Day 15 - Sun 23 April 06
Up at 07:30 checked out and was at the de Chelly visitors centre. I did the south rim drive and got to see "Spider Rock" from the rim - it's a amazing view and an amazing place. Then I head off to see Four Corners and did the customary photo of me lying at the crossing point of the four states, a bit naff but... After a few minutes it was back into the car and off to Mesa Verde. As I drove through Cortez I got a signal on my mobile phone, so took the opportunity to book my hotel at Monument Valley.
Got to Mesa Verde by about 13:00, it's about a 20 mile drive from the entrance to the ancient settlement. My NPS pass gets me in for free, but there is a $3 charge for the ranger tour of the Cliff Palace. The tour was excellent and the Cliff Palace looks great, which must have been a buzzing place in the past. It's interesting to note that the native people won't tell the NPS all they know about the items found in the Palace. There is one building with two windows above a door, so it kinda looks like a face. The suggestion is that a fire was lit behind it, so that others on the other side of the canyon could see it.
I met up with Jay and John, a Brit and an American who had met in India, and she was now looking around the States. On the way of the park I spotted some snow capped mountains in the distance. The Rockies I guess?
They had a fire in the park a few years ago and it wiped out a lot of trees. The park ranger said that it took take 400 years to recover. Then it was a case of retracing my steps to get to Monument Valley. The drive into the valley at sunset was just great, with views that I've seen in photo's and the TV a million times before. But to actually see the huge lumps of rock standing in the desert is something else. It took me an hour to cover the last 14 miles to the hotel, just because I kept stopping to take photos.
The hotel has a great view across the valley floor. I just sat and watched the sunset. I've booked a tour for 09:00 tomorrow but I'm going to attempt to see the sun rise tomorrow - but that's at 05:45!
NextView my route through the USA here