Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Back on the Road

Location: Williams, AZ
Mileage: 4419

We were packed and out of the room by 11:30 am, which is pretty remarkable for us. Saying a wistful goodbye to Worldcon, we were on the road by noon, heading east on Highway 91, I-15, and (ultimately) I-40.

We drove through the stinking desert, where it was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. (Actually, "stinking desert" is a misnomer, since it doesn't actually stink.

There is an old California/West Coast saying that if the European settlement of the US had gone west-to-east instead of east-to-west, New England would still be uninhabited. An interesting idea...until you realize that the West Coast was settled first: there were Spanish settlers halfway up California by the time the Mayflower landed. But those Spanish settlers who tried to go east all died in the stinking desert, never making it far enough to ignore New England.


About 2 pm we stopped in Summit Valley, CA, in the middle of the Mojave Desert. We got gas and ate at Del Taco, which is far superior to Taco Bell. (My colleague Meg, who came from Southern California, probably knows all about Del Taco -- Hi, Meg!)

Our next stop was around 4:30 pm in Fenner, CA, which honestly is in the middle of the stinking desert -- there are no towns for 25 miles either way on I-40. We were puzzled at a sign on the door: "We spent a fortune on this business, and it takes a fortune to keep it running here in the middle of nowhere. As a customer, you have a choice of whether to shop here or not. Please do not complain to our employees, they are doing the best they can to serve you." Then we found out that gas was $4.70 a gallon (the most we've paid so far was something like $3.20). Apparently, it costs a lot to ship gasoline in.

We smiled and didn't complain to the employees. In fact, we got some ice cream and ate it there as a show of solidarity.

Soon after that we crossed over into Arizona, singing the State Song that our friend Betsy Anthony Childs taught us (which is basically the state's name sung to the chorus of the Battle Hymn of the Republic: "Arizona Arizona, Arizona Arizona, Arizona Arizona, Ar-i-zo-o-na He! Hey!) We've been doing that every time we pass into a different state. Nevada and Idaho gave us trouble -- three-syllable names don't really scan correctly.

Just as a side note, we routinely -Tucky states. It started with Pennsyltucky, which everyone knows, and soon we were adding -tucky to every state we can think of (except, of course, the long one near Tennesseetucky...that one is called Kennsylvania). So we've been through Pennsyltucky (of course), Ohiotucky, Michitucky, Illitucky, Wisconsitucky, Minnesotucky, North and South Dakotucky, Wyomitucky, Montanucky, Idahotucky...and then came Utah, which posed us a dreadful conundrum: How does one correctly -tucky Utah? Is it Utahtucky, or just Utucky?

The worst thing was, we realized that there was literally no one we could ask.

To this day, the question remains unsettled. Opinions are welcome.

Anyway, back to Arizonatucky. At first we were in the stinking desert, but then we started to climb, and something amazing happened. Grass. Trees. Ponds. Actual lakes. And the temperature went down, from the low 100s Fahrenheit to the low 80s.

Turns out that we were in a part of Artizonatucky that is actually fit for human habitation.

About 8:00 pm we stopped in Williams, AZ, which is less than an hour from the Grand Canyon. Here in Williams, at an altitude of 6770 feet, they get an annual rainfall of 21.88 inches. While the rest of Arizonatucky swelters in summer, lovely Williams seldom has temperatures above the mid-80s.

We settled for the night at the Grand Canyon Country Inn, which has an indoor pool and jacuzzi, and wireless Internet access in the little breakfast room (there's continental breakfast in the mornings). We swam, we ate, and now we're going to try out the wireless Internet access.

Tomorrow: The Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Meteor Crater, Painted Desert, and as much else as we can squeeze in.


Betsy said...

Taught to me by my father, the state song is a great way to break up the trip. Poor guy had to travel in a 4 door car with 4 kids, a dog and a wife. No SUV's in my generation. We didn't even have a station wagon. So the state song was it. No state is impossible.
By the way - "Ida, Ida, Ida-ho ho ho, oh Idaho hey hey!!" Or maybe since you are past Idaho, try "Oh Texa, texa, texa tex, tex, tex oh texas-ia hey hey!"
I think next time I see Dad I will teach him the Tucky song. I like that one!!!
I am now going downstairs to make some nachos for an appetizer.

Thanks for the update!!

betts said...

I think I threw some extra Tex's in there, now that I reread and resing it. Oh well. :)

Kate Jones said...

I suggest "Utahucky". The h is silent. And you can not only sing the state song, you can play it on your mormonica.

Eastward ho!