It was somewhere on highway 160 that we stopped at a gas station to fill up. Going in to use the restrooms, we laughed as large puppies ran up and down the aisles. We must have been on a reservation, either that, or we were just so far from civilization that no one cared or checked on health codes. The puppies didn't bother anything in the aisles and the store owner was quite unperturbed by their romping.
It wasn't long after the gas station that the sand storm started. We could see it on the horizon, a huge brown cloud growing larger as we drove East. Several motorcyclists stopped and turned back as the winds began to pick up.
We really didn't get a picture that shows the true fury of the storm. In the pinnacle of it, we could only see about 20 feet in front of us. If we had been outside it would have been horrible. I can't imagine how settlers and Native Americans weathered a storm like that. But, in the truck, it was exciting!
Between gusts we still enjoyed the scenery:
The wind died down a little for me to take a picture of this owl shaped rock formation.
Monument valley was a little sandy...we didn't get the best pictures, but it was amazing anyway.
As we turned Northward toward the four-corners and my first steps into Utah, the landscape became a little more green. The wind was still whipping, but there was less sand to fly through the air.
The wind was SO strong that as Allen and I walked back into Arizona and to the truck, I held Allen's arm because I thought I might literally blow away!
We next crossed over into Colorado and turned toward the Mesa Verde.
Mesa Verde means Green Table, but it is more like a mountain than a table. Signs told us to unhook our trailer and leave it at the bottom, and it was a good thing! The incline took us up to a lookout point where we should have been able to see 20 miles in all directions. But, really, all we could see was the sandstorm. We didn't stay on top very long because, as funny as it seems, at 8000 feet elevation, it was COLD! I was in shorts and all I could do was shiver. We did take a few pictures of the terrain, though because there had been a fire in 2006 and the combination of the death and new growth was beautiful.
The main attraction at Mesa Verde is the well preserved cliff dwellings of the Pueblo Native American's ancestors. We took the guided tour of "Cliff Palace," but this is another park that could take a week to thoroughly explore.
That night we stopped in Durango, Co and enjoyed the cool camping weather. We ate pizza at the hip Home Slice Pizza company
Terry had the spaghetti and meatball deep dish (YUM!)
And I enjoyed the
Excellent blue cheese, apple, and chicken pizza dude! ;)
The campsite was really pretty and even though we didn't use it, I was impressed that they had a community herb garden open to whomever wished to use it.
A quick trip to good old Wal-Mart for supplies and another beautiful night under the stars brought our day of adventures to a close. We had weathered the sandstorm, explored ancient civilizations, climbed mountains, and loved us some pizza...We were a little closer to home, but still loving every second of our adventures out West.
For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream. Vincent Van Gogh