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Trip Report Earth, Wind, and No Fire: Memorial Day Weekend in Utah and Arizona

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We had planned a three-day trip to Silver City, NM, over part of Memorial Day weekend, but the large forest fire in the Gila Wilderness made us reconsider. My inlaws live in Cedar City, UT, so we made a last-minute switch and decided to visit them instead. Mr. Pickle found he had more vacation days left for 2012 than he originally thought, so we extended our time away, scrambled about to get hotel reservations, and the trip was on!

We left Saturday morning. Our original thought was to head northwest through Farmington and over to Monument Valley. When I got out the road atlas, I realized we could drive to Gallup, through Window Rock, and go north through Chinle, visiting Canyon de Chelly on the way. None of us had ever been to either place, so it was the work of a moment to change our route.

Unfortunately, once we got to Ganado and started driving north, we ran into the worst sandstorm we've ever experienced. At times, we could barely see the hood of our car. There is nowhere along the highway to pull over and stop, so we had to keep going.

Conditions weren't any better in Chinle, so we gave up on seeing Canyon de Chelly on this trip.

The sandstorm lasted almost all the way to Kayenta, our stop for the first night. Occasionally we would see some large, probably attractive, sandstorm formation loom out of the sand on our right or left. It was sort of like viewing attractions through a reddish fog. We doubted that we would get to see Monument Valley that day.

The sand eased up somewhat by the time we got to Kayenta. We had a very nice room at the Wetherill Inn. http://www.wetherill-inn.com Frankly, when you're looking for a room for Saturday on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, it's not easy to get one, but we were really pleased with this motel. Comfortable beds, an indoor pool, and a pretty decent extended continental breakfast are are included in the price.

Mr. Pickle had done most of the driving, so he was a little stressed after the sandstorm and decided a nap was necessary. By 4:00, the wind had died down and we decided to give Monument Valley a try.

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the scenery in Monument Valley thanks to countless Westerns - and Doctor Who. :-) We spent about an hour there taking pictures and enjoying the beauty.

Dinner was at the Amigo Cafe. PickleDude ordered their fry bread burger, Mr. Pickle had chicken fried steak, and I had a Navajo taco. Both PickleDude and I had plenty of leftovers to supplement breakfast the next morning - the taco completely occupied a large plate, and the burger was two patties set side by side in a huge piece of frybread. Tasty, tasty stuff!

More to follow....

Lee Ann

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