Wednesday, 3 October 2012


What ho, my hearties!  And the usual, inevitable apology for being disgustingly late with postings about our perambulations across the big, wide USA.

We've hit the Pacific and thus, have completed our overland coast to coast journey.  It's been bumpy, slow, varied and wonderful.  The weather has been kind, Amtrak – one of America's more creaky institutions – has delivered us safely and we are now basking in California sun

There's no time for a detailed blog – the San Francisco cable car awaits – but I hope the picture captions will say enough, for now.  I may write a detailed story and can assure you it will be a ripping yarn, but that will be for sale, possibly, as an iPad-friendly book.

Meanwhile, click on piccies for a bigger view.

Washington DC.  Seems so long ago, now, but early in our holiday we wandered from memorial to memorial, looking at monuments to America's greatest sons and daughters.  This is part of the F. D. Roosevelt memorial, showing men in the Depression, waiting in dole queues.

If you're a gardener, Thomas Jefferson has to be your favourite Founding Father.  We browsed the books in his library - an eclectic collection from philosophy, politics and science to horticulture and agriculture.  Here, the PG is dwarfed by the massive classic columns in the Jefferson Memorial.

In the Rocky Mountains, scenery is never more beautiful than in early fall, when the aspens change hue from dull green to bright gold and in some spots, burning amber.  Here in Colorado, they contrast superbly with blue Colorado spruce, Picea pungens near the spectacular Red Mountain Pass between Grand Junction and Silverton.

The rattletrap steam train, ancient and creaky but still in working order, takes us from Silverton to Durango, a journey which takes three and a half hours through spectacular scenery.  This ain't the fens!

The Barringer Meteor Crater, near Winslow,  Arizona.  You can find details of this amazing geological event here.

The impact of the meteor would have been equivalent to a 20 megaton nuclear bomb and hurled massive rocks and debris up over the sides of the impact crater.  This is sandstone, at the rim which was originally below ground at the point of impact.

Growing close to the crater, one of my favourite American wildflowers, Castilleja or Indian Paintbrush. These plants, related to yellow rattle and foxgloves, are hemiparasites, sustaining themselves partly on host plants, so are impossible, virtually, to cultivate in gardens outside America.

Despite being apparently barren, the desert teams with life.  This is, I think, a Collared Lizard. 

Monument valley - setting for so many Western films and subject of so many travel posters.  It is virtually impossible to portray even a hint of its majestic beauty. They all rave about the Grand Canyon, saying that it might  move you to tears but for me, these rock formations were the most dramatic, beautiful and, for some reason, remarkably moving.  If I were a primitive man, instead of a de-sensitised, hedonistic, over-pampered modern one, I'd probably feel that big, big deities made this place their home.  There is a Valhalla of sorts wherever you look.  A mighty and literally awe-full place and it's apt that it's situated within and Indian reserve.

And finally, the PG's masterly shot of the Grand Canyon, taken through the window of a deHavilland Twin Otter aircraft at a rather uncomfortably low altitude.

More soon.

I'm listening to the PG, nagging me to catch a San Francisco cable car.

This time last year we were not in the USA.

Today's film has to be Stagecoach, starring John Wayne.  He couldn't act - and walked as if he'd recently had a small, personal accident, but the scenery in the film was as good in black and white as it is in the picture above, of Monument Valley.

Bye bye - more soon, posssibly!

By the way - if you don't know what a Dark Eyed Junco is, look it up!


  1. It looks like you're having a great time.

    My shot of Monument Valley has an obliging indian on horseback who just happened to be there when we were :)

    The Durango to Silverton railway is great, but the Cumbres and Toltec is even better. So good we went back on another holiday a couple of years later just so we could go on it again.

    Looking forward to catching that cable car next year...

  2. Oooh I'm so envious! My own Amtrak journey in 2011 from San Fran to Seattle was just fabulous. A broken sleeper berth door meant we got upgraded to a 'family berth', so had plenty of lounging space during the day when we weren't in the vista carriage admiring the mountain view with a glass of wine. Happy days...

  3. What a coincidence, I travelled the rails recently, too. My trip notes were not quite so admiring as yours, but I chalk that up to a bad attitude on my part. So sad you finished your USA jaunt without a visit to Alaska!

    Christine in Alaska, no lizards, one native Castilleja

  4. Jealous! Fabulous photos as usual and I love the vibrant colour of the 'paintbrush'. I need to start planning our next long haul I feel deprived.

  5. please don't stop.I have just found you.