|As promised my replacement hat, which I bought during the next part of this trip, |
so it is out of sequence, but a promise is a promise.
Click to enlarge any image
|Some tumble-weed we passed on our way, often featured in Hollywood Westerns|
|A Navajo house we passed|
|The entrance to Goulding's Trading Post, which provides accommodation , a store and a museum.|
|Goulding's Trading Post, Lodge and and Museum. We stopped here for a comfort break|
|The Four Corners monument|
Monument Valley is another WOW! area, all Wily Coyote country with mesas and isolated mountains rising suddenly out of the desert. We did not see any road runners or coyotes either, but what we did see more than made up for this lack of visible wildlife.
|Kayenta the start of Monument Valley|
Arizona had been suffering some fairly widespread fires in the weeks before we started out on our Grand Tour and we pass by evidence of some of these fires with some hills entirely denuded of trees. For much of the time we had been in Nevada and Arizona, the air was hazed blue from the residual smoke still in the air.
|A burnt out hill in Arizona|
In this part of the country there was a haze too but it was a different colour and was caused by dust.
|A particularly dusty stretch of road|
Here and there, there were road signs warning travellers that there could be dust storms.
We saw a few dust devils over in the distance, thin spirals of dust whipped up by the wind like miniature tornadoes. At one point one of these came across the road in front of us. TS slowed down to let it pass but misjudged it slightly and it just brushed us as it went by and it rocked the car alarmingly. I had always thought these things were just a rotating gust of wind and had not realised how strong they could be. I have seen them in the distance before in other parts of the world and they always looked quite harmless but had never gotten this close to one before.
|You can only just see the dust devil in this picture as a hazy patch between the centre two pylons|
Seeing a quite promising rest stop, we took a break and had a short wander around one of the small Native American stores. Some years before on a visit to the USA, TBH had bought a pair of Kokopelli earrings and a couple of years or so ago had lost one of them. Kokopelli is a mythical spirit figure which turns up in many parts of America. He is often depicted with a hump back and playing a flute. He is a trickster but was often worshiped as the spirit of music and fertility.
|A typical image of Kokopelli|
He is featured in many kinds of jewellery and appears in most tourist shops in one form or another. He is also the name of many hostelries all over the south west.
|One of the many establishments using the Kokopelli name|
TBH loved her original earrings and was heartbroken by the loss, so we were interested in seeing if we could find another pair. We did not find anything suitable on that occasion but we bought some different souvenirs and jewellery for family whilst we were there.
Passing into Monument Valley we started to see some of the amazing rock formations that make it a must for a national park.
|The climb up to Monument Valley Pass|
|Coming down from the pass. |
This must have been a tricky route before Highway 163 was blasted through this ridge.
The next place on this route is Mexican Hat, which is down in the San Juan River valley and as we descended we were presented with the most spectacular rock formations, where folding and weathering had created huge wave patterns in the mountain overlooking the San Juan river.
|The San Juan River|
|The spectacular patterns in the rock strata of these ridges|
|The Mexican Hat rock formation|
|The rippled ridge was still visible some miles after passing Mexican Hat|
By the time we got back on highway 160, we had gone from Arizona through Utah and had arrived in Colorado and were now back on Mountain Time, so had to put all our watches forward an hour. We should have done that as soon as we entered Utah but we had not thought of it until we had to check the time of our planned arrival at our next stop. This was to be in Cortez at the Baymont Inn and Resort. We arrived in good time to find an eatery and check in for the night.
Cortez is a popular tourist centre but has nothing much to offer other than its proximity to several famous tourist spots. It is is the county town for the Montezuma county and boasts a lot of accommodation for a small town of a little over eight thousand inhabitants.
The Baymont Hotel was a probably the nicest hotel of the trip, providing good accommodation and with a balcony outside our room overlooking the nearby mountains.
|The view through our hotel bedroom window|
One of those weird coincidences that happen when you are on holiday occurred whilst we were staying there, we met a couple who were on a coach trip and who came from a little village adjacent to my old hometown where I lived as a teenager. Not only did they come from the same small corner of England, but the lady had worked in the same offices as my father.
A similar encounter had occurred when we were there on our last visit to the family in 2009. Whilst having coffee in a Borders book shop in Kansas City, a man with an English North Country accent asked us if we were English and we started talking. He told us how he had left England and was now living in the USA and it turned out that when he was last in England, he and I had both worked in the same place for the same organisation, although at different times.
Our next destination was Mesa Verde, an abandoned Pueblo Indian ruin and after breakfast we set off for this fascinating archaeological site.