Monument Valley

Date: April 2nd, 2017

From/To: Cortez, CO to Monument Valley, UT

Daily Mileage: 110 miles

Total Mileage: 1915 miles

Current Elevation: 5245 feet

Conditions: Sunshine with occasional overcast, low 40s early turning to high 50s later in the day

So much happened today and I couldn’t try to capture it all if I tried. I was living in the moment, enjoying one scene after the other. Entering Utah provided a new frontier far different than anything I’ve come across before. I saw a red desert with rock formations built up across the landscape like skyscrapers across a city. The land is uninhabitable, and it should remain that way because any human influence would serve as an injustice to the status quo that’s been around for over 40 million years (source). At times I’d look at some of these formations and see faces, bodies, and other objects within the rocks. It gave me the creeps at times, but I could certainly understand why the Native Americans depicted some of their spirits based on these life-like rock formations.

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Todays trek from Cortez, CO to Monument Valley, UT.

I was happy to be out of the Rockies. As much as I loved the scenery, I couldn’t stand the cold. I didn’t have a problem climbing the Rockies, it was the descents that did the most harm. At certain points I would lose feeling in my hands, wrists, and feet due to windchill. When your body isn’t working, you lose that heat source. Now I no longer had that issue. At lower elevation, I was still battling with the cold in the early mornings but it warmed up to high 50s by the afternoon. It was great to feel the warmth of the sun on my back again. Mom still wasn’t feeling great but we managed to wake up early. I left Cortez around 8:30 on route to Mexican Hat. The scenery was magical, as a fog made its way across the lower lands of the valley.

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A fog blanketing the valley.

I stopped at the 4 Corners prior to heading further west, that was a 45 mile ride to start off with. It was chilly but I enjoyed the views leaving Cortez. The ice capped mountains were at my back as I navigated south west between massive rock cliffs on both sides the road. I soon entered flatlands again, although I wouldn’t say they were nearly as bland as the Great Plains and they didn’t last for very long at all.

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I saw this rock as I was biking along and decided to climb it for this shot. I was on top of the rock when mom passed by in the car. I was waving her down but she didn’t see me as she drove by. Luckily the reception was pretty good up there and I was able to reach her and have her come back!

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I made it to the 4 Corners in a quick two and a half hours and we explored the grounds for about a half hour. We took some pictures with our phones and I had forgotten about using my drone until mom mentioned it. I went back to the car to get it and set it up for flight. Of course it attracted all sorts of attention when I flew it over the monument. I took some great shots and we were soon on our way. I had a banana with peanut butter and nutella for lunch, and I was back on the road soon after that.

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A shot from above, technically still in all 4 corners.

I made it to Mexican Hat (yes thats the name of the town) around 4:30 and called it a day.

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Why it’s called Mexican Hat.

I rode shotgun for the rest of the ride with mom so we could make it to Monument Valley before dark, knowing we wanted to see everything today because tomorrow’s weather doesn’t look nearly as nice. We came across the famous view from Forrest Gump, where Forrest decides that he’d run enough and that it was time for him to return home. I only found it appropriate to honor him by running that mile long stretch on foot.

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Flying the drone over some big rocks.
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Run Matt, Run.
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I’ve been called Forrest Gump by many people. It only felt right to honor him by running a mile down this stretch. I made it to the bottom and decided I’d rather save my energy for riding tomorrow. I have to give Forrest the credit he deserves, he made it look easy.

We stayed at Goulding’s Lodge in Monument Valley, a very interesting place to say the least. It had everything one could need including a restaurant, museum with a John Wayne original cabin, pool, theater, and lodging all confined into the corner of a large rock cliff. The scenes from the lodge were unbelievable, overlooking miles of open land accompanied by the massive rock formations like Monument Valley, among many others as well. We enjoyed a nice dinner overlooking another magnificent view.

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You can’t really see us, but at least the view’s nice!

Mom returned to the room after dinner and I decided to explore the museum. I discovered some cool history, it turns out the actual cabin on site was used in a John Wayne western, AND even crazier… Back To The Future III was filmed along Monument Valley! I should’ve guessed by the looks of it but I didn’t make the connection until I saw the exhibit.

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Tomorrow’s another high milage trek for me. We’ll be making our way to Page, Arizona, home of Antelope Canyon!

Enjoy The Ride,

-Matt

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