Between May 18 and 24 we drove (are still driving) from San Jose, California, to Boulder, Colorado. We have rented a house for about 5 weeks in Boulder, where we hope to revisit people and places from the time we lived in Lyons (2007 to 2009). We’re also looking forward to having our family join us for part of the time we’re there.
The following blogs were written (are being written) during the drive to Colorado; they appear in reverse chronological order, with the most recent blog on top.
Monday, May 21: Tour of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico
On our many archaeology gigs in the Four Corners area we have heard a lot about Chaco Canyon National Historical Park, one of the premier Anasazi sites. Because it is somewhat remote, reachable only on an infamous buckboard gravel road, Dick booked us on a tour, which we did with local archaeologist Tori Myers and two other tourists from San Francisco.
It was worth the time, trouble, and expense! The many ruins are probably the best we’ve seen anywhere!
Sunday, May 20: Flagstaff to Bloomfield, New Mexico
Near Winslow, Arizona, we turned off the road briefly to visit the Homolovi Ruins, one of Dick’s “finds” discovered in his thorough research for our trip. The ruins are on a plateau overlooking the Little Colorado River. Getting out and walking for a while was very refreshing.
We had lunch in Holbrook, Arizona, and we didn’t even try Yelp, but instead looked for a local hangout downtown. We found a friendly, well-patronized Mexican place, where we dined on the bean burrito special and a Navajo taco.
Saturday, May 19: Barstow to Flagstaff, Arizona
This was also the wedding day of Harry and Meghan, and I was pinged by my iPad at 3:00 a.m. just in case I wanted to tune in live. I didn’t, but we caught up later with the all the gossip and pics.
A word of warning, which we also need to heed in the future: if you check out restaurants on Yelp while traveling, always double-check the information on another website. We drove all the way through Kingman, Arizona, looking for a highly recommended lunch spot and arrived hungry at a restaurant that no longer existed! (We had the same bad experience last month with a non-existent Apple store in Eastridge!) The good news is we found a little BBQ place that had good pulled pork sandwiches.
In the evening we hiked the “Fatman’s Loop” trail in North Flagstaff.
A word about trucks and travel on Interstate 40: In California the speed limit is 70 for cars and 55 for trucks. Both are a little low, I’d say, but the good thing is that the trucks generally stay in the right-hand lane and just chug along. In Arizona the speed limit is 75 for both cars and trucks, and the trucks are always passing each other, thereby blocking the path of all other vehicles. The highway lanes are often narrow, and there are lots of curves in some areas, causing the trucks to weave dangerously in their frantic desire to get ahead. Not good!
However, one good thing about the Arizona highways are the fact that they have signs before ALL bridges crossing water features: rivers, streams, and washes alike. I do like to get to know the landscape I’m passing!
Friday, May 18: San Jose to Barstow
We drove down Interstate 5 and then started east on Highway 58 near Bakersfield. At Kohnen’s Country Bakery in Tehachapi we had the brat and sauerkraut luncheon special at the bargain price of only $5.00 each. And we couldn’t resist the blueberry pastry and coffee for dessert!
The place was hopping with locals and tourists alike. One fellow-customer asked Dick, “What time do you usually come in for lunch?” Don’t we wish!
After lunch we toured the local museum.
And then began our love affair with trains that lasted until we turned north at Gallup, New Mexico. The dozens of freight trains that we saw zipping back and forth, always within sight of Highway 40, were fascinating!
On that first night we stayed in Barstow, not an appealing town in general, unfortunately, but its claim to fame for us was their train car classification yard (known locally as the “Hump Yard” — ha ha, they lift up the “chosen”car and roll it onto the appropriate track), which we toured before moving on toward Arizona.