Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Big Chief Coffee with Long Life

Saturday 30th July

Travelling in America is easy.  On some roads you do have to keep an eye on your fuel gauge, as gas stations can be sparse.  The desert heat and dry air also means that one should consume at least four litres of water a day.  Restrooms are available pretty much everywhere and for the most part so is food.   The type and quality can vary enormously.  The concept of a sandwich without cheese is not known here, which for a pescatarian like myself sounds like great news.

However, these same sandwiches must by law also contain meat of some description which on our travels has ranged from chicken to buffalo.    In the desert, several hundred miles from the sea, the safest bet has been Subway where you can build your own sandwich.  Also, you can do the sandwich building thing in Safeway supermarkets here, which seem to be the UK Waitrose equivalent.   One we visited outside Denver also made sushi to order.  The guy doing this was a more than a bit deaf and we felt it would be safer to get have him make us sandwiches which he did very well, and very slowly.

Of course, what you really can get everywhere is coffee.  American filter coffee; and in the larger towns you may find a coffee shop or two, serving Italian/Seattle style.  The one in Gardiner, Montana has already featured. 

As we checked out of the Hat Rock Inn in Mexican Hat, I asked the receptionist if there was such a coffee shop nearby.  She said there was a hotel that had a ‘real’ coffee machine down the road.  It did have a real coffee ‘pod’ type machine and they made lattes with UHT milk.  It took a very long time and I put this down to the fact that they had to individually open those little cartons found it motels and UK B&Bs everywhere,  until they had enough to make one medium and one large latte.  That’s a lot of work right there.

We continued on down the US 163 back through monument valley and onto the US160 and then north on the US98 (Indian Route 22) which passes through part of the Navajo Indian Reservation.  At Page we stopped for lunch and a view of the dam at the western end of the extraordinarily massive Lake Powell.   

The lake stores 30km3 of water when full and is 186miles long.  Whilst Lake Mead to the west is larger in volume, Lake Powell has nearly 3.5 times more shoreline, some 1900miles.

From Page, we headed to the eastern entrance of Zion National Park where the landscape once again changed to sandstone canyons and towers, with rivers and waterfalls.

We drove through the park and exited at Springdale and our next motel, the Desert Pearl inn.   We had a fantastic room with a terrace where we sat and watched a thunderstorm roll in.

Sunday 31st July

Up at 530am for our day in Zion National Park.  Vehicles are only allowed a half a mile or so into the park where trailheads are served by a shuttle bus system.  Our first hike was to Emerald Pools a series of three small ponds at increasing elevations above the canyon floor, which brimmed with insect and amphibian life.  Our hike was made all the more pleasant by the fact we were enjoying it without anyone else around.

All around were the ubiquitous Rock Squirrels, a stockier, meaner looking version of our own Grey Squirrel.   
We took the shuttle bus to the northern most stop called the Temple of Sinawava where the Narrows trail follows the Virgin River through Zion Canyon for some 16 miles.   We went as far as we could which for me meant chest high in the river and a slightly stupid feeling as I emerged with my shorts rolled up.  

We found a rock overhanging a white water part of the river further south and had a picnic.  Shortly after, it started to rain really heavily and we got soaked but it was fun and we got back onto the shuttle to tour the rest of the park whilst we dried out.   Flash flooding is common across the western united states and we heard many radio warnings and local newspaper items detailing the dangers.   

We left the park via Springdale again and to our next destination, Las Vegas.  It helped that we were still slightly damp as we knew five nights of luxury awaited us, and where most probably if you were ever given a UHT Latte, the perpetrator would be taken out into the desert late at night, and shot.

Our journey was straight down the Interstate 15 and we gained a hour as we drove across the Nevada State Boundary and onto Pacific Time.   It was cloudy as we approached Las Vegas and we didn’t quite have the vista we had planned on driving in, though by the time we actually got to the Wynn Encore, the clouds had magically disappeared as if it had all been pre arranged.   

We got a room high on the 59th Floor with a view of the golf course and north Las Vegas and were able to actually unpack for the first time on our trip and later that evening ate dinner not wearing shorts.


  1. You should NEVER turn your back to a seemingly calm pool of water when there are Rock Squirrels about. All that "bear behaviour" studying before you went has put you in poor stead for potential scratchy-sharp-toothy-nut-eating-grey-coat-wearing-rip-your-eyes-off attack. You had a lucky escape.

  2. You know the scene in Casino where Joe Pesci gets beaten to within an inch of his life with baseball bats then buried alive in the desert ?
    He too made the mistake of making a UHT latte for De Niro.
    So many UHT related holes in the desert.....
    See you guys soon !

  3. Charly, you're right about the squirrels. They did hang around seemingly waiting for the right moment to pounce. Very unnerving.



© Copyright © Darren Seeley 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Designed by TemplateWorld and sponsored by SmashingMagazine

Blogger Template created by Deluxe Templates