Four Corners roadtrip – day 3

Today began with the best breakfast of the trip so far – a hearty cooked meal at the restaurant, Hogan’s, adjacent to our hotel. Tom had a plentiful portion of biscuits and sausage gravy, whilst I stuck with the tried-and-tested combination of fried eggs, bacon and potatoes. Then we had a quick look around the local trading post, and a very interesting exhibit about WWII Navajo code talkers, before getting on the road.

Gallup trading post

Our first stop was a mere handful of miles outside Tuba City and literally just off the highway. An unprepossessing dirt carpark flanked by a handful of stalls selling local Indian crafts was the gateway to one of the most exciting things I’ve ever seen – an area of exposed fossilized dinosaur tracks, coprolite, semi-revealed eggs and bones.

dinosaur footrpints

I’m a big fan of dinosaurs in all forms, but seeing palaeontology-in-the-raw like this was just incredible.

epic footprint

We were shown around the fossil area by a very pleasant local guide, Leona. We weren’t completely sure whether all her facts were accurate (although apparently they get regular visits from local palaeontologists), but she was very enthusiastic and informative, and we certainly saw a lot more with her than we’d have seen if exploring on our own.

dinosaur feet

Heading east from Tuba City, we passed the time admiring the scenery (which was remarkably varied, if almost always desolate) and listening to local country music stations on the radio. Cresting a rise, we found ourselves looking down on the second treat of the day – Monument Valley.

first sight of Monument Valley

Driving through the valley we took regular advantage of the pull-off spots along the roadside – the scenery was just as stunning as it is in photographs, and although the light wasn’t ideal for photography we certainly took a lot of pictures.

Monument Valley

Out of the valley the road climbed up into the mountains, and it wasn’t long before we arrived at our lunch spot in Mexican Hat, Utah. This was another friendly local joint, where Tom tucked into a Navajo taco of epic proportions.

Navajo taco

We were the only customers, although it was another 2 o’clock lunch, and we had a nice chat with our chef/waiter, and popped out to snap a quick picture before getting on our way.

Mexican Hat, Utah

Leaving the village, we realised where the name Mexican Hat came from:
Mexican Hat rock

An hour or so later we arrived at the desolate, windswept site of the Four Corners monument. Standing with each limb in a different state was a fun thing to do, and although a fellow tourist laughed at me he promptly asked us to take a picture of him doing the same thing.

Four Corners monument

A walking trail took us up onto a nearby ridge, and we squidged our way through the clay to gain a better vantage point from which to survey the scene.

four states, one shot

Then it was on to Colorado and our bed for the night in the Super 8 motel at Cortez. I was pleased that we arrived in our fourth state fresh from the Four Corners monument, and Cortez seemed nice. We had a little wander out to get some picnic groceries, before retreating to our room (where I was almost disappointed by how clean and comfortable it was – so far the ‘worst’ motel was the Red Roof, and that mainly because the otherwise-perfectly-acceptable room smelt of antiseptic).

The Super 8 in Cortez, Colorado

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