Road Trip Diary, days 6 & 7: On the road again…

Day 6: Yellowstone to Provo, Utah
After leaving my contacts out for a full day, my left eye looked and felt much better, and I decided that I’d go ahead and wear my glasses again for the coming day on the road. We got an early breakfast, loaded up the car, and headed out. Our first stop came pretty early – the general store at Grant Village, still inside the park. The Boy had bought a walking stick during our stop in Jackson, and he and his dad discovered that walking-stick medallions were available in the park gift shops – but he had lost the first one he bought at Yellowstone, and wanted to replace it. We stopped in Grand Tetons National Park on the way through so he could get one from there as well. The shopping stops meant that it was well into the morning when we got down to driving in earnest, but this was one of our agenda-free days; we didn’t even have reservations anywhere for the night. The plan was to see how far we felt like driving, and then see what lodgings we might find.

Even knowing how harsh the winters are there, and not considering myself at all a country girl, I couldn’t help but find western Wyoming just beautiful. Tall Paul and I kept marveling at the scenery, and we’d both really like to visit again.

We drove back the same way we came, and as a result there was less stopping for picture-taking on this stage of the trip; also, we had two days and some serious miles to cover in order to reach Flagstaff, Arizona by Friday night. The kids had certainly adjusted much better to road-trip life after nearly a week; there was much less asking of “How much longer?” and “Can we stop soon?” on this leg. (“I’m hungry” was still heard every couple of hours, though…) We got lunch at the same Subway in Afton, Wyoming where we’d eaten on the way north. We reached Logan, Utah far too early in the afternoon to call it a day this time, though, so we continued on toward Salt Lake City. Tall Paul and I debated various possible endpoints for the day, but by the time we got to Provo, it was around 6 PM and we were all about ready to wind it up. The downtown Provo Marriott had a couple of vacancies, so we settled in there for the night. My eyes were feeling much better, so I put my contact lenses back in before we went to dinner; they’ve been fine ever since. The eye does heal quickly when given the chance, so a couple of days without my contact lenses as an irritant seem to have done the trick. Also, the hotel had Internet access! I really didn’t miss my cell phone while we were around Yellowstone, but it felt like a long time to be offline. Google Reader had the dreaded “1000+ unread items” indicator, and there was lots of e-mail to go through. It was gratifying to see comments on the blog posts that had gone up while I was away, including great responses to the guest posts!

Day 7: Provo, Utah to Flagstaff, Arizona
I was anticipating our stop in Flagstaff. I had been through the town once before and have wanted to go back ever since, and we planned to stay there for three nights.

We decided to take the back-roads option not too far south of Provo, and ended up back on US 89, the same route we had taken from Logan to Yellowstone, only we were heading south this time. As I mentioned earlier, I hadn’t realized that Utah was such a big state before traveling it nearly bottom-to-top and back again, but some parts are really pretty. Mountains, nice farm- and ranchland, fascinating geology in the rock formations in the southern part of the state, and many small towns where the main street is actually called “Main Street,” and there aren’t more than one or two traffic lights. We stopped in one of them, Panquitch, for lunch at a local restaurant, and then continued on toward Arizona.

After crossing into Arizona, we were back in our own time zone (since they don’t observe Daylight Savings Time and remain on Mountain Standard all year, they’re effectively on the same time as California during the DST months), and well into the western desert. American desert is less sandy and more scrubby than deserts in Africa and Asia, and the Arizona variety is prettier and more varied than California’s, but it’s still hot, dry, and hard on the eyes after awhile. There’s an austerity about the landscape that appeals to me in some ways, but one thing I’ve realized on this trip is that I prefer my wide-open spaces a little bit greener. Much of northeastern Arizona is Native American reservation land, and we passed quite a few little roadside stands selling crafts and jewelry. Mom-in-law collects Southwestern stuff, and we were open to stopping if she wanted to check out anything, but she was as ready as any of us to reach Flagstaff and settle in for a few days, so we kept going.

The country gets much prettier around Flagstaff; more elevated, cooler, and surrounded by Ponderosa pine trees. It’s one of the legendary towns on old Route 66, and Tall Paul and I made plans to spend some time in the historic downtown area later in the weekend. We had comfortable accommodations for our three nights – adjoining rooms in an all-suites hotel – and I was excited to notice a Barnes and Noble across the street! And just to prove we were back on more familiar ground, we made an after-dinner stop to pick up a few things at Target.

Photos from this stage of the trip are here, and here’s some of what we saw:

<—— Once more through the Grand Tetons

Main Street, Panquitch, Utah

Somewhere in the northern Arizona desert ——>

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  1. I am glad your eye problems resolved without too much trouble. Sometimes our eyes just need a break.

    I wish we’d had more time in Flagstaff when we were there on our roadtrip a few years ago. I wouldn’t mind settling there someday–but I imagine a lot of people have that same idea. 🙂

    Your guest post idea was a good one. To follow your example, I plan to do something like that for my own vacation in September.

  2. I’ve hear Wyoming is very scenic, but yes, I wouldn’t want to live there during the winter.

    Main street in Panquitch looks very quaint. In a good way.

    The Arizona desert picture reminds me of the “Cars” movie. 🙂 And “Vacation” a little too.

  3. Literary Feline – We’d really like to go back to Flagstaff again. Pretty country, a variety of activities, and not quite as not as most of Arizona.

    I was glad they eye problem resolved itself pretty easily too, believe me! But I am overdue for an eye exam…

    The guest posts are a good way to keep your blog from being dormant while you’re away, and to provide exposure for other bloggers. It worked out pretty well. I’m sure you’ll get quite a few offers once you ask for guest bloggers!

    Mike – It was rather quaint. I think I saw only one or two traffic lights in the whole town.

    Since Cars is kind of a homage to Route 66, I suspect the look of the movie was influenced by the scenery in that area. I saw the resemblance too.

  4. Loved the pictures! We traveled east and north this year, so it’ll be a while before we save up for a western trip. I have relatives in Utah, and my son would love to travel what’s left of Route 66.

  5. Daisy – Despite the price of gas, my husband and I both are fascinated by road-trip mythology, and would love to plan one that follows more of historic Route 66. Glad you liked the pictures!

    Julie – Flagstaff’s a great little city. I hope we’ll go again; it’s a fairly long day’s drive from here, but just one day.

  6. I’ve never been anywhere near that part of the US so I’m really enjoying all your photos. I love the one of the Main Street! 🙂