American Adventure

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continued from January

. . . Following the signs out of Kayenta to Monument Valley in the pale light before dawn there was little indication of how breathtaking the surrounding countryside was. Parked by the road the Mercury Monterey looks as out of place as the piece of 20th Century litter in the foreground against this science fiction backdrop. The road out of the Valley area points as straight as a ruler north into the depths of Utah. Over the page is the panorama made famous on film by John Ford who used backgrounds like this for many of his great Westerns. Unfortunately, photographs are unable to portray the depth and incredible silence that moves people to whisper as if in an immense cathedral, the peace being shattered only by the tiny creaks of the cooling Ford engine.

The whole Valley is part of a Navajo Reservation and the 14-mile loop road is completely free of any buildings except for the Ranger Post on the rim at the entrance and the out-of-bounds Red Indian wattle huts. The great towers of red rock are the cores of ancient volcanoes left standing like huge medieval castles as the softer rock of the plain has been worn away. Utah contains many spectacular sights and dawn in the south was complemented by a sunset over another of the World’s peculiarities. . . .

… the Salt Flats at Bonneville. The road from Salt Lake City past the Great Salt Lake to the flats seems never-ending. In fact it is only about 80 miles but the flat white salt and the lack of landmarks reduce feelings of speed and movement. This was not, however, an acceptable excuse for the Highway Patrolman who booked me. Out on the salt the car stands against a naked horizon which shows the endless miles of nothing. The next shot is one more familiar for the hills in the background are those photographed in most of the World record-breaking attempts that take place every year when the salt reaches the right firmness. As the sun rose spectacularly in the south of Utah it went down in a blaze of colour which capped a crowded but memorable day.

From the dry arid West it was but a three-hour flight to the heat, moisture and succulent vegetation of the Florida Keys. This string of coral islands is linked by a highway which bridges the channels and mangrove-ringed islets to Key West, one of the oldest cities in the United States. Below is Ernest Hemingway’s house which is built on the highest point of the Key (16 feet above sea level) and has the distinction of being the only house with a cellar. There are many beautiful old houses like this, surrounded by tropical foliage. Right, a storm builds up over the Atlantic as the ’74 Torino sits patiently waiting to return to Miami for the last part of the round trip, to the capital . . .

… Washington. The centre of the city has been laid out for maximum effect. As though in the middle of a cross the 555 ft. 5 in. high, 55 ft. square base Washington Memorial rises, here photographed from the pedestal of Abraham Lincoln (below), which is housed in a spectacular square colonnaded building (bottom left). At the opposite end to Lincoln is the Capitol, seen above reflecting in the lake provided for that very purpose. To the left and right of the cross are the White House photographed from the road and the round colonnaded Jefferson Memorial, outside which sits the Lincoln Continental which blended so well into this city’s backgrounds.