Friday, 5 April 2013

Monument Valley

Yesterday wasn't so bad after all. Once Ricky and I had a bit of breakfast and got ourselves organized, we managed to make a pretty good day of it. That's the way things go some times; you think you are off on a bad start and it turns out good, or you think you are off on a good start and it turns out bad. All it really means is that expecting any given outcome does you no good. You control very little in life, and I control even less than most, so just point yourself in the right direction and take it as it comes.

What came yesterday was a very interesting drive. Our first touch point was a place called Monument Valley on the Utah-Arizona border. This fascinating land formation is the one you see in some of the great old Western movies, films like "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon", "Stagecoach" and "The Searchers", all of them John Ford classics starring John Wayne. This locale was featured in "Easy Rider" and "Forrest Gump" and even showed up in a couple of "Dr. Who" episodes recently!

The stone tower sentinels guarding this region of the massive Colorado Plateau rise up to 1,000 feet in the air; that's 320 meters for those of us who think in metric. They stand, solitudinous, alone against the desert sands, large massifs of layered rock and stone. These columns were formed eons ago when this part of the planet was beneath an ancient sea. The monuments are actually shafts of lava, magma that pushed up into cracks in the sea floor or pipes in the rock beneath that sea. Then, as the land rose and the sea retreated, erosion wore away the softer sandstone surrounding these shafts of hard rock. Now they tower against the landscape, distant watchers, soldiers guarding the endless desert plain.

We drove through this valley, in many ways a different world and certainly different from our home terrain, with giant rocks and rugged walls, through the rolling floor of the plateau, cut as it is with canyons, cracks, arroyos and creeks, crossing any number of small bridges and large, through towns built into the landscape with names like Bluff and Mexican Hat. Our drive took us in a spiral starting in Arizona through southeast Utah, then on through southwest Colorado and finally into northwest New Mexico. We eventually ended up in Four Corners, the only place in the US where the borders of four states - AZ, UT, CO, and NM - all meet.

We stopped at the Four Corners monument and took some time to shop at some of the local Navajo vendor's kiosks. I picked up a few trinkets as gifts plus a wonderful urn and plate, handmade by the same person selling them. She was working behind the table on new pottery as she sold completed works, her husband helping her present and package her artwork. We chatted. Her story, that of her husband too, had its own tragedy; she had recently lost her eldest son to a stabbing in a fight and was now contending with the trial, every day reminding her of the loss of her child. We are born, we live, we die; it's universal.

Our original plan had been to go to Albuquerque. By the time we got to Gallup, New Mexico on the original American highway, Route 66, I was exhausted. We decided to find a motel and stay. This time we each got our own room. It's nice to have privacy every once in a while.


  1. This entry recalls our trip through the same area. It is a wondrous place ! I am glad your day went well and that you both have your own room once in a while.

  2. I love road trips. I've always dream of driving across the good old USA & visiting all the states. Your recount of each day makes me feel like I sitting in your backseat enjoying the ride. Where are we goin g tomorrow?:-)

  3. San Antonio, TX today, then Lake Charles, LA the day after, assuming we can do all 500 miles today.