Once More at the Canyon

Took a brief detour today off Route 66. It’s been two years since I’d walked into the Grand Canyon — it’s even more beautiful than I recall:

What a gorgeous day — sunny with large clouds floating over the canyon:

We walked nearly five miles along the south rim. These photos speak for themselves:

Later we stopped at Angel Lodge for lunch. The salmon wrap and roast beef sandwich hit the spot.

Afterward, we took a bus to our car and then drove to Flagstaff.

Since it was late in the day wildlife began to appear in the Kaibab Forest as we left the park. We saw a number of mule deer and elk — including this cow and two calves:

This was the perfect end to a perfect day!

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Nature’s Way

The wonders of Arizona is where we’ve spent the past couple of days.

The Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert comprise one of my favorite national parks.

Filled with so much beauty:

The weather was perfect — cool and dry. And for the first time I saw petroglyphs — each one is a story untold — only surmised. The best authorities on such matters can only guess. And so shall all of us — are they part of a language or simply art forms — what do you think?

Of course, we came to this park because of Route 66 and we weren’t disappointed — the highway moves through the park. This old Studebaker marks the spot:

The museums within the park feature restored space that had originally been constructed for pleasure not education.

This was once a restaurant and inn:

Besides the restored space there are some wonderful exhibits that explain stories of old:

Or that gesture distinctive parts of the park:

I’m still amazed by the petrification of wood:

There are also ruins to be seen — people’s long ago had built structures using petrified wood and/or stone:

There are even some tongue-in-cheek stories shared in the park, for example how horses supplanted camels:

Leaving the park we headed toward Flagstaff. On the way we found a curio shop that doesn’t deserve to bf included in the trip — but here it was in the middle of nowhere — it’s main claim to shame is the saddled jackrabbit:

Yeehaw!

The next stop did top the rabbit.

We stood on the corner in Winslow, AZ ( from “Take It Easy” by the rock band The Eagles). That right we joined at least 50 other tourists to see where this song came from. Can this venture get any hokier?

Sure it can! The next place on our list was the Wigwam Motel. Or more accurately the remains of this once thriving business.

The land had numerous old vehicles on-site — many with rust, flat tires and worn out interiors — certainly the hot sun wreaks havoc on all these vehicles:

These are photos that show the inside of these structures:

Not much was left of this business.

From here we continued westward toward our final Route 66 destination of the day — Meteor Crater!

It had been 20-years since I’d been there. It had really improved as an educational site. The place almost feels like a science station. During the training for moon landings NASA used Meteor Crater and its surroundings. Also scientists have explored the crater to learn more about meteors — notice it’s a natural landmark not a National landmark:

Doesn’t it look lunar in appearance. Just think a really big meteor wiped out most life on earth — so much for dinosaurs.

A hokie film only showed a brief history about the crater. It was rather hokie at times, whereas the exhibits and the crater were presented in aa an educational option.

Scientists now know that “nickel-iron” meteor typically get obliterated upon impact.

The crater is so big it could easily accommodate 2 million spectators watching 12 football field. It’s so deep the Washington Monument would fit into the crater with room to spare.

So we finished half of the place we’d sought to see.

Tomorrow we are in Flagstaff our base for visiting the Grand Canyon.

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Just Movin’ Along

In Amarillo we paid a visit to another restaurant. This time it was called the “Big Texan”:

And home of the 72 oz steak with one caveat– it must be eaten in an hour or less to be free:

This place is a true menagerie — seeing was believing:

After leaving Amarillo we stopped in Vega to see a restored 1920’s gas station called the Magnolia:

By this point we got hungry so we decided to eat at the “Midpoint Cafe” located in Adrian so called because it’s just what it says it is:

It’s certainly looked like an old diner:

The restaurant is known for BLT sandwiches and it’s pie — guess what we had:

That’s right — the BLT was delicious and the Chocolate Chip Pecan Whiskey pie with Vanilla ice cream was rich and delightful.

After lunch we crossed into New Mexico and spent the afternoon driving to and through Santa Fe.

Having just seen Santa Fe a couple of years ago we spent little time there. Instead we chose to drive on to Albuquerque.

The next day we wandered through Old Town — originally built in the 1770’s by the Spanish. Entering this area we first passed a statue of the founder of Albuquerque — Francisco Cuervo Y Valdes in front of a fountain:

Today it’s a popular tourist destination because it’s filled with shops, galleries, restaurants:

And an old church – the San Felipe Fe Neri Catholic Church originally managed any Jesuits, but not controlled by the diocese:

We shopped and wandered through the galleries and shops all morning.

Eventually it was time to move on so we left for Tucumcari. This very small town welcomes visitors with this sign:

Tucumcari is noted for having a number of old motels with fun names and signage:

We stumbled on this bonus site located on the main drag:

Then we moved on to the Tepee — which was down the street — yes, another curio shop:

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Driving out of town we saw one last Route 66 artifact — a bridge over Rio Puerco:

It’s a very narrow one car only bridge.

From here we finished the day in Gallup, NM. staying at the El Rancho Hotel — often occupied by movie stars of from the 1930’s through the 1950’s. Once Ronald Reagan stayed here — we got a tour of the presidential suite — wow — jets in the tub:

Prior to going up to our room — the Robert Taylor room — each is named after a movie star — we ate lunch — the menu names items by movie stars:

I had the Jack Benny — a 1/4 burger while my companion had chicken enchiladas:

This was our one and only stay at an old fashioned Route 66 hotel and it was old, small and uncomfortable — but I loved it anyway:

Memories — that’s what this trip is all about.

And then it was over and we headed to Arizona for more Route 66 adventure.

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It all starts with a cluck….

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Today we began the long journey from Chicago to Santa Monica, CA.  The first of many stops today at Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket and Cocktail Lounge.  It was definitely a blast to the past:

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It Just Doesn’t End

Somewhere between Elk City (Birthplace of Jimmy Webb — you Wichita Lineman, etc.) and Sayre , OK, we saw this wonderfully restored former gas station — now tourist center:

Adjacent to the main building is a diner which was once visited by Elvis Presley:

The diner today:

The diner yesterday:

Commemorate the Elvis visit:

Then we saw another gas station:

Soon we passed through Erick to Texas. It was on to Amarillo as we followed the route of George and Marty:

As we entered Groom we saw the Leaning Water Tower (yup, just like Pisa):

Outside Groom we found the Cadillac Ranch– 10 classic Cadillacs are buried fins up — in 1974. People spray paint graffiti on the cars:

This is really the middle of nowhere. Then we saw the world’s most crooked water tower in Britten:

So many novelty items. I’m getting dizzy from everything we’ve seen.

Don’t have much time in Texas.

So Amarillo here we come!

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Sadness in Oklahoma City

So many things have occurred since April 19, 1995. One full generation has come to be. The term “domestic terrorism” was freshly minted.

I recall feelings of fear, sadness and later anger. Remember Timothy McVeigh? Remember fertilizer bomb? Who knew? And who could hate so much that 168 died and 680 were injured. There are 168 stone chairs placed along the water. The time just before — 9:02 am and just after — 9:03 am the bombing are engraved into two towers of the memorial.

The buildings are gone. The street has been replaced by the memorial:

So remember, hug your loved ones — this was only the beginning.

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The Best Museum

Pulling into Clinton, OK we looked for the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum. We weren’t disappointed!

The building outside looks like all the other souvenir stands — but inside — whoa!

The museum is divided into decades — each showing the current culture, costs for staples like eggs, bread or milk, as well as the cost of housing and what folks were paid annually.

Diners are key the success of this route and this is how they propagated:

Similar to Sears houses one could purchase a new ready made diner and ship it anywhere.

And many did just that:

Getting from place could mean hitching a ride or taking a bus:

The demise of Route 66 came in the advent of the Inter-State Highway system. The last vestiges of this road we’re followed by youth from the 60’s:

But as we all seek to take road trips certain things have remained the same:

See you soon!

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