Thursday, August 1, 2013

9 states in 8 days

This is our 8th day of our motorcycle trip from Vermont to Arizona, and today we rode 447 miles from Monte Vista, Colorado in the San Luis Valley to Flagstaff in northern Arizona. All but 70 miles were on route 160 which took us through a variety of different types of landscapes.

We were excited to finally experience some true hairpin turns and twisting roads on our way to the top of the Continental Divide through the Wolf Creek Pass in the San Juan mountains of the Rockies. Tunnels, hairpin turns, and views far out into the distance made this ride one of our favorites on the trip, even though we stopped to put on all of our gear because the temperature dipped to 53 degrees!


Mike at the top of the Continental Divide

On the other side of the Continental Divide we rode past Chimney Rock, sacred to the Ancestral Puebloans. The hard sandstone Chimney Rock is over 535 million years old, part of an ancient seabed that was lifted up by volcanoes. Erosion by glaciers, wind, and rivers left the rock that towers 1500' over the surrounding area.

Nearby Mesa Verde was home to the Ancestral Puebloans from A.D. 600 to 1300 and today the National Park Service maintains nearly 5000 archeological sites and 600 cliff dwellings in this 81 square mile park. We visited here four years ago, and as we rode past today I remembered the amazing cliff dwellings we visited.

view of Mesa Verde as we approach from the east

Mesa Verde Cliff dwellings from our 2009 trip

The majority of our trip today took us through the Navajo Nation that covers 27,000 square acres in the Four Corners where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet. It's the only place in the United States where four states meet exactly at one point.

our BMW in front of the Four Corners Monument

We stopped at the Four Corners monument to stretch our legs, try our first Navajo fry bread, and learn more about this area. The landscape is breathtaking and extremely rugged, and I kept wondering how people managed to survive here for thousands of years, and how they continue to live today in this remote area.

view at the Four Corners looking into Utah

We passed by craggy canyons, high sandstone cliffs, arid deserts with scattered herds of cattle and horses, and areas that looked like someone had dumped huge piles of sand and gravel but are part of the natural landscape.

look closely and you'll see the horses

Even with overcast skies and threatening rain, the temperature rose into the low 90's as we left the Navajo Nation and continued south to Flagstaff.

The rain caught up with us, and we stopped at a church when Mike saw lighning. We rode in and out of rain the last 20 miles, watching the worst of the storms to the east and west of us.

We were on the road for 10 hours today, giving us a short day tomorrow for our final ride into Prescott, AZ - our new home.

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