Arizona 2020:
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Arizona 2020: [Day 1 - Driving] [Day 2 - Mesa] [Day 3 - Mesa] [Day 4 - Mesa] [Day 5 - Mesa] [Day 6 - Driving] [Day 7 - Driving]

Sunday, April 26, 2020: We checked out of the Staybridge Suites ...
... loaded up the van (which was much more full than on the trip out), ...
... and were on the road by 8:15 AM. Did we go to Del Taco for breakfast? Nope!
BoSa Donuts was our reward for a job well done.
It looked a little different than Debbie's visit last summer: plexiglass shields above the donut displays and a touchless payment system on the table out front, plus a mark on the floor where to stand to wait your turn.
Then we were off to our first sightseeing destination of the day: ...
... Gammage Auditorium on the Arizona State University campus, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Here's another view, ...
... and a little closer look at the details.
It's a working auditorium, but obviously, it was currently closed. This street was lined with banners of shows that would be shown there this season, in theory. That pink banner indicated that "Mean Girls" would have been showing there right now if not for the pandemic.
Here's another pair of buildings next to the auditorium which seem deliberately designed to match Gammage.
Our next visit was the Arizona Biltmore. Frank Lloyd Wright's influence was immediately obvious in the welcome sign, ...
... and entrance security gate. To reach the resort, we had to drive down a boulevard lined by very expensive homes.
This one is billed as a Frank Lloyd Wright design by his protege. What does that mean? FLW designed it? FLW let his protege design it after fetching him coffee? No idea, but this beauty last sold for a cool $2.5 million.
At the end of the boulevard, ...
... a sign welcomed us ...
... just before we crossed over a canal. FLW-style touches were evident everywhere.
We pulled into this parking lot ...
... but were prevented from turning left to drive in front of the resort because it was closed. Closed! So unfair.
So, we did a U-turn, went back over the canal, ...
... and tried to catch a peek from a distance.
This sign sadly informs us that the Arizona Biltmore is currently closed to anyone but authorized personnel. Apparently, the woman on the left and her dog qualify as "authorized personnel."
So we drove back down the rich people boulevard, ...
... and got a slightly closer look at the FLW-ish house.
We had a bit of a drive to our next FLW destination, so it was time to open the magic box of donuts.
Oh, yes, so beautiful. Their glazed donuts are perfection. Well, really, all of their donuts are amazing. We had brought frozen bottles of milk along in our cooler and they had finally thawed, so we treated ourselves to one of them with our breakfast.
It was 9:45 by the time we rolled up to Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard in Scottsdale.
After seeing this FLW-designed spire from a distance twice, it was time to finally see it up close.
It is located in the corner of a shopping center. To reach it, you pass a lovely sculpture (titled "Aiming for the Mark") and fountain.
Here it is. Designed by Wright in 1954 for a different purpose, it was eventually reworked for use as a focal point for the Promenade Shopping Center in 2004.
A triangle reflecting pool sits at its base, ...
... with blooming cactus plants off to the left.
This beauty lights up at night, so we'll have to come back someday to see that up close. We had already seen it in 2017 from a very blurry distance.
This FLW-inspired bus stop is nearby.
Our final stop before leaving town was getting some cash from an ATM. We weren't using much cash on this trip for obvious health reasons, but we were getting low.
Finally, we were truly on our way out of the greater Phoenix area.
We were still amazed by the prices of gas in Arizona. It's like every gas station in the state banded together to keep their prices over $2.50/gallon when every other state on our route had gas well below $2.00.

Here's another variation on Arizona's highway messages:

Stay home
Stop the spread
of COVID-19

A few minutes up the road was Sunset Point Rest Area, where people were clearly not staying home. In fact, food trucks were stationed here to serve the many people who were visiting the nearby recreation areas.
Tom spotted this empty eggshell and declared it a rattlesnake egg. (It's not.)
But what would give him that idea? Perhaps this sign that warns about poisonous snakes and insects nearby? We laugh every time we see this incorrect sign: "Better not eat 'em!" Hey, State of Arizona: if you change "poisonous" to "venomous," we will stop mocking this sign.
We made a couple of attempts to duplicate a photo of Debbie taken here in 1994. One with her mask, ....
... and another without the mask but with a slightly better-matching angle. It turned out to be a much better match to the 1994 version than the one we took here in 2018.
Only one rest room facility was open and it was a single-seater, so we waited in line with plenty of space between us and the people waiting in front of us.
Bug! This was a big one.
Here's one of the food trucks. No thanks; maybe next time.
Here's the view as we descended into Verde Valley.
Debbie and Doug had been texting during their drive and we determined that they were about 20 minutes further up the same road. When Doug sent this picture, ...
... we responded with our own twenty minutes later. Even though we already knew that the Grand Canyon was closed, it still hurt to be reminded of it. It hurt deep. A mile deep.
Elk crossing? Giant deer? We felt confident calling this elk until we saw the other probably-elk sign earlier in our trip.
There's a closed rest area. Bummer.
How nice of them to name a canyon after our granddaughter!
We stopped for gas just outside of Flagstaff and got to drive on John Wesley Powell Blvd. He's kind of a hero in the Grand Canyon part of the country.
At the gas station, we paid that ridiculous Arizona price for gas and once again noted the lack of face masks on Arizona residents.
As always, Tom cleaned the windshield. He's a good man.
That gorgeous peak near Flagstaff is Mount Elden, part of the San Francisco Peaks mountain range.
Doug sent this picture of the exit to Page, Arizona and Debbie wanted to follow them there so badly.
Twenty minutes later, we took our own photo and ended up taking this exit as well, ...
... because it was time for lunch at Del Taco.
It was our last chance to eat there and we weren't even close to sick of it yet, so we logged our fifth Del Taco meal of the trip.
After lunch, we got back on the road and did not follow Doug and Susan to Page. Instead, we headed east on US-40. The Twin Arrows Casino electronic billboard was displaying variations on the warnings we had seen urging all residents of the Navajo Nation to take precautions ...
... and stay home.
As we neared very-closed Meteor Crater, we turned into 1610 AM for info as advised, but nothing was being broadcast.
There it is in the distance. We'll get there someday but today was not that day.
Instead, we settled for a stop at the nearby rest area which was nearly deserted. We grabbed some snacks from the vending machine, washed our hands like we were prepping for surgery, ...
... then walked for a few minutes through the nearby rocks. Yes, that's another incorrect sign warning against poisonous creatures.
At the top of the surrounding rocks, we got another peek at the meteor crater walls in the distance. Nope, not that pile of rocks in the foreground -- look at the horizon. There.
We passed a little highway mishap. Fortunately, the resulting traffic slowdown was completely resolved during our brief stop at the rest area so we sailed right on past it.
This area of the country is dotted with fading or abandoned tourist stops that feature teepees.
We arrived in Winslow, Arizona close to 2:00 PM.
They take their bike route very seriously here. This road contained bicycle crossing signs every few hundred feet for at least a mile.
We were here to see the famous "Standin' on the Corner" display. A few people were milling about without masks on so we waited until they moved on.
We parked next to this closed gift shop. It was still piping Eagles songs through its sound system and we felt bad for local residents who can't escape the Eagles ever.
A notice was taped to the front door noting that the mayor of Winslow had declared a local emergency and ordered non-essential establishments closed from March 21 through April 3. Presumably, this order had been renewed since it was now April 26 and no update had been posted.
Here's the classic shot of the corner, ...
... and here's our improvement on it, with masked Tom standing on the corner.
The mural behind this sculpture shows a girl ...
... in a flatbed Ford reflected in a painted window.
Sure enough, there's a flatbed Ford parked out front.
Here's a closer look at the Standin' on the Corner sculpture, installed along with the rest of the little park in 1999.
Off to the right is a sculpture of Glenn Frey, added to the park in 2016 after his death.
We headed back to our car and passed more closed gift shops.
Like many other stores in the world, a sign was taped to its front door noting that it was closed but this one had some creativity and offered an option to purchase souvenirs by contacting the owners directly.
A map of historic Route 66 was painted on one of the windows of the shop.
On the outskirts of town is a small park with a Remembrance Garden featuring two pieces of beam from the World Trade Center. A train rolled past as we got the photo.
Just outside of town, we crossed the Little Colorado River as it meandered its way to meet up with the mighty Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. It's easy to see why the water is so silty by the time it converges with the Colorado.
Another train, another Maersk container (or two).
We passed the Holbrook Welcomes You sign, completing the loop through Arizona that we had started four days earlier.
We passed lots of interesting landscape.
If we are getting close to Stewart's Rock Shop, we must also be getting close to ...
... Petrified Forest National Park. The entrance was right by the freeway so we went there even though we knew the park was closed.
We were rewarded with the opportunity to see some petrified wood up close.
But yeah, it was definitely closed.
So very closed.
We continued east. This highway sign noted that the Navajo Nation had enacted a weekend-long curfew for its residents.
Meanwhile, Doug and Susan were almost to Page. Debbie texted them a recommendation that they stop at Horseshoe Bend, so they did.
When we were there in 2017, there were no barriers at the edge of the canyon, but Doug's photo showed that there were now.
Anyway, back to our drive. We passed the run down remains of Fort Courage, a tourist attraction based on the 60s TV show, "F Troop."
There's more gorgeous scenery near the New Mexico border.
Another closed rest area. Yawn.
New Mexico True Welcomes You.
There are those cool caves that mark the Arizona border.
Huh, there are teepees up there. Apparently, it's a tried and true technique to capture tourist attention.
We were back in the land of New Mexico freeway signs.
Oooh, let's stay at the El Rancho Hotel where the movie stars stayed! Back in the day, many movies were filmed in the New Mexico desert, and the movie stars would sometimes stay at the El Rancho in Gallup.
Another elk crossing sign! This elk is clearly on the move compared to the elk crossing sign we saw on the trip out.
This time, we got a photo of the Continental Divide sign. While crossing relatively flat terrain, it is easy to forget that we were at 7,275 feet of elevation.
As we neared El Malpais National Monument, ...
... we spotted more examples of old volcanic activity: the distinctive lava columns that can be more famously seen at Devil's Tower and Giant's Causeway.
We passed by the Puebla of Acoma and every road into the area was blocked with a sign noting that it was closed to all non-residents. Hat tip to them for a smart move.
Here's some cool overpass art.
Rest area: closed.
Even though Sky City Casino & Hotel was closed, ...
... their gas station was open and offered some attractive non-Arizona prices.
Here's the Khe Sanh Bridge, named for a region in Vietnam.
Some local residents were out flying kites, keeping a good distance apart.
More pretty scenery.
A wind sock measured the intensity of the wind created by the wind tunnel cut into the stone for the road.
There's some unusual geology.
Debbie can't help looking at small RVs. So pretty.
More interesting geology: see how the ridges in the left side of mesa slope down to the right, while the ridges on the right side slope down to the left? It take millions and millions of years to create that effect.
How do you attract attention to your closed hotel and casino when there aren't many drivers on the road? Tell everyone that your Dairy Queen is open!
We were starting to approach Albuquerque. Flat valley stretched off into the distance up to the Sandia Mountains.
There it is. Let's go there.
We passed a heavily attended off-road race course. No masks, no social distancing, just groups of people hanging out. Sigh.
Interesting highway art: a rabbit with a bow tie. Why not?
And now for the parade of many pandemic-specific billboards. Route 66 Casino had several electronic billboards around Albuquerque. Here, they are thanking HOSPITALS for HELPING all of us!
Wash Your Hands.
OK, this isn't virus-related but it is hilarious: ¡Muchos Ochos!
"Because you stayed home, she didn't need three more ventilators. Life is worth the wait."
Route 66 Casino was now thanking GROCERS for keeping us STOCKED!
It's impossible to not photograph every Top Golf we see.
The Downs told us: "Be Safe. See You Soon!"
"Because you stayed home, he didn't have to tell a family the worst news. Life is worth the wait."
Black Mesa Casino noted they they were temporarily closed.
At $1.24, this was the cheapest gas price we had photographed. (Tom had seen $1.15/gallon in the middle of the night on our trip out.)
We were heading to Santa Fe, racing against time to try to see the Santa Fe Opera building before it got dark.
We were willing to lose a couple of minutes to take a badly-needed stop at this deserted rest area.
Twenty minutes to sunset. Would we make it?
Nice overpass artwork.
A coyote ran across the road in front of us, so Tom did his best coyote impression to note the experience. He's done this before.
This area is covered with adobe-colored buildings, but this series of buildings was the loudest, most terrifying combination of oranges we had ever seen. A shame that the low light conditions couldn't quite convey the horror.
More overpass art, ...
... and more, ...
... and still more at the exit to the Santa Fe Opera.
We arrived 10 minutes after sunset, but we were prevented from getting near the opera house by a locked gate, ...
... so we got back on the highway and raced north to the next exit. There's a blurry glimpse of the opera house.
Nope. Denied. The other gate was also locked. Was it locked because of the pandemic or is it always locked when it isn't open for performances? No idea. But it is no big loss because it wasn't until after we returned that we learned that the gorgeous building Debbie had seen in 1976 had been torn down and replaced 22 years earlier.
So we backtracked to Santa Fe, ...
... and enjoyed a magnificent sunset as we headed out the east side of Santa Fe.
Meanwhile, Doug and Susan had gotten to their hotel and were delighted to find a picture of Horseshoe Bend in their room where they had been just hours earlier.
Shortly after, we arrived at the Super 8 in Las Vegas, New Mexico. We either arrived 15 minutes or six weeks too late for the Super Delicious Hot Soup that is served until 9:00 PM each evening.
Debbie had to sign a form upon check-in verifying that her travel was essential and within the guidelines of the state of New Mexico.
The small lobby area was taped off, ...
... and signs were posted throughout the hotel as a result of the pandemic.
When Debbie was young, her family was on a road trip to Arizona and had driven through the night. Her dad woke up her and her brother, asking them if they wanted to see Las Vegas. They were disappointed to find that it was not the Las Vegas they were expecting. This time, we were expecting nothing more than a comfortable place to sleep.

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Arizona 2020: [Day 1 - Driving] [Day 2 - Mesa] [Day 3 - Mesa] [Day 4 - Mesa] [Day 5 - Mesa] [Day 6 - Driving] [Day 7 - Driving] [Main] [Contact Us] [Events] [Family] [Fun] [Garden] [Misc.] [Photos] [Search] [Site Index] [Travel]

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