Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Arizona Road Trip - Part 1 - Four Corners

Four Corners - where four of the United States states meet - has intrigued Lloyd ever since seeing it featured in an episode of Breaking Bad on HBO TV last year.  Never mind that it's almost a full day's drive from where we are in Surprise, AZ, miles from any sizeable town where one could spend the night., the trip had to be made.

The four states, clockwise from top left: Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona. The monument is where the red circle is, where the four states meet.  (Photo from Wikipedia)

Off we went!  It was a beautiful drive through eastern Arizona and into western New Mexico, north into Colorado and west to Utah.  However, because we stopped so often to take pictures along the way, and with a flambuoyant lack of forethought and planning, we embarked on an unplanned adventure.

The scenery was beautiful - somewhat barren and desert-like, but very interesting.  I especially liked the part of New Mexico we saw - such beautiful cliffs - but I was driving and didn't get the pictures I would have liked to.

It was getting dark by the time we found the monument's location, and, surprise! surprise! the area was closed - locked down for the night.  It's out in the middle of nowhere on the Navajo reservation.

Looks like this sign was used as target practice

The towns we had passed through didn't appear to have anything in the way of tourist accommodation so we decided to keep going and see if we could find accommodation in Utah.

 So we drove, and we drove - up winding twisting mountain roads with signs that said "free range".  Do you know what 'free range' means?  We didn't either until we rounded a bend on a mountain road in the dark and came face to face with a couple of cows standing on the side of the road, staring us down!  Well of course, why shouldn't cattle have the run of the roads, in the dark, to scare the life out of citified sort-of-lost tourists.!  You can bet we kept a sharp eye out for animals on the road for the rest of the trip.  We had no, or little, idea where we were or when we would find a motel.  (we did say though that we'd like to see what the scenery on that mountain looked like in the daylight) We thought we were on the road to Blanding, Utah but when the treacherous road ended the sign pointed east and said 'Blanding 15 mi.'  We groaned!  We were so tired - that 15 miles sounded like 150.  But on we drove until we finally spotted lights.  Civilization!  The first motel we spotted was bright and clean and blessedly had vacancies.  We checked in and had a lovely, comfortable sleep, before heading out again, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning.

We retraced our drive of the night before and discovered that the awful mountain road really was quite awful - narrow and twisting, with switchbacks and crazy turns.  The scenery was quite beautiful though and before you know it we were through the corner of Colorado and into Arizona again.

When we got to the Four Corners monument there were quite a few people there already.  Everyone wanted their picture taken standing on the monument with feet and arms in all four states.

Photo from Wikipedia

 People were friendly, patient and polite and took turns standing in the center where the four states meet.

Lloyd, standing in Utah while I take his picture from New Mexico
In the center of the circle is a surveyor's disk verifying that this is indeed the spot where the four corners come together.  Although the actual site is off by 2.5 miles, the US Congress determined that it's close enough and the four states agreed that, politically and legally, this spot marked the actual boundries of the states.

Other than take pictures of the monument, there's nothing else to do at the site except shop in the booths offering Native American goods and souvenirs.  I bought a lovely hematite and tiger's eye bracelet, a souvenir fridge magnet and a souvenir mug.  Twenty dollars well spent I figured.  After spending less than an hour at Four Corners, we moved on.

This proved to be an interesting start to our two-day road trip.  Hopefully the rest of the trip would prove to be less harrowing.  We're glad we went to the monument though and saw all the sights between here and there.

To be continued....


Ellie said...

That sounds like an interesting place to visit.
It is scary to get lost though especially in the dark.

Magpie said...

What an adventure you two had! It is a very desolate part of Arizona.

Mickey said...

Oh interesting experience! Can't wait for Part 2!

Bev said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip!!


What an excursion the two of you had. HOW exciting to stand in four states. WORTH the trip, for sure.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I love the pictures today. Glad you are able to share with us all the sights along the way. Very interesting that you can be in 4 states at one time there. Enjoy your trip!