Monument Valley sunriseAfter driving to Monument Valley and catching up over dinner with two awesome families from Korumburra, I spent the night at Gouldings Lodge. The next morning I made sure I was up in plenty of tie to catch the sunrise over the valley - and it didn't disappoint!
Four Corners MonumentI headed south east from Monument Valley towards Four Corners Monument - the only point in the US where four states meet at a particular point.........
Canyonlands National ParkFrom Four Corners I headed back into Colorado and drove north west to the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park. This area is spectacular - the rock formations are HUGE and you drive along the base of them feeling very small and insignificant. The landscape just went for miles and there were differences in the views as I drove further into the park. See what I mean below - :-)
|Crossing back into the state of Colorado|
|First viewpoint on the drive in|
|Very cool seeing these old drawings on the rock!!|
|Arriving at the "official" entrance|
Travelling to ChicagoThe first weekend in OCtober I travelled to Chicago, hired a car and drove and hour to Portage, Indiana to stay with my host family from 12 years ago. I had been on exchange in 1999 during Year 11 to the US and stayed with the Engel family. I have been back to visit them a few times and I could not live in the US all this year without seeing them again!
We had a great time catching up - I arrived Friday evening and chatted with Phil and Judy, my US Mom and Dad. I even got to say hi to their oldest Jared via FaceTime, surprising him greatly I think! Saturday saw Madi, their daughter, join us for lunch and some time at the outlet shops nearby. At the end of Saturday we had a quick look at the lake and made it back to the house just as the rain began. Madi's husband joined us for dinner and then a movie night. Sunday morning I headed out after a quick hello with their youngest, Wesley.
|Phil, Judy, Me and Madi|
I did have some troubles on the trip home - some traffic on the Interstate, I drove past my first available exit to the car rental place, I missed my flight in Chicago by 5 minutes....... but with the help of a wonderful United Airlines representative, I was placed on the last flight to Denver. However in Denver, I arrived to find my flight to Grand Junction was cancelled, which meant I was booked on the next flight out the next morning. However, this did not work as it arrived at 8am, which was when I was meant to be at school! So I had to rent a car and drive 5 hours over the mountains home. I arrived at my house at midnight - which made for a very tired Ms Huntly the next day at school! :-)
Snow is here!!So at the start of October, it got a bit fresh in the valley. I didn't think much of it - until I was flying out to Chicago and looked out the window of the Grand Junction airport to see snow on the Bookcliff mountains! I was very excited - and combined with the information that this month was when all the colours changed on the Mesa, I was eager to get up there and go for a drive to see this change of season.
So Sara and I headed off for a drive over the Mesa one nice Sunday afternoon. It was pleasant in Palisade - I was in a light 3/4 cotton top and jeans. However, as we headed up the mountain the temperature got cooler and cooler and the colours began changing more and more ...... until we were driving through snow and slush and freezing when we got out for pictures!! The views were gorgeous though and I have shared some of my pictures with you below:
Australia-boundOn the 13th (Saturday) I received a call from my parents to say that my beautiful Nan had passed at home. It was devastating to hear and with Mum and Dad's urging, I decided to fly home for the funeral. I booked a flight from Grand Junction Monday night, arriving on Wednesday morning. Travelling 25 hours in total, it was great to be on Aussie soil again - despite the delay I faced in Phoenix meaning I had to run to my plane in LAX and my suitcase did not make the flight!
What made the trip home just a bit easier was that the McLean and Hewitt families were on the same flight as me, heading home from their holiday!! Having them to chat to through the flight made it a little easier than if I had been on my own with my own thoughts for the whole time. I send a big thanks to them for keeping an eye out for me at LAX and giving me some light hearted relief during the long flight!!
I was home for three and a half days and travelled for 56 hours - but I am so glad I went home.
Rest In Peace Nan - give Pa a hug and kiss for me xxx
|Nan and Pa - as I remember them!|
|At the family gathering - with my gorgeous teenage cousins|
(somehow I ended up the smallest in height!!)
More to come following this week's Halloween celebrations.......