a chance to see it.
In Flagstaff, there was tequila. That is all.