Sunday, July 03, 2011

Through Deserts & Mountains: Tucson to Durango

On the map, the journey from Tucson Arizona, through the edge of Utah and on to Durango in Colorado looked a bit tedious. In order to alleviate the potential nine or ten hours of long desert roads, we organised a detour via Monument Valley. Monument Valley is famous for its amazing scenery, its use as a backdrop for many cowboy movies, and being at the heart of the Navajo reservation. It may have added a couple of hours onto our journey, but the sight of these extraordinary, and massive, rock sculptures in the desert was.. 'awesome' (to seek to rediscover a much misused and maligned word).

Below: A shot of "The Mexican Hat" taken from the car window..

Much of the rest of the day did involve long roads through shimmering deserts.

The long drive proved to be more full of interest and variety than I had anticipated, though. The scenery seemed to decisively change gear every fifty miles or so. The sand and cacti of the road out of Tucson was soon joined by ranges of great mountains with amazing ridges, that looked as if they would make great days walking and climbing at a cooler time of year.

Further into the journey we travelled through vast grassy plains, which evoked quite different moods. These were replaced with strange uniform hummocky shapes which looked like row upon row of eggs in a box, as we got nearer they proved to be massive sand dunes which had been shaped by desert winds, then covered in a fine layer of grasses. Beyond these we entered a barren rocky region where from roadside to hilltop there was no trace of soil, just bare solid rock. One or two bushes managed to cling to life by rooting into fissures in the rock, but they were the only thing which persuaded the eye that we hadn't ended up on the moon. Then we would round a corner, or enter a new valley and be mesmerised by extraordinary rock patterns, contours and colours.

Next, the road we were on would be something built on piers over hundreds of deep, narrow canyons disappearing into the earth below and around us. Then as we climbed towards the San Juan range of the Rocky Mountains, crossing the bright blue river of the same name, we once again crossed grassy plains before the sun left us to complete our trip in dark. Our anticipated ten hours of motoring boredom turned out to be full of surprise, delight and amazement at every turn.

1 comment:

Dave Jeffery said...

Absolutely fantastic pictures. I bet you'll never watch a Roadrunner cartoon in quite the same way again.