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Tuesday 1 Oct 2013
Monument Valley, USA

Government Shutdown. Day 1

Morning dawned but the madness continued.  No progress beyond name-calling and Piers Morgan’s sarcasm.  401 National Parks and Monuments are officially closed to the public.  Those already in the Parks have been given 48 hours to leave.  All accommodation bookings are cancelled.  Over 50,000 federal workers have been furloughed, though they will receive back-pay after the Government reopens. 

Verity and I headed out to Horseshoe Bend, which was thankfully still open, or possibly they just hadn’t closed it off yet.  It used to be quite a trek through the desert scrub to reach the overlook, but they’ve now made a proper access trail so it only takes 20 minutes.  Standing on the canyon rim to look down made my tummy flip.  If there was a railing there, I’d have been a lot happier, but instead I went only as close as I had to in order to see the green water looping lazily around the bend far below.  It really was a tremendous sight.  It has taken thousands of years for the water to carve its way down through the rock.  One day it will eventually wear through the central pillar and create an enormous rock arch to put the Pont D’Arc in the Ardeche to shame, but I certainly won't be around to see that.

We headed south through the beautiful Arizona scenery.  The closer we got to Monument Valley, the more hints we got of the scene that awaited us.  Huge rock bluffs and standalone monuments dotted the landscape, while the highway continued in a dead straight line between them.  We had to stop for a few desert highway photos where the road dipped down across the valley floor with rocks lining the horizon on either side.

We reached Monument Valley late afternoon and settled ourselves on the terrace by the View Hotel to watch the sun set against the postcard view of East Mitten and West Mittens with the loop dirt road meandering past on the valley floor, reminding us just how big they really are.  We took our clapperboard picture and set Taz and Thomas up together for their photo with the famous backdrop.  When Verity tried to pick Taz up again, there was an indignant cry from behind her as the Japanese tourists behind us were queuing up to get their shot too.  Sunset was not as dramatic as the one we’d seen two nights ago, but it was still impressive to watch the colours slowly slide up the rock faces as the shadows stretched out behind them. 

We were staying at the Hat Rock Inn about 20 minutes up the road in Mexican Hat, which turned out to be little more than a handful of buildings and a petrol station.  Next door was a real old-fashioned swinging grill bar, which had been run by the same family for generations.  They had a barbecue pit built in the middle of the terrace and a large chunky grill that swing back and forth on a frame.  Next to that was the kind of cast iron range that might have been used in the days of Calamity Jane.  It had belonged to the current cowboy chef’s great grandmother.  Dinner was simple but mouthwateringly delicious.  A slab of steak or burger cooked on the swinging grill, a doorstop wedge of garlic toast, a handful of salad and a huge dollop of black beans cooked on the range.  It was the best steak I have had in a very long time.  We had a great evening chatting to the cowboy, watching him work and enjoying the atmosphere.

Mileage: 1256

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Zoe's Big World Adventure Part II - #1 America

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Here I go again! After the incredible experiences of my first Big World Adventure, I'm off again for part two, starting with a classic American Road Trip through California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona...

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