Another Road Trip; TX-NM-AZ-UT-CO, July 2019

Since I could not bear the heat anymore, I decided it was time to hit the road to my next destination: Flagstaff, AZ.

I had originally planned to go through the Apacje Trail, but it is still closed because if fires.

So, I took another road. Tempe to Payson using highway 87, driving through Tonto National Forest.

A truly twisty road for the rally drivers at heart. I wish I had the real vehicle for it, not a huge SUV to enjoy such a very curvy and twisty road. But just cruising in the SUV was quite relaxing and the scenery was so distracting because any time you looked at the forest, it would be a photographic image worth imprinting in your mind. But with very places to pull over just made me enjoy the drive without stopping at those tiny pullout.

Definitely a drive I would recommend.

From Payson, I took another backroad this time through Coconino National Forest. You use highways 260 to 87 and then to Lake Mary Rd to get to Flagstaff. Another amazing drive.

Here I has enough pullout to make 3 stops. I had room to pull over, stretch and this stretch of highway had a ton of people camping along the road at well make camping sites. It was really nice to see. And all the stops were so relaxing to just stand there, look at the lake and soak in nature. It was truly peaceful.

I stopped and took a pic at Lake Mary

And Momon Lake
Yesterday, I got up in Flagstaff, checked out of my hotel and then started hitting the national parks. According to order in which I hit them.
Walnut Canyon Monument. It was just ok. Not spectacular.

Just a trail that is pretty steep. You go down and around and come back up to see the old cliff dwellings really close.

And this is a replica if how the dwellings probably looked like back then

And 2 random pictures of the actual area where you go down and around to see the cliff dwellings

Next stop was Sunset Crater Volcano. While it was not too exciting, there is a senior citizen who volunteers there and is very passionate about his job. He has a wealth of knowledge to share to any listening ear. He would talk to you like he was an Engineer and a Geologist. But good thing he always reminds you that "I an not an Engineer" or I am not a Geologist", but he is quite resourceful.

Next stop was Wupatki National Monument

Thia is a panoramic shot of basically all what this part of the park is all about. This small to walk around and look at the historic ruins.

This is a closer pic if the most visited structure

And this is how the park people think the buildings may have looked liked back in those days.
When I was done with the parks, it was time to hit the road for Page, AZ.

Halfway through the journey is Cameron Trading Post. Definitely make a stop here. It is well worth it. Great place to stop and eat.

I stopped and ordered a fried bread to go. I tried to eat it while driving and doing the speed limit on that road which is 55mph to 65mph, but it was a mess. I just pulled over at the next safe pull out and ate my lunch standing at the back of my SUV. When I was done, I got into my car and drove the last 40 minutes to my airbnb.

I think the shop was cool and it sure has a lot of things to look at and buy. The jewelry selection there is great. But the markup price is truly high compared to you buying it from local vendors along the road or at 4 Corners. But I asked if I could take pics and they said feel free. I took a bunch. Here are a few.

Last night in Page, I did Lone Rock.

This morning, I went to Horseshoe bend at 6am. They open at 4:30am.

Drones are not allowed there, but I read on the internet that some people are taking the chance at a specific time to fly there. They say you can go there between 4:30am to 6:00am and you could launch your drone from outside of the park and fly to the horseshoe and take your pictures. Security is not there at that time, so you can getaway with it. But, it is frowned upon and not allowed.

Well, I did not fly my drone but as I was there taking pics with a bunch of people, here comes a Mavic buzzing above the morning crowd and taking its videos and pictures.

It was like it was on a 007 James Bond mission. It appeared, spent about 5 minutes or less flying around and then it was gone.

At this park, you pay $10 to park your car and hike 3/4 of a mile to the view point. You start off climbing a small hill and then its downhill all the way to the view point. Coming back to your car, most of the way is climbing on soft sand. It is tougher but not too hard.
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From Monument Valley, I got into Colorado and stopped at Four Corners.

My odometer turned to 140,000. Such a milestone and still going strong. I had to take a pic! Oh, don't worry about it being in Neutral. Some times I throw the car into Neutral when I am coasting down some hills.

I could not resist ordering a fried bread. This is called the Navajo Taco. It is just ok, but I enjoyed it. They let me bring my own drink. Normally they sell soda for $2. Since I have a lot in my car, I asked if I could drink mine. She said that is ok. So, I drank mine with a good fried bread. It was so filling.
And just in case anybody was wondering how Four Corners looks from Eagle's eye view. I asked the security guy there if I could fly my drone. He said sure, as long as I do not take it over the Monument and over people. I said cool. I took my drone to him and asked if I could launch where he was standing and which was away from the Monument. He said that is fine. I launched. Spent about 5 minutes and I touched down and it was time to leave for my 50 minutes drive to my final destination for tonight.

Next stop that Saturday evening was to Mesa Verde National Park. I got there when the lady at the entrance was closing and she said if you hurry up, you will get to Sunset Point overlook and see the most amazing sunset ever!

She was not telling a lie. All I could do was stand there and gaze in the horizon. Words cannot describe it when you see it in person and feel the cool breeze.

Amazing National Park. Very long drive from the entrance to the cliff dwellings. The road is very scenic with great pullout overlooks. You will love it if you go.

In the museum, you find these representations of how those people build their homes in the cliffs.

And here are the remains of the actual cliff dwellings that have been preserved for us to see. These things are dated so far back I cannot even believe it.

And this is tje most popular cliff dwelling at the park called Cliff Palace. The tour is $5 and lasts 1 hour. I got there and tickets were sold out. I bought a ticket for a later time and realized it was too late. I stopped a family and asked if they wanted free ticket. They looked at me suspiciously but Dad unwilling took the ticket from me. Well, it was a good ticket. I left the park since I was pressed for time.
Yesterday, I left Mesa Verde National Park and hit the road for Ouray. Nice drive. Got to town and went for dinner and went straight to bed after that.

Today was dedicated to some serious offroading and lord, it did not disappoint. Well, I always find people who cannot believe it when they see my SUV on the trails. So, it is always nice when they see it handling the trails very well. I try not to push it beyond its limits, but I make sure tlit gets a true workout on the trails.

So the weather this year has not been cooperative and so some popular trails are not open and some that are open are very muddy and that can make them treacherous as I would find out.

First trail today was Black Bear Pass. Well, I dis not know where it was closed off at. So, I went on it. 3/4 to the summit if Black Bear, it was closed off by snow. Well, it seems some people took upon themselves to create their own route since their rigs can go through anything. That seemed to be frown upon and so some stones were placed and the word NO formed.

Here are pics of me 3/4 way up and seeing the snow blocking me. As I sat there flying my drone, 2 Jeeps came along and a Chevy Suburban also. We all chatted for a bit before all making a uturn and I was happy I could put my gopro in the Jeep who was behind me so I could take a video of me going down.

Here are some pics.

Next trail I had in mind was Cockscrew Gulch, California Pass and Hurricane Pass. The people in Jeep who met me on Black Bear Pass told me they did those trails the day before and that there was mud and some very sketchy places that they would worry a lot with my long wheel base and me mit wanting to deal with mud.

I did these trails last year and there was zero mud at this time same time of the year. So, it is disappointing that the weather has been so bad this year.

So, I scratched those trails off and decided to hit Ophir Pass so I can go to Telluride for lunch.

Just as I was about to hit the trail, a guy in his FJ saw me and wanted compa ny to ride the trail, so he just decided to just follow me. I didn't know until we got to the top and started talking that he told me he was not willing to do the trail alone and was glad he saw someone to follow. I was happy too I had company because 2 is always better than 1 in a trail just in case something happens to your rig.

Well, he was kind enough to let me put my gopro on his windshield so I could get a video of me going down.