Friday, 5 August 2005.
Albuquerque, NM to
We left for Flagstaff about 8:30 a.m., continuing on I-40. Weather
was quite cool, and at the first rest stop west of Albuquerque, Mike put
on a jacket, and I a sweatshirt. It remained pleasant for the entire ride.
At the first rest stop west of Albuquerque. Note that the
vendors are on the other side of the fence line.
New Mexico desert as seen from the rest stop. This is Laguna
Pueblo land (Navajo).
Continental Divide. 7245 feet.
New Mexico at Continental Divide. Most of the visible land is
Both in western New Mexico and Arizona, we passed through or skirted
many native American reservations and Pueblos, most of which were Navajo,
but there were also Apache and Ute. The
Navajo Nation is by
far the largest, and extends into the states of Utah , Arizona and New
Mexico, covering over 27,000 square miles. Diné Bikéyah, or
Navajoland, is larger than 10 of the 50 states in America.
About 45 miles east of the Arizona border is the Continental Divide on
The Arizona desert seemed very different to me from that in New Mexico.
The New Mexico route had many red rock outcroppings. Arizona was flat,
with the mountains sometimes visible only in the far distance. It
wasn't until we get near Flagstaff, that we get to forested high country.
We dodged a few showers just outside Flagstaff, but John's amazing
navigation and his ability to twist the road to his liking, caused us to
experience only a few sprinkles as we weaved through the lightning and
rain clouds. (Mike was to display similar skills the next day on the
return trip to Flagstaff from the Grand Canyon.) There was a fairly
heavy shower, though, after we checked into the hotel.
Today's scheduled was a "short day" as I expected high temperatures.
Glad we were wrong.
Flagstaff itself is at an elevation of about 7000
feet, and sits at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, a 12,633-foot-high
dormant volcano. It is surrounded by the Coconino National Forest
With time change, we got to Flagstaff about 3:30 p.m. (Arizona stays on
Mountain Standard Time, so actual time is Pacific Daylight Savings Time.)
Arizonians make a big deal about their consistency —
I don't get why it makes much difference.
After resting for a bit, we decided to check out
Flagstaff and environs. Flagstaff is on the old Route 66, and
Michael took the old route west out into the country and forested area.
He kept stopping in the middle of the road claiming to have seen some
animal or other. I never saw anything.
On the recommendation of the motel clerk, we had
dinner that night at "Black Barts Steakhouse Saloon & Musical
Revue." It's kind of an odd place associated with an RV park.
The waiters periodically break into adequate (but not great) musical
numbers (they are apparently students at the local Northern Arizona
University). Service is a bit slow (what with all that singing and
stomping), food o.k., and prices touristy but not exorbitant.
The BNSF (Burlington Northern Sante Fe) Railroad runs through the
center of town. I had the impression they were running the line
close to it's maximum. During a one-hour period, I observed trains
passing through about every ten minutes, both east and west. The
BNSF line parallels I-40, and there were locations along the line where
two and three trains were stopped in a bunch —
I suppose waiting for clearance through one bottle-neck or another
(although it seemed to me that most of the right-of-way was double