So we are headed out on new year’s day and seems to be a good choice in terms of beating some holiday traffic. I noticed coming into town that the highway going out was jam-packed going out in the middle of the day. Made me nervous that going out could start off rouhg and make the start of a long adventure really rough. But, even after a quick stop at a grocery store to pick up some travel food, we hit the highway with some clear roads, bright sunshine and a new year. We hadn’t even gotten out of the area when P and J found a little traveler we had left behind. We have this large plastic frog that keeps getting passed around each holiday season from family member to another and this time he found his new home in Pasadena under our pillows on the bed ; ) It was pretty awesome to “get them” in such a good way. They totally thought we had forgotten him this year, and knew that we were the ones stuck with him, and yet we got them good without them noticing before we left town. We joked that those custom guys just did not sniff out the wildlife well enough when we came into town!
We were trying to hit the road runing this first day. K wanted to get to Roswell, NM which was just a bit off-track from where we were headed, but if we made good head-way the first day we’d be alright in terms of nights in a hotel/gas costs along the way. We are cruising and thinking that surely CA would have lots of gas stations along the way to AZ, I’d be ok running low. Big mistake on my part. We are cruising and it’s looking like I’m about to run empty before we hit AZ, and low and behold we come to Essex. Keep in mind, Essex, CA is this tiny little hole in the wall, and the gas stop was literally called “GAS”…. I could not pay at the pump and was so thrilled to have just found gas! I pay for $60 worth of gas only to get to the pump and realize that the prize per gallon is $4.89!!!! What the #*$*&#????? Yep. But what am I going to do that this point!? The kids opt to use the bathroom and we go back indoors after parking the car. I see this sign on the register, ” We are here in the middle of nowhere to service you. It costs us a lot to run this station in the middle of nowhere. So save your complaints for someone else.” LITERALLY…. this is what this sign reads. I just start laughing. And then begin noticing all of the “don’t touch this” signs all over the place. Well…. as grouchy as they are in the middle of nowhere, I was thankful for the gas. (However a little less thrilled when I had to fill my tank less than 3 hours later! Cheapo-depo gas in Essex!)
We decided to just make this our pit stop and made some sandwiches and enjoyed the sunshine. It was a pretty spot and a space to sit and eat and run around a bit. We made it to Flagstaff that night. It ended up being a Ramen noodle and whatever was in the car kinda night as they really wanted a midnight swim that night. I was immediately falling in love with AZ. If had to choose among all the places in our whole trip I would choose AZ as my #1 with CO as my close second. We pulled into Flagstaff and one stop off at a hotel did not prove to have a pool, but we were referred to another on Lucky Lane where we had a hot breakfast, and warm pool and a hot tub FULL of bubbles (the highlight!). What a blast!
We kick off our second day (Jan. 2nd) from Flagstaff and hadn’t gotten very far when we saw signs for a Meteor Crater in Winslow, AZ. I just thought, “how could we pass that up!?” When we tuned to the referred radio station it gave a brief history of how it was discovered, and tested by NASA. We just had to check that one out. This is was an incredible sight. The illusion of how small it seemed, but then with telescope markers set up you could really see just how huge this thing was. (Like a 6 foot man/statue placed at the bottom of the hole with a flag which could not be seen by naked eye very well. You could kind of spot the flag, but you could not see the guy. Then you scope out the telie and there it was! Really cool!) We had a blast there. Spent much more time than anticipated, and enjoyed a car picnic lunch before taking off again.
The second detour happened just before leaving AZ and just before sunset. We made it into the national park with the painted deserts and petrified forests. What an amazing sight! The pics I don’t feel even do this justice! They were just so amazing, and again….. love AZ. We cruised in quite a bit in and checked it all out, but due to wanting to get to NM that night AND sunset hitting soon, it was something we were checking out and putting on the ‘must do more next time’ list. I just would love to wander around there and soak that amazing place in.
Home that night was in Moriarty, NM. Such a lovely little place where they did me a huge service by cutting the rate of the hotel down quite a bit. Right before finding a hotel, we got lucky with a $2.89 gas stop and pizza which the kids were craving and begging for that night. That was a fun stop and we were then eager to find a hotel. Had anothter hot breakfast and a swim in the pool before heading out to Roswell in search of aliens and UFOs.