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Day 3: Albuquerque to Williams, Arizona

I awoke early - again, somewhat unintentionally - the next morning to discover that all those clouds that had been moving in had dumped a nice rainstorm on the city during the night. Roaring off in my car, I took a quick circle around the city center to see if there was anything interesting (this is when I measured the walking trip of the night before). It looked a little better than what I had seen just walking, but the only thing that really stood out for me was the Museum of Natural History (closed, of course, it was seven in the morning!) which - quite apart from being a neat building - had these two beautiful dinosaur bronzes out front (a carnosaur and a ceratopsian of some kind). Of course, I had to stop and photograph them!

I took Route 66 out of town, heading back west now.Route 66, west out of Albuquerque...The highway is pretty much unchanged from decades ago and many of the motels/diners are still in operation. Soon, however, I was back on the 40 as it commenced it's death-grip on 66's right-of-way.

The plan for the day, such as it was, was to see if I could reach Williams - about three-hundred and fifty miles away - early enough that I could get a motel room, then drive the additional sixty, seventy odd miles to the Grand Canyon for a couple of hours. Thus, I went booming down the 40, as fast as I could go - which is pretty fast out in the desert!

I hit Gallup again at about 9:30, and got out at the gas station to discover that it was still in the low fifties, and very, very windy. Said wind was to stay with me all the way to Flagstaff, as it turned out, usually managing to be a headwind (just so it could do bad things to my gas mileage).

Less than two hours later, near Joseph City, Arizona, I made my first of only two Route 66 stops for the day - the Jack Rabbit Trading Post.Jack Rabbit Trading Post Everybody traveling Route 66 has to stop there and get a picture of its famous rabbit-covered billboard announcing "Here It Is!" (the "It" in this case being a rabbit statue large enough to sit on). Well, I'm not "everybody," but I stopped for a bit anyway. They proved to have a nice selection of books on Route 66 as well (several of which would have been useful before going on the trip to help plan - though all suffer from the problem that they assume the tour-ee is going west on the road. Makes it hard to invert the directions when you were going east, like I had...).

But soon, I'm back on the road again, zooming around (rather than through) Winslow and an hour later it's Flagstaff once more. Here, I get off and return to the Lowell Observatory: This time, I'm there when it's open! I spend a couple of hours taking the tour, seeing the big refractor that Lowell spent all his time staring at Mars through (before drawing somewhat fanciful maps...), his tomb (shaped like an observatory dome), and wandering through the museum exhibits.

A brief stop down in Flagstaff for an oil change (hey, I'd been racking up the miles and it was time! Besides, it only took ten minutes) and I'm on Route 66 again, heading west out of town - my second Route 66 bit for the day.

I reach Williams around three or so, and go in search of a motel. Once there, though, I discover that I am so darn tired, that the absolute last thing I want to do is drive for another two or three hours to the Canyon and back. So I spend the rest of the afternoon and evening in town, eating at a restaurant that's a converted gas station (with antique gas pumps inside and a wonderful tin ceiling that must have cost a fortune) and trying for my last good glimpse of Hale-Bopp on the trip. This proved to be surprisingly tricky - Williams is amazingly well lit for such a small town. Afterwards, I spend an hour or two in the motel's hot tub, then it's off to bed.
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