Having spent a week at Joes it was time to set out on a road trip all alone to give poor Joe a break from entertaining me as much as anything. Sunday morning arrived and Van popped round at 6.45am!!!!????? I am yet to discover why Joe didnt just murder him on the spot? Perhaps he is blackmailing him....I will look in to it!
Before I left on my epic journey I topped up my mobile phone and promised Joe faithfully that I would check in with him everyday so that he knew I was safe. I passed through some spectacular scenery on the way out to Moabe, Utah where I would spend the first night. Mountain passes covered in Pine trees and Aspen groves, Canyons, white water rivers and then in to Utah which was mostly flat dessert. It was still about 80 degrees when I checked in to my hotel at 9:30 so I went to the pool and met Cody (a music producer from Missouri) and his two nephews, Austin and Tyler. Eventually I had to go to bed, driving on the wrong side of the road really takes it out of you!!
The following morning I headed to Arches National Park where the soft red rock gets eroded and forms natural arches. After about an hour I pulled up in the car park to get out and look at "Delicate Arch" and pulled up next to Cody, his nephews and his mum, Debbie. I spent a couple if hours with then going to the different areas in the park. Debbie had an umbrella to shade her from the 104 degree heat, although looking at it I am not entirely sure it didnt double up as some kind of weapon as it had certainly seen better days! Although I was really enjoying hanging out with them unfortunately by about 3:30 I had to leave to make sure that I made my next destination before it got dark. Thats the thing about America, its massive and it just doesn't look it on the map!
My next destination was a place called Mexican Hat right on the edge of the Navajo Nation on the border of Utah and Arizona. To get there I had to drive down a 3 mile stretch of gravel road with a 10% gradient and plenty of switchbacks at dusk! Took me ages! Mexican Hat was small and in the middle of nowhere. I paid much more money for a much worse hotel and shared my room with a mouse! I did inform the owner of my little friend, she smiled and said "Dammit, we chased him out of there this morning!" Unfortunately I have not got cell service here and it is not the kind of place to be wandering about looking for a pay phone so I decide that I will have to phone Joe in the morning.
In the morning I head to Monument Valley and the Navajo National Monument on the Navajo reserve. I try to call Joe but the pay phones just tell me that they cant connect me and my cell phone still has no service! Its still over 100 degrees and the land is bare, I wonder how people can live out here, I mean I am sure I would die without my mobile! I really enjoyed the National Monument and there were young Navajo Indians playing drums at Monument Valley. Following a drive through the Painted Dessert and a stop Canyon De Chelley I went to 4 Corners Monument, where I stood on New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado all at the same time. Finally once I got to the hotel I was able to phone Joe, his response being "Holy Mackerel lady, am I glad to hear from you". Unfortunately during my little period of being incommunicado Joe had imagined the worst and was considering reporting me missing (sorry Joe, I did try). Although the hotel I was staying in was cheap and a bit run down there were no mice and the shower was capable of firing me through the wall if I didnt brace myself!
The following morning feeling refreshed and relieved that I had got hold of Joe (although probably not as relieved as him) I headed to Mesa Verde National Park. These are 800 year old cliff dwellings built by the Pueblo Indians. Getting in and out of them was quite challenging at times climbing 30 foot ladders and crawling on hands and knees through rock to get in to the alcoves they were built in. This was an amazing place and the Indians still consider them holy places.
On the final day of my road trip I was to visit the Great Sand Dunes in South Colorado. I could see them from at least 20 miles away as they are located on a flat plain in front of a mountain range. They stand 640 feet high at their tallest point and look completely out of place? The sand is washed downstream from the rivers and then the wind picks it up and blows it back to the top of the dune. I put some poor woman here in to a complete panic as I asked if she could take my picture but I think it came out fine. Following the Sand Dunes I was going to "pop" in to Royal Gorge to see the suspension bridge. I was a bit disappointed when I got there as they were charging $23 to get on to the bridge. I am just too tight to pay that so I looked at it from an overlook point. The gorge itself was spectacular with a drop to the river of over 1000ft.
The drive home from the gorge was another 3 hours and I had to drive through rain like I had never seen before. My windscreen wipers were having trouble keeping up as I drove through the centre of the storm, the sky was the colour of the tarmac and the lightening was all around. It was actually quite pretty from the safety of my car.
I eventually made it back to the ranch at about 9:30, Joe was very pleased to see me not least of all because 2 days before he had convinced himself I had been scalped or something. Tomorrow Joe is having a party ....what could possibly go wrong!