Walnut Canyon

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Today, we visited Walnut Canyon National Monument, which is just east of Flagstaff. We passed it yesterday, on our way into town, but were too fried to deal with it. Fortunately, we had all day today. After weigh-in this morning, we enjoyed our weekly fat-fest with breakfast at the Tourist Home All Day Café. After breakfast we backtracked east along I-40 a few miles to the turnoff for Walnut Canyon. The trail featured two trails, both about a mile in length. We did the Island Trail first, which also featured about 300 steps down, then back up again, plus numerous no railings stretches of edge of a cliff walking. Ancestors to numerous modern-day tribes used this park’s pueblos over the years. It seems that they used it for a while, before migrating elsewhere. The Island Trail was the more interesting of the two trails that we walked. The other Rim Trail was flat, more crowded and less interesting. It drizzled a bit towards the end, not that you would notice much. It is still early spring here in this mountainous desert. Some flowers our out, but a lot are only now budding. Many trees don’t even have leaves yet. We finished up around noon and then jetted back to the hotel to cop one of the few available hotel parking spots. After a simple lunch, we started walking around old town Flagstaff. We made it to some parks on the western edge of town, but were unwilling to climb the hill to the Lowell Observatory. On the way back, we followed an urban nature trail along the Flag River, which led us back downtown. Dinner was at the Lumberyard, a burger and beer joint that Anne, Susan, Dan and Annie had visited years ago on their similar Route 66 journey to grad school in LA. Tomorrow, we checkout, resupply and then head up to the Grand Canyon, where we will actually camp for the first time on this trip. Google has indicated that I should have cell service, but in case I don’t, Don’t Panic! I promise you we will not fall in, we managed not to today.

Petrified Forest National Park

Blue Mesa, Painted Desert

Today, we visited Petrified Forest National Park, which is really two parks in one, the Painted Desert and the petrified forest. We started at the northern end, along I-40. This is the Painted Desert portion of the park. As we traveled south, the petrified forest part of the park took sway. It was extremely windy today. A red flag warning was issued for the day. After the park, we stood on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. We bagged the meteor crater, because we were feeling pretty crispy by then. We are in Flagstaff tonight and tomorrow night and then on to the Grand Canyon. We are staying in another old-time hotel, the Monte Vista, in downtown Flagstaff. Our assigned room was a little too quirky for us. Its shower and toilet were both down the hall. We upgraded to a much bigger room, the Alan Ladd room, with in room facilities. Yes, all of the rooms here are also named after move stars. Also, this hotel has neither a bellhop or bellhop carts. All of its entrances have stairs. How they get around the ADA laws I don’t know. So, we had to leave a lot of our luggage in the car. We parked beneath the hotel’s security camera. I hope everything is still there in the morning. Mostly what’s left in the car is our camping gear and there is no shortage of outfitters in this town. Our Route 66 guidebook steered us to a great dinner, at Pizzicletta, which features Neapolitan style, wood fired pizza. According to the book the best wood fired pizza in the state. It was indescribably good. We were going to be good and each only eat a quarter of the pie, but it was too good. Tomorrow, on weigh-in day, we’ll have to face the music.

Crystal Forest

Route 66

Route 66 Kitsch

We got up early this morning and headed back to Petroglyphs National Monument. This time we tried a different part of the park. We were rewarded with many more glyphs than yesterday. This section featured three pretty short trails, but one of them was pretty steep, a scramble to the top of the mesa and then back down the 70% incline. We did all three trails and got back to the hotel in plenty of time for checkout. Heading west out of Albuquerque, we passed a horrendous traffic jam headed east. An accident at a construction site caused the ten mile backup. There are a lot of trucks on I-40. We stopped in Grant for lunch and the pictured photo-op. We’re overnighting in Gallup, New Mexico, near the Arizona state line. Got here early, checked in and then walked around town, ate in the hotel and now I’m doing laundry. We’re staying in El Rancho Hotel. Founded in 1936, it has been New Mexico’s HQ for the stars. Built by the brother of Hollywood mogul DW Griffin, it has hosted dozens of movie stars over the years. Each room is labeled with the name of an actor that slept there. Our room was Irene Manning’s while she was shooting Desert Song, a WWII era musical that had been remade before and after.