April 10, 2009

North around Flagstaff and La Postada

Traveling north to Flagstaff, we went looking for craters.

We started at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument to learn about the cinder cone mountains that cover a 2000 square mile area to the north and east of Flagstaff. These mountains are all actually products of ancient volcanoes. The crater at Sunset is one of the largest.

We then traveled down the Interstate 40 (the old Route 66) to Meteor Crater. Now this is an impressive site, where a meteor landed 50,000 years ago and left a huge crater - it is 550 feet deep, 4000 feet across, and can fit 20 football fields within its' base. Apollo astronauts came to train here in the 1960s and '70s.

In the early twentieth century a mining engineer arrived from Philadelphia and tried to prove the crater was caused by a meteor rather than a volcanic explosion - he attained patent and ownership of the two square miles containing the crater and drilled for 25 years trying to find the giant iron meteorite. It wasn't until Eugene Shoemaker of the US Geological Survey proved in 1960 beyond any doubt that Meteor Crater was the product of a giant impact event.

From Meteor Crater, this is a view towards Flagstaff and the San Francisco Peaks at 12,000 feet.

We then drove into Winslow, Arizona for lunch and after ordering drinks in the 'Seattle Roast' coffee shop, we had a lovely conversation with the owner about a lunch place and he recommended La Postada just down the street. After further conversation we discovered the building had been built by Fred Harvey and the Santa Fe Railroad as a railway hotel in the 1930s who commissioned the famous SW architect Mary Colter to design it. It had been scheduled for demolition 15 years ago but was saved and lovingly restored. How could we resist going and exploring...

the ballroom

the veranda overlooking the train tracks

the back door in...

sitting in the back garden waiting for a train to go by

the famous dining room, The Turquoise Room (named after the private dining car which ran between Los Angeles and Chicago in 1936) which is winning awards from culinary magazines and Conte Nast traveller magazine.

details from the dining room lights - Mexican hand painted glass and pressed tin

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