Tuba City to Grand Junction
We woke up early on Wednesday 18th - at 8:30 am local time, which was one hour ahead of the western standard time that we’d been on for the last two weeks. So for us it was 7:30 in the morning. Not an ungodly time, but we’ve been on a holiday sleeping schedule for the last weeks. But today we were finishing our last leg of the west coast tour, and the car was supposed to be at the Hertz lot in Grand Junction, Colorado by 5pm. And we had a lot of miles between us and Grand Junction. And, we wanted to drive through the Monument Valley, and knew we would need some time to stop for photo shoots.
We didn’t have our own bathroom at the Greyhills Inn, and the womens bathroom was filled with French women doing their morning fresh-up. Selma skipped the morning shower (for the first time in a couple of years, at least!), and was happy she’d forgotten to put goo in her hair the day before, - thus preventing her from looking like a total menace to society.
Louis e-mailing our friend Tim
We returned our room key, and spent some time in the lobby e-mailing our friend in Madison and looking up hotels in Grand Junction. We didn’t want to end up in the same situation as we were in the last couple of nights, so we found a hotel near the airport (we’d actually done some research for Grand Junction hotels before we booked the car back home in Oslo) and booked a room for the next night.
Then we got in the car and started out towards our destination. To get a feeling of how far we had to go to get to Grand Junction, we gave Kitty the address to the Hertz office and had her calculate the route and distance. It was a tight schedule, but we should be manage to get there in time.
As we got out of the school parking lot and onto the main road, we were amazed by the landscape surrounding us. We were in the middle of the desert - with sand blowing past us and tumbleweed crossing the road ahead of us - just like being in an old western movie. We were amazed by the landscape! And we noticed how giant rocks started rising from the ground. We went past a motel and café with some beautiful red rock cliffs in the background, and stopped to take some photos. Selma went in to use the restroom, and walked into the heart of America - with two typical truck drivers having their pancake breakfast on a wiggly table, a rugged and solid indian in his fifties at another table, an old man of native american descent carrying goods into the storage room and a beautiful, young indian girl behind the counter. Oh, and two old dykes at the corner table. Who sort of ruined the picture.
Louis’ hat on the dashboard as we drive out of Tuba City
Then it was onwards. After a little while we came towards a litte cluster of houses, with a gas station and some stores surrounding it, but with a litte over half a tank left on the car, we continued. We didn’t drive for too long before we hit the Baby Rocks. The weather was beautiful and the babies where very willing to have their pictures taken. This was our first real taste of this monumental nature, and we kept shooting pictures of the red rocks from different angles.
The Baby Rocks - a taste of what we would see later
Now the gas tank was down to 1/4 and with no signs telling us how far it was to the next gas station we where getting a little nervous. But a few miles down the road we got lucky. We filled up the car, got some essentials and headed back on the road. We drove at a good speed and it seemed like we might just make it to Grand Junction to deliver the car. The only problem was that we were on a road that doesn’t really pass the monuments of Monument Valley. Kitty has listed the shortest route - and the shortest was not the most beautiful. To get to this spot, we had to take a detour that would slow us down over one hour. But if you’re on vacation and you don’t have anyone else to answer to, take the time.
Entering Monument Valley (from the north)
So we drove a few miles back south, and went to the Indian lookout point right in the middle of the monuments. On the way there, the winds picked up and there seemed to be a “small” sandstorm brewing. When we got to the lookout point things calmed down just enough so we could take in this phenomenon of nature. If you have seen movies with John Wayne, you for sure have seen these mountains. We got some pictures and just took in the scenery. Just as we where leaving, the wind picked up and the sandstorm hit. It was almost like a winter storm back home, except there where no need for trucks to sand the roads. Louis had to get out and check out the storm, while Selma got some pictures from the car. Selma had tested the storm a few minutes earlier and felt no need to get out of the car.
Monument Valley. Magnificent.
After this stop, there were no chance in hell that we would make it to Grand Junction by 5 pm. We would probably never have made it anyway, so we gave up trying and decided to call Hertz, to let them know we where getting late. We had the number to the local Hertz dealer in Grand Junction, but no area code. And the wind was so bad, it was impossible to hear the instructions from the operator (we had no connection on Selmas cellphone, thus we had to use a payphone outside a gas station). So after a while we decided to chance it and take an eventual extra fee.
The rest of the trip went on without any more incidents, NOT! On a stretch of road, just after passing the Utah border, Louis overtook two cars. One normal car and one RV, with a car on tow. Passing these cars we where doing about 70 mph, and last of the two cars that were coming towards us, was a cop! Louis got down to the speed limit, but in his mirror he saw the cop turning his car. After a while the cop was on our tail and then “Red, White and Blue, Red, White and Blue, How patriotic”. As we turned over, you could practically hear the “Bad boys” song again. The police car was a 4WD Truck, a big monster. Out of it came two officers and they did the textbook approach; One stopped at the back on the right hand side, and one went up to the window on the drivers side. “License and Registration, please”. He then wanted to know where we was heading, and let us off with a little warning. Sadly we don’t have a picture of this incident, since pointing large black objects against an armed cop doesn’t seem to be a smart idea.
Road work in Utah
Other than some traffic work, the rest of the drive went on without a hitch. We came into Grand Junction just as darkness fell, and checked into the hotel. We turned in the car at the airport, without any problems at all (no one even mentioned that we were a few hours late). We got back to the hotel where Selma washed out the red dust she had accumulated in the sandstorms. We got some chow over on the other side of the street, at Wendy’s, from a girl that had her first day on the job.
Next up on the agenda was sleeping, and after some Texas holdem’ on the TV the sandman visited.
(See the photos at Flickr)