Birthday Surprise (Day 4) This is the last one for my birthday weekend. Whew!
We woke up on Monday morning and Terry gave me my choice of doing whatever I wanted to do. Since he had been so good to me and spoiled me all weekend, I decided that I would choose something that he's always talked about doing. Whenever the subject of Meteor Crater comes up, he always comments about the fact that he's never been there but would like to go, so even though he made no requests to go there, that's where we went.
Just as we arrived a group was leaving for an hour "tour" of the crater. Basically we walked along the top edge for a short distance and heard some of the history about how they think it happened and the man who discovered, tried to mine and then preserved it for research and the public to enjoy. You can read more about it here. There was also this adorable German family on the tour with 4 little kids (about 2 - 8 years old) that just couldn't stay still. The guide (and Terry) were freaking out that they might fall down the edge of the crater, which probably wouldn't be too hard to do. The parents seemed pretty oblivious (as parents can tend to be when they're used to the chaos of having little ones). Thankfully everyone survived with no more than a scraped knee and a few tears.
The crater is essentially a massive hole in the ground where a meteor struck long long ago. It's about 550 feet deep, 4000 feet across and 2.4 miles in circumference. Cool thing is that many of the astronauts that went to the moon trained at the crater to try to simulate the lunar surface. In fact, when one of their training suits was torn by a rock, NASA realized that they needed to make changes in the design because a tear of that kind on the moon would have meant certain death.
The gray fenced area at the bottom of the crater is an area where they tried to mine iron in the early days after discovery, but were unsuccessful. If you enlarge the picture you might be able to see the full size cutout of the astronaut and American flag to give you an idea of the scale of the crater. You really can't see it with the naked eye at all from the top. It's very hard to get true perspective on the size from the ground pictures, so go to the website if you want more detailed information.
After we left the crater, we decided to drive down part of historic Route 66 thru Winslow and on to Payson then Phoenix. We had recently watched an Arizona Highways TV show about Winslow and remembered some interesting sights that we thought we'd check out...and how often are we going to get to Winslow anyway?
While driving along the highway, this train engine reminded me of my younger days when we lived just a few blocks from the railroad tracks. Whenever we were near the train we would always signal to the engineer or the caboose to blow the whistle and they obliged. My brother, Rusty ran away to California when he was only 13 by hitching rides on empty train cars too. I realize that trains may be obsolete someday. Cabooses already seem to be obsolete, which is kinda sad.
When we pulled into Winslow, first we stopped to see the statue commemorating the famous line from the Eagles song, "Take it Easy". You know the one, "standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona such a fine sight to see...".
I know it's cheezy and definitely just a way to get tourists to stop, but I took the bait and indeed stopped to snap a few photos just for fun. We also stopped at the gift shop across the street and I bought a spiffy little Route 66 coffee mug as a souvenir of the weekend.
On the way out of town we passed by their 9-11 Memorial which we had seen on the show, but completely forgot about until we saw it. There are photos here of the two twisted beams that the town of Winslow requested and received from the World Trade Center towers after 9-11. The plaque and American flag all stand at this same memorial at the edge of town. You probably wouldn't even know what it was if you were driving by, but if you get up that way, be sure to stop. I find it touching that this little town has chosen to honor the tragedy and those who died in this precious way, so far from New York, out in the middle of the Arizona desert.
After this stop we headed south thru Payson, then stopped for dinner in Scottsdale before heading home after a truly amazing weekend.