We’ll be trading at Santa Pod this weekend for their Flame and Thunder extravaganza.

Exhibitions, News, Shows

Flame & Thunder

No photo description available.

We’ll be trading at Santa Pod this weekend for their Flame and Thunder extravaganza.

Drag Racing, Stunts and Family Firework Spectacular

Flame & Thunder is an action packed day for all the family featuring Motorsport Stunts and Drag Racing. Witness a huge gathering of jet vehicles and experience 300mph Nitro guzzling Top Fuel dragster along with cars and bikes from various classes of Drag Racing. Watch stunt displays including Monster Trucks, Drifting and Stunt Riders. The climax of the day will be a firework display and bonfire.

Terry GrantFireForceLee BowersTitanFireFliesBike BattlePodzillaEAWDrift RidesFireFliesMAximum LockRed Dragon

Exhibitions, News, Shows

Pistons and Props

We’ll be at Sywell Aerodrome again this weekend to trade at Pistons & Props, a motoring festival, combining historic racers, hot rods and motorbikes with classic planes and vintage music to create a fantastic two-day event, celebrating classic motoring on the ground and in the air.

 Watch amazing live action on the transformed ‘Racing Runway’ and ‘Sprint Strip’ with iconic Formula 1 cars, Hot Rods, Dragsters and Motorcycles all in action throughout the weekend.

 Up in the skies; expect to see a variety of breath taking aerial displays & acrobatics from a variety of display teams.

 Live Music will be played throughout the weekend with a superb line of bands performing in the Scarf & Goggles bar

 With a vintage fun fair and shopping village, make a weekend of it as camping packages are available. It’s a great weekend for all the family.

Exhibitions, News, Shows

NSRA Hot Rod Drags

We’ll be back at Santa Pod this weekend for The Original 31st HOT ROD DRAGS.

Organised by the NSRA in conjunction with Santa Pod Raceway, a hot rod meet rolled up into a weekend of nostalgia style drag racing. Run what ya brung for pre-1973 cars. Hot rods, customs, Outlaw Anglias, dragsters, altereds, and the Gasser Circus! There’s fireworks, live music and much much more

It’s a hot rod show at the race track!

See you behind the Grandstand!

Tom Pugh’s event T Shirts

We’ll be trading again this weekend at the 2nd Hot Rod Hop run by The Cannibals Car Club, 23 -26 August 2019

Exhibitions, Fun, News, Shows

The Hot Rod Hop

We’ll be trading again this weekend at the 2nd Hot Rod Hop run by The Cannibals Car Club

The weather is looking good, so jump in your car and head on over to the Hop.

Live entertainment all weekend and the now famous silly games on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday show and shine!

Admission is £30 pp for the Weekend including camping. Day entry price for Sunday is just £5 pp.

All profits will be donated to the Air Ambulance.

See you there!

Scald End Farm, Mill Road, Thurleigh, Bedfordshire, MK44 2DP

Exhibitions, News, Shows

The Mopar Euro Nationals

Image may contain: car and outdoor

We’ll be trading for the first time at the Mopar Nats, Santa Pod.   2-4 August

“The Best Muscle Car Event in England”

1994 seems a long time ago, but that’s when a bunch of muscle car minded folks came together which saw the birth of the Mopar Euro Nationals at Santapod Raceway, England. 70 cars turned up and around 300 participants all came together under the one common cause: The Pentastar. As the years rolled by the show grew in stature, 1996 saw drag racing hall of fame inductee Al “The Lawman” Ekstrand from America reunited with his treasured 1966 Hemi Charger. Other big names from the States graced the show, including Dave Jones, and original member of the Mopar EuroNationals committee. In 1997 Tony Oksien joined Mopar EuroNationals as its fourth organizer to complete the current team. The show stayed at Santapod for four years until a change in policy resulted in a switch to Shakespeare County Raceway near Stratford-on-Avon, England. The Mopar EuroNationals returned to “The Pod” in 2001 and has been there ever since, it is now considered to be the biggest Mopar show outside of the USA and Canada. With many thousands of visitors and over 550 mighty Mopars and muscle cars, the show with go can only continue to grow

This is a first for us and we’re really looking forward to it!

But tell me, will we see you there?

To see what’s on check out the official website:

www.mopareuronats.co.uk

RWYB

Live Music

Superstock

We’ll be trading for the first time at Atomic, will we see you there?

Exhibitions, News, Shows

ATOMIC Festival, Sywell Aerodrome.

Yes, we’ll be trading for the first time at ATOMIC!

* Top-Quality International Bands & DJs  *  Huge Vintage & Retro Market
* Pre-’66 Classic & Custom Car Show  *  Traditional Flag-Start Drag Racing
* Large Covered Dance Floors  *  Jive Classes and UK Jive Contest Finals
* Rock’n’Roller Rink  *  Crazy Golf  *  Fairground Rides  *  Vintage Cinema
* Classic Car Rides  *  The Cavalcade of Chrome
* Detonators Car Club Rolling Rod & Custom Show
* Family Friendly ‘Danger Show’  *  Late-Nite ‘Danger Show’ & Burlesque
* Wall of Death  *  Old-Style Soapbox Derby  *  And Lots Lots More…

This is a first for us and we’re really looking forward to it!

But tell me, will we see you there?

.AtomicFestival.co.uk

News, Stories, Work in Progress

Low Flyers

A few words on “Low Flyers” painted in 2012

This painting, which I’ve called “Low Flyers”, had been festering in my mind for some time before I was able to capture it on canvas. I knew it had to be imposing and I wanted it to take the viewer through a varied range of emotions. The canvas needed to be large to make an impact not only when viewed but I wanted it to be ‘heard’ too. So deafening yet so humbling that it almost falls silent, begging the question, if a young girl screams excitedly but no one can hear her, does she actually make a noise? I chose a 2ft by 3ft canvas and had to force myself to find enough time to put aside to create this piece. This decision was helped along by my family telling me that putting it on hold was starting to affect my commissioned work and I was also becoming impossible to live with!  Incentive enough!

Canvas primed and eagerly grabbing my oils and brushes I was ready to capture the feeling of speed and raw overwhelming power.

Low Flyers

So here it is. Just as the boys and the girl think they’ve reached the edge of a full adrenalin rush in their hot rods suddenly from nowhere comes the almighty sound and overpowering presence of a B17 Flying Fortress bomber accompanied by a P51 Mustang and a P47 Thunderbolt!

 

If you’re interested in a print here’s a link: Low Flyers - click here to see the Print

Fun, News, Stories

American Road Trip part 5 – Six Weeks in the Life of the Artist

Aircraft Beware! and a Lot of Hot Air – by Mandy.

Being our first trip to the USA we were curious about so many things, bombarding friends or friends of friends who had travelled there before with so many questions.

“So what’s the deal with the highways and all those lanes?” more often than not the reply was:

“Ahh just drive where ever you like, same as in the films really, you can just snake in and out, I think it’s out of boredom because of the length of the roads out there”

Nobody told us you can exit from both sides of a highway! In built up areas leaving from the left means keeping left on a two lane exit, same for the right. “Ahh so it all makes sense now.”

Ian did try swerving from lane to lane because in his mind one of the reasons we were in the US was to become part of a 70’s movie from beginning to end, and that involved car chases, picking up hitchhikers in tiny shorts, and running into trouble at every pit stop.

“Ian”

“Yeah”

“What do you think speed enforced by aircraft means?”

We were driving south on US 550 after leaving Arizona into New Mexico.

“Where did you see that?”

“On a sign, further back”

We looked at each other, leaned forward to check out the sky in front then opened the side windows just to make sure we hadn’t been allocated our very own aircraft which had taken its place directly above us.

“Enforced?  Wouldn’t that imply that you’re not actually in control of your speed somehow? Put your foot down I want to see what happens”

30mph over the speed limit and nothing happened, the road was empty of cars, and as far as we could see there were no airplanes brandishing state of the art laser beams of mass control. Ian slowed down.

I’m sure we wouldn’t have been having the conversation, but right then on that part of desert road there wasn’t much to see. The red hue of the Arizona desert had turned to grey and it looked like rain.

There had instantly been a different vibe on entering New Mexico, the Spanish feel was overwhelming evident. Not Spain by the sea where you eat your under enthusiastic paella and watch Sky TV in the bar, but the bits you get lost in on dull days when you decide to make use of your hire car and just drive for miles eventually seeing nothing and going nowhere at all.

I was enjoying the reality of it though for the moment, from what I’d seen so far the area wasn’t a place frequented by tourists, maybe in the mountains there were hidden treasures, historic wonders but we weren’t going to see them this time we were on a mission. Albuquerque bound and Route 66, museums and such weren’t going to lend themselves to a possible Dirty Mary Crazy Larry ending.

I had booked two nights at the Enchanted Trails RV Park and Trading Post on Route 66. It sits on a high desert Mesa overlooking Albuquerque. We would be staying in a 1959 Spartan Trailer named ‘Flossie’.

“Hey Ian”

“Yeah”

“What’s the date? I think we could possibly be a day or two too early to turn up at the RV park”

The cancellation of Speed Week was still throwing us out of sync.

After establishing that we were in fact two days early to check in and only 120 miles from our destination we decided to stop at the next town and stay over a couple of nights

“Hey there is a place around 80 miles north of Albuquerque called Cuba.” Since heading east the days seemed to be getting cooler, especially travelling some of the mountain roads.

We headed for Cuba hoping for sunshine, cocktails, possibly a pool, Luis Ernesto would roll us a fine cigar and play music that would just make us want to Salsa.

It was getting dark when we pulled up outside the motel, and it was cold. Being British and of that mentality these type of conversations would run through my mind.

“Hello do you have a room available?”

“Have you booked?”

“No Sorry we ha…..”

“Do you have your passports?”

On showing passports “We don’t have a free room but can you work every other day until the end of your stay? Your only other option is the Ramsden’s, they’ll take you in but they’re a good three hour drive”

“Say we did work every other day, where would we stay if you have no rooms”

“With Jesse”

“Who’s Jesse?”

“He stopped here one night looking for a room too in 1974”

Of course nothing like that ever happened. With the exception of the large cities most Motels will have space and at a very reasonable price too. In privately owned rural places you may find yourself directed towards someone’s sitting room standing behind a barrier interrupting the latest repeat of T J Hooker.

In Arizona we had stood for a good ten minutes behind a sofa, the guy had acknowledged we were there and were wanting a room. He sat with his back to us, hand in the air pointing at the ceiling until the interval of his programme. We have never been checked into any one place so quickly!

This place turned out to be a lovely motel, really friendly folks and an actual reception area. Although it didn’t seem to be a major stopover for travellers it is the gateway to the Santa Fe National Forest and the Jemez mountain trail.

We walked just a few hundred yards to the nearest restaurant and on entering it became quite clear that some serious hunting shooting fishing went on there. Real men in real hunting gear, elk seemed to be the talk of the day. The place was dimly lit, dark wood decor and heads poked out of walls at every angle. We spoke to a guy named James who offered to take us horse camping, his passion and his business but he was no salesman. I did however hang on his every word. He lived and breathed the wild outdoors, rivers, meadows and mountains. This was a world away from where we were heading, it felt real, these were real people, generations of families living in the same area. Apparently Native Americans have occupied the area for centuries and you can kind of feel it. Spanish settlers arrived in the 1700’s.

It rained for most of our stay, the first day we decided to take one of those drives, the ones I spoke about earlier. We drove back up the 550 and decided to turn right when we thought it felt the right thing to do. The idea was to do a huge loop back to the motel, we drove over 150 miles through forests and sparsely occupied towns, tiny single story wooden houses scattered across areas of barren land. Wooden extensions that looked makeshift and had been added over time possibly coinciding with the birth of another child maybe. No visible boundaries, an array of vehicles that had served their time, parked up in order of when they made their final journey, and dogs, lots of dogs.

 

At one point we realised we were going way out of our way and decided to double back causing us to make a sharp turn to the right in quite a populated town. We were met immediately by a barrier crossing and a man in military clothing with a gun. He asked us where we were going, we explained we didn’t really know, but we knew where we wanted to be and were looking for the quickest way there. We showed our passports and were eventually let through with no explanation as to why we were told to stick to certain roads and not leave the car. We were back in the forest, most of which was behind thick high barbed wire, we saw deer still and staring, if only they could talk.

 

 

Another day and back on the road. The sun came out but there was still a chill in the air. Today’s CD the Eagles “One of these nights”.

80 miles from Albuquerque. “Hey look, Route 66 Pizza”

After a few more miles Route 66 Gas, Route 66 Coffee, Soda, Laundry, Beef Jerky.

Albuquerque has the longest stretch of Route 66 in an urban area but we weren’t going to get to travel it on this occasion. The Mustang had driven like a dream since picking it up in San Francisco but right now lost and confused we found ourselves stuck in congested traffic on a street that seemed to go on forever and a car that wouldn’t idle. It was really fast or stop, and the conditions on the road didn’t lend themselves to either. I don’t know who was looking after us that day, I closed my eyes through most of it as Ian sped from stationary as if he was hoping for a personal best on the quarter mile, a chirp from the tyres and a race up through the gears to the next set of lights. It was after quite a few miles we realized we were heading east, the plan was to go west. Turning around in a diner car park we went through the whole thing just one more time It didn’t cross our minds to contact the hire company, even with the Eagles “Take it to the limit” one more time blasting from the speakers. We decided to stay away from that part of Albuquerque for the rest of our stay.

Leaving the city behind we eventually arrived at Enchanted Trails RV park. Route 66, the land of reinvention. Some did it well, with others it was plain to see a kind of desperation. For me it was a place like nowhere else, the history was there, not always visible to see but again I could feel it in parts, how could you not feel it 2451 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles, crossing 8 states and 3 time zones over 6 decades. Built in 1926 and decommissioned in 1985 all for a faster more convenient way of life. The length of Route 66 we would be driving that ‘convenience’ was in the form of the I 40 highway. We were heading west from Albuquerque to Barstow.

We didn’t arrive at this quirky stop-over in the best of moods, but this place just made me smile. We parked up next to a flat roofed adobe style building, constructed in the late 40’s apparently and altered many times as a means to attract passersby on Route 66

“Ian there’s a bear by the door”

“Yeah and is that a donkey over there?”

A real reception area within a shop packed with Route 66 memorabilia, books, crafts, Native American jewellery. A Laundry 1950’s style with a wringer, TV room, Games room, a swimming pool. We were greeted by Vicki Ashcroft, the owner, who instantly gave us a brief history of the place. Originally known as the Hilltop Trading Post but converted into a campground in the early 1970’s. The vast collections of memorabilia throughout the building honour a bygone time and it’s plain to see that Vicki is very proud of her heritage. The furniture is 1950’s vintage with its aim to take you right back to the Heyday of cross country travel. Flossie did just that, almost 50ft of gleaming aluminium she sat amongst a collection of around eight other vintage trailers, a 1947 Hudson super six and a fine collection of pink flamingos.

After checking out our home for the next few days and unpacking some essentials we decided to take a look around.

On our return….

“Ian the door’s open, I’m sure we closed it”

“We did”

“There’s someone wandering around inside the caravan”

“Ok you distract them and I’ll hit them good and hard across the back of the head with a flamingo”

“You go first”

“No you go, you’re distracting them I’m hitting them to the ground and putting them in a headlock”

“Ian, this is the 1950’s, you’re being too Starsky and Hutch”

Before we knew it we were inside. A middle-aged man was sat on our chair at our dining table reading a book with a map opened up next to it.

“Hey Honey it’s 163 miles to the Arizona border and around 90 miles of drivable 66”

Honey? Who, where was Honey? Why hadn’t this guy seen us? What was he doing in our caravan?

“Oh golly you should see these quaint little trinkets in here”

Ok we had located Honey she was in our bedroom.

“It say’s Route 66 in New Mexico is all about making choices , and following short loop drives, looks like we are going to be on the freeway for some miles”

“They have an old bath tub, oh this is just so fine”

Why hadn’t this guy seen us? Honey appeared from the bathroom with my hairbrush and makeup bag.

“Someone has left these behind”

Mr Honey looked up and all our eyes met at once, it was Mrs Honey who spoke first.

“Oh hi, isn’t this place just the best, Vicki has such a gift, such an eye for detail”

Ok let’s just forget gifts and detailed eyes for a minute, she had her hands wrapped around my roadtrip survival kit in a way that suggested she had claimed them for her own. Panic and paranoia had set in and on quickly checking out Ian I noticed he hadn’t brought the bloody flamingo.

“They’re mine, thank you” This was not spoken like a genuine thank but more like one you would say to a small child whilst trying to prise your new shoes out of his mouth. Why was I saying thank you. I held out my hands to retrieve my precious things.

Honey introduced herself as Gina, Mr Honey was Mike. Mike seemed polite initially but obviously massively distracted by the book and the map.

“You heading east or west?” he asked, not really looking up from the book.

“We’re heading west, just as far as Barstow though then up to Bakersfield for the Hot Rod Reunion”

“Ahh, I’d always recommend east to west, that’s the way it was back then” Still looking down, “You know there’s a misunderstanding that Route 66 is only drivable in small segments these days, but 85% of the original 2500 miles is still there for your driving pleasure, saying pleasure it depends what your driving, some parts can be almost impassable, you’d need something sturdy with good ground clearance, so what you driving Ian ?”

“A Mustang”

Mike looked Ian in the eyes, unimpressed.

“Haha, so you’ll be staying away from the unpaved roads then”

This wasn’t a question, and from that point on a challenge had been set.

I was going to be nice and kindly explain to Gina and the honey monster that they were in our accommodation, have a joke about the misunderstanding and leave it at that but he was becoming more and more obnoxious, and condescending. They were overstaying their visit he was working out his route from our caravan to the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica. 805 miles via the I 40. So how many Route 66 miles? Exit where? Rejoin the I 40 after how many miles? We were hearing all about it. Head down.

So would you guys like to stay for dinner? I could cook a pot roast or maybe something typically Mexican, we’ll pop out I’ll buy some wine. You could have a bath, Gina you’ve seen the bath. I’ll run it for you. Stay the night, have our bed, what the hell stay for the rest of your holiday, was what I wanted to say. Instead I headed over to the fridge and took out some beer which hadn’t had the time to chill.

“Would you guys like to stay for a drink?”

I have never seen anyone go from nought to distraught so quickly in all my life. I immediately felt awful and wanted to back track. Gina was devastated and so overly apologetic. The honey monster was in Kingman heading for Oatman. Gina informed us that he likes to read and she spends a lot of time looking at the top of his head.

“This beer’s warm” Monster Mike exclaimed to the map on the table.

Ok Gina you can stay, this man is an idiot how do you live with him? Mike OUT! Of course I didn’t verbalize that either. They didn’t leave for another half an hour, Ian decided to get stuck in with Mike and his map, turns out a lot of the information he was sharing was really interesting and possibly very useful. The book was the EZ Guide to Route 66. Mike told us we needed one, hinting strongly that we would be near on useless without it. We bought the book the next day from the site shop and flicked through it. We could see in some ways it could be a god send but for us it had the capabilities of turning us into Neurotic Route 66 pathological maniacs, panicking at every wrong turn, or was it a wrong turn? “Is this Route 66? I haven’t seen a sign, or anything that would indicate we are on Route 66” Once we were in possession of the book, all of a sudden every inch of rubber had to touch down on every possible inch of drivable Route 66. Once in a lifetime, once in a lifetime, once in a lifetime…

Once we had calmed down and read on we concluded that Route 66, as it is now, partly because of all the realignments over the years, is your own personal journey of memories, possible wrong turns, detours and challenging alternative routes, word is if you tried to do the same route twice you probably wouldn’t be able to. I can’t think about that too much because it becomes too much of a challenge.

With so much Route 66 talk we were buzzing and ready to hit the road, but we still had a couple of days in Albuquerque and on checking out what was going on in the area we headed off to “The Biggest Hot Air Balloon Fiesta In The World” The whole feel around the enchanted trails park was warm, friendly and laid back. People chatted and we picked up a wealth of information about the local area, but I had a recurring question about the Balloon Fiesta which to me seemed fair and understandable.

“So what happens once the hundreds of balloons have ascended and disappeared off into the distance, is there entertainment on the ground, what do people get up to?”

Answers came in the way of changing the subject “Have you checked out old town?”

So we ventured off and paid $20 each, the venue was huge, the car parks were almost empty, and the balloons had flown off to return around 6pm. There were stalls on the ground selling Native American crafts, a lot of exceptional chain saw carving, Burritos, Tacos, Enchiladas. The Fiesta is on for 8 days and apparently we had picked a quiet day. We spoke to a young guy called Ethan he was with a group of friends and was something to do with the organising. Ian discussed art with him. Ethan told us to return later around 6 o’clock, he said he would meet us at the gate. There was going to be fireworks, music and a light show from the balloons on the ground. Sounded great.

“I gotta leave now” says Ethan “ You may as well leave now too and return later, see you around six, I’m off to court, see you later, haha or not depends how that goes!”

Needless to say we didn’t go back, instead we asked Vicki about the closest place to eat out of the city. She sent us up Route 66 to The Route 66 Casino. I considered how many Route 66 diners etc there must have been along its 2500 miles in its heyday. Was this the only Route 66 Casino? Neither of us had ever ventured into a Casino and what we imagined turned into something completely different…

.

 

Here’s Part 6 – Route 66 through New Mexico and into Arizona

American Road Trip part 6 – Route 66 through New Mexico into Arizona

And if you missed the beginning here’s Part 1, ‘California Dreaming’ :

Part 1 – California Dreaming

 

 

Fun, News, Stories

American Road Trip part 3 – From Welderup Vegas to Kanab Utah

By Mandy.

So Welderup, what did I expect? An elaborate film set with a dirty workshop out back where real men in ripped jeans work long hours to tight deadlines whilst the cast and crew members drink beer and throw them the occasional cheese sandwich? Or maybe a museum display of every build that has graced our screens and some cheeky ones that they ‘Snuck in’ to induce panic into those who thought they had seen every episode? Dirty sweaty men out back, tour guide up front?

Did we have to pay, did we need an appointment?

We were still sitting in the car and the place seemed really quiet, nobody around that we could see. What broke the silence was a guy reversing a fork lift truck at speed towards us, tanned and toned in cut off jeans. He spun around and picked up a 57 Chevy with the same ease as a Granny putting cake on a cake slice. After acknowledging us with a wave he headed back inside.

“That was Steve” Ian said (Mastermind creator and artistic genius with the beautiful eyes)

“Ok so what do we do now?”

“He waved at us”

We followed the forklift inside and the place was everything I had anticipated with the exception of the dirty workshop outback. The real men were the cast members, hard working guys with years of experience, expertise and a great passion for what they do. It became obvious quite quickly why the business had become such a success. They have the perfect work/play balance and still remain incredibly humble. Each one of them that day took time out from what they were doing to speak to us

Travis Deeter sculpture

We learnt from Travis Deeter, (Welder/Fabricator and artist) that the deadlines you see on screen run true to how we see them. Ian seemed to bond with him on an artistic level. He explained that one problem he has with the filming is continuity, stopping and starting breaking the flow of progression and being in the zone artistically.
I wandered around some of the cars from the show but I’m going to leave the photos to speak for themselves with the exception of ‘Quit Your Bitchin” A 1930 Ford Model A Rat Rod Gasser, it’s a crazy kind of steampunky, vintagey, I’ve been down the scrapyardy and turned old metal into pure gold type of thing. Initially commissioned by Steve’s brother, who was on limited funds, it seems his brief and budget messed with Steve’s flow and progression and the frustration of having restrictions led to Steve, who just doesn’t seem to do anything by halves, sinking a whole load of his own cash and a Hemi V8 he had been saving for that special something into the build. Differences of opinion led to words being spoken that sometimes are saved only for family in business situations. I believe that’s where the idea for the name came from. At that time ‘Quit Your Bitchin” was rightly taking centre stage.

 Whilst Ian spent some time looking around the cars I got some alone time talking to Steve but not only was I distracted by his eyes I had a massive hangover from the night before.

This is how things looked through my eyes

“How did you get into all of this?” I asked, immediately ashamed at my lack of imagination and knowing that he must have been asked the same question a million times before.

And then, bow my head in shame, I stopped listening! We had stepped off the street, wandered into an average working day for them and they had given up their time to speak to us, and I stopped listening!! I am still waiting for my punishment.

This is what I remember …..

“Junkyards ………. farmers fields, ………….Rodeo………….Five finger death Punch”

Ian had arrived completely star-struck but chilled out pretty quickly when it became clear that these incredibly talented men are just your down to earth types. Steve putting his work ethic down to his father and grandfather, his two heroes apparently.   Whilst we were sitting in the car park deciding where to head next Travis left in his truck, sounded his horn and waved, Justin did the same. Ian lifted his hand and headed back into fairyland …

Tryin’ to get a Lie-in in Zion

The map told us we were at the bottom left side of Vegas, our heads told us to step away from the lights, not because we were scared of re-entering the city and becoming part of a 1970’s cop drama but because they actually hurt. Extreme heat and an excess of alcohol the night before was calling for one thing, a tower of meat, cheese and what ever else can be crammed in between two loaves of bread, eaten maybe in a field with a donkey rather than in Egypt, Paris, or at The Circus.

We had a vague plan for the next week, starting with “We are here” and ending up with “We need to be there” The place we needed to be was Monument Valley in a few days time but up until then the road was ours. A few things needed to be sorted, firstly “Ok where next?” and our bag of ice was now fit only for a goldfish.

Interstate 15 runs North to South through the West Side of the USA from the Mexican border to Alberta in Canada, cutting through Vegas. We studied the map for 5 seconds and decided to head north to Zion National Park and Canyon around 200 miles away. The 15 would get us there quicker, but there was a more scenic route that took us to the left of Lake Mead through the Valley Of Fire state park later joining up with the 15 just south of the Arizona border. Scenic routes on our American Road Atlas were marked with a dotted line and looking at the map you could see that there were countless options to have your mind blown, we took routes 167 and 169 and they did just that. Meandering and undulating through a deep sided valley, dark red sandstone towers either side of you, kind of more craggy than what we had experienced already on our trip, they were formed apparently from great shifting sand dunes around 150 million years ago! With the sunlight on them they glowed and cast the most amazing light. I am a sucker for terracotta against blue and it was offering it to me on repeat.

Back on the 15 the road leaves Nevada and cuts through the top left corner of Arizona for around 30 miles before entering Utah. I Googled Zion National Park and this is what I got, “229 square miles with Zion Canyon, a prominent feature, 15 miles long and half a mile deep. A scenic drive cuts through the main section leading to forest trails along the Virgin River. The river flows to the Emerald pools which have Waterfalls and a hanging garden”! What an offering! How is it possible to be given such vast extremes of ‘Wow’ over just a few hundred miles?

Closer to Zion and you definitely do start to notice the change in landscape together with the increase in hotels, motels, places to shop and stop and eat. We had already had our burger tower, eaten a small corner and put the rest in the newly stocked fridge to keep us going for the rest of the week! We had decided to get as close as we could to the park entrance before we stopped to try and find a room. The first place was fully booked and I did feel a need to take my shoes off at the door, over the road also booked and was also very clean and shiny. Attempt number three put us back on the road in the car heading back in the direction we had come.

“Lets drive about 5 miles out” says Ian “ and we’ll try again”

Long story short we didn’t end up visiting Zion National Park and were starting to wonder if after falling in love with Beatty and Death Valley nothing could compare and we were now happier on the road, enjoying the journey and the scenery rather than the destination, car park, gift shop and visitor centre.

On our last attempt at finding a bed anywhere near we were told that if we actually wanted to enter the park we would have to take a guided bus tour. Apparently cars aren’t allowed inside between certain dates and we were between those dates. That kind of did it for us.

We arrived a couple of hours later in the city of Hurricane stopping at the first hotel that advertised vacancies. It was dark but the city lights made for an artificial day time with weird shadows. Whilst Ian was checking us in I noticed the place was alive with young people lurking in the dark places. On the balconies, car park and in the high fenced swimming pool, they were exceptionally happy. The motel had three storeys and apart from the ground floor each room opened up onto a long shared balcony. We had to squeeze past the happy people to get our door open. On the other side of the door a sign “Do not, under any circumstances, open the door to anyone EVER!” The huge gap around the door meant that they were partly in with us anyway!

Another sign read that we will find everything we need in room 24! That night we ate Chinese food in bed and listened to Jayden talk about Zen through the gap in the door.

Next morning I picked up a cardboard bowl from room 24 for my inclusive breakfast and because there was no space to sit I tried to eat brightly coloured hoops with a plastic spoon on the side of a busy road but it all blew away when a truck passed!

We decided to continue heading east towards Monument Valley, I had booked a cabin at Gouldings Lodge but we still had a few days until our arrival date.

“Let’s just carry on East and see what happens”

“Ok”

We had to admit we were feeling a bit lost in more ways than one, being kept awake by Zen hadn’t helped, and the over indulgence over the last few days was taking its toll. Choice of CD for today’s journey Guns N’ Roses, track playing ‘Garden Of Eden’

“Lost in the Garden of Eden

And there’s no one who’s gonna believe this

The fire is burnin’ and it’s out of control

It’s not a problem you can stop it’s rock n roll

Suck on that” !!

 

“Hey Ian that’s it”

“What?”

“We’re living the Rock and Roll lifestyle”

“I think I need the toilet”

“I think I need a gentle head massage, a cucumber sandwich and a sleep”

We switched CD’s to Santana, they seemed to have more sympathy for what we were going through. The road took us east for 70 miles out of Utah into Arizona and back into Utah again until we settled in the town of Kanab for a whole three days and a completely different experience …

Here’s Part 4, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and a toe in New Mexico

American Road Trip part 4 – Arizona, Colorado, Utah and a toe in New Mexico

If you missed the beginning here’s Part 1, ‘California Dreaming’ :

Part 1 – California Dreaming