Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In the Valley of the Gods

by Laura Crum

Yep, that’s us, camped in the Valley of the Gods, near Bluff, Utah, close to the Four Corners. If you look, you’ll see a little bright red spot just behind the camper. That’s me, in my bright red hooded jacket, sipping my tea as the sun rose. And yep, it was incredibly magical.

We had a great trip. And in accordance with some requests, I’m gonna post a few photos and tell you about it. My apologies to those who expect a post about horses (!)

So that camper you see was home to five of us for two weeks. Myself, my husband (who is six foot six, mind you), my son, our old dog, and our new puppy. It was a little tight at times. It was also the puppy’s first road trip. Need I say more? We had our moments.

But overall we had a wonderful time. The first week out the weather was idyllic. Topping out around eighty, a nice little breeze, not too cold at night. It was incredible. Everything is fun in such weather.

Our first big adventure was driving 70 miles on dirt roads to camp in an isolated spot by the edge of the Grand Canyon. The last mile the truck was literally jumping from rock to rock—the road was that rough. I should have taken pictures, but you know what? I was way too white knuckled for the thought to even cross my mind. But once we got there it was amazing. The photo below shows our camp.

Here’s my terrace for margaritas at sunset.

Here’s the view from my terrace, including the margarita. That’s the Grand Canyon in the background. Not another soul around. Very restful.

Lest you think the whole trip was completely idyllic and get too jealous, we had our share of adversity. Like the time our local contact told us about a short (one mile round trip) hike to see some petroglyphs near town. Yeah, right. We wandered around the desert for an hour, confused as hell. The directions he gave us were crap. Finally found the darn petroglyphs, which were underwhelming. By that time my son and I were exhausted, frustrated, and both on the verge of tears. My old dog kept lying down and refusing to go on. You could read her expression perfectly. “Just leave me here to die in the desert, would ya? I’ve had enough.” My husband was annoyingly intrepid. The only one who was just fine was the puppy. My husband carried her most of the way.

Here’s Star (the puppy—she has a white star on her chest) visiting the petroglyphs—you can see one on the rock behind her.

We did so many magical things on this trip. We got to climb into kivas and ruins that dated from 500 AD on private property that we were visiting. And we got permission to camp in the Ute Tribal Park in a solitary spot where we could see petroglyphs and cliff dwellings from our camp—and examine them in complete solitude. The ground underneath was thick (literally) with Anasazi pot shards. It was incredible. Here’s my husband looking up at the petroglyphs.

Perhaps the most wonderful part to me was the space and solitude. The land and its feeling is so different from where I live—I just love it. Here’s my son and I enjoying a quiet moment of desert solitude as afternoon turns to evening.

I don’t usually wear such “big” jewelry as you see in the above photo, but my husband bought me a squash blossom necklace when we visited this area on our honeymoon, twelve years ago. So I thought it was appropriate to wear it for our return visit.

We spent the first week in just such amazing, magical spots as these, and then…the wind came up. For two days we drove around the Navajo reservation in a blowing sandstorm—so bad it was hard to see the road. After that we made a break for civilization and spent a night at the La Posada Hotel, in Winslow, Arizona—a truly elegant old hotel dating from the hey day of the railroads and Route 66. The food there was incredible. I highly recommend it.

After that we headed home down Route 66, camping in the desert every night. The weather was cooler—it even snowed on us once. We had a blast.

When I got home I was greeted by this:

And this:

Don’t you think Sunny looks glad to see me?

And what was the first thing I did after I got home? You guessed it. We took off on a trail ride. The photo below shows our friend/boarder, Wally, on Twister, and my son on Henry (and Sunny’s ears) as we head down the trail. Our horses were bright, lively, eager to go, and perfectly behaved after their two weeks off. What good horses they are. I am so grateful for them.

And what a contrast between our lush, green scenery and the desert. But I love both places.

And just like Shanster said before I left, I really appreciated my home and all I do here when I got back. Traveling always seems to put things in perspective.

Hope you all are doing well—I will try to catch up with your blogs. Cheers--Laura


Francesca Prescott said...

Hi Laura, lovely to have you back and lovely to read all about your adventures.It sounds as though you had a wonderful time, although the hike sounds like a bit of a washout! Wasn't it really hot? Or did you go early? Driving in a sandstorm must be horrible; driving in driving rain is bad enough. It started bucketing down on Saturday while I was hauling Qrac to his new house - he's now stabled next to Kwintus, which is wonderful. But that moment when it started really raining hard was horrible because not only was the visibility mega reduced, but Qrac was freaking out in the van; I guess the rain was really hammering the roof and scaring him. Thankfully it didn't last long. But I was seriously sweating!

I visited the Grand Canyon about three years ago, as well as Bryce Canyon, which we all found absolutely breathtaking. I loved the colours and the grandiosity of those places. Left me in awe.

Speaking of awe, is that your house, covered in roses? It's so pretty! I love it. And how nice to get back and go for a long ride on your well-behaved contented horses. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Lovely post :)

Laura Crum said...

Francesca--It wasn't hot ever--high of 80 Farenheit, with a nice breeze. We did a lot of hikes that worked out great--but the one was pretty pathetic. And I, too, hate hauling horses--or driving--in a downpour. Glad you and Qrac survived.

It was a great vacation--and yes, the little house covered in roses is one of two small houses on our property. We built them both. One house is 650 square feet, the other about 550 square feet. Its the smaller house that has the big rambling roses that you see in the photo. As for why we built two tiny houses rather than one bigger one, I guess we're just a bit eccentric. But it suits us.

I do enjoy our trail rides on our good little horses, but I have to say that I am not in your league with the prancing black stallion doing high level dressage moves--I'm merely putzing along on my little yellow plug(!)

Thanks for the nice comment.--L

Mrs. Mom said...

Welcome Home Laura! That looks like it was an amazing adventure. And I never would have guessed your husband is so tall! LOL

Star is adorable! Aren't pups a trip?

Nothing quite as welcoming as coming home to beautiful flowers, lovely horses and a trail ride!!

Laura Crum said...

Mrs Mom--I think Star looks a lot like Murphy. And yes, my husband and I are the odd couple. He's six foot six and I'm five foot two. Funny, huh?

Mikey said...

Gorgeous!!! How cool to go see all that! You're inspiring me. I have to find something to do with Mercy for the summer, so maybe that will be one of our "day trips". Glad you're back safe and sound!

Laura Crum said...

Mikey--I figured out where you lived, but it was pretty far south of where we were, so didn't try to contact you for a visit. But I thought of you when I was in Arizona. The only trouble with the summer is that when we visited this area in July (twelve years ago), it was very hot. But I guess you know all about that. Be sure and ask me if you want contact numbers, cause I still have all the notes from where we visited. Some places you needed to arrange to see.

Shanster said...

It sounds like a perfect get-away with your family! Lovely days with touch of harrowing adventures to give you laughter when you look back and enough so you really appreciated the good days! Thanks for posting the pix and yes, I think Sunny does look happy to see you!

Laura Crum said...

Shanster--That is a really insightful point. Cause yeah, when we were miserably wandering around in the desert, I was not a happy camper, but in retrospect its funny, and it DOES make the good times seem even more special in comparison. Would somebody please remind me of this before my next trip? Because I always forget. Memo to self--bad times are good, too(!)

Anonymous said...

Thrilled to have you back Laura! Thanks for the pictures and the stories! I spent 15 years in AZ and some of my best riding experiences and stories come from there, including riding my just purchased gelding in a hail storm!! The desert will always be my heart's home!

I'm okay with going away but home is where my heart is and that picture of Sunny was just so sweet. We should all be so blessed by welcoming faces when we return home. I guess that's what horses and puppies are for!!!

Dreaming said...

All I can say is, "WOW!"

Phill Clippers said...

What a fantastic break you had and such a magnificent place to go. Congrats on your anniversary

Laura Crum said...

Thanks Lynn, Dreaming, and Phill--I had a great trip and I am happy to be home. But can you believe it? Its been raining off and on for three days. There is mud in my corrals and riding ring (yet again) and my roses, which were in full cry, as you can see in the photo, are NOT happy. So its been back to quiet days in the cabin for awhile. Which isn't bad, really.

Alison said...

Thanks for the photo tour! That's the only way I'll get to see the Valley of the Gods!