America Eating Abroad

The Great American Desert

January 15, 2014

A couple of months ago I saw this article about Google or Apple developing new glasses which take photos. Exactly how they work- no idea, with blinks perhaps? Anyway, I didn’t read the article… kinda dismissed it as another fad gadget for tech enthusiasts or, dare I say it, perverts?! Well, now I change my mind- I want a pair. I’d probably manage to capture more of the quirky towns, snow capped forests, those seemingly endless deserts and post the photos quicker. It would have been particularly useful in this stretch of our road trip…

Death Valley– can be one of the hottest or coldest places depending on when you visit, we caught it on a pretty mild day. Starting at Furnace Creek, we stopped at Devil’s Golfcourse with all its lethal looking salt structures, then headed to Badwater Basin- the lowest point in the western hemisphere, and looped back round through Artist’s Drive for the pastel colours.

Desert_DeathValleyGrand Canyon– it was cold, there was a lot of careful stepping around the ice and snow from the car to the viewing platforms, but it was worth it. Clearly. Desert_GrandCanyonWe headed back to Flagstaff, our base for a couple of days; once known for being a stop on Route 66, now has the vibe of a trendy little university town surrounded by forests and mountains. It has an eco-conscious dining scene where every hip and happening place is all about telling you which farm your food came from and how sustainable it is. We had a hearty dinner at Criollo Latin Kitchen– grilled chicken with rice, and pork tenderloin with collard greens; packed with flavour and just the comforting meal we were craving after a day in the cold canyon. Desert_FlagstaffCriolloHeart of Arizona Drive– on Thanksgiving Day we took a scenic drive from Flagstaff through the forests to artsy, Western-themed Sedona, then up some windy desert hills to the mountain-side town of Jerome, and finally a stop at the ruins of Montezuma’s Castle. Nothing like a bit of breathtaking nature to remind you to be thankful.

Shame there was not much to be thankful for when it came to our turkey dinner; not that many places were open, the few that were did set menu dinners… which apparently get booked out. We managed to get a table at the Little America Hotel restaurant- dry turkey, spuds and gravy right from the packet, vegetables that were barely cooked, and freshly microwaved pie. You know it’s bad when the mass produced butternut squash soup is the highlight of the meal.

Desert_SedonaMonument Valley– it was foggy, the roads were wet and muddy, and Penelope was not a 4wd; all things which are not recommended for the 17 mile drive along the unpaved track around the national park. But hey, we thought we’d give it a go anyway… and slowly but surely, we manoeuvred the bumps and muddy puddles right into the scene of all those westerns.

Desert_MonumentValley2 Desert_MonumentValleyI’ll admit, yours truly had a couple of nervous-passenger moments, but a certain someone had it under control and we were rewarded with those stunning rusty red sights. After that we made a typical touristy stop at the Four Corners– a point where Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico meet, before calling it a day in Gallup, New Mexico. Another town on Route 66, not sure if it has much going for it these days, but at least we managed to find a semi-decent steak at Badlands Grill, seems to be a local favourite… if you’re into a dated rodeo theme.

Desert_BadlandsGrillSo you see why I changed my mind about the glasses. Are they actually on sale now? Those in the know may remember that it’s only been a couple of weeks since my birthday… I’m still accepting gifts, I don’t even mind that you’re a tad late. I’m good like that.

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