Day 13, Flagstaff to Vegas. Meteor, tubing, observatory and.. another detour.
24/8/11 woke up in Flagstaff, Arizona
We made it for breakfast! Yuppski!
As planed the night before, today we are off to see the Meteor Crater. Apparently there were a few movie scenes recorded in this place before, plus I have never seen a Meteor Crater and Shane wanted to see it too. Leah was not fussed as she was already excited about the tubing we had planned for later in the day.
The place was ok, massive hole, well marketed, apparently the best preserved Crater on Earth (taking into consideration, it’s one of the newest ones, that should not be massively hard ). It’s a result of a collision between a piece of an asteroid traveling at 26,000 miles per hour and planet Earth approximately 50,000 years ago.
Today, Meteor Crater is nearly one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep.
We managed to get there just before the tour started, so got some (free!) insights into the whole process and meteorites on the whole.
The gift shop had everything from UFO shaped cookies to a computer mouse with a spider inside. The place is in private hands and the entry ticket reflects that, with most of them being around 4USD, this one costed us 38USD for 3.
Afterwards we went tubing at Camp Verde, down the Verde river. The place wasn’t easy to find, and with just minutes to spare before the last float, we were getting stressed. Finally there, we greeted a dude who loaded three tubes on the back of a pick up track and off we went.. for a two minute drive. “Is that it?” “Don’t worry, it seem like it’s close, but you will be floating back to the camp for around 1.5h”. Hmm interesting.
In case we got bored, he gave us three massive water pistols (which we put to good use).
We hopped on the tubes, and off we went down the murky, green river. It’s a good thing it was warm, as that made up for the zero visibility. Apparently there are no alligators here, or water snakes.
For the first 40 minutes we were barely moving, the current was weak, strangely going in every direction. After about 45min it started raining, then the lightenings appeared, a bit of thunderstorms.. of course the best place to be in this weather is a middle of the river.. NOT!
We decided to get closer to the land and eventually spotted some caves up in a big rock wall, so we got out on the shore to do a mini exploration trip. It turned out, there were hundreds of bat caves attached to the rock ceiling, it looked freakishly.. pretty.
We got back on the tubes and carried on down the river. It got a bit more exciting, as there was more rapids and the speed seemed to pick up, so we were not snoozing anymore.
The day wouldn’t be over without a little teary drama from Leah, this time it was the fact that her hands are to short to paddle, so Shane had to drag her behind him most of the time. It’s good that she wants to try stuff though. Better than being a whim. Crying because one fails is better than crying because they didn’t try.
We managed to get to the camp safely, all soaked up to the bone but happy, until I found out I lost my Prada sunglasses I got from Shane! I hate loosing things. It’s a bummer as they were not cheap and I got them from my Angel, but I hate loosing things as it’s a prove I am not perfect, and that’s pissing me off. Grrr.
From Camp Verde we decided to head back to Flagstaff and have a brief look around. It looks like I imagine Aspen in the 80′s.: busy train station, old fashion motel and a cocktail place, a few bars and cafes, mexican restaurants and galleries, it’s chilled and I can imagine it’s bustling with life all year long, but mostly during winter months.
We got a bite in town and decided to pop in to the Lowell’s Observatory, where Pluto was discovered in 1930 (the telescope used at the time is still on display). It’s a perfect place to see the stars as Flagstaff has got a policy for reduced chemical waste and proud itself as being the world’s first “International Dark-Sky City”. It does help that the observatory is located on a steep hill, which allows you not only to see the stars, but also the panorama of Flagstaff, glistening beautifully at night. I can just see all the employees bringing their dates here for a night “sky-seeing”. Well, I would.
All the staff here is very knowledgable and it’s nice to see they have passion for what they do.
We went there fairly late, but luckily, it’s open till 10pm (come to think about it, why wold you come here before 8pm?!).
It was a bit of hit and miss for us tonight, as there were plenty of clouds covering most of the sky, but the lovely staff at Lowell did their best to place the free telescopes lined outside the building in a way that maximise the visibility.
We were thinking of going to Lake Havasu, but decided last minute to detour and head up to Vegas, and since Shane felt quite awake, we started driving straight away.
I was trying to stay awake to accompany Shane on this humongous journey, but sleep got the best of me and Leah, and we crashed, as my hero was driving through the desert, topping himself up with RedBull along the way. As long as I was awake, Leah was at the back snoring happily, but just in time, when I started drifting away, she woke up and kept blobbing in Shane’s ear, keeping him awake, so I could sleep peacefully knowing, he will NOT fall asleep behind the wheel.
Every now and then they woke me up to tell me about something exciting, and all I could mumble was “take a picture”. We drove like that for about 12 hours.
Half way through this trip, when I was up and Leah was awake, we drove down the side road trying to find somewhere for a quick snooze in a car, making sure the sherif or someone else doesn’t shoot us for stopping on a private property. We got out, I sat on the bonnet and kept starring at the sky in awe. It was amazing. I swear this part of the world has got the best sky!! The blackest black and the brightest stars. It’s a must see thing, words cannot describe. And there we were, little people sitting on the car, full of plans and ambitions, which mean nothing in the grand scheme of things, and are just a come in the sentence of the universe.
Shane kept taking pictures, but that exercise proved to be unsuccessful, as the exposure wasn’t long enough on the camera (sounds geeky, right?). We saw a lizard in the bushes next to the car, and I think the combination of all this wilderness and beautiful sky made me all horny out of a sudden. Well, there was one thing on my “bucket list” I have ticked that night.