Square State Tour

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Day 12
Watch out for Route 66

Thu, Oct 11, 2007

7:00 am
2,605 miles from home

Gallup, New Mexico

Since we don't have a coffee maker in the room AND there's no microwave, we decide to roll out of bed, get dressed and find a local coffee shop to write up the trip report. We thought (briefly) of using the propane camping stove in our room, but decided not too for two reasons:

  1. It's kind of a third-world thing
  2. It could kill us with carbon monoxide poisoning.

We also don't have any WiFi connection here, so we start "war driving" through Gallup. War driving is riding around in your car looking for an unsecured wireless network so you can get on the internet.

We finally find a good one at Glenn's Bakery, but they cleverly situated their router so that it only really works if you are inside their bakery (drinking their coffee and eating their donuts). So we're forced (forced!) to drink lattes and eat really tasty donuts while we compose and send the trip log.

It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

9:00 am

Gallup, New Mexico

We hit the road, and note that it is WAY too sunny, here. There's not a cloud in the sky and, frankly, it's really annoying to have the sun in your eyes when you're trying to load the car.

We'll be glad to be back in the Pacific Northwest, where this is much less of an issue.

9:23 am ==> 8:23 am
2,630 miles


We just crossed into Arizona, not changing time zones, but changing time. See, Arizona has WAY too much sunshine, so they don't really feel the need to save any of it. So they don't use Daylight Savings Time.

As a result, although they are still on Mountain Time we change our watches an hour back from Mountain Time. Confusing? Oh, just wait...

10:30 am
2,695 miles

North on Hwy 191

Laura has heard from a friend that there's a really cool canyon north of here, so she's decided that we should stop by and ogle it. (And because Laura hasn't said one word about all the times Robert wanted to stop at trees full of shoes and buried cars, Robert cheerfully agrees.)

From the highway, we can see the Painted Desert to the east. Although at this point, it looks like they ran out of all the colors but red.

11:00 am? 10:00 am?
2,730 miles

Chinle, AZ

We find ourselves singing "Chicago" songs: Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?

See, we're now on the Navajo Indian reservation (the largest Indian reservation in the US). And because the Navajo are their own nation, they can do whatever they want in regards to Daylight Savings Time (DST). Their reservation spans four states, so they have sensibly decided to use DST, which puts them an hour ahead of the rest of Arizona.

Our watches are beginning to freak out.

11:14 am

We stop at an A&W hamburger stand in town AND THERE'S A HERD OF DAMN COWS IN FRONT OF IT! Now, Robert grew up in cities, so he's not exactly used to finding beef on the hoof in front of his burger joints. For that matter, even Laura, who spent a lot of her youth in the country, is a bit surprised to find four cows, three calves and a bull lounging outside the A&W.

And the bull doesn't look any too happy, glaring at us as we walk inside.

We ask the counter lady about it, and she says, "Oh yeah, sometimes they're outside. It's free range, you know." We think they heard what A&W sells and are organizing a picket line.

"Or getting ready to charge," says Robert.

We exit, walking quickly to our car, carefully pointing to our all-pork hotdog while hollering, "Look! It's pig! Power to the beef, baby! Cow Tse Tung rocks!"

11:22 am
2,733 miles

Canyon de Chelly, AZ

We have reached the fabled Canyon de Chelly, which (for reasons we have yet to discover) is pronounced "can-yun de shay" (we understand the "canyon" part, we don't why "Chelly" is pronounced "Shay").

The canyon is magic—well worth the side trip. People have lived here for hundreds of years; some in the cliffs and more recently, in the bottom, where fields of corn and other crops thrive from the water it collects and sheltered from the winds of the plains.

The real visual treat is the amazing red rock wall formations contrasting with the green vegetation of the floor.

11:56 am

There's a road that goes along the rim of the canyon and looks down on various scenic sights. From one of the lookouts, we can see Anasazi ruins. The Anasazi are one of those people that conspiracy buffs really love, because they vanished mysteriously. They were all over the Southwest about a thousand years ago, and then just went poof.

Some people think they died out, others think they were abducted by space aliens, while still others think they WERE space aliens. The Navajo think they were ancestors and deserve respect, so they've left the Anasazi ruins alone.

The ruins are of square clay buildings that sit on cliff faces. It's hard to figure out how they got up and down—probably ladders (or space ships). Pretty cool.

1:20 pm

Along Indian Route 15

We have seen all kinds of signs today about things we're supposed to be watching out for in the road:

  • Cattle
  • Horses
  • People
  • Water

We have not seen ANY of these. Here's what we have seen wandering down the middle of the road:

  • Sheep
  • Donkeys
  • Puppies (a cute black puppy that ran into the road, causing a major shift in our load as Robert trimmed our speed from 75 mph to 10 mph in 50 feet)
  • Tumbleweeds

We think these folks need new road signs. They could at least scatter a few horses on the road.

2:40 pm ==> 1:40 pm
2,867 miles

Hopi Travel Center (Hwy 77 & I-40), AZ

Oh, and did we mention that the Hopi Indian Nation does NOT follow Daylight Savings Time? So, we move back one hour. But at least we won't have to reset our poor, tired watches for White Man's Time when we leave the reservation.

This is an amazing place—there're two major sections at the gas pumps: one for cars and RVs and the other for semis. Inside there's a Burger King, a souvenir shop, rows of slot machines, an arcade room, and a TV set providing route information.

The men's room is gigantic, with a bank of 20 telephones, showers, and a trucker's chapel.

After looking at a whole heap of nothing for the last hour, we're overwhelmed...

2:10 pm
2,905 miles

Winslow, AZ

Want to know what happens when we spend a l-o-n-g time in the car? Well, as we pass through Winslow, Robert bursts into song:

Standing on a corner
in Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see
It's a girl, my lord
In a flat bed Ford,
Slowing down to take a look at me

"You mean 'Arizorner,'" says Laura, who's always annoyed in church when Robert sings "Lord" to rhyme with "word."

"What?" says Robert

"'Corner' doesn't rhyme with 'Arizona'—it has to be 'Arizorner,'" says Laura.

"Okay, 'Standing on a corner, in Winslow, Arizorner'" sings Robert.

"And you're not standing on a corner," adds Laura.

"Okay," says Robert, "'Driving on the freeway in Winslow Arizonay'"

"Except now we're not in Winslow any more," points out Laura.

Yup, mile after mile of this.

2:50 pm
2,949 miles

Winona, AZ

"Don't forget Winona!"

3:27 pm
2,986 miles

There's a controlled burn along the freeway, along with signs saying, "Expect smoke." We notice quite a few fires off in the distance generating a lot of smoke. We hope they're controlled, too.

4:14 pm
3,038 miles

Seligman, AZ

We leave I-40 and enter Route 66 at Seligman, which proudly proclaims itself the "Birthplace of Rt 66." We're not sure how they came up with that, but this section of Rt 66 (about 60 miles worth) is the longest remaining section of the original highway.

Everything around here is kind of wacko for Rt 66, as though this were a reminder of better times ("Hey—remember the Depression? WWII? McCarthy? Polio? Segregation? Boy, those were the days!")

We even pass some old cars that are on a pilgrimage along Rt 66 (actually we pass them several times, because we stop to look at things and they poop along at pre-interstate speeds).

Somebody's installed replicas of the old Burma Shave signs along the road:

If daisies are
Your favorite flower
Keep pushing up
Those miles per hour
Burma Shave

"Can you even buy Burma Shave any more?" asks Robert.

Other than that, though, it's most another god-forsaken desert.

5:00 pm

Peach Springs, AZ

This town is on the Hualapai Indian Reservation, which is where the West Entrance to the Grand Canyon is. Because it's on Indian land, it's really hard to find out anything about it (it's not managed by the National Parks Service, so the Grand Canyon tourist brochure doesn't say anything about it).

There's a hotel here, but it's full (probably just as well—the brochures indicate it's part of an "Authentic Hualapai Experience" and we don't do "experiences" very well).

But we do find out about a road we were going to take: "Buck and Doe road? What kind of 4-wheel drive vehicle do you have? A car? Better go around, then."

Since we have to go around anyway (our poor PT Cruiser has been through enough, already), we decide to push on to Kingman, where there will be lots of motels.

6:00 pm
3,125 miles

Kingman, AZ

We have a strategy for finding motel rooms, now. Robert uses his GPS software to find three motels where we want to stop and gets the phone numbers. We call and find out their rates. Then we drive by and stop at the one that we're least likely to "hear a fighting in the parking lot" (okay, it's not a perfect system).

It also lets us know the prevailing rate in town. In Kingman, the prevailing rate is about $40 a night, so we stop at an EconoLodge that's advertising $39 a night.

One huge advantage to staying at cheap motels is that when you get a plain old average room, it seems palatial. And this one is!

"My god, look—a desk!"
"And a couch!"
"A microwave! And the TV works!"
"We've even got shampoo!"
"Woohoo! Living large now, baby!"

There's still no coffee maker, but there is a microwave and we can use that to heat up water and make coffee in the morning.

There's also no WiFi, so we'll be war driving tomorrow morning. Robert wants to put on war paint so we'll blend in...

Tomorrow: Walking on air

Robert & Laura
Square State Tour

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