Sun Rise in Monument Valley Backcountry
Am back in Vock Canyon after a trip to Southeast Utah with my friend John, who came over from California. We had been planning this trip for a long time and talking about it even longer. The places we generally wanted to visit and photograph were Monument Valley on the Navajo Nation, some places near Moab, UT and Goblin Valley State Park, also in Utah. Knowing that we wanted to experience Monument Valley in a different way, we arranged for special photo tours from a Native company - one at sunrise and one at sunset.
Leaving Kingman we drove directly to Monument Valley, UT in the southeast corner of the the state. After a quick call to the tour company, to verify the time we would meet the next day, we checked into the Goulding Motel across from the entrance to Monument Valley. Our room turned out to be a two bedroom manufactured home. It was really quite nice. After awhile we went to a grocery store in the Goulding's complex to buy bread, mustard, ham and cheese which we survived on for the next two days.
The next morning we met our Navajo guide, Don for the sunrise photo tour. It was fortunate that John and I were the only people on the photo tour. In the dark, we hopped into an old Suburban and off we went. Don took us to a place in the back-country of Monument Valley for the sun rise. On the way, we talked with him about Navajo culture and exchanged information about our present lives. As we were climbing one of the numerous hills we encountered, we began to slide precariously back down the slope. Luckily Don was able to stay on the road. He then attempted to climb the hill on the left side of the road and we successfully made it to the top.
After shooting the sunrise, we headed deeper into the back country. Along the way, we saw some petroglyphs, a few arches and some old Native ruins.
After the tour we headed back to our motel and had ham and cheese sandwiches and tortilla chips. Soon it was time for the sunset tour. After hooking up with our guide, Larson and another couple - a man and wife from somewhere back east, we mad our way to Mystery Valley, south of Monument Valley. Heading again into the back-country in a Jeep, I was in the back seat and was having trouble getting in and out of the Jeep whenever we stopped to shoot images. The woman, who had been sitting in the front, graciously offered me her place up front. We saw more petroglyphs and Native ruins. While visiting one of the sites, Larson played us a tune on his flute. It was very cool and the Native music was appropriate for where we were. Toward the end of the tour, we had a view north to Monument Valley. By then deep, gray clouds had moved in and it was turning cooler. Shot a few images of the area but there was no spectacular sunset to been seen - it was just too cloudy.
Castle Valley, Utah with La Sal Mountains in background
The next morning, John and I headed out for Moab, UT. It is a short drive from Monument Valley to Moab and it was to early to check into the Motel 6, so we decided to take a road that leaves Moab just north of town and heads east. For several miles it follows closely the path of the Colorado River and the roadway is just slightly higher than the river. We were on our way to visit Fisher Towers but along the way, we took a side trip to Castle Valley. It is a beautiful valley with a geography similar to Moab but on the southeastern edge are the La Sal Mountains. There was still snow on the higher elevations. It really made for a nice contrast.
After showing several images, we hopped back in my truck and went on down the road to our next scheduled stop, Fisher Towers. After driving a bit, I mistakenly thought I saw Fisher Towers off to the south so I turned right onto a dirt road - turned out to be a good mistake. We followed the road as it approached a narrow canyon and just kept driving. Soon we saw a white SUV approaching so I stopped at the next wide spot in the road to let them pass. The driver told us that five more SUVs were behind her so we waited until they all had passed. John and I speculated that they were university students and were there doing research. We speculate almost as much as do my friend Steve and I. Anyway we drove for quite some time up this narrow canyon until it started to widen out. We found a good place to turn around and left for the real Fisher Towers. The name of this place is Onion Creek. The drive up Onion Creek was "most excellent".
We turned left on the pavement and headed to Fisher Towers which was only about a mile or so past Onion Creek Road. We were both a little disappointed with Fisher Towers and it was time to get a little something to eat, so we headed back to Moab. After checking into the Motel 6 and relaxing a bit, we went to Fiesta Mexicana for supper. We were both tired of ham and cheese sandwiches and snacks and were looking forward to our first hot meal since we left Kingman. It was not he best Mexican food I have ever eaten but it was OK. The salsa was excellent but the refried beans were not up to snuff. But I would eat there again on another visit to Moab.
So far our road trip has been the best ever.