Breaking tradition, this post isn’t really about a place, per se, but rather the space between places. In other words, the Road, and in particular a drive crazy enough to stick in my memory for a long time.

After leaving Sand Island I made a quick stop in Bluff to reload my water jug (my Wisconsin stash had finally been depleted!), and this trip revealed more of Bluff than I had previously seen. Contrary to my initial conclusion Bluff seems like a pretty neat little town.

Monument Valley

In any case, I was soon back on US 163 heading towards Monument Valley. The weather was stern, but so far not actually that bad. In fact, the rapidly shifting clouds made the famous monuments quite striking in a way that was not possible with direct sun alone. I didn’t actually “go” to Monument Valley, but from the road I think I got enough views to have a sense of the place. What’s more, I was still on a high from the Valley of the Gods and didn’t feeling like visiting a touristy area. Soon after Monument Valley I entered Arizona, and as I left Utah behind I couldn’t help but think that I was leaving some sort heaven.

Hello, Arizona!

After crossing into Arizona US 163 meets US 160 in Kayenta. I stopped for gas and it was here that I really noticed the WIND. It was so strong I could barely keep my door closed once I opened it. This torrent of air would stay with me all day.

A Hellish landscape

US 160 makes its course straight across the top of Navajo country and there really isn’t much out there. At one point I hit the “scan” button and watched in amazement as the radio went through the entire frequency range with no success. Eventually I reached Tuba City and soon after that joined US 89 south towards Flagstaff. Just outside Tuba City the scenery became very bizarre and otherworldly in its strange starkness. In keeping with the themes running though my head (and this post), this portion of road was like a sort of purgatory; not ugly, but too weird to be comforting in its beauty. Once I turned on the US 89 I left purgatory and turned into the suburbs of Hell itself. The fierce wind had now picked up dust and sand that blew across the road in great clouds and limited my vision to no more than 50 feet in front of me. When the sky briefly cleared I could see yet another strange and totally barren landscape filled with small hills and craters. Above all of this the blowing dust had turned the low, roiling clouds a menacing purple color. The overall effect was extreme and I can honestly say I have never cursed so much in my life.

Menacing clouds

As the road climbed into the mountains the dust turned to rain and it was in this condition that I arrived in Flagstaff, AZ. I didn’t stay long, however, and was soon on AZ 89A south towards Sedona. This portion of the drive was notable for its always just hidden beauty and I resolved to do it again under better conditions. I was worried about finding a place to sleep in Sedona because no one parks on the streets, but I kind grocery store manager said I could park overnight in his lot and I was soon at a nearby brewery washing down the day’s drive.

I met a very nice guy here who is from Minneapolis and is basically doing exactly what I’m doing. We had even been in the same places recently. He claimed that he never had nightmares but sometimes woke up laughing and advised me to look for what I cannot see and listen for what I cannot hear. Advice well taken.


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