I didn't buy a spork in the end, but am pleased to report that the Shell station on Main in Moab will still sell you "gas" on your credit card without all that tedious "ZIP Code" nonsense. As will the one in Kayenta, AZ. The Chevron opposite the latter won't, so yar boo sucks. It's nice not to feel pressured for time and/or the apparent need to Get Somewhere, so I started the day with a detour up Castle Valley and over the La Sal Mountain Loop and Geyer Pass Roads. Fifty-odd miles to get back near enough to where you started. The run around La Sal Mountain goes up to more than 2400 metres - Moab itself is about 1200 - and would be Teh Awsum in a lightly warmed-over Mini Cooper. An Issigonis one, not that BIGI monstrosity they churn out of Cowley these days.
|More insane Rocks, these from somewhere up the La Sal Mountain Loop Road|
And then back down US-191, in a repeat of yesterday's performance. Only this time a bit further, to the Needles section of Canyonlands National Park. Canyonlands, like Gaul, is divided into three parts and Needles is one of them. The other two are The Maze and Island In The Sky. The minor road runs for forty miles out to Big Spring Canyon Overlook, where the view is not nearly as exciting as those to be had elsewhere. Strictly minor-league Rocks:
And these two feathered pikeys.
|"'ere, Bazza, 'ave you seen that Hitchcock film..."|
So, another forty miles back to the main road, as while the road atlas showed a minor road off to the south, it was not apparent on the map handed out by the Park bod. Or on the ground. Or on Google maps. All in all a bit of a waste of eighty miles of motor-spirit. And it rained on the way back. A lot.
I could have taken the main road all the way to Mexican Hat, but that would have deprived me of UT-261. Most of this is an altogether normal two-lane blacktop, but after twenty-three miles of being sensible it halves in width, loses most of its tarmac and plummets off a cliff. Miss von Brandenburg wouldn't like it at all. So where would we find today's motorised moron? Stopped smack in the middle of the road so that Mrs Moron could take photos. Of this:
Not far past Mexican Hat is Monument Valley. I've done Monument Valley - go and look at the "Travels 2003" album on flickr if you need a fix, or watch a John Ford western. Anyway, I didn't go there this time, just as I'm not going to the Grand Canyon tomorrow. The sight of Big Lumps of Rock bring Motorised Morons out of the woodwork in their dozens; one was standing in the northbound lane of US-163, oblivious to the bus-sized motorhome bearing down on him at sixty miles per hour, while another two had got their crappy Chevy stuck in soft sand two feet from the edge of the cabbageway.
After Kayenta, things get rather dulk except that you lose lots of altitude to get down to Page. Page is all new and shiny as it was only built in 1957. Something to do with the Glen Canyon Dam, which is but a mile or two from where I sit. And being in Arizona, I have gained an hour. Utah is in the Mountain Time Zone and thus seven hours behind That London. Arizona, on the other hand, is in the Mountain Time Zone and thus is eight hours behind That London. Arizona, y'see, doesn't use Daylight Saving Time, so it's seven hours in the winter and eight in the summer. Unless you're in the part of Arizona which is also part of the Navajo Nation. Which does use Daylight Saving Time. Confused yet?
On WTF: seven miles from one of the biggest hydro-electric schemes in the whole country is... a coal-fired power station. I have not the words.