day 11: bluff to durango, monument valley.

I think we set our alarms for 06:30 in Bluff. I'd fucked up seeing Monument Valley on the way to Bluff b/c I didn't count on winter sunsets eliminating up my ability to see the road after 18:00, duh.

And it was thus that we found ourselves rising at the crack of you-know-who in order to see Monument Valley AND get to Durango by mid-afternoon. The above lizard-resuscitation sign greeted us on the way into the breakfast room, certainly a good omen if there ever was one, but even without that sign the Recapture Lodge breakfast room would've been my favorite breakfast room of the trip.

Total Twin Peaks. Plus, real American breakfast items: instant Quaker oatmeal with bananas and toast with butter and Jif peanut butter. They had lots of other stuff too, but I don't know, something about the homeyness of it all was very comforting. Look at that coffee mug.

While we were having breakfast the jovial front desk "clerk" (seems wrong to call a towering 55-year-old North Carolinian man a "clerk") wandered in and struck up a conversation with an old-timer cowboy/biker dude who was filling up his coffee mug. The cowboy biker said that he tries to stay at the Recapture a few times a year, and I understand why: it felt like it was legitimately from an older time, but not that old: solidly 1970s. So it felt nostalgic, laid-back, woodsy...three adjectives I've never used together before. And Bluff itself was unusually quaint but wild and remote-feeling.

The below sign caught me eyeses back in the room when went I dashed in for a quick last pass to make sure we hadn't left anything. Moments later when I went to the front desk to check out, the North Carolinian insisted that if we had an extra half-hour to spend that morning, we should go on a little hike to see what might be some of the oldest cave art in the USA.

I said well we just might, so he explained the directions to me. No one gives directions like a Southerner. I imagine it takes Southerners about twice as long to give someone directions as it would a northern person, but I just about guar-an-tee you'll remember them better. So he gave me about 5 minutes' worth of directions, drawing a map on a business card while he talked, and then by golly he had me repeat the directions back to him. Here is us 15 minutes later attempting to follow the map:

Truth be told, it took us more like an hour, and in the end we kind of chickened out before we saw the mother lode, it just seemed to be taking forever and well we had to get to Monument Valley since we woke up at 6 fucking 30 A.M. But it was a novel experience hiking alone through the Utah brush at 07:30am.

Then we drove to Rocky Nipples, I mean Monument Valley.

Yes, I can't imagine having passed through Utah and skipped it, them, whatever, but just about everything else we made time for was kind of more spectacular. But just driving through Utah is spectacular its own self.

Then we passed through Kayenta, a Navajo town that was depressed-looking as shit. We stopped at a Church's Fried Chicken to get a couple of biscuits, and then at this 7-2-11 next door and picked up some of Leslie's Jalapeno Brittle, which was much better than it looked, which isn't really saying much I guess. Are peanuts a vegetable? At least it was green.

Finally reaching Colorado. I think this is the entry to the Ute Mountain Range. That's definitely Nelson.

Then.....Durango. Which thankfully turned into like our first really fun night on the Wild West portion of our tour. A couple of great things happened, some of them are even pictured below: the old town itself was cute, even though it had a store called "Vape"; Nelson got to try a butternut/corn soup served in a bread bowl AND vegetarian sagamity at the kind of appealing Carver Brewing Company; our hotel was great as expected and helpfully featured a pretty fun cocktail bar or two; we got a little drunk and semi-accidentally had a pretty delicious little dinner at Chimayo (PAPYRUS ALERT, but pictured below: a starter plate of roasted cauliflower florets, roasted kale chips, and marcona almonds over curry cauliflower puree. 11*) along with a couple more wince-inducing cocktails; then we went and played pool at Orio's Roadhouse ("Home Of The Purple Fucker"), which had what seemed like an amazing jukebox, turned up loud, maybe too loud when they switched to Florida-style metal later on. But if "When Doves Cry" comes on and half the bar is scat-singing the guitar intro and the whole rest of the song is populated with group choruses of "Hee!" and "Hoo!" at all the right times.....well, you done found yourself a billiards spot.

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