My favourite shot at Monument Valley late yesterday afternoon.
And the sights continue heading out of Monument Valley as we head for the rain.
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.
A shot of the Painted Desert. A shame it was so overcast, doesn't do the clays and stones justice.
And another with petrified logs at the base.
Painted Desert Inn.
And a shot in the quirky little bar. A stretch of the old Route 66 was within the park.
More Painted Desert known as the Teepees.
Petrified tree. These trees were blown to bits by treasure seekers after amethest and crystals many years ago. Really!
And the cross section of the grain of one log. Beautiful colours and patterns.
And here is a happy camper we found in the car park.
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?!?!
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:
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Mexican Hat for obvious reasons.
Monument Valley on our arrival.
Finally clearing a bit an hour later.
And a shot further around up to the hotel.
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.
The things you do when you're killing time waiting to get into your hotel room.
Off to find the stretch of road from the Forest Gump movie when he was running across America.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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!
Mesa Verde Visitor Centre, a beautiful building and incredibly helpful staff.
One of the first sights as we entered Mesa Verde National Park, literally visible from the ticket window.
And we start to seriously climb and the views are awesome.
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.
The Spruce Tree House.
And a couple of old fossils at the Spruce Tree House.
Our first glimpse of the Cliff Palace before the descent.
Within the Cliff Palace.
On our way back to our hotel this was an overlook over the House of Many Windows.
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.
Still in site of the snow as we return to our hotel and a shower and dinner.
Bits and Bobs:
More coffee wisdom above and below.
A lizard Norm almost stepped on yesterday coming down from the Delicate Arch.
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.
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.
A view to Courthouse Rock from Park Avenue.
One of many arches of all shapes and sizes.
Delicate Arch, especially for you Christine Ikin.
And another to give context with people under the arch and snow capped mountains in the distance.
Norm almost back down from Delicate Arch advertising Inline 4 Cafe.
And a view of one of many great sights on the way to the Devils garden
And now Canyonland (Island in the Sky section).
Overlook view from Island in the Sky Visitor Centre . The snow capped mountains in the distance are 152 miles away.
View from Green River Overlook.
And a shot from Grand Viewpoint.
And a canyon near the outskirts of Moab called Negro Bills Canyon (seriously I'm not making it up).
Bits and Bobs:
More coffee wisdom above and below.
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.
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.
A bit difficult to see but a whole lot of ski runs as we came to the snow.
And heading to the Eisenhower Tunnel built in 1973, then to the left is the Johnson tunnel built in 1979.
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!
And still we climb up and down.
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.
Welcome to Utah!
Grand Junction for lunch and these hills looked like petrified sand.
And red cliffs as we approach Moab.
And one for Tombo Henderson, a real Easyrider bike fueling up in Moab. Ha ha.
Bits and Bobs:
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.
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.
Last Two Night's Accommodation:
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.
Got the bikes serviced today and got my hair done as well. The bikes are now parked at the front of the hotel ready for the morning. It poured and hailed flat out on our cab ride to the bike shop and visibility was down to 50m so we were relieved to come back on near to dry roads and no rain. Phew. Didn't want to get the gear wet again before we headed off.
We enjoyed a chance to just chill a little and explore the town. Went to the Capitol Building which has a tower staircase and a brick on the way up which states you are a mile high above sea level .... only trouble is that it's only open Monday to Friday so we had to be satisfied with photos from the outside. A collection of the sights from our wanderings are below:
An interesting re-use of a beautiful old Bank Building which is now a Renaissance Hotel.
The Capitol Building.
A view from the Capitol steps across the Civic Centre Park to what looks like some sort of Parliament / Legislature building.
Some buildings near the Capitol where the free shuttle buses turn around. This is a terrific circular service from the Capitol to the Union Station. A huge number of buses and good patronage.
For anyone who watches the Food Channel there is a show 'Diners, Dive Ins and Dives'. Sam's Diner is famous on it and has a great reputation. The queues were long with a minimum of an hour wait to get a table.
And down on Lorrimer Street a couple of police who helped us find what we wanted.
Union Station has been refurbished here as it had been in Saint Louis but they have kept the trains and the interior of the building has heaps of eaterys and other shops. A collection of shots here.
And the last one is a list of what is available in one shop. No idea what the last 3 are.
And some fun for kids on our way back to the shuttle. Littlies were running and jumping through the water.
Another big number of hours to cover in the saddle today and we had our bikes booked in to drop off to the bike shop to be serviced and a new rear tyre for both bikes and replacement highway pegs for mine and as we were skating around serious rain we didn't waste a lot of time but the ride was AWESOME ... at least until we were heading from Colorado Springs to Denver when the rain finally caught up with us and proceeded to dump large amounts on us and cover the road with what resembled shallow flowing lakes and the road spray like fog above the road in the distance and a steamy shower when we were in it. Not pleasant but got here safely so that was the aim.There's been a tornado watch on Denver all day and will remain on tomorrow and Denver had 2 feet of hail yesterday would you believe and it had to be cleared from roads with snow plows so it could have been a lot worse. Almost impossible for this Aussie to imagine. Yesterday's ride was awesome as well by the way, lots of sweeping corners as today and more tight ones yesterday than today but all beautiful riding.
We headed for Royal Gorge through Canon City then on up to Cripple Creek an historic gold mining town and the gold mining is still going on in the casinos which are all over the town. Even the cafe we had our coffee at was buzzing and clanging. We had hoped to get a look at Pikes Peak but reserved our decision on how much time we had to get the bikes in and what the weather was doing but even if we had plenty of time the weather ruled it out with the mountain wreathed in clouds and worse. From there we headed to Woodland Park and through Manitobu Springs which are obviously the go to places for ski resorts. Very speccie and then somehow coming into Colorado Springs the GPS Gods had the last laugh and we went round in many circles before we were finally heading for Denver and then it was full throttle between rain when the roads were dry but the trip took a good hour longer than anticipated.
The historic bridge at Royal Gorge which is now a heritage centre and no longer used other than as a footbridge.
The ride to Cripple Creek was incredibly beautiful and no traffic to speak of so very enjoyable. Way too many great sights and way too few safe spots to pull off for photos ... probably just as well. This is one of the great vistas we saw taken from Norm's bike.
And a speccie rocky outcrop amongst grassland and forest on the way into Cripple Creek also.
A quirky house in Cripple Creek which Norm liked.
And a street shot typical of the town. Substantial brick buildings climbing up and down very steep hills and the altitude was 2,950m here so the hills were a challenge.
A cute manhole cover outside our cafe stop.
A shot of the historical museum precinct in the town.
And a view from an overlook above on our way out. 3,166m here. As we climbed in altitude it was obvious that spring was slow coming as the leaves had barely started to open out on the deciduous trees.
A view to Pikes Peak, the cloud cover increased and we stayed away.
After dinner we took a couple of photos and the city looked pretty all dressed up in lights above and below.
Bits and Bobs:
Below, two signs on the restroom wall at Royal George, self explanatory.
Just after we got in to the bike shop the skies opened up with big fat rain then thunder and lightening complete with green fizzing flashes in the rider training yard beyond the shop. We were glad it poured rain as we had been covered in some concrete cutting spray on our way off a ramp to the shop so the bikes were covered as were our visors, which made for an interesting trip to the shop!
This won't be coming home with us, just silly.
Last Night's Accommodation:
Forgot the photo sorry.
Courtyard by Marriott Pueblo Downtown, 110W 1st Street / City Center Drive, Pueblo, CO, 81003
Nice hotel and not too much drama or traffic to get through to get here. Thankfully free parking on site so we checked in showered and headed for a catch up and plan for tomorrow then dinner and bed. Free wifi also. Breakfast available and Starbucks Bistro available for meals throughout day.
We headed off early because we had around 5 hours actual traveling to do and wanted a bit of time to stop and explore and the day became a collection of great visual sights and experiences .... and it was nice to finish off the day with a 121kmh speed limit to knock over the last 80km in spite of the strong wind gusts. We had strong wind from Alamosa including getting tangled up in a willy willy (well that's what we Aussies call them) complete with tumbleweed on our way to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, thankfully I kept the bike straight and was soon out of it, and saw many more in the distance as we approached the park.
Not long on the road we came across the Rio Grande and this shot is just south of the Visitor centre.
And further north we had climbed up onto the rim of the canyon and this is a shot as we did.The plain reached for miles and was covered in prolific grass growth.
Coffee at Taos and this is a shot across part of the square which was very nice. Snow capped peaks in the distance.
And just out of Taos on Route 64 we found the Rio Grande Grande Bridge built across the canyon in 1965. Impressive to say the least!
And as we climbed this poodle cloud popped up over the hill.
Lunch in Saint Luis. A tired little town but quirky in it's own way.
And a shot of the Blanca Peaks (14,345 feet) and still under snow as you can see.
And we arrive at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Doesn't look all that impressive but people 1.5 miles away climbing the dunes looked like ants.
Coffee at a quirky little spot in Fort Garland.
Heading back to the freeway we climbed up over some spectacular country, away from the dessert lands to pine and grass covered hills and lush growth. There were signs up to beware of Elk, not surprising, the growth was long and green and lush and water galloping down beside the road in marshy ground. Beautiful.
And just cresting the top of the pass (2,856m).
Bits and Bobs:
Thought I'd found my own coffee cafe this morning in Taos (pronounced Touse) but spelt wrong, ah well, the coffee was welcome anyway.
And on our way into Pueblo came across this, looks like everything but the kitchen sink was on board.
Last Two Night's Accommodation:
Inn on the Alameda, 303 East Alameda, Santa Fe, NM 87505
Well what a treat to find this hotel. We looked at many when we were selecting them many months ago and it looked good but it is way beyond that. In a star rating of 5 it would be around 8! The buildings themselves are unique (adobe walls with timber and terracotta finishes in keeping) and rooms either have a terrace or balcony to relax on as well as many other places to relax ( including a hot tub) and just enjoy the lovely outdoors which really is lovely. Not as humid at this altitude but comfortable. Lavish breakfast included, free parking and wifi and cheese and drinks in the and dinner in the restaurant was just delicious. The staff are really hospitable, helpful and warmly welcoming, we could just melt into the place and stay on. Felt like we were being welcomed into their family home without them being pushy or in our face. A treasure!
We headed off early before it got too hot for a round trip out to the Bandelier National Monument (a National Park) and Jemez State Monument. We were going to go to Albuquerque for some more Route 66 sights but they must have been a long way to the west of the town because when we checked the GPS it was a long distance and we wanted to get back to Santa Fe before it got too hot so didn't go there and were glad we didn't as we had a chance to wander around the town before heading back to the hotel for a drink and to chill a little before dinner. The sights we saw today were spectacular on a very grand scale. They were every bit as spectacular as the Texan Grand Canyon we visited a couple of days ago but the cliffs, escarpments and mesas were just separated by more land between (usually) and the colours of the sand / rock varied from sand white to deep ochre red and almost black and everything in between. The photos really don't do it justice and the 2D effect also diminishes it. Ah well, will list them anyway. We reached 2,776m before we started to descend. It was beautifully cool at the high altitude and got very hot very quickly as we descended. By the way the Santa Fe region is known among other things for it's beautiful torquoise jewellery and there is heaps of it for big dollars ... as well as beautiful clothing ... again for big dollars and I have to confess I got myself a pretty large piece of torquoise today ... a sun hat to replace the one I lost. Not as much fun as a stunning piece of jewellery but will be more effective at keeping the sun off the face neck and ears. Ah well.
We headed for Los Alamos and the sights burst upon us. This is a rock called the Camel. I have to thank Ken for this one, I was busy fueling up and didn't see it until we were heading off.
And these are a collection of sights between Los Alamos and White Rock.
And a shot from the Overlook at White Rock of the Rio Grande. Reminded us all of many western movies we saw in our childhood.
Part of the Valle Grande, the description below is self explanatory.
A waterfall as we descended (have to look to see) doesn't do it justice.
South of Jemez State Monument and Jemez Springs, this is two shots (above and below) from the area called Las Casitas. There were so many spectacular sights but limited spots to pull over safely.
Awesome red cliffs as we head further south.
Back into Santa Fe and this is the entrance to a gallery.
Another gallery commemorating the Santa Fe Trail which runs through this area which is where eastern residents of early America peeled off the Oregon Trail and headed instead to the Californian goldfields.
Bits and Bobs:
Love all the overpass bridges we have come across in New Mexico, they all have some sort of Indian motifs on them. This one was on the way north out of Santa Fe.
And our coffee spot in Jemez Springs had this sign. Thought it was appropriate for Norm and Ken before their first coffee in the morning.
Happy to report we had another fine day as per the forecast and to quote the girl at the desk this morning when I said it looked like being another nice day she said "I hope so, I like the weather when it's 85 - 90F, this time last year it was 102F' Ouch! We had a great day checking out some Route 66 sites and just enjoying the changing landscape from open plains to low grassed scrubby valleys between great rocky cliffs and small rocky hills ... oh and some mountain peaks in the distance covered in snow as we started to head for Santa Fe. Apparently Denver where we arrive in a couple of days had a temperature of 30F today and snow a week or so ago so that could be interesting. Ah well, all part of the fun. Happy to say we posted off our parcels to home today. No peeking until we get there family! Oh by the way the speed limit for most of today and yesterday has been 121kmh so helps to cover the distance in a tidy fashion and mainly straight roads which is just as well as we are a bit preoccupied with the landscape. Quite a collection of photos today and for those of you who don't know Route 66 was known as the 'Mother Road of America' and despite the fact that lots of it is now blocked off and not maintained and by-passed, people have continued to enjoy it and in spite of many businesses perishing, many have soldiered on and continued the quirky and dare I say kitsch themes of decoration at times so here's a bit of a selection of some of what we saw today.
First stop Cadillac Ranch named because of the 10 cadillacs on end in this paddock a bit off the route. People are free to graffiti them which they do (discarding their cans when they finish in spite of a waste bin outside the property ... really!!) and the paint is so thick it's rippling all over but they'll probably never rust away other than where they are in the ground. Lucky we weren't here last week or the shot would have been from quite a distance given the mud still around in patches.
And we head into New Mexico.
We headed into Tucumcari and it was a feast of sights. Oh dear, typical of many we have seen, and lots of them along the streets and in front of shops. Love it.
The Blue Swallow Motel all painted up and quirky. They have garages beside their rooms and these are even painted inside and some examples are below.
For the grandchildren, this one, and the one below from the Cars movie which is based along Route 66.
And for all the Easyriders SMC Members especially those in Traralgon one depicting the original Easyriders. Ha ha.
A shot of a bygone era, the servo, and today, the wind turbine and the number of these we have seen is testimony to how windy it is through Texas and New Mexico but we have left Tornado Alley unscathed so I'm pleased about that.
I spotted this old servo which was in beautiful condition and thought it must still be trading ... and it was but not as a servo but a drive through smokes shop.
Some of the many street signs. Would love to see them all lit up at night.
Heading into Santa Rosa for lunch. Love that sky. We have enjoyed great big desert skies all day. Mmmmm.
Lunch at the Silver Moon Cafe ... is that an Inline 4 logo on the right hand side? Yes it is! Let me tell you their food would beat that at the Silver Moon anytime without even trying.
Hey Steve is this how your new trucks are being delivered? We have seen them all over the country and finally saw some stopped at the cafe where we had lunch.
And off to Santa Fe. I was starting to lose sight of the snow so thought I'd better stop and take a shot.
Our last stop for a cold drink and cool down and wander around the rows and rows of souvenirs at a huge roadhouse. This is the men's loo ... see told you things were quirky. By the way Norm took that photo in case you were wondering.
And in for the night in Santa Fe, adobe houses and buildings everywhere. We are going exploring tomorrow.
Last Night's Accommodation:
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Canyon, 2901 4th Avenue, Canyon, TX, 79015
Not a bad spot. Place is showing it's age a little but reasonable size room and bathroom and well set out. Complimentary continental breakfast and wifi and free onsite parking and a short stroll across the street for dinner.