“Standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona, and such a fine sight to see”
State 25: Arizona - January 1, 2018
We woke up at a Walmart in Flagstaff, AZ well rested and ready for an exciting new day! First on the agenda is a 44 mile drive East along Historic Route 66 to visit the Cross Country Couple's "Historic Location" for Arizona: Barringer Meteor Crater. It was a forever memorable moment to view the very chair in which Lincoln sat when he was assassinated on April 14, 1865, and also to see the very chair Washington sat on when he signed the Declaration of Independence on
August 2, 1776. However, our visit today’s to Barringer Meteor Crater transcends historical significance to any one state or to any one country! The site we are visiting today possesses great significance to all humanity, and will be the most historic stop of our entire cross country trip!
The Barringer Meteor Crater formed 50,000 years ago when an asteroid 150 feet in length and traveling 26,000 miles per hour plunged into the area we now know as central Arizona with the force of 10 million tons of TNT! The meteorite vaporized on impact spreading tiny pieces over a 70-mile radius! The impact crater left behind is nearly 1 mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep! For centuries the crater in the Arizona dessert was believed to be the result of a volcano! In the 1960’s, Geologist Eugene Shoemaker would prove this belief to be false! Shoemaker's discovery was so shocking! So unexpected! It would not only advance our understanding of earths future, but it would provide the key to unlocking one of the greatest mysteries of Earth's past!
In the 1950’s, Shoemaker had been conducting geological research at the test sites of nuclear bomb detonations in Nevada. At each detonation site, he noticed a recurring geological phenomena called shocked quartz. Shocked quartz has a microscopic structure different from normal quartz resulting from sudden intense pressure. There are only two forces capable of creating the pressure necessary to produce shocked quartz; Nuclear detonations, and meteor impacts! Volcano's do not produce enough pressure to create shocked quartz! Shoemaker found shocked quartz in the crater in Arizona! Since there has never been a nuclear detonation in Arizona, Shoemaker proved the Barringer Crater in Arizona was formed by a meteor impact! This was the first scientifically proven meteor impact site on Earth, and even to this very day it is the best preserved example in the entire world!
In the years following his discovery in Arizona, Shoemaker traveled the world in search of shocked quartz, and discovered over 200 meteor craters throughout the world! In terms of meteor impacts, the Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona is quite small, and only affected the regional area. The most significant meteor crater Shoemaker discovered was Chicxulub Crater on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The Chicxulub Crater is 110 miles wide and 12 miles in depth. The crater was created by a meteor 6.2 to 9.3 miles in length, which struck the Earth 66 million years ago! The meteor impact at the Chicxulub Crater coincides with the timeline of a mass extinction on earth 66 million years ago, which killed 75% of all life on Earth including the dinosaurs! The shock quartz Shoemaker discovered in Nevada’s nuclear test sites was the key to discovering what killed the Dinosaurs! How ironic that the very thing which may one day may cause our own extinction unlocked one of the greatest mysteries of a past extinction! One last noteworthy point on Eugene Shoemaker. He long dreamed of going to the moon, but a medical condition prevented him from doing so safely. While searching for meteor craters in Australia, Shoemaker was killed in a head on collision. On July 31, 1999, his ashes were carried to the moon by the Lunar Prospector Space Probe, thus his dream of going to the moon finally came to fruition! To this very day, Eugene Shoemaker is the only person whose remains have been buried outside of Earth!
After parking Rosie, we made our way to the best preserved impact crater in the world, and the first confirmed impact site on Earth! Admission included 3 lookout points on the rim of the crater, an interactive discovery center, a theater showing the movie “IMPACT”, and a one mile guided tour on the rim of the crater. Admission was quite high at $18.00 per person, but when would I ever again have the opportunity to see an actual meteor crater?
After watching a movie about the crater, we met our tour guide outside of the theater standing in front of the Holsinger Meteorite, which is the largest known fragment of the meteorite that created Meteor Crater! Wow that was a lot of meteors in one sentence! The Meteorite measured approximately 4 feet long, 2 feet tall, is made of a solid metal, and almost weighs as much as a Volkswagen Beetle! Our guide encouraged us to touch the meteor, and assured us it is the oldest thing we will ever hold in our hands! It was an out of this world experience connecting with an object which traveled from outer space, and posed such destructive power! Now I needed to find some Purel!
Next, our guide led us out a door on a 1-mile paved path along the rim of the impact crater! I can’t even find the words to explain the sensation of staring deep into the chasm beneath created by an extraterrestrial impact! The crater was so massive I could not capture its likeness in a single picture! It was unfathomable to consider this crater before me is characterized as a small impact sight! I will definitely add a visit to the Chicxulub Crater in Mexico to my bucket list! Please see the pictures below!
After departing Meteor Crater, we drove 26 miles East to the Cross Country Couple's “Roadside Attraction” for Arizona, Standin' on the Corner Park, in Winslow, Arizona. If you came of age in the 1970’s or just have real good taste in music then you already know why I am here! Released on May 1, 1972 as the band’s first single, "Take It Easy" was the opening track on the Eagles debut album, and became one of the bands signature songs. “Take it Easy” peaked at No. 12 on billboard Hot 100, and is listed as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll! For those who may not be familiar with the lyrics, the second verse of “Take It Easy” is; “Well, I'm a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see. It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin' down to take a look at me”. The song was written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, and refer to a time when Browne's automobile broke down in Winslow requiring him to spend the day in the town. While stranded on the side of the road, a young blonde female drove by in a truck to look at Browne and the rest is history!
In the years since, the popularity of the song “Take it Easy” turned the town of Winslow, AZ into a tourist destination! People traveled from far and wide to come to town and stand on the street corner! This is so asinine that its actually quite comical! In 1999, Winslow, AZ established, “Standing on a Corner Park” in the cities downtown along Historic Route 66! A life size bronze statue of Jackson Browne stands on the corner beneath a lamp post with an acoustic guitar in his right hand! On September 24, 2016, a life-sized statue of Glenn Frey was added to the to the park to honor his songwriting contributions to "Take It Easy”. The wall behind “Standing on a Corner Park”, features a mural of a storefront, and includes a reflection of a red flatbed Ford truck driven by a blonde-haired woman. In a parking spot directly in front of the park is a restored 1970’s flatbed Ford truck. So here we are standing on the corner of Winslow, AZ. This was one of the most ridiculous things I have ever done in my entire life, but it just seemed like the thing to do!
After departing the corner in Winslow, Arizona, we drove 128 miles East to Gallup, AZ where we will spend our final night in Arizona.