Thanks to no internet last night, we spent a little time at McDonald’s so we could use the free WiFi. The kids had a great time playing on the play place so it worked out well for everyone I suppose. After McDonald’s, we headed over to the El Rancho, a Gallup motel famous for hosting many Hollywood stars back in its heyday. The inside was pretty cool and totally had the lodge-motel feel.
After that, it was back on the road. We wanted to stop at the Chief Yellowhorse Trading Post that sits on the New Mexico-Arizona border, but it was closed. So we headed into Arizona.
We wanted to stay on the old road, but just past Houck, AZ, the road was flooded. We decided not to take the chance of whether we could make it across, so we took the newer alignment that runs with the interstate. We saw the Querino Canyon Bridge from the interstate and headed off to check it out. Of course, wouldn’t you know, when we got over there, there were city workers doing maintenance to the bridge. I guess it really didn’t matter though, because the wind today was ridiculous. I thought I was going to blow away.
As we continued on, we were headed for the 66 Diner in Sanders, AZ. It’s an eclectic diner that is actually constructed from a house, a mobile home, and a vintage Valentine diner. We stopped in for cheeseburgers and a chocolate milkshake. The food was very good, but fair warning, the 66 burger which is 3/4 pound is HUGE!
After lunch, our next stop was the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. We decided to first take the old alignment off of Pinta Road so we could see the ruins of the Painted Desert Trading Post. When we got onto the dirt road though it was still a little soft. So we opted for the newer route to avoid getting stuck in the middle of the desert.
Our next stop was the Petrified Forest National Park. The first section of the park is where you get to see the Painted Desert. It was absolutely gorgeous. We stopped at several of the pullouts to check out the view. It did make me a little nervous as some of the stops didn’t have guardrails. So the kids mostly enjoyed the view from the car because, well, I’d like to get back home with 3 kids.
When we got to the Petrified Forest section of the park, it was not quite as spectacular a view as the Painted Desert was. Toward the end of the park, we found some walking trails. Lia was sleeping, so I stayed in the car with her while Josh and the kids headed out on the trail.
Poor Ava fell on the trail and busted her knees and one elbow pretty bad. Josh had to carry her most of the way back. Luckily it wasn’t anything a few bandaids, some kisses, and fruit snacks couldn’t cure. But of course, we are having family pictures taken next week.
Outside of the park, we saw a huge billboard for Dinosaur Park. We decided to head there, even though it was a few miles back East. We got there and it doesn’t exist anymore. Go figure. You’d think they would take down the billboard.
We headed back to Holbrook. The Rock Shop there has a big collection of dinosaurs so we stopped there instead. We didn’t actually go inside because they actually sell rocks.
The other big draw in Holbrook is the Wigwam Motel. If we didn’t need to get to Flagstaff tonight, we would have stayed there. The lady at the desk was nice enough to let us check them out even though we weren’t staying the night. The kids got a big kick out of seeing them.
Back on the road, we headed for Joseph City to see the Jack Rabbit Trading Post. It’s famous on Route 66 for the billboards with a giant jack rabbit. And they have a 12 foot tall giant jack rabbit out front for kids to climb on.
Heading down the road, we drove through Winslow, AZ made famous by the Eagles song Take It Easy (Note: I keep telling Jenny that Jackson Browne wrote the song, but she always forgets that). A little further along, we stopped off at the Meteor City Trading Post which boasts the world’s longest map of Route 66. It was fun to see all the major attractions we’ve seen immortalized in the cartoon map.
Next up, we wanted to hit up the Meteor Crater Museum. We got there at 5:15 pm and they closed at 5 pm. If only Arizona recognized Daylight Savings we would have made it with plenty of time to spare. We did see some super cool rocks on the way up though. So we stopped on the way back down the hill so the kids could climb on them for a little bit.
We also stopped by the ruins of the old American Meteorite Museum. Going through Two Guns, AZ we stopped briefly to see the ruins of the old zoo. There’s still a sign there for mountain lions.
It’s a bit of a bummer, but you can’t really drive much on the oldest alignments of Route 66 here in Arizona. Most of the old roads are either not drivable or completely gone or on private property. The route follows the newer alignment which runs with I-40. You can pick up the older alignment through Winona to Flagstaff though, and that’s just what we did. We passed by the Walnut Creek Bridge, which you can no longer drive on, but still remains for people to see as they drive by.
There’s not much to see as you drive through Winona, though it goes almost immediately from barren, desert land to forest area. And the trees are absolutely gorgeous! We continued on through the tiny town, into Flagstaff, and headed to our hotel.
Tomorrow, we are headed for Oatman, AZ. It’s an old mining town inhabited by burros. I don’t know where we’ll stay, but that’s where we’re headed!
Things I learned today:
1. Max has learned how to pronounce all the really hard dinosaur names like brachiosaurus and nanotyrannus from the phonetic spelling in the coloring book we bought at the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum. I can’t even pronounce some of those.
2. Ava asked what day it was. When we said Thursday, Max said, “I’m supposed to have school today, but I didn’t go.”. Oops! I guess he is missing the last 3 1/2 weeks of school, but it’s only preschool.
3. My kids love to be tickled, especially when they are in their car seats. They yell, “tickle me!” then I do. Then they yell “stop!” while giggling. Then they yell “again!”. It’s a fun game.
4. Max fakes us out every time he says “I see where we are going!” We immediately start looking around for whatever attraction we’re headed to, and then we realize that he ‘sees’ the flag on the GPS.
5. Lia must think someone is going to steal her paci out of the car. Every time we get out of the car, she insists that I put her paci in my purse. You know, just in case.
6. So this part of the post has really deviated a lot from ‘Things I Learned Today’ to ‘Interesting Things that Happened Today’. Maybe that’s because I already know everything. Maybe.
7. Max REALLY loves Ava. Tonight, when I was cleaning up her knees, she was screaming and crying. He was so concerned and looked like he might cry himself. He was hugging her and kissing her arm. It was super sweet.
El Rancho Motel, Gallup, NM 4 stars – We didn’t spend the night here, though I wish we had. It HAS to be better than the Travel Centers of America. The place looked really cool on the inside AND they didn’t get mad at my kids who were running in circles (imagine that, right?) on the top floor. Definitely worth popping in to see the lobby. Thanks for the heads up on this one Anthony!
66 Diner, Sanders, AZ 4 stars – The food was pretty good and the service was too. I had a regular cheeseburger, and for some strange reason, Josh decided to get the 66 burger which is 3/4 lb! It was ginormous too, a thin burger with a big circumference… way too big for the bun. And the chocolate shake we got (well, Josh ordered it, but he didn’t get to drink much) was awesome! I only got a few sips as well because Lia hogged it. The food was pretty pricey though and it cost us almost $30 for 2 burgers, a shake, and one lonely little hot dog the girls split.
Petrified Forest National Park, Holbrook, AZ 5 stars – This place was awesome! Now, you should have an idea of what you are going to see so that you are not disappointed. The Painted Desert is gorgeous. That’s the first half of the park. The second half is the Petrified Forest. Now, don’t expect to see an actual forest. This section consists of chunks of petrified wood all over the ground. Looking at it from the overlooks is not too thrilling. But Josh loved the trail. He, Max, & Ava walked one. We didn’t get to do anymore because Ava scraped her knees up pretty bad. Do be careful if you have little kids though as a lot of the overlooks do not have guard rails. The kids enjoyed the view mostly from the car.
Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, AZ 4 stars – We didn’t actually stay there, so I can’t vouch for that. But they looked awesome. And, the lady behind the counter even opened one up for us so the kids could take a peek. They were very friendly and I’m sad we couldn’t stay the night there.
JackRabbit Trading Post, Joseph City, AZ 3 stars – The kids really enjoyed the jack rabbit out front. And they had a nice gift shop with restrooms (but only if you are a paying customer). The bathrooms didn’t have a sink to wash your hands though. That was weird.
Motel 6, Flagstaff, AZ 4 stars – I have to say, I’m a little irked that we had to pay so much for this room. But all the hotels in the city were sold out because it is apparently graduation weekend, as well as Mother’s Day weekend. So, it was this or pay close to $100 for a suite somewhere. So, I won’t complain too much. The room is clean and the WiFi actually works!
Note: All picture comments are from Josh.
Jenny has a LOT of guide books 🙂
I was bummed that the Pancake House wasn’t open anymore 🙁
I love the way Ava is looking at her big brother in this one.
Flying on a windy day is always fun. Shortly after these pictures, Ava fell and hurt herself pretty bad. I carried her over half a mile back to the car. Poor girl.
Sunsets here are just a tad more orange than in Kansas City.