Palm Springs to Monument Valley via Grand Canyon 26th-31st March 2016

We have had such a great few days, marred only by terrible internet that has made it impossible to post to the blog about all the amazing things we have seen. We came down off the mountain in Idyllwild just in time before the snow came in.

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There was very low cloud on the way down but the desert is never far away and it warmed up pretty quickly.

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I love that about this area you can go sand to snow in less than an hour.

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We had a great day in Palm Springs looking at modernist architecture, drinking beer and eating Vietnamese food. We saw the house where Elvis and Priscilla spent their honeymoon.

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It took us two days to ride to the Grand Canyon. It ranged from fairly chilly to very cold. Actual daytime temperatures ranged from about 4-14 celsius but there is a wind chill of minus 15 on a bike travelling at 60mph so we have really felt it as we do not have winter bike gear. We have also ridden across a lot of very exposed landscapes at a pretty steady 2000m altitude. On the first day we rode through Joshua Tree National Park.

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It was  amazing but the empty vistas outside the park were just as beautiful in my opinion.

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Our visit was short because of the cold but I would like to return here when it is warmer.

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We spent the rest of the day riding slog the old Route 66. I thought Wyoming was vast and empty but there really is nothing in this corner of the California high desert.

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We camped overnight at Needles, CA where locals drive a 30 mile round trip to the supermarket. The campsite had great facilities bit was right on the highway and even Dave complained about the noise and fumes.

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There was an amazing sunset (no photoshop).

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The next day was much colder. I was riding with thermal underwear top and bottom, fleece trousers and a down jacket under my leathers plus a hat under my helmet and tow pairs of gloves and I was still frozen to the bone. It started to snow as we waited in the queue at the Grand Canyon National Park. You know you are near hyperthermia when you start to tremble badly. Fortunately our room at the lodge had a bathtub and excellent heating and we managed to warm through. We spent the evening drinking craft beer (yuk) and eating pizza.

It was no problem for us to get up for sunrise as we are early risers and we were awake and raring to go by 4.30am. We walked along the rim for a couple of miles at dawn expecting to find crowds. There were none.

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Very few people seem to get up to watch the sunrise ever the canyon (at least at this time of the year when it is minus 4).

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It was wonderful.

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Later on we rode out of the park via  the Desert View entrance win the east and were treated to some amazing sights.

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We did not even have to get off the bike for some of them. We also saw elk and mule deer.

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The ride across Navajo land to Monument Valley was again vast and fascinating as the landscapes changed constantly. We stopped at an old trading post for lunch. I balked at paying $400 for a Navajo blanket.We arrived in Monument Valley on the border with Utah to thick cloud, again freezing cold. SAMSUNG CSC

 

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We stayed at Gouldings Lodge. This is a former trading post on Navajo land run by the Navajo and with amazing views across to the tribal park of Monument Valley. The trading post was set up by Mr. Goulding in the 1920s and in the 1950s he wrote to John Ford, the film Director with some photos of the area and invited him to make a film there. The area was used for making many, very famous films, including Stagecoach and She War a Yellow Ribbon, both with John Wayne. There is a great little museum that displays many fascinating photos from the time and you can see the cabin that was used on set by one of John Wayne’s characters.

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We were assigned an odd little room next to the car wash.

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In the morning, we were treated to some wonderful views as we rode out of the area.

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Although it was cold, the stunning blue skies and amazing scenery kept us cheerful. Including snowy peaks in the distance.

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We are now in Moab, Utah for a few days of exploration in the red rock landscape and on empty roads.

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