Or, in which our adventures lead us to massiveness explored...
This, obviously, doesn't do justice to the site. But, I am getting ahead of things. Which some accuse me of on a regular basis.
We left our home bright and early on the 9th of August in the year of our Lord 2018, with a full load of gear, food and fuel. Cooking supplies, camp chairs, water carrier, propane, band-aids and more filled the back of the Hundy, as well as all the different compartments in the rear cabinet system we had built by Adventure Trailers here in Prescott. The system allows us to carry the Engel fridge, Partner propane camp stove, and dry goods in locking slider storage locations. Plus, addition storage in places that weren't square enough to build drawers, such as the hinged lid cubbies behind the rear seats. We stored the Nemo shower, dust broom and pan, and other miscellaneous stuffs up there, which kept them easy to get to when we need them, but otherwise out of the way and secure.
Dry goods and cooking storage in the drawer.
The only drawback to this drawer is the lack of a locking feature when extended. But, not to fear, I just brace it out with telescoping selfie stick that I got with a 360 camera I use for real estate. But really, most of the time it's not an issue, especially since I try to park on level ground when camping.
This drawer holds an impressive amount of gear and food. The ability to pack food into square containers also helps, since the old round peg in a square hole rule still applies. The whole system is built out of a product that uses a foam core covered in a fiberglass sheet. This keeps the weight down, and then AT sprays each piece with a bedliner material to keep it from breaking down from scraping items, or other sharp pointy things that would normally gouge the fiberglass.
Our camp chairs, sleeping bags, fire bowl, and other larger items go on the deck about the drawer, which allows us access to the food and gear in the drawer without moving things more than needed.
But, back to journey, not the gear. We turned the Hundy north on Hwy 89, and followed it to I-40, about 30 miles from our home. There, we headed East on I-40 toward Flagstaff. Our goal was to head east for a ways, then head up the Page area and explore Antelope Canyon. While driving to I-40, my stalwart co-pilot began research tour times for that day, or the next, and sadly reported that they were all sold out. In order to tour Antelope Canyon, you must hire a tour company to guide you through. I suppose this is for the best, as people have died when trapped in there by flash floods, but it was still annoying. One could argue that we were a little late in researching the tours, and that may be a valid point, but one we decided to not dwell on. Rather we turned our thoughts on where to go instead. We considered Canyon de Chelly, or maybe the meteor crater, or just pressing on to Colorado and getting a nice spot early in the day. The crater eventually won out, as it was right along I-40, and we had been wanting to see it for the last few years anyway.
Fifty shades of Bill Williams Mtn. from I-40
If you are ever up around the Williams area, its a worthwhile drive to go check out the fire look-out on the top of Bill Williams Mtn. Of course, if you're afraid of heights, it may not be your thing.
Anyway, we followed this asphalt ribbon to the east, winding our way along past juniper & pinon trees, meadows full of sunflowers, and up to the ponderosa pine forests that surround Flagstaff. After a quick stop in Flagstaff for fuel and fluid level corrections (3 kids and full tumblers, remember) we pressed on. It never fails to amaze me just how fast the terrain and fauna changes here in Arizona. If I recall correctly, when driving from Phoenix to Flagstaff on I-17, you pass through 3 different desert climates. Or maybe it's 4, I can't remember at the moment. Either way, it changes fast and distinctly. Continuing east out of Flagstaff, we quickly left the trees behind, to be replaced by a more barren climate consisting of rock, dust, dry creek bottoms, and scrub. It does have an appeal of its own, but one that takes some time to appreciate if you aren't used to it. And the wind can be a force to recon with, one that fortunately we did not have to contend with this time.
We arrived at the Meteor Crater a little before lunchtime, and after paying the entrance fees, we wandered in feeling like tourists in our own state. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, but there is was, nonetheless. After a brief intro by the guide they opened the doors to the west side of the crater, and led us out. There were lots of reminders to "stay on the trail" and "don't touch rocks, or anything else" and "you must learn to levitate so that you don't wear out the asphalt trail".
It is a pretty impressive thing to behold, this ginormous hole in the Arizona desert floor. We failed to realize, until back inside, that the largest known piece of the meteor is right inside the museum entrance. It is a chunk of iron ore about the size of a large watermelon, and I think they said it weighs about 150-200 lbs.The entire time we were there, I kept imagining that some planet would begin to descend into the bowl like in the old flick "Starman", but alas, no such luck. Just more tourists in baggy shorts and tight t-shirts....
Here are a few more shots of the crater impact:
The gray spot down at the bottom is where the original owner was mining for the meteor that they thought was buried under the impact site.
This gentleman takes a profound pose while wondering if he locked his keys in the vehicle..
While you can't see it here, there is an astronaut cut-out mounted to the fence surrounding the mine shaft pictured on the left. It's aprx. 6' tall, to give a person a sense of scale.
And all sarcasm aside, it is pretty impressive. I would have hated to be anywhere close to the impact site when the meteor hit.
And then we had this show up. I would say that this is a large aircraft on a normal day, but when it made a loop around the crater, it didn't seems so large for some reason. I had to zoom in a fair bit, so the image is kinda grainy as a result. After all, I'm a better cook than I am photographer.
The tour guide informed us that this was restricted airspace, but apparently the military decided that it was a great day to make sure there weren't any hostile persons hiding out in the bottom of the crater. Or something.
And after a quick trip through the museum, and an even quicker trip through the gift trap.. err, shop, we grabbed our posse and headed back to the Hundy and the freedom of the open road, where the promise of an elusive campsite in the distant Colorado mountains called with its siren song. We turned the Hundy east again, for a time, then headed NE through the tip of Arizona, across New Mexico for an enchantingly brief time. then into the southern mountains just outside Durango.