"Around Arizona in Four Days"
Well, once again Spring Break had rolled around and I
determined to go off somewhere driving.
This was more difficult than last year. What with El Niño
and the Alaskan Conveyor running (which sends cold
storms down from
Alaska) it wasn't just the L.A. area that had clouds/rain, oh no. Snow
and rain were falling everywhere within about a thousand miles in the weeks
(and especially the week
) before the trip - which kinda put a crimp
on sight-seeing for most areas (I had, for example, entertained thoughts
of going up to Oregon this time. Hah!).
Flipping a mental coin, I decided I'd head to Arizona.
I'd missed some minor sights (like the Grand Canyon) last year on my dash
along Route 66
and I figured if any place was
going to be dry, it'd be there. Still, checking the weather
the week leading up to the trip showed a strong (and increasing!) chance
of snow in Williams and Flagstaff (my first two stops) for the coming week.
Nervous, I invested in a set of chains for the car.
The weekend before the trip, it rained in Pasadena -
hard - and snowed in the surrounding mountains - low - which made me
even more nervous. This time, I was going with my friend Dee Dee and I
warned her that it was likely to be cold with a good chance of snow (she's
not a cold weather person). I kept reminding her of this the whole trip,
especially when it got down into the 20's in Flagstaff.
Monday dawned with mostly gray skies, with just the hint
of occasional solar breakthroughs in the cover as we left Pasadena for
the start of...
Day One - Monday - Pasadena
The drive from Pasadena to the Cajon Pass was fast, uneventful,
and pretty gray and boring. Climbing the pass, though, we started entering
clouds/fog pretty heavily. However, it soon passed, and skies became, if
not perfectly clear, at least infused with patches of blue.
While we drove, we noticed that the desert was almost magically green.
I suppose to someone from a wetter area, it wouldn't look all that
green. But to Southern Californian eyes...hoo-boy! El Niño had done
some pretty decent watering.
And once past Barstow...Flowers! Tons of them. Driving
down the 40 the desert on both sides was carpeted with wildflowers as far
as you could see. Mostly yellow, but there were also purples, blues, pinks
and the occasional whites intermixed and in clumps. The flowers lasted
clear to Needles and beyond into Arizona.
A little before Ludlow we decided to jog over to Route
and pulled off in "town." The last time Dee Dee was through here,
Route 66 was the road through the area, so it was even more nostalgic for
here than it was for me last year. Unfortunately, along with watering all
the wildflowers, it appeared that El Niño had washed out part of
the road between Ludlow and Amboy, so we had to get back on the 40. About
twenty-five miles further down the road, though, we found another road
that linked up with Route 66 just east of Amboy - and the blockage.
Both it and Route 66 when we got to it were dead empty
- we know, because we kept stopping to take pictures of flowers and casually
wandering back and forth across the road with not a car in sight. By now
the sky was down to partly cloudy and it was looking to be a beautiful
Flower photoing & nostalgia over, we connected back up with the 40
at Mountain Springs Summit and soon we're booming through Needles, headed
for the border - and Route 66 again.
The previous drive along it back in California had been
spur of the moment thing, inspired by all the pretty flowers. This
section had been in my mind all along. I knew from last year that the 40
between Needles and Seligman was boring in extreme, that Dee Dee hadn't
(as I said) been in the area since Route 66 was
...and anyway, I wanted to stop at Oatman again for lunch, like last year.
So about 11:30, that's where we were, in Oatman, having
frybread and watching the burros wander about town. The skies were clouding
over again and the air was cooling (or as Dee Dee kept saying "no, it's
") as we began our climb up to Sitgreaves Pass. Once there,
we stopped again and supplemented the frybread with actual sandwiches before
The miles rolled by and the day got grayer and colder
as we went. We stopped briefly at Grand
to get a photo in front of their "year" sign (and Dee
Dee only briefly braves the cold), then it's back towards Williams, passing
through the occasional splat of rain on the way.
is heavily overcast and in the rapidly diminishing
40's when we arrive about 4:30 that afternoon. After checking in at the
Motel 6, we go for a walk up into town and over to check out the Grand
Canyon Railroad station and Fray Marcos hotel. By the time we get there,
a light snow is falling. Just a few flakes, but the temps now dip into
We peruse the gift shop and the hotel for a while, waiting
for the day's train to come in. It arrives, in a snowfall that no longer
counts as "light." Even by my rather loose standards, it's now getting
pretty cold, so we head off to the restaurant I ate at last year for dinner.
Along the way, I'm trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue while Dee Dee
shivers and looks at me like I'm an idiot.
Hey, it's my first snowfall in two decades or so (and only the third altogether).
However, the restaurant is closed for some reason - and it's rapidly
becoming my hardest
snowfall as well, because it's now snowing faster
and the wind is pretty much blowing it sideways. We quick duck into
the next restaurant between us and the motel, the Parker House Restaurant
- yes, the people with the rolls. They
don't have buffalo burgers,
but dinner's pretty good anyway and by the time it's over, the snow's let
up a little bit. It's definitely below freezing, though, so it's back to
the motel and a reasonable night's sleep.
("Reasonable" because I have yet to stay at a motel -
or hotel, for that matter - where the bed wasn't as hard as a block of
concrete. I don't know why that is - but it's very annoying)
All Linked Pictures Copyright of The Sites They're Linked To,
All Non-Linked Pictures Copyright 1998 - David William Johnson