Heading North, through Deserts, over Mountains…

September 22, 2017




So far we have driven from San Francisco via Nappa Valley, past hundreds of miles of endless beautifully geometrically arranged fruit plantations to California’s famous National Parks, on to Las Vegas and then past the Hoover Dam to the Grand Canyon (see Jasper's earlier contribution).


From here the journey would take us onwards through deserts and over mountains…we had a series of long distance drives on the menu; a proper road trip.


We set off from the Grand Canyon at dusk, driving towards Kayenta; a good starting point to explore the famous Monument Valley. Stars from John Wayne to Michael J. Fox have filmed there! 


We haven’t had a phone signal since leaving the Hoover Dam and without one it wasn’t possible to program the new route into Google Maps. Luckily, I had packed my 10 year old navigation device so we weren’t completely lost. Nevertheless it seemed like an endless drive though unknown darkness with practically no other cars. The thought of a burst tyre or engine problems made us cringe (what would you do without a mobile??). 

Despite (or because of) those worries, we made good way and eventually arrived in Kayenta around 10pm. We then noticed that we must have, despite still being in Arizona, driven into another time zone, as all their clocks showed 11pm…bummer, another hour lost. Off to bed asap! 


The next morning we were greeted by a deep blue sky above a windy but rather spectacular red desert scenery. We went on our way again, into Monument Valley, and soon crossed the border to Utah. Monument Valley isn’t an actual park, you see everything you need to see by driving through it and get ample photo opportunities. It's stunning! 


On the way to the Arches National Park the scenery was ever changing. Seas of tumbleweed surrounded by spectacularly coloured rock formations…a feast for the eye. 


We arrived at Arches just in time to have a few hours for Jasper to do the Junior Ranger Badge program, drive through the park and stop a few times to do some short hikes. It was still very hot so the driving was more convenient than the walking, but the scenery was truly spectacular; not comparable to anything we had seen in any other park before; wherever you look there are rocks of the weirdest shapes, some small, some the size of a little mountain range. A bit like cloud spotting, certain formations look particularly like something familiar, others leave it up to the imagination of the viewer to determine what it could be.

We enjoyed the changing colours caused by the arriving sunset and left this lovely area to grab something to eat in Moab, the town near the entrance, before getting back on the road to continue our journey North.


The rest of the trip wasn’t expected to be too exciting, as we were driving to Salt Lake City to stay overnight and then onwards to Yellowstone. The road still had a little surprise for us in reserve though: When we set off, the sun was about to set and after an hour or so of driving through another dark and car-less night, the road started to get a little curvier and climbed…and climbed. At the same time the thermometer dropped sharply, until it reached near freezing point. Those mountains on the sat nav were higher than we thought. If it wasn’t for the temperature drop and the rain on the windscreen turning snowy, we probably wouldn’t even have noticed, as it felt like driving on a motorway.


Arriving in Salt Lake City the temperatures didn’t really get any warmer (ah yes, they had Skiing Olympics here a few decades ago). We stayed in a place just outside the city. After breakfast it was back to the roadtrip, soon entering Idaho and stopping over in Idaho Falls (thanks to Debbie’s perfectly timed message :).

Then towards Yellowstone, where the next step of our Adventure would await! 


To be continued…


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