Our Chalet Truck Camper

Our Chalet Truck Camper

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

June 18 - Monument Valley and Mesa Verde National Park

Last night we just missed taking the moonlight jeep ride out into Monument Valley. Today we drove through a lot of it. Joe thinks he saw John Wayne disappearing in a trail of dust over the horizon.

We went up 163 through vast endless stretches of land, passing through tiny towns like Halcita and Mexican Hat. Most of this land is part of s Navajo Indian Reservation which encompasses parts of four states. We decided to play pure tourist and stop in Four Corners and stand so that you touched four states at once. The Navajo very wisely charge $3 a head to enter and then have 40-50 booths set up with native crafts mostly beautiful silver and turquoise jewelry. Can you say Christmas presents? Joe got bored with my trying to decide which ones to buy and had a fry bread hamburger. Man looked quite content.

Truck still felt sluggish this morning but not the problems of overdrive hang like the few times yesterday. On the off chance that we got a bad batch of diesel, we ran it almost dry. Filled up at the Ute Mountain station which was handling a lot of big rigs so we figured the diesel would be fresh. YES!!! It was like giving the truck a shot of adrenaline. We did stop at the Cortez Ford dealer to try to get an oil and filter change but they told us it would be next Monday before they could touch it. Gave us the name of Big O's Tire Center. They took us in immediately including a valve stem replacement that had been worrying Joe. Transmission fluid was fine and the young manager told us in this altitude and on long pulls with a load, his diesel would also kick into high overdrive and sound like a whine. Going up a lot of mountain roads today, not one hint of a problem so it probably was bad diesel.

The snow we can see out the camper window. looks really good right now. We are still in Cortez, CO which is the foothill of the Rockies and there is still snow on top.

It was 94F outside and about 85F inside the truck camper when we set up for the night. I think we'll run the AC all night tonight. We both really pushed the walking today and my legs are cramping even though we both forced water. For you who live in the west, my floppy sun hat is off to you for being active outdoors. Guess you do eventually get used to it.

Mesa Verde National Park with the Indian cliff dwellings of 1000 to 600 years ago was our adventure for the day. I'd seen photos as a child and always wanted to see them. We did not take the escorted ranger climb down to the biggest set of ruins as you still cannot get up into it (of course). I did not think in 90+ heat I was ready to climb ladders down a cliff - and back up. Smart huh? This park is set up so you can see most of the dwellings from the opposite side of the canyon. The Visitor Center had many pots and artifacts from the dwellings plus a display of silver/turquoise jewelry from the late 1800s that were stunning. Going into and out of the park is an adventure also as it is 28 miles one way from the route 160 entry to the end of the park. It is long climbs, very steep turns and lots of slow going on switchbacks. So glad the Ford likes it's new diesel and performed perfectly.

If you are ever in Cortez, stop for lunch or supper at "Tequila's". It is local, not a chain and great Mexican food at a reasonable price. We were too hot and tired to even think about fixing supper tonight in the TC. Recommendation came from the workers at Big O's. And yes - Tequila's does serve good margaritas. Over our supper we discussed where to head next. Do we stay in CO and head up into the mountains to see even taller peaks where it will be cooler and greener and then up to I-70 to head east via St.Louis, MO, Lexington, KY, Charleston, WV and to Richmond, VA for family? Or do we drop down to the desert and hotter climates to Santa Fe, NM and to Route 40 to head east through Amarillo, Texas, Okalahoma City for the memorial, Little Rock, AK over to Memphis, TN to visit Elvis, up to Nashville for BBQ, Knoxville and then over to near Richmond VA to visit family and then the slog up the coast to Maine?

Decision tomorrow morning!

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