A Travellerspoint blog

Day 22 - Route 66 and donkeys in the street

sunny 23 °C

We woke to a bright sunny morning. The temperature was only 4 C ( 39 F) but the sunshine made up for that.

We needed to drive back to Flagstaff, AZ to begin our travel west. We chose to follow Highway 89A back to Flagstaff. This is the same highway we took to travel from Flagstaff to Sedona. Our host in Sedona thought this was a good decision because it is a beautiful drive both ways. We traveled from sunny desert to a wintery forest scene. We stopped at a view point and took this photo.

Canyon view between Sedona and Flagstaff

Canyon view between Sedona and Flagstaff

The view point was more of a selling opportunity for First Nations Artists than a view point. We took a photo of the snowy gorge and drove on.

After we reached Flagstaff we started to follow the segments of highway that were parts of Route 66.

Our first stop was at Ash Fork, AZ. We thought this one information plaque was interesting.

Ash Fork, AZ along Route 66

Ash Fork, AZ along Route 66

We continued driving Route 66 where it was possible. The section of Route 66 from Seligman, AZ to Kingman, AZ was about 90 miles. This was the longest stretch of Route 66 that we have traveled so far. We stopped for lunch in Kingman, AZ.

We had been advised by a relative in California that her family had traveled Route 66 from Kingman, AZ to Needles, CA in the 1940's in a car towing the family's travel trailer. She thought her father was very brave for tackling that drive, and after completing the drive with its narrow road, winding curves and lack of protective guard rails, we agree with her.

Rock formations along Route 66 between Kingman, AZ and Needles, CA

Rock formations along Route 66 between Kingman, AZ and Needles, CA

More rock formations

More rock formations

We passed through the town of Oatman, AZ. This town has obviously set itself up as a tourist destination. We noticed that it appeared that some characters were setting up what appeared to be a play in the main street. They were joined by donkeys that just took over the street.

Entrance to Oatman, AZ along Route 66

Entrance to Oatman, AZ along Route 66

Oatman, AZ  lots of people

Oatman, AZ lots of people

Oatman, AZ donkeys on the street

Oatman, AZ donkeys on the street

More donkeys on the street

More donkeys on the street

The high temperature today was 23 C ( 73 F ). We enjoyed another warm day.

Posted by A-RPoulton 19:41 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 21 - Sedona - Red Rock Country

sunny 15 °C

This morning we set off with a list of sites we wished to see. The temperature was close to 4 C ( 39 F).

We set off to visit Tuzigoot National Monument. Tuzigoot is the Apache word for crooked water. This was a Southern Sinagua settlement built between 1000 AD and 1400 AD. This settlement crowns the summit of a long ridge rising 120 feet above the Verde River valley.

Sinagua people's pueblo at Tuzigoot National Monument

Sinagua people's pueblo at Tuzigoot National Monument

Tuzigoot

Tuzigoot

We stopped at the visitor centre. A presentation was going on about Scarlet Macaw birds. There have been Scarlet Macaw feathers found when this site was excavated by archaeologists. There have also been skeletons of these birds found at other Sinagua sites. We were surprised because this is a very dry climate and we have only seen this bird in tropical rain forests. The woman doing the presentation invited one of the visitors to come forward and reward the macaw when it performed the requested trick. This picture shows the macaw waving goodbye.

Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw

We then climbed the hill and walked through the pueblo.

Sinagua homes in pueblo

Sinagua homes in pueblo

This pueblo is very close to a copper mine which has been closed since the 1950's. There was a large tailings pond or mining waste pond easily visible from the top of the settlement. This tailings pond was revegetated in 2006. We were impressed with how well the regrowth had taken hold.

Former tailing pond

Former tailing pond

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After visiting the Tuzigoot National Monument we drove to the nearby Jerome State Historic Park.

Jerome State Historic Park

Jerome State Historic Park

The visitor centre for this park is in a mansion built by a James Douglas who was born and raised in Quebec. James Douglas owned the United Verde Extension mine, also known as the "Little Daisy Mine". This mansion was built of adobe bricks but it had a central vacuum system, wine cellar, billiard room, a marble shower and steam heat. This home has now been turned into a visitor centre and museum.

Douglas Mansion is visitor centre at Jerome State Park

Douglas Mansion is visitor centre at Jerome State Park

The community of Jerome was named after Eugene Jerome who was one of the original founders of the United Verde Copper Company. Jerome is built on the side of a mountain. It is at the 5000 foot elevation. This community was developed in the late 1800's. The main purpose of the community was the nearby copper mining. Some of the original buildings are still standing and in use.

Jerome Grand Hotel

Jerome Grand Hotel

We learned a lot about mining in the late 1800's and early 1900's. A video presentation was very well done and not only commented on mining but on the lives of the people who lived in Jerome.

Jerome is called a ghost town as the population has gone from 15,000 when the mine was in operation while today it has a population of 500. Today the streets were busy with tourists and the little shops appeared busy so Jerome did not appear to be a "ghost town". Jerome is supposed to be slowly sliding down the mountain but it was not apparent to us.

These photos show the attractive surroundings of Jerome.

Red rocks near Jerome

Red rocks near Jerome

View across the valley

View across the valley

You will notice that the San Francisco Peaks are in the background.

We also visited the Red Rock State Park, Dead Horse Ranch State Park but we did not get to the Montezuma Castle, which is another Sinagua settlement.

The red rock formations near Sedona were shining in the setting sun as we returned home.

Courthouse Rock

Courthouse Rock

Bell Rock

Bell Rock

Red rocks near Sedona

Red rocks near Sedona

The high temperature for the day was 15 C (58 F) and it was sunny and clear. We were actually able to go about without coats for the first time on this trip.

Posted by A-RPoulton 20:59 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 20 - Route 66, Meteor Crater and Walnut Canyon

sunny 3 °C

This morning was very cold. The temperature was -7 ( 19 F). We met another couple from Winnipeg, MB. They said they had visited Arizona in the winter for 12 years and this winter had the most cold and snow.

We had a long list of places we wanted to see today on our way from Holbrook, AZ to Sedona, AZ.

We were planning to visit two parks, Meteor Crater and Walnut Canyon National Monument. Along the way we had a list of Route 66 sites we wanted to see.

The first sign we saw of Route 66 was in Winslow, AZ.

Route 66 Winslow, AZ

Route 66 Winslow, AZ

We stopped at Meteor Crater Natural Landmark. This meteor strike occured 50,000 years ago. The resulting crater is 550 feet deep and over 4000 feet across. We learned about the first settler who found this crater and how many scientists it took to have it declared a meteor strike and what steps they took to prove it was a meteor strike.

Meteor Crater

Meteor Crater

This first picture is of a sign that greets you as you arrive at the site.

Meteor speed sign

Meteor speed sign

This is the second sign that greets you.

Cute sign on way to Meteor Crater

Cute sign on way to Meteor Crater

We watched a video and then wandered through the displays. We went out on the viewing platforms to see the crater.

Meteor Crater

Meteor Crater

We had been watching the San Francisco Peaks and, in particular, the Humphreys Peak while we drove along Highway I40. We thought this view of that peak from the crater park gives an idea of the desert and the beauty of this peak.

San Francisco Peaks from Meteor Crater

San Francisco Peaks from Meteor Crater

We spent over an hour at this crater site.

Our next stop was at the Route 66 site called Two Guns. This was just a collection of ruins. Our guide book tells us that at one time this was a tourist attraction that had a zoo full of Gila monsters, coyotes, and road runners. One building was labelled "Mountain Lions" but the book does not explain this. We felt that the nearby Canyon Diablo may have been of interest as well.

Route 66 stop at Two Guns, Canyon Diablo

Route 66 stop at Two Guns, Canyon Diablo

Ruins at Two Guns

Ruins at Two Guns

After leaving Two Guns we got another great view of Humphreys Peak in the San Francisco Peaks.

Humphreys Peak in San Francisco Peaks

Humphreys Peak in San Francisco Peaks

We then drove on to Twin Arrows. Twin Arrows has a pair of giant and surprisingly well-perserved red and yellow arrows and a long-closed cafe and trading post. This site was seen in the 1990's movie "Forrest Gump".

Twin Arrows stop

Twin Arrows stop

Twin Arrows on Route 66

Twin Arrows on Route 66

Ruins of buildings at Twin Arrows

Ruins of buildings at Twin Arrows

Front view of ruins

Front view of ruins

We drove from the Twin Arrows site to Walnut Canyon National Monument.

IWalnut Canyon Stop

Walnut Canyon Stop

Route 66 Walnut Canyon

Route 66 Walnut Canyon

We ate our picnic lunch in the car as it was too cold to eat out at the picnic tables. Walnut Canyon had a lot of snow from the previous week's snow fall.

Walnut Canyon was occupied about 1000 AD to 1250 AD by a Puebloan people referred to as Sinagua or "without water" people. The elevation of the canyon rim is 6,690 feet. The bottom of the canyon is 350 feet lower. The island loop trail takes visitors down 240 steps (185 feet) to see 25 cliff dwellings and through different plantlife zones. This is a .9 miles loop trail. We really enjoyed it. The air was fresh and cool. We felt that during the summer when the heat is 90 F ( 33 C) that this hike would require plenty of water and far more stamina.

Walnut Canyon

Walnut Canyon

Cliff Dwellings at Walnut Canyon National Monument

Cliff Dwellings at Walnut Canyon National Monument

This rock looked like it could just slide down the canyon

This rock looked like it could just slide down the canyon

Homes built under rock overhangs

Homes built under rock overhangs

Demonstration of possible room uses

Demonstration of possible room uses

Another view of room under rock overhang

Another view of room under rock overhang

Building under overhang

Building under overhang

After we returned to the visitors centre on the rim we took the Rim Loop Trail. This was a .7 mile trail along a paved and mostly level trail. The trail only overlooked the canyon in a few places. It passed through the treed and snowy grounds of the park. We saw some interesting bird life. We saw Pygmy Nuthatches, Western Bluebirds and Stellar Jays.

Rock looks like a pot on a ridge

Rock looks like a pot on a ridge

Pygmy Nuthatch

Pygmy Nuthatch

Western Bluebird

Western Bluebird

First picture Stellar Jay

First picture Stellar Jay

Second picture Stellar Jay

Second picture Stellar Jay

After enjoying the Walnut Canyon National Monument for about 2 hours we drove to Sedona. We chose to take Highway 89A through the Coconino National Forest. This trip took about an hour. This route took us through snow-filled canyons to Sedona. We found people out enjoying playing in the snow in the areas where there was snow. We arrived in Sedona, in the desert, with temperatures of +14 C (57 F) which was quite a change for us.

We found our lodging for the night. We went to the Blue Moon cafe for supper. This cafe was very casual with a very limited menu but the food was good.

Posted by A-RPoulton 21:29 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 19 - Shiprock, NM to Holbrook,NM

sunny -4 °C

We started our day by driving out to "Shiprock". This is a rock formation out in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico near an area called the "Four Corners".

Shiprock near four corners

Shiprock near four corners

The "Four Corners" represents one spot where the borders of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet.

We felt we could drive right up to this rock formation. We had seen it before from a distance and thought it would be interesting to see it up close. We got as close to it as we could on the highway. There was a muddy ugly road that led about 1/2 mile from where we were across the scrubby desert to the "Shiprock". We decided we did not need to drive that trail.

We then started our drive to Holbrook, AZ where our lodging for the night was.

We had reached the "Painted Desert" rest area just inside the Arizona border by lunchtime. We ate our picnic lunch inside the car again as it was only
- 4 C ( 25 F) outside. We did take a picture of the "Painted Desert".

Painted desert rest area

Painted desert rest area

We also thought you would enjoy the warning sign posted to keep people who stop at this rest site off the desert "scrub".

Warning sign

Warning sign

Scrub

Scrub

Those snakes and vermin may have been out there but today they were hiding from the cold.

We drove to Holbrook, AZ. We arrived before our check-in time so decided to look the town over. This town is located on the famous "Route 66". We share photos of a motel from that era that still exists. The reference material we read told us that these wigwams are made of concrete and that they are available for rent for the night. We noticed that cars from the 50's were parked outside each wigwam.

Wigwam Motel on route 66

Wigwam Motel on route 66

Wigwam Motel on route 66 Pic 2

Wigwam Motel on route 66 Pic 2

There are numerous signs and businesses that advertise that they are located on "Route 66".

Route 66 marker

Route 66 marker

We stopped at the Navajo County Historical Society Museum in the old courthouse which was built in 1898. The docents were very friendly and informative. Many of the displays were interesting. They had a whole covered wagon in there that had been used to provide food and support for cattle drivers as they moved the herds to market.

The docents had stories about the first sheriff in the area, Commodore Perry Owens. This colourful gunslinger was hired to tame the neighbourhood. It seems that in one year 26 people were killed in this town of maybe 200 people. There is a picture taken from one of the bars with bullet holes in it as an example of how rough and ready things were. This Owens had long blonde hair which fell almost to his waist. When we saw the pictures we thought the pictures were of Buffalo Bill Cody, but the docents soon set us straight. It seems this Commodore Perry Owens cleaned the town up and then moved on. This man is still highly regarded.

Museum in Holbrook, AZ

Museum in Holbrook, AZ

Courthouse now a museum

Courthouse now a museum

We did enjoy the museum and the townsfolk and other visitors that we met.

Posted by A-RPoulton 19:13 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 18 - Lemonade out of Lemons

semi-overcast -1 °C

We had an excellent breakfast at Inn on the Rio. Our hostess made a pancake she called "Dutch Baby". This Dutch confection is usually served sprinkled with icing sugar and syrup. Our hostess served hers with eggs scrambled with onions, apple and bacon. It was very tasty.

Our first stop of the day was west of Taos on Highway 64. We stopped to admire the bridge that crosses the Rio Grande Gorge. We were able to park in a rest stop and walk to the bridge. We took a photo of the bridge from a distance and a photo of the decoration. We then were able to walk along a sidewalk to the centre of the bridge and took photos of the Rio Grande both downstream and upstream.

Bridge over Rio Grande Gorge

Bridge over Rio Grande Gorge

Zia symbol on bridge

Zia symbol on bridge

From centre of bridge looking downstream

From centre of bridge looking downstream

From the centre of the bridge looking upstream

From the centre of the bridge looking upstream

After spending some time around the bridge we returned to our car and continued up Highway 64. We were aiming to drive directly to The Aztec Ruins National Monument.

We arrived at the intersection of Highway 64 and Highway 285. The sign on Highway 64 said that the road was closed. Hmmm. Well, not believing that we drove on on Highway 64 but soon came across another sign that said that Highway 64 was closed in 16 miles. The amount of snow on the road and in the ditches convinced us that maybe the sign was correct. We turned around and returned to the junction of highways 64 and 285. Our GPS was absolutely no help as it wanted us to continue on 64. We consulted our new road atlas and found that we could drive south on Highway 285 almost as far as Santa Fe and then go west on Highway 84. We left Highway 84 at Highway 96 and traveled to Highway 550. This would add at least two hours to our day but what else can you do?

The good thing about all of that was that, as we traveled Highway 96, we were able to see the town of Abiquiu, the town where Georgia O'Keeffe lived, and drive past her favourite mountain Pedernal. She painted pictures of this mountain many times.

Pedernal mountain

Pedernal mountain

We also got to drive past cliffs of colourful rocks.

Colourful rocks

Colourful rocks

We also found Regina on Highway 96.

Regina in New Mexico

Regina in New Mexico

We also found Cuba on Highway 550 just south of the intersection between Highway 96 and Highway 550.

Cuba in New Mexico

Cuba in New Mexico

So, first we found Regina and it did not look at all like home, and then we found Cuba and that was not as we expected it to be either. LOL

We found a sign we had not seen before in our travels as we drove along Highway 550.

New Sign

New Sign

We finally arrived at Bloomington, NM about 2 PM. We had not seen a place to have lunch for some time. We drove through mountains with heights of 7000 feet and plains covered in what is called "scrub" that is made up of grass and sage. We stopped in Bloomington and had lunch.

The drive to Aztec Ruins National Monument was only about 20 kilomtres ( 12 miles). We were happy to have reached our destination.

Aztec Ruins National Monument

Aztec Ruins National Monument

We visited the Visitor Centre and enjoyed their displays and a video. We were given a guide book that gave us information to read at numbered signs. These buildings were built about 1000 AD to 1200 AD by the ancestral Pueblo people. These people are the ancestors of Hopi, Zuni, Keres and Jemez cultures. This structure was not built by the Aztecs. The first European settlers who found this site thought that it was built by the Aztecs and gave it the incorrect name which the ruins still carry.

The first recorded visitor to this site arrived in 1859. The site was very well preserved and had walls 25 feet high with many rooms undisturbed. The site was looted for over 50 years. This site was declared the Aztec Ruins National Monument in 1923 and in 1987 it became a World Heritage Site.

One of the most interesting buildings is the reconstructed Kiva. The roof as added and the room excavated.

Kiva at Aztec Ruins

Kiva at Aztec Ruins

Interior of Kiva

Interior of Kiva

We were allowed to walk through some of the rooms. Each room is very small. The rooms had walls made of stone and mud and the roofs were made of wood. Some of the original roofs still survive.

Original roof of home in Aztec Ruins

Original roof of home in Aztec Ruins

The largest of the houses on the west side of the site had 500 rooms and was three stories high.

Just part of the ruin site

Just part of the ruin site

We walked to a nearby height of land to view the scope of this site and we were amused to find many bunny tracks.

Bunny tracks

Bunny tracks

We had quite a time getting to this site. We felt the trouble we went to was worth it.

The lemonade in this situation is that we had far more experiences than we would have had if everything had worked as planned. We also saw even more of New Mexico than we would have.

Posted by A-RPoulton 20:54 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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