Road trip from Texas to Las Vegas – Day 2

Description

Description

Enjoying the best of Arizona and Route 66

If you missed the story about our first day on the road, you can read it here.

We woke up at about 7am and soon after were already checking out. It was really cold for April (less than 50F / 10C), specially after the extremely hot weather of the previous day. That’s when I realized the reason: the altitude. Albuquerque has an elevation of 5,312 ft, a considerable difference of 1,739 ft compared to Roswell. And you don’t really realize it, as you don’t go up any mountain along the way.

We drove a little bit around town but soon got off to the road. I’d have loved to spend the day in Albuquerque. On the way back we had more time to visit other areas, including Sandia Heights, considered one of the best suburbds here. I loved to see the adobe houses, it reminded me of Breaking Bad! If you don’t remember, the series took place in Albuquerque.

The route

In yellow, our Stops in the second day on the Road. The highlighted points also correspond to the cities that appear in the video:

Albuquerque, New Mexico

In the USA, Albuquerque is basically sinonym with hot air balloons. As I explained in the video, in October the city hosts the largest hot air balloon festival in the world. And during the rest of year, weather permitting, you can be sure to spot a few up in the sky.

Back to the I-40, now I finally realize we’re on Route 66! Yayyyyyyyyy! It’s not like in the movies and like many people imagine, full of bikers. We even saw a a Harley Davidson group traveling together, but for the most part there are way more heavy trucks and semis than any other vehicle.

The historical Route 66 and the Interstate 40 are not the same, but they coincide in some parts, properly indicated by signs. Along the way you find several souvenir shops (even the convenience stores will have a few 66 items), and when you arrive in Arizona Route 66 is a main theme along the entire freeway.

Winslow, Arizona

I was certain I had never heard of Winslow before and Gordon was insisting on the contrary. He proved me wrong when we started singing: “Take it easy, take it easy… well I’m stading on a corner in Winslow, Arizona… (1’02”)” And can you believe the city created a tourist attraction based on that verse?

There’s a statue of Glenn Frey, singer of the Eagles, right on that corner! This was the group’s first hit, in 1972. The store across the street has some speakers outside playing this and other songs, I just didn’t include it in the video because of the copyright. But that really creates a nice atmosphere.

Sometime after posting the video on YouTube I had a pleasant surprise when the artist himself who created the “Easy” sculpture left a comment. Ron Adamson was actually disappointed that many people don’t mention that he was the artist, which made me realize how careless we journalists sometimes are. So, in time, thank you Mr Adamson for getting in touch and for creating one of the main landmarks along Route 66! 🙂

From Winslow, after driving 20 more minutes you arrive at the Meteor Crater, a giant hole caused when a meteorite crashed the earth. The name “Meteor” has nothing to do with this though. Because the US Board on Geographic Names normally set up names of natural features derived from the nearest post office, this one acquired the name from the nearby post office named Meteor.

Today it’s well known that the meteorite has desintegrated with the explosion and few pieces still exist. But in the beginning of the 20th century, when people still thought the hole was caused by a volcanic eruption, a businessman purchased this land for believing in the hipothesis of a meteorite and spent years searching for it. Not for scientific, but financial purposes. As he imagined the object would be gigantic, he hoped to make 1 billion dollars (of early 1900’s currency!) upon finding the piece. The plans of course didn’t materialize, but his family still owns the place and they ended up finding another way to recover the investment: opening it up for tourism. It’s worth a visit, I thought it was very nice and it has a good infrastructure.

Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff is probably my favorite city in Arizona. I’ve been here other times and I love it! It’s so charming! Full of historical constructions, generally associated with Route 66, and this is also the gateway to visit several other attractions like the Sunset Crater Volcano, the Wupatki National Monument (I already shot in both places and as soon as possible will edit it), the San Francisco Peaks (those mountains that appear in the video between 6:20-6:28), the very Meteor Crater I just mentioned (40 minutes away) and of course Sedona and the Grand Canyon.

Another thing I enjoy here is the weather. In the hot Arizona summer, when temperatures state wide are constantly reaching 100 F (37 C), that’s something that has never happened here. Yes, Flagstaff has never registered more than 97 F (36 C). And even during summer it considerably cools down at nigh (never go out just in a t-shirt). The weather is very dry, so even in those hot afternoons you don’t feel as hot as you would in Texas for instance. The problem is the winter. Temperatures can vary from 50 to 10 F (10 a -15 C) in the same day! The reason is again the altitude. Did I surprise you with the info on Albuquerque? Guess what? Flagstaff’s elevation is 6,910 ft.

After Flagstaff we tried to quickly check the Sunset Crater volcano, but we soon discovered that’s something for a day when you have a little more time. The volcano is located inside a park which also offers other attractions, so it wouldn’t be worth it to rush. But on the way back we stopped there again and did the full tour. Video as soon as possible. 🙂

Hoover Dam, Nevada

Upon arriving in Nevada you are welcomed by a major 1931 engeneering construction: the Hoover Dam. I had also been here before, but now, with the new bypass bridge there’s also a new observation deck. And this one was new to me. But as soon as we stopped we realized that the sun was already behind the mountains, which gives a blueish tone to the images and is not good for photography. So we decided coming back another day. We returned in a beautiful sunny morning and captured all the fantastic colors you will see as soon as I manage to edit the piece! 🙂 I can only say one thing in advance: it’s worth the stop, even if you don’t have the luxury of choosing the best time of the day.

Las Vegas, Nevada

From there until Las Vegas it’s a short 40 min drive. We arrived at dusk, when the city’s main street (Las Vegas Blvd South, also known as the “Strip” – where the most famous casino hotels are located) starts to gain life with all the lights. Amazing! We turned off the cameras upon arriving at the hotel and went out to celebrate life during dinner. After all, the trip was just starting.

 

The second day on the road

– In this second day, we drove a little less than in the first day (574 miles / 923 km), which took just over 8 hours
– We spent about 12 hours on the road due to the several stops

Considerations for next time

– In Albuquerque, try to visit the Sandia Peak. You can take the tramway for a beautiful view and during winter you can also ski
– If possible, it would be cool to coordinate the trip with the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. If not, I’d simply go on a private ballon ride. Several companies offer the service
As mentioned in the previous text, definetely consider visiting Jemez Springs and Santa Fe in New Mexico
– A small detour would also take you to one of the most beautiful natural scenarious in the USA: the Monument Valley. It’s located in Utah, but right at the border with Arizona. Coming from Albuquerque, the fastest way to arrive is to leave the I-40 in Gallup (last city in New Mexico) and head North. From there it’s a 3-hour drive
– Try to sleep in Flagstaff, so that you can enjoy the various attractions in that area. If you don’t know the Grand Canyon yet, it should be the #1 priority on your list. Next, what about Sedona? It’s just 45 minutes away.

General facts and figures of the entire trip

– I made sure to include in the video a scene where Gordon is cleaning the windshield. Have you realized it? The reason was that it happened so often, every 2 hours or so. I’ve never seen so many bugs crashing at once. It might have been the time of the year, not sure. As I was taking pictures from the car, we had no choice…
– Still about the shooting: I know it may seem we didn’t use a microphone when I speak inside the car, but we did… a boom microphone over the camera. What happened was that it was not enough. Only when we arrived in Vegas we realized how noisy the driving actually was, and how the asphalt type made a difference. Believe me, with no microphone the audio would be 10 times worse.
– Texas has the cheapeast gas prices, so make sure you fill in within the state. In Las Vegas the gallon costed up to $1 more
– All roads (even the 2 lane ones) are excellent. There were no pavement or signage issues, or any other situation that would make us question our safety
– In several parts of the trip, our Accord surpassed even Honda’s best expectations, making 40 miles per gallon (17 km/l)
– In total (day 1 + day 2), we spent $87.82 in gas, arriving in Las Vegas with almost half a tank still. We spent US$ 72.58 in gas on the way back, thanks to the remaining fuel left in the tank.

And you? What did you think? Any more Tips to share?

Contact

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  • Category
    North America
  • Location
    Arizona, Las Vegas, New Mexico, USA
  • Tags
    albuquerque, arizona, driving, flagstaff, flagstaff az, hoover dam, las vegas, meteor crater, new mexico, road trips, winslow, winslow az

Upon arriving in Las Vegas we stayed at the Silverton Casino Hotel.

We have stayed a few times in this hotel and we enjoy the cleanliness (remember that the vast majority of hotels in Las Vegas allow smoking, so carpets sometimes stink!) and the lower resort fees compared to the Strip hotels. Also, we like the area where the hotel is located. It’s far from the Strip but close to stores and malls we like, and sometimes we enjoy going to Vegas to relax…

The hotel

Pros:
– The cleanliness
– Nice amenities: casino, pool, gym, etc
– Cheaper resort fee of $12.99 (in 2015, so double check you are making travel plans) compared to the Strip hotels
– Parking lot close to the hotel entrance: All Strip hotels offer free parking, but they are far from the elevators and the reception. You have to walk a lot! Here it’s much closer, which helps when you go out shopping and come back full of bags…

Cons:
– No refrigerator in the room. You can request for $15/night though
– Free WiFi in the lobby, but not in the room
– The resort fee… It’s cheaper, but still… There are hotels with no resort fee in Las Vegas, but they are located far from the Strip and generally don’t come with the whole “Las Vegas experience” of a casino hotel

I have a partnership with Hotels.com and in this link you can find their specials on Las Vegas hotels. If you’re interested in last minute deals click here instead. You may get discounts by using the links on this page, while I earn a small commission.

And you? What did you think? Any more Tips to share?