Thoughtfully the organizers of the trip thought we might need a day to rest after our long flight so the next day was free of any official engagements and ours to do with as we pleased so Allan decided that we would drive to the two hundred mile journey to the far north of the State to see the Grand Canyon.
This seemed a very good idea but did involve a very early start and less than four hours after crawling into bed and it wasn’t even light when we were off and away before I had time to check thoroughly to see if I had a hangover and even before the breakfast bar was open in the restaurant. Dave wasn’t happy about that.
The route took us along a circuitous route that went first north and then west around the city which seemed sensible because Phoenix is the fifth largest in the USA (I didn’t know that) and suffers notorious traffic congestion and then we picked up Interstate 17 which according to individual preference is called either the Black Canyon Freeway or the Arizona Veteran’s Highway and we started to drive relentlessly north.
As we had skipped breakfast it was inevitable that Dave would be the first to crack and declare his hunger and he predictably started to continuously nag about a food stop a short way into the journey. After about thirty miles Allan could stand it no longer and at the next available intersection left the Interstate with a flourish and without warning and headed in an unknown direction down Stagecoach Road towards the municipality of New River.
I will never know if this was just a massive stroke of luck, cunning pre-planning he wasn’t owning up to or divine inspiration because I was convinced that he had no idea at all where he was going but just as I was wondering where the dusty Black Canyon Highway was going to lead to, Allan, with a confidence that he was not really entitled to, swung into a car park of a diner called the Roadrunner Restaurant and declared with a swagger that it was the perfect place for breakfast.
As I wrestled with this conundrum I concluded that he must surely have seen a sign that no one else had some way back on the interstate!
It turned out the place was quite famous; the Roadrunner was established in 1964 and the story goes that its first bartender was only six years old because when the original owner arrived with his new liquor license and a celebratory bottle of whiskey he appointed the only non-drinker present at the time to pour the first drinks.
Inside there were plenty of local folk enjoying hearty plates of good looking food and as we scratched our heads in bewilderment we all agreed that Allan had made a very good choice indeed. Especially Dave. After we had settled down at a table the waitress brought coffee and menus and we set about making our choices. When she returned Keith went first (on the right here) and she enquired how he liked to take his eggs.
Now, Keith was an easy going, mild mannered sort of chap with a most temperate disposition but this simple question seemed to trigger an Incredible Hulk type transformation. His eyes bulged and the veins in his neck throbbed, ‘EGGS!’ he said in his distinctive Norfolk drawl (and it works better if you can try it with the accent but if you are unfamiliar with East Anglia any local yokel accent will do just as well) ‘I aren’t eating eggs, I aren’t eating something that’s been squeezed out of a chicken’s arse!’
Stunned silence swept across the room. A silence that was only broken as jaws hit the table!
Being from rural Norfolk Keith clearly knew more about chickens than the rest of us but we really didn’t need the graphic details of how a hen lays an egg and neither of course did the rest of the customers in the diner.
This uncharacteristic behaviour took us all rather by surprise, the tables went deathly quiet and needless to say the outburst seemed to alarm the startled waitress who after all was only doing her job and would have been wholly within her rights to decide for herself that he probably liked his eggs hard boiled and squeezed up his arse or simply cracked and served raw over his head.
Between us we managed to smooth over the situation, Dave generously offered to eat his eggs and we were careful after that to keep Keith well away from them for the rest of the trip. We had a hefty U.S. breakfast and made sure that we left a generous tip.
The full American breakfast is quite similar to the full English but there are a few differences. American breakfasts are bigger for a starter and have a lot of pancakes and syrup which, quite frankly I could do without but they don’t have black pudding (pigs blood sausage) or potato cakes and the Americans simply cannot cook bacon and instead serve up razor thin strips of overcooked pork flavoured crisps (chips).
This is the full English version with a good juicy slice of back bacon…
Outside, the sun was up now and there was a big blue sky with little wispy white clouds on the horizon but as we travelled further north it started to get colder and the highway verges were piled high with snow where the ploughs had cleared the carriageways of a recent fall. Arizona is best known for its desert climate with exceptionally hot summers and mild winters but the high country in the north features pine forests and mountain ranges with much cooler weather than the lower deserts and we were beginning to approach them now.
We passed by Black Canyon City, climbed through the Prescott National Park and somewhere around Flagstaff we crossed the famous old Route 66 without really appreciating the significance of the event. Finally Interstate 17 came to an abrupt end when we reached a junction and Allan selected a route across Coconimo Plateau through a Navajo Indian Reservation and continued north to the Grand Canyon South Rim visitor centre.
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I reckon this ranks up there with your best posts, Andrew. You have a gift with words, mate.
Thanks Yvonne, I appreciate that!
The egg encounter with Keith had me laughing out loud. Have to agree with Yvonne: you do have a gift with words!
Keith was my inspiration!
Keith sounds like quite the character. I’m wondering how he felt about milk. 🙂
I seem to remember that he was ok with other dairy products – it was just the eggs that freaked him out!
I was just thinking that if he didn’t like where the egg came from I wondered if he had given thought to how the milk got out of the cow. 🙂
You really are a smooth bugger aren’t you. Imagine going on holiday in US of A and you weren’t interested at the start.
I soon rearranged my initial reaction.
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A relaxing first day then 😉 ?
Well, I wasn’t driving!
I’ll have the full English – as long as the eggs arrived in the café with shells on.
I always think that a full Scottish with the potato scones is even better.
I could get to like Dave.
He was a good travelling companion for sure!
Love this road trip, I never knew anyone who didn’t eat eggs for that reason!
We were curious but asked for no further explanation.
Pretty funny, Andrew. Especially with the accent. Surprised everybody didn’t laugh. Hard to imagine someone not knowing where an egg comes from! But then I’m a country boy and had to gather eggs on occasion, sometime reaching under the chicken to get them. 🙂 –Curt
I always thought that they grew on trees!
Seriously, I once knew a girl who was surprised by a field of cabbages. I asked where she thought they came from. Her answer was the supermarket!
My son in law visited last year and asked what my runner beans were in the vegetable plot. I explained and he said that he had no idea that they grew like that.
That used to be the story of kids who grew up in places like New York City, Andrew. Don’t know if it is still true. Have you ever watched a chicken laying an egg from the perspective of it coming out? Sort of stretches the imagination. Grin. –Curt