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Into Colorado

April 10, 2018

Outside Mesa Verde. Colorado 7th April


John Ford and John Wayne are synonymous with Monument Valley. Where so many of their famous movies were shot. “The Searchers”, “Stagecoach” and “Cheyenne Autumn” were all filmed here. The vertical cliffs of the various buttes and flat mesas are so photogenic. The road to the valley is an appetiser to the main event. As soon as a majestic mesa or butte passes you by another one is appearing on the horizon. The three buttes nearest the campsite are to the east, catching a photo with the colours of the setting sun playing on the rocks is the goal. But a day of cloud made this seemingly impossible. Then, just as the sun was disappearing below the distant hills, a shard of open sky appeared. And for less than a minute in which time there was a mad rush from all the RVs, every snapper had their wish. The same in the morning. All cloud but for a brief second when the sun lit up the clouds forming a memorable scene.

We drove the 17 mile drive around the park admiring the different monuments from different angles. Had our morning coffee at one of the most spectacular of the view points. Monument Valley I don’t suppose would compare to the Grand Canyon but it is still a wonderful experience.

Then it was off east to Colorado and Mesa Verde. There was a short cut marked on the map once you left the park. As typical for a short cut it was great at the beginning then turned into 40kms of bone shuddering discomfort. But we did our good deed for the day: the only car on the detour was of a Navajo family whose car had a flat tyre, they had no jack or gear changing outfit of which I was able to help them out. Then their spare was flat as well. So out came the compressor. They were quite incredulous we had all the gear to see them right. They were off to buy jewellery for their oldest daughter’s ceremony.

Mesa Verde’s highest point is   2600 metres. It has some of the best cliff dwelling sites as well as ruins dating back to an earlier time than the Pueblans. Once again, over two generations they all up anchors and headed south west to join other tribes in the Four Corners area.

We arrived at the visitors centre right on closing time only to be told the camp site in the park was still closed for the winter. But the helpful ranger on duty mentioned a boondocking site not far away where you could stay the night. A nice place:. plenty of trees, level, even had fire embers hot enough to catch on again from a past stayer. It started a pleasant evening. But during the night the rain started. Not heavy but enough to soak the dirt that in the morning made me realize we may have trouble getting out. But I slipped it into 4WD and skidded our way out quite easily. Not like others who were struggling in their massive caravans.

Durango sits on the lower slopes of the Rockies. From desert heat to be surrounded by snow. A nice looking town with an actual main street with individual shops! We will look around tomorrow.

Durango, Colorado. 9th April.

A young woman Joan was talking to at the White House in Canyon de Chelly said we must go to Durango. What better reason to take a look! An old mining town filled with graceful hotels built in sandstone and brick. The Purgatory ski fields are nearby and the shops were filled with sporting gear. I decided to buy my fishing licence for the state so hope to throw a line in the next couple of days. Joan even managed to get in a bit of shopping during the day. We will head north for 200kms approx. then head west back into Utah.

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