We had a rough idea of where we wanted to spend the next 10 days between our visit to Cottonwood and our week in Las Vegas, and we also knew we wanted to spend it boondocking to help keep costs down for the month. Northern Arizona is a pretty good choice for that, because there is quite a bit of free land to camp on. When Lee couldn’t get the furnace started we knew it would be a little challenging as night-time temps are supposed to be down in the mid 30’s, but we decided to go ahead and give it a try to if we needed to we could head down to the lower elevation and warmer Vegas area sooner rather than later.
My number one thing to do in this area was see Winslow, Arizona. My friend Deb visited the area and had her picture taken “standing on the corner” and I have wanted to do that ever since. Unfortunately our routes have always taken us a little north or a little south of I-40 and we were close, but not close enough for us to reroute. Finally the perfect opportunity with some free time and it was on our way, so Lee looked on Ultimate Public Campgrounds and Freecampsites.net and found a great free campground right outside of Winslow. So we hitched up the night before and headed out early on Friday morning.
Our appointment was moved to 8am, but we still had to dump and take on fresh water, and then park and walk to the clinic, so we arrived at the parking lot around 7am. After 15 minutes we started walking and it’s a good thing we did because Lee’s shortcut wasn’t so short after all! We made it with plenty of time though, and they took us both right away, staggering our tests slightly so the whole thing for both of us only took an hour. We had drug tests, vision tests, color blindness tests, hearing tests, a flexibility test, and a test to show if we could consistently lift 30 pounds. The whole experience was very pleasant, but it also felt like serious overkill for a campground host job, but we both passed and learned about our hearing. Lee’s right ear and my left ear are the weakest, which is super funny because those are the ears closest to each other when we are driving most of the time. Lee now has proof he can’t actually hear me from a doctor, which I was a little skeptical about before 😛
We left at 9am and then headed up towards Winslow. It was another short driving day, only 128 miles, but did include an 18 mile 6% climb, which took us from 3100′ to 7000′! Lee took his time going up the long grade at a very slow speed, but a few others didn’t and we saw folks pulled over because their engines overheated. Our temperature was nice and steady and Lee put the blinkers on, stayed in the slow lane, and took his time. About an hour later I saw a rest stop and asked Lee to pull over so we could eat. He wasn’t crazy about that since we only had 39 miles left, but I don’t like to pull into campgrounds hungry. The setup process can take a while and is not something we like to do when our blood sugar is low, so he agreed and we had a quick-lunch at a very busy rest area.
Even with the quick-lunch we pulled into McHood Park at noon and saw a few campsites were available. Luckily a prime spot by the water was open and we snagged it. Each site has a picnic table and trash can and the view of the lake was awesome. We set up pretty quickly and then enjoyed watching the fish and many birds around the lake. It was windy, which drove me inside, but Lee enjoys the wind and stayed out for a while. He also went and found a geocache in the area which gave me a chance to do some blogging.
View from our campsite
Several fish were spawning really close to us.
These guys were huge. Maybe catfish?
The American Coot’s were going crazy eating the eggs. I learned these are not actually ducks, but birds.
The trees were full of several types of birds including this Yellow-rumped Warbler. A first for me
Later we saw some boats come by, but no one fishing from them. At least the water is deep enough for a kayak if we decided to try it. It’s really pretty, but need the wind to die down a bit.
The sun was bright all day and our batteries were fully charged so we closed the windows when it started to get chilly to keep the heat in the RV. Our camper holds heat well and it was nice and pleasant all the way until we got to bed. It was chilly in the morning, about 38 degrees, but Lee had built a fire ring the night before and started a fire, which helped take the chill off. Then we took quick showers and headed out for breakfast at The Turquoise Room.
Lee built this fire ring by gathering a few rocks from all over the campground.
Lee watching the sun come up at 6am. The birds were in a frenzy of mating activity.
I reached out to our friend Deb to tell her we were in Winslow and she recommended one of their favorite breakfast spots. The Turquoise Room is in the La Posada Hotel, which is the last open hotel of the Harvey Railroad chain. It is an amazingly nice hotel and the restaurant is very pricey, but we thought the treat would be worth it since it came so highly recommended. The coffee for example is $3.50 a cup, but it was an excellent cup of coffee. Much better than what you would pay similar prices for at Starbucks. The breakfast was reasonably priced at $10.50, but was a mixed bag. The sausage and bacon were mediocre, but the cooked potatoes were fantastic. They had chilies in them and even though I don’t usually like spicy food, the flavors were so delicate they were absolutely delicious. My main complaint was we only received one slice of sour dough toast and when it came out it was cold. I’m OK with occasionally splurging on a meal, but I expect it to be practically perfect in those cases. The ambiance couldn’t be beat though, and our waiter was excellent, so if you have the means and you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth trying. They had a really nice dinner menu, but the entrees start at $32 and that was just out of our price range. Breakfast was $32 plus tip. We were curious about how this place could keep going since Winslow seems a bit depressed, but we were told by a local that the main railroad hub is in town and many railroad executives come through here.
The courtyard had lots of cool animal statues
Loved the architecture
This fountain was really neat
The gist shop was amazing, but not surprisingly pricey
Almost lost Lee in this specialized bookstore
The hotel was full of antiques. I loved this clock. The lobby and restaurant also had $2,200 Navajo blankets hanging on the walls for sale
The restaurant tile was amazing
The glass was very thick so even though there were trains running outside you couldn’t hear them
My favorite was these amazing lamps and the turquoise colored beams
The potatoes on the top of the plate were awesome. You can see my one slice of toast 🙂
Really good coffee and I liked the cup
After we ate we drove down to the “Standin On The Corner” park, and I was super excited. As someone who adores Roadside Attractions, this was a great one, and taking a picture with the statue of the anonymous man and the other, newer statue of Glenn Fry, and listening to “Take it Easy” played on the corner area was awesome. Plus we got there earlier enough there were few people and were able to take all the pictures we wanted. Here are a couple of my favorites.
Great statue. Check out the mural painting in the background, which is designed to look like a store window with a reflection of the flat-bed Ford from the song, with a girl “slowing down to take a look at me”. And below, the actual flat-bed Ford, sans girl. It’s a pretty neat effect.
Me and the flatbed Ford
We also stopped at another great Route 66 gift shop and I had to get a T-Shirt. It may be one of my favorites since coming on the road and I’ll make sure I point it out when I wear it in future posts. The owner of the gift shop was incredibly nice and was career Army and then he did a stint in the Air Force. Really nice man and I was pretty happy to give him my money since his merchandise was unique and his prices were reasonable. Plus, nice goes a long way with me.
Next up on the Roadside Attraction tour was the nearby Meteor Crater. Lee had stopped here many years ago to see it, but it is much changed since that visit. They have improved the visitors center and added a movie, but they are also now charging $18 a person to get in. We almost didn’t pay it, but I was on a high from our last stop, so we went ahead and went in. It is a cool site, because it is the first crater proven to be caused by a meteor impact (prior to the 1950’s scientists thought they were from volcanoes) and was also used by astronauts to simulate conditions for the moon landings. We enjoyed it and the movie was particularly good, but I still think the price was way too steep. So my advice is if you will only see it as a hole in the ground definitely skip it, but if you are interested in the phenomenon and its historical significance check it out. We found it pretty interesting. Definitely watch the short movie before you see the crater.
Visitors center for MEteor Crater had a very nice gift shop, Subway, courtyards, museum with lots of exhibits, and a good movie
Piece of the original meteorite that hit is at 26,000 mph. They explained ta plane moving at this speed would get you from LA to NYC in 5 minutes
It’s a multi level complex and this was the first viewing area
It was greener than I expected and the bottom has a shaft for research. They don’t allow anyone but scientists on the bottom
Really hard to show the size of it. The square rock (top center) for example is as big as a house and the crater could hold 20 football fields next to each other with a stadium of 2 million people. It’s big
Check out the little man-sized space person and flag in the middle right to give you a feel of the scope
The sides were amazing. I kept thinking of Independence day with the space ship plowed into the ground. Looked kind of like that, only real.
Short walk down to this platform
These viewpoints were great. Each one was labeled and the scopes were locked in place to give you a better view of things at the bottom
The third tier was pretty steep, but the hand rail had sandpaper grips on it
Lee’s Panoramic from the middle level
Picture of us at the top
The parking lot had plenty of RV parking
Loved how they left this part of the wall out so you can look at the mountains
One last roadside attraction was down the road a little bit and was the ruins of Two Guns. If you are curious where I find these places, I am a huge fan of Roadside America, which you can either see for free online or pay a very reasonable $5.99 for the phone app. I love it and use it all the time. The story behind this place was a little confusing because multiple things have sat on this land so I will share what a local we met, Chris told us. The land was part of a wild west town in the 1800’s, but in the 1930’s two men built a complex which included a zoo, hotel, and other attractions. When the venture started to get into financial trouble, one partner killed the other than sold the property. The new property owner found the dead partner in a shallow grave on the land and that is why people think it’s haunted.
The zoo had desert animals and featured mountain lions
Very cool canyon that splits and the attraction sat between both of them
This bridge is still open to drive over but I wouldn’t recommend it
We walked instead although I still had my doubts
Lee found a geocache!
The barbed wire is mostly pulled down so you can walk anywhere but be careful
What’s left of part of the hotel
The top of this stair for example was all rotted wood. Cool though
It was a Route 66 attraction, but eventually went the way many of them did and now it is just ruins. We had a great time walking around and I had to get a little creative with some of the pics, because the place called for it, but it’s very picturesque. After we were done, Lee brought me back and I did some blogging, but he ate some lunch and headed back out with the drone. I am happy to wait while he drones, but he would rather take his time and a little alone time isn’t the worst thing. Plus this was a 320 picture day and those take a while to go through so I was happy for some computer time to get caught up. Plus I got to play with sepia tones a bit.
It was a great day, $100 between breakfast, the meteor admission, T-shirts, and magnets, but a great day nonetheless We need to have these “touristy” days every once in a while, and we thankfully we have the budget for it.
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