4 Corners & Monument Valley

Cortez being in the south-west of Colorado is not all that far from 4 Corners – the only place in the States where four states meet in one place.  For some reason, I expected the area to be flat & desert – but we were soon driving up towards more small canyons.  We managed to get there before the rush & spend a bit of time mucking around in four states at once.

While Valerie perused the various stalls (the monument is on a Navajo reservation) of handmade jewelery, pottery & various other do-dads I had a look around & read up about the surveying history & why the state lines are where they are. Very interesting, but I would think that.

Our next stop was supposed to be Monument Valley, but we got a little distracted. First by Gooseneck State Park – where the San Juan River bends back & forth a bit. I could only think of gas plant changes, but I think I’ve lost all my NZ Steel readers – so that won’t make much sense to anyone. There were three or four good bends, but I couldn’t get them all in one shot so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Our next distracton was a little drive through the Valley of the Gods. Just off the highway, this dirt/gravel road was a great little adventure. It had some ridiculously little steep drops & climbs & got a bit skinny (of course, when we met the big pick-ups carrying little RVs on their trays). It was a fun drive & once again I was pleased to be in an Outback, not a minivan. The big rocks rising out of the valley were spectacular (I was too busy driving, so these pictures will have to suffice).

Back on the highway, it wasn’t long before we got some great views heading towards Monument Valley. I managed to get a few iconic shots, while not getting run over while standing in the middle of the highway.

The wind was really starting to pick up & we could see a haze of dust accumulating on the horizon. Monument Valley stradles the Arizona/Utah border & is also on a reservation, so we paid our fee, checked out the Visitor Center & then went on the seventeen mile self-drive tour. The road was orders of magnitude worse than the Valley of the Gods road, probably because it has so much more traffic on it. There were tour pick-ups (with bench seats on the back under a canopy – it was like being in Kenya on safari), some RVs, some buses & many little cars & SUVs. Bouncing around & getting out in the wind was OK for a while, but then got tiresome.

There were a lot of tumbleweeds blowing around – this is a small one, the car got sconed a few times by much bigger ones

With still a fair bit of driving to do, we headed off for Page, AZ. Only because Valerie had heard Antelope Canyon was good & Page was close by. Early on, we passed under a huge belt conveyor coming off the hills & crossing to a big silo. From then on we ran alongside a electric rail track (haven’t seen one of those since Europe) – I was intrigued. Well outside Page, I spotted one, then three, big stacks on the horizon. Turns out it is the Navajo Generating Station & the belt & railway is solely for the coal (8 million tonnes annually). Those stacks are 236 metre high, big ones & the station generates 2.3 GW (at least one of my readers may be interested).

For the first time, our tactic of pitching up in a town & then looking for a motel got a resounding thumbs-down. It turns out Page is next to Lake Powell (second biggest reservoir in the States after Lake Mead) & is very popular – especially in the middle of Memorial Day Weekend (the public holiday that signals the start of the summer vacation period). Everything was booked & there aren’t really any other towns nearby (Flagstaff is two hours away). Somehow Valerie came up with a plan of accosting strangers in church parking lots & soon Harriet & Bunny (I kid you not) were busily phoning all sorts of people. Eventually we got a room in a delightful small B&B – it’s called Rose Walk Inn & there are roses when you walk in. Smelling roses always reminds me of my (paternal) grandparents & their garden. It’s so nice to be staying in a home for a change & the oatmeal & buttermilk pancakes were fantastic (as was the buttermilk syrup).

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