There's no real sense of scale: the rocks are so huge and the valley so wide and there's nothing to gauge it by. The 17 miles winds around and back and you stop again and again to take photos and listen to the silence and gaze at the details of the rock or the endless vistas.
On into Utah and over the San Juan river. Water that isn't a mile below you or frozen solid! The hamlet by the bridge is Mexican hat, named for a balancing rock that doesn't look that much like a hat but stands in front of convoluted cliffs in red and grey that fold and twist like a good mystery plot.
Flush with our success on one 17 mile dirt road, we tried another. Valley of the gods was on a slightly smaller scale but truly beautiful. I was just climbing back into the car at one stop when the clouds shifting and I ran back across the road shouting 'the light! The light!'. Which is what the camera reviewers who spilled out of seven helicopters at sunset hared of shouting last year... The seven soldiers and rooster butte and the rest aren't as creatively named but they are impressive. And a dirt track that does hairpin bends, blind corners at the top of a slope and diversions through dry washes is extra fun when it's half churned mud and half ice. You have to be mad as a box of frogs to make a track like that. Go Simon!
So we topped that off with a three mile gravel track with just a little less ice. Over the mountain. With maybe ten hairpin bends and four switchbacks. But the views were amazing. From Valley of the gods we saw back to monument valley - from the top I think we might have seen Nevada. Or maybe Peru.
Across the snowy heights, we chuckled at the signs warning that side roads three feet deep in snow would be impassable if they were wet, scraped mud off the headlights, and chased the last of the light past that mountain we've been seeing all day.
Into blandings at dusk heading for a hot tub and prime rib. Will the empress be there?
We've had snow on and off all day - a little this morning, a little on the hills. Tonight it's supposed to fall like a curtain!
from my X1.