Monday, April 28, 2014

The great American West

I hope everyone had a great week last week.  My mini vacation was to say the least, AMAZING! 

I live in Colorado, along the front range which is east of the mountains where they meet the plains.  Still it is not spring here just yet.  I live in what is considered Alpine Desert.  High enough in elevation a bit over a mile high yet far enough south that we are more dry.  Spring comes late here at 6800 feet above sea level.  I live at the base of Pikes Peak (America's mountain).  Where a woman, Katherine Lee Bates, visited and when she came down from the mountain she wrote a poem and called it, "America the Beautiful". 

I can tell you that the mountain is simply beautiful and I enjoy looking at it every day.  Today it is covered in snow.  Yes snow.  Still not spring here yet.  Anytime of the year is a good time to visit Colorado, there is something for everyone during every season, (heck we can have all 4 seasons in one day!).  But spring is a great time to visit the southwest corner of the state, aptly named Four Corners as it is the only place in the continental US were 4 states meet.  This is part of the 'Grand Circle' of the southwest.  If you go farther south into Arizona or New Mexico you get a hotter and drier climate all year round.  But again, spring is a great time to explore this area. 

I was asked by a client to take some photographs of the American Southwest for postcards and I jumped at the opportunity.  I have always wanted to see Monument Valley, Arches and Canyonlands National parks and The Grand Canyon so I was very excited. 

The first problem was time.  I only have a week and my husband wanted to camp and do some biking and 4 wheeling in the Moab, Utah area so we limited our trip to Monument Valley, Arches and the Moab area.  If you ever get a chance to see these areas I highly recommend it.  Beautiful and simply stunning scenery awaits you.  I promise that you will feel like you are in a John Wayne movie (many were filmed in this area) and the grand scale of everything is amazing.  This is what people think of when they think of the American West and it won't disappoint.  CAUTION!  you are in the desert - make sure that you have plenty of water (even in the spring and winter!) as we have a VERY dry climate.  Sunscreen is a must all year long.  I would also not venture a visit in the middle of the summer.  It was 78 every day we were there in April and in the desert the temperatures can easily rise to over 100 in July and August. 

Now, on to the pictures.  I hope you enjoy them! 
First up is Monument Valley.

And yes, I stood in the middle of the road....

Monument Valley is on Navajo land and it is only $5.00 to get into the park and get the view up close.

This viewpoint is called 'John Ford overlook'.  John Ford was the director of many westerns that starred John Wayne and were filmed in Monument Valley.  One you may remember is the opening of the movie, "Indian Jones and the Last Crusade"
 Yes, that is a real man and a real horse out on the bluff. 
The dirt road into the park can be done by a car but the Navajo's also have open air trucks that will take you. 
Monument Valley has been on my 'bucket list' for a long time and it didn't disappoint! 
The next stop on our tour was Dead Horse Point State Park.  Not widely known but spectacular.  I picture The Grand Canyon to be like this just deeper and wider. 

 See that off-road down there... way down there....
 This picture is the quintessential picture from Dead Horse as the Colorado River meanders and carves the canyon. 
Pictures do not do this place justice. 

Next is Arches National Park. 
This area is called Park Avenue because of all the tall walls.
 This is the Windows area of Arches
 You can see how large they are - do you see the people! 
This arch below is called Landscape Arch. 

And finally - Moab where we bikes and road 4-wheelers and camped and relaxed a bit.
Moab is known for Slick Rock and other Jeep only trails where you climb over the rocks with either your bike or if you are really brave your Jeep. 

 We climbed a set of rocks and watched vehicles traverse the dirt roads to other trails - see if you can spot the vehicle in the photo below. 
Yep, I climbed the big rocks and looked north...

 Then east - these are the La Sala mountains in Utah. 
And finally we watched the sun set.

All in all a great time. 
I'll be posting more photo's of my adventure on Facebook.  You can follow me here...

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Thanks for stopping by.  Have a good mid-week.

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