The US, like Australia, is a country best explored by car. We were keen to experience some desert landscapes to match those forever etched in Nick's imagination after watching old westerns as a teenager so we planned a route that would include Monument Valley on the Arizona / Utah border.
Like Australia, the distances are big but that's where the similarities end. We have driven across the middle of Australia from Steep Point in WA to Byron Bay, a trip that apart from a few major landmarks is made extraordinary by enormous flat expanses of desert. Its understated beauty lies in this wide open emptiness.
Taking a car trip in Arizona and Utah, on the Colorado Plateau, is the complete opposite. The scenery is grand with dramatic elevations in various shapes and every day we saw something new and different. There are more 'sights' than you can shake a stick at and we were often just as blown away by the striking scenery along the way, as by the places we visited.
If you have a stopover in Dallas do yourself a favour a spend a couple of days in the Stockyards, Fort Worth. This historic part of the city dates back to 1890 and is the last remaining stockyard in the US. We fell for the charm of this old cowboy town during our 2 night stay...
The first evening we went to Billy Bob's, billed as the world's biggest Honky Tonk with space for 5000+ people. They host concerts with some of the biggest country & western bands and also have an indoor bull riding arena with competitions every weekend. We were there mid-week and enjoyed a couple of $6 margaritas while watching a group of local line-dance enthusiasts going through their routines. Later on I got a chance to join a group of beginners for an easy routine although it was harder than it looked!
The original stockyards still stand and house a herd of longhorn cattle. These are impressive creatures with horns that easily measure 2 metres from tip to tip.