Already well before sunrise I get up and go for a nice little walk down the rim of the Gooseneck State Park. It's still very cold but I simply couldn't lay flat anymore. Do you know the sluggish feeling when you spend too long laying in bed, for example on a lazy Sunday? Well, that's quite the feeling I have every morning camping and waiting for the sun after 14 hours laying flat. I do have a great comfy pad and also appreciate the amount of sleep I get. But 14 hours? Every night? Unfortunately, there is simply not much else to do in the dark/cold.
After a quick coffee stop in Mexican Hat, I am off on the road which I've been anticipating for quite a while - the road through Monument Valley. It's great. Great! I mean, really, it's pretty fascinating. Again icing sugar on mind blowing, monolithic red rock formations. Beautiful!
However, I want to be honest here. My rather modest perception of Monument Valley does not come as a big surprise to me. Maybe I am jaded by now [I sincerely hope I'm not]. I think it's more the missing element of "the unknown" mixed with high expectation. Even though I've been looking forward to this so much I am not disappointed at all. It's much more a great confirmation of the way of traveling I was trying to pick up once I've overcame my fear of missing out.
As little research as possible, take local recommendations [see for example Valley of the Gods. Goosenecks], if possible no pictures of places beforehand, being open for surprises, follow my guts. Moab was actually a great example for this. I've put it on the map because I read about a 240 mile ultramarathon that takes place there and conviniently saw two National Parks around the town on the map. That's it. The Chilcotins in Canada just looked like an interesting adventure and highway escape. That's it. No more reasoning needed. Going to Idaho, the Potatoe state, just seemed a cool idea to me. That's it...
What will stick for much longer from Monument Valley: The nice chat with Fu from Oklahoma who I convince to take some cool pictures of me and a nice talk with Adrian, a Navajo, giving me approval to camp on sacred Navajo land after hearing my story.
In the afternoon I leave Utah and continue in my 7th and most likely last US state - Arizona. I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of Utah. It has so much more astonishing places to offer. Make sure to put it on the map when considering a trip to the US!
In Kayenta I stock up on some food. While I load Klaus the friendly Navajo woman at the cashier comes out and hands me two face masks. I wasn't realizing that my white mask actually turned brown from all the sand dust in the Valley of the Gods. So friendly. Now I even have the fancy black ones. Always wanted to have one of those.
I make my way out of town already in the dark to find a place to camp. The temperature drops to -4 [that escaleted quickly] and thus pitch the tent quick and dirty behind some trees next to the highway. Before I sleep I order some Christmas presents for Klaus. He is outside and doesn't know.