.. or to be more exact, on I40, which parallels much of the old Route 66.
Leaving Memphis, we continued west, blasting blues on the CD player in homage to Beale St. Having lost a day to snowstorms in Charlotte at the start of our trip, we hoped to make up some time, as we really wanted to detour to Monument Vally (for all those old John Ford Western vistas) and Arches. So we drove straight thru Arkansas and into Oklahoma. The Super 8 Motel in Sallisaw, OK? Yes, well this was the low point in our accommodations! Nobody expects luxury in a budget motel, but a clean bathroom would have been nice, and if someone had actually turned up in the morning to make the coffee and lay out the ‘included breakfast’, that would have been great too.
From Oklahoma, into New Mexico, and the snow started to fall again – and in fact I40 was closed East of Albuquerque, so we had an unscheduled stop in Tucumcari, NM, where the friendly Indian couple running The Gateway Inn showed how a motel should be run (hey, it’s not THAT hard)! Friendly check-in (hearing that we were heading for California produced wistful stories of student life in Chico), recommendations for dinner, and a breakfast that actually materialized!
Once the road was open the next day, we lead-footed it west, through a snow-speckled landscape of contrasts, the most dramatic of which was probably Laguna Pueblo, with its mission church founded in 1699, and a few miles further on a brand new Indian casino, with flanking “McDobe”…
Hearing that more winter storms were headed our way, we gave up our dreams of finding John Wayne still playing the Ringo Kid amongst Monument Valley’s monoliths, and hightailed it back to the Bay Area – Flagstaff to Oakland in a day was a long drive!
Crossing the country in 5 days was a tease! So many places to go back and explore on later trips… but it was a great reminder of just how large and varied the US is, and also how much fun a road trip can be – even in the dead of winter! And as for Monument Valley and Arches? Hmm, another road trip in April is sounding pretty good about now!