Cross-Country Day 4: Flagstaff to Amarillo

Cumulative Distance: 1,828 mi ~~ Total Travel Time: ~12 hours.

I made it on the road by 8am — knowing that I had a full travel day ahead of me. It’s about 9 hours from Flagstaff to Amarillo and I planned on making a few stops along the way. I also realized that I’d have a time change when I left Arizona, losing an hour in the process.

My first stop was Meteor Crater, about 50 miles east of Flagstaff in Arizona. The crater was pretty impressive. A meteor the size of about 50 yards across made a crater 570 feet deep and 4,000 feet wide. I took a tour of the museum and went to a few of the observation decks. I would’ve liked to have taken the tour, however it was an hour long and I didn’t feel like sticking around for an hour.

Click to see panoramic view

I got back on the road with my next stop being the dinosaurs from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure or the Petrified Forest, whichever came first. Turned out the petrified forest came first and I was disappointed to find out that this was not going to be a quick stop. Located about 50 miles off highway 40, the national park had a small museum area and “forest” that you could walk through and take pictures — followed by a 28 mile drive that catches back up to highway 40. The disappointment being that my route through the forest short-circuit my trip to the dinosaurs. Sigh.

But, the petrified forest was pretty neat. It was for the museum and first “forest” that you walk through. There were several other walkable areas that the park rangers were way too excited¬†about but I felt it unnecesary to stop at them. If you’ve seen one petrified forest, you’ve seen them all.

The trees were pretty remarkable. Many of them glistened in the sunlight — the photo above doesn’t nearly do it justice. Each piece of wood fossilized and turned into a gem-like stone. Some of the trees were huge: 30-40 feet long.

I got back in the car and managed to listen to the last half of the Red Sox game. I’ve been able to listen to a lot of baseball on my trip — has come in quite handy and you’d be surprised how much 3G service you can get along major highways. After another hour or two I entered New Mexico and I had to adjust my clock an hour forward. It was about 1pm by the time I got to New Mexico and in order to try to make up some time, I didn’t plan on stopping again until Albuquerque around 4pm.

I stopped for a very late lunch in historic old town Albuquerque, which was a very cute part of town. I had lunch at an amazing Mexican restaurant that had a tree in the middle of the dining area. I had an exceptional pork dish and a great dessert pastry type thing that you dip in honey. Delicious. I ended up spending an hour in Albuquerque, which meant that I’d be getting into Amarillo around 9pm, instead of my planned 8pm.

Leaving Albuquerque, you could see the landscape start to change from desert/mountain area to grassland. There is nothing in Eastern New Mexico. Amarillo is about an hour inside the Texas border and to my surprise, when I crossed the Texas border, I saw a sign that read “You are now entering the Central Time Zone.” Argh! This meant that I’d actually get into Amarillo at 10pm! Ugh. There goes my dinner plans.

Everyone recommended that I go to this restaurant called “The Big Texan,” home of the free 72 ounce steak. I hadn’t planned on ordering it, but it would’ve been nice to get a good steak dinner. I kept thinking of The Great Outdoors every time I saw the signs for the free 72 ounce steak, but alas, I never made it.

Tomorrow, I’ve got a 6.5 hour drive down to Dallas, where I plan on catching a Ranger’s game in the process. I also plan on going to see Cadillac Ranch on my way out of Amarillo, which should be interesting. ¬†That’s all for tonight, folks. It’s time for me to get some rest — it’s been another long day.

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