Thursday, 14 June 2007

"Along the Navajo trail..." 366 miles

Double whammy! this is turning into a proper America trip. Set off about 9am and drove up to the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

Impressive, but somehow having seen so many photos and with all the amazing scenery I have seen so far on this trip, it didn't overwhelm me as I expected it to.

Headed for Monument Valley; the one "must see" on this trip. To get there I drove through the arid Navajo Indian reservation with its lay bys filled with stalls selling genuine pottery and jewellery. I had promised a friend I would get her a necklace.

At a Grand Canyon official gift shop amongst the dream catchers and the like I spotted a sign: "All our products American made" The the rack I was looking at had a small sign which read: "Indian American products not made by Indian Americans"!

That is why I turned into a lay by which had the sign "Nice Indians". They were selling arrows, mind you. The young woman who sold me the item said she had made it herself although she was a bit hazy as to what it was made from. Seeing the grinding poverty I felt better about buying it from her rather than the park gift shop. National parks are not free: Yosemite and Sequoia cost me $20 a piece. Grand Canyon, secure in its reputation, asks you to stump up $25.

Still only about 11.30 so I decided I would go for Monument Valley today as well. This to me was worth the price of the ticket alone. Something I had seen in Westerns ever since I was a child. I was a rider on the range. Only downside was they had just tarred the road so when I stepped out to take a photo the feet got stuck.

Then at a nearby petrol station one of the many native American hustlers tried to sell me a moccasin....ONE? Maybe be I had strayed into Hopi territory. Navajo, Blackfeet, Hopi....maybe I should Sioux. (Sorry I was on a tribal roll there).

I wanted to get from Arizona to Colorado even though the route strayed into Utah and Mormon territory. Not a lot of "down drinking at the bar" thereabouts. Headed up through Mexican Hat which boasted a number of motels with bars attached. I have learned to distrust neon signs. Everyone loves their neon, so what you think is a bar turns out to be an estate agent, a church or maybe a nail clinic.

Ute mountain took me to Cortez and a few drinks and another burrito this time in "Blondie's Pub and Grub" - a biker bar with lots of Hulk Hogan lookalikes on Harleys. Although it does have a website if you want to go find it. The nice woman who served me was anything but blonde...she may not have been the owner.


timtinker said...

Buy an annual pass for all National Parks if you are visiting more than two.

Peter said...

When you were in Pahrump did you see my favorite, A porn shop between a Church and a Mom & Pop store; displaying a sign 'Thursday-Over 50's Discount!!' Only in America!

Huw said...

Thats right we paid $80 for a couple which gave us unlimited entry to all the national parks
We flew into NY did Boston Chicago Seattle SF LA right across the bottom to Miami keys and then up the east coast via Baltimore Philli and DC - 3 months of diners bars and motels and 13,500 miles on the rental car got back in march it was great. Take care Alex, Huw and Gwyneth

Anonymous said...

Don't even think about going anywhere near Salt Lake City. We found it quite miserable and very devoid of lifwe

Anonymous said...

If you go through Kansas City, visit the `Steamboat Arabia' museum. A showpiece of history and an almost complete cargo of articles preserved after the sinking of the steamboat. It won't change your life but I'll bet you won't stop talking about it.
Mike TSaff, Herne Bay

Anonymous said...

Wish I'd known about you going earlier. We've covered quite a lot of what you've done so far.

In July/August we're going to be heading out to where you are now. It looks fantastic.

Time Lord said...

Agree about the annual pass. They're quite cheap, $50. We bought one last October and will be using it again in the summer.

We've done quite a bit of where you've been. It you go near Reno again at anytime go to Virgina City. It has a real western feel to it. Also it's meant to be near where Bonanza was set.

I've found this site quite useful for American travel,

(Sorry if this comment has gone up twice)

Sue said...

Hi Alex, if you get a chance or if you've got the bottle - drive up the highest paved road in the USA - Mount Evans, West Colorado, 20 miles outside Denver. Not for the faint-hearted but well worth it. Have a great time on the rest of your drive.

Chris said...


Sounds like your having a great time, I'm sure many of us are secretly somewhat envious :) Having seen the efforts of Clarkson et al on Top Gear to stir up the locals I take it that you will be steering clear of even displaying a slap my top sticker! Anyway have a gr8 time and looking forward to hearing you again on the best time of the day.

Philip said...

Hope the journey is going well. Why don't you pick up a copy of Neil Peart's(the drummer from Rush)book called Travelling Music, when he toured the area.

Anonymous said...

Blondies pub and grub lists itself as 'A biker friendly bar with lots of beautiful women to serve you'...Yeah I can see why you chose that bar then. You dirty ol man!!!

Find it on


langwhang said...

Standard Greetings, Dark Lord.. take your time and enjoy the journey.. after 20 yeers, can the beeb really complain if you take a couple of extra days to get back!?!!?? have you managed to accidentally find any trucks with Slap My Top on them yet? ;-) sounds like the journey is just beginning.. enjoy!! cheery.. Andrew frae Scotlandshire

Anonymous said...

Alex Good Luck on your American trip.

I'm an American who's lived in the UK since 1989 and was one of your contestants on the Accumulator Quiz one day when you stepped in for Jimmy Young.

Even remember the question I got wrong - Who's the Chairman of the Board - Frank S of course.

Consider driving the extra 250 miles from New York to my hometown Boston - you won't be disappointed. It's a little bit of England left in the US.


matt said...

nearly half way through and yet that postcard still hasn't arrived... see if you'd had a full midlife crisis you'd have been on a harley and would have fitted in to that bar even more! LOL

copter doctor said...

Hey you're racking up the miles; and the bbber (whoops!) and the culture. And the bars. I want, I really do want, the Lester bar-book (good and bad) between West and East when you return. OK? Cool, I'll drink to that, then

Mandy Burton said...

Alex - your really need to take a trip up Pikes Peak on the cog railway.
I wouldn't bother with Cripple Creek, really nothing there at all...just gambling. We are Brits living in Colorado Springs. You should also visit Garden of the Gods Park

Anonymous said...

Time to turn north before it's too late. Leave the boring low plains behind and go for the high plains Wyoming, Dakotas (Custer Battle Field), Minnesota, Wisconsin through into Chicago, Detroit and it's all the same street, Pennsylvania, west NY if you want some scenery - down the Hudson river into Manahata - you won't be dissapointed.

Eyes of the World said...

I know you deserve your road trip, but I really miss you on the radio

Anonymous said...

Hi Alex, here's something to give you a laugh - back in Blighty it's absolutely chucking it down and has been for the past three days - they've even had to cancel trains in Birmingham because of floods! It's so cold I've had to put the heating back on! We're all very jealous of you!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great trip. Brings back lot's of memories from one we did in 2005. I strongly recommend the entry by timtinker to buy the annual pass. It's about $50 and gets you in every national park so with all the places you've got ahead of you it will be well worth it. Just don't lose it because they won't replace them for nothing. Ride em hard cowboy!!

Steve Thomas said...

Looks like decision time next week, North or South route into New York,whad a ya gonna do huh huh huh???

mike willis said...

How can anybody be not impressed by the Grand Canyon.It is probably the single most spectacular sight in the world.Everybody should see it at least once. I visited the south rim in 84 by car and again this year in a helicopter this year.
Awesome !!

Caroline said...

The North Rim offers the best views of the Grand Canyon. It takes your breath away. You missed some beautiful scenery in Utah: Bryce Canyon, Arches, Cedar Breaks. I think Utah has the most national parks of any state but you can’t see everything. At least you’ll get to see the Rockies when you drive through Denver. If you go through Cripple Creek, don’t miss the Royal Gorge. It’s incredible! As is The Garden of the Gods. Nice interview, by the way... ;)

Fat Dave in Stalybridge said...

Ah The Grand Canyon, sounds perfect, did you have a choc ice when you were there?

All the rain were having here at the moment would probably fill that place. Have you seen anymore one legged mocassin wearing injuns? next time you do, tell them to hop it!! Well I thought it was funny dark lord, have you managed to flash your loyalty card yet?? I've got mine taped inside the car and hopefully the garage will look at it appreciatingly tomorrow as the car is going in for it's M.O.T, that's my saturday sorted, and your's is the open road, with the cool wind in your hair, groovy.

peter said...

watch out for those injuns alex
i love reading about your adventures although all the driving must be boreing sometimes.
It certanly makes Tonbridge dull
did you see any giant american redwood trees we did last weekend
how about some more pictures
two weeks already
best wishes peter