Monthly Archives: November 2012

Monument Valley

Longtime followers of this blog know that I love walking where film productions have trodden before me. Monument Valley is Nature’s ultimate soundstage. It appeared in scores of westerns back in the genre’s heyday (Stagecoach, The SearchersOnce Upon a Time in the West) and more recently shows up when filmmakers want to harken back to the genre’s heyday (Back To The Future Part III, Doctor Who, and the forthcoming Lone Ranger flick).

As we spied the iconic shapes in the distance, we got a show worthy of Hollywood: a dust storm swirling around the very formations I wanted to explore. Undaunted, we pressed on.

Straddling the Utah-Arizona border, Monument Valley lies within the Navajo Nation. It has a very National Park feel: they charge a small admission fee, there’s a modern visitor center, and you are allowed to drive a short loop, while a tour is required for the longer loop. We wisely opted not to drive my parents’ minivan on any of the loops; besides the dust and high winds, the rutted roads didn’t look minivan-friendly.

With Karen safely ensconced in the visitor center, I joined a tour and was rewarded with Nature’s majesty and movie history, all wrapped up in one.


Pumpkin Pie

Moab’s Pumpkin Chuckin festival isn’t just about orange projectiles. There’s also seed spitting, a costume contest, arts and crafts, music, wiener dog races, and… the pumpkin pie eating contest.

Karen was one of the first to sign up. Did she know what she was getting herself into?

Actually, things worked out perfectly: Karen got all messy, and I got to finish her pie. That’s my kind of festival!

It’s Pumpkin Chuckin’ Season

Fall is Karen’s favorite season, and pumpkins are her favorite autumnal decoration, so it’s no surprise that this poster caught her eye.

How could we not attend the Pumpkin Chuckin festival, held outside Moab on a former airport runway?

As the name suggests, pumpkins will fly.

The Big Ten Inch landed in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010. To gain some glory for yourself, all you have to do is launch a pumpkin more than 5545.43 feet.

Normally, all this produce propulsion would be enough excitement for one day, but then a familiar name popped up on the entry board for the pumpkin pie-eating contest. And you thought airborne pumpkins were messy.

Full coverage in the next post. Stay tuned!

Hoodoos? We do!

Bryce Canyon National Park is all about the hoodoos- those colorful, spiny towers of eroded rock.

Those (like us) hiking beyond the drive-up overlooks can earn a snazzy “I Hiked the Hoodoos” pin by photographing themselves at hoodoo checkpoints.

We hit the trails, and a few hours later, Mr. Ranger was handing over our pins with a flourish.

Jewelry aside, I wanted to see the hoodoos up close, especially with the sun finally burning off the morning chill. Karen and I set out on the Peek-A-Boo Trail, a five-mile loop through hoodoo hotspots. A mile in, Karen decided to turn back, so we made our safety arrangements (along the lines of “If I don’t come back, tell them to come find me”), and I continued solo. The winding, rising and falling path gave me great views of a variety of hoodoos. And it wore me out. After an hour and a half, I had seen plenty of fine specimens… yet I knew I had another hour of hiking ahead of me.

The sun I had earlier been wishing for now had me peeling off layers of clothing. My last granola bar was gone, then my last drop of water. Of course the final mile of the trail was uphill. When I met up with Karen in the parking lot, I was done hoodooing. For now.