Very Grand Canyon

Day 29: Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Visited: Grand Canyon, Flagstaff
Miles Driven Today: 156
Total Miles: 4,287

We had a magnificent visit to the Grand Canyon today.

The plan was to get up early and get to the Canyon before the massive hordes of humanity. It worked out well! We were on the road before 8 am, and we reached the South Rim about 9:30. We found the parking lot at the Visitor’s Center about half full…not bad!

The Grand Canyon is one of the dog-friendly national parks. Dogs are allowed on all the trails above the rim. So, Jasmine and Juliet were our companions today. We used the doggie stroller and took them with us to the Canyon rim…and there we saw so much natural beauty that it was hard to fathom.

We visited the lookouts near the Visitor’s Center (crowded), and then started walking the trail above the Center. The crowd thinned out considerably, and we had a lovely, somewhat solitary stroll along the Canyon rim. We chatted with a few people (once again, we were asked about the doggie stroller…I should sell these!), but mainly, we just enjoyed the mild weather and beautiful vistas.

Spectacular Grand Canyon

Spectacular Grand Canyon – Click to Enlarge

Beautiful Grand Canyon Vistas

Beautiful Grand Canyon Vistas

Family picture on the South Rim

Family picture on the South Rim

Juliet enjoying the view from the stroller

Juliet enjoying the view from the stroller (just seconds before she jumped out!)

Grand Canyon, A beautiful day

A beautiful day at the Grand Canyon

Tom enjoying the view

Tom enjoying the view

After a few hours, we decided to get something for lunch. We made our way out of the park and down to the nearest town. We sat outside and ate our sandwiches in the bright, warm sun. It really was a perfect day! We also stopped at a fun Trading Post at the intersection of Hwy 180 and Hwy 64. They had some really cool stuff!

White-tailed deer

We spotted some white-tailed deer on the way out of the park

Double Eagle Trading Post

Double Eagle Trading Post

We had taken the scenic byway (Hwy 180) to the Canyon and went the same way back. It was a lovely drive…very few cars and lots of scenery. The open road pics are particularly inspiring today.

Today's Open Road

Today’s open road.

Today's open road

Today’s open road – what a fabulous view from that ranch house!

When we got back to Flagstaff, we walked around downtown. The shops mainly cater to the younger crowd at Northern Arizona U (right next door to our hotel). We scoped out restaurants and decided on something unexpected–Hawaiian plate lunches at Aloha Hawaiian BBQ! Yay!

Dinner? Without me?

Dinner? Without me?

Chicken Katsu, BBQ Chicken, Spam Musubi at Aloha Hawaiian BBQ

Chicken Katsu, BBQ Chicken, Spam Musubi at Aloha Hawaiian BBQ

Loco Moco at Aloha Hawaiian BBQ

Loco Moco at Aloha Hawaiian BBQ (Rice topped with a hamburger patty, gravy, two fried eggs and some macaroni salad)

Tomorrow, we’ll be driving for around 5 hours to reach our next destination–Zion National Park. We may stop in Kanab at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary if time permits. Dogtown has been one of my favorite rescue organizations for a very long time. I’m not sure if our pups will like Dogtown…but it will be interesting to see how they react!

Today, we crossed off yet another items on the ‘bucket list.’ And it was well worth the trip!

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Route 66 – Cuba to Springfield

Day 11: Friday, May 10, 2013
Start: Cuba, MO
End: Springfield, MO
Miles Driven Today: 139
Total Miles: 2,036

Historic Route 66 - Cuba MO

Historic Route 66 in Cuba, MO

Today was our first full day on Historic Route 66. We had violent thunderstorms late last night, but the weather gods smiled upon us, and we had a mild day of travel and no rain.

We started the day with a light breakfast at Shelly’s Route 66 Cafe. Right. Light? No. Tom had the Slinger–a full order of biscuits and gravy, topped with hash brown potatoes, a grilled hamburger patty, chili and a fried egg. All this for a whopping $6.95. I had some oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar and a half order of biscuits and gravy. The gravy was by far the best I’ve had in years. Our bill (including two cups of coffee) came out to be a whopping $13. That was the plus. The minus is that there are no anti-smoking laws here in Missouri. Some of the places we visited today reeked of cigarette smoke.

The Slinger

The Slinger at Shelly’s Route 66 Cafe in Cuba, MO

We packed up and started our journey on Route 66. About four miles outside of Cuba, we encountered the Route 66 Outpost in Fanning, home of the World’s Largest Rocker. Of course, we had to stop!

World's Largest Rocker

World’s Largest Rocker – Route 66 Outpost

Trading posts were the theme of the day. Right outside of Rolla, we stopped at the Mule Trading Post, home of the Big Hillbilly sign. Carl and Zelma Smith, owners of the Mule, were as gracious and sweet as can be. We chatted about how they bought the place, how they salvaged and refurbished the sign, and how they are spending their “retirement.” They were the sweetest people, and their guest book is about 3″ thick!

Mule Trading Post - Route 66

Mule Trading Post on Route 66

Out between Clementine and St. Robert, we traversed through Hooker Cut and Devil’s Elbow. Hooker Cut was once the deepest road cut in Missouri. Devil’s Elbow was a pretty drive through hilly country. We traveled across the Devil’s Elbow Bridge over the Big Piney River. We would have stopped at the Elbow Inn Bar & BBQ, but we were a little full from breakfast!

Devil's Elbow Bridge

Devil’s Elbow Bridge

We loved the open spaces between the towns. Route 66 often parallels I-44, but it also goes inland, through open terrain, farmland and homesteads. It’s a great ride.

The Open Road

Historic Route 66 appeals to those who love the open road…and more

We haven’t found many places that we want to explore, but we have still been enjoying the sights and vistas. Rusty bridges, two-lane roads, cows, horses and other livestock…it’s a relaxing way to see the country.

Bridge

Bridge on the way to Springfield

But we also go through towns of all sizes. From the ones that barely make a blip on a map to the larger towns like Lebanon, there’s always something that makes us wonder how people spend their lives. When we were driving through Waynesville, we noticed scores of people lining the road. Many were holding American flags. Flags were also planted on the road. We thought there was going to be some sort of parade. As we made our way, we kept seeing people lining the street. We finally stopped to ask what was happening.

The people were out, waiting for the funeral procession of a local fallen soldier. They were honoring his service. But this wasn’t a small thing. It wasn’t just friends and family. As we drove on, the line of people spread for miles into the next town. It was simple honor for someone who gave his life for his country. It really touched me.

As we went on, we saw a small racetrack and some fun, kitschy places like Redmond’s World’s Largest Gift Shop. Of course, we had to stop. Inside the gift shop, they had “Lucy’s Cadillac” from I Love Lucy. I guess all those Route 66 Souvenirs made someone rich! 🙂

I-44 Speedway

I-44 Speedway in Lebanon, MO

Lucy's Cadillac

Lucy’s Cadillac at Redmond’s “World’s Largest Gift Shop”

Of course, not all the driving was pleasant. We hit some serious Missouri Gridlock.

Missouri Gridlock

Missouri Gridlock

We’re now chillaxin’ at the Drury Inn with the pups. We met some fellow road warriors from the UK at the hotel and spent some of the evening chatting with them about their Lost in America plans. It’s nice to meet like-minded travelers on the road!

Tomorrow, we plan on leaving Missouri, skirting the corner of Kansas and making it to Oklahoma. The tentative plan is to make it to Tulsa…but we’ll see what happens!

Jasmine helps me blog

Jasmine helps me blog