Friday, June 25, 2010

Vacation Day 5: Moab to Flagstaff

Sadly we left Moab this morning with little fanfare and some unfinished business, mainly a visit of Arches National Park, which we did not do.  We amped up on morning coffee by going through Wicked Brew, a drive-thru espresso place in Moab.  With plenty of gas we were on our way to Flagstaff.

From Moab, US 191 climbs gradually to Monticello.  The terrain becomes greener and the Abajo Mountains to the west become larger.  From there, the road descends back into the desert to Blanding and then Bluff.  Always in view are various sedimentary rock units in the cliffs and canyons.

We left US 191 and then turned onto US 160 shortly after crossing into Arizona.  We made a lunch stop at a Burger King in Kayenta.  An emergency vehicle with siren and lights passed us before we turned into Burger King.  I commented that I expected they were responding to an accident that could delay us.  After lunch two aid cars were going passed us in the opposite direction.  Soon we were passing the accident scene, a car apparently missing a curve and crashing through a guard rail.  Sobering.

We made a planned stop at Wupatki National Monument to view some of the pueblo ruins built by the ancient Pueblo people some 800 years ago.  Ever since visiting Chaco Canyon in 2006, I've been fascinated by the ancient Pueblo, also known as the Anasazi, but this term has fallen out of favor as it is now a well known fact the the existing Puebloan peoples are descended from these ancient peoples.

Next we made the short loop drive to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.  We were short on time but managed to make a few quick stops.  This cinder cone erupted about 900 years ago and the resulting lava flow looks as fresh as if it was erupted last year.  This part of Arizona has a lot of volcanic features, including the San Francisco Peaks, which resembles Mount Saint Helens in shape, and likely had the same explosive eruption that blew out the side of this stratovolcano.

There is a fire going up in the San Francisco Peaks and we could readily see the smoke and smell it.  Some of the fire burned into a portion of Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.  We could see some of the blackened ground but it did not appear to burn up into the forest crown at this location.

We finally made it into Flagstaff and checked into the Little America Hotel, a vintage 1970s hostelry that still retains that look.  The room was large and clean with horrid decor that would look good at the Madonna Inn.  Still, it was roomy and comfortable.

We ate dinner at Salsa Brava, a well known Mexican restaurant in Flag.  My wife and I both ordered margaritas.  The food was excellent.  I had a gordito burrito.  My wife and older son had carne adovado tacos, very spicy.  Younger son had a plate of nachos.  We went back to our room and instantly fell asleep.

Tomorrow the Grand Canyon.


  1. I know that Burger King...I pitched my tent behind their dumpster and "slept" there during my ride. I say, "slept" because the wind was howling at 50-60 mph that night and I truly feared my $40 dome tent would be shredded around me. Luckily, it didn't happen.

    Were the stray dogs cruising the parking lot for scraps while you were there? About half-a-dozen of them hang out there because the tourists feed them, thinking they're cute. They can get pretty nasty with each other when they fight over the bits of food they're given.

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