Today was to be a transit day with one planned stop. Josh and I had come out to Phoenix for a conference last October, and while there, we had heard about a store called Last Chance. It’s the clearance center for Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack stores all across the country. Leftover merchandise and some returns from all over the US ends up here, and the prices reflect the company’s eagerness to get rid of the leftover stock. People evidently come from all over in hopes of scoring designer goodies at discount prices. Josh and I had scored such great deals in October that we decided to check it out again, this time with the kids. Kinley was excited. Knox was not. But he brought a book to read and found a place to camp out while we looked around.
|Digging through the boot table isn't easy, but for 75% off the already-reduced price, I'll suffer through.|
|This was completely random. They had three of these Purdue toasters for $6, but I couldn't think of anyone to give one to. They had no other teams - just Purdue. Go figure.|
|Here are a few of the deals we scored - Kate Spade white flats and white heels for Kinley, Geox loafers for me, and a Ted Baker bag for us to share|
We found several great deals and noticed a Staples in the same shopping center. Josh was not looking forward to rearranging our baggage for the next 5 weeks to accommodate our loot, so we decided to take it all inside and ship it home. As a bonus, the samovar we’d been given by our friend Alan fit nicely in the box as well surrounded by our new purchases serving as padding. For $47, we didn’t have to deal with finding a place to fit our new purchases in the back of the Volvo, and Josh was practically giddy with excitement.
Because he had so patiently endured more than 2 hours of shopping and shipping, Knox got to choose lunch. He chose a local place nearby called the Armadillo Grill based on nothing more than the sign outside, and I called to make sure they were open for lunch and to be sure the place was family friendly. When we walked inside, we realized that even though there was back-room seating for families, it was really an off-track betting bar. Regardless of the place’s real purpose, the food was good, especially the Thai chicken skewers.
We climbed back in the hot car and noticed that the thermometer inside registered 131. It was miserably hot again, and we assumed it would feel that was all the way to our motel in Holbrook. Fortunately, we were wrong. A couple of hours outside Phoenix we saw a sign that told us to turn off our A/C for the next 6 miles to avoid engine overheating. We warily rolled down the windows and were glad we did when we saw 2 RVs and 3 cars pulled off on the side of the road over that same 6 miles. Apparently those drivers have issues with following directions. Or maybe they just didn’t see the sign. A few miles later, another sign informed us that we were 5,280 feet above sea level. It was still sunny but the temperature was dropping. As our friend Andrew said about days this hot, “Altitude is your friend.”
Within minutes, we understood what people who live in Phoenix must do to survive the summer. They come to the mountains around Payson, Arizona. We drove through this haven high in the heavens and marveled when the car’s thermometer registered 78. 78! We hadn’t seen temperatures so pleasant in days! The landscape was completely different with tall pines and vistas that looked more like the Tennessee hills than the Arizona badlands. We saw a herd of elk, noticed several charming restaurants and hotels, and decided to add this to our growing list of places to return.
We took advantage of the temperatures and turned down the A/C enough to be able to record an episode of our podcast without the extra noise of the blowing cool air. After dark, we pulled into Holbrook which was a major stop on Route 66 in its heyday, and we were instantly in love with its old-fashioned motels, vintage trading posts, and kitschy cafes. As we drove through town, a group of local Native Americans were having a traditional dance in the local park. It was unexpected and beautiful and charming, and it made me understand why people go so far out of their way to visit towns like this today.
We checked into the Globetrotter Lodge which Josh had chosen because of its high TripAdvisor ratings since Petrified Forest National Park has no lodge of its own. It was exactly like you’d expect a Route 66 motel to be, only cleaner. And bonus! We were assigned room 3 which came with covered parking that would protect our car from the blazing sun the next morning. Feeling nostalgic once again, we turned in for the night, ready to tackle Petrified Forest on Day 11.