On our way to Arizona, we were following Route 66. There were turnoffs here and there to travel the actual road. When we got to Kingman, we visited the Route 66 museum and the native history museum. Excellent! There is an amazing set of Presidential and First Lady paintings. This is an affordable must stop in the area.
The next day, we travelled on route 66 or about 2 hours on our way to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Just before entering the park, there is a store called Rocks, Minerals and More. If you like shiny things, stop in where you see the life size metal horse guarding the door. The store has ACRES of rocks, minerals, natural glass (from lightning strikes.
Our $25 fee into the Canyon was well worth the admission. There are dozens of places to look out along the drive. HINT if there are many tour buses, you may have to fight the crowds to get a good look. Just drive down the road and stop at the next viewpoint. The view is just as amazing. The fog cleared up in time for Cindy to get a few great pictures. 527, in fact. Enough to fill up her memory card and kill the battery on the camera. We arrived at the last stop just at sunset but the clouds had rolled in and we did not get the postcard picture opp.
Back South we go to get ready for the next day’s adventure
Near WINSLOW, there is a huge meteorite crater. It is well marked off the I40. A short drive and under $20 per person gets you a look at a mile wide crater. It the best preserved crater in the world. There are 3 progressive observation decks that let you admire the sheer size of this hole. It is so big that you cannot capture it from edge to edge in a picture.
Then we went to Sedona to see some more colour in the valley. We went South from the 40 in Flagstaff. We drove in a narrow tree lined valley. We went down the longest switchback I have ever seen, to drop about 500 metres into the valley. That is when the WOW factor began. Red and Yellow cliffs are everywhere. The deeper we went, the hoodoos started to make their appearance. Sedona is in the middle of the best hoodoo area I have seen so far. A few hundred more pictures later, we headed East towards the I17 back North to continue our journey. Ear popping time again. As we entered the highway we saw a 4000 foot elevation sign. After two 5-mile hills, we were at 6000 feet.
The plateau is about 1800 metres above sea level with the occasional rise to 2000 metres. When we were atop the grand canyon, we hit 2300. Orientation is deceptive. On what seems to be level ground, I begin to lose speed, only to discover that the whole plateau is on a steep incline. There are even spots where you swear you are going downhill instead of up. Magnetic Hill has nothing on the Arizona plateau.
Then we were off to the petrified forest, also on I40 to see some more colour. The turnoff is again well indicated. We drove through e village of Holbrook and proceeded towards the park. We saw it closed at 5pm and it was now just a few minutes to 5, so we turned back. We stopped at the biggest rock and gem store in the State. They had thousands of 1000 pound pieces of colourful petrified wood. Inside, there were thousands. Of smaller pieces. Some polished, some cut and polished and some in their raw state. The petrified wood here is very colourful, full of reds and some blues.
It is hard to imagine scale. This log is about 3 feet in diameter.
We went back to town to find a place for the night. We passed by a motel with a dozen wigwams in front. Their sign said Sleep in a Wigwam. Now there is a novel marketing strategy. As tempting as it sounded, we decided to stay in the camper. A Red Box movie later, we put our feet up for the night.
Saturday, we drove through the petrified forest National Park back up to the I40 to make our way to the New Mexico Border. What was to be an hour drive turned into an all day affair. This is an amazing natural wonder. There is petrified wood everywhere. There are brightly coloured red, yellow and green pieces. This is a multi million year old testament to our history. There are also wonderful remnants of the inhabitants of this area. There are several adobes, covered in silt and sand. Further up is the painted desert where hues of yellow, brown, grey, and blue that have inspired artists for over 100 years.
After some fond memories, we headed towards the New Mexico border.
It is only 350 some miles across Across Arizona on the 40. But if you want to see it, you will travel at least twice that.