Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Winding Down, But Still Very Grand

DAVIS, CALIFORNIA -- Spectacular is overused, and I refuse to use the word awesome as a matter of principle, but I must report that both Monument Valley and Arches National Park are ... well ... spectacular. Monument Valley is part of the Navajo nation and they run the place. And, from all we saw and experienced during our visit there, they run it very well indeed.

Arches is magnificent also, although what impressed us most were the towering rock formations, even more than the several arches we did see.

After leaving Moab, Utah, which had been our HQ for a few days, we headed back to the southeast and spent a night in Ouray, Colorado ... originally a small mining town that sprang up in the mid-1800s and which now caters to skiers, hikers, and sedentary tourists like me. And they do it very well indeed.

A highlight of our brief stay was a visit to the little museum there, which features wonderful displays depicting all aspects of life in Ouray through most of its history. The museum has justifiably been called "the best small museum in the west" by the Smithsonian.

We left Ouray yesterday morning and headed for Grand Junction where we connected with Amtrak's California Zephyr. Fortunately, we had some extra time and took a long-cut on the way which took us over Grand Mesa. Our timing was perfect because the Fall colors were at their height and dominated by the yellow of the aspens ... entire mountainsides splashed with dazzling color. I'm from New England originally and have never seen anything on such a grand scale.

We boarded the Zephyr and soon after departure headed to the dining car where we were seated with a delightful Irish couple ... world travelers with an almost endless repertoire of stories and anecdotes from their travels to Kathmandu and Cape Town and Eastern Europe ... among others. Just another typical evening in an Amtrak dining car!

Tomorrow we will catch the Coast Starlight just before 7:00 a.m. for our return to Los Angeles. As soon as we drop our bags in our roomette, we'll head off to the dining car for breakfast. Who knows whom our companions-at-table might be!


No comments: