Note: I wrote this post over several days as we wander through the Southwest. We are now between Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico— and the temperatures are still freezing!
It’s snowing outside and icy cold. The windchill factor is pushing the temperature to around O degrees F (17.7 C). Quivera the Van is not happy. I bought chains for her yesterday with the fervent hope that I won’t have to use them. I’ll do almost anything to avoid that nasty chore. Right now, that suggests heading south, even if it means skipping Mesa Verde National Park where we were going today. Getting there involves climbing up steep mountain roads that are now obscured by dark, threatening clouds. We aren’t terribly disappointed. We’ve already been there twice and we’ve seen a number of Anasazi ruins perched on cliffs over the past week (although not as impressive as Mesa Verde).
Even heading south from Colorado into New Mexico won’t avoid the freezing temperatures. A record-breaking blast of arctic air reaches all the way to the Mexican Border.
In my last post I shared a few of Peggy’s Grand Canyon photos. From there we went to Flagstaff, Arizona where we bought a new iPhone for Peggy and house battery for Quivera. Peggy was holding her warped, 6-year-old iPhone together with a plastic clip. The house battery was refusing to last longer than a few hours. While Peggy was busy playing with her new toy, I was left out in the cold changing the battery. It wasn’t hard. I just had to make sure that the positive and negative cables were hooked up to the right posts. But I tend to regard fixing things mechanical right up there with putting chains on in a freezing snowstorm. The good news is that I didn’t electrocute myself or burn up Quivera. More to the point, we now have power when we aren’t hooked up to electricity. I was quite proud of myself. Peggy was amazed.
Flagstaff is a pleasant town with good restaurants and bookstores. It is nestled at the base of the San Francisco Mountains that are regarded as sacred by a number of Native American tribes in the area. Kachinas (Navajo spirits) are said to wander the mountains and do bad things to folks who find themselves lost up there, especially in snowstorms. I once spent a week by myself camping and hiking on the 12,000-foot Humphreys peak which is part of the range. I was quite careful. It isn’t smart to irritate a Kachina.
Our son Tony and his wife Cammie spent some time living in Flagstaff while he was flying tourists by helicopter over the Grand Canyon and into the Havasupai Indian Reservation down inside the Canyon. He flew Peggy and me into the reservation like the former multi-tour Marine pilot he was and put on the theme to Star Wars for inspiration. Imagination runs wild in this family.
Most of the areas we have visited so far on our Southwest journey deserve blogs on their own and will get them. For now, here is a sample of the photos Peggy and I have taken over the last few days of the incredibly beautiful and often intriguing Southwest. For example, have you ever sat on a hundred foot petrified tree? Think of these pictures as hors d’oeuvres. The main course and dessert will come later. Today I am going to feature Walnut Canyon National Monument, the Painted Desert, and the Petrified Forest National Park.
Walnut Canyon National Monument is a few miles east of Flagstaff, Arizona just off of Interstate 40. I’ve passed by it a dozen times over the years on my way somewhere else and never stopped. I was always curious, however. Peggy and I made it a priority, this time.
A hundred miles east of Walnut Canyon on I-40 we came to the Petrified Forest National Park. The road takes you through the Painted Desert, which is part of the Park. As we drove in, we were greeted by a raven. They seemed to be following us around. We’d met several up at the Grand Canyon. Actually, they gather where there are tourists, hoping for a hand out.
NEXT POST: I will feature photos from our trips into Canyon De Chelly and Monument Valley. And since I am finishing this post on Halloween, I decided to post this photo I took in Monument Valley.
Wanderer, writer, photographer and activist. I've now settled in Southern Oregon. 1.8 million acres of national forest are out the backdoor and the beautiful Applegate River is out the front door. I like travel, reading, history and wild places. I am married to the lovely, funny, bright Peggy.
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