Sunday, December 18, 2011

December Trip West - Day 4 - On the Road Again after sunrise at Mesa Arch Sunrise

It was an early rise, well 6:30 since sunrise isn't till 7:30.  Didn't get much sleep the night before but it looked like a good morning to catch sunrise at Mesa Arch.  It's just a short 2 miles from the campground to the Mesa Arch trail head but as I got closer a wall of cloud was hanging over the parking lot and the trail to the arch.  I've heard you always have company for sunrise at Mesa Arch and today wasn't going to be any different, there was already one car in the parking lot.

I gathered my camera bag and tripod, put on my warmest clothes and headed down the trail for the fifth time.  As I approached I saw two people and one tripod already setup.  The cloudy fog looked like is was starting to clear and there might just be a nice sunrise afterall.  I paused to talk with my fellow sunrise watchers and they turned out to be from Germany.  He spoke English very well but his lady didn't say any thing.  It seemed like she understood what I was saying but she was quiet, maybe she's just shy. He was quite friendly, I was very pleased with my sunrise friends.

As we'd hoped for the sunrise was beautiful.  The moisture in the air added a bit of a hazy look but the underside of the arch lit up real nice.  I was surprised how long the arch remained lit.  It made for sufficient time to make a few different compositions.

With sunrise behind us it was time to hit the road again.  Destination for tonight is Page, AZ.  But there were a few places to visit along the way.  Getting right back into the run and gun mode the first stop was at Valley of the Gods.

I'd first been introduced to Valley of the Gods last spring when Travis and I went this way.  We'd left Moab in a sandstorm so Valley of the Gods was seen thru a red haze.  It was really pretty cool.  But today was a clear blue sky day with a few white clouds, yes!  The drive was nice especially when we were about half way.  Some of the clouds actually cooperated.  I must say I did rush to get thru the last part since I wanted a bit of time at Goosenecks State Park.

Travis and I also stopped at Goosenecks State Park last spring but the wind coming out of the canyon was like being in a wind machine.  This is really a place to come in the morning if you want some images but it's just cool to see how the San Juan River flows in this goose neck type fashion.

After Goosenecks it's Monument Valley.  But before the actual valley some of the buttes were being back-lit buy the afternoon sun.  I just had to stop and actually pull on to a local dirt road to capture some of what I was seeing.  It was so cool.  I would have hung out longer but again I'm in a hurry so back on the highway and on to the tribal park.

It was about 3:15 and when I went thru the entrance gate and paid my entrance fee. I was told I could do the valley drive but I needed to be out by 5:00.  What I really wanted to see was Artist Point so I took the drive pretty quickly.  There was time to make a few images along the way but when I got to Artist Point I was pretty disappointed.  So disappointed that the only picture I took was with my iPhone.  I next stopped at North Window.  That was alot nicer but since it was getting close to 5:00 I sped out.  Strangely I saw people entering as I was leaving, weird.

The next event was something I'd been looking forward to since before the trip began.  Seeing as though I'd been living on, cereal, milk, turkey sandwiches, pb&j sandwiches, apples, and snack bars this was going to be even better.  Travis and I went thru Monument Valley last spring as well.  During our brief stay we ate at the View restaurant and each had these huge Navajo Tacos.  I'd been salivating for another since that visit and tonight was the night.  I was in heaven and left with a very full belly.

After dinner it was back in the car for the last 100 miles to Page, check into the Motel 6 and get a good nights sleep.


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