Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Travel advice

Route 66 exhibit at Petrified Forest National Park
A few things we learned while playing tourist in Arizona over the holidays:

1. If there's any way to avoid going anywhere near Phoenix and the traffic emanating from it, do so. I have been reassessing which state or city has the worst drivers on the planet and have decided Boston no longer deserves that honor. Arizona drivers, particularly those residing in or near Maricopa County, are without a doubt both the most aggressive and the most incompetent. I knew they were bad before we actually drove through Phoenix on our way to Flagstaff -- stories about incompetent or drunk drivers going the wrong way on various roads and exit and/or on ramps are a regular feature on the evening news -- but have now seen enough with my own eyes to vow to never go near that city again if I can help it.
Crowd of gawkers who had stepped over or under a yellow plastic chain adorned with signs saying "Area closed" because of the buildup of ice on the stairs and overlook.

2. If your Rand McNally atlas shows three possible routes but Mapquest keeps suggesting only two, listen to Mapquest. It has a really good reason for telling you not to take US-191 south through the White Mountains. Holy wah, that road has a lot of hairpin turns. Amazing scenery, though, so all those tight turns might have been worth it if we hadn't run out of daylight. On the other hand, seeing the Morenci mine at night and getting to drive right under the conveyors moving ore was kind of cool. One of these day I've got to go see that mine in daylight.

3. Do not visit Grand Canyon National Park between December 25 and January 1. A surprising number of families take advantage of the school break to haul their kids on vacations to a place where if they slip on the ice there's not much to stop them until they hit the bottom a long, long way down. I was a tad astounded by the lax supervision being given to kids who were definitely still in the stupid age (i.e., prone to running around without paying a whole lot of attention to where they were going) but maybe they figured their kid was such a special snowflake he or she was immune to the effects of gravity. In any case, the park was super crowded. Way too many people. That park is being loved to death, although I'm not sure "loved" is the right word given the way so many people were totally oblivious to the signs asking to them to stay on the trails, not to walk on the ruins or in areas where attempts at revegetation were in progress, and not to park on the road. 
Sign begging people not to walk on the ruins. Note fresh footprints in the snow as people walked past the sign to stand on the remains of a pueblo wall.
I'm still decompressing from a week of being a tourist but eventually will do a few posts on some of the places we visited -- Grand Canyon NP, Wupatki National Monument, Petrified Forest NP, and others. The S.O. even stood on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, and admired the vintage flatbed Ford truck parked there. All in all, an interesting week.


  1. People need to be babysat in places like that. Throwing trash is something I cannot understand. Dont people love and respect their country?

  2. Phoenix drivers think everything is a target.

  3. We took our two young sons (5 and 7) to the Grand Canyon years ago. No fun. I spent all my time corralling the boys away from trails and edges. You're right, they are stupid at that age.


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