Day 29 April 9th

Its hard for us to believe, but our “excellent adventure” started 4 weeks ago.

View of Hotel

Monument Valley 3

Today we got up to see the sun rise over the monuments.  It came up about 10 minutes earlier than we thought, but it was really beautiful.  Since we were up and about, we got moving earlier than usual.  After breakfast, we drove along Valley View Road which is a 17 mile loop around the monuments.  The road is very primitive in most places, but of course the views were spectacular.   At one point a tumbleweed got stuck under the car.  The ever amazing Julie said to put the car in reverse.  Sure enough the tumble weed dropped off.

Totem Poles MV

Toni with Atlas

Three Sisters

We left Monument Valley and headed east to Four Corners.  This is the only place in the US that 4 states meet at one point.  It is also on Indian territory.  The various tribes occupy a lot more land out west than I ever imagined.  

Four Corner Sign

4 Corners

Four Corners is a fairly small area.  It is surrounded by a partial wall shaped in a semi-circle.  The local Indians have booths along the wall to sell their products.  In the center of the area is a square with a   circle inside.  The 4 states are named along the square…New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Arizona. There is a circle in the middle that says it is the meeting point.  Just to be completely sure, and to please Steve who wants it all official, we then went back to the road and crossed the state line with a Colorado sign and then a New Mexico sign. 

Colorado State Line

New Mexico State Line

It was freezing cold and very windy.  We got our pictures and moved on!

Now on to Santa Fe.  The rest of the day was spent driving along picturesque roads and through small towns until we got closer to Santa Fe.  We will be staying here for 2 nights, so the local sightseeing will happen tomorrow. 

We arrived at 5:30 and our mileage is 8,963.

Advertisements

Day 28 April 8th

We woke up today to light rain and 40 degree temperatures.  And that was only the beginning.

At 10:30 we were on our way towards Monument Valley.  Our route took us through Flagstaff Arizona.  Shortly before we got there, the temperature dropped to 30 and a snowstorm hit.

Snow in AZ

  There were several motorcycles and a car in the ditch.  We plodded along and got ahead of the storm.  Apparently, they are expecting a major storm over the next 24 hours.  The weather improved and the temperature reached 60 degrees.  Then we hit a really nasty sand storm. 

Dust Storm in AZ

Will this weather ever improve??  We’re not  complaining though, too many good things are happening.

We passed through Tuba Arizona and Julie remembered that was the location for the Tony Hillerman detective stories. 

Then we reached Monument Valley. 

Utah State Line

It borders Arizona and Utah. It is so different from anything we’ve seen so far. 

Near Monument Valley

Stone formations that just stand in the middle of valleys and flat desert ground.  We entered the Indian Reservation and arrived at our hotel, The View.  It is the only one on the Reservation.  All the rooms have balconies that face the monuments.  We can see the iconic “mittens” from our room.

View From Room

The View Hotel

You might recognize this area from old cowboy movies.  John Wayne’s Stagecoach was filmed here as well as 2001 A Space Odyssey, Easy Rider, and Thelma and Louise  and many more.

View at Hotel

For dinner we tried a local specialty… Navajo fry bread. 

Indian Fry Bread

 It looks like nan bread from Indian restaurants.  They use it for tacos, as a side dish and also for dessert.  Just add honey and powdered sugar.  It is made with ground blue corn flour.

We arrived at 5:30 and our mileage is 8,580.

Day 27 April 7th

We promised that today would be action packed, so here it is…

Las Vegas Sign

Stratosphere

Pawn Stars

At 10:45 we left the hotel and spent a little more time driving around the city.  We stopped at the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop from the Pawn Stars TV show.  We’re actually watching it on TV  right now.

We passed Lake Meade on our way to the Hoover Dam.  We had been there one and a half years ago on a trip to the Grand Canyon. 

Hoover Dam Sign

At that time they were building a new and badly needed bridge near the Dam. 

Lake Meade

Pat Tilman Bridge at Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

 

The construction looked very interesting at the time.  Now we got to drive across it!

The scenery is so pretty.  I know we say that a lot, but we can’t help it. 

 Our next destination was  Grand Canyon West and the Skywalk. 

Arizona State Line

Grand Canyon West

A full tank of gas is a definite requirement. 

Grand Canyon West Sign

We turned off the highway and travelled through an Indian Reservation and a lot of open range.  The cactus and other plants are very interesting. 

On the Way to GC West

 It takes about 45 minutes on this road.  The last part is unpaved and was bumpy and dusty. 

Grand Canyon West

At the Welcome Center, everyone parks their cars, buys their tickets and gets on a bus to the Skywalk and other points of interest.  With various fees the cost is about $75 per person. The bus dropped us off at an overlook at the Grand Canyon.  Not everyone buys the extra ticket for the Skywalk.  We admired the view, listened to some Indians playing music, and cautiously approached the Skywalk building.  You are not permitted to take anything out onto the Walk, no cell  phones, cameras etc.  They don’t want anything to fall over the edge and just as importantly, not scratch the see-through plexiglass surface.  We were required to put booties on over our shoes, like the kind medical staff sometimes wear in hospitals. 

Skywalk Bridge

We slowly walked out and onto the Skywalk.  It extends 70′ over the canyon and is 4,000 feet  above the Colorado River.  The floor is clear in the middle, but is opaque along the rails.  That really helps if you have a fear of heights.  One poor lady was quite nervous and her husband was leading her by the hand.   

 Whew…we did it.

Cattle near the Road to Kingman AZ

Tonight we are in Kingman, Arizona.  We arrived at 5:30 and our mileage is 8,192.  Tomorrow we are going to Monument Valley.  Till then…

AZ Desert Scrub

Day 26 April 6th

Not much news today…lazy, lazy, lazy here in Las Vegas.

We are staying at the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino.  There is also a 109 story tower.  The tower sorta looks like the Eiffel Tower or the Space Needle. There is nothing in the tower until you get to the 107th through 109th floor where there is an observation deck , bar and restaurant.   There are also some scary rides which we stayed away from. 

Vegas from 108th Fl

 

Toni at the Stratosphere

We ate, gambled, went to the spa for massages, admired the view from the 109th floor and called it a day. 

Vegas and Mountains

Tune in tomorrow, it will be action-packed!

Day 25 April 5th

Joe Mamma's

From the beach to the desert…and Las Vegas!

We had a quick breakfast at Joe Momma’s in Avila Beach and then left at about 10:30 for Las Vegas. 

Toni at the Pier

Today is a big day for us because we are now headed east.  This is the last direction of the “square”.  North, west, south, and now east.  We still have a long road ahead, but home is coming into sight.

Hwy 58 Eastern CA

Eastern CA

Our route took us back across the mountains on highway 58.  Julie thinks California needs to redefine their definition of a highway.  It was another very windy, narrow road in most places, but it was scenic.  Parts of the road was like a roller coaster, not windy but up and down and up and down.  The hills were very pretty and many had colorful yellow flowers on them. 

Cattle enjoying spring day in desert

It was getting warmer and warmer and we knew we were reaching the desert.  The terrain was of course completely different.  Scrubby brush on brown rolling hills.  We saw a sign for Death Valley, but Vegas was calling! 

We saw the Las Vegas skyline when we were still 13 miles away.  Hotel rooms are really reasonable right now, even on the Strip.  Believe it or not they start at about $25. We are at the Stratosphere and are staying for 2 nights.

Desert in Ca

Nevada State Line

 

Julie and I went to the casino tonight and guess what?  We each won some money!  Julie is ahead $10 and I am ahead $36.  We are such big gamblers…haha

Las Vegas Hotels

 

We arrived here at 6:00 and our mileage is now 8,056.

Day24 April 4th

Inn at Avila Beach

Happy Birthday to our niece Caitlin!

Caitlin

From the big city to the beach…

We had a lazy morning and left Palo Alto at 11:00 on our way to Avila Beach near San Luis Obispo.  It was a much easier driving day.  We needed it.  The last 2 driving days were long and challenging.  We travelled south on highway 101.  The scenery, as always in California, was beautiful.  Lots of green mountains and a clear blue sky.  We also saw miles and miles of lettuce farms. 

One thing we’ve noticed is that with all the roads we have travelled, the most poorly maintained are in California.  Financial problems?  Don’t know.

Avila Beach Pier

Avila Beach From Balcony

We arrived in Avila Beach at 2:30.  Our room wasn’t ready yet, so we decided it was time for some body maintenance.  Nail salon time!

Then back to the hotel.  Its right on the beach and the weather today was really nice.  It was about 75 and sunny. 

Avila Beach

Sunset Avila Beach

  So much better than cold, snow and fog…

Our mileage is 7,646.

Day 23 April 3rd

When Lexi stayed with us in Hanover, NH

Happy Birthday Lexi!  Lexi is Toni’s daughter and Julie’s niece who turned twenty today.  She is in Barcelona, Spain for a trimester.  She is a sophomore at Dartmouth.

We survived our detour over the mountains. We were hoping that the mudslide in Garberville, Ca had been cleared up but no such luck.  

CA Hwy 36

 We took highway 36.  Although highway is not what I would call it as it was only two lanes.  The detour took us out of our way by about three hours. It was a long and winding road.  The drive would definitely cause motion sickness for those with a weak stomach.  

CA Rest Stop

The drive was beautiful and we again saw snow at the higher elevations.

Richmond CA Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Finally, we crossed the Richmond Bridge and then the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco.  The weather was beautiful and the skies were clear.  

Alcatraz

 

 I forgot how steep the roads in the city were.  Of course, we had to drive down Lombard St., the crooked one.  

Lombard Sign

Lombard St

I would not want to drive it with a stick shift.  We only stayed in San Fran about an hour. 

San Francisco Bay

 

San Francisco

It was getting late and we needed to get to Palo Alto, our next hotel stop.   Toni went to dinner with her friends, Robbie and Montse Armitano.  They were her neighbors in Atlanta.  She had a great time catching up.  She could not believe how handsome and grown up the children were.

Montse, Robbie, and Toni

Armitano Family

Our mileage is 7416!