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Jun
16
Category:

Yet another awesome day from start to finish!

Superlatives are meaningless and the brief  dipping in and out of National Parks we have done doesn't do any of them justice but we are gob smacked at how different they all are. ALL of them realistically should take days to explore, some more than others but that sort of time we don't have. The photos below tell the story.

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Our neighbours last night, a group of German Harley riders with back up support.

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And on a fruitless search this morning for an espresso coffee.

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Approaching Zion National Park.

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And just into the park, this is the Chequerboard Mesa, the rest I didn't take names for as we were riding through. We had hoped to take a side road to waterfalls and such but this required a shuttle ride and extra time we didn't have. I'll add a number below. Don't know the names as we were riding.

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The start of a very long windy tunnel, quite narrow but adequate for cars to pass each other but we were being stopped and sent through one lane at a time today, we assume to cater for Recreational Vehicles. Glad we were waiting in the shade as the heat was starting to get up there even though it was early in the day.

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And a final one in the park.

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A shot not long after leaving the park. The sights kept unfolding in front of us.

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And on to Las Vegas and we marvelled at the massive engineering feat to construct roads to get in and out. Above and below.

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Ken and Sharen headed to Las Vegas after lunch and we went on to the Hoover Dam since we didn't get to see it in 1998 when we visited Las Vegas. It was awesome but oh my God it was at least 40c and we struggled to keep up the water and the will to continue for that matter. it was like riding in a blast furnace coupled with incredibly strong gusty wind so a trial all round really. Definitely hotter than anything we have ever ridden in for such extended periods since the heat had been rising rapidly since early morning. This is a shot of one of the many freeway bridges on our way into the wall since the wall is no longer the main highway.

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And some of the dam wall.

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And the spillway, as you can see it's a long time since any water ran over this.

Last Night's Accommodation:

Sorry I haven't located the photo so will add it at a later stage. 

Best Western Plus Ruby's Inn, 26 South Main Street, Bryce Canyon, UT 84764

Comfortable though a bit dated. Hot water in the shower and a brief walk to the main building for substantial dinner and breakfast and a huge store of souvenirs and practical stuff. Quite incredible. Been trading since 1916 and in the same family.


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Jun
15
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Well yet another great day of spectacular sights from start to finish. Since we couldn't access the Vermillion Cliffs other than looking at them which was awesome (Google Vermillion Cliffs Arizona for awesome photos) we decided to double back and head for Page so we could see the Horseshoe Corner and what a treat. The ascent up to the plateau was incredible in terms of engineering of the road and rock face views as well as towards the plains and the Vermillion Cliffs as well and then all sorts of changing views and treats as we travelled through the edge of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and back onto 89A at Kanab and we just kept seeing terrific sights from there up to the park and they continued. Can't believe there can be so many changes!

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The Vermillion Cliffs in the morning light.

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And an awesome cutting as we climbed to the plateau from the plains.

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Glen Canyon Dam Wall on Lake Powell.

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Horseshoe Bend. What I would give for a camera with a larger viewfinder.

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North of Kanab.

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Dixie National Forest - Red Canyon. Gob smacking.

 

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The second of two short cute little tunnels.

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And to Bryce Canyon. Wow. We could have a handful of photos for each point but will spare you that. This is the Natural Bridge.

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And Fairview Point, 8,819foot elevation.

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Bryce Point.

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Inspiration Point, 8,100foot elevation.

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Sunset Point, 8,000foot elevation.

Bits and Bobs:

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It has certainly been underlined for us here at the National Parks that Australia is somewhat a nanny state given all the things we have been able to see and explore here in the USA. perhaps it has something to do with their right of self determination and a quote we hear recently that 'All Americans have the right to die in their National Parks'. In any case people are expected to be responsible for themselves rather than being protected from their own stupidity. A couple of signs as an example today from the Glen Canyon Dam Wall overlook above and at all the Bryce Canyon Overlooks this afternoon below.

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Last Night's Accommodation:

Marble Canyon Lodge, Highway 89A, Marble Canyon, AZ 86036

Adequate spot to drop for the night. Basic but clean and restaurant available with air conditioning which was appreciated after the hottest day so far of 101F. After dodgy Wi-Fi the last two nights we had none at all here. Ah well.

Sorry, forgot to take a photo.


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Jun
14
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We had an awesome day's riding with ever changing geography from red rocks then winding along a cool leafy valley from Sedona up to the rim of the canyon and then through a lot of ponderosa pine grassland and onto the Sunset Crater Volcano complete with lava flows and then Indian Pueblos and great open plains around the rim of the Grand Canyon and ever changing colours of the cliff faces and mountains around us. All sorts of wow!

 

Bridge north of Sedona.

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Sunset Crater Volcano believed to have erupted in 1100.

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And in the opposite direction where we came from.

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And a look at a small part of the lava flow which remains and nature is slowly reclaiming the space.

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Wukahi Pueblo

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Citadel Pueblo looking towards the surrounding grassland.

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Cameron Trading Post a surprising oasis just past the turn off to the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

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And the bridge which was on the old highway at the Trading Post.

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Some tough clay wearing away over centuries making a great show of colour in contrast to the red cliffs in the distance.

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The view stretching into the distance.

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Changing again as we head for Marble Canyon.

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And more changes.

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And we descend towards the Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River.

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And the Navajo Bridge old (left) and new (right)

Last Night's Accommodation:

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Best Western Plus Arroyo Roble, 400 N State Route 89A, Sedona, AZ 86336

A lovely comfortable spot to drop and explore. Large comfortable room and bathroom. Included parking breakfast and Wi-Fi. Just a short work to countless dining and shopping options. Very nice.


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Jun
13
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Slept in, had a leisurely breakfast then headed off on a Pink Jeep tour of Sedona and surrounds. Really enjoyed the birdseye view before it got too hot and Mike Lamb our guide was knowledgeable and fun.  Sedona he started off as an agricutural area and is like an island in the middle of National forest, the area being about 75% developed at this point. After the tour we had lunch and I've been fighting most of the afternoon with tech bloody nology. Think the laptop has had an upgrade which inteferes with internet connection and the notebook has real potential to become a frisbee at this point.

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Chapel on the mountainside.

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Clouds building.

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Pillars.

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The troops over Sedona, all squinting in the sun you will note.

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One of many galleries.

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Lizard head.

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Spectacular nature.

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Great view.

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Awesome sculpture of an indian mother and babe above and below. Need three shots to take it all in. My favourite of all we have seen and there have been many. Damn shame we haven't had a tattslotto win I could have happily bought some.

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And late in the day the storm gathers behind the valley.


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Jun
12
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A reasonably kick back day but we managed to stretch it out and loved the whole day, even the solid rain and hail where there wasn't supposed to be any. Gotta love being on the road.

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A taste of the neon signs in Holbrook after dinner last night. This was part of Route 66 and there are lots of examples of 'Main Street America' to be seen.

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The Historic train Station on Bucket of Blood Street ... I kid you not!

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Standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona and such a lovely sight to see ...

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Dan's diner Winslow for a chocolate milkshake. Beautiful old building and great ambience. Place was full of tourists, most of them on motorbikes.

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A windmill in a memorial park which caught my eye.

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We visited the meteor crater west of Winslow. 1 mile long and 3/4 mile wide and was 750m deep but gradually silting up over time with wind erosion. We saw this from the air in 1998 when we flew from LA to New Orleans and never dreamt we would see it first hand.

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Looking west from the Meteor Crater to the thunderstorm we were about to ride through which wasn't supposed to be happening. ha ha.

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Welcome to Red Rock Country as we approached Oak Valley.

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And we headed into Sedona.

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Wow, where to look, the views keep jumping into our view and is it any wonder heaps of movies have been made in this environment.

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The view from our hotel room. Glad we will have time to explore tomorrow.

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And a bit of fun with a sculpture in the garden.

 

Bits and Bobs:

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The opening hours 'ish at the Petrified Wood Company in Holbrook, way too much stuff for me to even tolerate there.

 

Last Night's Accommodation:

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Lexington Inn Holbrook, 1308 Navajo Boulevard, Holbrook, AZ 86025

We rocked up and there was literally no other vehicles in the car park so we were wondering if this was the Holbrook version of Hotel California where you can check out anytime you like  but you can never leave. Imagine our relief to get back from dinner to find the car park full. Phew. Anyway, large comfortable rooms and not a bad included breakfast.  The hotel also wins the award for the best located toilet roll holder being in the most obvious / practical / reachable spot in the bathroom so you can reach it without dislocating any joints, go figure .... given all the other places we have stayed.

 


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Jun
11
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My favourite shot at Monument Valley late yesterday afternoon.

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And the sights continue heading out of Monument Valley as we head for the rain.

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Coming out of one of many thunderstorms today complete with pouring rain and hail and a night dark sky as well as some awesome / scary lightening. Seems we dipped in and out of these and were either approaching or leaving or riding alongside. We got very very wet.

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A shot of the Painted Desert. A shame it was so overcast, doesn't do the clays and stones justice.

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And another with petrified logs at the base.

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Painted Desert Inn.

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And a shot in the quirky little bar. A stretch of the old Route 66 was within the park.

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More Painted Desert known as the Teepees.


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Petrified tree. These trees were blown to bits by treasure seekers after amethest and crystals many years ago. Really!

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And the cross section of the grain of one log. Beautiful colours and patterns.

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And here is a happy camper we found in the car park.

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At the end of the day in spite of waterproofs we were very wet and uncomfortable and my bike served as a handy clothes line in the Arizona sun, is nothing sacred?!?!

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And since Holbrook is on the old Route 66 we had a look at what we could find reminiscent of the period and here is the Wigwam Hotel which is still in use ... including the wigwams as well as other rooms.. We enjoyed the drive on our way home from dinner tonight looking at some of the old neon signs.

Last Night's Accommodation:

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The View Hotel, Indian Route 42E Oljato, Monument Valley, Utah 84536
The only hotel inside Navajo Tribal Park and is attached to a huge Visitors Centre and Restaurant. The room was comfortable and artworks throughout the hotel were superb and varied. The whole complex showcased both the valley and the Navajo people. Worked well. The hotel sits nestled into the side of the valley and doesn't seem obtrusive. Staff friendly and helpful .


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Jun
10
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Left early this morning to get to our booked tour of the monument valley at 1pm only to find when we got here all tours had been cancelled because of flooding which wasn't much of a surprise given all the rain we had on the way.

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We had breakfast looking out over the canyons of Mesa Verde and decided the hotel was aptly named 'Far View Lodge' this is the view from the dining room.

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We got to drive down the mountain in the dry but this was the weather rolling in from below as we descended. We got our waterproofs on at the bottom and before we were finished the mountain was covered in cloud and we were only a couple of kilometers before the sky opened up.

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A quirky stop, 4 Corners where we stood in 4 states at the same time Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Between the access road and the corners was a 20m stretch of mud, oh dear. Apparently the current monsoonal rain is the first in 6 years so no locals are complaining so we sucked it up as well.

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Finally a shot of something magnificent out of the clouds. The sights had been incredible and somewhat to this point and pointless to photograh as great huge irregular shapes were wreathed in clouds and difficult to distinguish. Even so, they were magnificent.

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The Mexican Hat for obvious reasons.

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Monument Valley on our arrival.

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Finally clearing a bit an hour later.

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And a shot further around up to the hotel.

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This was John Waynes's favourite spot. Self Explanatory. Sharen and Ken found his cabin but we don't know if it was a holiday spot or from one of his movies.

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The things you do when you're killing time waiting to get into your hotel room.

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Off to find the stretch of road from the Forest Gump movie when he was running across America.

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And this was where he 'stopped runnin I half knelt down in the road to take it without getting run over and managed to convince a couple of Japanese tourists to get off the road before they were skittled as well. They took some convincing.

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And finally in our hotel room at 4pm and this is the view from our room. Don't think we will see the stars tonight ...another feature we booked for. Ya gotta laugh.

Bits and Bobs:

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We had our first actual room key last night and thought we might get another since we are in a type of Park tonight but not so.

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Norm decided on a mixed grill last night and got a small game hen, jumbo shrimps and rattlesnake sausage. Made me shudder just hearing it.

Last Night's Accommodation:

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Far View Lodge, Mesa Verde National Park, Mile Marker 15, Inside Mesa Verde National Park, Mesa Verde, Co, 81330
Quirky rooms but comfortable and a sense of the remoteness without being austere. Beautiful dining options at the restaurant and accommodation units spread around site so not conscious of the numbers here. Bed comfortable, free parking and wifi.


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Jun
09
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We headed off early so we could get to do the things in Mesa Verde we wanted to do this afternoon given we have a tour time to meet around lunchtime tomorrow in Monument Valley. The countryside changed from red cliffs and canyons to wide open spaces with some agriculture with grain and cattle and what looked like at times pretty basic native grass and pines. There was also some irrigation but the settlements were sparse and small and as we started to see small and large protrusions of rocks on the plains and green speckled sand drifts the colour had changed to sand colour and as we got to Mesa Verde the stone is not surprisingly sandstone. We headed for the park, found our hotel and unloaded our cases then headed to the Chapin Mesa Archeological area to grab a bite for lunch and then toured the Spruce Tree House on a self guided walking tour and loved it. Glad I had the warm up climb yesterday so the walking wasn't such a shock to the system. From here we headed to the Cliff Palace for a guided tour and loved that also. Ranger Reagan was passionate about his work (Ranger / Tour guide 6 months and Archeologist 6 months). He was entertaining and informative and it felt a privelage to tour the remains. Pictures tell the story of our day below:

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Not far out of Moab we came across this Hole in the Rock sign. Eeek! even worse around the corner was more painting on the rock and some crappy commercial establishment. Couldn't believe it!

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Wilson's Arch.

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Mesa Verde Visitor Centre, a beautiful building and incredibly helpful staff.

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One of the first sights as we entered Mesa Verde National Park, literally visible from the ticket window.

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And we start to seriously climb and the views are awesome.

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Our first glimpse of the Spruce  Tree House, an interesting name since it isn't actually in a tree. The inhabitants left around 1,300 years ago.

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The Spruce Tree House.


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And a couple of old fossils at the Spruce Tree House.

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Our first glimpse of the Cliff Palace before the descent.

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Within the Cliff Palace.

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And again.

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On our way back to our hotel this was an overlook over the House of Many Windows.

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And here are the windows just to prove they are there though we think the title may have more to do with all the many holes in the rocks but who knows, not us.

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Still in site of the snow as we return to our hotel and a shower and dinner.

Bits and Bobs:

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More coffee wisdom above and below.

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A lizard Norm almost stepped on yesterday coming down from the Delicate Arch.

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And one on the footpath pretending to be a stick today.

Last Two Night's Accommodation:

Sorry, forgot to take a photo of the hotel (Norm usually does that and I didn't think to, oops).


Best Western Plus Canyonlands Inn, 16 S Main Street, Moab, UT 84532-2503
Large comfortable room with plenty of room to spread cases out and still have room to sit. Included breakfast, free wifi and parking. Staff helpful and facilities clean and comfortable.


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Jun
08
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After breakfast we headed off to explore the Arches National Park and were we in for a treat! I'll let the pictures tell the story and there were many even with only one camera. There were spectacular features, to see, soaring cliffs and canyons and needles of rock and everything in between. Way too much to see properly in one day but we gave it a good shake even walking, actually scrap that, climbing nerly 3 miles to get to the Delicate Arch. If I hadn't been so stubbor I would have chucked it in but Christine Ikin there is a shot below for you. After a quick bite of lunch we decided to head to Canyonlands National Park thinking it would be ordinary compared to the Arches and how wrong we were. The Arches had spectacular sights and generally closer to us where the vista up on the Island in the Sky section of the park we explored were incredible,  deep and vast and just as spetacular in different ways. Our reccomendation to anyone is that you need several days to explore these properly and if you're an adrenalin junkie and like Zip lines, canyoning, parachuting, white water rafting or just plain old fashioned hiking then a week minimum  and ther would still be more to see and pick your time. We were glad we did our climb in the early parwt of the day before it was too hot.

Firstly Arches national park.

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Park Avenue.

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A view to Courthouse Rock from Park Avenue.

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Balanced Rock.

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One of many arches of all shapes and sizes.

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Delicate Arch, especially for you Christine Ikin.

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And another to give context with people under the arch and snow capped mountains in the distance.

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Norm almost back down from Delicate Arch advertising Inline 4 Cafe.

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And a view of one of many great sights on the way to the Devils garden

And now Canyonland (Island in the Sky section).

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Big Mesa.

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Overlook view from Island in the Sky Visitor Centre . The snow capped mountains in the distance are 152 miles away.

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View from Green River Overlook.

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Orange Cliffs.

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And a shot from Grand Viewpoint.

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Shaffer Trail.

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And a canyon near the outskirts of Moab called Negro Bills Canyon (seriously I'm not making it up).

Bits and Bobs:

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More coffee wisdom above and below.

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And some more trucks being transported through Moab (above and below). These are Freightliners so how they do it, and the others we showed a few days ago were Kenworths and they do it differently.

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Jun
07
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If you ever get to Denver Colorado, do yourself a favour and get your butt on a motorbike, in a car, coach or truck and get on Interstate 70 West and head for Moab Utah and be prepared to be blown away by the continuing change of spectacular mountains, canyons, cliffs, rocky outcrops, thundering rivers, broad plains and every colour you can imagine in the rocks. Wow, wow and wow .. and we thought it might be a bit of a featureless day, couldn't have been more wrong! Our trek climbed out of Denver into what had to be the ski hub of Denver and homes / holiday homes of the rich and famous and randomly wealthy then on further to full on snow and ski slopes then dropped down to find grassland and intensive farming and a quick ride through Vail to see more of the speccie real estate of the rich and famous and on through canyons with the Colorado River absolutely thundering along on the left hand side of the road with cantilevered roads hanging out over the river from the cliff face then to huge sandy hills and onto more open land with mountains surrounding it and then to the red country of Utah and there was a photo opportunity at every corner. Feel exhausted just thinking about it and looking forward to exploring tomorrow. Norm experienced a bit of a disaster with his camera which flew off the bike and was consequently run over and the storage card couldn't be found so the majority of our pics below are courtesy of Sharen and Ken. Thanks Guys.

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A bit difficult to see but a whole lot of ski runs as we came to the snow.

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And heading to the Eisenhower Tunnel built in 1973, then to the left is the Johnson tunnel built in 1979.

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A very long descent with warnings for trucks to select low gear. There is a runaway ramp in the distance. Would have to be terrifying to have to use it. After much climbing there were many steep descents and the only brakes I smelt were on a camper, none of the trucks of which there were many. Well done!

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And still we climb up and down.

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Soon after Norm's camera was gone and this is the mighty canyon we descend into and for the majority the Colorado River was thundering along on the left.

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Welcome to Utah!

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Changing countryside.

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Grand Junction for lunch and these hills looked like petrified sand.

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And red cliffs as we approach Moab.

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And one for Tombo Henderson, a real Easyrider bike fueling up in Moab. Ha ha.

Bits and Bobs:

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Last night we went and had another look at the sidewalk chalk drawings, which are part of a festival, on our way to dinner. Not a lot were well along so took this one for the little grandchildren.

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And getting desperate for coffee as we recognise it from time to time we came across a shop in the mountains with awesome coffee and lots of great signs. Will show you two a day until they're done.

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Last Two Night's Accommodation:

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Courtyard by Marriott Denver Downtown, 934 16th Street, Denver, Co, 80202
Lovely hotel, lots of nice comfortable spots to sit, chill, eat or drink. Free wifi. Guest laundry and gym. Rooms lovely and comfortable and yet another lovely comfortable bed. Happy it was a two night stay, good spot to have for a base.


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