Driving from Phoenix to Albuequrque

Motor Lodge Inn
A few months ago I saw a Salon.com slideshow about boutique hotels (those internet slideshows are irresistible). The slideshow featured  The Motor Lodge in Prescott, Arizona (Prescott, pronounced like biscuit, as the owner told us.) After our long day in Phoenix, we drove an hour and a half north to stay there.

The Motor Lodge Inn was built in the 1940s and has had various owners. It became very run down and was once a crack den (oooooh!). Joe and Brian bought the place three years ago and have transformed it into a retro haven. I was already sold on the place, but when Joe and Brian sent us off with four warm chocolate chip cookies I knew I would

Our room at the Motor Lodge

Our room at the Motor Lodge

The view from our room at The Motor Lodge

89A: Jessup

Jessup: Remnants of a mining town and ghost town

The owners of The Motor Lodge urged us to reroute and take road 89-A to Flagstaff. This included a drive through the beautiful Sedona mountains and forest and a stop in Jerome, which sits on the side of a mountain.

Jerome has undergone a bunch of changes. Instead of expressing them in a sentence, I will use arrows:

Mining Town –> Ghost Town –>  Hippie Town –> Artist/Gallery town/place to buy fudge

Sedona Mountains. Oy, to die for.

One of the 800 pictures taken of the Sedona Mountains

Route 66

We took I-40 most of the way to Albuquerque. The interstate runs parallel to historic Route 66 and I was eager to experience this famous road. I found it suitably kitschy, but also sad. Since most travelers take I-40 now, many of the businesses that once lined the road are shuttered. It’s depressing. Additionally, as a driver looking to go 80+ mph (sorry Dad!), Route 66’s 40 mph speed limit was off putting.

The route to Meteor Crater. (Not pictured: Cows)

We detoured from I-40 in an attempt to stop at Meteor Crater, the site of a meteor impact outside of Winslow, Arizona. However, when we found it would be $30 for the both of us to experience the Meteor Crater Museum and the actual crater, we realized we didn’t care.

It wasn’t all a loss. The route out to Meteor Crater was barren, yet beautiful (I wasn’t able to get a picture of the cows by the side of the road.) We also stumbled upon the most awesome gas station on the planet. I bought a bunch of magnets and postcards from a woman named Dottie Hanson. I wanted to sign over my savings account, but was ushered out.

Signs along Route 66

Rock Shop along Route 66. It was closed, which is upsetting cos I am fresh out of rocks.


The highs and lows of Phoenix











It turns out my boyfriend was right about Phoenix. But it wasn’t all bad.

The Drive
The drive from LA was gorgeous. We stopped in Palm Springs for a late lunch and Joshua Tree National Park for a quick look. (I’ll upload more pictures later)

Our lodging
My friend told me about this website, airbnb, where people lists rooms or proerties that you can rent out for a night (or longer.) Based on our experience, I definitely recommend it.

We were lucky to find the very hospitable Kate. She lives in downtown Phoenix, in a wooden house that was owned in the 1930s by a circus performer! The house is a converted duplex and we stayed in the part that was once rented out.

Kate made us a beautiful breakfast and talked to us about being a progressive-minded  Phoenician (pronounced like the ancient “Venetians”. This was particularly difficult for me to grasp). She also said the city suffers from an identity crisis. It’s got infleuences from the old west and the Mexican community, but suffers from “dick envy” for California.

The best part of our stay were her two cats and two dogs. They were so friendly — maybe TOO friendly. During breakfast one of her dogs brought in a pair of my underwear from my room.

Phoenix Phail
I got a recommendation from the New York Times’ “36 Hours in” series to visit the Phoenix Botanical Garden and we decided to travel there using public transporation.

This turned out to be a bad decision. It wasn’t easy to navigate the Phoenix Light Rail, even though it’s one line. Maps, Phoenix … maps are helpful.

We knew it was a mile to walk from the light rail to the garden, but the big mistake was assuming the walk would be scenic. It was… a little. Highlights include The Fire Museum.

The problem was we couldn’t find the entrance to the gardens.  We found the zoo, and we did walk alongside the gardens, but by the time we found the entrance we had to head back. Wayfinding signage, Phoenix. Look into it.

Another problem was that it was hot and we didnt have water or sunscreen. Yes, I am aware that Phoenix is in the desert, but I blame the city.

We rode the bus back, which took some time. Taking the bus and the tram allowed us to see the streetscape… but the streetscape wasn’t nice. It’s a city built for cars and most people live in the suburbs, so the city center is a lot of gas stations and car dealerships. Yich.

The Game
I want to see all the major league teams play in their baseball stadiums, so the game was the whole reason we came to Phoenix.

It didn’t disappoint. Despite the fact that Chase Field is one of the leagues newer stadiums (built in 1998), the fact that the organization seems to exclusively  refer to the team as the “D-backs,” and that my team (the Marlins) lost, the game was great. The food is cheap (for baseball) and everyone we encountered was nice.

In fact, most people we encountered in Phoenix were nice. But that still couldn’t save the city.

Sorry Phoenix, you suck.