A detour in the UK would be perhaps popping around the corner to see a friend on the way around the M25, or maybe stopping off to get some eggs after work. On a US roadtrip, a detour is more like, oh, I don’t know, 500 miles to see Monument Valley.
But it is SO worth it!
Monument Valley. One of the most recognisable sights of the USA. Made famous from countless movies and glorious panoramas, it does not disappoint.
Part of the Colorado Plateau and the Navajo Territory, it sits around the Arizona and Utah border, and as you drive north on US 163, the majestic nature of this incredible landscape begins to dawn on you.
This is the very road that Forrest Gump (on a personal note, my favourite film of all time) decides to stop running after 3 years on the tarmac.
And having been ‘crowned’ a Forrest Gump Genius at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in Santa Monica (the trophy, a balloon), I am thoroughly disappointed in myself that I didn’t know THIS sign existed along the road:
Anyhow, whilst Monument Valley was a huge diversion from our Route 66 trip, we were so glad we went. It truly is remarkable. And a little like the Grand Canyon, words can’t really describe it effectively. You have to go, feel it, see it, soak it up, and come away richer for having been there.
You can take all sorts of tours and trips down to the valley floor, and there is a sweet little gift shop where you can buy cowboy hats, gems (unrelated, as far as I could tell, to Monument Valley), and a wide variety of John Wayne merchandise. Obviously.
Once we had spent a good hour staring in silent wonder at the ‘Mittens’ as they’re called, played around with some fun photos, climbed some rocks, bought the obligatory fridge magnet from the gift shop, and consoled ourselves over the fact that we didn’t have more time to explore, we set off even further off course.
Now, I’m the kind of person that enjoys a novelty, something that you can’t do anywhere else. And we couldn’t go within 100 miles of a gimmicky tourist attraction without stopping by could we? Such is the scale of things in the US – you think that 100 miles is close. It’s like driving from Nottingham to London just to sit on the ground, take a picture and head back.
So you ‘pop’ to Four Corners.
Four Corners is the only place in the US (and I found it hard to believe so wasted a good amount of time trying to find another example on the map) that four States join together in their corners. It’s like a State line on steroids – you can hop between not 2 but FOUR states. How much fun is that?
I’ve always been attracted to such things.
Standing either side of the Greenwich Meridian Line with one foot in the Western Hemisphere and one foot in the Eastern.
Jumping from New Mexico to Texas and back again across the State line.
Lying with half of my body in Austria and half in Italy.
I could go on. It fills me with an inexplicable excitement to be able to be in 2 places at once, so as you can imagine, Four Corners blew my mind (I may or may not be exaggerating!). And besides, it meant that I could tick off Colorado as a ‘State I have been to’ in my quest to visit all 50 States in my lifetime (don’t panic, Colorandans, if that is what I should call you. I don’t for one minute think that Four Corners is the totality of what your State has to offer. We will be back!).
Here we are, with my bottom firmly in 4 States all at once (no rude comments please).
We walked all around the circle, visiting 4 States in 1 minute, breaking a law in New Mexico and seconds later being out of its jurisdiction in Colorado (I’m kidding, people). Of course, I spent most of my time at the monument in Colorado. Mega excitement. The other States were old hat. Been there, done that, got the fridge magnet. Colorado was a new frontier! An exciting development – not to mention a whole new State to scratch off on my ‘Scratch Map’.
So for me, the 200 mile round trip from Monument Valley was well worth it. But I’m a little bit strange like that.
Now, after leaving our base in Chinle AZ more than 500 miles ago, onward to Flagstaff. Back to the Mother Road, and what turned out to be possibly the best Italian meal we have ever had. Our sat-nav instructed us, “In 154 miles, turn right.”
Best. Detour. Ever.