By the time we reached Gallup, the last town in New Mexico before the Arizona border, the snow drifts had faded and red rock bluffs jutted up out of the sandy semi-desert. Flagstaff is nestled on the South side of a cluster of mountains, with Humphrey Peak being the highest point in Arizona
. Even fifty miles out we began to see these peaks on the horizon. We hadn’t seen forested land since we left the central Texas Hill Country yesterday morning, so it was nice to see clusters of Ponderosa Pine become a whole forest as we cruised into Flagstaff, our resting point for the night.
There were lots of spots we would have liked to check out along today’s route—a petrified forest, giant meteor crater, red rock formations—but we resisted the urge to stop. We’re actually less than a hundred miles from the Grand Canyon, but we’ll be visiting it in a couple weeks on our way back to Texas. Tomorrow it is on to Los Angeles!
Our journey today was due West on Route 40 and it was remarkable the change in scenery we experienced during the eight hour drive. We set off from Palo Duro Canyon right in the middle of the Texas Panhandle which (Canyon aside) is remarkable only for its flat monotonous plains. By the time we crossed the border into New Mexico the flat plains had given way to rolling hills covered in sagebrush and squat juniper trees. The snow capped Sandia Mountains rose in the distance as we approached Albuquerque. There had been a heavy blizzard a couple weeks ago, so the subdued grey-green of the sagebrush landscape was punctuated by drifts of white snow that grew heavier as we headed on West.