After starting out this morning on Rt 66 I’m soon going off-piste for a couple of days. I leave Winslow just after 11 am after filling up with gas, having asked at the hotel reception where a station was. However Rt 66 does not last for long as I’m routed back onto I-40 W almost as soon as I exit the town. Apart from a short section later on in the day, I won’t see Rt 66 again until tomorrow afternoon.
First up a few miles down the road is a small side trip to see Meteor Crater. It’s a 6 mile detour into the desert to see a huge circular 1-mile wide hole in the ground created, as you guessed, by a meteor strike. It claims to be the best preserved meteor site in the world. Truth be told there’s not a lot to see other than a very big crater. The Visitor Center has a cinema with a short film and there is a small-ish exhibition area with related displays and information boards, both of which are OK. It is however expensive at $18 to get in: but you can’t see the crater other than by accessing the Visitor Center. It is a unique natural phenomenon though, and probably worth a visit if you’re passing.
Two Guns and Twin Arrows
Back on I-40 W, three miles later there is a turn off to a roadside ‘attraction’ called Two Guns. This is a complete waste of time. At one time this was a tourist town but today there are just ruins, and not many of those. EZ-66 says it’s all private property these days and you shouldn’t try and view it up close. Not that there’s much to see. Take my advice, and don’t bother to view it at all. Keep driving.
10 miles later another exit takes me to Twin Arrows. At one time this was a trading post with roadside diner. It was famous for two large arrows with their tips buried in the ground. The buildings are fenced off and apparently derelict inside but amazingly the arrows are still standing proud. It’s worth a quick detour as they are I think one of the more well-known icons of Rt 66.
Heading North To Monument Valley
Soon after Twin Arrows I come off I-40 at Exit 211, Winona, for about 10 miles on a Pre-1947 alignment of Rt 66 before I turn right onto US-89 N at Townsend, ultimate destination Monument Valley. The road and scenery has been pretty boring so far today. There was a bit of forestry on the last section of Rt 66 but that soon disappeared. US-89 is generally long, flat and straight. But then some strange rock formations start to litter the roadside, some of which are quite bizarre. There are lots of different shapes, colours and sizes, they are quite wonderful at times. No places to stop for photos unfortunately. Then they suddenly disappear at the junction with AZ-64 W.
A few miles south of that junction I had entered the Navajo Nation, not that I remember seeing a sign. I’m a bit surprised that there is no recognition of the boundary of the Navajo Nation. Then a few miles further on from that junction I turn right onto US-160 E. It’s then a 100 mile trek north-west to Kayenta, where I turn left.
Heading north, onto US-163. 25 miles later, having passed some more amazing rock formations roadside, I arrive at Goulding’s Lodge in Monument Valley. After check-in I drive to their Grocery Store to buy my breakfast. A while later, back at the Lodge, I walk down the driveway to see what I can see of the sunset. There are mountains in the way however and all I can see is a glowing sky. The Lodge did have rooms with a kitchenette to cook dinner, but I couldn’t be bothered. I knew I’d be part of a ‘captive audience’ but even so decided to eat in the on-site restaurant.
Not A Good Dinner
The restaurant was very busy, which was not a great surprise. There was quite a wide choice but nothing really took my fancy. I ended up choosing a beef Navajo Rez’Bah Sandwich.
The portion size was huge. The ‘bread’ of the sandwich is called a Navajo Frybread and it was really, really greasy. My hands were covered in fat after picking it up to eat it. It was a very poor meal all round, all very unappetising. The waitress service was also terrible. When taking my order, I asked my Navajo server what the difference was between seasoned fries and normal fries. “I don’t know,” she replied. What is the seasoning, I ask. “I don’t know.” She had a real attitude problem and was the epitome of anything bad you’ve read about American Indian attitudes towards tourists. She wasn’t the only one either. All the staff, almost all youths, were surly and unhelpful.
The fact that this girl looked about 16 and had no interest in understanding what’s on the menu, that she is there to take orders off, says all you need to know. Some people just don’t help themselves. The hotel knows they have tourists over a barrel at the Stagecoach Restaurant and they clearly don’t give a shit.
I leave very saddened that the Navajo youths I experienced tonight had such a piss-poor attitude. There’s obviously a deep seated resentment towards tourists, certainly in this restaurant. To be presented with almost outright hostility from the outset, without having done anything myself other than view a menu, was upsetting, I have some idea of the ills done to American Indians in the past but from my experience tonight, there’s a lot of work to be done to rectify the situation.
I go back to my room and bid the day goodnight. It was almost the longest drive by distance today at 230 miles. It was an average day overall but with some good highlights here and there.