On the Road Again
April 25, 2009
19th – 24th April
Our last night in Fiji saw a wonderful sunset – grey and peach clouds reflected in the dead calm of the lagoon, rain smudging the horizon and pink and yellow streaks silhouetting palm trees. The guy in the room next to us had drunk too much Kava (it looks like muddy water and is clearly powerful local brew) and serenaded us through the night with several bouts of noisy barfing.
The flight was good – we left Nadi at 10.30pm on Sunday night in the rain and humidity, flew for 10 hours and arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon to unseasonal temperatures of 95 degrees! After circumnavigating the chaos that is LA airport we picked up our hire car, found a motel, helped the manager plan an itinerary for his forthcoming trip to London so he would give us his last room and finally slept. Next morning we escaped from LA and headed north stopping just outside Las Vegas on our way to the canyons. What to say about Las Vegas? Having been there before we refused to line the pockets of the entrepreneurs and challenged ourselves to spend (sorry, throw away,; sorry entertain ourselves to the cost of ) only $20. Eddie the Experienced Gambler gave me $2…I won $10 on my first go, $15 on my third…..Eddie enjoyed losing all of his on poker and a totally incomprehensible Indiana Jones game. We ended the evening entertained and solvent.
I got up early and tried to sunbathe by the pool (artfully decorated with astro turf) before we left in the morning but it was almost 100 degrees at 9.00am and I lasted only 10 minutes.
We spoke briefly to Paul and David and managed to say we were ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ which I thought made us sound really cool but they were at 65’s Leeds gig which was much cooler and couldn’t hear us properly.
Then….on then on the road again…bliss…sunshine and scenery., bisons and deer, panoramas and peace. We are lucky enough to have been to Zion with Rod and Gill…we passed through again and admired the fantastic shapes and colours but we were heading for Bryce Canyon which we saw once from a plane and have never forgotten.
What a place!! It has all the best bits of Grand Canyon, Arches, , Monument Valley etc but with its own uniqueness – a huge red amphitheatre filled with bizarre and beautiful rock formations called hoodoos – spectacular spires created by erosion. Some of them looked like fortresses, others like ancient temples, others like Mount Rushmore, others like Morph!! We went to Inspiration Point and….yes….we were.
We spent 2 days walking through burnt orange and terracotta trails, collecting pink and umber clay on our boots, meeting interesting hikers (who are thrilled with Obama!) and taking zillions of fantastic photos with which we will bore you on our return. Peekaboo Trail is so well named – every time we turned a corner there was another hidden view of slot canyons and of the truly amazing armies of hoodoos in different lights and from different perspectives. We absolutely loved it and finished by having coffee with very cheeky chipmunks overlooking one of the best panoramas of the trip.
We decided to return to the canyon at night to see the stars in an area totally unpolluted by any other light whatsoever. That means it was very, very, very dark. Wouldn’t you think that experienced travellers like ourselves would be well equipped for this? Hmmmm. We forgot the torch. Just as we turned the car headlights off in the carpark we saw a sign which said ‘Dangerous cliffs…don’t go near the edge’ (and this is for daylight hikers!!). It was pitch, pitch black and we had only the very dim and erratic light of the camera to stop us walking off the rim of this more remote, unfenced part of the canyon. We clutched each other so if one went over the edge, we both would and shuffled to where we could see shadows of trees etched against the sparkling sky. It really was a marvellous sight but quite scary and I have to say, we will watch Blair Witch with more respect from now on.
Eddie the Cultural Chameleon has happily absorbed all sorts of interesting vernacular as we have travelled. He successfully tried slang Polish in Russia and even Mongolia; in China he ‘Nihaoed’ with the best; in Australia he said ‘Crikey’ and ‘G’day’ a lot. In New Zealand ‘No worries’ ‘No probs’ were commonplace. But here we were, only 3 days in the good ol’ U S of A and he’s already got the ‘Bagel with burr and jelly’ (bagel with butter and jam) down to a fine art. As we entered our third National Park, to be greeted by yet another young, blonde Ranger in a fetching hat and expensive dentistry, he smiled at her and asked ‘How you doing’ in his best Joey from Friends voice. I can’t tell you how funny it was – he didn’t even know he’d done it until he realized that I was collapsed in giggles. Priceless.
I bought some new shorts so it was inevitable that the weather would change and it did, so we’ve had to change our plans a little. We were heading for Yellowstone (Old Faithful and Yogi Bear) but a snowstorm has started and a severe weather warning (snow, rapidly dropping temperature, difficult driving conditions etc) issued. Sadly we haven’t got the clothes or car for the forecast….and anyway, the Park may close and it’s an extremely long drive just to get there and find it shut. So we’ve changed direction and are revisiting some favourite places.
We’ve driven along Highway 89 past Coral Pink Sand Dunes where they filmed The Greatest Story Ever Told, through cowboy country where The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, The Outlaw Josie Wales etc were filmed and stopped in Page where the classic ‘Rod Buys Cowboy Boots’ was made. The I-Pod shuffle magically divined where we were and provided a looping soundtrack of Tom Petty, Bob Seager and Neil Young. Excellent.
A Navajo guided trip to Antelope Canyon looked inviting and promised excellent photographic opportunities so off we went. They even threw in free exfoliation as we hurtled through the dunes on the back of a truck, clinging on desperately while sand flayed our faces. The Canyon is very narrow, spectacularly spiralled, and small furry caterpillars, lots of fine sand and sometimes even tarantulas (!) rain in through fissures above. By the time we returned we had sand lodged in every orifice. Eddie’s photos are just superb. (Of the Canyon, not our orifices!)
So what’s next? Monument Valley, that’s what’s next.