We awoke from the hell that was the Hualapai Lodge on day 3 and managed to get out by checkout time. The trend on the trip quickly became "get out quick before they charge us for another day". We loaded the 100 Pounds of baggage into the car with no A/C, jumped back on Route 66 and continued our 12 day trip across the US.
Day 3 was one of the most packed on the whole trip and had multiple stops. Our first stop was about 1/2 an hour east at the Grand Canyon Caverns.
This stop was well worth the cover price -- which I think was about 40 bucks for the four of us. Bring a flashlight if you go, it makes things easier to see. They load you into an elevator and take you 21 stories underground into this massive cavern that has incredible rock formations in it. The guide was great and explained everything, including the fact that it use to be designated an evacuation location or fallout shelter and there's still giant cans of supplies in there from the 50's or 60's. The tour is anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.
When they were initially exploring the caverns they found a preserved bobcat from the 1850's that hadn't deteriorated because of the lack of germs and a giant sloth's claw from the dinosaur age. The bobcat remains there and they have a reproduction, to scale, of a giant sloth right where they found the claw. I'm not into rocks, but they had some incredible formations that exist in only few places on Earth and it was both awe inspiring and beautiful.
|Giant Sloth||1850 Bobcat Corpse||Helictites||Snowball Palace|
|Click Images To Enlarge|
I was so interested in things that the guide even offered me a job as a tour guide if I wanted to stay there in Arizona. I declined, but it would make a fascinating life for a year or so. We had a family from England in our group, so I'm sure they have people from all over the world come there. It used to be a Route 66 classic stop before I-40 routed around it.
We hopped into the car and headed east hooking back up with the I-40 and towards Flagstaff. It took about 2 hours I think. We took 64 north and drove the hour up to the Grand Canyon. If you're going to hit several national parks on your trip it's worth getting the national park pass. It's good for a year and gives you free entry into all the national parks. It's about 50 bucks so we bought one and it saved us money later on in the trip.
What can I say about the Grand Canyon other than it scared the crap out of me! I have a minor fear of heights as it is and this thing was just massive. The "rails" seem all old and rusty and are right on the very edge of the canyon. Hell, there are parts without rails! One step forward and you drop like a mile or something straight down.
It was simply amazing though and one of the most incredible things and was quite beautiful when I could get up the courage to sneak on my hands and knees to the edge and take a look. Meanwhile my two kids were running around like a couple of monkeys and giving me a heart attack the way they would jump around next to the edge of a one-mile cliff!
You see that white edge just past the railing at the bottom of the picture above? You step there and you're toast.
|The Grand Canyon||Digger Crapping His Pants||Crazy People, There's No Rails!|
|Click Images To Enlarge|
Don't get me wrong, it was well worth it. I was just scared to death most of the time I was there.
We spent about an hour and a half there stopping at a couple of the viewpoints and then headed back south for an hours drive and then back on I-40 east for about an hour and a half to reach a place called Two Guns, Arizona. Just past there you come upon the Meteor Crater. This massive hole, while not as big as the horrifying Grand Canyon, was still impressive.
It's over 4,000 feet across and 550 feet deep and was created by a meteor impact millions of years ago. There's a 1,400 Pound piece of the meteor in the lobby area of the museum along with some interactive computer simulations and a movie about the impact. Astronauts used to do moon training for the Apollo mission in the crater because of it's similarity to conditions on the moon. They have an original test capsule from the Apollo mission and the American Astronaut Wall of Fame with all the missions listed on it and who was on them in a courtyard area.
|A panorama of the meteor crater -click to enlarge|
|Digger at the capsule||A strange rock||Digger on the rocks||Arizona Sunset|
|Click Images To Enlarge|
I really loved Arizona. The landscape was beautiful and they had a lot of these flat red rocks that I found curiously appealing to me. You can see them in the image above. The sunset was also impressive. The one above was taken by my daughter through the back window while we were driving.
We made our way east on I-40 again about an hour to Holbrook, Arizona where we managed to snag the last room available at our planned stop...the Wigwam Motel! I suppose there's a lot of people who don't know about the Wigwam Motel (or Wigwam Village as I remember it being called), but it really is cool. It was a Route 66 staple and if you get the chance you just have to stay in one. It's cheap too, I think it was only 40 bucks a night.
You sleep in a concrete teepee that has everything a normal hotel room has including a TV, bed, shower, A/C unit, etc. We ended up having to use our air mattress because the only room left was a single bed, but the kids were more than willing to sleep on it because they were so excited (plus the mattress is electric and self-inflating so I didn't have to hyperventilate blowing it up). The interior reminded me of the Smurfs with a little bed and little window on the side. I have to admit that I was a little giddy about sleeping there too.
I was out smoking a cigarette at about 9:30PM leaning against the teepee when this older lady pulls up in a car and gets out. She seemed amazed at the Wigwam Motel and started asking me about it. The office had closed and I told her we had managed to get the last room. She asked if she could see inside, but I told her my family was getting ready for bed and that I was sorry, but I couldn't. I kind of feel bad at not letting this fascinated woman have a look inside. I could tell she really, really wanted to see what it was like.
|Our wigwam at night||The bed|
|Click above to enlarge.|
We took showers, watched a little TV and then hit the rack. An eventful day 3 had come to an end and we were pooped. We rested well in the little bed and awoke for day 4 of our journey.