This sketch of an extended family at their Sunday morning breakfast in Grants, New Mexico was done in pen and ink in my moleskine between sitting down and my breakfast arriving on the table.
We were up early as we had a long trip to get to Prescott, Arizona by the evening. We set off after saying goodbye to Nicole who was flying back east. We watched her jog off in her running gear (Nicole heaves a sigh of relief due to the absence of any photos from the photo opportunity presented by us driving by as she jogged along!)
Our planned route had to be changed because of the extreme hot weather being experienced in the southwest. Louise had originally planned that we should travel back through Arizona via Flagstaff and Kington Arizona and return to California through Death Valley - one of the hottest places . The increase in temperatures that weekend meant that was no longer wise - and our journey home was not going to be without some nail-biting moments.........
It was a "historic heatwave" which affected the whole country - with abnormal temperatures being experienced in the southwestern states and inland California during that weekend and the following week. Phoenix hit 118 degrees two days earlier on 21 July and it broke many local records in California with temperatures reaching 119 degrees in LA County on the 22nd. By the end of July it was identified as the cause of death for some 164 fatalities in California.
Check the temperature maps in the links - we traveled right through the big red bit labeled 110+ degrees. We expected it might be a bit hot and packed in as much water as we could carry.
We started early and travelled to Grants along Interstate 40 before stopping for breakfast. We were now traveling alongside Route 66 - America's most famous road which was opened in 1926 and stretches 2,448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles.
Our route took us across the continental divide - that point in the North American land mass where all rivers to the east drain to the Gulf Coast or the Atlantic and those on the west drain to the Pacific. The sketches of mesas are of the scenery en route.
We planned to try and visit the Acoma Pueblo (Sky City) which is claimed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States. We didn't quite make it.........
One of the things I hadn't appreciated until visiting the southwest was the extent to which some of the tribal communities, within the larger native american community, have embraced gambling and casinos as a way of generating income. I also didn't realise that tribal territory is covered by different laws and practices. Examples in Arizona include most ( but not all) the territories being an hour different to the time in the rest of the State (which does not observe daylight saving) and all photography by visitors being illegal unless a permit has been obtained in advance. The latter is a point which is not well covered in guidebooks.........but it's now duly noted in my moleskine after the visit from the very nice policeman. I'm not going to embarrass any of us by saying who was taking photos on behalf of who - but it was rather funny to find out afterwards that there was no memory card in the camera anyway! ;)
- BBC News coverage of heatwave - includes a temperature map
- Historic Route 66 - map of route: Grants to Gallup
- Wikipedia - 2006 North American Heatwave
- Wikipedia - Route 66