I wasn't quite prepared for how much beauty is chocked into just the area between Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. Driving along 89 came with so many great views.
I must give a shout out to all the people who live in tiny towns in the middle of nowhere, amidst canyon and mountain, thick in the desert. Honestly, the population in this area is so sparse. If it weren't for the people who ran the gas stations, restaurants, and motels in these towns, it'd pretty much be impossible to traverse the entire area. Did I mention it was beautiful? We drove through a chunk of the Navajo reservation where I got the chance to buy a beautiful turquoise necklace from a guy on the side of the road. He and his wife make jewelry to sell to passersby. It's beautiful (I think I'm overusing that word). We hop onto Scenic Byway 12 (the best kept secret in America), and the view only gets better and better. I don't have pictures of any of this, so here's a random one to keep your attention:
Anyway, it's getting to be dusk and the towns are getting farther and farther apart, so we start looking out for some place to stay. I stop in some town called Hatch and proceed to the first inn in site. It looks like it's straight out of some Western, log buildings and all. It's a motel, general store, and restaurant all in one. Eating dinner at the restaurant, we realize we are the only English speaking guests. Sitting at the table, I can hear Italian, French, and German around me (now, I dig this because I'm a major nerd, so I definitely tried to eavesdrop). We realize that the reason foreign tourists chose this place is because it seems to be real authentic American West- the cowboy dream, you know. It's really amusing. After a good night's sleep, Bryce Canyon is a welcome site.
I was way to beat to hike into the canyon, but next time I certainly will. After savoring this, it's back on the highway. Goblin Valley or bust. It takes quite a while to get there because the road cuts through canyon and mountain and is quite the process. Not to mention that we miss a turn and end up adding 45 or so miles to the journey. I actually snagged some shots of the view this time:
I particularly like this last shot because it's from the belly of Thel (that's my car's name, by the way). And in case I didn't mention it, I highly recommend a scenic drive along Route 12. You won't regret it. Several hours and a random diner stop later, we enter Goblin Valley. This place couldn't have a more appropriate name. If there aren't actual goblins living hidden away here, then the rocks certainly possess some goblin energies. These formations are so incredibly bizarre, and the valley is just eerie. Don't get me wrong, it's gorgeous... breathtaking, even. The silence and the vastness are pretty heavy. I couldn't stay in the actual valley for an extended time because the heat was so oppressive. I knew I would faint if I didn't find some shade, so I took it in from the observation platform. See all the faces?
We left the goblins to their own company, took 12 back up to 70, ate at yet another diner, and headed North. I was yet again astounded by the landscape... the subtle changes and the vast expanses with no sign of civilization. It's comforting to me that there are still such large areas in America that haven't been populated or taken over for industry. Late that night we rolled into Ogden, where I am now. My next step is to make enough money to head to the Portland/Seattle area. But in the meantime, I'll be posting my adventures here in Utah...
Until then, happy trails...