Friday, June 12, 2009

Great American Road Trip: Part 2

Flagstaff, Sunny 65*

After a morning filled with McCafe, packing and re-packing the car, and a brief stop-in to visit friends who just relocated from New Jersey to Flagstaff (that's their adorable son), we're on the road once more. The car has been reconfigured so both Owen and Willa are in the back row and bags are piled in the middle row next to Ben. Matt's "visibility is even better than yesterday's!"

Some lessons I've learned so far:

1. Even when you are really, really tired, the train at 5:15 a.m. can still wake you up.
2. Budget motels lack certain "basics" like clocks, lotion and hair dryers...
3. My kids are super awesome travelers. (Hoping not to jinx that last one)

We are driving parallel to the Santa Fe Railroad and huge cargo trains pass by every 15 minutes or so. The terrain has gone from pine mountains in Flagstaff, to yellow plains to red, rocky earth. Matt's holding firmly to the steering wheel as huge gusts of wind are threatening to blow us right over. I wonder how the big rigs manage to stay upright?

11:18 Rock just chipped our windshield right in the middle of the driver's side. Minor cursing and sighing and rueful chuckles ensued. "Hazard of the road, what can you do?" says Matt.

11:38 Holbrook, Sunny 79*

We're heading towards the south entrance of the Petrified Forest National Park for a 28 mile drive through.

12:00 p.m. Petrified Forest National Park, elevation 5100-6235 feet, sunny, 79*

Petrified log

In front of the incredible Painted Desert

1:55 Back on the road (I-40). The Petrified Forest and Painted Desert were spectacular, but everything takes longer than we think it will--for example a planned one hour stop was two hours. But kids earned their Junior Ranger badge and we got a National Park passport (that would have been good for the Grand Canyon..but oh well). We just realized that New Mexico is one hour ahead because it is on Mountain Time, so our arrival will be even later than we thought. I just hope to have time to walk around the Plaza and get a great margarita and some traditional South West cuisine at a good restaurant. Matt and I feed the kids some peanut butter sandwiches and have a bagged Caesar salad from Trader Joe's. Not half bad.

Matt and I discuss the signage referring to Native Americans (or Native Peoples) as being very "Indian" focused rather than "Native" focused, and thought it was interesting. It seems that western Native Persons embrace the Indian label much more readily than eastern natives. We hear about severe weather through Oklahoma (where we are heading tomorrow) including some tornadoes. (But tonight we are hearing about a "ring of fire" in the plains and lots of dry heat).

2:30 (3:30) Welcome to New Mexico, Sunny 79*

Here there are huge rock plateaus with all kinds of crazy caves dug out, and it is much greener than northern Arizona.

Passed a big truck with a "Milk sucks, Got margaritas?" bumper sticker

4:32 Owen is frustrated because he seems to have lost his headphones. After five minutes of angry complaining and "looking" (and ignoring my suggestions of where to look), I somehow manage to climb over Ben and piles of bags to the third row and quickly retrieve this earphones from under his seat. If I don't climb in the back seat for something at least once a day, this road trip won't really be complete.

5:33 Albuquerque, Sunny 88*

Big city with overpasses and everything! We're encountering a bit of traffic--rush hour, I guess. Still 51 miles to go...patience wearing thin.

6:15 Pit stop for dog (and us), 86*

We are hot and cranky and wishing we were there already. I'm drinking a beer in the moving car--desperate measures for desperate times. We're happy that we still haven't had to use much in the way of entertainment for the children--the wii, madlibs and Apples to Apples should help us tomorrow during our impossibly long drive. Matt is really excited about our gas mileage-25 MPG. I take my last swig as we exit the highway at 6:39 p.m. We will do a lap around the Plaza then head to Maria's New Mexican Kitchen for dinner.

Willa in front of Loretto Chapel.

The kids enjoying sopapillas at Maria's. Typical of southwestern cuisine, they are puffy, fried squares of dough that are ripped open then filled with honey. They smell like fresh doughnuts and are just heavenly. Each table gets a basketful with dinner. Despite our huge, chile-laden meals (and the best margaritas in Santa Fe), Matt and I found room for one too.

1 comment:

Papa said...

Sounds like you all had a great 2nd day. With food in their mouths, the kids look content. I'm impressed with the mileage as well. Looking forward to tomorrows Part 3.