Sunday, October 29, 2017

Returning to Route 66, and Making Peace With Grasshopper

October 20-25, 2017
Holbrook - Winslow, Arizona

What was I thinking planning a drive day on Sunday during football season? Good way to find myself single!

I don't want the hassle of changing reservations at a state park, so I add a stop that will make that Sunday drive very short - whew!

High winds are expected mid-day on Friday so we're on the road at the ungodly time of 7:50. Surprisingly there are others also preparing to leave. I'm usually not awake yet :-)

We have seen much of Arizona, and love all of it. This northeast corner is new to us, and all Navajo Nation with little to "see", and no place to stay (during our drive we do notice a park in Chinle, that might be open). I route us on a combination of Hwy 191 and smaller BIA roads. All two-lane, I don't think there was a single passing lane, and no pull-outs. Fortunately there's only a handful of other vehicles except near the two small towns we pass. The last miles on BIA 6 are rough, but otherwise it's a nice drive with wide open views of the desert. By the time we reach I-40 the anticipated winds are about 25 mph.

Arriving before 11 AM at any park is likely to get frowns from the registration office. At the Holbrook-Petrified Forest KOA I'm reminded they can't guarantee a site yet (of course the park is less than half full). We're generously allowed to check-in and set up in the gravel lot with 50 amp FHUs and average space between sites. 

We've stayed in Holbrook before. It's a cute little town with several good eateries and a nice Safeway. Petrified wood, dinosaurs and Route 66 are the obvious draw. I remember a place with excellent green chili and we find our way back to Romo's Restaurant for lunch. The green chili Navajo Tacos don't disappoint.

The wind reaches 30+ mph and we hang out inside for the remainder of the day.

Arizona sunset.
Saturday morning is calm and clear - let's go see the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest again while we're here!

The geology and natural beauty is stunning. But either because we've seen it before, or because Utah has ruined us, the area doesn't have the same impact it did the first time. It's still a lovely day to be in another national park, and there are no crowds!

Vibrant colors as far as you can see.
One thing we didn't get to see last time is the Painted Desert Inn. Built in 1924 and called the Stone Tree House after it's petrified wood construction, the roadside hotel was remodeled in the adobe style when the national park system purchased it in the 1930's. Civilian California Conservation Corps workers included beautiful stained glass skylights and sturdy handmade furniture that are still here. 

In 1947 Hopi artist Fred Kabotie was commissioned to paint colorful murals throughout the public areas of the property. Their color and details were beautifully restored during renovations in 2006.

The Harvey family ran the hotel and restaurant until it closed to the public in 1963, and is part of that family's historic role along much of Route 66.

It's definitely worth a stop when you visit!

Painted Desert Inn

Kabotie's mural in the meeting room.

Restored snackbar with 20 cent shakes. The Harveys are part of southwest history.

When the skylights above the bar are pointed out to the five  of us in the room, we all say "Wow!" at the same time then laugh at each other's shared response.
The colorful dining room showcases the CCC's handmade furniture and more murals - with plenty of natural sunlight!

Hopi Dancers. The murals are definitely my favorite part of the inn.

Beautiful views from the small patio.
We take our time on the 28 mile drive that exits the park on the south side. Ruins, petroglyphs, striped domes, blue valleys, and petrified logs make for an interesting and entertaining couple of hours. The runners who are here for a charity event add a little "obstacle course" action to the narrow road.

We much prefer this size "crowd" to those we found in Utah!

Newspaper Rock petroglyphs are protected at the bottom of the canyon below the overlook.

The lighting is a challenge, but the abundance of rock art is prodigious.

The Teepees tell a layered geologic story.

Petrified log in situ.

These ridges make me want to take a big broom and sweep them off,

so they look pretty like these :-)
Blue Mesa. Okay, we didn't see anything like this in Utah.
The walking trail through Rainbow Forest is a great place to see the fascinating metamorphosis these logs have gone through.

Some look much more rock than wood.

Rings of stone.

In the Visitors' Center. I love that there are still some things we don't know yet.
New Mexico food remains my favorite after 31 states. A stuffed sopapilla tops the list, and Mr Maestas is the only place I've found them outside the Santa Fe area. And they're excellent.

Hoarding as a decorating style. Can't believe I didn't get a pic of the yummy meal!
With just 32 miles to travel, we're able to get to Homolovi State Park, near Winslow, Arizona, and set up in time to see both our teams play on Sunday. A good save :-)

Over morning coffee, before we leave Holbrook, I see on Facebook that Steve and Debbie are already at Homolovi. She was the first person to comment on my blog, also starting the fulltime life from California, a year ahead of us. We've read each other for years now, but only had one opportunity for a quick meetup almost two years ago.

I reach out when we arrive (we can see their rig from our side window), and surprise them with our location! They stop by for a short happy hour on their way to a romantic anniversary dinner in Winslow. It's wonderful to get caught up in person, and before they leave we make plans to have breakfast at their favorite place. Her FB post about the tasty options already had us planning to go!!

La Posada is another historic Harvey hotel, and is a gorgeous place! The Turquoise Room is a visual delight of southwestern style and colors. As expected, the Arizona Green Chili Eggs are delectable (we all have them). The coffee is also really good and we spend a couple hours enjoying good conversation with fun people. They're moving on today, and we look forward to seeing them in Q this winter.

Debbie, Bill, Jodee and Steve - one of us doesn't need shades to be cool :-)
I usually choose sites that are close to places and/or people that we want to go see. It is rare that we even put our chairs out. This park is an exception. I fell in love with the feel of the place when we visited 18 months ago, and have been looking forward to returning and just hanging out.

Which is what we do for the rest of our Monday. Perfect weather, broad views, and a peaceful spirit. Reading in the fresh air, a couple short walks in the surrounding desert, and wishing I'd planned more days here.

Our large site. 50 amp and water, level asphalt.

Late afternoon views.

Tiny twilight moon.

The sun sets on a perfect day.
Tuesday morning is the warmest we've had in weeks. We visit Homolovi I all alone, under bright blue skies.

The rooms were unearthed during early excavation, but are covered now. The remaining structures are extremely fragile and experts agreed that returning them to the protection of the earth was the best means of saving them. The frames of ruins are generally part of the foundation, but in this area they are the tops of the walls.

Sharing the space with insects, birds and a light breeze, we spend a quiet hour in the small area looking at pot shards and imagining a much different life along the Little Colorado River.

Tops of walls.

Shards and carved rock.

There are a lot of patterned pieces.

One of two sections of exposed wall.
Built along the banks of the Little Colorado River, evidence shows the village was flooded numerous times, and may have played a role in their decision to abandon their home.
Shards can be found everywhere.

The park discourages leaving "collections" of finds like this because it is not the "natural view" of the site. Rangers come through on a regular basis and sweep them back to the surrounding dirt. They do show the large variety.
With the zoom I find the start of a fire in the distant Coconino National Forest. We learn later it's a controlled burn.
After lunch at home, I leave Bill and Tessa to visit Homolovi II. The beautiful day continues, and I feel especially blessed to have this time here. Only four other people come and go, giving me the whole space to myself for much of the time. Sacred spirit is strong here - in the stone walls, the broken pottery, the earth itself. The Hopi tell us that the trail of the Bahana (the true White brother of prophecy) will travel through these when he returns.

There are thousands of pottery shards at this site, and I don't realize until I get home that I didn't take a single photo of them this time.

A small section of the 1200 room village of Homolovi II.

This large kiva was vandalized in the 1960's and restored by the parks service with assistance by the local Hopi Nation. It was the focal point of the Central Plaza.

This young Native American woman tells her son the history of the place. Her soft voice and reverent tone explain that the sacred mesas are a part of him. Their story is in his blood. I give them privacy, moved by this special moment of tradition.

Tuutukwi, the Hopi Mesas.
Standing at the village edge, the air is completely still. Down that small canyon I hear what sounds like a large herd moving through the brush, but there's nothing to see. No, it's the wind. I close my eyes and wait. The sounds does not continue up the hill, and quietly the air reaches me, blowing my hair, rustling the dry branches, stirring the dust. I'm grateful.
Not having a fluffy dog means increased confidence in the small critters along the trail. Several lizards, including a couple Collared Lizards, watch me pass by. 

You don't see me....

Move on, we'd like to be alone!
I love lizards and snakes and spiders. I've been afraid of grasshoppers most of my life. They don't really "scare" me, but they definitely startle me, and make me jump when they do. Today there are dozens of them, but even when they hop and fly I'm not bothered. I don't know if this is a sudden change, or I've just been getting more used to them.

In either case, I seem to have made peace with Grasshopper. It's a lovely gift.

There is one short dirt road that I take behind an interesting outcropping. (I feel like I'm cheating on Bill). It leads to the back of the village site where I turn around and return home.

No idea where this goes.

Interesting boulders.

Small cave with pretty green stripe entry way.

Below the ruins, I imagine youngsters playing here in the shade.
A subtle sunset for our last evening.
Wednesday we'll return for a couple nights to a small town we've visited in the past.