Monday, July 30, 2018

Monument Valley ... Part 2

Here some pictures :-)

The Early People (that was the name my guide gave the first people living in the Valley) left their mark

Monument Valley ... Part 1

When I look back on my day spent at Monument Valley, I think of how overwhelmed I felt. I can still feel the heat, the glaring sun. Can still see myself trying to take in as much impressions as possible. Soak it all in.
It all started with this view at 7 am with me driving to the Valley, having the road to myself.

It really looks like this!!
While planning my trip to the Southwest US, deciding on how to visit Monument Valley was difficult. What I knew was that one day would be enough and where to sleep was decided rather quickly. But on how to actually spend my day in the Valley? Unsure. Even after having consulted the official internet site (it's not a US National Park but a Navajo Tribal Park - that means that the site is managed by the DinĂ© … Navajo for The People) and reading through many traveler's reviews, I still felt unsure.

I decided to trust my Travel Instinct.
And my Travel Instinct guessed that visiting the park driving by myself the whole day wasn't ideal. Driving AND looking out/looking at the landscape? Not a good match.

Therefore, I decided on guided tours. That would allow me to enjoy the landscape without having to concentrate on the road AND the tours would show me around parts of the Tribal Park that are closed off to the public otherwise.
I decided on two tours (rather expensive … each for USD 85/2,5 hours but well worth the money!)

So, I spent the morning (we took off at 8 am) in Mistery Valley and the afternoon (3 pm) in Monument Valley (in places beyond the official loop).
In between the two tours, I went on the loop with my own car (I couldn't visit the Valley WITHOUT experiencing the dirt road with all its holes and bumps!).
I then had lunch at the Guilding's Lodge (just outside of the Tribal Park) and even visited the small museum (you know me, I can't miss a cute little museum haha).

Thank you Travel Instinct! You were, once again, totally right. It was the perfect day. Exhausting, sure, but perfect.

I visited the Valley in this jeep

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Remembering Driving from Mesa Verde to Monument Valley

I left Mesa Verde thinking that I somehow had reached the culmination of my trip. I was looking forward to see Monument Valley, obviously, but I thought that it couldn't get better that what I had experienced the day before.
Well, not 10 minutes into my drive west to Monument Valley, I found out that I was wrong.
Thoroughly wrong.
Mesa Verde was magic but what I saw around me felt … majestic. I had arrived in the West one reads about or sees pictures of. But seeing "it" with my own eyes? Just … stunning. Breathtaking. Amazing. Dizzying. Well, let's stop with the adjectives. Look at these pictures? Am I right or am I right?

Ute Reservation

Just a couple of miles before Mexican Hat (the town I spent my nights in) I decided on a detour: Gooseneck State Park.

Majestic was the word I mentioned, right?

The town Mexican Hat was named after this rock that … looks like a Mexican Hat (?? but hey I never said to be a visual person haha)
I called Mexican Hat a "town" but it actually was more a couple of houses along US163. Some hotels, a gas station (with little shop), the San Juan River flowing lazily (I slept at the San Juan Inn which offered a nice view of the river) - heat, dust and red soil all over. I had arrived in Navajo Land. I loved it!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Remembering Mesa Verde

If it weren't for the Lonely Planet guide "USA's Best Trips - 52 Amazing Road Trips", I wouldn't have known that this place even existed. But there it was, on page 418: Mesa Verde National Park. On my way to Monument Valley, nonetheless!
After reading more about it, I decided that it was worth a stop (2 nights) and booked a hotel in Cortez (cute little town, BTW, and the view of the mountains was very nice as well … see below).

Mesa Verde is just beyond these mountains

I imagined that Mesa Verde would be a nice but nothing really prepared me to the magic of the place. Reading about it is NOT seeing it! It was mind-blowing. I spent the whole day driving along the roads, doing the Cliff Palace Loop and the Mesa Top Loop twice. And I only went back to the hotel because I was so tired that I could hardly keep my eyes open. You know, the heat, the sun, the altitude, the impressions … all of that was really tiring!
I would have loved to see the place during the evening as well (when the light would have been different) but driving while being that tired is not smart and traveling alone forces me to always do the smart thing!

I could write poetry about this place (even if I suck at poetry hahaha). Therefore, let's stick with what I know well… photography :-)

Imagine! Up to 6000 people lived here (meaning in the valley in similar places) 800-1000 years ago

The Valley

Nobody really know why people left the site … some scientist say it was because of water shortage. We'll probably never know. What we know though is that they moved south...

The site was discovered by a cowboy (who was looking for his cows) by … accident

Back in the days, this place was an important treading post - people selling and buying stuff from all over


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Remembering My Drive From Taos to Mesa Verde

It was a long drive, from Taos to Mesa Verde, but the landscape was so very nice, so green and so different from what I had seen so far that I enjoyed every minute of it. My stopping all along the road, to take pictures, to absorb the landscape, made my trip even longer but it was totally worth my time!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Life Moves Fast

Turning 50 in September made me realize that life moves fast. A good kind of fast but still fast :-)
I was thinking about my birthday (deciding on either a party or going somewhere … guess which idea won? hahaha) when I realized that I needed to start a list.
A list, you wonder. Yeah, a list. Let me explain.

Up to my 40th birthday my life was pretty much dictated by stuff that happened on the outside. I mean stuff like … going to live somewhere else, moving houses, new jobs, new friends, new haircut, new everything.

Then I turned 40, and … I realized that only now … something changed.
It didn't happen from one day to the other. It was more a slow but steady move, I'd say.
Nevertheless though, I changed. My life changed.
Looking at me and my life from the outside, you won't see many changes. I've still got the same appartement, the same job, the same friends, am still single, etc.
The changes happened inside of me.

Once I started thinking of all the changes, I couldn't stop. So many of them. It was mind-blowing! So, I decided to start a list because putting thoughts on paper always helps me see clearer. 

I called the list "How I and my life have changed these last 10 years"
I wanted to make what happened "invisibly" inside of me visible on paper.

It's obviously a work in progress but I decided that I will read the list to myself on my 50th birthday. That day I will celebrate what I have achieved so far, and, simultaneously, I'll get ready for the next 50 years :-)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Recognizing Taos Valley

I rarely go back to places I already visited (Arcachon was THE expection!) and not because I wouldn't love to ... no, it's because ... there are so many other places on my bucket list :-)

What never happened to me though, at least not until my recent trip to New Mexico, is to travel to a place and to feel like ... coming home.
I believe in reincarnation and I know about arriving in new places that feel familiar. Do you know what I mean? Like you already know the place even though you know you don't?
Well, this time though, the feeling was much stronger. Way stronger.
It happened on the road to Taos (coming from Santa Fe). The funny thing was that I wasn't even supposed to take this particular road into Taos. I had planned on taking the "old road" up to Taos, wanting to visit Chimayo and other small towns along that road. But then, at the last minute, I decided against it and stayed on the "new road". Intuition? I don't know but if I hadn't taken the new road, I would have missed the Taos Valley!

Suddenly it was there. In front of me. In all of its greatness and vastness. I had to stop, get out of the car, take a look, soak it up (I went back the next day just to make sure that the feeling really was what it was ... it was!).
Oh my.
It was ... I can't explain. Overwhelming. Dizzying. I felt like smiling and crying at the same time. I stood there for what felt like an eternity, couldn't get myself to leave. Just looking at the vastness and seeing the canyon in the distance? I don't know. It did something to me. Like deep down.
It wasn't until last week though that I realized what these feelings were about. It really felt like coming home. BEING HOME. And that per se is really strange because I never feel "really at home" somewhere. Not in the place I grew up in, or the place I live. "Home", for me, has never been a place. It's more something I feel in the inside of me. (Mmmh, now that I think of it, I will have to write a post about the topic of what "home" means or does not mean to me...)
Okay, were was I? Right. How Taos Valley felt like home. Surprisingly so. It was exhilarating.
Am I going crazy, you wonder? Well, I don't know and I honestly don't care. What I know is how I felt in that particular moment. And it was glorious!

The pictures taken don't give the place and my feelings of it enough credit. Ah, photos rarely capture a "feeling" and this place place was just ... too majestic to fit into one tiny little picture :-)

Did you spot the canyon in the distance? Well, on my way to Mesa Verde, two days later, I drove just over the bridge of that exact canyon. I hadn't realized that my onward way of this trip would take me there :-)

the bridge over the canyon

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Remembering Taos

It rained when I arrived in Taos. Well, not raining raining more a drizzling kind of rain :-) Me, who doesn't like rain, was quite happy about it because it was good not to feel like being in an oven the whole time (hahaha).
I stayed two nights and I had more than enough time to visit Taos and Taos Pueblo and wander around. Did you know that this Pueblo has been inhabited for over 1000 years (and still is inhabited by 150 people these days)? I didn't. My guide told me. I took one of the official guided tours within the pueblo and it was worth my time! Amazing place.

Taos Pueblo

no water no life! Read more about "Blue Lake" here:

Blue Lake seen from afar

My day in Taos was a lazy one. I visited everything I wanted to see and then spent the rest of my afternoon .... sitting on the patio of my Inn ... which served a wonderful afternoon tea (from 3-6 pm). I couldn't miss that! So there went my afternoon: reading, drinking some Southern Iced Tea (I LOOOOOVE Southern Iced Tea!!!) and eating wonderful cake and cookies.
It was good to sit there, to relax and to let my thoughts wander. I really needed down time during this trip. More than on other travels. It was intense and I needed time to digest all my impressions and feelings. That's new to me. I sometimes wonder, do I travel differently? Has my state of mind changed? Are my feelings more … I don't know … deep? Mmmh. Well, I'll find out on my next trip!