Thursday, September 12, 2019


In late August my wife’s sister joined us for a little trip through Arizona and New Mexico. We flew out of Minneapolis early Friday morning and arrived in Phoenix around 10:00 AM. We had a full day of sightseeing to do. So we picked up our Chevy Malibu and headed southeast on I-10. Our first stop was the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, which was located in Pinal County – our first new county of the trip.

After we left Casa Grande we continued southwest towards Tucson and crossed into Pima County. We then spent some time in Saguaro National Park. In the park we saw tons of cacti, as well as 800-year-old petroglyphs.

Our next stop was Tumacácori National Historical Park. We drove through Tucson to get there, spotting a T-rex terrorizing a McDonald’s. We went south on I-19 and picked up Santa Cruz County, where Tumacácori is located.

On our way back from Tumacácori we stopped at the Mission San Xavier del Bac, which is essentially a church and mission founded in 1692. The church is still used to this day. After we left the Mission we went straight to our hotel – the Hampton Inn & Suites Tucson. For dinner we had Mexican at the Rancho Rustico Restaurant.

On Saturday we went east on I-10 and picked up Cochise County. We then drove off the interstate and visited Chiricahua National Monument, where we did some hiking through some giant rocks. On the way out of the park we found a rattlesnake – which unfortunately had been run over by a car. Once we got back on I-10, we continued northeast for a few miles before getting off and heading north on HWY 191. About five miles later we crossed into Graham County.

We continued north on HWY 191 until we reached the city of Safford. From there we went east on HWY 70, picked up Greenlee County, followed by the New Mexico state line, where we entered Hildalgo County. We continued southwest until we once again hooked up with I-10. We then drove east, all the way to Las Cruces. Along the way we picked up Grant and Luna Counties. At Las Cruces we followed HWY 70 to White Sands National Monument, where we explored the endless sand dunes. From there we went back to Las Cruces, got onto I-25 north, crossed into Sierra County, then drove straight to our hotel – the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Truth or Consequences.

On Sunday our destination was the Grand Canyon. We had a long drive to get there. We started by going north on I-25. We got off and headed west on HWY 60. We crossed into Catron County and reached the city of Pie Town. From there we went north and ended up traveling about 30 miles on York Ranch Road – a road of nothing but dirt and gravel. Eventually we got out of it and found ourselves in El Malpais National Conservation Area, where we stopped to take in some of the sights.

Once we left El Malpais, we continued north until we hooked up with I-40 and headed west. A few miles later we crossed into McKinley County, which completed the state of New Mexico for us. As we drove west we crossed into Arizona again. We then stopped at the Petrified Forest National Park and viewed some fields of ancient petrified wood, as well as some other sights.

After we left the Petrified Forest, we got back on I-40 west again. We drove through a few counties we had previously visited. We also stopped in Winslow in order to see the “Standing On The Corner” location, which was quoted in the Eagles’ song “Take It Easy.” It was very surreal, as an Eagles’ album was blaring through some speakers from across the street. And we just happened to stop at the time when “Take It Easy” was playing.

After we left Winslow we went straight to the Grand Canyon. We actually stumbled upon a Victoria's Secrets photo shoot while there. After we left, we stopped at the now-closed Bedrock City on the way back. It had just closed for good this summer. Even at night and closed, it was cool to experience that place one last time. After that we went to our hotel – the Hampton Inn & Suites Flagstaff.

Monday was the last day of our trip. But we still had a few sights to see. First we headed east of Flagstaff to Walnut Canyon, where we did a hike into the mountain to see some ancient homes carved into it. Once we left there we went back to Flagstaff, then went south towards Sedona and stopped at the Orchard Canyon on Oak Creek. I’m a big fan of the 1977 horror film “Kingdom Of The Spiders.” And this resort was a major filming location for the film. So I had to stop and take in a few of the sights – with permission from the bartender at the resort.

After we left Orchard Canyon we drove to the Montezuma Castle National Monument and spent a few minutes exploring the grounds. At this point we had one final county to get. So we went east and picked up Gila County via HWY 260 – which also completed the state of Arizona for us. There was no county sign on the way in. So we stopped on HWY 87 on the way out in order to snap a picture.

We still had some time to spare. So we stopped at Red Devil Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria for a final meal before heading to the airport for our late flight home.

All in all we picked up 13 new counties and completed two states. So what’s next? We have a trip planned to Yellowstone in mid-September which will take us into eight different states. So stay tuned!

                                                          NEW COUNTIES - 13
                                                          TOTAL NEW COUNTIES FOR 2019 - 173
                                                          ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 2025

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