Change of Plans

Trip Start Jan 08, 2008
1
7
51
Trip End Apr 09, 2008


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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Monday, January 14, 2008

Today, for the first time since leaving Canada, we dug out the winter coats.  The temperature dropped to 27 degrees at one point and when we were out of the car there was enough breeze to make one feel cold.  Yesterday's 625 kms, added to the distances of previous days, are wearing on me today. 

We arrived in Albuquerque about 11:30 after making a quick decision to do a miss on the turn-off to Santa Fe.  Much and all as I am looking forward to a visit to the galleries and shops there I will wait for another opportunity.  Lunch was at Julie's (featured on the Food Channel I am told).  A walk around the old town and a visit to a church established 300 years ago by the Jesuits confirmed that our decision to push on to Phoenix was the right one.  We were cold and there were few people around.  As a result many of the shops were not open and the other spots of interest were on limited hours.  We did visit one gallery where the staff was extremely helpful in offering info about the best time for a return visit and some insight into the techniques used by some of their featured artists.

We got back on the road about one and were very conscious of the clouds to the west and south. This section of the trip is the one that everyone fears somewhat.  The highway is good but you are either driving across high plateaus or decending through mountain passes and snow storms can come up very quickly.  Roadside signs are constantly noting the radio station that provides local weather conditions and flashing billboards allow the highways to be closed very quickly.  As we move towards the Arizona border we start to see snow on the north-face slopes and the temperature fluctuates slightly above or below freezing depending on the elevation.  New Mexico does not note the elevation on road signs, as is done in Arizona, so you can only guess.  I miss the atlas that we have used in past trips to Arizona which notes the elevation right on the map.

We cross into Arizona and we are now conscious that the ground is snow-covered and off to the south, and later off to the north, there are clouds with what looks like precipitation under them.  We are still driving under sunshine or light cloud cover.  The landscape is barren and even the reststops are closed.  Trucks continue to provide a challenge. For much of this drive we are parrallel to a railway with long trains of containers and transport trailers pulled by four engines. The amount of product being shipped from one part of the country to another is mind boggling.  Past the turn-off to the site of the meteor crator, past the petrified forest, past navajo interpretation centres - oh well we will come back here!  We stop in Flagstaff for gas and find ourselves engulfed in a heavy snowfall.  We take time for a food break and phone Scott to check on the weather report for the trip down I17 and find out that the skies are clear in Phoenix so back in the car and off we go.

The speed limit for most of the travel during the past few days has been 75 mph with slow sections at 65 mph.  We have driven the Flagstaff to Phoenix trip several times but it is a different trip in the dark.  Just out of Flagstaff we see the first elevation sign - 7000 ft, a short while later the signs for 6000 ft, then 5000 ft fly by.  Snowbanks suddenly disappear. All of a sudden there is a stream of brake lights ahead and traffic quickly grinds to a halt on a winding and relatively steeply descending portion of the road.  We can see cars stopped far below us and around several curves.  Two trucks behind us block both lanes on the highway, helping to space traffic so that emergency vehicles can get through and preventing the impatient from trying something foolish.  Half an hour later, in a single lane of traffic, we pass our first accident of the trip - a car has plunged over a steep embackment at 'Bumblebee Road".  Thanks to the traffic control of the truckers behind us, cars are spaced a little further apart for the remainder of the trip.

At 8:30 pm we reach our destination - 4229 kms since departure.  We are tired by happy to see Scott once more.  We have driven 897 kms today, the longest of the trip - too long for me!  Now to settle in an get on with some of our planned activities. 
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Comments

munlaren
munlaren on

Hello from Perth
Hi,

We are enjoying your account of your travels. Your days sure are busy. We can appreciate the stops to stretch your legs and take in the local history. We'll follow with interest.

Ann and Gord

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