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Monday, November 6, 2017

Wild West road trip through 5 states, through my lens

It had been couple of months since a road trip that we had taken from Seattle to many parts of Oregon, which I have shared with you all in my previous blog  and I got too excited when my husband decided a road trip with my visiting mother-in-law to Las Vegas and nearby tourist attractions, instead of taking a flight.
I have my own inclination towards a road or train trip which lets me float away into my own world looking at the never ending road or the passing by terrain.

I must say our trip was pretty packed due to the fact that it takes a day to get out of Texas! We started our day 1 pretty early in the morning with a target of covering at least 75% of our journey the same day(it was a 15.5 hrs drive one way to Vegas!) and pretty much started regretting within the first 3 hours as we had absolutely nothing to look at because of the flat terrain Texas had up in the North(that doesn't mean you have nothing to see in Texas. Check out some cool pics and details about one of the places in Texas Hill Country  and there is a lot more to Texas).
Windmills tried to add some motion to the rather boring drive!
Too early for snow in Texas, so here is some cotton! ;)

Since I have so many different experiences to share, I will break them down into multiple blogs so that I don't bore you to the extent the drive till Texas border bored us ;)

The drive, the divide and the crater

Walnut Canyon in Arizona

Vegas, Antelope and Horse Shoe bend

5 days of travel through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Utah

On the way attractions(Not listing everything):

  • Texas : Paul Duro Canyon
  • New Mexico : Plan a separate trip to cover this amazing place. Based on what time of the year you travel, you have a lot of action here (Albuquerque for skiing, baloon festivals, Santa Fe, Santa Rosa etc)
  • Arizona: Options to stop at Flagstaff or take a little detour and cover Sedona and Grand Canyon
  • Nevada: Vegas strip!
  • Utah: Lots of national parks (Zion National park and also the drive itself is picturesque) 

Wild West road trip through 5 states - (2) The drive, the divide and the crater

Our initial plan was to target and reach somewhere close to Flagstaff and go to the mountains. However, once we were out of Texas and in New Mexico, the flat land was replaced with beautiful stretch of huge orange/reddish walls parallel to the road, as if it was some sort of a fortress.
I googled up while we chatted about the possibility of it being Continental divide and this natural mighty rocks  guarding and standing tall indeed was the Continental divide, which was unbelievable. I will not bug you with some geographical information, however it is important to know the brilliant the natural phenomenon looks. The icing on the top is the match box like goods train passing by in the opposite direction right in front of you, reminding of the old wild west movies ;) As the dusk arrived, it seemed more like sun was kissing goodbye to these blushing rocks!
Continental divide standing tall while the herd peacefully graze with a constant chugging train

A small clipping I recorded while my husband kept driving parallel to the Continental divide (This video is no justice to what your eyes can really see!)

We continued our journey talking about the UFOs since we were still in the land of the sightings and I got curious and started looking at the nearby attractions, which popped up lots of options. Since it was too late for us, we decided to halt in Winslow however, it also meant we could not visit  the painted hills desert or the petrified forests, which came up on google search, as it was already dark, however Winslow boasted of a meteor crater which I had never heard of from any of friends. Since it was not much of a deviation from our original plan, we decided to give it an hour the next morning before reaching Flagstaff and I am so glad we decided to halt in Winslow.
Day 2:
It was a very short deviation of 15-20 mins from I-40 again entering into a place which looked like No Man's land! As we started to enter the premises, we started to wonder if we were on earth or Mars(guess the movies spoil us!). We decided not to take a guided tour because, of course we had to keep going to reach Flagstaff and did not want to spend an hour and a half there just watching crater. But you know what? We spent probably a lil more than that admiring and wondering about the universe and it's beautiful science as well as mystery! I had read someone blog about how the drive along continental divide made him think of how small he was and seeing this put me into the perspective!
This huge crater, though looks small in this pic is as huge as 20 football fields put together!

This is one of the best preserved site and I learned about this place being  used for Apollo astronaut training as it so closely resembled moon's terrain (the crater).The pictures I have is no comparison to what you can see right there - the impact a meteor can create! While this was universe at work, I would like to mention that who ever built the observatory had an eye for beauty. While the whole observatory has wall, he made sure to leave big wide open window for the distant mountain to fit in it perfectly like a beautiful wall painting!
No, it is not a LCD TV put on display! It is the actual mountains in distance which you can see standing there (Imagine a night/early morning on full moon!)

Also checkout:

Walnut Canyon in Arizona

Vegas, Antelope and Horse Shoe bend

For the whole trip plan, visit:

Wild West road trip through 5 states - (3) Walnut Canyon(Arizona)

After walking up and down the deck at different levels until we were satisfied, we started our journey to Flagstaff. It was our mistake that we did not look up to see if it had snow (I tried checking live cameras, which never gave me the view of the peak) and were disappointed to see that it was a good warm day with nothing but dried up mountain. With a little disappointment as we headed to our next location, we learned about a local canyon and drove there. Walnut Canyon was something which we had not remotely thought of but were stunned by the beautiful houses which were carved out of the mountains by the Sinagua tribes hundreds of years ago. It is one of the national monument and is well maintained, providing staircase and walkway around a central mountain to walk around and learn about how they had built their houses, conserved and lived with minimal water which was available.
The carved out pathway in the mountain

Remains of one of the house

Remains of one of the swelling on a flat land

A view from the view point

 I could not resist but compare this one very closely to what we find back home in Ajanta/ Ellora caves - both with their own set of history and beauty. One cannot resist but think of the distance we have come as humans looking at all the things I have mentioned in this series.
Oh, make sure to carry enough water while you go down the trail. Also, there is a mile's stretch of trail which leads you to the spot where they built their houses, while also learning a bit about some herbs on the pathway.

Also checkout:

The drive, the divide and the crater

Vegas, Antelope and Horse Shoe bend

For the whole trip plan, visit:

Wild West road trip through 5 states - (4) Vegas, Hoover Dam, Antelope and Horse Shoe Bend

With enough time spent in the lap of nature learning the human history, I had enough to ponder about until we reached Vegas. As they saying goes "What happens in Vegas, remains in Vegas", I will leave it there with an admiration towards "Cirque du soleil" production. It is a wonderland on an unbelievable stage. An artist cannot but admire about the hardwork and practice which goes in producing such a classy work with no flaws! Art, grace and imagination all put into team effort to create a magical treat! By the way the show we saw was "Mystere", whose pics I share here as no videos were allowed to be shot and I respect it!

After 2 nights of gambling and wandering on the strip, we visited the world famous engineering marvel Hoover dam, again to be amazed at the art combined with engineering genius. This place hardly took an hour or so for us, leaving us, however with little time to reach our next set of destinations - Antelope and Horse Show Canyons.

Both are 15 mins drive apart, however google kept telling us that we would be reaching there at 4 pm by when Antelope tours would be closed. We tried not to miss it as we had already promised my mom in law to take her there. As we drove without taking too much of a break, we were able to save 10 mins, giving us room to run to the tour operator's counter only to learn that the native American reservations do not follow day light saving(How did google not know this!??), which meant, we had reached there by 3PM :D
Perfect light makes it glow - Antelope

We took the lower Antelope tour and were wondering if we had to take the upper canyon tour (we had visited the upper canyon 3 years ago and had enjoyed looking around the place minus the tour). Kendrick was our tour guide from Dixie Tours, who was more eager to share some knowledge about his tribe and community unlike our previous upper canyon experience, where the guide just did photo ops for all and rushed us back to the jeep!He was patient enough to answer all of our curious question, leading us to learn more about the life of a Native American in the reservations and around.
Antelope captured in evening light
And pictures will speak of the this beautiful canyon, which we were lucky to share with only one more couple as it was Off season, giving us enough time to slowly walk through the canyon sipping and tasting the beauty created by the once flowing river. If you are a photographer, you must make a trip to this place, of course in a off season. We were told that photography tours are also operated and Kendrick himself knew a lot of light and settings needed to click beautiful pics from your mobile phones.

Our final destination was Horse Shoe Canyon or Horse Shoe Bend, which gave an awesome view of the river with the sun deciding to set slowly as the gentle breeze bid us goodbye!
Beautiful Horse Shoe Bend at sunset!

A glimpse of the beautiful view driving from Hoover Dam towards Antelope Canyon

If you have not yet checked related blogs, checkout:

The drive, the divide and the crater

Walnut Canyon in Arizona

For the whole trip plan, visit:

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