A Travellerspoint blog

A nice reef that’s nowhere near an ocean

That’s Capitol Reef for reference

sunny 12 °C
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Today was more a driving day and seeing sights along the way. We left Moab heading to Torrey, which is just a stopping point on route to Bryce Canyon. There are fewer things to see at the Moab end of the journey as Capitol Reef National Park is at the Torrey end so the highlight was the fact that for 25 miles of the journey we didn’t turn the steering wheel leaving the camber of the road to take us round the 2 very slight ‘bends’ in the road. We could have both had a nap in that stage of the journey! The road takes you through the Capitol Reef National Park so you can stop at the viewpoints along the way but all of the hikes were longer than we wanted to do so we skipped those. We got some great pictures of the rock formations along the route and got a great sunset from a high viewpoint. We arrived in Torrey at dusk and drove past the motel completely not expecting it to be where it was, or have the name on the front it has. Having found it (and confirmed we were in the right place), we rushed back out having checked in as the nearest restaurants could be closing around 7.30 – 8pm (it was 7.10pm at that point). We chose right (as opposed to left) at the junction and went in to a Pizza place. It happened to be ‘open mike’ night and there were 3 people singing country music (you get a lot of that music in this part of the world) and we looked to be the only ‘out of towners’ there. Still, the pizza was pretty tasty and not wishing to out stay our welcome (and we wanted an early night), paid and left once we’d finished. We parked in the car park at the motel noticing that ours was the only car there and went to bed wondering if we’d got the whole motel to ourselves. On to Bryce Canyon tomorrow.

Posted by neilthelr 20:28 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Now we know how The Arches National Park got it’s name!

There are one or two arches there (over 2000 actually)

sunny 11 °C
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Today’s been a day of arch viewing. The Arches NP is ‘only’ 75.5 thousand square miles; small by U.S. park standards but no less spectacular. We were intending to do a hike and see the sunset at Delicate Arch so only entered the park mid-morning and after that it’s a case of “there’s an arch”, “there’s another arch” etc. Actually, we only saw about 25 but they’re impressive. Balanced Rock is also an impressive structure, particularly when you realise it’s formed by nature and, ultimately, nature will destroy it at some stage. It’s quiet in the parks at this time of year so we got a lovely, peaceful lunch sat underneath Turret Arch in the bright sunshine. The day ended with a reasonably strenuous, uphill, 3 mile hike across some aggressive terrain in order to see the Delicate Arch at sunset. Unfortunately, it was a clear sky so we didn’t get nice reds but it was still pretty spectacular. We got back to the car park in darkness so were thankful the 10 miles to the park exit were on good roads! We’re off to Torrey tomorrow on route to Bryce Canyon.

Posted by neilthelr 22:30 Archived in USA Comments (0)

There are many monuments in that valley!

Some in Arizona and some in Utah

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We headed out from Grand Canyon south rim village towards the Desert View Watchtower some 26 miles east. We left with a cloudy sky overhead and only ascended around 200ft and started getting snowfall. When we stopped at a couple of the viewpoints along the way it was possible to see the weather front moving out of the canyon, which was a great sight and we got the wonderful sight of a rainbow over the canyon – see photo. We left the GC park, dropped 2000ft within 20 miles and headed out (on more straight roads) towards Monument Valley. It felt like a long drive but we were staying at the VIEW hotel in Monument Valley and you fully understand how it got it’s name when you open your balcony doors. It made the drive worthwhile. You’re greeted by the Mittens (named because they look like mittens) and Merrick Butte as well as other amazing rock formations – see that photo too! Despite it being the desert, it was pretty cold and we could see an electrical storm on the horizon from our balcony. We had a jeep tour by a Navajo guide the following day who took us off the public highway to see some of the lesser observed rock formations; some of them are astonishing (there’s a photo for this too). We left just after lunch and headed to Moab, our base for The Arches National Park, where we should see more incredible rock formations.

Posted by neilthelr 22:29 Archived in USA Comments (0)

That canyon is truly grand

But some people debate that

all seasons in one day 10 °C
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We’ve skipped a few days of detail in this blog and gone straight to the Grand Canyon for the simple reason that those 2 days can be summed up in on word: Driving. Once out of LA and on the I-40 (which runs parallel with Route 66) it was a case of set the cruise control, overtake lorries (lots) and occasionally stop for a ‘rest’. The overnight in Needles at the ‘Bates Motel’ was uneventful but we had an entertaining conversation with the people at the Thai takeaway. We’ll spare you the details. And so to the Grand Canyon. In summary…wow! We thought Milford Sound was impressive but this place is something else. You have no sense of the scale until you stand on the rim and look at it. We’re staying at the south rim village, which makes the north rim 10 miles away. It looks like a mile at most. It’s not the deepest, longest or widest canyon but it’s had 800 cubic miles of rock moved out of it over the (millions of) years!! And some other stats that make it grand…277 miles long, 10 miles wide (on average), around 5000 feet deep and a river that runs through it (the Colorado) that flowed (according to some old-timers) at a speed of greater than 300,000 cubic feet a second (that’s over 300,000 basketballs flowing past every second) after the spring melt. We’ve star-gazed (Jupiter was visible as well), had a tour covering the geology, taken in the sunset from Pima Point and tracked a few miles down in to the canyon taking the Bright Angel Trail. Just so you have some appreciation of the Bright Angel Trail…it starts at the south rim at an elevation of 6785 ft and heads down in to the base of the canyon to Phantom Ranch (and beyond). Getting there is a full day hike. Getting to the stop before – Indian Garden – is a 6 – 9 hr round trip hike with a descent of 3060 ft in 4.9 miles (and thus an ascent of 3060 ft). We didn’t go that far but did manage a 4.5 hour round trip that got us 1460 ft in to the canyon. The path was various combinations of icy, snowy, slushy, muddy, puddled, dry, rutted and rocky; hard work in other words and you could only walk about 1.5 mph. People have died on this trail so we definitely earned the warm bath at the end and the views along the way were just fantastic. And boy, do the legs ache! Tomorrow we’re off to Monument Valley, which is owned and managed by the Navajo Indians for what should be a warmer and less snowy experience than the Grand Canyon.

Posted by neilthelr 16:38 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes mountains Comments (0)

Will you Maui me?

We’ll spare you other naff Hawaii-based jokes

sunny 21 °C
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Four nights in Hawaii have come to an end. They were sandwiched between New Zealand and the next 5 weeks in the US of A. Our first night was spent on Oahu so that we could visit Pearl Harbour and then we had a short flight to Maui for 3 nights of recharging (this travelling business gets quite tiring). Pearl Harbour is a fascinating place. Ironically, it gets a lot of Japanese visitors but everyone is respectful of what happened there. The visitors centre is good but the highlights are the USS Arizona memorial – which sits over the sunken ship, which lays ‘buried’ in the harbour – and the ‘Mighty Mo’; the USS Missouri. She is now retired but saw active service in Desert Storm having been retired 29 years previously. When the fire power on a ship like that is explained you can’t be anything other than impressed and pity whomever is on the receiving end of it. More famously though, it's on board her main deck that the treaty that confirmed Japan's surrender marking the end of WW2. The other 3 nights were spent at the Cliff’s Edge at Huelo Point in Maui. It was a challenge to find in the dark (given the lack of lights, no sign posts, a twisty road, a local driving up your backside and the fact it’s at the end of a 1.4 mile gravel track) but it was worth it. The view from our Lanie (porch) was just beautiful. We ate our breakfast just looking out at the ocean whilst perched on a 300ft cliff. It was also lovely to see the Humpback Whales that occasionally surfaced a couple of hundred metres off-shore. Our first day was a day of sunbathing (our first on the trip!!), the middle day was covered in our previous blog and the last day was intended to be a sunbathing day but it was overcast and rainy for much of the day, though still warm. It wasn’t the best way to end the trip but it was restful and relaxing nonetheless. Oh, don’t worry mums and dads, there was no proposal, it was just a play on the words!!

Posted by neilthelr 16:21 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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