Monticello, Utah

Today I drove from where I had been staying in Durango, Colorado over to Joseph, Utah, where I’ll be spending the next 5 nights.  Originally I had planned to get to Joseph via Arches National Park but I decided en route that I’d be smarter to head directly towards Joseph rather than venturing further north.  This will give me more time to actually be in the Park once I get there.  So when I reached the town of Monticello, Utah shortly after getting in to the state, I turned left rather than right.

As I was driving towards town I saw 24 wind turbines lazily spinning in the distance.  Once I got to town I positioned myself to get a video of some of them which had been spinning in sync (I’m still working on converting my .mp4 videos to a format which WordPress will allow me to post on the blog).  While driving around to find the right spot I saw this house with some very nice flower beds out front.



Just up the street was this LDS Temple.  I’m in Utah now, and this is Mormon country.  You’ll probably be seeing more LDS (Latter Day Saints) temples when I head upstate towards Salt Lake City early next week.


Once I got back to the main road I saw a building housing this huge tractor.


This is the “Big 4” tractor and it is huge.


The green motor is located between the rear wheels.




And to illustrate just how tall this tractor is, I took this photo with the camera lens at the same height as my eye level (and I’m 5′ 11″ tall).


After viewing the tractor I went next door to the Southeast Utah Welcome Center, which is where I met Kayla and Wanda.


I spent quite a while talking with them about my trip.  They both gave me excellent suggestions of additional things to do while in the area, and they convinced me that this is yet another place where I’ll need to spend more time in the future. And I’ll need to bring my golf clubs as there is a really nice golf course not far away.

As I was leaving town I passed this Catholic Church.  In all my travels around the country, houses of worship are often the most beautiful buildings I see.


What can brown do for you?

Borrowing the former tagline from UPS commercials for this post, I spotted this formation up the road from where I had taken photos of some young folks getting ready to kayak on the Dolores River the other day.  And as I positioned myself to get photos of it from various angles I saw some other interesting formations, as well as a glimpse of the river itself.









Get ready to see a lot more brown in the coming days, folks.  I’m in Utah now, and much of what you’ll be seeing will be various shades of brown rock.  Believe me, I don’t think you’ll get tired of it.

Various: Durango to Cortez

I’ve started this post twice and FINALLY get to finish it!  I added to it today on my way west out of Colorado towards Utah.

Shortly after leaving Durango to drive west to Mesa Verde National Park I noticed this on the side of a mountain to my left.  To me it looks like a man’s profile looking out to the right.


I just thought it looked cool.  When I lived in Pennsylvania there was a large rock formation on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River where Interstate 80 crossed the river from Pennsylvania.  It is called Indian Head Mountain.  It is considerably larger and more detailed, but is probably what made me spot this curious formation.


Right before getting to Mesa Verde I saw this site just off my side of the road.  At first I thought it was some kind of weird tourist trap.


It is actually an abandoned gas station, one of probably thousands across the United States.  Obviously the environmentally-conscious Coloradans aren’t too happy about it.







This range of mountains was off to my left (south) as I approached Cortez.




As I was getting in to Cortez I stopped this overlook.



The local tourism bureau’s tagline is a lesson I have been learning over the past few days.  I need to spend more time here, so I’ll be coming back in a few weeks.

The overlook actually provides a view of the McElmo Creek Flume No. 6.  It is the last remaining flume of 104 which used to be found in this area (primarily in Montezuma County).  Flumes were built to carry water away from the Dolores River to irrigate fields of crops.  This area is in the High Desert and only gets around 11 inches of rain per year (and much of that is from snow) so the Native American Indians and other locals determined that they had to make use of the river water which flowed through here from upstate.




Mesa Verde National Park

This National Park is located about a half hour west of Durango, Colorado.

The good news is that I made it here today as planned.  The bad news is that I didn’t make it past the Visitor Center.  When I got here this morning I learned that the park is HUGE (it has a deceptively small footprint on the state map) and has so much to see and do that I will wait and give it the attention it deserves.  I’ve added three more days to the two (train ride and Indian reservation tour) I was already planning to spend in Durango when I return in a few weeks, and will spend those extra three days here.

I did get these photos while I was there, though.







I’ll post pictures from inside the Visitor Center, as well as throughout the park, in early October when I come back to Colorado.


And once again, I’ve bit off more than I can chew.  I’ll have to hold a post I started tonight another day.  I need to get back to bed for a few hours.  Later today (currently 341am local time) I will be driving up to Arches National Park in Utah en route to my next stop.  I’ll hopefully be visiting 5 National Parks in the next 5 days.  I’ll post the remaining pictures from Colorado tomorrow.  Goodnight (or Good Morning).

The Retro Inn

I stopped and got a bunch of pictures of this motel yesterday and went back today to take even more.  The Retro Inn is located in Cortez, Colorado.

Their sign, as intended, was the first thing that got my attention.  This young couple was already taking pictures for posterity so I asked if it was OK for me to take a picture of him taking a picture of her.



And yes, that’s The King patiently sitting on the bench waiting for you to cozy up next to him.  The trailer is also a retro prop.  The car and truck in the background are not.


The room numbers are all years.  When I stay here in a few weeks I’ll ask to be in Room 1954 (the blue door), the year I was born.


Oversized chess boards are apparently a “thing” in Colorado.  This is the second one I’ve seen and my sister-in-law Jen said there has one at their hotel as well.  I saw a kid playing chess here with his Dad today and the Queen piece was taller than he was.


This is on the back of their business card.

Coincidentally (or perhaps by design) there is a Denny’s Classic diner right across the street.  And my brother and sister-in-law, who were here a week ago before returning to New York on Sunday, said there is a great retro drive-in restaurant in town that I need to check out on my to Utah in the morning.   Hmmmm….. chili dogs for breakfast.  Yummy.


I went back today to get a picture of Anthony, the nice young man working at the front desk who was so helpful the day before.  He had given me many great suggestions and I wanted to thank him (and get his picture for the blog).




And I couldn’t resist getting a shot of these two modern cars at the Retro Inn.


I really do plan to stay here for one night when I return to Colorado in a few weeks.


Ute Mountain Indian Trading Company

I stopped at this store operated by the Ute Mountain Indian Tribe on my way into Cortez.  I will be touring their nearby reservation in a few weeks when I return to the area to spend more time here.  I’ve been told that their tour is fascinating.

This store is also a pottery factory, so much of what you will see is actually made on site.  In addition to pottery they sell other mementos, jewelry, rugs and artwork.  It is a huge shop and I was delighted when the young lady who greeted me said that I could take pictures (only one small area was off limits).
















Anasazi Heritage Center

I had seen this facility the day before but stopped in today when I had more time.  Judging by the name I thought it was one of many Native American Indian-run museums I have seen during my trip but this one is actually operated by the US Park Service and Bureau of Land Management.


I was captivated before I even set foot inside the building.  The first thing that got my attention was the brick entryway from the parking lot.  When standing in the center of the circle the pattern of bricks radiating outward looks the same in all directions.


But when you see it from a distance the image looks very different.


Next were the flowers.  There were two in particular that caught my eye.  These are called Mexican Hats.



While getting in position to get the next shots a young praying mantis landed on my cell phone.  I obviously couldn’t take a picture of it and I was sure it would fly off before I could go get my other camera.  I was able to scoot him off onto a flower and then took his picture before he flew away.



And the flowers you are seeing are called Red Feathers.




And then there was the big ceramic cat.



Once inside I spoke for a while with the gentleman who was at the front desk.  He gave me many suggestions of other places to visit while in the area.  I finally got around to touring the inside of the Visitor Center.




In addition to the artifacts behind glass there were many drawers under the displays which encouraged you to open them.  Inside were many hands-on items which you were supposed to pick up and examine.  When you did so there was an explanation in the depression where they had been explaining what they are.  Pretty clever.



There were many other displays, artwork and photographs of the area on display.