My 6-State Road Trip: Road Photos
Day 1: Norman, Okla. to Gallup, N.M.
I can attest to the factualness of the number of construction zones. Breakfast: cold pizza on the road, lunch: Rudy’s Barbecue in Amarillo, dinner: Panda Express in Gallup. Lodging: EconoLodge. Much luxury. Gas mileage was very poor — around 16. Rudy’s’s reliability notwithstanding, least interesting day of the drive (by a pretty fair margin).
Day 2: Gallup, N.M. to Flagstaff, Ariz. via Petrified Forest National Park
Breakfast: bad waffle at the EconoLodge, lunch: Mexican place in Winslow, dinner: Flame Broiler in Flagstaff. I realize I am the only person on earth who likes Flame Broiler. So be it. The Flagstaff branch did itself proud. Lodging: Days Hotel in Flagstaff.
Entering Arizona. Nothing says “welcome” quite like making people drive on the shoulder.
And then, once inside Petrified Forest National Park…
Some of these reflections off the hood turn out all right. The one below is somewhere closer to Flagstaff.
Day 3: Flagstaff, Ariz. to Hurricane, Utah
Breakfast: probably something at the hotel, lunch: Hurricane DQ at like 4 PM, dinner: with Brit-Dev and the Erors at… some Utah chain that’s like Café Rio, but isn’t Café Rio. First time in my life I ever ordered a salad at a restaurant (as the main course). Milestones. Lodging: Super 8 in Hurricane. Gas mileage improved into the 18s.
This drive, btw, is one of the prettiest drives on earth. You do hit a little bit of RV traffic north of the Grand Canyon, but, man, the scenery is non-stop. I hadn’t driven it since I was an undergrad 20+ years ago.
Below is the Days Hotel room. Decent place, good wifi, glass elevator with view of the pool. Wall art was hung too high though, so deduct 1.5 stars for that.
And back on the road:
Above is from the bridge over the river Colorado. I got out of the car for this one, but this is literally the view from off the bridge you drive over on Highway 89 (89A? whichever).
Out of the desert, into the high hills nearing the AZ-UT border:
Then back down into the desert:
And the Utah state line. If I’d seen a Lost Boy around there, I would have at least given him a ride into St. George. (Although I don’t suppose they get dropped off along the highway in the town where they actually lived.)
Day 4: Hurricane, Utah to Zion National Park
Breakfast: uh — I feel like I ate something, but don’t know what it was; I was too proud to eat at the Super 8. Lunch: a mounds bar I think, dinner: crackers with peanut butter and a pouch of beef jerky (about which I should probably come clean — it was only 80 calories/oz.). Lodging: Campsite 5. This was the first day of the Narrows hike, so didn’t cover a whole lot of miles in the car.
And, since I’m being post facto honest, I think the above photo was actually from the previous afternoon when I drove into the park to pick up the permit. It’s between Hurricane and the park, though, so — right scenery regardless.
Day 5: Zion National Park to Richfield, Utah via Chamberlain Ranch
Breakfast: granola out of a Ziploc bag, lunch: shelled pistachios at the Temple of Sinawava bus stop, dinner: DQ in Hurricane (again). Lodging: Comfort Inn in Richfield (one of the best budget hotels ever — super happy and helpful employees, room was very clean and modern-enough, wifi was strong, breakfast was a smorgasbord).
The Chamberlain Ranch dot looks like it’s in the wrong place. Oh well. It’s where we parked one of the two cars we needed for the shuttle situation required by the Narrows hike.
Trailhead parking lot:
And back on the freeway:
Day 6: Richfield, Utah to Gunnison, Colo. via Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Breakfast: Richfield Comfort Inn, rich and varied; lunch: KFC in Montrose, Colo. (neither rich nor varied); dinner: pb&j sandwich at the hotel in Gunnison. Lodging: Quality Inn, Gunnison. Gunnison had the attitude of a tourist town, but looked run-down. FWIW. Gas mileage up near 20 — maybe the engine finally got broke-in.
Also, I-70 from Richfield to where highway 191 cuts in is a gorgeous stretch of interstate. But when you drive it in the morning, the sun’s right in your windshield. Just: don’t hold the lack of quality photos in this section against that stretch of freeway. Which I know you were totally going to do if I hadn’t said something.
Viewpoint at the side of the freeway. Very desert:
And, entering Colorado, splattered bugs say “hello”:
Day 7: Gunnison, Colo. to Lake City, Colo. via the Animas Forks
Breakfast: Quality Inn (was okay), lunch: pb&j again?, dinner: Mountain House Spaghetti in Meat Sauce (that had expired in 2013). Lodging: Mill Creek Campground Site #21, the last campsite available and the only one in the campground with insufficient trees for privacy (it was fine, the neighbors were discrete).
The drive from Gunnison to Lake City was a nice one, aside from the guy who was driving full-speed in the wrong lane for not reason (I moved over to the left lane to get around him, he decided that he, after all, wanted to be in that lane, so I corrected back into the right lane and we missed each other by, oh, less than a car length anyway; then he went back to driving in the wrong lane for no apparent reason). (I assume it was a he.)
I chronicled elsewhere the Alpine Loop off-highway drive to Animas Forks, but, rest assured, it was also awesome and scenic.
Here, all vehicles are in their correct lanes:
Day 8: Lake City, Colo. to South Fork, Colo. via Chimney Rock National Monument
Breakfast: one Pop Tart, lunch: Taco Bell in Pagosa Springs, dinner: one small carton of blackberries. Lodging: some hotel in South Fork with a made-up name, despite looking like every other Quality/Comfort/Days/Econo/8/6/etc. Inn ever (though on the cleaner side of that roster). Also, Chimney Rock was not exactly on the way between Lake City and South Fork. But then, I couldn’t find a decent hotel price in Pagosa Springs, my tent was still wet from the night before, and, well, things occurred.
The worst part about that detour was that the good Chimney Rock National Monument was already closed because I arrived SO LATE (2:45 PM). I looked at the bad part instead. Then talked to some older female rangers, who — well, I don’t think they have PhDs in Puebloan Studies. They were nice, though, and at least as far as Pagosa Springs, the drive was pretty.
This was a roadside waterfall:
Probably still is.
Chimney Rock National Monument, the boring part that I got to see:
The 8th of 12 station-fulls of wonder! Anyway, driving:
Day 9: Soth Fork, Colo. to Norman, Okla. via Taos, N.M. and Capulin Volcano National Monument
Breakfast: hotel I think, lunch: blue enchiladas, Christmas style at that diner-like place in Taos, dinner: KFC in maybe Guymon, Okla. Lodging: own bed.
Then, re-entering New Mexico:
Below: Capulin Volcano!
I figure the more photos of prairie I give you, the more endless it seems. There was an Entering Oklahoma back there too somewhere.
And, finally, I leave you with Boise City:
And then another six hours and I was home.
Average speed while photos were taken was probably in the low-50’s. A lot of tuning of the vibrance slider went into these and I think my windshield has a slight blue-green tint to it.
This is probably a better post without the commentary.