Thursday 28th June 2001, Mexican Hat UT

Knowing that we were venturing into the desert once again, we left Kanab reasonably early for the 220-odd mile ride to Monument Valley.

The day did not start well. It was time to learn a new truth about American telephones.
Throughout our stay in Kanab, we had been in constant touch with home via e-mail, using our ‘local’ AOL access number – in St. George. Although St. George uses the same area code as Kanab, it is not a local number. At the end of our stay, we were presented with a $200 phone bill!!

I should explain, for the benefit of those readers unfamiliar with the movies of John Ford, that Monument Valley was where many of his greatest Westerns were filmed. For that reason, John was determined that he should have his photo taken against this famous backdrop.

The region of Utah that we were entering is Indian country. As we crossed the ‘border’, a road sign reminded us to “Buckle Up, it’s Navajo Nation Law”! We caught glimpses of Lake Powell (America’s biggest man-made lake), as we crossed Glen Canyon Dam into Page for lunch. The lake has the most extraordinary bright blue water, and is a huge centre for water sports.

After Page, there is very little to see. As we crossed mile after mile of apparently uninhabited scrubland, we were occasionally surprised to see a sign warning us of a school bus stop ahead. (In the US it is absolutely illegal to pass a school bus stopped for children.) We wondered how far the children had to walk to the bus stop! There were certainly no houses visible from the road.

There is no ‘visitor information’ or formal ‘State park’ at Monument Valley. Though the plethora of motels in the vicinity bear testament to its popularity as a tourist attraction. We drove through to Mexican Hat, taking our photographs from the side of the road, as we went.
Mexican Hat is a little oasis in the wilderness, perched on the north bank of the San Juan River. Our Indian-owned motel was one of the nicest we have yet encountered. It had no pool, but boasted a gym, gift shop, and a proper bar – festooned with interesting memorabilia from the REAL Wild West. (Mexican Hat derives its name from an oddly shaped pile of rocks, which look like a seated Mexican wearing a sombrero!)