Friday, August 19, 2011

WEST and wee-wax-sation

Well, I'm back from a week's vacation with the family! Our destination was the beautiful state of Arizona. I'm in love with it. The terrain is stunning, the history is rich and the climate is perfect! Now - I must confess, we did not take the little camper. Even though I did work on the make-over, we decided to do something different for this trip. We decided to wing it!

Our first stop was Tombstone Arizona, site of the infamous 'shootout at the OK corral'. Daddy McD was disappointed that he didn't stumble upon a ragged, dusty, forgotten ruin. It was a lively place with lots of shops and several activities.

There's a re-enactment that happens a couple of times a day at the actual site of the shoot out. There are the old buildings like the Birdcage Theater and the Saloon. There's a mini tour into the mine shafts. There are cafes to grab a bite in.  I made sure to get my picture with "Wyatt Earp"!

We spent the night in Tucson and moved on to the Sedona area.

But first, we headed to the 'ghost town' of Jerome...

....although it's not really a ghost town. It's populated by what seems to be a majority of artists. There were several galleries and many shops but take heart, there are preserved sites of the old Jerome left. We did, however, make a fun find when the kids insisted on getting out of the van to explore an adorable brook by the road. As I was aiming my camera to get their picture, I realized we were in front of a half buried "gangster car" as Daddy and Elvis McD like to call them.

 It was quite a fun surprise!

If you've never seen Sedona or the area, you are missing out on some of the most beautiful land on God's green earth....except it's red!

We took the kids to the aptly named Slide Rock State Park. The main attraction there (aside from the towering red rocks, of course) is Oak Creek which, with a smooth and slippery limestone bottom, makes for a great, natural water slide! I warn you of two things: the water is FREEZING and the creek bottom is truly slippery. I don't advise walking in the creek. Sit by the edge and scoot or crawl about. Your body will thank you for it.

It was so fun that even Daddy McD had to get in for a slide or two down the creek!

After our cool dip and slippery sliding, we headed to Monument Valley in the Navajo Nation. Majestic is the word that continues to cross my mind. The formations are awe-inspiring and well worth the drive!

Entrance into the Navajo National Park was surprisingly inexpensive. What was even more surprising was the lack of U.S. citizens. We saw German, Japanese, French, Italian and other peoples but hardly any folks appreciating the treasure in their own backyard. The picture here doesn't come near to showing the awesomeness of these natural monuments. A fun stop was a post manned by Navajos near Tuba City to show off some dino tracks. I didn't figure on being as delighted as I was to see them but it really was cool!
There was even a big ol' T-Rex track and it was awesome!

The next morning we headed down the road to some stops on the Mother Road; Route 66. We drove past Twin Arrows, which is now protected by cement barricades. We made an emergency restroom stop at the historic Jack Rabbit trading post ("Here it is!"). We stopped overnight in Holbrook AZ. Although it was booked solid, we walked over the the Pow Wow Motel to take pictures of the famous wigwams.

There are several vintage cars parked around the motel for effect. I think it's great to see the famous stops that we can see in the movies; particularly in the movie Cars. And The Pow-Wow plays it up with the various cars they display in the lot. There's a tow truck, a Hudson and several more!

Further down the road we found Tucumcari., while not quite as as 'alive' as Holbrook,  folks there are trying to give this old 66 town a revival. Several of the motels are in operation and there are a couple of places that light up their neon in the evening! As we drove through New Mexico and got closer to Texas, we looked for a few 66 ghost towns. What we found though, is that most of Route 66 is a gravel road now. But we did come across Glenrio.

It's a town that once straddled New Mexico and Texas with a half of the town in each state. While it's fun to find towns still on the map, there's something bittersweet about finding the ruins of an old time burg.

We ran into some other 66ers who were making the trek from California to Illinois following the Old Road. They kindly took our picture at the old Post Office before we parted ways.

But that wasn't our last Route 66 stop! We just HAD  to stop at the Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo.

Another landmark of Americana, we once again crossed travelers from very far away. Sadly, most visitors paint and just dump their spray cans there at the site. Chief McD and I have vowed to bring a couple of lawn bags with us next time...believe me there will be a next time.

We stopped at Palo Duro Canyon because it's a favorite of the kids. It's the second largest canyon in the nation next to, you guessed it, the Grand Canyon.

We let the kids do some climbing around as the rocks are so big and so fun. Narually, Pickles McD asked to get a Junior Ranger badge and Elvis followed suit.

Another cool stop was a 'stations of the cross' roadside attraction. Built by a grateful businessman, it displays full sized scenes of the 12 stations of the cross up to the crucifixion and including an empty tomb.

It's really neat, and serves as a nice stop for refelction. We saw a trucker or two there. It made for a nice end to our day before the night-long drive home.

It was a week jam-packed with kitsch, lots of history and miles of gorgeous scenery.Thinking of running away now!

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