Twelve Legs, October 2006

A Second Anniversary Vacation for Abby and Richard

Abby poses with our Chihuahuas, Sierra and Max, at Butler Wash in southern Utah.
Abby poses with our Chihuahuas, Sierra and Max, at Butler Wash in southern Utah.

• Driving to Monticello, Utah

Sierra sleeps soundly in Abby's lap as Abby takes her turn behind the wheel on our 16-hour drive to Monticello, Utah.
Sierra sleeps soundly in Abby’s lap as Abby takes her turn behind the wheel on our 16-hour drive to Monticello, Utah.

For our second anniversary, Abby and I gathered our dogs, Chihuahuas Sierra and Max, for a trip to Utah. Our driving day, straight through to Monticello, Utah, was about 16 hours, but we had fun, and the dogs did just fine in our laps. By the time we arrived, it was cold in Monticello. We stayed in the Navajo Trail motel, which we liked very much.

Monticello, Utah, has few restaurants, so M D Ranch Cookhouse became our favorite for dinner, lunch, and, as in this image, breakfast.
Monticello, Utah, has few restaurants, so M D Ranch Cookhouse became our favorite for dinner, lunch, and, as in this image, breakfast.
Abby photographed me on the short trail to the ruins at Butler Wash.
Abby photographed me on the short trail to the ruins at Butler Wash.

• Butler Wash, Muley Point, Valley of the Gods

We hiked with the dogs to Butler Wash ruins and natural bridge, where they minded well and seemed to have a great time.

Abby and Sierra pose for me at Butler Wash.
Abby and Sierra pose for me at Butler Wash.
Your host holds Max the Chihuahua on the Butler Wash trail.
Your host holds Max the Chihuahua on the Butler Wash trail.
The native ruins under an alcove are the primary attraction at Butler Wash, but we were more interested in the sunshine, cool temperatures, beautiful land.
The native ruins under an alcove are the primary attraction at Butler Wash, but we were more interested in the sunshine, cool temperatures, beautiful land.
Abby made this broader view of the alcove that houses the ruins at Butler Wash.
Abby made this broader view of the alcove that houses the ruins at Butler Wash.
With the dogs leashed to her, Abby makes pictures near the natural bridge in Butler Wash.
With the dogs leashed to her, Abby makes pictures near the natural bridge in Butler Wash.
This handsome natural bridge at Butler Wash is easy to access. There was some water in the wash.
This handsome natural bridge at Butler Wash is easy to access. There was some water in the wash.
Abby photographed me making pictures at Butler Wash.
Abby photographed me making pictures at Butler Wash.
Abby props her camera on a fence as she makes pictures at Bulter Wash.
Abby props her camera on a fence as she makes pictures at Bulter Wash.
Hiking with Max the Chihuahua on the Butler Wash trail
Hiking with Max the Chihuahua on the Butler Wash trail
Abby's image in the heart of Valley of the Gods
Abby’s image in the heart of Valley of the Gods

We drove to Muley Point overlooking the San Juan River, where we left the dogs in the car and scouted around for a few minutes.

We stopped briefly at the Mokee Dugway, the steep gravel highway leading up Cedar Mesa from far southern Utah, that we visited in 2003 on The High Road. We were amazed at the number of stickers that had accumulated on the sign in the three and a half years since our last visit.

Your host poses at the sign at the top of the Mokee Dugway. Just three years earlier, this sign had no stickers on it.
Your host poses at the sign at the top of the Mokee Dugway. Just three years earlier, this sign had no stickers on it.

Once down the Dugway, we took the Valley of the Gods road, which leads across an expanse of desert punctuated with pinnacles, washes, boulder fields, and one small campground. The sky was beautiful.

Valley of the Gods is beautiful and sparsely visited.
Valley of the Gods is beautiful and sparsely visited.
This hoodoo standing atop a talus slope is one of the most prominent features of Valley of the Gods.
This hoodoo standing atop a talus slope is one of the most prominent features of Valley of the Gods.
Golden foliage is set against a spire at Valley of the Gods.
Golden foliage is set against a spire at Valley of the Gods.
A large cairn sits by the road at Valley of the Gods. I don't know if it marked anything.
A large cairn sits by the road at Valley of the Gods. I don’t know if it marked anything.
Abby photographs Muley Point, Utah.
Abby photographs Muley Point, Utah.
Some of the features of Monument Valley are visible in this telephoto image looking south from Muley Point, Utah.
Some of the features of Monument Valley are visible in this telephoto image looking south from Muley Point, Utah.
This wider angle view from Muley Point emphasizes the meanders of the San Juan River below.
This wider angle view from Muley Point emphasizes the meanders of the San Juan River below.

We had a wonderful dinner together in Monticello at M D Ranch Cookhouse.

Abby has breakfast at M D Ranch Cookhouse
Abby has breakfast at M D Ranch Cookhouse

• Monument Valley Guided Tour

Abby photographs Monument Valley
Abby photographs Monument Valley

We left to dogs nested in our room in Monticello and took the guided tour of the Monument Valley Tribal Park. The entrance is just north of the Utah-Arizona state line, but the tour resides inside Arizona. The tour was $50 for each of us, and Abby and I strongly recommend it.

Cirrus clouds are visible in a cold morning sky on U. S. 191 near the Arizona-Utah border.
Cirrus clouds are visible in a cold morning sky on U. S. 191 near the Arizona-Utah border.
Cinema fans might remember this spot on U.S. 191 is where Forrest Gump decided to stop running.
Cinema fans might remember this spot on U.S. 191 is where Forrest Gump decided to stop running.
This was our guide at Monument Valley, singing a chant for us at one of the natural arches we visited.
This was our guide at Monument Valley, singing a chant for us at one of the natural arches we visited.

Our guide, one of dozens of loosely-organized Navajo Tribe members, took us and a German couple through the park to four impressive natural arches. In the process, he told us stories of the land and its features, and at one point even sang a chant for us.

His vehicle was an ancient Ford pickup with benches mounted on the bed for us to ride, covered with a rickety awning, all held together by duct tape. Abby liked our tour guide so much, especially his singing, that she tipped him $20.

This was the luxury accommodation in Monument Valley, a 1970s era Ford F-150.
This was the luxury accommodation in Monument Valley, a 1970s era Ford F-150.
This large natural arch, called Ear of the Wind, is set against perfectly blue skies on a cold morning at Monument Valley, Arizona.
This large natural arch, called Ear of the Wind, is set against perfectly blue skies on a cold morning at Monument Valley, Arizona.
Abby photographed me photographing the Ear of the Wind natural arch.
Abby photographed me photographing the Ear of the Wind natural arch.
This hogan is on display at the Monument Valley Tribal Park.
This hogan is on display at the Monument Valley Tribal Park.
Photographing Monument Valley was cold enough that I needed gloves and a fleece pullover, and Abby wore her warmest coat.
Photographing Monument Valley was cold enough that I needed gloves and a fleece pullover, and Abby wore her warmest coat.
Clouds and butte, Monument Valley, Arizona.
Clouds and butte, Monument Valley, Arizona.
Abby photographed these five powered paragliders above John Ford's Point at Monument Valley.
Abby photographed these five powered paragliders above John Ford’s Point at Monument Valley.
Abby created this elegant rendering of the Eye of the Sun arch in Monument Valley.
Abby created this elegant rendering of the Eye of the Sun arch in Monument Valley.
Abby photographs Monument Valley.
Abby photographs Monument Valley.
Mittens overlook, Monument Valley
Mittens overlook, Monument Valley
I spotted this mule deer on the Harts Draw Road near Monticello on my drive to Canyonlands.
I spotted this mule deer on the Harts Draw Road near Monticello on my drive to Canyonlands.

• Needles District at Canyonlands National Park

Abby took the day off to crochet and nap with the dogs, so I took the Hart’s Draw Road from Monticello to the Needles District of Canyonlands. I saw lots of deer, hunters, snow and Aspens.

I hiked from the Squaw Flat trail head to Lost Canyon, then south until there were too many wet crossings, so I turned back.

Bench south of Squaw Flat
Bench south of Squaw Flat
Desert varnish and cottonwood trees, Lost Canyon, Canyonlands National Park, Utah.
Desert varnish and cottonwood trees, Lost Canyon, Canyonlands National Park, Utah.
Lost Canyon, Canyonlands National Park.
Lost Canyon, Canyonlands National Park.
Potholes with water near Squaw Flat, Canyonlands National Park.
Potholes with water near Squaw Flat, Canyonlands National Park.
Bench, Peek-a-Boo trail, Canyonlands National Park.
Bench, Peek-a-Boo trail, Canyonlands National Park.
Pinnacle, Squaw Canyon trail, Canyonlands National Park.
Pinnacle, Squaw Canyon trail, Canyonlands National Park.
Bench, Squaw Canyon trail, Canyonlands National Park.
Bench, Squaw Canyon trail, Canyonlands National Park.
Abby and I loved the MD Ranch Cookhouse in Monticello, Utah. On two evenings of our trip, I brought their buffalo barley soup home for her.
Abby and I loved the MD Ranch Cookhouse in Monticello, Utah. On two evenings of our trip, I brought their buffalo barley soup home for her.

I made the Squaw Canyon-Big Spring Canyon loop, which connects at the southern end in a steep, spectacular bench and cliff complex that was some of the best hiking I’ve done in the park.

Abby was cold in the evening, so I got a cup of buffalo barley soup from M D Ranch Cookhouse and brought it to the room. She said it warmed her to the core.

• Anticline Overlook

It was a very odd weather day, so we decided against hiking to Delicate Arch. We heard a ranger on the scanner report hail at the Fiery Furnace trail head in Arches.

Abby makes pictures at the Anticline Overlook.
Abby makes pictures at the Anticline Overlook.

We drove out onto Hatch Point and had a look at the Anticline Overlook. We both had a great time shooting in some very complex light and a chilly breeze.

Your host steps down a slope at the Anticline Overlook.
Your host steps down a slope at the Anticline Overlook.
Anticline overlook, Hatch Point, Utah
Anticline overlook, Hatch Point, Utah
Abby is dwarfed by the scenery as she photographs the Anticline Overlook.
Abby is dwarfed by the scenery as she photographs the Anticline Overlook.
With swiftly-changing weather, this image was made just minutes later, also at the Anticline overlook.
With swiftly-changing weather, this image was made just minutes later, also at the Anticline overlook.
Abby uses her hiking pole as she walks around at the Anticline Overlook
Abby uses her hiking pole as she walks around at the Anticline Overlook
This view looks directly north from the Anticline Overlook.
This view looks directly north from the Anticline Overlook.
Abby makes pictures at the Dave Minor overlook on Hatch Point.
Abby makes pictures at the Dave Minor overlook on Hatch Point.
The Wineglass is an odd, isolated natural arch on Hatch Point.
The Wineglass is an odd, isolated natural arch on Hatch Point.
Abby spotted me walking back from photographing The Wine Glass. There is no trail, so one needs to be careful not to damage the vegetation or the soil, and to avoid rattlesnakes.
Abby spotted me walking back from photographing The Wine Glass. There is no trail, so one needs to be careful not to damage the vegetation or the soil, and to avoid rattlesnakes.

On the way back to our motel, we ran into some very beautiful and surprising blowing snow in the Monticello area. It was simply a great time with my wife.

Snow blows across the road north of Monticello, Utah.
Snow blows across the road north of Monticello, Utah.
Clouds and blowing snow create this haunting view of the La Sal Mountains.
Clouds and blowing snow create this haunting view of the La Sal Mountains.
Snow clings to a fence and a house near Monticello, Utah.
Snow clings to a fence and a house near Monticello, Utah.
Max sits in my lap as we make our way home from our second anniversary adventure.
Max sits in my lap as we make our way home from our second anniversary adventure.

• The Drive Home

It was a cold, snowy morning in Monticello, a perfect end for our second anniversary adventure.

Light from sunrise casts a seep orange glow over the snow-capped Abajo Mountains in Monticello, Utah as we prepared for the long drive home to Oklahoma.
Light from sunrise casts a seep orange glow over the snow-capped Abajo Mountains in Monticello, Utah as we prepared for the long drive home to Oklahoma.
Among the sights on the long road home was this lonely spot in far northeastern Arizona.
Among the sights on the long road home was this lonely spot in far northeastern Arizona.
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1 Comment

  1. Perhaps surprisingly, my favorite here is “Monticello snow”, which seems like it should be a still frame from a really cool independent movie. Not one about a road trip, but one about some crime or mystery in the desert. Just a setup shot to show where the protagonists had to go for the next scene.

    As for your “Monument Valley, Arizona, viewed from Utah on U.S. 163.” image, the one with the highway, your viewers already know it’s awesome. Perhaps they would be even more convinced when contrasting it with my own version.

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