Aug 22, 2011

Road Trip Day 3

While we had passed by the end of Route 66 in Santa Monica the day before, day 3 felt like the first day exploring the historic route. We took part of the old route 66 off of the I40 to Amboy, passing the non-extant town of Siberia, and the Amoby Crater along the way.

We also stopped off at Seligman for lunch. It was pretty much as expected, with touristy knick-knacks of a declining (actually, mostly dead) tourist route. The Roadkill Cafe was pretty much a gimmick, and we were hungry. The food was basic "american" fare, a BLT, and a chicken wrap. Both were reasonably well done for what they were, but the lack of truly "healthy" choices reminded me why America is so fat. The desert landscape, however reminded me how fortunate California is, with the wide variety of fresh local fruits, vegetables, livestock and seafood. Something like San Francisco's green "locavore" movement doesn't work nearly as well in Arizona, where it seems like there's a wide variety of desert shrubs. With all the sun though, I wonder if it might make sense to grow food in greenhouses here at some point.

There were a few hours of driving to go to the Grand Canyon. As we moved from the Mojave, up through the mountains, and to the plains of Arizona, there was a clear change in the landscape. The land flattened, the shrubs got slightly greener, but most tellingly little fluffy clouds appeared in the sky. San Francisco has its share of fog, but rarely cumulus clouds, and rarely so many.

I think the last time I had been to the Grand Canyon was when I first moved down to California, before I even started this blog. There had been a long hike that time, an adventure a battle of youth vs. nature, where youth fortunately prevailed. This time around was far lazier. For one thing, it took two and a half days to get there, and there was no hiking involved this time, except for the walk around the paved rim trail. We managed to catch a gorgeous sunset from one of the less crowded vantage points. Unlike the last time, the beauty was not marred by the concern of hiking in the darkness. What hadn't changed was the sense of grandeur staring down into the canyon, and across to the distant rim. The little fluffy clouds had gathered into a a giant dark cloud on the far North Rim. While it was relatively clear and peaceful where we stood, we could see distant lightning on the far rim.

While driving around the rim, we also happened on numerous elk. At one point, I spotted a huge stag, through the trees. We were driving along, not slowly, so the trees nearby whizzed by, but the stag stood tall and grand in the distance. It was a regal creature.

The drive back to Flagstaff in the dark was mostly uneventful. We were hoping to drive past the Sunset Crater, which we did, but it was not visible in the pitch blackness. The sun had gone and the clouds had gathered. The lightning we had seen in the distance got closer and brighter as we drove along. Eventually, a stroke covered the sky from end to end outside our windshield, and torrents of rain came down for a few minutes. For a few moments as we hydroplaned through huge pools of water on the road, the rain and the water splashing up rendered the windshield a sheet of water that we could not see through. But as quickly as the rain came down, it was over within a few minutes, leaving the windshield clear, and free of the myriad of dead bugs that were previously on it.

These moments are beyond rare in the everyday.

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