THE GRAND CIRCLE PART V – Everyday Is Different
By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers
Four weeks on the road with Monique’s brother and sister-in-law from France sharing a 28-foot travel trailer – we’re still enjoying the experience of seeing the Great Southwest through their eyes.
There is so much to see out here when you have the time; but you can’t see it all, at least enough to appreciate what you’re looking at, no matter how much time you have. When I tell you about a few of the places we’ve been in the past week, it will sound like we’ve rushed around without staying long enough to see anything, but that isn’t really the case.
I mentioned Bluff, Utah, briefly in the last blog. It deserves more than that, not only because of the awe-inspiring bluffs towering over the town, but also because of the history behind Bluff Fort. In our travels we have encountered the continuing saga of the Cherokee Indians on the Trail of Tears from the Carolinas to Oklahoma. We have crossed the path of Lewis and Clark often. We traversed the Alaskan Highway and the Natchez Trace, and have found ourselves on Route 66 for a half-dozen stretches.
We have, on several occasions, witnessed the rugged paths carved out by early Latter Day Saints (a.k.a. the Mormons) as they went westward to settle in the Utah Territory. One of the most heroic episodes in their missionary work was their trek over practically impenetrable mountains to colonize the southeastern corner of the soon-to-be state. Bluff Fort is where the courageous LDS pioneers built a community. Later, the U.S. Army erected Fort Montezuma to protect the settlers from hostile Indians.
“No pioneer company ever built a wagon road through wilder, rougher, more inhospitable country … No one ever demonstrated more courage, faith and devotion to cause …” wrote historian David E. Miller.
The Church and locals have worked hard and well to re-create the village established before the elders in Salt Lake City decided it was too remote to support. An excellent film shown in the community meeting hall tells the unbelievable story of their journey.
Incidentally, there are at least two RV parks in town.
Prior to calling on Bluff, we made two side-trips. The plan was to spend Sunday at a powwow in Towaoc, Colorado. Unfortunately the flyers that indicated it was a two-day event were misleading. The powwow was on Saturday; Bear Dancing was to take place on Sunday, but more than two hours later than when we arrived. Well, not every well-laid plan works out. We then took the perfunctory detour to the Four Corners, the only place in America where four states meet. Two things to say about this stop. It’s a photo op and the dozens of Navajos in the stone booths
surrounding the monument have excellent native crafts at reasonable prices.
Our next destination was Monument Valley, Arizona, but along the route, we stopped off at Utah’s Goosenecks State Park. From the overlook you can see the Colorado River as it cuts a serpentine
path through solid rock. You see the river, then you don’t, then you do, then you don’t, and two more times. Worth the effort, and the road isn’t as bad as the warnings would have you believe.
Next, a highlight: Monument Valley. It’s hard to drive into the valley without wanting to burst out in your favorite Sons of the Pioneers songs. This place is sooooo ridin’-the-range you’ve seen often in old westerns. There is an inexpensive fee to visit, but the tourist-friendly facilities are a welcome respite after a long drive across seemingly endless desert.
In a minute, I’ll throw in a few photos in case you get there without a tow vehicle in front or behind. The dirt/rock road through the valley is off-limits to RVs, and I’m sure the couple in the Lexus we followed briefly was wondering why no one told them not to take their low-riding vehicle out there.
Here’s an opinion: Monument Valley ranks up there with Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon as a spectacular place to visit.
We spent the night at a Quality Inn motel in Tuba City operated by the Navajos. Excellent facilities (including an interpretive center,
which we couldn’t schedule) at reasonable prices, following which we departed for … but wait, we had to pull off
onto the dirt road going to the dinosaur tracks. Local natives are there to walk you across millions of years of paleontology for a donation. Take it slow, very slow, on the road to this makeshift tourist attraction.
Now where was I? Oh, yeah, … we departed for The Grand Canyon. I’ll catch you up on one of the world’s most visited wonders in Part VI. And I’ll throw in some travel travails with it.
Back to Monument Valley:
[NOTE: Can you imagine living in the 21st Century on the road full time with no or intermittent cell and internet service? I survived that challenge and now should have service for the rest of our trip and beyond.]
We may get a bit weary, but never bored.
From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.
© All photos by Barry Zander. All rights reserved