Today we leave Colorado and the beautiful Rockies and head into desert country. The scenery changes quickly as we journey to Mesa Verde National Park known for it's ancient cliff dwellings. It is another beautiful day and after entering the park we climb high around a towering Mesa and drive the 20 miles to visit the dwellings. Clare and Nige had been here 23 years ago and it was nice to be back. But you can only visit so many ruins, and one of the dwellings requiring a guide to accompany you was booked out till 3pm, so it was off to Four Corners- the only place in the U.S where four states meet in a corner. The location is on Navajo Indian land and after duly paying our $25 we did what everyone else does who visits this place - took the obligatory photos standing on, jumping over, lying on, etc, the intersecting point. It was fun and once this was achieved we pressed on. Four Corners is in the middle of nowhere - surrounded by desert. Next stop was Bluff and to our surprise it turned out to be real little oasis. The Motel was flash (for our standards) with a fabulous, newly completed huge indoor pool and spa complex. The girls had a swim, Nige and Clare went looking for some ancient rock paintings near by (against the San Juan river) and later we all headed out to an amazing cafe a kilometre up the road tucked right below some precarious looking towering rocks and cliffs called Twin Rock Cafe. Food was amazing and generous and we get to try our first lot of native Fry-bread - a delicious but not so healthy flat bread!
Next day we get away reasonably early to Monument Valley. On the way we take a quick detour and visit Gooseneck Bend State Park. The San Juan river does a series of switch backs here far below us and is quite spectacular. Next stop Monument Valley - you can see it from miles away. We decide to do a self driven tour around the valley after weighing up the risk of driving the rental car on dirt roads and are glad we did as the tours are in open utes and the dust must have been a real pain. We have a beautiful blue sky and no wind and enjoy the amazing scenery. A local Navajo guide convinces us that he is the right person to sort out some horse trekking in the valley so we decide to give it a go (Teigan and Chantelle). We follow back out of the main entrance a few kms up the road and turn off onto a rough dirt road stopping at a corral containing mustangs of the four legged variety. Nige duly signed the girl's lives away taking full responsibility for all manner of possible injury and they headed off into the desert with a Navajo guide. It all worked out well and was possibly one of the highlights of the trip for both of them. We leave monument valley and head west through incredibly flat, arid scenery towards Grand Canyon - only a couple of hours and we are in the National Park and our approach offers us snapshot views of tbe canyon. We arrive at the visitors center late afternoon and enjoy tbe spectacular views in the late afternoon sun. This place is amazing and is difficult to describe or capture on camera. There are elk wandering through the park and we are able to get very close to them. Our accommodation tonight is in one of the lodges in the park and is very comfortable - run like a motel. This has been a spectacular day and we all agree one of our best.