Sunday, July 1, 2007

Finally, only about 3 weeks late

June 30, 2007
Flagstaff, AZ to Gallup, NM

262.3 miles
Sunny and Hot

Finally, almost three weeks later than I would have hoped, I'm truly on the road!

Made a pretty early start, by my normal standards, because the weather forecast was for a really hot day and my planned route was through some pretty hot country! I was heading across the Painted Desert, and the Hopi and Navajo Nation Indian Reservations.

By the time I gassed up ($3.08/gal regular in Flagstaff - thankfully I had one of those ten-cent off Safeway credits, so it was only $2.98!!), and ogled a classic car show in their parking lot, it was just after 9 a.m. And it turns out the car show must have been a starting point for a rally, since all those gorgeous old cars went cruising past me about a half hour later!

I was reminded it was Saturday by the number of yard sales going on - and even a couple 'barn' sales! I love the rural countryside!

Sadly, even though I was above 6,000 feet, in what should have been snow covered mountains last winter but weren't, they are suffering a drought - lovely old trees are dying, and even the Little Colorado River was dry as a bone.

Turned east on Hwy 160 on the Moenkopi Plateau, and passed thru the Painted Desert. Some people find this land desolate, but I think it's truly deserving of it's name. Mama Nature had a field day here!

Passed thru a small Hopi village where I spotted a hand-painted sign inviting visitors to look at dinosaur tracks, with a little kid sitting on a stool, presumably to show the way!

I drove for miles and miles and miles and miles (what's the name of that song?), seeing nothing but the ocassional fence - certainly no other vehicles!

All the tabletop mesas on the road made me feel on top of the world - not like Alaska last summer, when we drove thru an area that bills itself as "Top of the World" where it was so very green, but awesome none the less. To be cruising along looking down on everything in sight - pretty powerful!

The Hopi have many well tended fields, and I even spotted an honest to goodness scarecrow -haven't see one of those in years! Didn't see a drop of water anywhere, but it must be there 'cause there are so many growing plants and trees. The roads are in excellent condition - way better than those cared for by the AZ Dept. of Transportation! I guess the casinos really do pay off! But they apparently haven't heard that gas prices are coming down - $3.35 for regular - I didn't buy any of that!!

Finally found some serious trees when I topped 7500 feet - but even there, many are dying. And it was still hot!

"Arizona Highways" runs a story almost every year about the Hubbell Trading Post, continuously operating, I believe, since it was established in 1876, and now a National Historic Site,

located in the little town of Ganado, so I made a stop there. The surrounding fields feed all manner of critters, and obviously grow plenty to feed people too.

It is still a functioning trading post with loud squeaky wood floors, for the local people as well as for the tourists - selling everything from ceremonial drums to bridles,

to canned food to ice cream,

to blankets to kachinas

and exquisite jewelry and baskets.

Finished the day's drive in Gallup, New Mexico (I just can't help singing the song whenever I think or say that - Gallup, New Mexico, Flagstaff, Arizona, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernadino . . . .)
I'm in a park called the USA RV Park on Route 66 - I like 'em because they let military personnel stay for free! And they have what they call their Cowboy Grill - you can buy a meal ticket when you arrive, choose from the menu, and go to this little outdoor grill about the size of my little kitchen in the coach to have your meal cooked to order. I had a little ribeye steak and baked potato and green there or take it back to your own coach. Neat idea for a traveler at the end of a long day! They also make breakfast to order! Probably won't come back here though - they have lots of land but crowd the RVs together so close you can't even open a window shade. I do like my space!

Today, July one, I need to revise my planned route to Maine. There simply is not enough time to see what I'd like to see in the time I have left. Oh well, there's always another trip!!
Wishing you a Happy Sunday and beautiful skies!

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