I wake up to that disgusting cigarette smell, which motivates to get the hell out of this place as quickly as possible. I take a shower, no breakfast, I pack, and get out of the room to checkout. I see through a window a large indoor room, that kinda looks like it could be used for meetings, but it’s filled with plenty of furniture all over the place, lots of junk. This motel is really going down. I get in the car after checking out, then search for a nice coffee shop on my phone, I need comfort. I find one that’s on the other side of the city, on my way West.
I go back on the highway to cross the city to get to the coffee shop. There are hot air balloons in the sky North-West outside of the city, it’s pretty cool. I reach the coffee shop, called Prismatic Coffee. It’s in a neighbourhood of new condos, all the buildings around look recent. The place looks new too. I get an Americano and chat with the waitress. She tells me the hot air balloons are out every morning, whenever the weather allows it. The coffee is good, and it reconciles me with Albuquerque. I ask the waitress to put some hot water in my thermos so I can make some coffee with my Aeropress later, and I take off, heading towards Flagstaff, Arizona.
So back on Highway 40. The scenery looks better with mountains that start red at the bottom and are yellow on top. Again, it feels like a western movie. It then evolves a bit, on my right mountains are dry and red, on my left they’re covered with bushes and green. Again, I see long trains on the side, makes me think of my friend who came to hate try after a job she’s done that turned sour. I wind the clock back again as I enter Arizona, Pacific Time! There’s a tall mountain with snow on top in the distance, I think this is where Flagstaff is. I almost arrive in the city when I see the first sign to Los Angeles, I’m getting close!
I have lunch at Red Curry Vegan Kitchen. I have green curry with vegetable and rice. It’s good, spicy as I like it. After the McDonald’s incident, I’m happy that I avoided fast food restaurants, and managed eat well during the trip. It’s 1pm, and I should get going to see the Grand Canyon now. It takes over an hour and a half to get there. I make a quick stop to fill up the tank as I leave the city.
The road to the Grand Canyon is nice. It starts in a pine forest, there’s still snow on the ground, but not on the road fortunately! Then the road goes through a large open valley with tall yellow grass and snowy mountains on each side. Then back in the forest as I approach the Grand Canyon park. I haven’t had coffee yet and I feel it. I still have the hot water in the thermos, I just need to find a spot to make it. As I’m getting closer, there’s a sign on the side of the road that says there’s a wait time two hours. What?! I’m thinking about bailing. I stop at the visitor center to ask about it and the lady says it’s much better now and it’s probably about 20 minutes. So I go. It ended up being pretty fast. Also luckily I was in the fastest lane at the toll booth. There are more tourists than the last time I was here, but it’s not too bad. Picnic tables are spread around the parking lot, I can finally make coffee! Relief!
The Grand Canyon is still grand! Huge! We’re tiny. I really want to come back during a warmer season and hike down. I take photos, chat with other tourists, and take the time to appreciate the view. The sun is starting to set and the light in the canyon starts to fade, so I get back in the car to drive back to Flagstaff. The road from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon makes a kind of loop. So you can get there from one side and leave from the other. Which is what I intend to do. I arrived from the West and will leave from the East. I guess I should have done it the other way to see the sunset but I don’t want to go back from the same road.
As I go on the East part, I stop at several more spots that offer nice views of the canyon. It’s still huge. The road goes down slowly and winding, it’s fun. I’m back in the city and the night has come down. I need to find a place to stay for the night. I drive on Route 66 to check on the various motels, I don’t want to repeat last night’s experience! I find one that looks good, so I stop and book it. The room has been renovated recently, it’s nice. And no cigarette smell!
Flagstaff is a major train hub, and a lot of cargo trains cross the city. And historically the train tracks are along Route 66, or is it the other way around? And because the motel I stay in is on Route 66, I hear trains. They’re loud and I hope they won’t wake me up in the middle of the night. I don’t have diner again as I’m not hungry. I get to bed around 10pm, today started not so well but ended up great!