Posts Tagged ‘Petrified Forest’

Part 4: On the Road with David and Sandy – The desert nomads

You know how you envision a cheap-y motel on the outskirts of a small desert town (especially one adorned with pink neon)?  Well, the room is even funnier.

The temperature outside at 11 p.m. in Gallup, NM, was about 40 degrees – inside the room was maybe 10 degrees warmer.  The décor was all velvet-painting-meets-Southwest ugly and…there was only one bed.  Now David and I were great friends, we were tired and cold and hadn’t slept in a bed in 2 nights, but it was still kind of awkward.  He was gay and I was a straight mother of two grown children.  We were too weary to quibble about it, just jumped under the covers turned our backs to each other and clung to our sides of the bed.  I remember hearing him say, as I dozed off:  “if you roll over and touch me, I’ll scream like a girl!”  I reminded him of the manager’s warning and we both drifted off to sleep.

The next morning we decided to find a nice local coffee shop for breakfast and located one that looked promising – lots of cars in the parking lot, so it must be good, right?  When we walked in, we felt every eye in the place on us.  We were in a strictly local native-American diner and the food and service was great. However, I guess we weren’t exactly a couple they typically served every day!

Anyway, after breakfast, we were back on the highway and decided to take a side trip through the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest.  Stopped in to the visitors’ center, bought a few post cards and a handful of semi-precious stones (which would prove to be my favorite souvenir throughout the trip) and watched a movie on conserving the environment.  In other words, don’t steal the petrified wood.  Drove around a bit, looking at  trees-turned-to-stone on the ground and some beautiful and colorful scenery.

Shortly after we returned to the main highway, we had a flat tire!  We both tried to loosen the lug nuts and replace the tire with the spare, but didn’t have a whole lot of luck. Looking forward on Interstate 40 and behind us, we were literally in the middle of nowhere.  Very few vehicles passed us and there weren’t even any billboards to help us gauge where we were!

Thankfully, we had a borrowed cell phone from friends (this was before I had one of my own) and were able to call AAA for assistance.  We waited for an hour or so, playing backgammon in the car and sweating profusely in the mid-day desert sun.  Eventually a truck pulled up and the driver said he would place our car on the flatbed of his truck and take us to the nearest town where we could get the tire repaired.

AAA to the Rescue

That town was Holbrook, Arizona, home of the WigWam Motel (“sleep in a tee pee”).  The gas station where the AAA guy was assigned said they weren’t able to repair the tire and we would have to buy a new one – which of course they did not carry.

Our driver piled us back into the front seat of his truck and drove us over 100 miles to Flagstaff.  He said he wanted to take a drive anyway and regaled us with stories of the Arizona desert, the UFO sightings, his wife, and finally dropped us off at the Flagstaff Mall and a Sears store where we were able to purchase – of course – two tires.

Our goal for this particular day was the Grand Canyon and it was an absolute must on David’s list of places he wanted to see.  The guys in the tire department showed us a shortcut to the canyon and we arrived at the south rim in time to enjoy the awesomeness of the place and to see a fabulous sunset.

I’m not sure which was more inspiring:  the Grand Canyon in all its glory, or the look on David’s face when he realized he had reached this wonder of nature that he had always wanted to see!  Another miracle on this journey of miracles.

We made it!

To be continued…

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