Yes, this has been a year of travel for me so far, more than I've ever done before and way beyond my wildest dreams and expectations. To see such magnificent places which I'd only ever read about, or heard about at school was a real treat on the US trip. I remember first hearing about the Grand Canyon - that it was massive beyond imagination, that it was a mile deep, that it stretched over a huge area etc. and when younger had often thought I'd like to go there. So to have the opportunity to do so and visit so many other spectacular places was like multiple icing and cherries on the cake!
|Squirrel at lunch|
|Canyonlands - but don't walk on the arch or go near the edge...!|
We stayed in Moab that night, a bustling pleasant town without the more "sensible" feel of other places in Utah. No drink restrictions here (too many tourists!) and some lively bars and restaurants. We ate at the quite trendy Eddie McStiff's ( that was the name - I kid you not). Next day was the Day of the Valleys - Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley. Maylis bagged the off-road drive around the Valley of the Gods, which had large weirdly-shaped buttes (pronounced "beauts") : a group of sailors, a lady taking a bath in a bathtub, a large chair. You do, of course, have to use your imagination. Bizarrely, a group of caravan trailer and RV's (American motorhomes called "recreational vehicles") had set up camp in this valley in a hot, sunny, dusty area with not a tree in sight.
|Momument Valley with a real tumbleweed - never seen one before!|
Could it get any better, or were we getting a bit blase? The Grand Canyon defies any chance of being blase; it left me speechless and moved to tears. At first, my eyes simply couldn't take in what I was seeing. At the south rim, I raised my binoculars and looked towards what I'd thought was a bird flying over the north rim, saying "That's a big bird". It was a helicopter. OK, so I then estimated the distance to the north rim as being a couple of miles. Wrong again, it's 10 miles. My brain couldn't cope with this at first so I had to add some context. I thought about home and the next town which is 10 miles away. Then I got it in spades! That's why I was speechless, even more so when looking down into the canyon to see the Colorado River and it's rapids, and a distant mountain down the valley, 60 miles away. It was a humbling experience. How can humankind be so arrogant, so destructive, and ultimately, so temporary in the working out of our own petty powers and ego needs in the face of such awesome majesty.
|BIG saguaro cactus in Arizona|
Then it was on to stay for a couple of days with my student Diane, who lives near Prescott, a Victorian Wild West town and on to Pheonix to catch flights back to Houston for Hugh & Maylis, and to New York for us, stopping en route to take a few photos of the giant saguaro cacti which grow abundantly in Arizona.