We began what I’m calling The Great & Fabulous 70th Birthday Road Tour at the end of last week. It only makes sense that if I’m about to become a septuagenarian, which it appears is impossible to avoid or ignore, I should do it with a mighty bang. I’ve still got another month or so left of my 60s, but I figured I needed a little time to work up to the big day.
We headed southeast from Las Vegas for the ~600 mile ride to Albuquerque, the first major stop on our itinerary. Okay, we didn’t manage it all in one go… we stopped after 250 unremarkable, but pleasant miles for a night in Flagstaff. A trip this good just cannot be rushed. We stopped for a quick morning hike on the AZT (Arizona Trail) which we’d first sampled last weekend along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
The day dawned bright and sunny. We found an AZT trailhead on a frontage road close to I-40. The blue sky was dotted with puffy white cumulus clouds. Flagstaff sits at about 7,000’ above sea level and it didn’t take long for us to notice the altitude as we meandered through Coconino National Forest lands.
We were just outside the boundaries of Walnut Canyon National Monument which we’d visited before and the terrain was rough and rugged. The rocky, dirt path was well-marked and lined with yellow rabbitbrush and bright orange Indian paintbrush. It was a perfect cool, crisp autumn day on the Arizona high desert and the air smelled forest fresh.
We managed just over two miles before we suddenly remembered that we would lose an hour as we crossed into New Mexico and the Rocky Mountain Time Zone and we needed to be in Albuquerque by 4pm with still another 350 miles to travel. We reluctantly retraced our steps and headed back to Blue. The AZT remains on our radar for future hikes.
We crossed over the New Mexico state line and were greeted by a billboard asking the official state question: “Red or Green?” (that’s New Mexican chile) and arrived in Albuquerque where our niece (and webmistress), Gentry and her family live... just in time to start off the world famous Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.
Join us next time for high times in Albuquerque!