Night 45 and day 46
Hello all me again, been a long time since I was allowed to write ;-)
Our next stop was to be Monument Valley so we punched it into the sat nav and it spat out that our next leg was to be 700 miles and take 14 hours !! (we knew it was far but...... !!)
So off we went, me driving as Elles had driven all day in the Park. We had also decided to get a good bit of the drive done overnight and we would find somewhere to sleep if needs be when we could drive no more. Not long after leaving the park we filled up and admired the view across Mono Lake, deciding to push on, and that we would stop later for food at the first major town. The first few miles where on the freeway then all of sudden the sat nav demanded we turn left into the middle of nowhere on a single carriageway road.
We drove off into the desert of the Mono Basin National Forest scenic area with the sun setting behind us on an roller coaster ride, mainly due to the massive dips in the road that actually made your stomach go. For about 100 miles we didn't see any signs of life and that was only a very small farm, i don't think we even saw another car after we left the main highway.
Another hour on we reached Tonopah and after filling up with gas again (petrol stations few and far between) and having some tea we decided to crack on further me still feeling fresh. By now it was about 11pm and the next couple of hours were some of the most amazing driving I have ever done, although dark the moon was up with trillons of stars, and we were driving through the Nevada desert. The roads were unbelievably straight for like 20 or 30 miles at a time with a small bend then straight again. Not far after Tonopah I was directed onto Highway 375 and a big sign welcomed me to The Extraterrestrial Highway !! I didn't realise at the time but we were basically driving along the edge of Area 51, the USA's top secret Nellis Air Force Base where it is said they have aliens and their spacecraft. It is also a development area for many of the US's top secret planes long before we here or see them. It was really strange but with the monotony of the drive you really could see how you might start to see things along here even if they are just the next top secret project. (though I sure they from another world :-)
I did a gas stop at Rachel a town halfway down this 100 mile road that has lots of alien faces etc on signs at hotels etc, and by this time Elles had crawled into the back seat of the car to get some sleep. Good job really I think as although I didn't see another human, in cars or otherwise for about 2 hours, there were lots of animals about. Mainly Jack rabbits with their long ears sitting on the side of the road though most seemed to have a death wish and decided to do a runner infront of me. Me driving down the centre of the road it was like an old fashioned computer game trying to avoid them but by the end of the night it was unfortunately Rabbits 0 Dan 3. Most of the drive was open ranch land so as well well as the rabbits I saw deer, horses, cattle and a lot of night birds like owls.
At about 2am after 7 hours at the wheel and half our journey behind us I finally gave out and had to sleep. Elles took over for a bit and coming onto the big Interstate freeway we found loads of motels and decided we had gone on long enough and we would get some sleep and carry on in the morning. We checked in at 3.30am somewhere near Cedar City, only to be told that we had gone back another hour to mountain time and that it was infact 4.30 am and that breakfast started in 2 hours!! Strangely we skipped that and at 11am after a good sleep and a visit to the drive thru Starsucks we got back on the road with still a good 250 mile to go first through Utah then on into Arizona and over the massive hydro dam at the Glen Canyon Recreation Area.
After a late lunch in Page we did the last little drive onto Monument Valley. It is suggested that the best time to see the place is either sun rise or sunset and we had timed it perfectly. As we pulled into the car park one of the last guided tours of the day was leaving so we hopped on with 2 other Japanese families to a 4x4 pickup for a 2 hour drive around the Navajo Tribal Park. You can take your private car down the loop road that takes in the sites of the Valley but it soon became very clear why all the guide books and people we had spoken to suggested not to do that, though a silly number of people where still trying to take the family car down what amounted to an assult course for a tank!!
The Rock formations are truly amazing, and have been seen in many an old cowboy film, (and a Metallica video) but the reserve itself is a very important area for the Navajo Indians and seen as a sacred place. Our guide a Navajo himself, took us to some of the look outs for pictures (some silly as you may of seen on our FB pics) and to where other Native Americans were selling their crafts etc, a truly amazing place especially with the sun casting long shadows about as it neared sun down. Our guide had actually met and taken some of the Metallica band members on the same tour when they were filming a video (I Disappear, for MI2) in the Park that involved them being lifted by helicopter onto the top of the rock pinnacles. They had even taken his address and sent him a copy of the vid with loads of promotional stuff.
We bumpily made our way back up to the visitor centre me with more photos I think than both Japanese families put together :-) and bought a postcard and watched the sun set, It was time for our last couple of hours driving for the day to Tuba City, an old Native Trading Post where we would stay the night before heading the short drive to Grand Canyon in the morning. Dan