I take full responsibility, as visiting the Meteor Crater and Winslow Arizona were my idea. Since seeing the movie Star Man with Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen from 1984, I’ve always wanted to see the Meteor Crater. As for Winslow, well, while only 17 miles from it, one has to get a picture “Standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona,” doesn’t one?
We planned a 2 day trip, to visit the Meteor crater and Winslow on day 1, then on to the Grand Canyon the next day after spending the night in Flagstaff.
The Meteor Crater is 43 miles east of Flagstaff on the 40 and 202 miles from our location in Goodyear and quite frankly, not as big as I thought it would be. It’s impossible to see without paying the $15 entry fee and proceeding through some serious security gates. Very odd. It’s over a mile across, 550 feet deep (currently, but changes all the time) and about 2.4 miles around. Oh, and it’s pretty old too.
The Meteor Crater was used in the early 70’s as a test ground for NASA astronauts as they practiced for lunar crater exploration. Various viewing scopes were fixed in place aimed at historical points around the location, some to sights of early drilling, one to a life size cutout of a man in a space suite along with a full size replica of the US flag on the moon positioned at the very bottom and a few other things.
Now I dont’ remember the weight of this exactly, and with all the details of the various parts of the actual “hurtling through space” and “final impact” of the object you know, but I seem to recall that this little bugger I’m pictured with is about 1100 pounds. I do remember though that it’s a meteor that makes its way through space and a meteorite that makes the impact. In space it’s one thing, while after impacting the earth, it changes name. Either way, this little 1100 lb bugger displaced 300 to 400 MILLION tons of earth when it hit 50,000 years ago (exactly).
I’m glad to have taken the time to go to the Meteor Crater, to be able to say I’ve been there and cross another item off my life list.
“We’re off to Winslow,” we said to the guard as we made our way out of the security check point.
“Not much of a place” he said which we thought was odd at the time.
“We’ve got to get our picture taken while ‘Standing on the corner’,” we said back and with that made our way to the car.
Driving past “Two Arrows” we saw the two giant arrows at the now abandoned gas station on the side of the road. A few miles later we encountered “Two Guns” Arizona, but had no such attraction as the arrows. Interesting to see two towns named the way they were in the short 17 miles to Winslow.
“Not much of a place,” we thought, echoing the guard’s sentiment.
Lots of old buildings in disrepair, houses, shops etc and more motels in a short space of distance than I’ve ever seen before in my life. The little town is more or less split by two one way streets going east and west and on each side of the street are motels and more motels, most relics from the early days of Route 66’s history, some still functioning while others boarded up along with most of the rest of Winslow’s business district.
Standing On The Corner Park
At one four way stop, we happened to see some people taking photographs when we realized we had stumbled upon “Standing On The Corner Park”, a small space dedicated to the city and the famous lyrics by The Eagles, from the song “Take it Easy.” There sat a bright red flat bed Ford on the street and a brilliant mural behind a lone statue with a guitar. We pulled over and parked.
After convincing the local homeless man that we’d like to have our picture taken “without” him in the picture and to move aside, we took a bunch of photographs. That done, we decided to walk the street a little further, camera firmly in Dar’s hand.
This is one of my favorite shots and I’ve seen nothing like it before. Dar used a wide angle lens and literally stood against the opposing wall across the street while I tried to stay behind the lens and hold the American flag down so it was straight. You’ve really got to love the wide angle lens, you know?
I thought about all the people who’ve made their way here simply because of The Eagles song “Take it Easy” and wanting to have their picture take “Standing on the Corner in Winslow Arizona”. I thought of my friend Bob Garon who himself told me that he had to come here just for the photo. We arrived to a couple standing getting a photo and we left a few hours later after seeing an entire high school wrestling team take a group shot at the location, meaning more to their coach than the team, I’m sure.
Surprisingly, just about all the shops were closed for the day and this was 3:30 on a Saturday. Again, very very odd.
La Posada Hotel
I had heard about the La Posada Hotel somewhere earlier, but paid no attention to it because, why would I care about a hotel in Winslow Arizona? Well, we stumbled upon the La Posada and decided to take a look.
Walking up to the doors from the Route 66 street side provided an excellent opportunity for some architecture photography by Darlene. This hotel was certainly old and while not in the state of disorder the town’s other motels showed, it still had it’s own issues. If the cars out front were any sign, it was certainly a working hotel.
I left Dar outside to take photos as I went through the two paint chipped doors, one with a note to “use the other door”.
What lay inside stunned me.
From the outside, one would have NO idea what the insides offered. I was to soon learn that National Geographic Travel magazine listed La Posada Hotel on their 2009 “Places to stay” list
A 1929 railway hotel originally designed as a centuries-old fantasy Spanish hacienda. Saved from demolition by historic preservationist owner in 1997: hand-painted glass windows, tin chandeliers, some original six-foot-long cast-iron tubs. Planting of original garden based on sustainable desert plants now underway. You can still come here by train: Amtrak stops twice a day. 37 rooms; from $109.
Trip Advisor rated La Posada Hotel as #3 on its list of bargain hotels in the US while readers of Conde Nast Traveler chose it as “one of the best places to stay in the world”.
The La Pasada Hotel was the creation of Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, a name having very little meaning as I stood exploring the hotel and grounds, but I get ahead of myself.
After walking through the front doors, I was so blown away by what laid ahead of me that I sat down on the couch to watch a little movie looping on the flat panel TV across from a beautiful couch, just past the doorway to the reception and gift shop. The DVD playing was part of a documentary / movie being made about the hotel and was made available to the hotel owners for display, but as it was unfinished, was not available for sale or professional showings. Here I sat, just 10 feet into the front foyer, Route 66 a few feet past the doors I came in, watching and waiting for Darlene to follow.
Fifteen minutes had easily passed when I realized Darlene was not coming into the hotel. I left to find her outside still photographing the bits and pieces of the hotel. After a few minutes of the video I had watched, I looked at the front entrance way with new vision. I took my time and soaked it all up. What first looked like disarray in fact was part of a historical restoration by the current owners. Like a good muscle car, the owner was taking care of the inside before turning his attention to the outside. I stood on the front steps and watched Darlene make photographic magic. When I slow down, and see the things she sees through the lens of her camera and her eyes, everything we do and all the places we go make more sense to me. This seems to be especially true of architecture and historical places. Her eyes work differently than mine and I’m grateful for being able to experience the art of her eye.
I encouraged her to enter the building and see what awaited her.
As we ventured past the point where I had sat earlier, and saw into the lobby and down the hallway around the corner I hadn’t yet made it to, I said “Holy shit!”
Literally a few feet past where I was sitting, the inside of the hotel opened up. Down the hallway past the former lobby was a staircase to a second level and off to the right were short stairs going up to a ballroom and outside a sunken garden. The tin work, art by a local artist accompanies the new owners art along side as much of the original work as possible.
Hotel La Posada was originally the Arizona headquarters for the Santa Fe Railway and when constructed in the very late 1920’s had a budget of $1 Million dollars. The La Posada Hotel website says that with grounds and furnishings, the hotel was rumored to have exceeded $2 Million dollars, or $40 Million today.
My words fail to capture what my eyes experienced in this wonderful hotel. We took a walk out the other side and found the railway tracks still used today by Amtrak, delivering guests to the hotel making stops twice a day.
Walking through the hotel, we discovered more history including weddings that have taken place, renovations made by the railway that destroyed original art in favor of a doorway and famous guests including Jimmy Stewart, Shirley Temple, Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, John Wayne and Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.
We left the hotel to walk back to the Standing On The Corner Park and our car, wanting to drive around Winslow just a bit more before settling in on a way to best describe the town.
Virtually absent from people, we got a few more good shots at the park including some with the flat bed Ford that we hadn’t taken previously. After another 10 minutes alone, we drove up the street and then back down the other side of Route 66, heading West now on the other one way street. Finding a postcard and mailing it to a friend back in Edmonton, we drove the rest of the way out until spying a native art store for Darlene to peruse.
For the life of us, we could not figure out what Winslow’s industry was, what was its reason for being here? Why would there be so many motels lining the roads? Only since doing more research on the little town did we discover that Winslow was chosen as the headquarters of the Santa Fe Railroad, as it still is today, and a great place to build a resort hotel. Being a short distance to many Arizona sights to see, the community developed from tourism. The airport was the only all weather airport between Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Los Angeles, California when built by Charles Lindbergh and paid for by Howard Hughes who were also guests at La Posada Hotel. While Winslow is located on one of the busiest railroad lines in the United States and has 100 trains go through it each day (we saw 3 of them as we stood out front of the hotel), the I-40 bypassed the little town in 1970, leaving Route 66 available for local residents, tourists and history seekers.
After seeing a drug deal go down in front of the Circle K while Dar looked for Wifi, we left thinking Winslow was more or less “a shit hole.” an “odd little town.”
Our evening meal was found through Restaurant.com and a short 5 minute drive from our Motel in Flagstaff. We ate at the Himalayan Grill, continuing our vegetarian theme while eating out. Truly wonderful place with exceptional food, serving sizes and prices. Our greeter was Nepalese and after looking at a photograph of the Himalayan countryside, asked if I’d been. I explained that I had hiked to Mt Everest Base camp a short 16 months previously and we chatted about Kathmandu and other Nepal attractions. Our waitress, also Nepalese took our order. We chose the vegetarian platter and had more than enough food after a day of sitting and driving. We’d easily rate it a 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone when eating in Flagstaff.
We settled in for the night thinking of tomorrows adventure, the Grand Canyon.
Images in this post are available for purchase on the Her View Photography online gallery at Zenfolio.com.