Monument Valley, Utah, Flagstaff Medical Center

The scrub desert now has pink sand
We drove west from Durango into desolate red rock country in southeastern Utah - absolutely my favorite!  Incredible rock formations with dramatic coloring for miles before we finally caught our first glimpse of the famous rocks in Monument Valley.

Long lonely roads with incredible views

Mexican Hat
Our first glimpse of distant Monument Valley 

We got a campsite in the same place we stayed in about 13 years ago when visiting the area that overlooks the valley.  John Wayne stayed in the adjoining motel while making multiple western movies in the area. 

We first had some thunderstorms that gave us some great shots of the valley, but then a dust storm rolled through and hazed out the rock formations.
Red rocks from our window

Tenters area

Can't decide which is prettier - our newly painted RV or the Red Rock Hill

Haze from dust storm
In the morning, we decided we were going to reverse course as the California fires were spewing smoke all over eastern California all the way into Wyoming and the extreme heat in the southwest convinced us that we should begin to head east, visiting my sister in Colorado and his brother in Iowa before heading home.  Jack wasn't feeling well with some chest discomfort that had been going on for a few days that he thought was a result of high altitude impacts on his COPD.  The discomfort turned to pain, I had him take an aspirin and we headed for the nearest medical clinic - 1/2 hour away in Kayenta on the Navajo Reservation.  They took good care of him there, but they only have a few emergency beds and no overnight facilities.  They ruled out a heart attack, but were concerned with his symptoms and enzyme bloodwork and suspected a possible blockage.  Nitroglycerin eliminated all the pain and they recommended he be transported by air to Flagstaff Medical Center. 

Those of you who have been following our adventures (misadventures?) know that a similar situation occurred 10 years ago when we were in Page, Arizona and he was transported then to Flagstaff with an intestinal blockage (6 months after his colostomy).  Everything turned out well then and everything turned out fine this time, too.  He could not be airlifted because of severe thunderstorms in the area and instead was taken 2 1/2 hours by ambulance to Flagstaff.  I got there an hour before him because they told me to head out while they still thought he would be transported by air.  They already had a room ready for him, an admitting doctor examined him thoroughly, and they gave me approval to park overnight in their parking lot. 

The next morning, the cardiologist PA spent about 1/2 hour with Jack and recommended an angiogram to determine if there were any blockages, followed by inserting a stent, if necessary.  They did the test, using an artery in his wrist, the same morning, and found one artery 75% blocked and tried to insert a stent, but had trouble with his arteries around his shoulder.  They scheduled another procedure for Tuesday morning that would use a groin insertion point that would be more direct to the heart, but a bit more dangerous.  This procedure worked, although they still had some difficulty because of calcified arteries.  He had no pain, but had to lay flat for 6 hours without moving his leg.  Everything went well, and he was released on Wednesday and we decided to head straight home so he could see his cardiologist in Summerville.  We were lucky and grateful to have found so many caring, professional medical personnel both in Kayenta and Flagstaff.

And so this will be the last post for our 2018 Summer Trip.  We are hoping to get back on the road in September to visit family and friends in New Jersey and New York and may take some time to do some leaf peeping in New England....we shall see.  Thanks for vicariously joining our trip this year!  Hoping everyone enjoys the rest of this summer.

Goodbye New Mexico, Hello Colorado

Driving through far northern New Mexico, we again ascended from desert scrubland up some lush grassland valleys among the mountains.  Our last night in New Mexico was spent in Chama on the Colorado border.  A popular train ride runs from Chama up to Antonito, Colorado through the mountains.  Because of a recent fire and then a mudslide that damaged the tracks, the train was cancelled for a few days.  We would like to return here and do the train ride in Autumn.
Moonrise in Chama

Mural in Chama

We drove northwest to Colorado and stopped for the night in a beautiful forest campground at the top of a hill just outside Durango.
Scrubland and some green grass along with some serious mountains

Beginning to look like Rocky Mountains

Taller, jagged peaks - close to Colorado!

Chimney Rock on the right, and Companion Rock on the left

These signs were all over Durango as they had just been delivered safely from a massive threatening fire.

My sister, Lin, joined us here, driving 8 hours down from her home north of Denver.  Thursday, we dropped Lin's car off at a long-term parking facility and headed north on the San Juan Skyway (aka The Million Dollar Highway).

Pine trees lined up as if they were planted!

Sisters....the best!  Our brother would have made it perfect!

Marmot attempting to cross the road

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Gorgeous mountain scenery, we stopped for lunch in Silverton, an old-time western town.  The center street is paved, but all the side streets are dirt.  Popular with tourists, lots of restaurants and shops - we decided to have lunch at Thee Pitts - great BBQ restaurant with lots of character.

Strange colored river in Silverton

Popular town of Ouray

We continued north through the mountains with multiple passes over 10,000'.

 We stopped at Ridgway State Park for the night and we celebrated my birthday at a nice restaurant in Ridgway.  Returning to the campground, Lin had a cake and Proseco accompanied by a great hula hoop that lights up.
Downtown Ridgway
Moonrise in Ridgway

The next morning, Lin and I walked a short 1 mile trail down to the reservoir before we climbed back aboard the RV and finished the scenic loop through the mountains back to Durango, but the weather did not cooperate and we drove through heavy rainstorms, some sleet and some hail!  Mountains were beautiful and dramatic, but photos were impossible.
Dead tree sculpture on our walk

Ridgway Reservoir

Saturday morning, Lin got on the road back home early and Jack and I headed west to the Four Corner Monument - where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona meet.  We managed to get a photo of Jack in all four states, pretty much doing the same thing he did in 2005 - the last time we were here.

Here are some of the pics from when we were here in 2005...

Apparently, this had been a problem?????  Multiple signs.

Four state flags plus.....
 A wonderful few days - what a treat to be able to celebrate my birthday with family.  Thanks, Lin!