27 February 2010
Snow pretty much covered the ground in Flagstaff; however, the roads remained relatively clear. We took US-89 north to Sunset Crater National Monument.
That night as we slept, a new storm moved in. This one was heavier then the day before.
Flag is an odd place though. While a big storm was raging in town, just outside of city limits it was clear. Go figure.
We came a cross a road that would take us to Wutapki National Monument and 800 years into Arizona's past.
I was not familiar with Wutapki National Monument which includes Wukoki ruins, but was very glad we came across them.
The Wukoki ruins can be seen from quite a distance .
Established by the Sinagua, Cohonin and Kayenta Anasazi pueblo people in the 1100's, the major influx of people came after the eruption of Sunset Crater which resulted in improved agriculture productivity due to volcanic ash.
We continued our drive after Wukoki and headed to the Wupatki ruins, just as fascinating.
The Wupatki ruins contain what archeologists believe is a ball court, similar to the courts found in Meso-America. This is the northmost example of this kind of structure in the US.
After leaving Wupatki we began our trek east, back to New Mexico. Just outside of Flag we hit a snowstorm. This was just a sneak preview of what was to come just past the New Mexico border.
Of special note:
Just east of Flagstaff you will come across a Route 66 landmark - the Twin Arrows trading post.
The trading post was a popular stop up until 1985. Since then it has fallen into ruins. I would pass it every time I drove from LA to Albuquerque watching it slowly decay.
I'm here to report to you GOOD NEWS! The Hopi Tribe and the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona have joined together to save the trading post. Their hope is to turn it into an outdoor market place and a staging area for Native Dance. WoooHooooo!!
For more info and to help the restoration visit:
As we approached the New Mexico border we saw this cool dust storm:
As the afternoon gave way and night approached we drove into Grants, New Mexico and the Mt Taylor area.
...and the worst snowstorm I have ever had to drive in.
Grants is notorious for bad snowstorms. The earlier news reports had said that a storm was coming but would not hit until later that night - WRONG!
A wall of white hit suddenly and it was so hard to see the dividing lines of the road. It is something I NEVER want to have to drive through again.
23 February 2010
My friend T-Rob from Oklahoma was in town this past weekend and if T-Rob is in town that means one thing: adventure awaits!
But first we stopped off for a bite at Garcia's Kitchen. You would think that having lived here five years now I would be tired of New Mexican food -- NOT. I love the stuff, especially if it has red or green chili.
Our next stop was 10, 678 feet up: Sandia Peak. I've reported from the peak many times. You can take the world's longest tram ride from the base to the peak if you dare [T-Rob wasn't in a daring mood, heheheh] or you can take the beautiful ride from the back side along NM-14 aka The Turquoise Trail.
The snows on the east side have been very good as you can see below:
It was a bit chilly to say the least, but the view was amazing.
Our next stop would be back in the city with a quick stop at the American International Rattlesnake Museum in a part of Albuquerque called 'Old Town'. The building is your typical flat roof adobe style common in New Mexico.
Inside is a collection of creepy crawlies and slithering slithers.
Later that evening we took in a spoken word performance by Henry Rollins, formerly of Black Flag and Rollins Band.
Unfortunately everyone was asked not to use flash photography or record any part of the show so unlike previous shows I don't have any live footage. Oh well -- RESPECT THE ARTIST!
The show was at the restored classic Kimo Theatre.
If you get the opportunity to see Rollins live I recommend it. He was political and funny as hell. I was surprised at how he was able to keep the show going non-stop -- even up to the three hour mark! A little long but I was thoroughly entertained and would like to thank him for coming to town!
The next morning T-Rob and I got up early and headed west. We were headed to Flagstaff, AZ.
Recently Flagstaff had snowstorms they had not seen in ages. The weather man called for a clear week with only a ten percent chance of snow. I would later learn not to trust the weather man!
The drive there was awesome, clear yet cool.
Flagstaff sits at the base of the San Francisco Peaks at 6,910 feet. Clouds hovered over the mountains and Flagstaff that day. Although it was snowing on and off we thought we would take a chance and drive to Sunset Crater National Monument.
The skies grew dark and by the time we got there it was closed.
We would return tomorrow....
Little did we know that night as we slept....
...nature had plans of its own...
That morning brought snow to Flagstaff. Sometimes heavy and hard. Funny thing about Flag, the city itself could be having a blizzard while just outside of town it can be clear and beautiful.
Lucky for us.
We headed back up US 89 north to Sunset Crater National Monument.
You could not have asked for a more beautiful day.
Sunset Crater is a volcanic cinder cone and is the youngest in a string of volcanoes in the area, it was last active around 1080 - 1150 AD.
The hiking trail at the base of Sunset Crater Volcano lets you walk through the Bonito Lava flow [the trail to the crater has been closed by the National Park Service due to damages by hikers -- damn you tourists!!!]
When you see the sign 'remain on the trail' I highly recommend that you do, especially when the trail is under several feet of snow. T-Rob and I walked just a few feet onto the lava bed and could have had a bad accident. T-Rob stepped on a soft spot and sunk up to his knee -- damn you tourist, lol!!
This was definitely one of the most beautiful hikes we have been on.
Sunset Crater Volcano is located just north of Flagstaff, AZ.
Admission is $5 per person.
As we continued past Sunset Crater we would find ourselves on a road that would take us back 800 years in time.