Monument Valley

Massive things coming out of the ground

Shell - @1:25 am

Alright, so we did the Grand Canyon and it’s no secret that I wasn’t exactly blown away by it. Yeah it’s big, but it’s too big; you can’t really get a handle on the scale of it and you can’t pick out many details. Yeah it’s got a river in it, but from the rim trail you can only see a sort of distant brown smudge. Dave was a bit exasperated by my attitude to the thing, so you can imagine his trepidation as we set off today on the six hour round trip to view what are essentially just some big, weird-shaped rocks at Monument Valley.

Well, the six hour drive was worth it and the big, weird-shaped rocks were brilliant. So there.

They’re big, but not too big; you can see a lot of them in their entirety without other stuff getting in the way. There’s no river, but they’re alarmingly orangey and one of them looks like an elephant. You (or I, at least) just generally feel a lot more connected to them than something as distant as the Canyon. On the approach, it was a bit like driving into the header of our blog; we kept expecting to see the words “Team Shave” hovering there in the sky.

Basically all our photos look a bit like this.
Basically all our photos look a bit like this.

There are a few ways to tour the valley; a hiking trail, guided tours, even horseback, but we stuck with our trusty hire car and braved the bumpy, dusty journey around the so-called valley trail. It’s a very rough, unpaved, winding road with a 15mph speed limit, but most cars were crawling along at more like 7 or 8. I must admit, after driving down those first couple of hills I couldn’t see our poor Honda Civic making it back up them, but Dave seemed confident so I tried to concentrate less on that and more on making sense of the map.

The people who run Monument Valley, it has to be said, make pretty confusing maps. There seem to be more “buttes” down there than are actually marked on the map, and rather than giving history or info about each thing it just states vaguenesses like “This middle eastern animal faces the west”. Great, thanks. That was the description for “Camel Butte”, by the way, and as you might imagine the names gave us quite the giggle.

After a few shaky attempts to capture the awesomeness in photos, Dave gave up and delegated today’s photography to me. Well, I am a published photographer after all. I might have taken it a bit seriously though.

I R professional photographiser
I R professional photographiser

We drove around for a good couple of hours, taking many many photos that were almost indistinguishable from each other and collecting a lot of orange dust on ourselves and the poor car. It must be said the route itself was a bit confusing too, the map had it marked as a nice lazy loop and inexplicably forgot to mention the many forks we encountered. Usually we just picked one at random and it seemed to work out ok in the end.

Three hours driving there hadn’t seemed like long, but the three hours back draaagggged. By the time we got back to Williams, the sun was actually starting to lower, marking the latest we’d actually been out driving in the whole trip so far. We decided to double down on our daredevilry and go outside to a restaurant, maybe even to stay out after dark.

A bit of internet research later and we settled on a place called Pine Country Restaurant which was just around the corner from our motel (well, Williams is basically one street so everything is very close to everything else). Vegetarian friendly places are proving more difficult to find over here than we’d imagined, and this place had a veggie shepherd’s pie on the menu so it was basically chosen for us. We’re so glad it was. The meals were lovely, the service attentive and friendly, but the highlight had to be the extensive pie list. All pies baked freshly there every day, nom nom nom. Dave was overcome by the sheer variety on offer and opted for basic apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I went for lemon meringue.

OMG, that's a serious pie.
OMG, that’s a serious pie.

In our defense, we had a good stab at it. Considering we’d just eaten salad plus our amply portioned main meals ordering pie was nothing short of pure bravery, and mine very nearly disappeared into my belly completely. Sadly the last couple of bites of crust proved beyond me, and I admitted defeat. Dave was still staring at his ice cream, asking himself (out loud) how he could fail to fall for the same “one scoop of ice cream is actually as big as your head” thing that we fell for at the Canyon just yesterday. Eventually we gave in, paid up, and walked very slowly and carefully back to the motel where I attempted to not sick up the precious lemon meringue. Success, just about.

Given that we only spent a couple of hours at Monument Valley and spent basically the whole day driving, you’d think today would be boring. But no, the valley was absolutely amazing and we’d recommend it to everyone, and also I got a lot of knitting done during the car journey. We even got a bonus state visit out of it, as Monument Valley is just over the border in Utah. We also made it past the front door of our motel into Williams itself, a feat that has escaped us for the previous two nights.

I’m calling that a win. Tomorrow, we head for Bat Country.


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