Today was one of those day- hot shower, big breakfast, a couple cups of good coffee and some open road in front of me (and behind me for that matter).  I woke up early at Mesa Verde, it rained buckets all night, the tent was soaked, muddy and I slept like a baby.   I drug the tent/tarp out to the road and folded it up into a big ol, sloppy tent sandwich and laid it on the floorboard with hopes of drying it out in the heat of the desert.  I headed up to the Knife Edge cafe where I heard the thing to order is the All You Can Eat Pancakes.  Now if you know me well, you know that I am typically capable of eating one pancake….maybe two….but with everyone talking about that breakfast yesterday afternoon I felt like I had to make a go of it.  I got there a half hour before they opened..charged some batteries and plotted a route through 4 Corners, Monument Valley and into Arches National Park.   The diner opened and to the window I walked.  Now I don’t know if it’s due to my thin nature or if it was something in my face that said “I am going to order this but is much larger than me and I fear it” for the lady at the window…just as kind as can be….asked me: Just how many pancakes do you think you can eat?  Ummmm, honesty is the best policy so I replied…two…well, one and then maybe a second.  To which she replied: Let me recommend the childs plate…it’s three pancakes and no meat.  Now ya’ll know I can’t show up to the All You Can Eat Pancake Party and order a childs plate….it just wasn’t going to happen. She saw the concern on my face and then offered up a single adult pancake….again, this is Mesa Verde…what would the Cliff Dwellers think of my meager accomplishment.  And then the winning option- she said how about this…let me offer you the half and half, three pancakes and an order of eggs.  How could I say no???  And it was awesome….and I did manage to eat two and a quarter pancakes. They are huge.  I bettter get on the road before sleep settles in.

I hooked up with 160 (?) and it took me through Cortez (I picked up a copy of the Navajo Times for my father…he always loved a newspaper) and then rolled into 4 corners.  It’s been 20 years since I last visited 4 corners (at least I think so) and it really hasn’t changed a whole lot.  It was $5 to roll through the gate.  I met a couple from Nevada that I had run into at the pancake party in Mesa Verde…we snapped each other’s photos and then I was back on the road heading to Monument Valley.  Monument Valley is one of those sites that has changed a lot.  The Welcome Center is great, they offer a variety of tours and lodging and the views are pretty awesome (if you like old western films and enjoy rolling in the nostalgia).  I hung around, drove down a ways into the valley and then made way out of it.  It’s $20 to enter the park.  Thats a steep fee but it’s like….youre here, in the desert at the gate.  You’ve come all this way…pay the $20 and check it out.  If cash it tight there are some awesome views north of the park on the main drag.  Those are free for the seeing and worth stopping to check out.

I moved along and hit a few side roads to see some rock formations….good music, interesting geology and amazing views made for a good day.  I called the park when I got to Monticello and the ranger said “its a holiday weekend, you better plan on staying in town.” I was bummed but determined. I called Canyonlands (which has BLM land surrounding it and a few campsites within the park) and they said they had 5 spots open at Noon…no gauruntees but if I was flexible I could most likley find somewhere to put a tent.  Thats all I needed to hear.  Canyonlands it is.  I took me about an hour and half to get there from Monticello, the ranger at the front gate said I better head straight to the campground.  She also informed me that it’s $10 to stay on BLM land in tihs area and $10 to stay in the park.  There were two sites left by the time I got there and none only 10 minutes later.  I was stoked…at having a spot and at how cool this spot is.  Hammock up….I eventually put the tent up just in case but didn’t feel it would be necassary.

This park is gorgeous, I hiked Aztec Butte (where I did manage to find a little cell service and some awesome ruins), Whale Rock, Upheavel Dome and then to the Mesa Arch.   I managed to take in some of the grand vistas as well.  The views were awesome, I ran into so few people I felt like I had the park to myself.  I enjoyed the day, dug into some dinner (pasta and anchovies) and then fell asleep in the hammock.  I awoke just before midnight to a full moon, a quite night and a nice breeze. I took a short night hike out to the Green River Vista and am now about to  get cozy in that hammock. Until tomorrow….