Hum a few bars of the iconic Nat King Cole song “ Get Your Kicks on Route 66” and you will find yourself trying to recall the lyrics and the names of the cities mentioned in them. A lot has evidently changed since the song was written. Today’s route 66 is more commonly known as I-40, and Kicks? I was “kickin” it into high gear and awful lot trying to keep up the eighteen-wheelers heading west. Gallup, Flagstaff and Kingman are all still visible from the four-lane ribbon of asphalt but the song says “don’t forget Winona” and I missed it altogether. The Eagle’s hit song “Take it Easy” also came to mind as we zipped past Winslow, Arizona. I couldn’t help but think that today’s lyrics might be “I was standing at the exit in Winslow, Arizona” and somehow it just doesn’t have the same magic.
Back on the old route 66, I’m sure that there were plenty of attempts to pull people off the pavement to see two headed snakes and buy moccasins and sand paintings. I have to admit I felt both gullible and nostalgic while taking the exit to the Meteor Crater in the middle of the high desert east of Flagstaff. The colorful signs billed the crater as the “First Proven” and “Best Maintained” meteor crash site” on earth and I pondered how in the hell do you maintain a meteor crash site?
It turns out that Meteor Crater literally is a national landmark worth seeing. At some point in time, a rock, about 15 feet wide found its way through the Earth’s atmosphere without breaking up. It hit the earth with such an impact that the crater was immediately formed, 500 feet deep and three quarters of a mile across. This site proved to be the chosen training grounds for NASA to train the Astronauts for the Apollo Moon Missions. What better place to prepare them to drive rovers and collect rock samples on the crater riddled Moon?
Besides walking along the rim of the crater, snapping photos and looking through lousy telescopes we had an opportunity to view and touch a chunk of the meteor itself, a dense chunk of rock about two feet wide that weighed 1406 pounds. After wandering through the meteor museum and watching the ten minute meteor movie, we found ourselves in the gift shop ordering a Subway Sandwich and I realized that we were after all having the modern experience somewhat akin to seeing the two headed snake.
As for the gift shop, they need a bit of help from an artist type in designing their hats and shirts. I wish I had snapped a picture, oh well. And so back on the road we went, my mind spinning with marketing ideas for the crater. What about a hard had that says “watch for falling rocks”? How about I had a Blast at Meteor Crater, Meteor Crater-America’s Holy Ground, Meteor Crater Rocked My World, Meteor Crater -Conveniently Located Next to I-40 and Hey! Whatever Happened to Winona?