America

Flagstaff, Arizona Through Dust Storm to Meteor Crater

Sedona, Arizona, was extremely busy and has grown since my last visit in 2016. Always beautiful, we stopped briefly to live in the moment of this enchanting destination, but elected to move on. That took a while as we endured the traffic jams.

I will seriously think twice about going through again and thought it sad that one of my favorite places ever has become far too popular.

It was melancholic realizing future generations will never experience the magic many of us did.

Commercialized and extensively developed, Sedona is well on her way to a busy future.

Flagstaff, Arizona

We drove on north to the mountain town of Flagstaff, a truly charming place to stop for a while. We spent the night on May 20th. Dodie’s favorite hotel there is Little America, but we didn’t make reservations this time.

We will be back, perhaps this fall, in our camping van to explore the historic downtown area, where various art galleries, enticing boutiques, Native American shops, outdoor outfitters, eateries, and microbreweries dwell amid the 19th-century streets.

Dodie’s son, Jackson, graduated from Northern Arizona University there, so she is familar with university’s museum, the intriguing Lowell Observatory, and the turn-of-the-20th-century Riordan Mansion State Historic Park.

There are three national monuments located within 7.5 to 33 miles of Flagstaff: Walnut Canyon National Monument, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, and Wupatki National Monument. We’ll be back.

Meteor Crater

Almost 50,000 years ago a giant fireball streaked across the North American sky from east to west before it struck the Earth with a force 150 times bigger than the atomic bomb.

The last time I visited Meteor Crater was in June 1979. My, it is a far better experience seeing and learning from it as a man in my 60s (vs 20s).

We discovered, through their museum, two quick movies and visitor center, that the impact “generated immensely powerful shock waves in the meteorite, the rock and the surrounding atmosphere. In the air, shock waves swept across the level plain devastating all in their path for a radius of several miles. In the ground, as the meteorite penetrated the rocky plain, pressures rose to over 20 million pounds per square inch, and both iron and rock experienced limited vaporization and extensive melting. Beyond the melted region, an enormous volume of rock underwent complete fragmentation and ejection.”

Dodie sought protection and stability from the high winds within the Meteor Crater complex.

“The result of these violent conditions was the excavation of a giant bowl-shaped cavity. In seconds, a crater 700 feet deep, over 4,000 feet across, and 2.4 miles in circumference was carved into this once-flat rocky plain. During its formation, over 175 million tons of limestone and sandstone were abruptly thrown out to form a continuous blanket of debris surrounding the crater for a distance of over a mile.”

Before we drove east on IH-40 (old Route 66) to visit the Crater, we ate breakfast at IHOP. As I walked out the front door, I heard a loud crack-pop burst. I thought it was lightning.

The winds were so hard it popped the top third of a 40 foot Juniper tree in two. We were parked less than 30 feet from it.

Highway warning signs advised of hard winds and dark dust storms ahead. The five mile drive from the highway to the Crater Visitor Center was surreal as if we were on Mars. I could barely stay on the two lane road with red dirt and heavy gusts fighting me all the way.

When Dodie took Mr. Beefy to the visitor center’s dog kennel, I went to purchase tickets. Again, I heard a loud crash and whirling noise as I was about to enter. I held the door open for a man who was exiting and he yelled, “Oh my God!”

He saw the front windshield blow out of his truck and watched it fly over 400 feet away–luckily, away from the parking area into an empty pasture.

Roland, an employee, told us the reported winds were 45-55 mph with gusts into the 90s. Before we proceeded into the museum, a young couple drove up and the front grill and bumper blew off their car. Roland remained busy filling out incident reports that afternoon.

For us, it was a long day on Route 66.

4 replies »

  1. Sounds like a scary drive in the wind. Beautiful pics though. We lived in Fountain Hills AZ for four winters while my youngest was at ASU. My biggest threat while there was the Jumping Cholla cactus which I kept getting attacked by. One dust storm, while we weren’t there, took tiles off our roof and downed our mesquite tree in front yard. Fun place to visit but not live full time. Too damn hot in the summer!

    Liked by 2 people

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