Monument Valley, UT
San Antonio, Aliens, Four States and a Monumental
Monument Valley, UT
After a smart eight hour drive from New Orleans, feeling a little less than fresh, we arrived in San Antonio, Texas. This city seemed like a logical stop on our journey to the west coast. It is a decent distance across Texas but more importantly known for its Tex Mex food. Our accommodation was downtown and near the famed Riverwalk. The Riverwalk is, as the name suggests, a river that you walk around. All the action happens here. There are plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars dotted along the water. We had also unknowingly arrived during ‘Fiesta’, a ten day celebration of all things TexiMexi (my new made up word). There was a real party atmosphere in the air and on the first night the river was a parade of bands cruising in boats playing music.
The next day we woke up for a full day of sightseeing. San Antonio is definitely a travel destination for the ‘older’ American tourist. Strolling around the riverwalk we noticed guided tour boats at capacity with rather geriatric looking tourists. The other big attraction in San Antonio is of course the Alamo. For those who didn’t know, the Alamo was the fort that was occupied by the Texans and then later retaken by the Mexicans in 1836. The battle of the Alamo involved a lot of Mexicans and 189 Texan defenders. The Alamo was over run and all but two of the Texans died. This event then spurred the Texans in the spirit of revenge and they eventually defeated the Mexican army, ending the revolution. I also learnt that one Davie Crocket died at the Alamo. I always thought he went on to star in a wildly popular show “Davie Crocket” but, no. There was also a Davie Crocket style racoon hat for sale in the gift shop, but unfortunately I already have a hat.
All that history learning made me hungry and it was finally time for lunch and for me to get my Tex Mex on. With so many restaurants to choose from we wandered back down to the riverwalk to make a tough culinary decision. Eventually, we chose the place that had the biggest margaritas and a nice view of the river. The food was decent but, as I knew I would, I ate too much. For some reason I have been a complete glutton on this trip at meal times, especially with my beloved buffalo wings. Mmmmmm. Dinner was much the same (including more buffalo wings), but in an effort to not be complete fatties, we opted for just appetisers. The appetisers were larger than our lunches so I guess the universe is telling me I need to eat more. Dinner was an experience, we went to a place called ‘***** Last Resort’. It’s a restaurant were the servers basically insult you and crack jokes. I was a little uncomfortable at first, but quickly loosened up and found the whole experience kind of hilarious.
5:00 am our alarms went off the next day to get up and continue west, via Roswell. The scenery quickly changed from a relatively green San Antonio to hot, dry and desert like. Getting out of the car in Roswell was like standing under a bathroom hand dryer. But this was an important stop as we were keen to check out the UFO museum and research centre. I am not sure what research was going on there as it was basically a big old hall with facts and figures shabbily tacked onto the walls. There was a lot of information obviously on the alleged UFO that crashed in Roswell in the forties and the government cover up, but it also contained other facts on all things alien. My favourite was the descriptions of different types of aliens, complete with hand drawn pictures. There are:
Watchers – big dark scary aliens.
Grey – Little generic looking alien with the bug eyes
Green – A larger version of the grey alien
Mantis – Literally looked like a praying mantis – hilarious!
Huminoid – Looked like a human, not too sure how you tell the difference if you spot one of these guys
and my personal favourite..
Bigfoot – Yes, you guessed it, this one looks like a yeti.
The museum was worth it, if anything to get us out of the car for a while and walking around.
We left the little strange alien town and headed further across New Mexico. This was a long haul drive as we wanted to get as close to monument valley as possible. Turns out the closest we could make it without falling asleep at the wheel or consuming a dangerous number of energy drinks, was a little place called Gallup on Route 66. We finally arrived fifteen hours after we departed. It was a long, long day of driving and even the undoubtedly filthy hotel sheets of the Travel lodge were welcoming.
The following day was actually added into the road trip by me at the last minute. The cover of our Lonley Planet USA book has a picture of a quintessential backdrop of many cowboy films. Unbeknownst to me, this landscape is a place called monument valley in Utah. I mentioned to Joseph that I’d like to see it and as it turned out it was only an eight hour roundtrip detour AND we got to go to a new state. Utah, the Mormon state. To achieve this we woke up early and headed off north. Joseph also mentioned a place called four corners monument and that it was another slight detour. Four corners is the only place in the USA where the borders of four states converge, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. So of course there is a monument and of course we had to get a photo!
The highlight of the day, and I guess the whole point, was monument valley. We drove down Highway 163 from the north and the scene is just incredible. We could see a line of red monoliths rising up from the ground on the horizon. It looked like natures city skyline. Of course I was getting Joseph to pull over every hundred meters so I could take pictures. I was very, very impressed by this and I can’t wait for the grand canyon tomorrow.
I apologise for the number of times I used the word monument in this entry.