By the end of day two, Oprah and Gayle were already sick of gas station grub. On day one, Oprah says she ate two bags of potato chips and graham crackers. With the Tony Awards® less than a week away, Oprah and Gayle vowed to start eating healthier snacks so that they could fit into their dresses!
After arriving in Sedona, Arizona, they went in search of a good, old-fashioned grocery store. Once inside, Oprah and Gayle stocked up on bunches of bananas, Fuji apples, yogurt and green tea.
While they were in the neighborhood, the travelers decided to stop and shop for a few other necessities.
Before getting back on the highway, Oprah and Gayle stopped at an outlet store to buy bedding...and that's when the uncontrollable laughter began.
"When you've been on the road for a long period of time, after a while you just get absolutely silly for no reason," Gayle says.
Oprah and Gayle got the giggles over glass alligators, decorative roosters and just about everything else in sight!
"The grueling reality of our road trip sunk in," she says. "Gayle and I were drained and to make matters worse, what we thought would be a 50-mile drive to our motel was actually much, much farther. We had had enough."
Finally, Oprah and Gayle arrived at their motel...which looks more like a "village." Instead of regular hotel rooms, the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona, offers guests their very own teepee! The woman who checked them in—the daughter of the original owner—told her celebrity guests that her father built the motel 55 years ago and each teepee still has its original furniture.
After spending hours in close quarters, Oprah and Gayle needed some time apart. "I want my own teepee," Gayle said. "[Oprah and I are] not a couple, despite what you've heard. I know it looks a little suspicious right now, America!"
"I want my wigwam on the other end of the village," Oprah said.
Oprah realized that there weren't enough teepees to accommodate her production crew—18 total—so she packed up and moved to a nearby motel. "There just weren't enough wigwams to go around," she says. "We didn't want to split up because we were in a strange place."
The area around Window Rock is home to more than 270,000 Navajo people. In the 1860s, more than 10,000 Navajo were forced from their land and marched to a desolate reservation 450 miles away. The "long walk" is a painful legacy still felt today in places like Window Rock, where unemployment is a staggering 43 percent and almost 56 percent of people live below the poverty line.
While some Navajo do not have the resources to leave this poverty-stricken area, others refuse to abandon the sacred land of their ancestors.
Oprah and Gayle traveled to Window Rock to experience a traditional Native American powwow for the very first time. "The chance to experience new things was exactly why I wanted to drive across country," Oprah says.
The ceremony begins with a prayer and blessing of the ground, an age-old Native American custom. "That really was, for me, the most meaningful part of the whole ceremony," Oprah says.
Dancers and drummers dressed in traditional Navajo headdresses and ponchos join in the ceremony. "Navajo people do not lead easy lives," Oprah says. "Witnessing them embrace their heritage, despite their hardships, touched our hearts."
"It shows you how the Indian community is steeped in tradition," Gayle says. "I was honored to be there."
Colorful baskets, pottery and blankets were on display, but Oprah and Gayle decided on a few pieces of handmade jewelry.
The travelers couldn't leave before trying a Navajo sandwich—minus the meat. "I look on the grill, and I don't know what [the meat is], so I said, 'What is that?' And she said, 'It's tongue,'" Oprah says. "I made my peace with beef, but I'm not that peaceful."
After searching far and wide for someone who would welcome these unexpected house guests, Oprah and Gayle stumble upon Joseph in the middle of nowhere.
Joseph, a Navajo language teacher at a nearby school, lives near the New Mexico/Colorado border with his wife and two daughters, Autumn Rain and Winter Blossom.
The deserted plain is the perfect place for horseback riding, he says. His daughters, ages 11 and 13, ride their horses every day through New Mexico's arid countryside.
There they planned to drop in on Oprah's former chef, Paul Gelose. Oprah says Paul loved Colorado more than just about anything...even cooking for her and Stedman. "He used to cook for me and count how many ski days he was missing," she says. "So I said, 'Go back to Colorado, Paul.'"
He did, and now Paul owns a high-end restaurant called The Palace in Durango. All 18 members of the Big Adventure crew stopped in, hoping for a haute cuisine break from roadside fast food.
Gayle was particularly excited about eating at The Palace. "If his restaurant food was anything like the food he used to make for Oprah and Stedman, I knew we were in for a really good treat."
As Gayle read the menu aloud, she could hardly contain herself. "Seared scallops drizzled with mango vanilla bean butter? Penne pasta, fresh garlic basil, roma tomatoes sautéed in olive oil, tossed with fresh mozzarella cheese—that sounds good. That's worth the seven hour drive we did today."
"As we walked the streets of Durango, we noticed that the people there are in really good shape," Oprah said to a woman she met in town. "We were in the gym this morning and we just said, 'We have not seen a fat person in this whole town.' What is with this town?
"Well, I guess it's where we live," the woman replied to Oprah and Gayle. "You step out your door and ride, hike, kayak, mountain climb. I mean, just a number of things."
Oprah and Gayle took a ride aboard the Durango Silverton train. After 125 years, it is still powered by coal and steam.
Next they headed to the historic Strater Hotel, home of the famous Diamond Belle Saloon. At this bar renowned Western author Louis L'Amour is said to have found inspiration for his colorful novels.
"I love this town," Oprah says.
"She was not interested in doing an Old West photo," Gayle says. "I admit they're kind of goofy, but I saw it in the window and I thought, 'Hey, that would be fun to do.'"
"Sorry, this isn't my idea of fun," Oprah says. "I just did it because I didn't want to hear that I was such a spoiled sport."
Despite her reluctance about posing, Oprah certainly put on a big smile when the camera started clicking.
When Oprah and Gayle popped in to see her at work, Maria told them more about the healing nature of the water. "It helps your hair and your bones," Maria said. "It's really good for arthritis."
"After four days and over 1,000 miles in the car, I was ready for some therapy," Oprah says.
As they passed through South Fork, Colorado, everyone got out to take a nice long view of the stunning scenery. "It was so beautiful, I wanted the entire crew in on this Kodak moment," Oprah says.
"I told Oprah, 'Go to Dairy Queen and just go crazy—have at it!'" Gayle says. "I think she got a cone."
Though she had "just an itty-bitty cone," Oprah's trainer, Chris, was clearly upset with Oprah's dietary decision. "The trainer ain't happy, but I don't care," Oprah says.
He was upset at Oprah, but he was left nearly speechless by Gayle's order—a butterscotch shake with banana! "I guess the banana helps," Chris says.
In his e-mail, Reginald wrote of how he and his family moved to Trinidad from their ravaged Louisiana home. "We moved to this town in early December and I must say we have been blessed. I would consider this town as a hero because this town has taken us in as a native Trinidad family. Many people have called just to make sure that we are okay. Some would stop by just to drop off food and clothing without even asking for anything. Many times I find myself crying because we have been through so much. I would like to let it be known to America that there are still some loving people here in this country."
Reginald is now happy with his life in Colorado. "I can see myself going forward in life," he said. "I was depressed before I moved here, and now I'm doing wonderfully. I can rest at night. I can keep a smile on my face. I can enjoy life."
Somewhere over the rainbow, Oprah and Gayle discover the land is grand.