Inspiration can often come at odd times and from random sources. The other night I was perusing that eye in the sky known as Google Earth, peering at random things that caught my attention and using the street view to take wannabe tours of various cities and sights. I do this from time to time when I'm trying not to get any work done and the TV is on in the background as I stare blankly at an empty screen, anxiously waiting for a story to appear out of thin air. It never does and more often than not, I end up doing exactly what I was doing this very night; wasting time. Anyways, something on the old boob tube caught my attention and drove me to Google Earth. Couldn't tell you what it was or even what I was looking at because it quickly turned into a random curiosity fest as I scanned across the country stopping for a peek at various cities and attractions along the way.

"Hey look, there's Bonneville. Wow, it really is visible from space."

It's amazing how powerful a tool GE really is and the amount of time that can be spent "educating" yourself on various geographics. The street view feature is very cool, although it does have a very strong Orwellian, Big Brother-ish vibe that comes along with being able to sneak a peek at just about any address captured at that fleeting moment when the Google camera snapped its image. There's even a few blogs out there dedicated to the random things caught in street view. Just search for "top moments caught on street view" and you'll see what I'm talking about. The resulting images range from the strange (guys dressed up as Vikings dueling it out in a park) to the criminal (two dudes mid fist fight).

But wasting time in street view wouldn't be the only thing I did this particular night. No, it would end up being spent in a much more productive manner actually, spent doing what the program's precursor, Google Maps, was designed for; navigation.

As I was roaming around the country in my virtual world, a number of natural geologic features struck me as being particularly interesting. Among them was Monument Valley in the Northeast corner of Arizona. While I've visited Arizona a number of times, usually I'm either passing through, on my way to points east, or I'm dropping in for a few days to shoot either a car, a car event, or a car-related tech story. And neither of these circumstances typically offers enough free time to sightsee. But as I made my way west from Monument Valley towards California, I soon noticed that there were a number of sites along the Colorado River that I'd read about before but for some reason or another, never seriously considered visiting. Monument Valley is famous for being the location for nearly every Western film since the genre's inception and was always a place that I longed to visit, but I never realized its proximity to so many other natural wonders. Places like Rainbow Bridge, Antelope Canyon, and Lake Powell are all on the way either to or from Monument Valley from Southern California. And let's not forget one of the biggest draws of visitors to Arizona, the Grand Canyon. Oh yeah, and if I really wanna push my luck, Vegas is kinda, sorta, in a roundabout way, in that same general direction.

I mapped out a rough route and realized that's it's an easy day's drive to that big hole in the ground with another day to get to Monument Valley. If I played my cards right, I figure I can make it there and back with plenty of time to stop in between over the course of a long week. That got me to thinking to the coming summer and the fact that I really didn't have any big road trip plans.

Needless to say, the wheels started turning and as I plotted out a timeline, I figured I could finish my F-1 project in time to hit the road sometime in the early Fall, when the desert heat starts to mellow out a bit. That would leave August open for a shake-down run out to Bonneville for Speed Week and plenty of time until then to get the truck painted and put back together. I know, I know, famous last words right? Sprinkle in a couple truck shows in the mix and I think I've got my summer plans all mapped out, how about you?