Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cross Country - Down the Valley, Atop the Canyon

Day 5 - 10 March

The fifth day of our road trip has come and gone. We first drove from Farmington, New Mexico to Monument Valley. It was single jacket weather, just slightly chilly. It was amazing to see the terrain change from the snow covered ranges to large rough rocks. The road carved through the rock was like a roller coaster track, its steep inclines and sudden downslopes visible for miles. The shiny mirages were a welcome distraction on the otherwise soporific stretches of tarmac.

As we drove into Monument Valley, an attendant cheerfully informed us that the Valley Drive was a 2 hour loop on a mud road. It was one fun drive at inclines above 10% with stones rolling under the tires, not aided by the massive monument structures on either side urging us to hit the brakes in awe every hundred yards. The "monuments" are natural sandstone formations stretching hundreds of feet into the sky. Drenched in the midday sun, they glistened a beautiful red and gold. I would describe them as nature's challenge to the sculptors of the world.
The monuments, though already named as a Butte or a Mesa, are open to interpretation. Arun and I thought the Camel really looked more like a Tortoise with an unsually large shell. And the thumb could well pass for more obscene things. To each his own imagination!
Three hours and a gazillion pictures later we drove to the loop's exit to be firmly stopped by a large white dog. He demanded attention. And food, of course. Arun, as we all know, really likes animals. But only on TV screens and inside cages in zoos. So I clambered over him, to the driver's window and fed the dog almost an entire pack of Chips Ahoy! He was pretty good at catching the cookies in mid-air. The change of company was refreshing after four days of uninterrupted Arun.

We then drove to Grand Canyon. We first peered into its mysterious yawning depths from the Desert Viewpoint. We wanted to get to Hopi point on the other end of the South Rim which apparently was the best place to view the setting sun. We drove and we drove. At the severely reduced speed limit of 25-45mph, I'd rather say we walked and we crawled at snail's pace. The lenient speed limits, or the lack thereof, of the Midwest have thoroughly spoilt us. We finally reached a point from which we could take a shuttle to another point from which we could take another shuttle to Hopi Point. Utterly convoluted, yeah. The kind bus driver informed us that he could not take us to the second shuttle in time and suggested that we drive the first leg. We had 8 minutes to spare. Camera and tripod in hand, Arun and I made like felines and sprinted to the car and made good time to catch the last shuttle. After what seemed like an excruciatingly long time in the bus we made it to Hopi Point 3 minutes before sunset. We rapidly clicked away as the sun sank in a hurry.
We then turned around to catch the beautiful surprise awaiting us. A breathtaking full moon had risen and was waiting for its due wonderment from awestruck onlookers. Today the moon really stole the skies from the sun. We stood there watching the rabbit (according to me) and mother and child (according to Arun)- chimerical shadows of the moon's craters. For once we didn't argue. Atop the overwhelming canyon, red remnants of once sunlit skies, gorgeous white moon- a splendid end to another memorable day.


Nandini Vishwanath said...

I understand the need for different company ;)

But that aside, the last pic is gorgeous. So excited for you guys :D

Jegu said...

Great... Till this post the last photo is always superb.. Did you post in that way or it's just a coincidence?