Santa Fe roadtrip day 12: Flagstaff to Las Vegas and home

I felt a bit melancholy as we sat in a diner on Route 66 in Flagstaff this morning eating another greasy breakfast and watching the freight trains rumble slowly past. When we were heading out on the first day of this trip, crossing the Arizona border made me feel so far from home–the first step on a grand adventure. This morning, Arizona didn’t feel exotic at all, but instead like the beginning of a slippery slope leading to California. I wanted to back up and keep traveling. I had more national monuments to see! Sunset Crater and Walnut Canyon were only miles from the motel!

Sometimes I’m homesick on these trips and ready to return, but not this time. I think it is because a friend of ours graciously offered to stay at our place, so I haven’t been plagued by worries about the cat, the yard and all that.

As we approached Nevada, we seemed to be driving straight into a thunderstorm. I was nervous about this thanks to our last southwest trip when I learned a German tourist was killed by lightning on the rim of Bryce Canyon. Fortunately, either the road skirted left or the storm moved right, so all we got was enough rain to wash the windshield free of smashed bugs.

thunderstorm

We stopped at the new Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge near Lake Mead. That’s a mouthful! Unfortunately we were *on* the bridge so we couldn’t see the bridge, but I gotta say, this is the most substantial shadow ever!

Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge

The middle of somewhere…that is what I learned this trip. At first this made me a little sad. I like the idea of “the middle of nowhere.” On our last southwest road trip I was completely out of my element, the way burning man used to make me feel. I liked this.

This time I had enough dots to connect to make a picture. The towns weren’t isolated. Every lonely road was one that numerous people used to get to work every day. For instance, we took the road that goes northeast from 70 (below, right of center). That looks like a whole lot of nowhere, doesn’t it? Especially when you do a side by side comparison with a map of the Bay Area.

Yeah, we had very spotty cell coverage and drove through some amazing, seemingly untouched scenery, but this was not The Middle of Nowhere. We rounded a bend and there was a huge power plant.

I’m a romantic, but also a realist. Am I willing to trade my dream of a rugged, uninhabited southwest for one of small towns populated by people like me, sitting on the couch on a Thursday night watching Tivo and arguing over which designer should be cut from Project Runway? Reluctantly, yes. : ) Those people could be my neighbors.

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