Day One: Bridge, Meteor Crater, Petrified Forest
17.01.2011 - 17.01.2011 40 °F
One of my friends is back from Thailand and suggests a 4-5 day trip around the SW to hit Indian areas and National Parks. Since it is his idea, we use Chris's Mercedes SLS. It only seats 2 and has a small trunk, but I would rather put 2K miles (3.2K km) on his car than mine. I will pack light and get used to a small car. We pick Jan 17 as our start day.
I drive to Chris's house at 6:30am, leave my car in his garage and off we go. We stop at the new Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge for some photos. The official name is: The Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. I was lucky enough to walk over the bridge on Oct. 16th, the only day pedestrians will ever be allowed to walk in the travel lanes of the new bridge. I have plenty of dam and bridge pictures, but Chris did not. After about an hour walking to the bridge and stopping on the AZ side for photos, we headed off on US93 for Kingman. Onto I-40 and head for Flagstaff. We stop for petrol and a snack and off we go to tour Meteor Crater (MC). It was only $9 to enter because the restrooms were out of order. Normally it is $15. They had a hard freeze a few days before and the toilets were still not working. I am a bit ambivalent about MC. It is just a huge hole in the ground and worth perhaps a half hour. Will never go again, but maybe if you are in the area and want to see a big hole in the ground, it might be worth your time/money. We tour the exhibits, get our photos and back on the road.
Next up is Holbrook AZ. It is on historic Route 66 and worth a quick look. I took a few photos of an old motel and we turn off onto highway 180. There are plenty of petrified wood (PW) shops along the way to the Petrified Forest National Park (PFNP). We pick the largest store, buy a piece of PW, photos and enter the PFNP. Free admission today because it is MLK Day. We stop at the Visitor Center (VC) and chat with the ladies at the desk. If you are pressed for time, this is the one stop to make. There are plenty of PW behind the VC and it is very accessible. There is still snow on the ground 2 weeks after the last storm. We get our photos and head towards the north entrance & I-40. I think we should of taken the hike to Long Logs, but after 30 shots of PW, we had enough. Back onto I-40 and now we are just trying to get as close to Carlsbad Caverns National Park (CCNP) as we can today.
We decide to stop in Socorro NM. We fill up with gas and decide to eat at Denny's. I have eggs/pancakes, Chris goes for a burger. Across the street is a Rodeway Inn Motel. We saw some signs on our drive through Socorro for $33 rooms. I tell the guy at the desk this and we start negotiating. They are far from full and it is 9:30pm. Good time to bargain. All motels add about $10 for second person then add the taxes. We agree that $45 with all taxes included plus breakfast is fair. Pay cash and head for the room. Chris has a laptop and starts editing his photos. I get a shower, some TV, read, time for bed. Day one of our swing through the SW is over.