2015 USA Road Trip Day 11: Flagstaff AZ to Henderson NV
Woke up to lots more snow, but the vague hope that I might be leaving it all behind me today.
I had a great morning at the Lowell Observatory. I didn't really expect anything but I had a quick chance to look at the sun through a solar telescope which was good enough for me to see flares and sunspots on it - at 10.30am in the morning I wasn't really expecting to see anything through anything. After that there was a 45 minute talk about the discovery of Pluto for myself and about a dozen other people who'd turned up, and I found it really interesting. The guy who discovered Pluto, Clyde Tombaugh, was basically a work experience boy who sat up every night in a cold telescope tower, chipping ice off the lens before taking hour-long exposures on photo plates and the comparing them on a blink comparator (no, me neither). Pluto was too small to see with the eye through telescopes and this was the only way they could find it. (And a while after they did find it, they lost it again for a while ...)
The Americans are very proud of their planet discovery (which is no longer a planet, of course) although they did mention at the end that Pluto was actually named by a young English schoolgirl who sent a telegram in from Oxford in response to a public appeal. There were some letters there from the American public with some really bad other suggestions for the name.
Sadly I was unable to take a photo of the "Welcome to Pluto" sign as it keeps getting stolen and they haven't decided whether to replace it again or not.
When I came out of Flagstaff I drove through the Kaibab National Forest and it was still snowing so it was nice to see snow-covered pine trees. It was still really cold though and it was snowing quite hard by the time I got to Williams, which I detoured through - lots of old Route 66 relics still here. I had far too big a lunch (and still left half of it) at Goldie's Diner.
As I came out of Williams though, the snow stopped, the cloud cover changed from 100% snow clouds to blue skies and the temperature rose from 30F to 40F in a couple of minutes and then straight up to the 50s after a few more miles. I was still up quite high but the transformation was amazing. Within 10 miles I was out of 6 inches of snow and into golden shrubland where it hadn't looked like it had snowed all year.
Drove through to Seligman, another quiet town with a very wide Route 66 going through it and lots of things to photograph as well.
Had a really nice drive into Kingman with the Hualapai Mountains ahead of me.
It was here things started to go wrong - my phone, which I had been using as a satnav, was having problems connecting to the local phone network and I was suffering from a low battery, and I ended up driving quite a few miles out of Kingman without being sure where I was going. I managed to find my way again in the end and got back on the road towards Lake Havasu City.
Having walked around Williams in another snow storm at lunchtime, I find myself at Lake Havasu on the Colorado river two hours later, in bright sunshine with no clouds at all and the thermometer touching 21 C. I parked up and had a nice walk over London Bridge and back - the settings were beautiful and I could see myself spending more time in this city if I didn't have a plane to catch at some point. There were a few people taking photos of the bridge - the setting, with palm trees and mountains surrounding us, was surreal.
I particularly liked the statue of the two guys agreeing the contract for the bridge. After the bridge itself, it's probably the oldest thing in the whole city.
After leaving Lake Havasu at around 5pm, things started to go a bit pear shaped again. My initial plan was to head north into California (clocks going back an hour again) and then Nevada and stop at the town of Searchlight - a 95 mile drive which was easy enough, just played a few albums and relaxed a bit. When I got there, I didn't stop the car, I just slowed down, had a look around and kept on going! Apart from a McDonalds and a fairly rough-looking hotel there didn't seem to be anything there at all.
My phone, back to having virtually no battery (i can charge it or use satnav, but not both) told me there were hotels in Boulder City so I drove another 40 miles, by which time it had got dark. Checked in around 6pm to the Nevada Inn, who wanted payment up front - always a bad sign. Found my room, and it was very big, but didn't look like it had been decorated in 50 years. There was a big jacuzzi at the back, and the tap was dripping - and the wifi wasn't working either. I used that as an excuse to get a refund and get out of there. I did not like Boulder City - it's like Thamesmead, only with more palm trees and casinos.
An hour later I am checking in again at the Comfort Inn in Henderson, another 12 miles away - oh to add to all the stress I had about 5 miles of petrol left too! Decided not to go out and ordered a pizza which was hard work in itself.
For another $20 I ended up with a hotel that was 100 times better. Some people say that part of the appeal of doing road trips is staying at the "mom and pop motels" but I have seen the insides of a couple of them and they all look like they are shitholes. The branded hotels like Comfort Inn are only about £10-£15 more expensive but they are light years ahead in cleanliness and comfort.
|Next:||2015 USA Road Trip Day 12: Henderson NV to Tonopah NV|
|Previous:||2015 USA Road Trip Day 10: Monument Valley UT to Flagstaff AZ|
Last updated 25 February 2015 16:48
I think I'm meant to do an "About" here but I think you'd be more interested in seeing a random seagull.