Palm Springs, CA to Clarkston, MI, Day 1 May 6

Wed, May 6: PS to Flagstaff, Az

Well, it’s “on the road again”! We’re starting our annual drive back from Palm Springs to Clarkston. Today is a long day – clean the house until it sparkles, give away the food that’s going to spoil before we get back, and finally drive the six hours to Flagstaff.

Rear view, PS house

Rear view, PS house

The Travelers

The Travelers

That’s the plan, and that’s pretty much how it is happening. Our neighbor Clayton was kind enough to take most of the food, although Johan is on a diet, so his choices had to be limited. The last snafu is the antifreeze we picked up was wrong for our use (in the toilets to maintain the water in place), so Gwen has to go out and procure some of the “right” kind.

Once we are on the road, things calm down and we drive straight through. We go along the I-10 almost to Phoenix, and then turn north through Prescott and finally arrive in Flagstaff. Gwen and I are sure we took a different road last year, a much more scenic route. The I-10 is mostly desert with the only highlights coming as we get near Phoenix and see some saguaro cacti. We look them up on the internet, and find that indeed they can get tall (up to 60 feet). They can live up to 150 years, and their rate of growth depends on the precipitation.

Flagstaff is always fun to visit. We enjoy the closeness to Mt. Humphreys and the Grand Canyon. Our hotel reception person recommends that we go to Black Bart’s for dinner, as it was close by, and serves American cuisine. So, following their directions, we find it about five minutes away. It is the restaurant associated with the local large camping ground, right off one of the main roads. The hotel person who recommended the place didn’t tell us about the association with the camping ground, so we were a bit surprised. We are somewhat uncertain about this place, but finally figure “how bad could it be?”. We are a bit early so it is not crowded. Our waiter, Michael, helps us pick wines, and allows us to share a full rack of ribs for only a little extra, so we are set for food and drink. The piano player at the end of the large dining area set on a raised stage-like platform then starts to tinkle the keys. Very shortly, two waiters (including Michael) and two waitresses joined him. They commence singing a very nice vaudeville-like song basically introducing the evening’s entertainment. After they finish, the waiters and waitresses disband (to applause, of course), and go back to their duties. Quickly one of the other waitresses joins the pianist, and starts singing a beautiful rendition of “On my own” from Les Miserables. This sets the pattern for the set. Each of the waiters and waitresses come up in turn to sing renditions of their chosen songs. Occasionally the pianist is left to his own devices, but he is quite able to handle it. Four of the waiters at one point get up on stage and offer up a lively rendition of the “Caissons Go Marching Along”. All and all, we were very entertained, and the food and wine turned out to be excellent as well. A very good evening for us, and an excellent way to start this trip. We then got gas and went back to the hotel for an early bedtime.

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