On the Road, Again!

Just for a week this time….Angie starts a new job next week, and she managed to negotiate a way to segue from old project to new with a week in between. One of my bucket-list items is to visit the Grand Canyon, so we figured we’d go see it this week. The itinerary we set was to drive today to Gallup, N.M., head to Flagstaff for a couple of days so we can visit Sedona (a place neither of us has been to before), then on to the Grand Canyon, before heading back to Colorado via Bryce Canyon and Grand Junction. This circuitous route will enable us to pick Rebbe up in Boulder, where he is vacationing with his sister Koli, his mama Debbie, and the rest of the Boulder Garelicks. Much as we love traveling with Rebbe, there is so much we can’t do in national parks if he’s with us, plus if we want to cycle, he complains tremendously. One other benefit is that Angie and I can actually have breakfast together at the hotels where that is offered.

It’s been a while since we took a road trip in the minivan, but it’s a wonderful vehicle in which to travel for several reasons. For one thing, it’s really comfortable for long drives. In addition, we can fit all our stuff in it, even when we are not sure what activities we will undertake. We are camping at the Grand Canyon, so all the camping gear is in the rooftop box, along with our snowshoes. We bought the Thule box in Ohio in 2015, and are very happy with it. The cooler, our duffels, suitcases, and food are in the back of the van, along with our new camp stove. This is a huge advance on our cooking set-up from our year off, when all we had was a lightweight backpacking stove. This means we don’t have to do one-pot meals every time.

For now, the bikes are also inside the minivan rather than on the hitch-mounted rack, since they will stay cleaner that way, and it’s more secure. If we end up finding it too cold for tent camping at the Grand Canyon, we can put the bikes on the rack and sleep in the back of the van, since the rear seats are folded down, and we removed the middle seats and left them at home. It looks almost as hectic inside the van as it did when we spent all those months traveling in it! Who knew you could schlep almost as much stuff for a one-week trip as you could for the six or so months we were on the road in 2015?!?!

Getting ready to leave was not as smooth as we would have hoped, though Angie did do her usual stellar job on the packing list. The problem was that we couldn’t get started on the organizing and packing as early as we’d hoped yesterday, since it took much longer to finish a project I’d been working on than I expected, and Angie had been helping with it. As a result, we just staged as much as we could, and the living room looked like someone had just taken half of our possessions and strewn them about. We only got our clothes packed last night before we were too tired to go on. We were both relieved that we had decided not to leave until this morning!

This morning we got up and organized the rest of the packing, including figuring out what we could leave behind from the giant tub we’d used for cooking gear during our year off. We ended up with one not-quite-full tub of cooking equipment, along with a food tub and our small picnic box, which gives us everything we need–other than food–when we stop to eat along the way. While I ran out to do a quick errand, Angie loaded pretty much everything into the van that had not already been dealt with. We had put the box on the roof and removed the seats on Wednesday evening, and Angie had loaded the bikes last night, so, even though we left today about two hours later than we would have liked, we were not too disappointed. After all, the only thing on our agenda today was to get to Gallup, and we’re on vacation, so what was the rush?

There is not a ton to report about our drive. We saw lots of pronghorn and hawks on the first part of the drive, which always gives us joy. We stopped for lunch at a rest area in New Mexico, a little way over the border, and stopped at the REI in Albuquerque to pick up an egg container and some Skratch mix. Since gas is more expensive in New Mexico (about 15¢ a gallon on average more than we are paying in Pueblo right now), we were thrilled to find that the local Costco was nearby. One must be a Costco member to benefit, but their prices are nearly always the best in the area. Only downside, based on our experiences in Albuquerque and Colorado Springs of late, the company REALLY needs to update its credit card readers at the pumps.

After refueling, we drove the final 120 miles of our day to reach Gallup around 6 pm. Angie had already researched food, so after checking into our hotel, we headed off to the city’s cute little downtown area. 

Our goal on this trip is to try to get to 10,000 steps every day, but with a driving-intensive day like today, we knew it would be hard. However, before heading to Jerry’s to eat, we took a short walk along Coal Street and up a couple of blocks to check out the city’s vintage courthouse and the military memorial. I did at least make it to 7,000 steps, and Angie probably had a lot more after going back and forth to load the van this morning! And we got to see some cool buildings and Coal Street’s beautifully decorated trash cans while we walked!

Old post office building

McKinley County Courthouse

Jerry’s was crowded but we were lucky to get a table right away. Angie loves Mexican and New Mexican food, and this place seemed to have decent reviews, so we figured it was worth a try, and a better alternative then the Dennys next to the hotel. It did not wow us, but the food was serviceable and the service was efficient and friendly. There were people waiting to be seated from when we reached downtown, to when we left, so they must be doing something right.

Suitably refueled, we returned to our hotel to rest up for tomorrow’s adventures.

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