Hiking and biking

Trip Start Aug 31, 2010
Trip End Jan 04, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Friday, October 22, 2010

On Monday, 18th October we drove through the mountains and across the Continental Divide, en route to Durango, passing through a snow shower on the way. The scenery was beautiful, especially the golden leaved aspen trees.  When we stopped at a rest area, Darrell found a small, plastic pig, which he decided to adopt as a travelling companion.  Look out for pictures of the pig!

We arrived in Durango, Colorado and got a room at the Days End motel for $40, cheaper than the $45 advertised on the internet.  It appears that 'walk ins' get better rates than reservations.  Durango has loads of old style Western buildings, but by the time we got the free trolley bus into town, it was too dark for photos.  Anyway, in our attempt to sample as many local microbreweries as possible, we ate and drank at the Carver Brewery, then walked the mile back to our motel.

On Tuesday, we drove to Mesa Verde, a national park with ancient Native American cliff dwellings, dating from around 1200 AD (and that's really ancient for the USA!).  The park alone would have been worth visiting for the views - we could see for about 70 miles in every direction.  For a measly $3 each, we went on a guided tour of Cliff Palace, the biggest of the cliff dwellings.  The buildings were fascinating, and so was our very knowledgeable and amusing guide, Ranger Ray.

On the drive from there to Moab, Utah we reached our 4000th mile on the road and crossed into our 10th state.  Scouring the motel discount coupons, we'd discovered that Moab wasn't cheap, but we'd found one that was reasonable.  Unfortunately, due to the Jeep convention taking place in Moab, they didn't have any rooms available at the coupon price, i.e. they didn't need our business.  So, with some trepidation on Amanda's part, we checked out the dilapidated Lazy Lizard hostel and booked into one of their little cabins, for $33 a night.  In fact, it was great value - comfy bed, very close to the toilet block, excellent showers, a space in front of the cabin where we could cook, and wifi in the common room.

Wednesday dawned bright and sunny for a mega fun-filled day of mountain biking.  We hired a couple of REAL mountain bikes with bouncy suspension everywhere and big, fat tyres - worth $2800 each!  We did the 10 mile Klondike Bluffs route - amazing!  It had rocky tracks, difficult sandy trails, but best of all, 'slickrock'.  That's what they call the big, relatively smooth expanses of bare sandstone (relatively smooth, because actually they roll with dips, breaks, the occasional hole and even dinosaur tracks!).  It was a revelation to both of us what it's like to ride a really good mountain bike - you just glide over most of the bumps - but not all of them!  We're now trying to work out how many hours of supply teaching we'd need to do to buy better bikes at home...

Moab itself is a great little town – everybody there seems to be on vacation and every other shop sells outdoor gear or rents mountain bikes – so it has a very laid back feel.  After the hard work of the day, we decided we'd earned ourselves a meal out, so we visited...another microbrewery.  This time it was the Moab Brewery, which offered us good food and beer, with the added advantage that it was only 20 minutes walk from our hostel, although it did include the scariest part of the trip so far, crossing the seven lane highway in the dark – these roads aren't designed for pedestrians.  We slept very well that night!

The plan for Thursday was to head for the Needles district in Canyonlands national park, but we'd been warned that their campground with 24 sites filled up every day, so we set off early in the morning and managed to get one of the few vacant sites.  This was the first time we've ever had our tent pitched by 10:00 am!  The weather forecast warned of thunderstorms, but luckily, it stayed dry for our 7.5 mile hike through some breathtaking scenery.  One of the things that surprised us about desert terrain is how varied it is - as well as the expected sand, cacti and sagebrush, wherever there's some water you get lots of greenery and colourful flowers.  Despite all the beauty, by the time we got back to our campsite we were exhausted - two days of vigorous activity at altitude had done us in.  We were both asleep by 9:00 pm, but awake again at midnight, due to the torrential rain hammering on our tent.  It rained, and rained, and rained, and rained...we packed up a very wet tent in the morning.

On the drive down to Flagstaff, Arizona we had more rain, but still managed to see some of the fantastic rock formations of Monument Valley from the road, as well as the one that gave the town of Mexican Hat its name.  As we approached Flagstaff, Humphreys Peak looked stormy and dramatic.  In our continual search for cheap motel rooms, we arrived at the Knights Inn because we'd seen an internet ad for $39 a night.  Turns out it was a different Knights Inn and this one was $50, but when we turned around to go, the manager decided that since the motel was nearly empty he wanted our business, and knocked it down to $39.  So now we've learned another trick in motel pricing!
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Graham on

Fascinating - what a great trip. Keep the blog coming, it's interesting and I love the pics. I rate you FIVE STARS!!!

Kass on

Ray tells me when you've updated your blog and I always check it out! I love reading of your adventures and seeing your great pictures. What a wonderful trip! Keep the blogs coming and have a great time.

MumBrenda on

Just found your latest entry. My computer siezed up yesterday, so I gave it a good night's rest and tried again this morning.When I've posted this comment I shall look at your pics again. They are fascinating!What wonderful experiences you are having! The mountain biking looked terrific.---We shall have to have a flag day for you when you come back!
Lots of love, keep well.

Caroline on

I reckon that ol' pig's been hittin' the Yellowtail... xxx

Helen & Pete on

Hi - we're jealous. it looks fantastic. really enjoying seeing all the photos. the dunes and the biking look especially good fun. lots of love from us both.

Phill on

Nice pig - is his name Chris ? Chris P. Bacon ?

Gill on

Looks like you're having a great time - but surely you didn't miss the climbing in monument valley?

Lizzi on

Great photos - you will have to set up an exhibition when you get back.

We will be waiving James's dad off at the start of the classic marathon tomorrow morning. The rest of the Tattersall's are meeting him at the finish in Athens. Robin has to walk at over 3.5 miles per hour to finish the course in the allowed time. It's only a bit faster than normal walking pace but you have to concentrate to keep it up.

Allen on

The pics are absolutely superb. Many of the climbing pics would get 5 stars on UK climbing. I like the mix of climbing shots, arty close ups or rock and flora and the amazing landscapes.

What's with driving past monument valley but not actually climbing the mesas. Anyone would think you didn't like trad climbing. One of them might still have a tin box on the top with a book inside, with Gill and my name in it. Dave Walker's too I think!

amandarrell on

Allen and Gill, sorry we didn't find your tin box but there were no bolts to guide us! Can't do that scary stuff any more.

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