Saturday, September 15, 2012

Weekend in Utah - Day 2: The Impossible Tourist

Do not attempt - I'm  a professional.
I think I’ll start calling myself the impossible tourist; it fits on so many levels. Mostly because when I tell people I’m going somewhere, whether by plane, train or automobile, most times I’m traveling alone. I think the main reason is that most people lose their minds when they travel with me. But most people tell me how they could never travel alone the way I do. I know there are other solitary travelers, I’m not alone in that. Because there’s always ‘that guy’ or ‘that girl’, so that’s me.

Random road rock
The hard part of traveling alone isn’t the non-social aspect of it; it’s the inability to do it all. I’d like to be able to drive AND take pictures at the same time. But 1) it’s really not safe, 2) I only have two hands 3) I only have one set of eyes.

Wilson's Arch - just south of Moab, UT
But again, being the impossible tourist would explain some of the photos that I downloaded, they came out looking like crap. When you try to shoot out of your windshield, the autofocus focuses on the glass.

You really have to stop and take the picture.

Just to the right side, there's one of the widened shoulders

Thanks to the state of Utah, who conveniently put turn offs along the side of the road of US 163 Scenic Drive, look it up on Google, that’s what it’s called, a scenic drive. Just when you turn a curve and see another fantastic rock, there’s a widening of the shoulder, there’s no sign or any indication that you can pull over, and you just do. Just make sure your car can take it, it’s all just gravel and rock and not much else.

If you Google images of “monument valley” you see that stretch of road that seems to run straight into those three towers. Technically that isn’t Monument Valley, Monument Valley is what you’re actually driving in. I think these are called The Mittens.

The only pix I found of the perfect Mittens stop
But if you’re going to go there, see it east to west first, that’s THE money maker shot. There’s a specific spot and you’ll know it when you get there, simply because every few feet there are the convenient photo ops areas.

I drove up on it and had to stop when a group of German tourists were lying in the middle of the road. How did I know they were Germans? I stopped and talked with them. But since they occupied that first spot, I drove down a bit more and found an even better stop.

So I copied the Germans and sat my butt down in the middle of the highway and when a car full of Asians stopped, they followed suit. It didn’t take long before we’re a bunch of grinning idiots lolling about in the middle of the Navajo country taking pictures of a ribbon of road. When you’re on the ground, it’s actually difficult to decide what’s more of important, the mountains or the road.

The Mittens from one of those random side road stops
Instead of turning to Monument Valley road to get to the actually national park, I continued on US163 which made my GPS snippy. She often sounds like my 8th grade algebra teacher, “Turn at the corner!”

Lone Rock Beach, that's the 'Lone Rock'

It was only a few miles that I found myself in Arizona. My final destination was going to be Lone Rock Beach at Wahweap Bay on Lake Powell, by Page, Arizona, but Lone Rock Beach is in Utah. It was easy, US 163 to US 160 to US 98 to US 89 to Lone Rock Road. 

Wahweap Bay

Never heard of it before? Neither had I, but it’s where in the episode “The Impossible Astronaut” that Doctor Who is killed. Don’t ask, I seem to be making a habit of visiting movie/TV location sets.

The Mittens from the west, there are two 'stops' at the right
Afterwards, I simply turned around and retraced my steps and looked at the same thing, but from a different angle. It makes a huge difference. Things you see as you head west are different from the things you see as you head east. Especially when as you head west, you have the sun at you back and as you head back east, you still get the sun at your back!

Looking out my car window

Those estimated times you get from Google or from your GPS don’t take into account, bathroom/snack/gas/photo op stops. But then again, those are the reasons you take a road trip, for all the stops in between point A to point B.

Just remember, wherever you’re going, stop and enjoy the moments.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, it sounds incredibly peaceful, stunning photos - thankyou for sharing your trip!