TODAY -

Shanti Thokchom's Life Experiences
- Part 43 -
Trip to Grand Canyon, Arizona

By Shanti Thokchom *

 Trip to Grand Canyon, Arizona
Trip to Grand Canyon, Arizona



I am back after quite a long time. Thank you to all my readers for your encouraging and kind words of moral support to egg me on to continue writing. I never ever thought anyone would want to read what I write, lo!!

Mayambu thagatchari ngam khei leitana...I thank you all from the depth of my heart !!! Ngari ki kasam !!! ( swearing on the fermented fish that we all Manipuris cant live without, lo!!!

Chumdro?? mayam?? Right, everyone?? Chappa, ( in Kuki lingo ) if I am a true daughter of Manipur, to fir kya darne ka......ham kissise kam nahi.....hai taare.....( gotta say )!!!

Well, lets start with the Route 66 - ( Main street of America ) trip that me & son took in the summer of 2010. I packed foods to eat along the way- survival foods like baked chicken drumsticks with just dhania jeera . Believe you all me, this is a great $$$$ saver. I had grapes, dried fruits to munch on during my driving, yogurt packets and other snacks & of course water. Son was busy watching movies on his movie player in the back seat.

We started from Tulsa early morning in june on the famed historic Old Route 66 that runs through the state of Oklahoma. Its an interesting old route 66 passing through the 8 American states of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona & California. Oklahoma still has some 40 miles of usable old Route 66.

Its been gobbled by the more modern interstate highway 40 that stretches into California. There are so many small towns along this old route 66 & thats history in itself.I love to explore such places & get to know the little tit bits about history & travel back to its time of bygone days.

It has its own history along this famed route which is connected with the American Dust Bowl era where families would flock in hordes to the West for better life driving on this highway to California. Here I have to say that I have completed driving on this Route 66 from Chicago ( the origin of Route 66) all the way to Los Angeles in California, the whole length & stretch of it is over 2448 miles.

And I am pretty happy that @ least in my lifetime, I did it & maybe perhaps the first ever Manipuri /NE Indian woman to achieve this feat. But if there are other ladies who have finished this Route 66 before me, then thats great.

Thanks goes to all my Manipuri brethren ....Khan Lolly Zingkhai & Kavita Sagolsem & others who lives in different US cities and invited me to visit them all... without which I'd not have been able to achieve this feat.

I drove on continuously on the first day from Tulsa during heavy rains & downpour near Oklahoma city but that didnt deter me any one bit. You know the saying in Hindi " chhappar phaarke barish pari hai /raining cats & dogs "'It was a real hard & difficult thing to drive in heavy rains as the car hydroplanes on the road surface.

It could easily slide out into the road side & cause accidents.I couldnt even park on the side due to fear of being hit by big trucks.I kept saying my prayers under my breath and drove on slowly for another hour or so until we got out of the heavy rain zone. Thank God, that was pretty scary...with all the thunder & lightning claps al around !!!

It was a pleasant drive after that.We passed through so many rural towns & farms of Oklahoma on this famed part of the Route 66 within the modern Interstate highway 40-West.Some of them were Elk City, Moore and many more. We took a breather at some McDonald's. We stretched our legs, took a restroom break and ate some of our snacks.

My son went to play for some time @ their play place . He didnt want to leave as he loved to play there. Anyway, we did our usual reminder of our verbal pact about road trips & our agreements. We began another long drive down west. I asked him to write or just jot down what he sees on the way.

 Trip to Grand Canyon, Arizona
Trip to Grand Canyon, Arizona



He was already asleep cos he didnt want to be bothered to write..Good thing....as it gave me time to look at my intended routes of my drive !!! Just imagine, I am without a GPS.....much to the chagrin of my friends whom I was visiting.

It made them all sleepless & extra worried & anxious while I wasnt even aware until they told me.I am pretty much comfy with my printed google maps...lol!!! I am old school, btw !!! Upai leite, mayam....( no other way out, Waribo !!!

It was a a very hot day when we passed through Texas & New Mexico. From one big city to another was always more than 290 miles each apart....e.g...Amarillo in Texas was far away from its next main city of Albuquerque in New Mexico by same or a little more distance and then there was the Flagstaff city another good 2-3 hrs drive to reach it.

We made it in good time though. We swung by nearby isolated ghost towns and went to have a look at these towns of yore. I turned on the classic rock & roll music on the radio & enjoyed the driving . It'd have been very scary for others but for us it was curiosity and adventure. We did have so much fun exploring it and trying to recreate its being.

It was like being in a Cowboy Western movie scene which I used to watch a lot during my childhood in Usha Hall in Paona Bazar after school. The movie usher uncle was very nice.He always saw me peeping on the outside door through the door cracks to watch the Western Cowboy movies & he would always let me in.

To think back about that...was it a forerunner that I was to be here in the States in later years??? A point to ponder.Sorry, I veered off track again. Warou biroi khanjei , Ngaidam ( no offence, forgive me, folks ! )

We drove and drove on in the scorching summer heat of 3 digits. It was pretty hot and hard to drive in that heat. But we managed to survive. We stayed in a motel in Arizona in a small town after 16 hrs of driving from Tulsa. We rested good and continued our journey the next morning after good breakfast provided by the motel...not bad for their price $50/per night.

We then dropped by the Grand Canyon on the south rim which was only an hour's drive from where we rested the night. This is why I like road trips where flexibility is so helpful & can change or alter our trip plans to get maximum sight seeing out of it. Pura full Vasooli.....money's worth !!!

In between I was calling up friends to get the World cup scores on the matches being played, who won & what & others. We did about a day's visit to the magnificent Grand Canyon. Its an amazing sight to see nature's wonders out there...I felt so euphoric ...indescribable.

My son was also tongue tied this time. He wanted to throw rocks to see its affects. I had to remind him that we were there enjoy nature and not to destroy or cause any harm to anything. We did take pictures and there were so many visitors to this Grand Canyon on its south rim. We even drove up the hill top observatory and enjoyed the scenery.

We had to leave soon after our wonderful round about trip here to the Grand Canyon. I had taken the alternate route to reach it and then head back the same way to Flagstaff (Arizona) to get onto the Interstate highway 40-West.

I filled up my car with gas at any station as I didnt want it half empty due to the long stretches of highway driving, there is few far and beyond stations for it.We had our snacks at such stops and that kind of helped us.

I could see many Native American settlements in reservation areas along this stretch of the route. The US government sure has neglected these natives very badly and the poverty amongst this Natives is mind boggling. Imagine the white settlers usurped their lands from them and drove them all to live in the reservation areas.So much to see and learn on this trip

..........to be continued.....stay tuned


* Shanti Thokchom, a resident of Tulsa, Oklohoma, contributes regularly to e-pao.net .
She can be reached at sthok65(at)hotmail(dot)com .
This article was webcasted on December 29, 2020 .


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