Change of Plans
Trip Start Jan 08, 2008
51Trip End Apr 09, 2008
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We arrived in Albuquerque about 11:30 after making a quick decision to do a miss on the turn-off to Santa Fe. Much and all as I am looking forward to a visit to the galleries and shops there I will wait for another opportunity. Lunch was at Julie's (featured on the Food Channel I am told). A walk around the old town and a visit to a church established 300 years ago by the Jesuits confirmed that our decision to push on to Phoenix was the right one. We were cold and there were few people around. As a result many of the shops were not open and the other spots of interest were on limited hours
We got back on the road about one and were very conscious of the clouds to the west and south. This section of the trip is the one that everyone fears somewhat. The highway is good but you are either driving across high plateaus or decending through mountain passes and snow storms can come up very quickly. Roadside signs are constantly noting the radio station that provides local weather conditions and flashing billboards allow the highways to be closed very quickly. As we move towards the Arizona border we start to see snow on the north-face slopes and the temperature fluctuates slightly above or below freezing depending on the elevation. New Mexico does not note the elevation on road signs, as is done in Arizona, so you can only guess. I miss the atlas that we have used in past trips to Arizona which notes the elevation right on the map.
We cross into Arizona and we are now conscious that the ground is snow-covered and off to the south, and later off to the north, there are clouds with what looks like precipitation under them. We are still driving under sunshine or light cloud cover
The speed limit for most of the travel during the past few days has been 75 mph with slow sections at 65 mph. We have driven the Flagstaff to Phoenix trip several times but it is a different trip in the dark. Just out of Flagstaff we see the first elevation sign - 7000 ft, a short while later the signs for 6000 ft, then 5000 ft fly by. Snowbanks suddenly disappear. All of a sudden there is a stream of brake lights ahead and traffic quickly grinds to a halt on a winding and relatively steeply descending portion of the road. We can see cars stopped far below us and around several curves. Two trucks behind us block both lanes on the highway, helping to space traffic so that emergency vehicles can get through and preventing the impatient from trying something foolish. Half an hour later, in a single lane of traffic, we pass our first accident of the trip - a car has plunged over a steep embackment at 'Bumblebee Road". Thanks to the traffic control of the truckers behind us, cars are spaced a little further apart for the remainder of the trip.
At 8:30 pm we reach our destination - 4229 kms since departure. We are tired by happy to see Scott once more. We have driven 897 kms today, the longest of the trip - too long for me! Now to settle in an get on with some of our planned activities.