SUNDAY, JANUARY 31st 2016.
We started the morning off with a sunrise on our spot near the Carlsbad Caverns, packing up our tent and then heading into Carlsbad center to get the oil change- it was MORE than past due (We got WAY too lucky), and then we grabbed some iHop.
After a weirdly long, even lackadaisical oil change (about an hour and a half) we got back on the road and headed on our way, to what we THOUGHT would be the Grand Canyon. Little did we know but this was going to be our longest and worst drive of the trip, although potentially one of the most beautiful.
We left Carlsbad and headed north towards Albuquerque where we started rising in elevation and crossing through breath-taking mountainous scenery intertwined with red-rock desert landscapes- Its hard to imagine before you actually see it (Especially being from the East Coast). The hills dipped and dived for miles and as we got closer to Arizona the skyline became more jagged and Dali-esque.
We made it into Albuquerque sometime in the afternoon, and grabbed a TON of some delicious nachos at some small place in town, full of jalapeños, fresh cut vegetables, and steak. WAY TOO GOOD. Then we hopped back on the road.
The city itself of Albuquerque was very interesting, the architecture, art and sculptures found throughout were really cool. There was a sculpture made of what looked like old airplane parts into an abstract, spike free-form and although abstraction isn’t my favorite it was definitely fitting in its location. There was also lots of parks and flowers, and murals everywhere. All-in-all it was an intriguing city, and I would definitely be interested in visiting it in the future for a longer stay. As we left Albuquerque and headed northwest to the Grand Canyon we crossed into Arizona. The scenery became even more dramatic and exaggerated with the canyons dragging lower and the mountain roads waning higher. This is also when we started to hit some weather.
It only began as rain, just some light sprinkling but then it became heavier and heavier as we rose in elevation. Eventually it turned into hail and became far more pronounced, leading us to slow down considerably by the time we were in Flagstaff.
We switched from Hannah driving to me and by the time we got back on the highway, it had turned to nothing but snow and was only accumulating faster (Unfortunately, due to us panicking the rest of the night and feeling shitty about not seeing the Grand Canyon, we didn't take anymore pictures the rest of the day). After less than 15 minutes the roads were completely shit- nothing but slush, packed snow, sliding cars, car accidents, less than a foot of visibility, dropping temperatures and no signs of an exit. It was nothing short of a clusterfuck.
Luckily within half an hour I was able to catch up to a line of semis that had their hazards on and were going 15 mph. I stayed behind them the rest of the way, helping my line of visibility incredibly. Due to the weather our GPS and our phones couldn’t find service and so we could only drive slowly and hope an exit with lodging would come up soon. After missing the first exit, driving another 20 miles, calling our original hotel for recommendations on what to do (we had to cancel that reservation- with no refund of course) and going past 2 more exits because they had no indication of lodging, we FINALLY saw signs for a little town off an exit called Williams in Arizona. We pulled into a Hotel 6 after maybe an hour driving through the eye of the storm, along with a few other cars looking for a safe haven. After just a horrible time navigating this terrain, we wanted nothing other than to grab some water and go to bed. We went to the vending machine, Hannah stuck in $2 and hit the water button, and out drops an orange soda- Hahaaa... it was almost comical at this point how much the universe was trying us. We went into our room, got in bed, tried the TV out, and no signal. Then we tried the wifi- no signal. After all that, click, the lights go out….
Fortunately enough there was a generator and the power came back within a minute or so. But after all that we just went to bed- This day had definitely beaten us.