“Well, I’m a-standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flat-bed Ford
Slowin’ down to take a look at me.” Take it Easy – Eagles 1972
As you can see from this cover photo, this next leg of our journey took us back West across Arizona. I have been a huge Eagles fan for most of my life, so it was easy for me to justify detouring slightly onto the old Route 66 so we could stop in Winslow. RegularGuy Tip: Your kids won’t get this at all. They will wonder what this means and why you are stopping. I recommend you play the song for them ahead time so they sort of get it. Route 66 has so much history, there are many interesting things to do there besides taking your picture by the sign with Glenn Frey. There is an old 50’s style malt shop across the street that is well worth your stop. They have incredible malts, milkshakes, hard ice cream and phosphates.
I got a little ahead of my self chronologically. I got excited to write about Winslow and need to back up to our hotel stay in Chambers, AZ. There is really no town in Chambers, it’s simply an intersection of RT. 191 and Interstate 40. We stayed at a Motel 6 that was surprisingly better on the inside than it looked on the outside. They did have a laundry facility which we needed by this point in the week.
The reason I picked this hotel was its proximity to Petrified Forrest National Park. It’s about 20 minutes east of the park. RT 40 bisects the park North / South and you really should spend the time visiting both halves. Petrified Forrest is one of the smaller parks that I would allow 3 hours at most to visit. I talked to a ranger in the visitor center who totally confirmed the points of interest I had for us.
Our first stop after the VC was Tawa Point. It’s here you can get panoramic views of The Painted Desert. Seeing the colors and the barren landscape here, I could be convinced I was on another planet.
The second stop was an area south of RT 40 called The Teepees. You can see the teepee shaped banded mounds is how the area gets its name. Plan on stopping here and climbing on the mounds. They are somewhat “crumbly” and harder to climb than you think.
Our final stop was the Crystal Forrest. This is a short 3/4 mile loop hike that finally gets you exposed to the actual petrified logs.
After leaving Petrified Forrest, we continued west with the above mentioned stop in Winslow. We arrived in Flagstaff, AZ and headed north to The Grand Canyon. What a stark contrast to the wasteland we saw across the rest of Arizona. Flagstaff is a beautiful mountain town with thick pine forest and traditional colored granite boulders. Flagstaff reminds me more of a Colorado town. There are Elk crossing signs present all along route 180 which gave me hope of seeing wildlife.
We arrived at The Grand Canyon around 5:30pm. The place was so busy and bustling with people but most of them were leaving the park. We followed the signs to Mather Point. This the iconic viewing point where most tourists get their first glimpse of the canyon. It’s named after one of my personal heroes, Stephen Mather. He was the first director of the National Parks back in 1916. He spent much of his personal fortune to hire staff and campaign to preserve many of the parks we enjoy today. I have a deep gratitude for Mather, John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, Horace Albright and others who fought so fervently for our National Parks.
Finally, we took the Orange shuttle line to the South Kaibab Trail Head. The shuttle driver warned us over and over about having enough water and the correct footwear before attempting any hike. This is common sense to me but there are so many boneheads that come to our parks ill prepared. We got off the bus and decided to top off our water bladders just for good measure even though we were there well past the heat of the day. Look who came out of the woods to lick up the water that had trickled over our water bottles.
The sun was dropping quickly but we managed to make it down a 1/2 mile or so into the canyon on the South Kaibab Trail. It’s a series of switchbacks at the top that levels out for a while offering the viewer stunning lookout points. Sadly, we didn’t have time to make it all the way to Oooh Ahh Point like I intended. We were able to take many pictures of the sun dropping to the west.
We may have not had the amount of time I would have wanted for a trip to the Grand Canyon, but I feel the kids have had their appetites whetted for what the National Parks mean and how many more there are to see. My oldest daughter, who is expecting her first baby in November, was looking at the pink Jr. Ranger vests in the visitor center and told me, “You do know that baby Haven is going to need one of these.” My heart is full…