Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Road Trip - Monument Valley

Another site, another set of red rocks.  Are you bored of red rocks yet?  They do end eventually.  In Las Vegas.  In 3 stops time...

Anyway, this was the view from the campsite when we arrived:

And then later on at sunset with a very big lens:

We decided the easiest way to see the area was to take a tour with Gouldings, whose camp ground we were staying in.  The hotel has been there for years and years and decades and things, and was where they used to stay when they came to film a lot of the cowboy and indian films, John Wayne even has his own shrine type thing!  Anyway, our first stop was in a Hogan, one of the Navajo homes just next to Gouldings where we met this lady who showed us how to make a rug and grind flour:

She also played with LT's hair and put it up in a traditional hair bun:

Then we bump bumped down the track into the valley.  There was an awful lot of bumping...

Spot the odd monument...

And just to prove I was there:

This was called Elephant Butte, but it doesn't look like an elephant's behind to me.  I also don't think the Navajo met a lot of elephants back in the old days...

These are the 3 sisters, Faith, Hope and Charity.  Hope's the little one...

This was meant to be the recreation of some film scene but these tourists demanded LT take there photo and took ages to get ready so she didn't have time to run round to where the others were standing, and she was quite cross about that.

Here are some more hogans from the road within the park:

This is an old Indian Brave's face, can you see it?

I don't know about hearing it, but we certainly felt a lot of wind that day!

Look, people were scribbling on walls!  LT says it was okay back in the olden days though:

That was just below the Eye Of The Sun

Some clouds rolled in as we went further, but it didn't rain or anything:

Look, can you see the horse riders?  They were taking a different kind of tour:

And this is where I got to see the tour from.  Please note the open sides, it quite blew my fur about!

As a reward, look what we got for dinner, traditional Navajo blue fry bread:

Rest assured they shared that, although that was the starter size!  We just went back to the RV to have ice cream for dessert and to wind up our very long day...

Monday, 29 October 2012

The Road Trip - Mesa Verde

Now where were we before the lack of wifi at the Grand Canyon and the first day in Vegas?  Oh yes, we were just heading virtually to Mesa Verde in Colorado.  We stayed in an RV campground just outside the park entrance, a few miles from the town of Cortez, which was quite, err, special...

First we found this, where I got a little nervous:

But then I found a friend to gang up on the girls and that donkey:

But then right behind that was this.  Isn't it a reassuring sign?!

We did find this though, so the town wasn't a complete loss:

 But still, after we'd stopped in there we got the h*ll out of dodge!

The next day we went to get all cultured like, and went into Mesa Verde, booking in for a couple of ranger tours.  This park is unlike the others we visited in that the thing being preserved is some buildings not the actual park land (although they do look after that too! - LT)  Whatever.  Anyway, the main bits of interest are these cave dwellings that the Ancestral Puebloans built in the 13th century.  They only lived in them for less than a century, after they had lived on the mesa tops for years and years and years beforehand.  LT's dad might know, he's probably that old...

We got up early to head in as we were told it took hours to get there, but in the end it turns out that might just be in the summer because we were very early!  Anyway, it gave us time to work ourselves up to the steep climbs down and up, and to get some photos:

Before you get to go into the 2 main cliff dwellings, Balcony House and Cliff Palace you get a long talk about how if you have heart problems, lung problems, knee or hip problems, claustrophobia, acrophobia and a load of other things then you probably shouldn't go down.  LT affected selective deafness here, rather in the way she has selective blindness about certain signs... (it was fine - LT) Might not have been... (moving on - LT)  Anyway, we walked down loads of stone steps, then climbed a ladder into Balcony House.

Here's Ranger Paul showing us Balcony House:

Balcony House was split into 2 parts, and there are loads and loads of different theories about what they were used for and why and when.  We'll let you google it if you're interested...

To get back up, you have to go through this crack in the rock before you climb a huge big ladder.  The man in front seemed more interested in checking his camera than looking where he was going, but he didn't bash his head, he managed to bend down in time to crawl through the tiny gap:

After Balcony House we hit Cliff Palace, which is rather easier to get into by following a path down the side of the cliff.  Here it is from halfway down where you meet the ranger:

And here it is when you're down there:

Just to prove I was there:

An ancient painting halfway up the wall.  That light patch above was a doorway in.  All the holes that you see in the buildings were doorways as well as serving as windows, they were rather small!

We had another huge big ladder to climb to get out.  Here's Laura showing how narrow it was:

After that we wandered down to Spruce Tree House, which is self guided, and had a nice gentle path in both directions up the cliff!  Isn't it concealed well?

It was a loooong day, with lots and lots of climbing about (*ahem*, which of us was climbing? - LT)  Yeah, yeah.  Here's our view from the campsite the next morning before we headed off to Arizona:

Catch you next time we get free wifi!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Road Trip - Arches & Canyonlands

Well we set off from Little America in SLC at 8:30 am on the Monday to go and pick up our camper van at the airport, where LT's booking thingy told her it was.  We trawled all the luggage over to the car hire place aaaand nada.  Niet. Not one sign of the car hire place, so we phoned them.  It turned out they were about 20 miles south of SLC, not north where the airport was...  A $60 taxi drive later (when the driver got lost several times) and we were there.  We needed to grab a pile of things before leaving the city with the camper van, including food, so we hit up Target, Walmart and Joann's.  Living the high life, that's us...

It was a loooong drive down to Moab, and when we got there it was dark.  Which might have been how LT managed to hit an immovable object with the passenger side wing mirror.  I couldn't possibly comment though.  Anyway, it did give us some excitement the next morning as we headed to Canyonlands National Park because we got to stop in at the sheriff's office to report it as per the insurance instructions in the RV.  He was perplexed as there's some law in Utah that under $1000 wasn't reportable, but he was nice and made something up for us.  LT and Laura thought he was kind of cute too, and they did wonder how we might get to see him again...

So after that the adventure really began and we drove up to Canyonlands National Park.  On the way down the road we spotted the perfect place for lunch, so we stopped and enjoyed the view:

Then we headed down to the gate and we got ourselves a national park pass as we were going to be in so many, so now we can come and go through loads of them.  We stopped at the visitor's centre first and admired the view from there:

Me with Laura cluttering up my photo
Next we drove down to where the famous arch is that everyone likes taking photos through at sunrise:

Before we drove all the way to the end of the road.  Doesn't it look like some huge dinosaur thing has been crashing through the landscape behind me?

I met a new friend up there as well.  This is a chipmunk - Laura can't tell the difference between them and squirrels and bandicoots - stupid woman!

Finally we went to upheaval dome, a big dent in the ground:

After a less than stellar meal at the microbrewery in Moab we hit the sack so that we could be up bright and early to go to Arches National Park.  Deirdre, Laura's annoying donkey, decided to bomb my photo here.  She got more amorous as the day went on, it was rather worrying...

These were taken as we drove around:

Don't you like our home away from home?

We hit up Delicate Arch viewpoint from the bottom next:

Before LT and Laura insanely decided they needed to walk up there.  It was a veeeerrrry long walk (ahem, were you walking or hitching?! - LT)  Details...  Anyway, we finally made it to the top 5 miles later (it was only about 2 1/2 each way - LT)  Stupid people can't mark paths properly, we got very lost both ways:

After we'd worked our way out of there we went to look at a bunch more rocks.  Can you see the people climbing here?

How about now?

Look, smoke signals, must mean dinner's ready!

Our final stop was the Windows, so here's one of them eyeing us up:

And then Tunnel Arch - doesn't it look like Africa?

That bloody donkey leapt in again!

This was our view from the campsite before we left the next morning, just in case we hadn't seen enough red rocks...

We made sure we stopped in for a healthy breakfast to see us on our way - cinnamon buns and lemonade :oD  It was a fun wee cafe we'd found the day before when Laura was craving take out caffeine on our way to Arches, so we had to stop in.  Can you see the jewellery for sale underneath me?  The tables all had glass tops and artistic things inside for sale, plus the wall was covered in artwork and photos.  Can you also see the woolly hand warmer on Larua's latte?  We did have a giggle at that!

Next stop Mesa Verde, Colorado...