4/13/2011 – Day Seven – Homolovi Ruins AZ to Gallup, NM – 157.5 Miles

After a restful, quiet night we awoke to bright sunshine and a continuation of the fairly strong winds we have been experiencing for the last couple days.  After breakfast, Diana rode her bike 1.5 miles while drove to ruins site 1 and we walked through the remains of a fairly large village alongside the Little Colorado River.  There were mounds of debris which used to be structures, and many potshards on the ground.

Feeling like archeologists discovering a site for the first time, we drove to site 2 which has been partially excavated with some of the walls and other structures left visible.  Site 2 had a population of 700 – 1,000 people at its zenith before it was abandoned in the early 1400’s.  It is speculated that part of the reason the people left was flooding of the river combined with a lot of mosquitoes.

This park is very interesting and worth a visit if you’re in the Winslow area.

Finishing our stroll through the past, we drove on to Holbrook where we made a quick stop at Dairy Queen before heading for the Petrified Forest National Park.

We entered the park and spent time at the visitor’s center and took a walk through petrified trees, some of them up to 80 feet long.  They vary in color with reds and yellows predominating.  This mass array of rocks, most of them agates, provided much cheer and no little temptation for Diana.  Of course, taking any pebble is against federal law, so that tempered her delight.

We drove through the park, stopping at the many locations along the way which highlight the unusual formations and colors of the surrounding hills and plains.  At the north end of the park the Painted Desert really was vivid and stunning with its range of colors and patterns.

We also enjoyed the beautiful Painted Desert Inn, a structure built in the 1930’s by the CCC.  Gorgeous southwestern style, planted at the edge of the Painted Desert with spectacular views out of all the windows.  It reminded us of the Mission Inn in its look and feel, although on a much smaller scale.  Beautiful!

As we drove eastward, the wind continued to blow strongly and with night approaching, we decided we would get a motel for the night.  We usually use the Choice Hotels Website which shows us a range of member facilities in an area.  We have been staying in RodeWay Inns this trip and been happy with the inexpensive but clean and comfortable accommodations.  So when I found a RodeWay Inn in Gallup, I booked it.

Driving up to the place we realized we were in for an “adventure.”  It looked, well, run down is a kind term.  I entered a darkened lobby and a very nice young woman came out and checked me in.  We parked and walked into a room that had a very used appearance. a bed which, to put it kindly, had very little support left in it.  The phone didn’t work and had bare wires hanging out of a connection box lying on the floor.  The thermostat controls were non-existent with fragments of the temperature control still visible.  We also discovered trash under the bed the next morning.

If we hadn’t been so tired, we would have left, but resilient travelers that we are, we decided this was part of the experience.  We spent the night serenaded by the toots, whistles and clatters of the big train yard adjacent to our motel.

The bathroom was old but clean, and we left the next morning after showering with plenty of hot water.  Oh, this establishment also promised “free breakfast” but we discovered that consisted entirely of coffee, a pile of well-shuffled white bread, and one, mini muffin which we discovered was stale.

It WAS a memorable experience, and one I intend to share with Choice Hotels.

The saga continues tomorrow!

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