Thursday, April 18, 2013


This is the most photographed site on Route 66. It's an abandoned gas station near Flagstaff, of no particular historic or architectural significance, but it does have its own exit just off the main highway. Broken dreams, everyone!

Trivia question: Does anyone know how Flagstaff Arizona got its name?

A: Trick question. It was named after a flagpole. I can only imagine what local highlights the town fathers rejected before settling on that one.

“Gentleman, this town needs a name, and I feel it should be a testament to the spirit and enterprise of the people that settled this beautiful place. What’s the first thing we built here?”

“Well sir, I reckon it was the pig fence. After that, I think there was the privy? Then, a whole caravan of us pitched in to get the saloon and brothel up pretty quick. And then there was the vomiting-shed out back of the saloon. Then there was the jail… and I guess the flagpole we put in front of the jail. Does that count?”


Despite the mundane name (and misspelled plaque commemorating the original flagpole) Flagstaff was a beautiful town, the kind of place you could imagine ne’er do wells and triggermen washing up in before heading out into the surrounding hills. It’s been cleaned up quite a bit since then, boasting a gourmet café and fancy bagel shop that hosted us for breakfast. The walls of the latter – Biff’s Bagels – had become a veritable shrine to the town’s deceased canines, with photos of furry faces and handwritten eulogies to  missed canines lining the walls from floor to ceiling.

Our primary goal for the day was not far from Flagstaff: a local attraction called Meteor Crater. I will not leave any of you in suspense as to the nature of that attraction: a mile-wide hole in the ground left by a chunk of malevolent space-iron 50,000 years ago.

I don’t want to sell Meteor Crater short: it was spectacular, the accompanying interpretation center entertaining and educational and the tale of its original owner’s twenty year subterranean quest to mine a hunk of metal that had, in fact, evaporated on impact, blackly comic.

When I die, however, that is not what I will remember about Meteor Crater.

Anyone who’s traveled a North American highway has probably seen those roadside notices to tune in to a designated AM radio station for information of weather conditions, or traffic, or local attractions. Meteor Crater has one of those, and on a whim we decided to tune in, and am I ever glad we did.

The station was a repeating loop of a gravel-voiced man, clearly doing some pro bono work from his normal job doing colour commentary at Monster Truck rallies.


Geez buddy, couldn't you at least say "Spoiler Alert" first?

He carried on like that for a while (“BE SURE TO STOP AT BETTY’S DINER IN WINSLOW!!! SEE THE GIRL ON THE FLATBED FORD!!! ENJOY THE NEW SUBWAY RESTAURANT IN THE INTERPRETATION CENTER!!! METEOR CRATER!!!”). Suddenly,  the loop cut to what I presume was a scientist of some sort, clearly recorded in the 1970s. He was not introduced, which was probably for the best, given what we heard.

His reedy-voiced lecture began… “There has been increasing interest from the public and the scientific community in…”

“METEOR CRATER!!! EXPERIENCE THE IMPACT!!!” cut in Monster Truck Man, possibly thinking to himself “SHUT UP NERD!!!”

Of course Tim, Travis and I spent the rest of the day TALKING LIKE THIS and interrupting each other’s sentences with sudden interjections of METEOR CRATER!!! It never got old.

Next: We visit a ghost town and nearly get METEOR CRATER!!!

Petrified Forest National Park. This is a rock that looks like a log, which
is cool in theory, but looks very much like a log in practice.

Painted Desert, NM.

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