Driving from the Grand Canyon to Winslow AZ turned out to be more of an adventure than we expected. As we were preparing to move from the park we were surprised to see an occasional snow flurry. As we drove towards Flagstaff at an elevation of 7,000 feet, what started as a steady rain quickly turned into snow with the temperature hovering just above freezing. The snow followed us to Flagstaff where we stopped for gas and lunch. The dark threatening clouds made us eager to eat fast and get back on the road. The snow eased up as we descended into Winslow with an elevation just under 5,000 feet. However the snow was replaced by winds averaging 35 mph at our campground at Homolovi Ruins State Park. Bill had to strain to push the door open against the wind while I got out. We checked in at the Visitors Center and proceeded to our site. Even with the jacks down the wind really buffeted us until the wind calmed down at sunset. At one point clothes hanging inside on a hook were swaying back and forth from the force of the wind hitting us.
At this campground we are truly in a desert environment with sand, scrub bushes and signs warning of venomous snakes and insects.
The tiny town of Winslow, surrounded by Navajo County, surprisingly had a Walmart Supercenter. Do you recognize the name Winslow? It was made famous in the Eagles song “Take It Easy” with the lyrics “Well I’m a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see, It’s a girl, my Lord in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me….”. In the middle of town is a statue of a guitar playing guy with the backdrop of a Ford flatbed truck with a girl inside. Parked on the curb near the statue is a real Ford flatbed truck. Across the street is a gift shop displaying souvenirs of the guy standing on the corner. Route 66 runs through this part of Arizona and Route 66 souvenirs are everywhere.
The Homolovi Ruins State Park has two archeological sites dedicated to preserving the homeland of the Anasazi and Hopi people who first came here between 1260-1400 A.D. The Hopi people today still consider this their homeland and make pilgrimages to these sites. This state park was established for the purpose of protecting these sites and the idea was supported by the Hopi people. The park opened in 1993.
We visited the largest of the two archaeological sites. Despite a nice paved walkway to the site, there is really not much left to see except some small remains and shards of pottery.
We drove to the Meteor Crater Discovery Center to see the best preserved meteorite impact site on Earth. 50,000 years ago a meteor which had been hurtling through space for 500 million years, crashed into the earth. The impact left a crater nearly a mile across and more than 550 feet deep. The crater is so large that a 60 story building would not reach the rim. It is large enough to hold 20 football games with two million fans watching on the crater walls. Because the terrain so closely resembles that of the moon and other planets it was once used as an official training site for NASA Apollo astronauts.
The Discovery Center had an interesting movie which simulated how the impact may have occurred when the crater was formed as well as many interactive displays and artifacts. We were able to see and touch the largest meteorite fragment found at the crater. In the beginning geologists and scientists determined that the crater was formed by a volcano. After many years new scientists proved the crater was formed by a meteorite and not a volcano. It was interesting to read that scientists think a meteorite crashing into the earth millions of years ago was the probable cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs. It is believed the impact in Mexico caused an “impact winter” which eliminated plant and animal life.
They had two outside viewing areas, an upper and lower deck. It was difficult to get a picture of the entire crater in one picture. The site has been designated as a “Natural Landmark” but is privately owned. As far as we could tell access to the crater is limited to the two observation decks and a paved trail around the rim.
You just never know what you will find in the Arizona desert!