Day Eight

I got up early and went for breakfast at the hotel. I spoke with a fellow from the next table from Tucson and somewhere in Colorado. The news was on and it seemed to be making him unhappy. He said he stopped watching the news a few years ago and this was the first time he had seen it in a while. He then said, “I don’t know if you are a Trump fan.” To which I replied, “I’ve been a Democrat my whole life.” He said, “That guy is a nut job.” He told me he hit a pot hole on I40 last night that ripped the rear shocks out of his car and he was about to ride back to Tucson to the tune of $2000.00 with the tow truck driver. I asked why not stay and get it fixed in Gallup and he said it would take weeks and there was no way he stay there as it is the worst place in the world. I headed out to the car and there was a women walking two small dogs. I told her that it wasn’t fair that she had two dogs and I didn’t have any. We talked for a bit and I discovered she had moved from California to Atlanta and they had come back to drive the dogs to their new home. I point out that it was a one way move and she can never afford to move back. She agreed.

The next stop was Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, at this point I think I’m really going to make it. Spent an hour with the beautiful scenery and ate my lunch so I could take my pain pill. The most interesting spot was the 2000 year old pueblo with the petroglyphs. I met two women at the agate bridge that were heading home to Tennessee. One was originally from Chicago and had just scattered her second husband’s ashes and the other was her next door neighbor who was from Corning, NY. We talked a while and had some laughs. When we walked back to the parking lot I pointed to my ride and one of them thought I was pointing at a different car and said I was riding in style and comfort. Her friend said no, it is the PT Cruiser and I said that I was riding just in style, not comfort. The road through the park ends a long way from the I40, once I got back to the highway I thought I might have backtrack to get to my next destination Sitgreaves National Forest. But much to my surprise I was on route 87, the exact road I need to be on.

I headed south on route 87 and followed several other state roads to reach Sitgreaves National Forest where the GPS directed down a dirt road. I was feeling brave I went for it. There were more dirt roads with no signs at all. I decided to get back on the main road and leave. When I got to the main road (the dirt road I came in on) I saw a large ditch that I didn’t want to take a chance driving a PT Cruiser through. I turned around and exited the same way I came in. As I was driving through Sitgreaves National Forest I was thinking to myself why do they call it a forest, there are nothing but juniper bushes, when suddenly there are pine trees everywhere. I headed south through hours and hours of switch backs. If I was driving my car (2016 Audi TTS) I wouldn’t need to slow down, but the PT Cruiser is a different story. I had to stay at the same speeds as the semis to feel safe. After an hour or so I think to myself that it still looks like the high desert, where are the cacti? 30 seconds later I start see cactus everywhere, I must have super natural powers.

I needed a break and stopped at another Navajo casino. This one is different, much nicer and full of white folks. Good to see the money flowing into the Navajos here. The machines are weak here, I ran the $20.00 down $0.00 and said to the machine if you give it all back I will cash out. Sure enough it did, I cashed out and got some fry bread. It was better here, the made while I waited but it was twice as expensive.

Fry Bread

With the end in sight I back in the car got in for one last drive. There was a lot of traffic both on the highways and local streets. Phoenix is huge and Michael seemed to live on the far north end of town. I pulled into the apartment complex and tried to call him. The cell service was real bad and he didn’t pick up. I left a VM and sent a text. I tried his father, same thing. I walked out to the street and called Maureen, I got better signal there. She will get ahold of Stevie. A few minutes later I saw Michael and gave him the keys. Mission accomplished, well almost I still need to get home.

The apartment is a rather small one room studio so I went outside to give them some privacy and me some air. I sat by the little dog park for about an hour talking on the phone with a few friends. I did a quick search and found another Mediterranean restaurant nearby called Hana House. I asked Michael for the keys for one last drive in the PT Cruiser and drove around in circles till I found the restaurant. When I walked in the place was empty so asked, “where is everybody?” Mohamed answered that a huge party had just left, story of my life. Mohamed said he was from Palestine and I said I had eaten Palestinian food the night before. He asked where and when I told him Oasis in Gallup and he told me that they were his cousins. I sat down and ordered the falafel sandwich and mango juice, just like Mamoun's in New Haven. It came with a small serving of French fries and was just what I needed. When Mohamed asked how I liked my dinner I told him it was better than his cousin served me the night before.

Petrified Forest
Hana House

After returning from dinner Michael helped me to get an Uber. I was picked up by Juan in a white Mazda CX9. A minute into the drive my phone rang, it was Michael asking if I had the keys to the car. We circled back and I gave him the keys. Juan and I talked about cars all the way to the airport. After I got my bag out of the trunk I checked my pockets. I had to chase the car as it pulled out. My glasses had fallen out of my pocket and were on the seat of the car, I nearly failed on the one instruction I was given, don’t lose your glasses.

I registered with the TSA to become a known traveler so I headed down the empty TSA pre-check line. They kept sending my bag back and forth through the scanner and finally sent it over for a hand search. The women pulled out my bottle agave honey and stated it was too big so she confiscated it. There was some confusion about which gate to use for the flight. Turns out there are two flight to Charlotte at two adjacent gates. I asked the women next to me to wake me up if I fell asleep, I was running out gas fast. I gave the flight attendant the biscotti I had been carrying for the last 10 days. It was an uneventful 3 ½ hour flight and I actually slept. I was the last one off the plane and was talking about the biscotti with the attendant. He was very grateful and wondered why I gave it to him. I just said that I saw it done on a flight to Vegas once and that it thought it is nice thing to do. At that point the pilot announced over the PA that last one off had to clean the plane. I complimented the pilot on the way out on the smooth landing and he responded, “Everyone gets lucky once and a while.” This made me stop dead and ask, “Are you an Air Force or a Marine pilot?” He responded, “Civilian all the way.” I answered, “If I knew that I never would have got on the plane.” We both laughed and he thanked me, no doubt for the biscotti.

Sitgreaves National Forest
Dog Park
Gallup, NM to Phoenix, AZ
310 Miles
My Car