Smart decisions are not always made when traveling. After deliberating for a couple of hours, Tim and I decided to visit Monument Valley as neither of us had previously been there. Just one catch, it was 9 o-clock Friday evening. Not being a stranger to driving twelve hours strait, I had no preconceived notions that already being awake all day would wear me down. After packing the sleeping gear and tossing on thermal underwear we headed out.

Mesa to Flagstaff was an easy jaunt only taking a couple hours. Seventy-eight more miles north placed us in Tuba City. Evidence of to much Red Bull and soda reared its ugly head as we pulled into a Shell gas station. Drowsy and overloaded with caffeine we stayed at the fuel stop taking photographs and running around to wake up. I’m sure the clerk viewing the security cameras was a little befuddled in the morning.

Back on the highway presented us with pitch black conditions. High beams only penetrated the darkness roughly 100 feet. Nothing else was visible accept the stars. Definitely a time for your mind to wander. Further messing with our minds by flicking the headlights off didn’t help the situation.

Hours passed as we drove into the early morning. Just past five o-clock we pulled into Monument Valley. With no campgrounds available we pulled off on the side of the road. Not ideal, but works. Hopping into our zero degree sleeping bags we settled in for a few hour rest. Testing a new down quilt was a nice surprise as we stayed extremely warm in the cold.

Distant silhouettes appeared at sunrise as we crawled out of the camper. This was an awesome sight. We started snapping a few photos before heading to the visitor center down the road.

Monument Valley grew fiery red and orange once sunlight began to penetrate low clouds. Only lasting a brief moment, the amazing colors faded as clouds masked the early morning sun. Fortunately Tim and myself were at the vista point ready to take photos. The trip itself wasn’t all that great at first but ended with some spectacular pictures. Our new sleeping gear was put to the test and a valuable lesson was learned. Don’t overload yourself with energy drinks on long drives.

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