Thursday, December 17
Arizona state line at 12:19, odometer 116051, temp 32. 400 miles to the western edge of the state.
In 1952, I made my stage debut as the narrator of The Nativity at North Haven High School
New Mexico state line to Phoenix
Over a pass, snow-capped mountains some distance ahead of me. The snow cover on the desert is not complete. Coyote Wash (those dirty coyotes!).
Welcome to Springersville city limits at 12:30, elevation 6968. Junction with US 180 and US 191. The First Assembly of God, a Spanish-style church with wide spread building wings on each side, Casa Malpais Ruins, Reed's Lodge, Gallery & Books, El Jo Motor Inn, Lighten Up Motel. Coming up on 7550 elevation, a lot of snow again, coming down there's snow lying out on the horizon ahead of me. Sitgreaves National Forest at 1:07.
Jalapeno's Cafe in Show Low at 1:39 for a French dip and coffee. The Snowy River Inn, Budget Inn & Suites, another cafe, Lazy Bear Decor, Navajo County Attorney's Office, a nice big house that would be perfectly at home in New England, High Country Carwash, Kiva Hotel, KC Hotel, Deuce of Clubs Avenue, another cafe, Big K Mart, Safeway, "Trust the Force But Always Buckle Up," a large house with a lot of gingerbread and a third floor turret with a little dome on top, a porch underneath as well as porches on the 1st and 2nd floors.
I should have stayed here in Show Low, about halfway between Socorro and Phoenix. I would have been able to enjoy the following drive through fantastic mountains and canyons instead of worrying about getting to Phoenix on time.
Entering White Mountain Apache Reservation at 1:49. Pine-covered and snow-covered mountains, Forestdale Trading Post, a great canyon area. A nice big U curve at 1000 feet. God, this is beautiful country here, no ands ifs or buts about it. Coming around that curve, these mountains up ahead are snow- and pine-covered. Behind me is great picture but there's no place to pull over and do it. A mountain rises up like a mesa but with a bunch of trees covering it. Fort Apache, thataway. I'm on US 60 and US 77. Still more stunning rock cliffs and palisades running on and on and on. 10 minutes or so resting my eyes at a pullover, snow along the road, rock along the road to my right, pines and mountains, what more could a man want? As long as he doesn't go over the edge. Phoenix, 125 miles.
Entering Salt River Canyon. It is magnificent, deep, huge, no way to capture it. Absolutely fantastic, spectacular, and, yes, awesome. Leaving White Mountain Apache, entering San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, fantastic rocks off to my left down to the Salt River. It just keeps going on and on. Leaving San Carlos at 3:25, high desert, pure blue sky, a raven. 3:31, blue mountains behind dark blue mountains behind dark mountains behind mountains nearer to the road, sharp peaks off to my left, valleys, rock megaliths jutting out of a hillside, incredible country. At a pullover, I encounter a middle-aged couple with a house trailer. They're from some place in Massachusetts north of Northampton, Winchendon I think.
Globe City Limits at 3:50, temp 51, built on a hillside. Junction with US 70, DQ, Green's Real Mexican Food. $16.50 gas worth of $1.8379 gas. Past the El Rey Refrigerated Motel, under a walkway, a restaurant, a dark red adobe-style Southwestern bldg., Jerry's restaurants, couple of little houses with normal eastern style roofs, a strange building with a rounded corner where 2 streets meet at a shallow angle. I think I left a glove back at an overlook before Show Low. Bernard's Coffee Station, a small adobe building for sale with Tap Room still on it, Old Town Plaza, what looks like crumbly rock on the hillsides (probably pretty big boulders), "The Pickle Barrel is open daily. Shop at the Pickle Barrel." Lots of traffic going the other way, making me realize that I'll hit Phoenix at the tag end of rush hour. Tonto National Monument, America's Best Value Inn (quite large), entering Claypool at 4:11, the sun in my eyes, entering Miami at 4:13, where they're busy tearing down a mountain, "Visit Historic Downtown Miami", back into desert at 4:15, actually hilly territory. Some nice rock formations here, wherever here is, mountains to my left, rocky ones with nothing but rock, further on some with snow on them. A nice little hoodoo sitting out of the rocks to my right, a small rock tower to my left, the sun in my eyes, going southwest. Wonderful red rock canyons with tiny minarets, Devil's Canyon, lots of little rock things poking up from the hills to my left, a rock wall to my right, a side canyon. Another red rock canyon towering over me to my right, same thing to the left with a stream bed maybe between us, probably a dry wash right now.
(Whistle). I'm going over Queen Creek, a big massif towering up over me, all those red rock cliffs, fantastic, a couple of rock towers rising up. Coming down into populated area ahead of me as I come down out of the mountains. Gonzalez Pass and saguaro cactus at 4:45, the first saguaros I've seen this trip, a bit of a promontory off to my left, lots of saguaro cactus. Going down in cruise control, a truck pulls out of a side street into the left lane, causing me to brake, then a car with house trailer turns left from the other way into the street the truck had come out of and I have to jam on the brakes to keep from hitting him and things go flying of course.
The ridge off to my right looks like a huge piece of chipped flint, that sharp jagged edge. Superstition Mountain Drive. Silly Mountain Road. Onto the freeway at 5:04, the sun pretty low in west. Mesa Arizona at 5:07. I-10 and the Phoenix City Limits at 5:30, traffic very very slow. I think this is the first time I've been in Phoenix since I flew in for a computer conference in 1963. Of course I recognize nothing. Even if nothing had changed, I wouldn't have recognized anything. And there have been big changes. I-10 continues on to those incredibly similar cities, Wickenberg and Los Angeles.
The Econolodge at 6:30, temp 53, odometer 116294. It's fairly nice though it does have a free plug problem. 3 table lamps, one standing lamp, 2 bedside tables with drawers, a small table, desk, 2 chairs, fridge, microwave, half-dresser but wide. Lots of counter space in the alcove with shelf, hangers, foldaway.
Forget about open mikes. The one I wanted is not happening. The others are a bit far away and have already started by the time I get here and I just don't figure they're worth the trouble.
I try to find the Roosevelt Diner but go the wrong way and have to settle for a sandwich and cupcakes bought at a Circle K.
Friday, December 18
1972: "A very attractive girl named Martha Ann came in.
At first, I thought she was smiling at me but it was just because Michael Lally was sitting next to me. Sigh."
Phoenix to Tempe
Up at 8:30 for a bagel & cream cheese, coffee, one cup of apple juice. Another clear blue sky day, odometer 116303, temp 42, 9:25. Being near the airport, there are a lot of motels along Van Buren. I watch a big airliner coming in for a landing, here comes another one coming in very slowly, wheels down.
Onto I-10 at 9:43, a red and blue airliner, whatever that is, coming in fast, another one, he's moving. Elliott Road in Tempe at 9:42, 51 degrees. Too early to check in at the Days Inn. A lot of businesses along here--Walmart, Dollar Tree, Beall's (whatever that is), Petsmart, Ross, Staples, Olive Garden, Discount Dollar, QT Gasoline, Panda Express, Arby's, Circle K, Shell, grackle, Starbucks. I spend nearly 30 bucks at Guitar Center for a new guitar tuner and a bag of white picks then go to Crackers Cafe for a waffle, bacon, scrambled eggs, and 3 cups of coffee. I leave at 12:35, 67 degrees, get $300 from Wells Fargo near the office of the Ahwatukee Foothills News.
Into the Days Inn at 1:42, temp 66, odometer 116328. It's small and chilly (like every other room with the heater off) but has everything I need. 3 wall lamps, 2 bedside tables, radio alarm clock, small desk with plugs and phone, 3-drawer dresser, TV on top. Alcove with fridge, microwave, shelf, hangers, foldaway, ironing board and iron, shelf, small cupboard, coffee maker. Lots of sink space, a hair dryer.
I call Peixoto to confirm their open mike tonight but when I get there, the woman tells me the coordinator has decided he doesn't work tonight but I can play if I want. After some thought, I decide not to but then get upset with myself on the way back. I could have tanked but, if I got the reception I've gotten in other places, I might have sold a few CDs, gotten a free cup of coffee and maybe some free food. So I screwed up again.
I get a steak fajita sandwich at Arby's, watch the end of the Republican debate, and lie down on the bed fully dressed at 10:30 to get up and undress and 2:00.
Saturday, December 19
In 1973, I went to an Alice Cooper concert.
Up at 8:30, cereal, waffle, yogurt, toast, coffee, orange juice at the motel. 10:53, temp 54, overcast sky for a change. Heat yesterday was a problem, just cool air until I fiddled with it a bit. I had a similar problem with the shower which took some figuring out to get to work reasonably well. The guitar tuner I bought was a note off, so today I trade it in for a new one. And a bit of diarrhea this morning. And there's my other glove on the floor of the car. Now if I can only find my red backpack but I don't see how that could be hiding anywhere. I do some laundry here at the motel. Then I walk to Arby's for a reuben. The sky is beginning to clear.
In the evening, it's off to the Cup o'Karma in Mesa. As usual, I get there about 15 minutes early in order to talk to whoever runs it. As soon as I walk in, I figure I'm in trouble. There are already at least 5 other guitar players there, all of them only a few years younger than me. Which means they are players and I'm way out of my class. But that turns out not to be true. It's run by Chana (pronounced Hana) Cannon, who gets there after I do, sets up, and starts about 10 minutes later, which is par for the course. She is a pretty good guitar player and good singer. The place is quite tiny, with a handful of tables, a leather plush armchair and a leather plush sofa (which I wind up sitting at) and one wall taken up by a blackboard with a list of all the things happening there (practically every night). Hassan, the only young person there who's not behind the counter, starts off. He says he's from the midEast (no detectable accent) and this is first open mike. He acquits himself quite well with some interesting non-mideastern songs. A large elderly woman, Andy, does Dink's Song with the story behind it and is followed by her husband Lon who sings and tells stories about the old days in the area when it was an 8-hour drive from Flagstaff to Phoenix, stopping at Rock Springs for a nickel coke and free water. Most of the other performers were good guitar players but not much better than me, except for Jim (who looks like Buffalo Bill Cody with long white hair and mustache and goatee), who is quite good, Dave about 60 years old who sings a song called "Crucify Me" which sounds like a good teenager's song, Eric (40s) a great song about the death penalty. I do "Paisley Highways," "Here," and "Growing Old." The night ends with a woman poet who grew up in Plainville, Connecticut. Some very nice songs.
Sunday, December 20
1964: "To Vienna, where I ran 2 shows then struck.I clambered around the air conditioning to the consternation of a good-looking girl,
and enjoyed myself immensely."
Up at 8:30, the same breakfast as yesterday, a bit chilly., 51 degrees at 9:45, mostly blue sky but clouds floating around it everywhere. Killing time while they clean my room, up Priest Avenue past Grand Canyon University to Kyrene Road (Priest has become the Grove Parkway), heading north to Guadalupe Road, wide open roads, to my left flat square houses one after another, Baseline Road, across the interstate and there's a 10 cent difference in gasoline--$2.039 to the east, $1.939 to the west. Arby's roast beef sandwich in the afternoon.
To Pho Cao in Scottsdale in the evening, another 15-minute drive from the motel, past the airfield, where I could see planes stacked up for landings. I saw no Orientals there although there were several customers and people were eating from big bowls. The venue had a fairly large stage. The emcee, a burly bearded guy, was quite good and he was followed by Cassidy, a slightly chubby young lady who sang well and played guitar very well, accompanied by another man who played electric. Those who followed, including Hassan, who had played at Cup o' Karma last night, were good but not all that much better than me. Everybody got 4 songs. I did "New Kid in Town," "Hungry Blues," "Four O'Clock on the Highway," and "All Night Diner." Nobody strained a wrist afterwards and no one said anything afterwards except for the emcee, who particularly liked "Hungry Blues." I stopped off at Denny's on the way home.
Monday, December 21
F. Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940.
Tempe to Camp Verde
Up at 7:45 for cereal, waffle, yogurt, toast, and coffee at the Days Inn. $18 worth of $1.939 gas at the Circle K, odometer 116423, 48 degrees, mostly blue sky with a scattering of clouds. I-10 north at 9:42. Crossing the Salt river, nothing but salt, planes coming in from the west (they were coming in from the east last night). I-17 north, US-60 west at 9:52, temp 53, another plane coming in, a bit cloudier off to the north, another plane, a pretty busy airport. Into Glendale at 10:02, wall to wall traffic, wall to wall businesses and homes, industrial type businesses, what looks like a mosque with a minaret.
At 10:17, temp 55, Wickenburg, I finally put the city behind me, desert off to my right with a little roll of hills past that, then one range of mountains after another behind each other, some mountains ahead, no idea what's on the left because of the Jersey barrier. Saguaro marching up and down scrub brush-covered hillsides. New River at 10:25, elevation 2000. Real nice country, table lands, occasional vistas, over a rise, ridge after ridge after ridge in front of me, the everpresent saguaro all over the place. Yavapai County at 10:34. Up in high desert country now, 5000 feet, 10:42, temp 52, 75 mph, Arizona Veterans Highway (I-17), grass in each direction, to my left a range of mountains with folds, valleys, and whatever makes them up, more mountains way off in distance to my right.
Camp Verde and the Tuzigoot National Park at 11:16, temp 44, really overcast. Strawberry sundae at Denny's then checking into the Days Inn ($20 more than the Days Inn in Tempe) next door at 12:02, 42 degrees, 116525 on the odometer. No refrig, lots of plugs, otherwise standard. By 1:35, the overcast has cleared somewhat and the sun is shining in a sky with clouds.
Called JR and he came by about an hour later and we went out to his house in Camp Verde, where Kat is pretty much confined, with all kinds of medicine. She said she had spent the previous 2 weeks in bed but had energy today and she seemed fine to me. Then JR and I went to an open mike in Camp Verde but left when JR thought the guy running it was playing games and he was getting tired of waiting. It was the best collection of good guitar players (and fiddle and bass and banjo) that I've heard in quite a while so I was just as happy not to play.
My right big toe began to hurt again after I got back to the motel.
Tuesday, December 22
Awake a lot during the night, the toe hurting badly. Up at 8, very overcast, snowy mountain ahead of me out the window. Cereal, waffle, egg, sausage, bagel and cream cheese, coffee, apple juice for breakfast at the motel. Leaving at 10:11, temp 41, after having "An Anonymous Alba" printed out for JR. Out NM Route 260, past the Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Welcome to Cottonwood at 10:32, temp 41, elevation 34280, to NM route 89A past the Hippie Emporium.
By the time I got to Tuzigoot National Monument at 10:47, temp 42, the toe was hurting a lot less but I still used the cane. Wonderful pueblo ruins, many rooms, most of them probably entered by ladder through the roof.
I leave at 11:26, and get to Clarkdale at 11:35, up into cloud, mist on the windshield, wipers on intermittent.
Jerome city Limits at 11:40, up a nice canyon road coming into it then a steep uphill with lots of curves. Established 1876. It's a pretty hilly town (I was glad to use the cane), picturesque, proud of its bordello past but having no bordellos present. There are at least three tiers of buildings going up the hill to the Haskins Apartments high over everything. I leave at 12:21, 31 degrees, down that steep curvy road with is more scary going down than coming up, back the same way I came, skipping Tuzigoot.
Back to Cottonwood, where there are more of those thin tall evergreen trees I noticed a couple of weeks ago. The Pawn Palace. The View Motel, AAA, $50 and up.
Back to the motel at 2, where I lay down and dozed till after 5. Nachos and a taco at Taco Bell in the evening.
Wednesday, December 23
J.R. Robusto's 60th Birthday
Up at 8:20. A waffle, cereal, bagel & cream cheese, coffee, and apple juice at the motel. At 9:29, 47 degrees, it's off to Montezuma Castle. Partly cloudy with blue sky patches, the sun behind a cloud somewhere. Up I-17 one exit past the Cliff Castle Casino Hotel, Coconino National Forest, whitish-yellow cliffs, houses scattered across the desert to my left, trailers, ex-trailers, shipped in houses, "regular" houses.
Montezuma Castle. Montechuzome II never was here. The Yavipai call it "the home of the protectors of the Yavipail," the Hopi "the place where the stepladders are going up" or "long high walls." A creosote bush (which I've probably been calling sagebrush), the call of a kingfisher. "Around 1400, after centuries of settlement here, families began leaving their Verde Valley homes. The archaeological record suggests that from 1350 to 1400 people began leaving the valley to join larger pueblos to the north and east." No one knows why, as there was still plenty of water and land. I leave at 10:26, 45 degrees, the sky the same.
It's interesting--there seem to be a fair number of Oriental people at the monuments and parks, some of them apparently 2nd or 3rd generation. Last night, at Taco Bell, 3 teenagers plus their parents were talking in what sounded to me like some eastern European language, but who knows?
I take the long way back to the motel, past a fairgrounds or something that with old horse & buggies around its edges, a couple of horses grazing in a field. The land, desert hills with sagebrush (or creosote bushes), the mountains being obscured from time to time by clouds, is fairly spectacular and totally incapable of being captured by a camera.
JR showed up at 1:30 and we went to an Oriental buffet in Cottonwood, where I bought him a birthday lunch, bringing some home to Catt, where we played a little music and talked a lot. He brought me back to the motel at 7:30. I had scrambled eggs, bacon, an English muffin, and coffee at Dennys before going to bed around 11.
Thursday, December 24
1975: "Ted told about working for American Tobacco long ago, with little advertising,
coming into a town, letting down the back of his Model T, hiring a local musician to play and gather a crowd,
then hiring a local girl to pass out samples--2-packs of cigarettes, chewing tobacco and so forth."
Camp Verde to Seligman
Up at 7:50 for yogurt, bagel & cream cheese, grape nut flakes, coffee, and orange juice. I seem to have lost my eyeglasses, they're not in the room, maybe I packed them away somewhere but I don't remember doing anything like that. I have 2 other pairs. I leave at 8:46, 41 degrees, odometer 116587, on I-17 to NM 179, pretty well clouded over although the sun has broken through in the east.
Montezuma Well National Park at 9:02, temp 39, the sun still managing to shine. The well is really a big sinkhole in the middle of the desert, lined with big rock cliffs, part of which has fallen down, house-sized or larger, you can see how it fits into the wall it broke away from, and the ruins of a pueblo. A small gray bird, like small mockingbird, hops around the walkway, darting around, and there's a small bird with a red patch on its head, not a cap, in a creosote bush next to me, flitting around near me for 5-10 seconds, and there are mallards in the sinkhole and there are other birds flying around, the sound of ravens (of course).
Below the "well," Wet Beaver Creek babbles to itself. I leave at 9:28, temp 40 degrees.
Back to I-17 at 9:37, crossing the Dry Beaver Creek, the exit to Oak Creek Canyon, route 179, the Red Rock Scenic Byway, to Sedona, at 9:42, entering the Coconino National Forest, not much in the way of trees, just a few small scraggly ones. There are red rock hills to my left, 5 massifs to my right, another massif with its head in the clouds. Dry Beaver Creek to my right is not dry. Village of Oak Creek at 10:04. Some juncos with white tail feathers. A mass of red rock fingers are all massed and clustered together rising out of the desert, all these incredible rock formations one after another, absolutely incredible, the sun highlighting the colors of rock against the darkness of the clouds, magnificent country. Oh God! a series of huge rock towers rising up. The Sedona City Limits at 10:18, nothing but desert and rock formations. Sedona, elevation 4500, founded 1902. 89A south to Cottonwood at 10:38, temp 47. Past the Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill, the Red Planet Diner, Mountain Shadows Drive, the Sugar Loaf Motel, Coffee Pot Drive, Rodeo Road, Shelby Drive, Moondog Pizza, Windwater Day Spa, Beat Garden, Arroyo Pinon Drive, Dry Creek Rock, rocks at Rainbows End, Calle del Este, pretty much overcast now.
Going up onto still higher road, to red rock cliffs, higher and higher. Mingus Mountain Scenic Road, stark beauty, terrifying beauty, unforgiving beauty Up and up, around a couple more U curves, still going up, (What's that down there? Maybe an old coal mine?), lots of mountains up ahead, going down finally. More U turns, back up, 6000 feet, someone on my tail, nowhere to pull over, back down, Prescott National Forest. Pinons and other pines, going up again, shallowly now, the road not quite so twisty and winding, not sure I'm on the right road anymore, I don't see how it could be any other way though. Elevation 7923. I'm on 89A South! This is not good but there ain't no turning back; how did I get on south? There's a lot of snow on those hillsides to my left as I come coming down. It must have been a lot of fun building this road. Another big U Curve coming. Whitish-yellow cliffs alongside my right; to my left, where I had been coming down just a little while ago, before that U curve, there's a reddish rock wall not created by man. A big flat hill rises up in front of me, rounded peak to its right, a high massif to my left, massive rocks, a tree that's been decorated out here in the middle of nowhere. Leaving Prescott National Forest at 12:27, temp 41.
Coming down from Sedona, to my right are red rock things, rising out of desert ahead of me is a hill topped with sagebrush or creosote or whatever, rolling country, in its own way very beautiful, maybe even spectacular, red rock minarets not too far off to my right, yellow grass land with dry brown leafless growths, 3 or 4 cattle standing out in the middle of all this, a strangely beautiful land in an eerie desolate way, just yellow land going out as far as I can see with dark brown leafless growths on it, creosote bushes, sagebrush, whatever.
Cottonwood at 11:46, temp 49, cottonwoods maybe hanging over the road, rugs for sale along the road. $10 of $1.999 gas at a Maverik at the edge of Cottonwood.
The long curving canyon road up to Jerome, There's a house up on the hillside; I have no idea how to get up there. The Jerome town limits 11:33, temp 45, 15 mph, curves and mountain grades, S-curves going up, a couple of abandoned buildings on the left and right. Houses going up on the mountainside, the top of the mountain in mist. Jerome is an interesting town, with curving steps going up, rock walls holding things back, a blocked-off underground passage, a very touristy area with lots of art shops, Nelly Bly II, very definitely treading on its sordid past, a double porch (2nd and 3rd floors only) hanging porch over the candy store, another building on the road above also with 2nd and 3rd floor porches, a big house like a hotel high over everything else.
Flat territory noe, 55 mph, no idea how to get to Seligman at this point, rangeland, fence on both sides, flat country with brownish yellow grass, not a sign of sagebrush or anything else, pretty good sized hills past Prescott Valley, a big anthill by itself, then real mountains, one cloud-covered, the others touching the clouds. Prescott Valley at 12:35, temp 46, 1500 elevation, founded 1966. Now on a limited access divided highway, the desert now dotted with gray-green growths of creosote or sagebrush or some other stuff, God knows what, I sure don't.
89 north to I-40 at 12:44, temp 47, one lane each way, passing a golf course. Welcome to Chino Valley at 12:51, temp 48. A modern windmill with metal vanes spinning like a pinwheel, on a pole instead of the usual oil rig type tower, another one with a metal oil rig type tower instead of wooden, more metal vanes, prairie or farmland to left and right as the road becomes a divided highway, pretty flat, mountains to right and left at a distance, in some kind of a valley. Santa Fe Propane, Authentic Taxidermy. Another windvane spinning madly on a pole near a standard windmill also spinning madly. Back into Prescott National Forest at 1:09 temp 49, not many trees, like orchard trees (they're not), short and round. Back to one lane each way, cloud shadows scattered across the "orchard" trees and on the distant mountains. Kaibab National Forest at 1:20, temp 46, over some kind of water with no sign to say what it is. Leaving Kaibab Forest I-40 at 1:29, temp 47.
I-40 through prairie country with some very strange bushes, on a stalk then spread out like a lollipop, a hill rises above the desert floor, a hill not a mountain but with a small rocky cliff on one stop, a mountain rises to a rounded peak to my left, mostly desert and prairie, sagebrush prairie type growths.
Historic US 66, US 40, Arizona 66, The Roadkill 66 Cafe, Seligman Historic District at 1:49, temp 47. Pretty much blue sky everywhere, western hills popping out of the desert here and there. The Romney Motel at 2:11, 47 degrees, odometer 116149. Very cold in here, 2 end tables with lamps, a round table with 2 armchairs, a small desk with chair, a little low 2-drawer dresser, fridge & microwave, a sink with little space, foldaway, shelf and hangers. I'm the only customer here tonight.
There's an old rusted Packard with California plates at the motel, an old 30s police car 30s across the street, an early 60s Chrysler with a flat tire in front of a souvenir shop, of which there are a number, here on "Historic Route 66." I get some groceries at a store which is small and has a lot of empty space on its shelves, only 3 or 4 or less of any item. Then I go to the Roadkill Cafe for a French dip. I don't think I'll go anywhere tonight. Everything here in this one-horse town trying to survive on its Route 66 past is closed anyway on Christmas Eve. A lot of trains rumbling past.
Friday, December 25
In 1956, I spent Christmas with the Anschultzes
Seligman to Flagstaff via the Grand Canyon
Up at 8:20. So cold I slept in my clothes all night. A blue sky day but there was a dusting of snow on the ground and encrusted on my front and back windshields. In addition to the Packard what was probably a very early T-Bird was at the hotel. On the road at 9:21, temp 30, US 40 to I-40 at 9:27, temp 30. It is not completely clear. There are scattered clouds, mostly on the horizon, cumulus ahead and to my right cirrocumulus on my left, some cumulus behind me.
Ash Fork at 9:50, temp 33, the top of the mountain ahead of me obscured by cloud. Back into the Kaibab National Forest at 9:54. To my left there's a valley with cumulus floating above it, ahead large cumulus, puff balls to the right, desert prairie country with the usual dotted sagebrush. A row of rock cliff to my left, a little over the height of a man then up to around 20 feet. Temp down to 28 and beginning to seep into the car a bit. More snow along the road but still not total cover. Devil Dog Road. A mountain with a cloud sitting up on top of it, now in pine country, it feels more like New England than the Southwest, a sharp peak to the right of the one with the cloud on it, quite a bit lower than the first peak but with a fair amount of snow on it. Pretty much full cover snow now where things aren't peeking through.
Williams at 10:08, temp 23. Love's at 10:15, 24 degrees, for $10.10 worth of $1.999 gas. On I-40 again briefly, nice passenger train down there, not in service. Route 64, the road to Grand Canyon, at 10:28, temp 25.
Leaving Kaibab National Forest at 10:33, temp 25. A sign tells me that there's a McDonald's at Grand Canyon. Of course. 10:49, 28 degrees--I have a straightahead but somewhat rolling road, straight ahead in the distance some kind of mountain. It's very desert, snow, yellow grass, green desert shrubbery scattered around, a long stretch without any shrubbery, smaller gray-green growths. Basically there are 3 parts to the desert--sand, grass, and the various types of shrubbery, the largest up to 10-15 feet, the smaller a foot or two, most of it in-between. Nope. There's also trees, a couple of them. Maybe there’s some water there. This cloud cover is pretty complete, blue sky to the right, heavy clouds in the east, whiter clouds in the north and south. Sun keeps it bright. There are 3 houses out in the desert, one close to the road, 2 some distance away from it, all of them some distance from each other. An Airstream-type rounded trailer, a rectangular building, another Airstream-type house trailer. Then empty desert as far as I can see. The intersection with US 180 at 10:56, temp 28, where I stop at Fred's Diner in the Bedrock City Amusement Park (the Flintstones) at 11:40 for eggs, ham, and English muffin for $5.95. It's a good piece of ham though a bit dry and the coffee is a nickel. Temp 29. The mountain that had been ahead of me is now off to my right, rising up slowly on both sides from desert, green and white, then a steep turret with red rock cliffs to a rounded top. Desert snow and desert bushes of various kinds. A lot of blue sky, a lot of cumulus, the sun hidden, 28 degrees. A snow plow plowing up the road edge. Into tree country now, pines and maybe cedars, great trees rising up 10 feet or more before their first limb, some with reddish bark, cedars or something else. Tusayaan City Limits.
Grand Canyon Park at 12:15, temp 26. $30 but I get in free with the Golden Eagle Pass I bought 10-15 years ago, probably for $5, since it's currently available for $10. The road is not well-plowed, maybe not plowed at all, just two wheel tracks and pretty good snow cover, an inch or more alongside the rod. I get to the parking lot at 12:26, temp 22, odometer 116855, fluffy unthreatening cumulus up there. But it's cold and I have one glove and no hat, no idea at all where my stocking caps are. I walk to the visitor center then finally to the rim where I take a number of photos, the first three with the lens cap on. I walk back to the visitors center to call Laurie and we talk for maybe 10 minute. Don't know who else was there, presumably the whole family. With the many paths back to the parking lot, I had trouble finding the car. The parking area was full--there had to be several thousand people at Grand Canyon on Christmas Day. Some seemed to be Europeans of some kind from snatches of conversations I couldn't understand. Yes, it is spectacular. I didn't get to see much of it, it was too cold.
(Thinking about an email I got from Florida, I realize I'm so alive right now and part of it is because it is cold, not brutally cold, just "invigorating and stimulating" and the pleasure of getting back into the warmth. I'm so happy right now and part of it is because of the snow and cold, but not really really cold.)
I decide not to take AZ 64 since it said chains or snow tires advisable. So it's back down AZ 64 to US 180, the sun shining through big lines of cumulus. Over a rise, stretched out in front of me is that big wide valley I drove through yesterday, but from the north instead of the south. AZ 64 is a busy busy road, a lot of traffic going the other way, mostly cars, a bus, 2 groups of 7 cars, then some more cars. And so on. Are they all going up to Grand Canyon? Where else would they go? I stop at Fred's Diner to close my eyes for a while, then on to US 180, 32 degrees, to Flagstaff, the sky full of soft cumulus clouds, lots of blue patches, sun shining, past a closed-up store and the Double Eagle Trading Company. Elevation 6000. High desert and the usual description, to my left quite a few small mts with snow them, one with its top just below the clouds. This is the San Frncisco Peaks Scenic Road, Kaibab National Forest. Rounded mountains not impressive by western standards but pretty good by eastern standards. Coconino National Forest at 2:30, 29 degrees. Desert but the growths are a bit taller, desert trees. Elevation 7000 at 2:35, 27 degrees, snow along the road, light flurry, pretty much cloudy but still a couple of fairly large patches of blue. The road has mixed patches of bare spots and snow and I'm having a hard time keeping my eyes open. Not a good combination. Kendrick Park. Snow on small mountains in front of me, about 8 of them, stacked together, much higher mountains behnd them, up there in the clouds with very little snow, a red house that looks like a barn, another red house with blue roof, "Home of the White Buffalos."
Then things start going downhill and south. A lot of cars parked by the road, people seriously dressed for winter, 8000 feet at 2:48, temp 20, the road in much better shape, clear, snow on either side. Pine trees and snow. Birch trees or aspens and snow. More cars at trail places and still more, a kid pulling a sled with another kid on it, more and more cars pulled over, God knows how many. People out on a Christmas Day, a lot of snowboards, red, blue, green. So many of them out here in the snow on Christmas Day. Hundreds and hundreds of cars out here. If you assume a family of 4 in each one, which is a pretty good assumption, there's two, three, four, maybe even ten thousand people out here. And traffic slows to a crawl. Two teenage couples together walking back to their car. There's no way of gauging this, so many cars, pulled over on both sides of the road, just going on and on and on, just like the beauty out here. Very very slow traffic, thanks to all the cars pulled over, people out walking in the road. This was not the short cut today. People slipping and sliding, a car is stuck, a lot of little kids, some not so little. A cloud covered mountain off to my left as we come out of the mountains into the flat but still creeping along.
Entering Flagstaff, elevation 6906, at 4:01, 26 degrees, very very slow second-gear traffic with stops. Pioneer Museum with an old train in front, Western Power Mills or something like that. Still lots of cars. Coconino Center for the Arts. Traffic finally picks up, for no perceptible reason. The Lowell Observatory.
But things still go wrong. Because of the people causing the traffic, motel prices are sky high. I finally bite the bullet and check into the Budget Host at 4:58, odometer 116936, temp 29. It's not great. The TV remote doesn't work too well, the heat is very slow, it's poorly lit, the refrigerator unplugged, the TV very small. It does have lots of counter space. Pretty much standard but definitely on the low end. Very thin walls.
At 8 I go to Denny's and they’re jammed, the only game in town open on Christmas night. I go back a couple of hours later and get nachos. I may sleep in my clothes again tonight
Saturday, December 26
1952: "I am an interloper where once was my home, a ghost in my present place of ass-setting down."
Flagstaff to Painted Desert & Petrified Forest to Mesa
Up at 8, another dusting of snow, not as bad as yesterday (no frozen windshield this time), kind of windy, featureless gray overcast overhead. Leaving at 9:00, 16 degrees and breezy, odometer 116941, just coffee, watery juice and, a minidonut at the motel. Granny's Closet is closed but The Place Mike and Ronda's across the street is open, the wind blowing snow around, it doesn't look good. I have biscuits and gray, which is two very large biscuits separate from the gravy, which I couldn't finish. And when I come out at 9:31, temp 17, the sun is out and there's a blue sky overhead. What happened while I was at Mike & Ronda's? But it's still bitter out here. $17 worth of $1.999 gas at 9:43, temp 18.
AZ 89A to I-40 east at 9:41, temp 18, a huge bank of white clouds to the north, big fluffy clouds without folds or creases, clouds to the east are ragged. Pine trees and snow alongside the road, a big snow covered peak on my left with lots of structures on it--the Flagstaff Observatory? The towers seem to be building towers rather than cel towers. Snow on quite a few slopes and various mountains, a trailer camp to my right, scattered businesses to my left, 65 mph. Past the road to the Walnut Canyon National Monument at 9:56, temp 19, snow blowing across the road, pretty much blue sky ahead, cirrus type clouds stretching across the horizon to my left, sun to my right, a mesa, snow, trees, green growths. Walnut Canyon covered with snow, some pretty spectacular clouds off to my right, what I can see of them. Winona, temp 21, at 10:02, flat desert full of houses to my left, red rock mountains rising out of the desert, not much shrubbery on them.
Leaving Coconino National Forest, Twin Arrows at 10:10, temp 23, still mostly blue sky with some clouds, quite a few off to my right, heading NE. 75 mph. The snow-covered mountains in my rear view mirror are spectacular, ahead are twisted clouds of a flat cirrus type, sun making their unlit portions dark, one has a kind of swooping like a Nike symbol, Buffalo Range Road. Really flat country, yellow with some growths, a little snow along the other lane, rear view mountains gone, low ones way off to my right, guite a fair amount of clouds to my left, some gray overhead, generally speaking a nice day. Can't see anything on the horizon except the road, desert, and whatever cars are on the road. 10:19, temp 26. Canyon Diablo, Two Guns, 7 cars and a trailer truck pass me, two more coming up, it's getting kind of busy out here on the desert. Meteor Crater Road at 10:24, temp 27. Low red rock formations to my left, a gully or wash that goes for some distance, in the far distance a mesa and a sharp peak, red rock boulders to my right. Meteor City Road, pretty overcast, a phony tepee at Meteor City Trading Post, blue sky and clouds up ahead, heading E. Leupp at 10:34, temp 28, elevation 5000. Entering Navajo County and the Winslow Arizona City Limits at 10:39, 30 degrees, Route 87. Straight ahead just clouds and blue, a big bank of clouds the in east. That wall of clouds gets higher and higher and it doesnt look good. 10:50, 27 degrees, pretty much half the sky including the part over me is featureless gray. The better part of valor is discretion. Maybe I should turn around. Just desert around me, not even large sagebrush, just close to ground gray green growths, a couple of trees at a wash. Jackrabbit Road, crumbling red rock formations to my left, one like a kind of turret, big red rock on their slopes, Geronimo Road, elevation 5000, slightly mushroom formations to my left, a small mesa type formation, lots of clouds, not terribly threatening except to my right, blue sky to my left, tepee on a red ridge at the Geronimo Trading Post Hopi Drive, Navajo Boulevard, sky very blue off to left, red rock cliffs in sheets of rock, cumulus cloud ahead, the dark one behind me. Holbrook at 11:14 temp 29, under Hermosa Drive, the Peace Lutheran Church, Knife City Outlet, desert stretching off to my right, low hills in the far distance, clear blue sky ahead with a scattering of clouds, cumulus to my left, the dark cloud behind. A small canyon and rounded hills to my right, back into rolling desert, a few tumbleweeds flying in front of me, one quite large. Keams Canyon, Hopi Travel Plaza, Twin Wash with a lot of what looks like dried mud, Goodwater, a desert windmill, sky pretty well blue, dark cloud almost gone in west. Painted Desert Indian Center with phony tepees, a couple of schoolbuses on a small cliff at Stewart's Petrified Trading Post, rocks, free petrified wood. Entering Apache County at 11:31, temp 29.
Leaving I-40 for the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert at 11:45, temp 27, sky ahead almost completely blue. I thought I would be going north but instead the road turns on itself and heads south, over I-40 and the Santa Fe railroad tracks.
First though, there's the view of the Painted Desert from Tiponi Point--a chasm dropping off from the flat light green desert, red rock fingers reaching down into the chasm, rock formations. At Tawa Point, there are some really interesting bushes--low to ground, all twigs till the russet color at end of twigs. Ravens at Pintado Point.
Whipple Point. What looks like a totally flat-topped mesa as I drive by but I can't see it from Lacey Point, where it's windy and cold, and there's a cliff with yellow on top, a sharp red band of, with a thin band of white at bottom. There's an old car where old Route 66 used to be. Then it's over I-40, strange clouds to southeast, a white wispy translucent kind of cloud, a vague white shape like a manta ray, to the west lots of tiny little cumulus cloud puffs everywhere. There are little rock hills dusted with snow, just one after another, 50 or more of these things, little rock outjuttings from the desert one after another. Larger conical outcroppings called tepees. Lot of rock debris on slopes, not house-sized but still pretty big, a couple of dry washes, a rock like the pointer of a sundial, a place where rocks stick out from cliffs like guns over a parapet, some hoodoos next to the road.
Agate Bridge is a fossilized tree with some rock that formed a bridge over an arroyo. 2 photos of bridge with a fossilized tree and an outjutting further out. There is quite a canyon to my left, all these rock layers, a pyramid circular thing, another sharp jutting out like piece of flint. I take just one picture at Jasper Forest of the flint type rock. Down below the overlook are lots of scattered rock logs but they're so small at that distance and it's very cold and windy, so I take no photo but do take a couple of ones near the near. Two rented campers go by me the other way, a really wispy cloud covers a good part of sky but it's just wisps. The wind is too much for me, so I don't take the walk past a lot of fossilized rocks. Across the road is a big old rock bluff with its face just scooped out like with ice cream scoop. There are plenty of places to walk around see more, but the bitter wind is too much for me and a raven all fluffed up.
A conical peak seems to have two long rectangular rocks standing upright on top of it like plinths, to my right. Rock cliffs to my left with jumbled rocks, a rock "fence" on top, what looks like piles of ash or coal dust, very dark looking but hard rock of some kind, probably volcanic. Mesa type outcroppings, what looks like mud down here, a slew of short pillars in a row forming a barricade. How do you describe this with words? I don't know how but they are spectacular. To my left a rounded thing with lots of loose rock on top of it, behind it a mesa type. Oh, my God, look at that! I can't even begin to describe it, lots of little turrets popping out of the desert, so many of them, to my left a conical shape with a big rock on top of it, rocks everywhere in strange shapes, chess castle type, red rocks, all kinds of incredible stuff, no place to pull over and take pictures. One picture of a rock wall, Martha's Butte off to my right. Just as I leave, now there's all kinds of good stuff to take pictures of but that same old problem, no place to pull over. Some kind of hawk fighting the wind, rocks, desert, heading into some mesa type thing up ahead, a whole bunch of cliffs with scattered rock on them, red rock uprising off to my, left whole bunch of low rock formations with what looks like a table on top of one of them, a little rock gully alongside the road. Leaving the park at 1:24, temp 32.
On to US 180 west to the Holbrook City Limits at 1:46, 31 degrees, elevation 5080, founded in 1882. Then it's AZ 77 (the Hashknife Pony Express Route) south briefly at 1:50, 377 to Overgarde-Hebert (AZ continues on to Snowflake) at 1:52, temp 33. Desert with a few rock outcroppings, sun shining through almost completely cloudy sky, just one patch of blue that I can see, over a railroad track. 2:08, temp 27, one big old power windmill by itself, completely clouded over, yellow desert prairie land with large sagebrush plus small gray-green growths in prairie grass. 2:12, coming down from a ridge into high desert country, into a low flat valley with a dusting of snow everywhere, totally overcast now but lightening up in the direction I'm going, due south. Oak Hill Wash, elevation 6000, the sun managing to break through the clouds briefly, completely clouded over but white up ahead. The Sitgreave National Forest.
AZ 277 south at Hebert-Overgarde at 2:34, 24 degrees, US 360 at 2:37, which way to go, west, I would think. Black Canyon, a lot of snow as we leave H-O. 2:55, temp 18, just passed Wildcat Canyon and a couple of snow plows, up in high mountains again, snow on the ground, pine trees, sun shining, big huge cumulus cloud dead ahead, fair amount of blue sky, especially to my left, Forest Lakes. 7700 feet at 1:00. temp 11. Going through a rock cut, red rock to my right, there seems to be a valley off to my left but I can't see much, basically it seems to be a bowl of mist but I'm not sure, definitely misty down there, meanwhile on my right are red rock cliffs up to white grayish rock, yellow rock in layers, I need to keep both hands on wheel on this swooping windinfg road, blue sky ahead, big bunch of fluffy cumulus at the horizon, white cloud underneath them to the horizon. Two Sixty Trail Head, hazy mountain ridge not so far away. Christopher Creek at 3:12, 26 degrees, pretty much blue sky, big fluffy cumulus up ahead, sun wanting to shine in my eyes, pines and red rock, to the right some big cliffs on and on like a palisade for some distance. Doubtful Canyon, Camp Tontozona, Tonto Creek, Kohl's Ranch, Star Valley Town Limits at 3:24, temp 30, over Preacher Canyon. Payson at 3:30, temp 34.
AZ 87 to Mesa at 3:35, temp 33. Going down, "Steep Grade next 6 Miles," out of pines into scrub brush, the surrounding mountains still pretty impressive, hazy and not that far away. Ears popping, the town of Rye, Roosevelt Creek, Tonto National Monument, 3:52, temp 42, 65 mph, 87 a divided highway, brush off to right and left, low hills and mountains beyond that, a rounded hill slightly left of dead ahead, desert growth, going up again, a few little trees naked without leaves, going up, cutting through pale red and yellow rock. Diagonal leaves of rock, so to speak, with grooves and ruts between them, 20-30 feet across, 20-30 feet down. A blue and white vaned windmill not moving, a canyon off to my right, hills and mountains beyond that, a fairly flat-topped mountain ridge, round curves and peaks to my right, lots of desert with deep cuts in it, arroyos, small canyons. It's a drop down to the lane going the other way, big U curves, Kane Springs Road, still going down, 3:57, 39 degrees, nice little rock bluffs to my right, small but looking real nice, plenty of little round hills to my left, sun in my eyes, about to pass under a big rock massif with a steep face, the sun driving me crazy. The area I am passing through now probably would be wonderful if I didn't have the sun in my eyes. Cliff on both sides, Kitty Kill Creek, hard to read signs with the sun in my eyes, going down, bunches of hills, a rock outcropping, Red Whiskey Springs, behind the hills in front of me a great big gray eminence mountain rises, no, a couple of them. Nice peaks to my left, distant mountains to my right, a nice rock-topped rounded mountain with cliffs on its top, before that a rock wall type of thing marching down the side of a slope. I pass through a cut, more mountains up ahead marching off slightly to my left, another cut. A rock ridge with lots of rocks dotting the top of it, past that lots and lots of mountains close and more behind that, 6 layers of mountains, the most distant ones just purple gray, saguaro cactus, my ears pop, up ahead a strange ridge of mountains, rocky looking, at the top one goes up and downsome distance, flat rocks, one looks like bunch of hoodoos, up ahead a rock wall, looks like fairly loose huge rocks but solid, saguaro cactus on it, to my left just green-covered hills like moss, 3-4 peaks beyond hills, one fairly sharp. You think it's going to end but it doesn't. Just a jumble of rock in the desert between saguaro, a couple of big stones at the side of road, more jumbled stone to my left, a big thing of rock rising out of the desert, more rock to my left, behind that big huge mountains rising up gray purplish gray. High desert.
Entering Fort McDonald Indian Reservation at 4:32, temp 51. The Fort McDonald Casino at 4:35. To my left, a mountain has steps up to a turret then steps back down, better steps going down than those going up but I don't think I'd want to take them.
Knights Inn at 5:12, 51 degrees, odometer 117282. This place is a dump, I won't stay here another night. Their internet is down and the room is small.
I go back to the Cup o'Karma, first going the wrong way on E. Southern Street, coming back to the motel to check the address, finding it's not that far away on W. Southern. No one there is particularly good. I'm okay, nothing great. "Going Home," "Saint James Infirmary," "Walk in Balance," "Robert Johnson" then later "The Last of the Outlaws," "New Kid in Town," and "Stella Blue." I get $22 of $1.899 gas at the Circle K and got to bed at 11:40.
Sunday, December 27
1972: "Dawn over the Sound on a cool, good-to-be-alive bright-color morning.
As I drove home at 7, realizing everybody was going to work,
I knew that this is when what I want, this is when I feel alive."
Mesa to Temp
Up at 8:15, only coffee available at the motel. 10:18, 50 degrees, odometer 117316, pretty much a clear blue sky day. Main Street to Extension Road to Southern to Country Club Road to US 60. I go to the Waffle House on Baseline Road but it's jammed with people waiting. Denny's is also jammed but there's one seat at the counter. I get 4 eggs, English, coffee, and oatmeal. To the Days Inn around 12:00. The refrigerator is open and towels on the floor. They send a guy around who gets it out with difficulty and takes it away, coming back about 20 minutes later with a working refrigerator, whether or not the same on I don't know. I buy batteries at the Dollar Tree and flavored water, Fiber One bars, and a new watch at Walmart.
As I begin to get ready to go to Pho Cao, there's no water. It didn't take them long to get it back but there was a lot of air in the pipes and my shower was not a good thing. As a result, I get to Pho Cao at 8:42, 10-12 people ahead of me, and, after waiting an hour I leave, past Gypsy's Roadhouse, getting to Arby's just before they closed for a roast beef sandwich and mint shake.
Monday, December 28
"US 29 between Charlottesville and Lovingston was beautiful,
with the smoke from the house in hazy layers, fields below the road in frost, the picturesque old farmhouses,
the mountains and the leafless trees, a wall of mountains rising ahead of the road, a hawk sitting in a tree in the dividing strip."
Up at 7:18. Coffee, juice, 4 slices of toast, cereal, yogurt. The waffle iron is quite busy today. 8:15, temp 40, mostly blue sky with some cirrus type clouds, a quarter moon hanging in the sky, sun in my eyes. To AAA at 8:30 then to their repair facility for lube & oil and a new battery. Car wash for $3. The car really looks so nice and shiny now with 3 months of road dirt gone. Into the Waffle House at 10:46, temp 43, for coffee, next door to Christie's Cabaret Gentleman's Club, "Simply the Best," quite a few cars in its parking lot at 11:00 in the morning. I have to wait till 12:45 to get my room cleaned. Later I have a roast beef sandwich and soda at Denny's.
I get to the Yucca Tap Room at Southern Street in Mesa at 8:30, am #6 on the list, and don't get on till 10:30. There is a lot of wasted time between sets. A rock band, Switchblade Tracheotomy (2 guitars, drums), start things off. Loud but not bad. The "guitar star" moves of one of them are pretty ludicrous. It takes forever for them to get their stuff off the stage, carrying everything to their van immediately instead of just getting it off the stage down to the pretty empty floor beneath the stage and then moving it to their van. Then there were two guitarist/singers, a young man in a wheelchair who plays original songs, and a young lady who sings with accompaniment by the emcee. She sings 2 Janis Joplin songs, sitting the whole time, which is close to blasphemy. I play "New Kid in Town," "Four O'Clock on the Highway," and "All Night Diner." Not much applause but nobody else got much either though there's a fair number of people there. Several people though are watching me the entire time I'm performing. I leave at 11:03, 48 degrees, after one song by the guy who follows me, who's not very good, and get a grilled ham & cheese at the Waffle House.
Tuesday, December 29
I will sell my soul for a moment's madness, I will walk empty streets in search of inspiration, and I will go mad rather than write a word.
Phoenix to Ajo, Arizona
Up at about 8:00, blue with clouds. OJ, coffee, waffle, toast, cereal, yogurt at the motel. On the road at 9:51, 117399 odometer, temp 46, partly sunny, partly cloudy.
My plans had been to drive from Phoenix to Gila Bend, where I had had a great meal in 1966 while driving west from Dallas. Onto I-10E (Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway) at 9:58, cirrus clouds on all horizons, sun shining brightly, past Wild Horse Pass Road, Sundust Boulevard, sun in my eyes, Queen Creek Road, Huhugam Heritage Center, Ak-Chin Indian community. 10:08, entering Pinal County, back into mountain territory, twin peak on left that rolls off, straight ahead to left 4 peaks, ahead and off to right 5 major peaks and subsidiary ones low on the horizon, lots of traffic on I-10, Gila River, a big hill of sand with saguaro and small sagebrush marching up, desert off to my left, sand and sagebrush and low growths, Casa Blanca Road.
Long past where I should have left I-10, I leave it at Casa Grande at 10:36, taking Arizona South 387 past Havasupai Drive and strange-looking palms, straight up, a little nodule, then leaves spread out like a feather duster. 84 west to Gila Bend at 10:47, pretty much a blue sky day except for clouds ringing horizon. Burris Road at 10:50. Now I am truly in desert, sand with a few growths, palm fronds are drooping, even the cactus looks a little gray. A golf course is just one big sand trap. It's pretty much flat, brownish grass, mountains up ahead and a little bit to my left, far left way off a few peaks, a few peaks way off to my right. Generally it is just flat, sand with a few dots of green here and there.
Something off to my left, stubs of something, could be cotton but I doubt it, clouds moving up from the horizon on left and right, still pretty close to the horizon dead ahead. To my left it looks like plowed land, greenery, desert to my right then green field, a dry wash, green on left, desert on right, green on right, plowed land on left, Stanfield at 11:10. Stanfield Ranch Market, desert to my right with pretty large bushes, a small tree, plowed land to my left, an abandoned pueblo style building, one for sale, a bright red pueblo style house, all its doors and windows empty, Fuqua Road. A feed lot with quite a few black&white cattle, more, on and on, room for them to walk around in, thousands, Red River Cattle LP, Pinal Feeding Company, 3rd lot with even more, huge, all 3 of them, carrying 500-1000 or more cattle each, huge, T&K Red River Dietary, 10-12 trucked in trailer-type homes alongside the road, a 4th feed lot, not as many cows, 4 regular-style brick ranch houses, back into desert with a lot of good-sized growths, 15-20 feet tall.
11:08, temp 49, Arizona 347 to Maricopa and Ak-Chin, 55 mph. Ak-Chin at 11:16, plowed land on right and left, a divided highway, clouds taking up a little more of the sky, heading due north, distant mountains off to my right, somewhat closer to my left but still fairly distant, desert growths in the median and alongside the roadways. Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino. Arizona 238 west at Maricopa at 11:27. I'm now back to my original planned route about an hour late. Out onto the desert, railroad track to my left, 2 trains going the other way, the second with mostly container cars, pretty much blue sky now, most of the clouds gone, some to my left, fairly large growths alongside the road, sand past it, a big square yellow building out in the middle of the desert, a stubby saguaro that is just one finger with no side arms. A whole mess of track-laying machines, maybe 40-50. Sonoran Desert National Monument. Arizona 238 ends, Maricopa County maintenance begins. Another roadrunner. Mountains dead ahead to right and left. Another train, container cars on and on, many shapes of saguaro, many branches, classic saguaro, single stalks sometimes with knobby things where maybe arms had been or maybe will be, ones with twisted arms and strange twisted shapes. Another train, box cars, tanker cars, gondolas at the end. End Maricopa County maintenance, "Damaged road" (I see none).
Gila Bend at 12:11, temp 53. I decide to keep going, taking Arizona 85 to Ajo on the way to Kitt Peak. After a false start, I find AZ 85 at 12:39. The Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range. More desert, railroad alongside to my left, mountains on either side, not terribly high, pretty much free of vegetation, large vegetation, trees and such. Some more interesting ones off to left past the near one, rocky, sawtoothed. Black Gap, a lot of boulder rubble on the hill off to my left. Nice mesa thing, somewhat slanted, off to my left, at the end of a range of hills. A real mesa thing rising out of the distance to my left, the sound of jet aircraft overhead, into rock country, many different shapes of rock all around me. Pima County at 1:30, temp 53, back into desert with lots of very large growths. End of the Goldwater Range.
Welcome to Ajo at 1:37, temp 52. Into the La Siesta Motel at 1:45, temp 52, odometer 117561, $65, a small cabin, dominated by the bed, ledge comes out of wall for the computer, 2 chairs, one bedside table with radio alarm and lamp, 2 overhead lamps, a small 2-drawer dresser with TV on top, a kitchen alcove with a sink, fridge, microwave, overhead and underneath cupboards, a seperate small bathroom with shower stall. Very chilly, as usual, under the heat is turned on.
I drive into town looking for some place to eat. There's a nice little town plaza, very Mexican with tile and adobe, much bigger than Gila Bend. I go back back to motel without eating.
In the evening, I go to Marcela's for cheese enchiladas, beans, rice, iced tea.
Then out to the desert to look at the stars. Capella, Auriga, the Pleiades, the Great Cross setting, Orion already risen, Sirius under it, Procyon, Gemini, the Little Dipper, Cassiopieia overhead. Can't see the Big Dipper, below the horizon, just the two pointer stars visible. Even here in the desert, there's light pollution from Tucson in the northeast. Oh God look at that! The Milky Way. Oh!
Wednesday, December 30
"Tom and I went out to I-85 to search for Halley's comet, a smudge in the sky below the Great Square of Andromeda"
Ajo to Kitt's Peak to Tucson
Up at 8. Pretty chilly at 9:08, a blue sky, half moon hanging in the western sky, a couple of pretty big saguaro out here. Odometer 117573 as I leave at 9:37, 39 degrees. $5.01 of $2.279 gas at a Circle K. A cheese, sausage, and egg breakfast sandwich on a croissant at a little place at the Ajo plaza. I could hear a woodpecker at the top of a palm in the plaza but I couldn't see it.
Church in Ajo
10:19, Arizona 86 east, an interesting formation over there--it looks like mud, very gray, what looks like little rivulets coming down it, red rock on top. It goes on for some distance. Desert on both sides, to my right in the near distance a fairly large peak, smaller ones to the left of the large one, another to its right. To my left little hills and mountains in the distance, rising up to a ridge ahead to my left then drops down to peaks and going on off to my right, some very sharp jagged peaks. AZ 86 pretty busy, totally clear skies except for cirrus to the left of dead ahead, jagged peaks off to my left as I look straight ahead, pretty jagged. A nice little ridge that ends in a flattop directly to my left.
And then into Why at 10:41. Not paying attention, I suddenly realized there was a big outcropping off to my left another immediately off to my left, one to my right but further away. A sharp triangular peak behind the one to my left, to my right a whole range of sharp peaks, a rounded peak jutting out from the others, a range way off to my left, mostly desert, lots of saguaro, some strangely-shaped, most the typical central stalk with fingers, quite tall ones here, a saguaro forest. The road to Gu Vo. 3 different large business or government buildings but I can't read any signs. Purple mountains rising ahead of me in the distance, a couple of cactus with one arm going up, one going down, like Gumby figures, a silent windmill in the desert.
Quijotea is buildings off to my right, a graveyard alongside the road. Coming into hill coungry again, a flattop hill to my left in the near distance, to my right a whole bunch of hills covered with growths. Some cactus, not so much cactus any more. Someone actually going slower than me. Entering Sells, elevation 2614, 11:42. $10 of $2.069 gas at a Shell station in Sells, elevation 2614, 11:42--small one-story houses alongside the road, some more eastern or European, some adobe, a Spanish-style church. I can see ahead of me a white silo type building on top of a flat-top ridge, the highest part of a ridge of mountains dead ahead of me. Rocky crags as I approach Kitt Peak, now off to my left, at least 2 domes, a sawtoothed range of mountains rises up to a peak then drops down to a couple of sawtooths then down then up to a flattop and back up to another peak. The closer you get the more impressive they get. The Santa Rosa Ranch.
Arizona 386 to Kitt Peak, 12 miles, at 12:06, temp 52, speed limit 55. Watch for Animals. A little snow up there, not a heck of a lot but definitely some. 4000 feet, ear-popping time, a saguaro with hole in it, one small saguaro and then no more. 5000 feet, the view from this road is probably tremendous if I dared take a look. Snow encroaching the road, entering observatory grounds at 12:19, temp 41. 6000 and there is the observatory ahead of me, a dome directly ahead off to my left, a dome on top of a silo, more domes, marching up to the top of a peak, 3 or 4 more domes and other buildings. 6750 underneath the dome of the 4.3 Mayall scope, arriving at the parking lot at 12:28, temp 40. I count 26 telescopes at Kitt Peak. Mexican jays flying around, unsuccessfully pandhandling a couple eating at a table, landing on the table very close to them. I put a couple of Quaker chewing bar pieces on the hood of my car and one of them comes up and takes them. I go on a tour up to the Mayall 4.3. As we pass another building, the leader says, "You will notice that this dome looks different from other domes. It looks like a spray can. They decided to build it like a spray can because Gerard Kuiper proposed that they go up on the dome every now and then to look at the night sky and remember where they came from."
4 meter Mayall telescope
The telescope is a monster, tons and tons and tons of equipment of all kinds. I leave at 2:59 getting back to AZ 86 at 1:28.
A multibanded slanted rock shape to my left--greenish covered slopes, a narrow yellow band, dark red, lighter red, darker red but not as dark as first one. A pointed peak with a scar of red on it. To my right, peaks and rocks, mostly desert and saguaro, much more covered now, not a lot of sand. Border patrol stop: "Have a good one." A couple of ravens nearby. Three Points Nobles Junction at 3:47. 9 miles from Tucson, 1:00, there's a lot of red rock on both sides and ahead from left to right, pointed rocks jutting out of the desert much larger than the ones ahead. Saguaro National Park, Old Tucson, a rock formation with a big rock knob on it about 45 degrees to my right, another to the right of that one, ahead a big red rock cliff fairly high, some more lower to its left.
Into the Copper Cactus Inn across from the Meet Rack at 4:29, temp 59, odometer 117735. I rip up the splash guard again on a rebar sticking out of the concert e bar in the parking space. I go to the Sky Bar, where I have a veggie sub and a coke, and give a couple of quarters to kid asking for "Spare change?", a phrase I haven't heard in quite a long time. I do 4 songs, "New Kid in Town," "Four O’Clock on the Highway," "This Old Van," and "Allngiht Diner." I got 2 compliments afterwards but they were lots in the room who didn't really care. I didn't think the next 2 performers were very good. As I left, people were looking through a couple of telescopes set up in the patio.
Thursday, December 31
Han Solo: "Escape first, hug later"
Up around 7:30. Drove to AAA on the outskirts of Tucson then to a AAA repair facility to reattach that splash guard. While trying to find them, I went over a curb and destroyed my right front tire. While waiting for everything to be fixed, I had biscuits & gravy, a fried egg, and coffee at the Crying Onion across the street.
On the road at 1:07, temp 58, no splash guard, new tire, $280.93.
Into the Super 8 at 1:45, temp 62, odometer 1127781, back to the AAA repair facility to pick up the laptop I had left there. I went to see the new Star Wars movie then had a waffle at the IHOP nearby.
Friday, January 1
"There were several widgeons among the gadwalls!"
Up at 8, for yogurt, small waffle, toast, coffee, apple juice and 2 more nights here at Super 8. Temp 45 at 8:56. Went to an Oriental market, where they had apple soda, crab paste, aloe vera soda. I bought nothing. Then I went to the Gateway Center 12 to see "The Martian." I got $21 worth of $1.73 gas at a QT and an Arby's roast beef and soda since Del Taco was closed.
Saturday, January 2
"Sixteen more classes and five finals await me as an undergraduate. 21 more days.
It's always a strange feeling when the end of a term comes around, when it's truly time to call to account one ledger and start another.
But there'll be no more after this one."
Up at 8:25. Blue sky, chilly, and windy. Cereal, waffle, toast, yogurt, coffee, apple juice at the Super 8. Later I had a cup of coffee at the Waffle House while they cleaned my room. Went out in search of a used bookstore and the post office. Then I discovered today is Saturday not Sunday. So I'll stay one more day. In the evening, I had a taco salad at Del Taco then a waffle at the Waffle House.
Sunday, January 3
"I was awakened by a phone call by the lovely Leah Beth Story. We didn’t see John Hurt.
The Ontario Place was closed. We wound up at Harrigan’s. Our goodnight kiss was longer this time."
Up at 830 for the usual Super 8 breakfast (no waffle). I threw up last night. Another blue sky day. Chilly. While waiting for my room to be cleaned, I take a walk along the nearby canal, full of sand and sagebrush. I spend most of the afternoon in the motel, check out where the Chase Bank is, then get an Arby's roast beef at 5:00. The temperature was 76 when I leave the motel, 67 when I leave Arby's about 20 minutes later.
Then I go to The Hut, reaching it at 6:59, 65 degrees. Sacred Art Tattoo Studio, lots of lights, bars, Goodwill across the street, where I buy The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. Not a lot of books.
I enter The Hut through an Easter Island type head with glowing blue eyes. It seems to be a biker bar. The open mike is run by a couple of guys who play blue grass pretty damn good. I do 4--"Paisley Highways" (which was all I could think of at that moment, completely blank), "Black Mountain Rag," "Four O'Clock in the Highway," and "The Bag I'm In", then they did a few more, and I left with this guy playing a bongo-type electronic thing. It's not very busy on a Sunday night, 3,4,5 people at the bar at various times, no one paying much business to any of us, a very nice and roomy bandstand with space in front for dancing. They probably do good business with rock'n'roll during the week.
The open mike scene in Tucson is pretty pathetic. Disaster, a waste of spending 3 days just to play there. Open mikes are not happening in Tucson but it/s wide open in Phoenix.
Lingonberry crepes at the IHOP.
Monday, January 4
The best time to be young is when you’re young.
Tucson to Show Low
Up at 7:30, with the Super 8 breakfast except I decided against a waffle. 8:49, 57 degrees, odometer 117864. There was a long line at Chase Bank at 9:32, people complaining about there being only 2 lines, one for regular customers, one for business, complaining about the lack of service, that everything is electronic these days. When I finally got to the teller, she just pushed a button for the exact amount of money I asked for, the first time I've ever seen that, then counted it by hand. It's very overcast with the blue in the east and south now gone, darker in the west than it is ahead.
The mountains off to my left, east of Tucson, are rather interesting, first rising up in a 30-degree angle with bumps of hills, one like a thumb, to the top then down, up a little bit, down, a steep side to a little rounded top then jagged down, a couple of jagged peaks, going up again with tiny peaks to another thumb then it goes slowly down and trickles off way off to my right, where there's a tiny little tower. The whole thing is very jagged. I pick up a USA map at AAA and find out the mountains are the Santa Catalinas. Those mountains look so neat, begging me to come over and hike them, which is probably not a good idea, considering what I know about hiking in the west.
Back on Arizona Route 77 at 9:45. Clouds definitely darker in the west. Canyon del Oro. The mountain range continues on with a few sharp peaks but not as jagged. Sand and sagebrush country, red tile roofs, adobe style buildings, more mountains off to left, some pretty nice peaks. Catalina at 10:01, temp 58, completely overcast, long thin narrow trees, the mountains to the right do seem to have some sun on them, the mountains in the near distance to my right, those to my left way off. Pinal County, Eagle Crest Ranch Boulevard at 10:05. Out into country now. The divided highway coming to an end, yellow brown between lanes, Biosphere 2 6 miles, 55 mph, totally flat to my left, a whole range of mountains 15-20 degrees left of dead center, mountains to my right more distant. There still seems to be some sun on the slopes. Sourbrooke Ranch Road, a good-looking lady in blue running shorts and shirt collecting trash along the road. Past the town of Oracle, going down, into rolling desert country, rolling hills everywhere on both sides of the road. Pretty good looking country around here, running through desert hills, scrub brush and sand, a fair amount of saguaro cactus, up ahead there are mountains, craggy dead ahead, the sun seems to shining on straight down cliffs, the sky lightening in the west as I drive north, the sun shining to my right, a mesa type that drops off then still more mountains. Mammoth city limits at 10:42, temp 57, elevation 4348, founded 1876. A fair collection of houses down to my right, including the Pinal County Complex, a few buildings alongside the road--Sunday School, Circle K Liquor, Rancheros, Dollar General, Mi Pueblito Restaurant, The Lodge, some houses, Tri Community Food Bank. The Aravaipa River, 65 mph.
There are places where this is nothing but a saguaro forest with some very large ornate very complex saguaro. I don't know what it is about the saguaro. It's such a cliche, so trite, and yet I want to keep taking pictures over and over again (which I haven't done but I want to) but I guess you have to say the saguaro is the Southwest. But it's so trite.
A flat plain off to my left, not terribly wide but wide enough for fields of green and brown, cattle and sheep and a lot of light colored trees (cottonwoods?) And saguaro. Now houses down there. Wikomen city limits at 10:54, temp 59. Between whitish red rock cliffs, a river down below to my right as we enter hill country. Dripping Springs Wash, trailer homes at Dripping Springs, more houses to my left, more standard houses, some trailers. In some kind of valley now with rounded hills to my right in the near distance, ones to my left closer and more jagged, not terribly so, up and down up and down, a very large trailer home expanded on the side and back. A big falloff cliff up ahead with gentle slope up and then the drop down, good country again, the sky completely overcast, no sunlit slopes any more.
Elevation 4983--"El Capitan Pass. This pass was used by Kearney's Army of the West in a March to California in 1846. Guided by Kit Carson, it was described in a journal of the trip as 'Carson's Old Trail.' The pass led around the impassable canyon on the Gila River."
Some sunlit slopes again as I go down this curving mountain road from El Capitan Pass, looking down on row after row of lower and lower ridges down into a valley.
Globe City Limits, founded 1876, elevation 3544, at 11:40, temp down to 48. Route 70 (The Old West Highway) at 11:43, Route 60 at 11:45. The Apache Drive In Theatre is closed, the screen and buildings still standing, but the posts for the cars gone. Still in desert hill country, mountains getting closer, off to my left, up ahead, a nice peak up ahead, some sun on it, coming down into a valley somewhat sunlit, medium gray clouds overhead, tiny patches of blue up ahead. the cliffs several miles away up ahead rise high up above the road. Entering San Carlos Apache Reservation at 12:41, Seneca at 12:25.
Entering the Salt River Canyon at 12:23. God, it is so beautiful here, not just this incredible landscape, but the air and slight breeze fills your lungs with beauty. At the bridge over Salt River (12:50), I walk down to the river. From the San Carlos Reservation to the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation at 12:56. A gap between two red rock formations, a gap between them, a couple of old Houses. Pretty much out of Salt River Canyon at 1:16, heading down through white yellowish reddish rock.
A pickup truck on the other side of road, on my side a very stocky Native American with a black flattop hat and wearing the typical Indian dress of today is walking down into the land alongside the road. Back into red rock country at 1:31, going downhill, pines replacing saguaro. Entering Navajo country at 1:34, a wonderful vista of grayish mountains, beautiful, to my left 3 steep cliffs. A palomino horse out alone grazing, brown and white cattle with white face blazes. Small patches of snow on each side of the road, temp 44.
Leaving White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation into Show low and Sitgreaves Nat Forest and Show Low, founded 1870, elevation 6331, at 2:00. Main Street Café at 2:07, temp 44, for a ham and cheese sandwich on grain bread, a good-sized cup of good coffee. America’s Best Value Inn at 2:40, temp 45, odometer 118054. Mailed some stuff to Penny and got blueberries, tiny peppers, Mounds bar, walnuts at Safeway.
When I went out again at 8:30, the Show Low Cafe was closed so I had a steak fajita wrap and mint shake.
Tuesday, January 5
"You can observe a lot by watching." --L.P. Berra
Show Low to Flagstaff
Up at 8:00 for one slice of toast, cereal, peach yogurt, and coffee at the motel. Didn't make myself a waffle and the apple juice was watered down. The refrigerator in the motel froze everything. On the road at 8:52, 35 degrees, odometer 118063, after getting $10 worth of $2.059 gas at Conoco in Show Low, sky pretty well overcast, some blue in the east, a quiet windmill, sun breaking through in southeast, a lot of yellow grass, small trees or big sagebrush, a small peak and a larger one way off to my right. I passed what looked like what had once been a two-story motel. Arizona 61 north at 9:10, temp 40, a little bit of blue off to my left, in the northwest. 9:14, temp 38, a little bit of blue off to the right, coming down into flat area--you can see where the road goes straight for some distance, the road I'm on now still curving as I go down, some snow, mountains off to my right, nothing spectacular, clouds mostly everywhere, some blue to the northwest. I have to wonder why anyone would want to live out here. I just passed a great vista to look out at what looked like a flat river of yellow grass, snow on the mountains to my right, nothing where I am at the moment, houses ever so often, telephone pones, electrical wires stretched out across the desert, single wires close to the road to my left, multiple wires to my right a couple of hundred yards away, probably high tension, not much to them, I guess they don't need very many out here. Some blue sky and the sun behind a cloud but bright in the clouds.
Concho Valley at, 9:23 temp 35, a couple of small trailer type homes to my left, a regular home to my right, 2 stories but the bottom story a garage. To my left back a big storage tank on a hill, mostly trailers or trailer type, some kind of lake to my right maybe frozen fairly large, I could see it but not sure for a while what it was, Concho Plaza restaurant in there maybe, sun shining on the desert floor up ahead, high again coming down into a flat area, a little snow closer to road on right.
At Concho, 9:28 38 degrees. I took US 180A west. Not much to Concho, just a couple of houses, rather ramshackle buildings, one of which has definitely seen better days.a Spanish style church with a red metal roof. A woman in a heavy red coat walking along the road in the direction of Concho. The remains of a house, just bits and pieces of a wall, a corner, no roof, no doorway, really half gone, a small house with a dull red roof, trailer home off to my right, another trailer home with a blue roof and an addition in front, maybe a trucked-in home.
Through more desert area until I reach US 180W at 9:40 temp 37, birds flying everywhere, speed limit 65, still very much overcast, going due west, a dark sky up ahead, gray, blue streaks to the south, gray to the north, the sun shining behind me through the clouds. Red Rock country again, big red boulders alongside the road, then into high country desert with a red clayish sand base and occasional outcroppings of rock here and there, really kind of pretty country in places.
There's no way you can capture the sweep of this land, laid out forever and ever and ever. Even though it's flat, it's still pretty awesome. On either side, it seems to be what once was probably a lake bed, yellow grass and sagebrush on and on. Milky Wash, a holding pen, a quiet windmill alongside a rusty tank, a bunch of black angus out there, a couple of brown ones, one quite large, over a ridge, still a fair amount of blue sky to the south, a mesa rising in the far far distance, ahead it's just yellow, about 20 cattle, "Blowing Dust Area,”"Cottonwood Walsh, Jim Camp Wash.
I reach the Petrified Forest at 9:56, temp 37. My left front tire is extremely low. I get it pumped up at the maintenance shed then leave at 10:35, not getting to see the Petrified Forest again, to see if I can find out someone to look at it in Holbrook, 19 miles. The cloud cover looks like it might be breaking up up ahead, patches of blue directly ahead and, to my left mostly cloud with pieces of blue, to my right totally gray and a factory spewing white smoke from a high smokestack. Holbrook City Limits at 10:56, temp 40, by which time it hd lost 15-20 pounds. At Route 66 Lumber & Tire they took it apart, could find nothing wrong, put it back together, and suggested the Walmart in Winslow could do a pressure test on it.
Back on the road at 12:04, more red rock mesa types, the Geronimo Trading Company with wigwams in front, red rock to my right, another bunch of buildings with a smokestack and white smoke, some houses before the factory, elevation 5000. Big rocks sliding down from red rock outcroppings, Jack Rabbit Road, a house totally empty out in the desert, no glass or frames in its windows, clouds up ahead, a little bit blue on either side near the horizon. Clouds to my left hanging over a mountain ridge far off to my left, kind of spectacular, dark but light at one end due to the sun. Homolova Ruins Nat Park, Second Mesa.
I reach Winslow at 12:38, 48 degrees, and the pressure is still good so I keep going. Coconino County at 12:42, temp 50, clouds off to my left seem to be raining on over distant mountains miles away. Meanwhile it's flat to my left, right ahead a little dip, red clay, yellow grass, green shrubs, gray sky ahead, Tucker Flat Wash.
1:00, 46 degrees, I stop at a rest area to check the tire, which is good, red rocks, misty rain, the sun shining through clouds but not making much in way of shadows. Walnut Canyon National Monument. Flagstaff at 1:26 temp 41, the pressure still holding. There is snow on ground in Flagstaff.
I go to the Lowell Observatory at 1:55, temp 35. At the entry there's a quote from L.P.Berra: "You can observe a lot by watching." Out in the open is a 42-inch reflecting telescope, quite old, used from 1909-1950. We get to see the tiny observatory where Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto, smaller than the one in Amherst, but this one was used only for photography, which explains why it is so small, not at all like those at Kitt Peak, which are also basically photographic.
20 inch reflecting telescope used from 1909 to 1950
Then I check into a Howard Johnson's at 3:24, temp 38, odometer 118244, before having salad bar, soup, and a grilled ham&cheese at Granny's Closet. There was a little bit of rain on I-40 but it came down fairly steadily in Flagstaff. By 9:30 it was snowing, with 3-5 inches predicted overnight.
Wednesday, January 6
In 1965, Leah Beth Story and I went to see Herbie Mann
Flagstaff to Phoenix
About 4 inches of snow on the car. Up at 8 for toast, cereal, a mini donut, coffee, and apple juice. $7 of $1.989 gas at a very slow pump so moved on to the Circle K, where I got $10.05 of $2.059 gas. I-17 south at 9:29, temp 29, snow everywhere, the sun breaking through, speed limit 65, definitely gray out there, the sun now behind a cloud visibility not great, sun out again, tire holding up, road lined with snow-covered pines. Mountainaire Road, Kachina Boulevard, 9:35, snow coming down then ending, more snow, not much but enough. Visibility not great but the sun shining through clouds, the road has a thin film of snow on it, tracks from the car in front of me, definitely a little bit on the treacherous side. Kelly Canyon Road. The road snow-covered in both lane at 9:50, temp 28, doing 40 mph. Still snow-covered pines at Schnebly Hill Road. Not snowing but a featureless gray sky, not a great deal of visibility. Pines a couple of hundred yards ahead of me are a bit hazy. Woods Canyon, Rocky Park Road, 2 lanes more or less clear with some slush, one car off the side of the road with a police car. Entering Yavipai County, the road good, 10:12, visibility not good. Elevation 6000. Looks like I'm out of the snowstorm, the road in good shape, visibility still not very good, now it's sagebrush that’s snow-covered, a lot of snow alongside the road. At 10:21, the sky has lifted somewhat and visibility is now good, the snow cover pretty much complete but not a lot, a bit patchy here, a fair amount now down to a serious dusting. I can look down and see the Camp Verde valley, lightness in the clouds beyond it to south and southeast, a complete change in very brief period of time. Over Route 179 to Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon, at 10:24, temp 37, 4000 feet, sun shining in the clouds dead ahead of me, clouds hanging over the mountains. Camp Verde City Limits at 10:34, temp 42, a few patches of blue ahead, sun shining on various places in the valley, Route 260, past where JR lives. Here comes the sun in the east making very picturesque mountainsides to the west, just clouds, gray clouds.
Past the exit to Prescott at 11:46, temp 37, sun shining to my left, lots of gray clouds ahead and right. 4000 feet, coming down, 10:57, temp 41, coming up on Dugas and Orme Road, lots of blue sky in front and off to my right, clouds over a mountain range, coming down into flat desert country again, a bit rocky along the road, yellow grass, sagebrush, Ash Creek. The Agua Fria River, almost totally overcast, a free brief patches of cloud, Arizona 69, Arcosanti Road. Bloody Basin Road, Horsethief Canyon, now up into clouds, sun making things bright, definitely hazy, through mountains again, down, can see quite some distance now, rolling mountains to my left, Badger Springs Road, Black Canyon City, a drop off to my right, blue sky and cumulus to my left, gray sky ahead. Dark, dark cloud dead ahead, sun shining at the edge of it almost overhead, saguaro cactus everywhere. 11:29, 49 degrees, road wet, a bit of blue slightly to my right.
Stopped at a rest stop, nice place for a photo but the camera's in the car and it's too cold to go back and get it then comeback for the photo. Morris Gulch, pretty country, mountains off to my left, Table Mesa Road, a rounded hill to my right, a ridge that ends in a 90 degree drop off. New River at 11:30, to my left houses, a rounded peak that falls off a short jagged ridge before going back down. Up ahead blue sky with lots of clouds, dark cloud still above me, elevation 2000, going down, pretty wide muddy river bed. Really dark gray cloud to my left, Anthem Way, a bunch of fluffy cumulus.
Phoenix City Limits at 11:54, temp 53, all ahead of me is blue sky, sunny, cumulus clouds, to left and right more cumulus, bigger, filling the sky. Days Inn around 1:15, odometer 118403. Roast beef and a mint shake at Arby's at 4:55.
To the Tempe Center for the Arts. I get there at 5:50; sign up was to begin at 5:45. I'm 20th. There's a really neat footbridge over the Salt River, which is quite wide, 4 groups of spans with blue lights at the base of 4 of the arches. It's like playing in the lobby of the Kennedy Center. There's a solid temporary stage, tables and chairs outside the main theatre, 50-60 people including performers and the people who run it. After a blues guitarist (Eric) performs, about half the people leave, but there's still about 25-30 when I do "Four O'Clock on the Highway" and "Here." In the parking lot afterwards, the lights of the city on the other side of the Salt River are really kind of nice, moisture in the air make it brisk and pleasant.
Friday, January 8
Artie Jackson is 75 years old today.
Galileo died in 1642.
Phoenix to Yuma
Up after 8:30, the whole deal for breakfast--cereal, raisin toast, waffle, yogurt, coffee, orange juice. Damp and chilly and overcast but not raining, 9:59, 47 degrees, odometer 118432. 10:31, 48 degrees: $17 worth of $1.839 gas at QuikTime ($1.799 across the street). Goodbye Phoenix for the 3rd time as I get on I-10 toward LA. At 10:49, temp 53, it looks like the clouds are breaking up, a bit of blue up ahead. A fairly big patch starts pretty much dead ahead (due west) then going off to the north, smaller patches of blue above it, the sun shining through clouds to my left.
Avondale City Limits at 10:54, temp 53. This road is just huge, 4 lanes + HOV lane, still a lot of traffic though I'm pretty much out of the downtown Phoenix area, pretty much blue sky off to the left of dead ahead, mountains off to my left, 4-5 sharp peaks, more mountains off my to right halfway between dead ahead and dead right (due north), not so sharp, pretty much rounded. Mountains slightly off to my right, the closest ones almost dead ahead dark, the ones behind them lit by sunlight gray with shadow and folds, a road snaking up between some of them, going up and up and disappearing behind the tallest peak, alongside the road it looks like pretty much sand (hard to tell from highway, still 5 lanes, less traffic), palm trees rising up and fronding out, a housing development to my right, Jersey wall to left. At 11:02 I-10 is down to 3 lanes. Buckeye next 7 exits. Down to 2 lanes at 11:06, 49 degrees, mountains off to my left, one very tannish rising up to a subsidiary peak then another peak not terribly high.
Arizona 85 to I-8 Yuma, San Diego, Gila Bend, Mexico at 11:11, temp 49. Bright up ahead but the sun behind a cloud, blue and cirrus type clouds on the horizon, a gray cloud pretty much overhead, desert on either side, a divided highway of course, pretty brown out there on the sides, green fields now off to my right, plowed land off to my left, a wide divider, low mountains dead ahead, left, and right, a few sharp peaks, pretty much up and down, no steady ridges, nothing really sharp either. 11:33, temp 53, off to my left little rocky hill hills with a cross-shaped cactus on top of one of them, more over there some distance away from the road, some jagged peaks to my right quite some distance away rise and fall again all the way to my right, sky pretty muchg a mixture of blue and cirrus, desert sand, saguaro cactus, sagebrush.
Gila Bend at 11:47, temp 54, elevation 735. A couple of jetfighters to my left in what seems to be some kind of park. US West 8, Yucca Motel, the center of Gila Bend, Stouts Hotel, El Coronado Hotel, Don Jose Mexican Grill, Sofia's Mexican Food.
I-8 at 1:53, temp 56, speed limit 75, pretty much a blue sky with puffs of cumulus here and there, some cirrus to my right (north). Desert pretty much on both sides of road, distant mountains to right and left, one like a lopsided mesa, small trees alongside of road. What looks like a huge farm complex off to my right, a lot of land that looks like it's been plowed, now coming up to some that's green, what looks like open cattle sheds over there, don't know what it is but it looks like a pretty big agricultural complex of some kind. There's a railroad track off to my left, green fields to my right, mountains in the distance, just passed some kind of complex with 3 silo type storage tanks, something on my right way ahead, way off to my right what looks like more storage tanks and other buildings, 4-line electrical poles on my right, the ones to my left alongside the railroad track seem to have only 1 wire but there are 2 arms so there's probably 3 wires. Painted Rock Petroglyph Site off to my right at 12:04. Painted Rock Road, green fields over there, more cattle sheds, a number of buildings with big round storage tanks, steam coming out of one of 3 smokestacks, passing a big solar farm on right directly off road, a small tower of some kind, 2 very small buildings, more solar panels, a couple of cell towers on each side, flat off to my left, small hills off to my right, red sand, desert, large bushes, one small tree, the only one in the area, was hit by something.
12:30, 56 degrees, just left a rest area, pretty big rocks out in the desert itself, sand pretty compacted, not sandy pretty but hard with pebbles and small rocks on top of it, little pieces of rock.
Entering Yuma County at 12:34, temp 57, desert on either side, mountains off in the distance on either side, almost complete blue sky now, a couple of tiny clouds off to my left, to my right a few more on the horizon. No clouds to north now, hanging over that overpass, small mountains close to the road, one with a finger of rock sticking up that every young man would want to climb. 51 miles from California at 12:58, temp 59, right of dead center are distant mountains, railroad track now on my right, a train with gondolas, desert alongside the road of course. Wellton at 1:14, temp 60, green fields to my right, desert on my left, a town off in the distance, then am RV camp with trailers and campers, mountains rising up in front of me in the near distance, to my left they rise up to a ridge pretty much dead ahead then keep going to my right, jagged on my right, running off to another ridge disappearing into the distance. A red rock outcropping directly right north of me some distance away. Dome Valley and into mountains at 1:28, 61 degrees, rock outjuttings alongside the road, another road down there through a cut in the rock, not much vegetation, some stuff alongside the road, a single cactus without arms, a little valley down there, over the top and there stretched out in front of me is the Yuma Valley and probably southern California all the way to the ocean. Some nice peaks to my left and right. I have completely lost sight of the lane going the other way.
Yuma City Limits at 1:37, temp 60, clear blue sky, a few clouds on northern horizon. Into Arizona Inn at 2:40, temp 62, odometer 118634, unable to get prescriptions refilled at CVS because of time. Room very strange but nice--a small table, 2 chairs, wall TV above then a sink in same room with the bed, plenty of counter space, fridge and microwave in an alcove, 1 reasonably large dresser with 6 large drawers and 4 small drawers, mirror, 2 bedside tables with lamps and one large drawer each, 2 small drawers, phone. Bathroom is small, suitcase foldout thing, small rack, one hanger, just a shower, another sink. Overhead lamp.
Flat, blue sky at 3:55, Taco Salsa Restaurant, Kiko's Shop, Sombrero Mexican Food, Rally's Hamburger, Pacific Pride gasoline.
Chicken fajita omelet at IHOP at 8:35. DQ small vanilla cone at 9:31.
Saturday, January 9
"I'm not a writer but an idler, a dreamer.
No one tells you of the real pain, the pain of holding the golden dreams inside,
the hopes, the expectations, only to see them drab and colorless on the page."
Having decided to stay in Yuma one more day and with no breakfast at the motel, I decided to sleep late. So naturally I got up at 7:30. Another clear blue sky day. I walked to Bubba's for French toast and coffee around 9:30. As I walked up there, I felt pain in my stomach, not hunger, maybe gas or cramps. Whatever it was, it went away while I was eating and I forgot it for the next couple of hours. Then I walked in the other direction up 4th Avenue to the next traffic light and back to the motel.
After lazing around and working on the internet for a couple of hours, I finally drove some distance up 4th Avenue to the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historical Park, where there was some kind of museum with a railroad car and a couple of buckboards.
I found a paved path that went along the Colorado, which was fairly small and very quiet, a kayaker in a bright dayglo orange boat, some small birds, probably English sparrows, flying around, three killdeer (or some kind of sandpiper or plover) flying and calling over the river.
Welcome to Yuma East Wetlands. I left the paved path for a dirt path. A sign up ahead. I thought it said "Do Not Enter When Flogged" but it really said "Do Not Enter When Flooded." Kind of pleasant along the Colorado River, a stand of trees on the other side, a small island in front of me. I walked to the Herb Gunther Scenic Overlook, which wasn't all that scenic.
On the walk back, I saw a small bird in silhouette that acted a little like a chickadee but more the shape of s kinglet or gnatcatcher, quite possibly a bushtit. Also a large bird, maybe gray--it's hard to tell-- kingbird size, another one halfway between the two in size. These birds somehow always seem to keep themselves between me and the sun. A couple of water birds, one with a whitish beak, otherwise completely black, probably an American coot, the other seems to be a duck of some kind, mostly brown, with a white rump, dull bill, probably a female gadwall. It moves really fast when it wants to. Another American coot, both of them diving birds.
Back to the car at 3:54, temp 74. The entire walk took about an hour. A chihuahua scampers fearfully across the road.
"It’s a funny feeling when you ride alone. It seems I'm almost with someone, not physically, not mentally, but somehow spiritually. I'm broke, I'm sore, I'm tired, but as I set camp hobo-style I'm still waiting for anything smoking. I just turned down a bunk in a mission because I like that feeling of being free." --Lucky the Hobo (The Wetlands is where there used to be a hobo jungle near the freight yards.)
Sunday, January 10
"The day ended with a bang--a guy ran into me from behind at Grove and Temple."
Up at about 9:30, overcast, blue sky to the north, 51 degrees. Eggs, ham, biscuits&gravy, and coffee at Bubba's. A lot more blue sky to the east as I walk back to the motel, clouds slowly breaking up.
Gateway Park and the Yuma East Wetlands at 12:13. I'm walking on a cement walkway easily wide enough for one car but probably not wide enough for two. Up ahead there's some jagged peaks in the distance, not really far away but easily too far for any chance of walking to them. One mile at 12:43. Canal off to my right with plenty of water, then a rock dike beyond which I can't see a thing; to my left there's a line of rocks then a road on clay then the usual sagebrush, a gray-green bush of some kind.
I see a number of birds but I can't make any kind of identification on any of them. A lot of them are obviously flycatchers, flying around acrobatically to catch insects, most of them with white rumps, but I can't find anything like them in my book or on the internet. Same with a slightly larger ground bird, about the size of a towhee, brown back and white eye stripe. At least 2 of those. A small plover or sandpiper, too far away for any kind of identification. Some kind of large ducklike bird overhead.
There's some kind of a blind, 3 low rock walls, just one entry, it has a central pole which seems to be a tree growing horizontally, with smaller limbs crosswise then thatched with twigs held up by several large branches. There are mallards out in the swamp below it, what are probably tree swallows tree flying around. Cars driving along the levee or dike, marshland to my left, a lot of open water. More of those flycatchers, some with white rumps, light gray breasts. A couple of coots down there in the swamp. At one and a half miles, East Wetland Pacific Avenue, there are just fields ahead to the left, so I walk up to the dike (it's a dirt road) and turn around. As I turn around, there's a peak in the other direction, pretty much northwest, though I'm not really sure.
Something runs around a bush, large, probably a roadrunner. A couple of hawks or vultures circle around over the marsh, one definitely a hawk, probably a marsh hawk--I think I hear that marsh hawk call. A couple of others look like vultures but I'm not sure. Back to car at 1:49, temp 68. I had hoped to hike the dirt path back but I missed where it went down to the swamp so I hiked the cement path back.
I stop at IHOP for cream cheese crepes then come back to the motel to watch the Redskins playoff game.
Monday, January 11
1980: "I still feel 20 but I sure don't look it."
Yuma to Williams
Woke up before 6:30 but didn't get up till 8:40. On the road at 9:22, temp 50. odometer 118655, contrails overhead. $16 of $1.919 gas at an Arco cash. A pickup truck pulling a load of pipe as long as telephone poles, 6 stacks of 5 each. I stopped at Penny's Diner for a waffle and coffee.
Then it was US 95 north, mountains ahead of me some distance away. Milepost 27. Fields to my right, businesses to my left--Tee Pee Contractors, John Deer RBO Equipment Company, Valley Sand and Gravel-- a big truck pulls out in front of me, farming country fields on both sides, low green plants, green and brown, people out walking in the fields, doing what I don't know. Definitely farming country here north of Yuma, rows and rows of greenery, some plowed land, occasional palm trees, a bunch around a red-tiled house. About 6 1/2 miles of farming, then desert country, more farming, a fairly long train off to my right, mountains getting a lot closer—I can see folds and wrinkles and shadows, sand and sagebrush, low trees, large trees alongside a house, 2 storage tanks on their side on the ground, 3 horizontal tanks on a metal stand, craggy mountains off to my right not much but rock, farming country on left, the train much closer, box cars behind the engine, a trailer park, RVs, SuperLite Block cinder block factory, more mountains up ahead, looking pretty much the same, a ridge going up and down a bit, somewhat pointed peaks, higher to my right and more jagged, a fallow field to my left, a field of rocks, looks like cabbage plants on my left, a vegetable stand, now into desert country, well covered with shrubbery, another green field, Mile 42, desert, entering United States Army Yuma Proving Ground. "Test Vehicle X-ing." Mile 44, sandy desert on either side, sagebrush type. Slightly right of dead ahead a mountain like a pilot peak on top of a mountain, straight up, slightly rounded at top, smaller one to its right (Castle Dome), further peaks on my right, a pyramid peak of some type rising from desert left of dead ahead, another range of mountains in the distance dead ahead of me.
The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge at 10:47, temp 54, Castle Dome Mines Museum 10 miles ahead. I had planned to spend some time here but the dirt road is full of little rocks, bumping along, and the car probably could have taken it but I'm not sure my nerves could have so, after taking two more pictures, I turn around. Back to 95 at 10:59, Mile 52 at 11:16, temp 52, fair amount of ragged peaks to my left after some desert, closer to my right are ragged ones, a few saguaro, not as ragged by mile 74 at 11:26, 53 degrees. Mile 91 at 11:42, nice jagged mountain to my left, ones off to my right much further off, sandy desert on either side, lots of sagebrush, some small trees, clear blue sky ahead, cirrus in the west, clear blue in the east.
Quartzite Town Limits at 11:52, US 95 now one lane each way, some patchwork on the road but now pretty good. A rock uprising like the back of a dinosaur to my left, distant mountains rising and falling, some peaks not really jagged to my right, lot of trailers to my left, bus-type trailer, a lot of balloons, an RV show, junction with US10, a lot of RVs, more RVs, red and white striped tents, La Mesa RV, Fill-R-Up Propane, Joyce's Crafts Yarn Beads, Kofa Mountain RV Park, definitely an RV town, Herb's Hardware, American Trails RV Park, RV Pit Stop, Grandma's Heaters, Highway 50-95 Rock Shop Wholesale and Retail, Grubsteak Restaurant Bar and Grille, Railroad RV park, desert to my right, RV parks to my left, Split Rail RV Park,
Plymouth Wash, back to desert at 11:58, now on Arizona 95, don't know when I missed the turn to US 95, but that's okay, this is where I wanted to go, mountains some distance off the road, more to my left than to my right, not at all close.
12:16 mile 130--coming off a ridge down into a flat wide desert area, low ridge to my right, low mountains ahead of me, a little range that goes around, some fairly close to my left. Completely blue sky except for some cirrus to the west, some cirrus back to the south, a huge wide desert, up ahead some cylindrical storage tanks, speed limit 55, intersection with Arizona 72, Havasu City to my left, Phoenix to my right. Left toward the mountains, sand and sagebrush on both sides of the road.
Entering Colorado River Indian Reservation at mile 135, 12:22, no casino anywhere in sight (!), interesting mountains up ahead, a rock tower up there. Entering Parker, elevation 417, founded 1908, at 12:30. A railroad yard off to right, an old passenger car by itself, Coffee Ern's, Terrible's Gasoline, Ruperto's Mexican Food, Colorado River Building Materials, Woody's Gasoline, Riverside Floors, Moovalva Plaza, Buckskin Mountain State Park, Colorado Resort and Casino, back into desert, more sand and sagebrush, a low mountain range up ahead, rock tower off to my left in the distance, quite a few reddish rock formations, a sawtooth rising out of red rock, one after another to my left.
Really spectacular stuff off to my left, the road patched and bumpy, really nice country, red rock hills, a canyon off to my right, mountains to my left, really wonderful country but no place to pull over and take a photo, a rock column hoodoo with a rounded top rises stubbily out to my right. Really spectacular red rocks right and left, everywhere, just wonderful. Mountain folds and canyons I would love to go up into. Very red strata here, really spectacular red color rock, yellow rock as well, over another canyon, one after another of these incredible up and down peaks, jagged peaks, really wonderful, that's all. I can see a lake between several jagged upjuttings, Buckskin State Park, a guy on a bicycle going my way with a lot of stuff on the back, a bearded guy out hitchhiking, a wonderful rock monolith up above River Island State Park. Into some kind of town area, houses under all these fantastic rocks, a river or something off to my left, the Verdi West RV Co-op, beyond the river still more rock, a bright red rock thing rising up beyond the lake or river, the Harbor Inn Motel, palms over there with lots of RV's trailers, up ahead a steam shovel is slowly decapitating a mountain though it doesn't seem to be working right now.
Parker Dam, the Blue Bar Two Cafe, Buckskin Fire Department, through walls of red and yellow rock full of strange formations, a canyon full of up and down rocks, little jagged peaks, a larger peak rising ahead of me, dark red and orangish red alongside the road, out of the rock area into an area where there's Southwest type buildings of some kind, dark blue water underneath me, a lake, no buildings on the other side that I can see, a rocky island close to this road, to my left are cliffs way over the road, hanging over it. Parker Dam Lake at 1:07. Mojave County, over a river with lots of yellow reed-type grass, into fairly tame country, desert mountain and hills, some red rock, sage brush dotting hills and slopes.
I'm not following Rule #3 very well. Although I don't have a final destination, each night I figure out where I'm going to stop the following night and that keeps me going past things I should stop for. So that is there.
So I'm coming up on Cattail Cove State Park. Should I stop and see what it's like? No, I'm going to keep going. Not sure that was a good move.
1:15, mile 168. Some nice rock off to my left, the ones up close dark, the ones further back a grayish blue, rising up to a butte then falling off sharply. Lake Havasu City, elevation 575, founded 1964, off to my right a lot of homes, Eastern-type and adobe-type red-tiled roofs, some archways, desert to my left, the Human Bean Drive-Through Turn Now, Homestead Steakhouse (very pueblo with logs sticking out), a row of rectangular houses, Titan Fitness Center, pawn shop, Moose Lodge, another lake up ahead, Smoker Friendly (whatever that is), an orange very dark orange very orange DQ, Havasu Preparatory Academy, Eclectic Avenue Salvage, lots of palm trees, going up to the top of strange trunks then fronding out--most go up straight then there's a little nodule underneath the fronds, in some it's before the frond area, some have none at all. Very blue lake off to my left. A row of adobe buildings, houses I guess, logs sticking out, all of Havasu City pretty much off to the right (east) of 95, now some stuff to my left, Red Robin, Shogun Japanese Cuisine, London Bridge Resort. For a place in existence only 50 years there's an awful lot to Havasu City, Crystal's Steak Ribs and Seafood, Desert Floors, Lin's Little China Buffet, a residential area, some with a kind of pale tile instead of red but adobe walls, flat rectangular buildings, so many traffic lights killing me, red tile roofs off to my right, on both sides there's a little stretch of desert, sand and sagebrush between the road and the houses, maybe 50 feet wide, "Watch for Animals Next 5 Miles," "Rough Road," Fall Spring Wash. Red rock hills up ahead, to my left a little bit of cliff then it rises and falls, almost directly ahead of me is a sharp peak with bunch of antennas on it, immediately off to my left a bunch of rock thumbs sticking out of desert, real nice country. At mile 194, stegosaurus spines go up the back of a ridge, red rising up out of the desert, a big mountain behind it, a range of mountains, to my right more red rocks rise up, nearer to the road, a lot of campers over there to my right, incredible country.
Coming up on I-40 at Mile 202, 1:59, $1.999 at the Love's, heading east, snow-capped mountains ahead, back into snow country, mile 10 of I-40, speed limit 75. Coming up on Shinarump Drive and Old Trails Road. Railroad train off to right going the other way, mostly container cars, sand and sagebrush on either side, mountains with snow on them to my right some distance away, dark mountains without snow about the same distance to my left, a long long ridge with a few dips in it then a few peaks before it drops then back down up to more peaks then keeps going and going to my right, a bunch of peaks to my direct right, and left of that and still more to right of it. The Holy Moses Wash, Bullhead City, these walls of rock that are just pieces of rock like one against another forming a wall, like red rock doors. Mile 48, a gray rock cut, Stonehenge type of thing on top of one, a couple of flathead mesa type rock formations, several of them ahead of me, two made of rock doorway types, one after another like pickets. Clack Canyon Road, still more palisade-type rock cliffs, one almost exactly rectangular, a sort of dome on those rock fingers, a very sharp peak off to my right.
The Andy Devine Avenue in Kingman, Arizona. 3:07--heading northeast, 50 degrees off to my left now there are several mountains with snow on their slopes, ahead of me a mountain rises to a point, a dull reddish gray pyramid. Mile 77, to my right a big rock outcropping rises up at an 80 degree pitch to a little mound at the top then drops to sharper mound then a 75 degree drop down. Of course there is desert, gray yellow grass, sagebrush and sand, ranges of mountains, slopes strewn with boulders, elevation 4000, mile 80, yellowish ones off to my left, more rocky territory, a wash down below me, lots of distance between the east and westbound lanes, the other lane above me, rock strewn slopes with sagebrush on them, mile 84, really large rocks sticking out of that hillside, rocks down in a canyon, one sticking up and rising above others, still rolling hills, lots of rocks, the other lane maybe a quarter mile away, a jagged wash down there, Willows Ranch Road, black cattle and one brown one grazing in the very wide median strip, a yellow rock thing in the median, another little thing made out of those rock fingers, capping a hillside. Jumbles of rock along the road on a low hillside, a kind of rock graveyard, taking some strange shapes as they pile up on top of each other.
Back into Yavipai County at 3:22, mile 9, a clear blue sky, not a cloud visible anywhere, a nice cliff way off to my right, rolling desert country, Cross Mountain Road, very definitely a rocky land off to my right, not so much off to my left. 3:28, Mile 100, temp 42, snow alongside the road. 3:40, coming down into a flat valley to my left, a bunch of 4-5 snow-covered peaks in the far distance, one really covered, way ahead on the horizon on my right, a fair amount of snow, very nice, a couple more off to my far left. These are all pretty much ahead of me, snow on my right, none on my left. 4:16, some serious snow along the road--it pretty well covers the ground an inch or so, the snow-covered mountains definitely much closer. Mile 156, snow on pines, Devil Dog Road, some frozen towers on top of one of those mountains.
The Howard Johnson in Williams at 4:37, temp 32, odometer 118991. Huevos Rancheros and iced tea at Pine Country Restaurant and iced tea.
Tuesday, January 12
A woman is as old as she looks, a man is old when he doesn't look.
Williams to the Grand Canyon to Kingman
Odometer 118995, 10:13, temp 22, $25.50 of $2.099 gas at a Circle K in Williams, lots of ravens at the Dollar General parking lot, a blue sky day with a lot of cirrus, on to the Grand Canyon on State Road 64 at 10:25, speed limit 65, snow alongside the road, not much in the trees and bushes, mostly melted now, first pine forest then desert, scrub brush hills on either side of the road. Past Route 180 at 10:53, temp 39, passing the Flintstone Prehistorical Park, more cirrus now. Desert, grass, some sagebrush shrubbery, mostly just yellow grass. A red rock pilot peak to my right rising up into the pilothouse type shape. 11:07, temp 39, sky pretty much the same, back into woodland now, trees are evergreens of some kind but not pines, shorter than pines but still fairly tall (cedars?). 11:10, 40 degrees, 5 deer scampered across the road just before the road to the Grand Canyon Airport, first 3 then 2 others who waited until I had stopped.
Tusayan, elevation 6540, founded 1934, Grand Hotel, Seven Mile Lounge, Red Feather Lodge, Holliday Inn Express, McDonald's, Grand Canyon Trading Post, Grand Canyon Steakhouse, Plaza Bonita, Texaco, Stage Stop, Canyon Pizza and Asian Food, Sophie's Mexican Kitchen, Yippy-i-o Steakhouse, Cook Pizza and Pasta.
Quite a few cars lined up at the Grand Canyon entrance at 11:18, temp 41. The road a lot better than it was last time I was here even though there's a lot more snow alongside on the ground. Reached the parking lot at 11:28, temp 40, not a lot of cars this time. And I don't need a stocking cap or gloves. This is just fantastic, the view at Mather Point is spectacular, looking out at that nothingness filled with red rock, twisting shapes, along the south rim east here you can walk out on the snow and fall if you want. I wouldn't do it if it was dry much less with snow, the north rim on the other side is all flat. Back to car at 12:35, odometer 119055, temp 36. Wow! I'm glad I came back.
Off to my left are a couple of peaks totally covered with snow, not like ones here which also are totally covered but dotted with sagebrush. A road or ski slope going up one seems to snake its way up to the top as far as I can tell. Those white peaks are quite spectacular.
Williams City Limits at 1:45, temp 47, sky completely blue, all cirrus clouds gone, I-40 at 1:47, temp 48, speed limit 75. Snowfields looking like lakes off to my right. Just went over a rise, coming into a flat valley of some kind, a peak rising on the other side, as they have a tendency to do. I had intended to stop at Seligman for the night but I'll probably keep going to Kingman. 2:23, temp 53. Snow gone from the desert to my left but not to my right, another valley over a ridge. Mile 125. Seligman. Through that fantastic rock section again, rocks on top of rocks on top of a hill. 30 or 40 cattle out in field, 2 young bulls butting heads. Through these rock cuts again. Incredible country.
Kingman City Limits at 3:25. Into the Days Inn on Andy Devine Boulevard around 3:45, temp 52, odometer 119228. Dinner at the oriental buffet at the ABC Buffet Cocktail Lounge American and Chinese Food, lots of tapioca pudding.
Wednesday, January 13
"I got on the road at 5. I was sitting high off the road, king of all I surveyed. Augusta is a tired old city."
Kingman to Nevada state line
9:31, 39 degrees, odometer 119230. After a night with a bit of diarrhea. $15 of $1.979 gas at Maverik then I-40 to US 93 north. Mesa type hills in front of me, dropping down to a slope. A nice little rocky arroyo to my north. US 93 at 9:44, temp 41, blue sky with a fair amount of cirrus, palisade type cliffs off to my right, through some minor rocky hills, nice (I would have called them fantastic a couple of months ago). Some neat stuff to my left over the Jersey barrier, a rock rising up out of the desert, Coyote Pass, elevation 3737, Bullhead City, Laughlin, a flat valley full of homes, a small cliff to left, a valley ringed with jagged mountains, one into a highland type peak, to my right rocky hills, one with rock a sticking out an angle.
A very low circular tank in the desert, Old Chloride painted on it, more trailer homes to my right and other homes trucked in, the town of Chloride. Grand Canyon West 50 miles to my right, Arizona Trading Post. Going through flat sandy desert, scattered sagebrush, a lot of cirrus overhead, more white than blue but the sun has no trouble getting though. $3.68 gas at milepost 29 (I don't get any). Red rock rising out of the desert like the spine of stegosaurus at 10:32, milepost 22. great rock formations to my left, mountains way off to my left, some straight ahead of me, a lot of desert between me and mountains to my right, nothing to my left, they're there right next to the road. A rock cliff rises above me to my left.
Welcome to Lake Mead Recreation Area, Mile 17, at 10:33, over a rise. Look at that! Snowcapped mountains way ahead of me but ahead of me is this incredible vista of rock mountains, tabletops, and valleys. Mile 12 at 10:50, snowcapped mountains now off to my left. Just spectacular to my left, immediately in front is a canyon, dark rock cliffs, beyond that a range of mountains then snow-covered mountains, range after range of mountain beauty.
The age we live in with photography takes away the need for trying to describe this thing in words and I don't know where the words are to describe the colors and forms, the multiple colors, the incredible forms and shapes of the earth.
Trailhead at 11:01, temp 45, a few miles to Nevada. White Rock Canyon. Hiking along what is essentially a dirt road, a very rocky dirt road, parallel to 93, a nice little canyon to my left, over a wash, over a bridge, pretty desolate country. Pieces of the road crumbling down into a small canyon, lots of broken beer bottles. What the hell is a 77-year-old man doing hiking up a dirt road in the desert?
My car is down there somewhere, in the parking lot to the right
Some kind of large bird, a pinon jay or something like that, a gray back, very large, no idea what it is. Horsethief Canyon Road. Up a little gully, not very interesting, turning back, taking the trail under US 93. Liberty Bell Arch 2 miles. Didn't go that far. Back to the car at 11:46, temp 45.
More fantastic red rock country rising, canyons, a big rounded hill off to my left, no place to pull over, another one rising above me, off to my left rising over me, coming up on Nevada, red rocky upcroppings immediately to my left and immediately to my right, going between them.
Nevada at 11:51, temp 47, into Nevada and the Pacific Time Zone.