US Road Trip Travelog: 16th March 2005

In the morning the windshield (windscreen) of the Riviera is iced-over and, as I don't have scraper, that provides the perfect excuse to sit and drink coffee until the sun has thawed it out. I don't think either of us really wanted an early start this morning anyway.

When I arrived in Springerville yesterday the temperature was around freezing and when I went for a walk later - soon abandoned, as quite a few cars that passed slowed down to stare at me - it was down to 22°F. It's warmer this morning, but not by much.

The route today is a gentle drive up Highway 180, through the Petrified Forest National Park, and then the I-40 to Flagstaff. I forgot to mention that the 77,000 mile mark was passed on the way up to Austin, and this morning sees 78,000 clocked-up.

The Petrified Forest National Park
The Petrified Forest National Park.

After paying your $10 the drive through the park is very pleasant. There are chunks of petrified wood lying around but I'm more interested in the scenery (once you've seen one bit of petrified wood the others look pretty much the same). The Painted Desert, as it's known, is much more beautiful than my meagre photographic skills can possibly capture.

On leaving the run on the Interstate to Flagstaff is about 100 miles. After passing Winslow (as immortalised in the old Eagles song ' Take It Easy') I leave the Interstate at Winona and follow the old road into the centre. Rather than a chain motel I'm aiming for The Hotel Monte Vista in the centre of the city. Built in the 1920's, it's famous for the number of Hollywood stars who have stayed there and is currently being restored to something approaching its former splendour.

The lobby in the Hotel Monte Vista
The lobby in the Hotel Monte Vista

Even though the whole place is non-smoking, for $65 plus tax a night it's too good to miss. My room is small - I'm not paying more for a bigger one with a 'star' name associated - but has some great period fittings like a huge overhead fan and lots of original wood. Over the corridor is the 'Linda Ronstadt' room, strangely not mentioned in the brochure or on the website. If I'd known I might have forked-out a few more dollars.

Flagstaff Arizona
Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff is in the foothills of The San Francisco Peaks - though still 7000 feet up - and seems to have a good mixture of locals, tourists, students and ski (or snowboard) enthusiasts. That mixture means there's a great selection of restaurants, coffee houses and bars. The centre itself has not been over-developed and manages to retain the feel of what the original place must have been like.

The railroad in Flagstaff
The railroad in Flagstaff.

In common with many other American towns and cities, the railway line in Flagstaff runs right through the middle of town at street level. The trains all blow their horns as they pass through, a very evocative sound and it adds to the feel of the place.

After a huge pizza and a few beers in the late afternoon I return to my room and, basically, fall asleep for a few hours. I think the long days earlier in the week have finally caught up with me. Later in the evening I have a few more beers in a couple of the bars, followed by a whole lot more sleep.

US Road Trip Travelog: 17th March 2005 >