Day #11 of the West Trip: Here, kitty kitty!

We were up at 6:00 a.m. and caffeinated (mostly!), unhooked, and on the road by 6:40 a.m., just as the sky was turning a slate gray and light was peaking over the horizon. I was worried that we had missed the mark and would arrive at our carefully selected sunrise spot late, but thank goodness we left when there was some light! It wasn’t even five minutes after we left that we turned the corner, and lo and behold, there was another palomino in the road! I doubt it was the same palomino, since the one from yesterday was probably a good thirty miles away, but it was quite the coincidence! This time, it was my turn to swerve (Only slightly! No sudden movements in this thing!) and curse, but I missed him! I thought the excitement of the day was driving through the herd of cows out of Goulding’s, but they had no interest in playing chicken with our front bumper like the horses seem to.

We pulled up at our spot, and my partner jumped out with her camera gear. We’ve learned that the desert is freezing cold after the sun goes down and just before it comes up, so we were in layers. I finished drinking my tea while she found the perfect spot, and then, satisfied that I was as awake as I was going to get, I went out to join her.

Monuments sunrise.jpg

I snapped a few pictures, and then I was off to do my usual exploring while she sat patiently, staring through her camera lens and waiting for the perfect shot.  I walked maybe five feet before a set of tracks caught my eye. They were huge. I knelt down and placed my hand beside one, and the print was as big as my hand! I have tiny hands, but still! I knew what they were almost immediately, even if they were a little amorphous. My elementary school’s mascot was a panther. I spent four years hopping off my school bus and following the pink panther paws painted on the sidewalk to class, so I recognized them in the mud as soon as I saw them. They made my hair stand on end, and I rushed back to my partner. They looked old, but that didn’t mean we weren’t being watched.

Panther print

We got some beautiful sunrise pictures, and then we went back to Goulding’s. We managed to get a lot of exploring done yesterday, so we decided to spend the middle of the day doing laundry and catching up on blog posts and photo editing.

Instead, we fell asleep and didn’t wake up until lunch. Having the adventure of a lifetime takes a lot out of you!

We woke up only to realize that we had to do laundry. Going eleven days without doing a single load was long enough!

But first, we had to find the quarters. Yes, the same ones we looked for at White Sands. I think you can see where this is going.

After an hour and a half of ripping the RV apart, I called my mom.

“Did we happen to leave anything in the car? Maybe a bag with quarters in it?”

Come to find out, she had found it days ago in the basement closet. How it got there, we’ll never know, but she was disappointed to find out that she wasn’t rich!

Thankfully, of all the things we could have forgotten, quarters are easy to replace. We exchanged quarters in the office and went on with the mundane task of doing laundry, followed by grocery shopping at the Goulding’s grocery store, which was very nice! We made it a point to skip the soup aisle. No more chicken noodle soup for a while!

A day of napping and chores was rewarded with another sunset in Monument Valley and another set of panther tracks, which just about gave me a heart attack, but we made it through the evening with nothing eventful happening. This time, I even remembered to take a picture with the “Forrest Gump Sign,” which marks where Forrest Gump ended his cross-country run in the movie.

Monuments sunset #2

Forest Gump

Monuments sunset

Finally, we decided we needed real food. We’re so tired of chicken noodle soup, even if it is convenient when traveling! We ate dinner at the Stagecoach Dining Room at Goulding’s, and I enjoyed a Navajo roast beef sandwich. It was the size of four sandwiches, and it’s going to take me a week to finish it!

Frybread sandwich

We’re doing more sunrise pictures again in the morning (Please, no panthers!), so it’s off to bed! After sunrise pictures, we head for Arches National Park! We’ll be sad to leave Goulding’s behind. It has been the nicest RV park we have stopped at so far, but we’re hoping for more like this in our future!

Published by Alyse N. Steves, Ph.D.

Alyse N. Steves received her Ph.D. in Genetics and Molecular Biology from Emory University. She is also graduate of Kennesaw State University, where she received a B.S. in Biotechnology. Alyse is a published author, with her first book making its debut in August 2016 ( Outside of science and writing, Alyse is an avid traveler who also enjoys the company of her family, friends, and pets.

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