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Published: April 27th 2015
Roadtrip SW USA...Flying with ravens through Canyonlands and Arches.
It's that raven again...the one that surfed the updraughts at Monument Valley...he's following us North...squarking we've seen nothing yet...mocking the best views are from up here...cawing you know I'm right fella.
So we tried to book a helicopter...but no joy flights in off-season around here.
So we continued North yelling leave us alone...we're off to Goblin...gotta be at Home & Away's in Colorado in three days...just leave us alone.
But the raven followed us.
Reminded me of the Albatross in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner...un-nerved me...didn't have the courage to take that steep dirt climb through snow to Goblin.
So we took the long way but on tarmac...might be able to reach Moab by nightfall.
Yet I couldn't get the raven's caw out of my mind.
I reckon I'm on the road again
We followed Highway 163 north-east to a bridge across the San Juan River with rafts of ice careering within its banks...to a tiny village tucked in a wedge between the cliff and the river.
We had arrived at Mexican Hat where Joey a Navajo
film star entertained us over lunch.
When he mentioned he was also a model...no surprise when I dragged him outside for a photo shoot.
Then onto Bluff with its fort, wagons and striated cliffs framing the Twin Peaks Trading Post...cantering through cowboy country.
It was getting dark...streaks of reds and oranges slicing the horizon...rising to a firey sunset that consumed the sky.
Arriving at Moab at 6pm.
Kinda a surprise out here to forego the buffalo burgers for a Sichuan dinner..."Xin nian kuai le" (Happy New Year in Mandarin) surprising our hosts...fabulous meal served up as a result.
Another fabulous day.
Our only plan tomorrow is to go to Goblin...then onto Colorado to stay with Home & Away.
But when on a holiday "winging it"...little did we know that tomorrow we would do just that...literally!
Maybe it was the Legend of Hercules we saw that night that inspired me...maybe it was the snow on the car...maybe it 'twas I wanted something to read over breakfast...maybe it was that pesky raven knibbling at my ear.
Reading a brochure I saw "Helicopter Flights" so I asked at Reception.
Hadn't figured we had time to drive through Canyonlands National Park to the south-east or Arches National Park to the north but...in a helicopter...now that's another story.
She rang and the helicopter was in another city...no call for flights around here this time of year...mmm nice try!
"There's Redtail...they fly small planes...I'll give them a ring."
But nobody answered so I went back to breakfast.
We packed and went to check out of there. Still no answer.
But the raven was waiting at the car...hassling me as I cleared the ice and snow.
So I went back to Reception and asked they ring again...one last try.
And this time the phone was answered.
The pilot was securing the planes in the hanger...no one else there...he hadn't planned to fly that day.
It could have been he had nothing else to do...but when we met him it was 'cause he loves flying...loves to show off the amazing locale...and as we are Aussies...knew we'd love it too!
Agreed to take a plane out of the hanger...agreed to take us out for half an hour at 11.30 a.m.
"Do you want to
do Canyonlands or Arches?"
"Can we do both?"
As a result we scored an hour and a half flight...over both!!!
The carpark at Moab (Canyonlands Field) Airport was covered in thick snow but the tarmac was clear.
Just us in the terminal...until a smiling face walked in and greeted us.
"Hello...It's pretty cold out there...it's taking a while to warm up the engine...my name is George."
He had a four seater Cessna Skyhawk II parked over there.
Den insists I sit up front next to the pilot so I can take photos and she'll sit in the back...strapped in...headphones on.
Took a few goes before the engine would start...but George had a reassuring way...and before long we were on our way.
Immediately it became obvious we were in for the flight of our lives.
It was difficult to take photos up front but the view was outstanding.
Denise was in the back photographing from side to side with her camera...and her weapon of choice...her iphone.
But most of the time she just marveled...taking it all in...while I snapped away...wishing I was in the back!
George was amazing.
He took us everywhere...explaining this and highlighting that...adjusting the plane so we got the best angles...around, through and over...safety, scenery and sensationals all premium.
Upheaval Dome, Island in the Sky, Chocolate Drops, White Rim, The Maze, Confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers winding around a bluff, the Colorado snaking here and there, Canyon this and that, blues, browns, tans, reds, yellows, snow everywhere white, Fisher Towers, Devil's Garden, Klondike bluffs, all the Arches, all the Canyons, and there were heaps, adjusting the angle and pointing each out.
The raven was right...is that him by the window?
Squarking I said you'd seen nothing yet...mocking I told you the best views are from up here...cawing you now know I'm right fella.
But he forgot to say...no crowds!
Just George and us...and the ravens...talk about a birds-eye view...wow.
Hard to imagine.
No better pilot...no better vistas...no better time.
Still pinching ourselves.
Knowing we were flying with the ravens...way up there!
Relax & Enjoy,
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