Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Valley smiles


We’ve been in the west a week now, and every post I do about our travels out here should be connected to Trent’s weekly smile post because there are smiles just about everywhere I look!

The landscape gets more dramatic.

When I last left you we were in the painted desert which was beautiful in an entirely different way from the next places we visited. I don’t remember ever visiting Monument Valley before, so I was excited to see if it was as dramatic as they made it seem in all those old cowboy movies.

We actually turned around to get this shot, all the different terrain in one image. Pretty amazing.

It is.

But first we happened on the Valley of the Gods, which is just a little dirt road off of Highway 163 in Bluff Utah. We missed the road the first time we went by. There’s just one little old faded sign with an arrow telling you to turn down a nondescript dirt road.

Beginning the dusty drive through the Valley of the Gods. This was the only water we saw.

If you’re ever out in this part of the world, and you’re driving an SUV, not a low riding car, and it’s not raining, because the sign said the road was impassible if wet, then I highly recommend you take the hour or two or three it will take you to meander through this country.

The red against the sky was perfect in the afternoon sun.

There were huge towers of stone everywhere. It’s the kind of place that would make for wonderful night photography.

Imagine this with stars behind it.

But it also might be kind of scary to be out there alone in the dark.

Going through the Valley of the Gods was so worth it, even if it did put us behind getting to Monument Valley.

Monument Valley from the visitor center parking lot.

We drove up to the gate about 4:00, and they ‘close’ at 5:00. The woman was glad to take our $20 though and said we had plenty of time to drive the loop, even if “we were headed back out by 5:30 the gate would still be open.”

Just like in the movies.

We figured we’d start and see how far we got before we were kicked out. Plus the low sun made everything shine.

You can even ride a horse and pretend you’re IN the movies. That’s “three sisters” behind the horse stable.

It’s about here that I lost my phone, getting in and out of the car to get pictures. But I didn’t realize it yet.

Around the next corner was a stone monument I call the ‘broken finger’ because it looks so much like my right hand with it’s broken (and sort of crooked now) little finger.

I identified with this one. Ouch.

The light was starting to go, making everything even more dramatic.

More shadows now.

When I got back in the car after that last shot I realized I didn’t have my phone. I started walking back along the road frantically looking. No luck. We tried to remember the last picture I had taken with the phone and narrowed it down to three stops where I might have lost it.

This is the actual, not retouched, color that the stone was turning as the sun went down.

We drove around the last loop again, as fast as we could go over the rocky, bumpy, dusty road. No luck. My stomach hurt and I felt sick.

Can’t beat late afternoon light in the desert.

I didn’t feel like taking any more pictures. But my husband said, rightly so, we couldn’t change anything, so we should try to enjoy the last of the light.

It’s like someone created these scenes just to cheer me up.

And so we did, though my stomach still hurt and I was so sad that my phone was out there in the cold desert all alone. I know. That sounds silly. But that’s how I felt.

The big picture of Monument Valley at sundown.

No one ever came by to ask us to leave and there were plenty of people still in the Valley even at 6 when the last bit of light left the sky.

The last of the light as we left the Valley.

In fact, up at the visitor center there were a couple dozen photographers with their fancy cameras and tripods waiting for that last purple light. We waited there with them.

The end of a day filled with stress.

And when the light was finally gone we drove the 4 miles to our hotel, and sitting in our room my husband, for whatever reason, called my phone. And someone answered it. Turns out the visitor center has a hotel and someone found my phone and turned it in to the front desk. And the front desk guy heard it ring and answered.

Happy dance! My husband drove right back over there and picked it up. I am so grateful to that anonymous couple, and don’t you just love a happy ending?

Me too.

So where will we be next? You’ll have to wait and see. But I can tell you it is amazing. I don’t know if I’ll get it posted before we get home but it will be worth the wait.


On the road again…

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

35 thoughts on “Valley smiles

  1. This post made me smile first because you found your phone but second because you got these amazing photos. We’ve done the loop, but midday. What you captured at dusk was spectacular.


  2. Thanks for sharing such beauty- your photos really capture how magnificent the land is there. Enjoy!


  3. I do love the happy ending to your story. Phone found plus those late afternoon desert colors. Such a beautiful place to visit. Thanks for the photos.


  4. Oh my heart. I so love it there.
    Sooo…. Canyon de Shelly, and the Thunderbird Motel next? Then over to Tsalle and have a look at Dine’ College? I took some wonderful classes there many years ago as part of a continuing education course for nurses. Also, Ganado, to the trading post to look at the beautiful rugs and pottery?
    I’m with you in spirit Dawn, and SO glad you got your phone back!


    • We didn’t get to Canyon de Shelly, though I told my husband about that place. My parents and I went there in 1989 and I would love to go there again someday. No time this trip, but definitely on the next one! Have not heard of Tsalle or Dine College…or Ganado….I definitely need to come out here again, and check in with you first for a list of places to visit!


  5. So glad you got your phone back. I’ve lost mine twice from my pocket when getting out of my car. Thankfully I realized it not too long after and both times it happened when parked on the street in front of my building and I found the phone before anyone else did. But I know that sick feeling.

    You got some really stunning photos! Jealous. 😉


    • Oh it definitely is a sick feeling!! I’m just so lucky to have gotten it back. Yes there were some stunning photo opportunities. Hard to take a bad picture when you have landscape like that to work with!


  6. Wow, wonderful photos. I knew about Monument Valley but never heard of Valley of the Gods. What luck getting your phone back.


    • I can’t remember what vehicle you tow your trailer with, but if it’s a truck or SUV you’d be good in the Valley of the Gods, NOT towing the trailer of course. There are a few really steep uphill and downhill sections that wouldn’t bode will for a trailer.


  7. Sounds great (except losing the phone) and you got some great pictures. Glad you got the phone back!


  8. I’ve always thought that the red rocks, and bright blue skies we have her are unparalleled in beauty. You got some great shots of the landscape.


  9. Do you know that Westerns are on in the middle of the day?! Yup. My husband likes noise so keeps the TV on. I half expected to see Randolph Scott or John Wayne come riding around these here parts. Beautiful, Dawn. You found your phone? Totally doing the happy dance!


  10. Dawn, I’m so happy you got to enjoy this area. This was on our list on our 2018 disastrous winter road trip, but snow everywhere in Arizona kept us off the roads. Your pics are amazing and make me a little jealous. So glad to read you got your phone back, a testament to wonderful fellow travelers who visit our national parks and monuments. Enjoy the sunny west while you are here and please pray for rain right after you leave!


  11. I’m delighted you got your phone back! Doggone it, but we all depend so much on these devices nowadays, and I know you felt lost without it (not to mention trying to remember everything you had saved on there and wondering it the “bad dudes” would be able to find you!)

    These are gorgeous photos, too. I’ve never been to that part of the U.S., and I’m very much enjoying seeing the scenery through your camera’s lens. Continued safe travels!


    • I AM attached to the little thing, would be sad if it was lost forever. Only one or maybe two posts left to do of the Southwest for this trip. I have to be honest and say I’m ready to be home. I have the worst cold, probably caught on one of the many flights we’ve been on lately. I wish I could wiggle my nose and just be home in my own bed.


  12. Your desert shots are amazing. Dawn. Makes me want to Go, There. Now! Enjoy!!


    • I’m thinking February is the perfect time to visit Arizona….unless they happen to have snow, which we didn’t run into. The tourism is way down, hotels are reasonable and you can get on tours that are usually booked for months in advance. Plus February in Michigan sucks, so why not be out here!


  13. Wonderful photos! SOOOO glad that you found your phone; I can imagine how I’d have felt if it had been mine that vanished out there!


  14. Wow! Just Wow!! Amazing images, Dawn. And I am so glad you found your phone. I would have been worried about mine, too.


    • It was so much fun shooting images until I lost the phone, then I was just sick and didn’t want to do anything more…but the sun was going down and the light was amazing and soon I couldn’t NOT take more pictures. And I’m glad I did. Would have been sad if I had skipped the last light.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: The Weekly Smile Recap 2/17 – 2/23/2020 #weeklysmile | Trent's World (the Blog)

  16. Gorgeous shots of our beautiful Monument Valley!


  17. I ran through the Valley of the Gods years ago with Cole. It was amazing. Glad you took such gorgeous pics to remind me (Cuz mine suck in comparison to yours).


  18. Pingback: It’s gonna be a long list | Change Is Hard

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