Quick Facts:

  • Distance Traveled: 436 miles
  • Lunch: Cracker Barrel, Kyle’s favorite restaurant
  • Books Listened To: Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
  • Altitude: 6,000 feet
  • Scary Thunderstorms Traveled Through: One
  • Hotel: Red Roof Inn in Gallup, New Mexico

Kyle and I took a trip to the Grand Canyon three years ago, so we decided to drive straight through Arizona this time around.


The weather, for most of the trip, was perfect–75 degrees with a pleasant wind. Arizona is beautiful with a giant sky and huge clouds and zillions of juniper bushes that spot the landscape like a never-ending Christmas tree farm. The highway signs kept telling me to look for elk and rams, but the only creature I saw was a dead coyote on the side of the road.

I did, however, see my first desert cactus.

At the end of the day, Kyle and I went to the painted desert and petrified forest. The painted desert was not as vibrant as it usually is because of a persistent thunder storm that had started about an hour beforehand. I still enjoyed the weird rock formations.

painted desert

Now the petrified forest was amazing. The trees, which are millions of years old, are gorgeous amalgamations of colors–red, yellow, white, black, orange. Sometimes it’s hard to believe they are stone. Other times, it’s hard to believe they were once trees.

tree root
A pile of rocks? No, the roots of an ancient tree.

The thunderstorm was the strangest one I have ever been in. Because the clouds were interrupted by the blue sky, you could see where it began and ended. As we drove into it, giant bolts of lightning twisted in the sky and when we got on the highway again, there was a giant rainbow that ended on the freeway. We drove right through it.

Then, it started to hail. Soon it was hailing so hard, I thought it was going to break through the window. Lightning was flashing all around us. I put my hands over my face and tried not to freak out. After awhile, I decided that if the hail was going to go through the window, it would have done it already and started to calm down.

Just then, a giant bolt of lightning streamed down and struck across the freeway. It was so close, we could see how the end of the lightning looked like a red poker when it struck. I more or less held my breath from then on, and finally, we came out of it. The sunset that night was amazing.


Tomorrow: Santa Fe.

2 thoughts on “Day Two: Gallup

  1. marcia

    I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon. I have family in Arizona and New Mexico, but have only done the quick family drop in. A driving trip would be perfect, since I think the desert is too boring for a vacation, but beautiful. Sorry, desert people, it’s true.

  2. Grogged

    Excerpt from an old “Tale From The Road,” which I used to email out in the days before blogging existed:

    “We were supposed to fly from El Paso to Albuquerque, but my boss insisted on driving instead, a challenging aspect in the face of 55 mph winds. The drive became an encounter with one of those dust storms circa 1934 (like from a Lange photo where an entire town is about to get swallowed by a mile-high cloud of sand and other brown debris). On the way out of town, the dust storm merged with a thunder head. For the first time in my life, I experienced mud raining down on my windshield.”

    Yeah, that Southwest weather is something to be reckoned with.

    And on an entirely unrelated note, please thank Kyle for his suggestion of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. Your husband is a man of exquisite taste and rare wisdom; indeed, a gentleman and a scholar.

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