Leaving our campground, it was only a short, six mile drive
However, despite its remoteness and the lack of traffic, there were posted speed limits.
Meteor Crater was formed 50,000 years ago when a meteor (estimated to be ~150 feet in diameter and weighing several hundred thousand tons) which had been circling our solar system for half a billion years or more slammed in to the earth traveling at 26,000 miles per hour. In little more than the blink of an eye, the meteor created a crater some 7000 feet deep and over 4,000 feet across, concurrently sending a blanket of an estimated 175 tons of limestone and sandstone out of the crater, up to a mile away.
At the crater’s Visitor’s Center, they have a short film which depicts what scientists believe occurred.
Resulting in what is the first proven and best preserved impact site on our planet.
Interestingly, unlike certain other meteors which have hit our planet, the one which formed Meteor Crater underwent a near total disintegration during the impact through vaporization, melting and fragmentation.
Looking more closely at the floor of the crater … which was used as a training ground by all of the Apollo astronauts who were scheduled to walk on the moon … one has a difficult time making out the replica of Neal Armstrong and the flag he placed on the moon in 1969.
It is estimated the crater is so large it could accommodate 20 football games simultaneously together while more than 2,000,000 spectators watched from it slopes.
Obvious when viewing the area just below the rim are the distinct layers of [red] sandstone beneath layers of [white] limestone.
Around the rim, other areas of strata are pronounced.
Before leaving the Visitor’s Center, we saw a replica of an Apollo capsule (there’s no way we’d want to have been cooped up with two other people in such a confined space).
From there we could also see snow on the summits of the San Francisco peaks (12,000’) some 60 miles to the west.
The drive to Cave Creek, AZ was relatively uneventful. However, the closer we got to Flagstaff, the more “real” trees we saw. It almost began to look a bit like New England.
Turning south, the road descended more than a mile from over 7,100 feet through a series of valleys to Cave Creek where we were spending the night. At a rest area where we ate lunch, we saw some wildlife.
Heeding some warning signs, we did not venture off the “approved” areas.
Along the route, the familiar evergreens gave way to scrub trees and finally to isolated and at lower levels a “forest” of Saguaro cactus.
Our campground was isolated, scenic and quiet.
During the afternoon, we ventured into Carefree and walked around the charming town center with more than a twinge of nostalgia, as we’d been there many times over a thirty year period with my folks.
After a beautiful sunset,
tonight will also be the first night in several weeks ,where it will be warm enough to sleep with the windows open. It also meant we were able to fall asleep with coyotes baying in the distance.