It started with a simple plan to get some photographic raw material in Chaco Canyon to add to Cindy’s brother’s multi-media graphics which accompany his symphony. Then the While-We’re-There syndrome took hold and we expanded into SE Utah for a couple of days. Everything was set. Then a couple of days before departure came news of a forecasted record-setting heat wave. Due to the vagaries of ever changing airline schedules we were flying into Phoenix instead of Albuquerque and into the teeth of the promised heat wave.
They weren’t kidding: 116° in Mesa the afternoon of our arrival. Dry heat or not, just too bloody hot.
Fortunately the worst of it was in the Phoenix area which we escaped the next morning. Taking 2 days to get to Chaco we were dismayed upon arriving to find 98° at 1:30 in the afternoon. We mulled over the prospect of spending the rest of that afternoon and the next day at a camp spot covered in sweat, dust & sunscreen, and without too much anguish bailed for Cortez, CO. In relatively benign heat of 104° we contacted the Far View Lodge at nearby Mesa Verde and secured what turned out to be a fantastic room for the next night. From the deck we had a 180° view which included Shiprock to the south. Not having to drive back to town at night enabled us to spend more time at the park where we were able to see some spots we hadn’t visited before.
Back to the original plan now, we moved north and spent 2 nights in Monticello, UT. Now in reasonable temps in the upper 80’s we were able to get in some hiking and photography in the Comb Ridge area and in Canyonlands. We were also able to visit Edge of Cedars Museum in Blanding, Utah as well as the Anasazi Heritage Museum in Delores, Colorado, both with outstanding exhibits of prehistoric Native American artifacts.
Lots of good food was had along the way, including authentic New Mexican red and green sauces in Holbrook, AZ, trout in Cortez, and elk quesadillas at the Far View Lounge.
A final night out was spent in Holbrook, AZ and we returned to sunny skies at home the next day.