Thursday, 23 September 2010

Day 19: Grand Junction, CO - Flagstaff, AZ

One cannot visit Colorado, no matter how briefly, without climbing a mountain or two.  Or, in my case, four; one of which was new (I did the others in 2003).  First was Grand Mesa Summit, at 10,839 feet or quite alot of metres.  Next the highest of the whole trip, the Red Mountain Pass at 11,018 feet.  And finally the closely linked Molas and Coal Bank Passes - 10,910 and 10,640 feet respectively.  Unlike the other three, the Red Mountain was beset by road works, which must have endeared it no end to the two blokes in Competition Cobras - equipped with only the flimsiest of canvas tops - who were waiting patiently in line to descend into Ouray.  Here you can see how bored it is possible to get while waiting at road works:

The camera is obviously clever enough to make conditions look brighter than they really are.

Anyway, the rain continued all the way down to Durango, where I bought some boxer shorts.  Turning west from Durango, one eventually runs out of the mountains and into the desert, only this time with red soil instead of the light brown muck found elsewhere.  This, you see, is where the red sandstone is to be found, in the shape of both cliffs and standalone big lumps; the most famous of the latter being those found in Monument Valley, a few miles to the north of the dismally-surfaced US-161.  This is what Monument Valley looks like from the side you have to pay to look at, when it is not raining:

From US-161 you only get to see the back, and that from a considerable distance.  You also pass the Four Corners Monument, which is where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet.  I have seen a photo of four New Toylanders having lunch together in four different states,but that was a while ago and now the Navajo is using the place to get back at the White Man by charging an entrance fee.

Anyway, Arizona is supposed to be hot and sunny.  This is why I was met by some of the heaviest rain I've encountered anywhere, with the possible exception of Friedrichshafen in 2003.  People were actually stopping by the roadside to let it pass over, although there were the inevitable asshats who neglected either to slow down, switch on their lights, or both.  Here is what sunny Arizona looks like shortly before unleashing one of a Several of deluges:

This picture was taken at 65 mph and again fails to show the full nastiness of the approaching weather, not to mention the accompanying multiple bolts of lightning.

The rain went away for a bit, and it even began to get warm; however a glance over to the west shewed more dirty black clouds, so the top stayed up.  And a good thing too, as it began to chuck it down again on the final run down into Flagstaff.  If it does this again tomorrow, I'm going home.  Oh, wait... 

Curious thing seen on the road: while the aforementioned Cobras would normally be the high spot of most petrolhead's day, the collection of four pre-WW2 Alfa Romeos was Even Better.  All were being driven con brio, and one was a Monza.  A Monza was sold at auction earlier this year for the thick end of seven million US dollars and here was someone thrashing one across Colorado.  In the rain.  Yay!

1 comment:

  1. You have just passed near my father's house as he lives near 4 corners.