Thursday, May 10, 2012

Monument Valley, Utah

Roger here...  Doing the blog of Monument Valley is a monumental task (pun intended).  The problem is not the subject.  The problem is not the photos.  The problem is that so much happened during our four-hour twilight tour (led by Bennett, our Navajo guide), that it is extremely difficult to decide what to include.  The opening photo is of a Navajo on his horse with a portion of the Navajo Tribal Park (Monument Valley) in the background.

How to organize all this?  I think I will split it into three chronological parts --- late afternoon, adventures in the back country, and twilight.

LATE AFTERNOON...  Bennett, our guide from Goulding's tours, picked us up at the campground office, driving a huge pick-up truck with a giant, covered, open bed.  Dianne and I climbed the steps to our padded seats in the bed of the truck.  Ten other people (six from Germany) joined us.  Little did we know how valuable the padding on the seats would be.  

Our first stop was at the historical Goulding Trading Post, the home base for countless movies including many starring John Wayne.  Me and John --- Best Buds!  Dianne took this picture the previous day when we visited the original trading post which is now an interesting museum that highlights the lives of the Gouldings, the Navajo people and the movie history --- Stagecoach, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Eiger Sanction, Back to the Future III, How the West was Won, Thelma and Louise, etc. -- all had scenes filmed here.

The view from the trading post (above) provided an intriguing view of the sites that we would soon enjoy.

After riding by a couple of the free-range horses, we spent some time in an authentic Navajo hogan. No photos here because we did not want to offend any of the traditions of the native Navajo people, but what an interesting demonstration we observed.  Lucy, an elderly Navajo woman, demonstrated the process of creating a wool rug.  Bennett talked about the construction of the hogan and highlighted a few of the Navajo traditions that are still observed --- all doorways facing east,  movement always occurs in a clockwise direction within the round structure, when sleeping - all heads are next to the outside wall.... 

After the demonstration we headed to the Tribal Park.  The $5 per person admission charge was included with the cost of the tour.  You can drive the bumpy, dusty roads in your own car, but Dianne and I highly recommend a tour with a Navajo guide.  We would have missed so much had we been on our own.  

EVERY monument and mesa has a name, and I don't remember them all.  In this part of the blog, I will pick out the best-of-the-best photos, and will name them if I can remember the names.  

Blogger is being wonky right now and does not let me post pictures at the side of the text.  So.... I will label the pictures underneath the photos.

The Mittens (left and right)

The Elephant (look for the trunk and the large ear)

Maybe a better view of the Elephant

The Sleeping Dragon (look for the raised snout, the eye, and the straight mouth)

The Three Sisters (representing nuns --- look at the profile of the praying nun with folded hands on the left)  What a difference the position of the sun makes in a photograph.

Most of the photo stops provided an opportunity to
purchase Navajo handicrafts from the original artisans.  At the stop above, Dianne bought a beaded bracelet for herself and a cool necklace for one of our daughters.  (Still looking for something for our other daughter and our granddaughter).  Before we left, a dust devil whirled through the parking area.  Cool.

THE BACK COUNTRY....  As the tour progressed, Bennett informed us that we would be leaving the bumpy dirt road to enter the back country, a more remote area included on the longer tours --- really glad we paid for a longer tour!

Get ready.  Here we go!

Our first stop was an amazing arch named The Eye of the Sun.  It was very difficult to pick the picture that best represented this spot, so here are a couple.

Dianne and I soon realized that the mammoth size of these structures are difficult to represent in photos taken nearby, so we began taken pictures with people in the background to illustrate their true size.  The photo below of the Eye of the Sun gives a different, and more accurate, perspective.

Adjacent to this arch were some very distinct and fascinating petroglyphs.  Looking at them creates the illusion of being there when they were created.

First the eye.  Now the ear.  Our second arch was named the Ear of the Wind.  What a unique formation!

Now the perspective picture....  That little dot in the middle is me.

Our last arch may have been the most interesting.   It is called the Big Hogan.  Like the hogan that I described at the start of this post, the shape of this formation is circular and the entrance is on the east side.  It was a gigantic half dome with a circular hole to the heavens in the middle.  Gives me chills.

Here is the perspective photo.

A really cool kokopelli (pointed out by our Navajo guide), was carved by the Anasazi on the left side of the hogan.

The pic below is of the Totem Pole.  Movie buffs may recognize this as the pinnacle that Clint Eastwood, supposedly, climbed in the Eiger Sanction.

As Bennett drove us out of the back country, he negotiated a road through the sand.  This portion of the tour reminded me of the many times I drove through snow drifts in Indiana --- except that I was warm.  Take a look at this snow drift.

Well, we did not get stuck in the sand, even though we did slide around a bit.  Thanks Bennett, for getting us out of the back country.  

Now for TWILIGHT TIME....  I am not going to label these photos, but due to the lighting, they are probably the best ones in the blog.  Here we go.

The feature on the right side of this monument is known to represent Jesus.  It kind of does.

The pet picture of the day is a little different.  When we arrived back at the motor home, we saw a dog that looked a lot like Bandido.  I went next door to talk to the owners.  Fanny is a Blue Heeler mix, just like Bandido.  Fanny is 13 years old.  Fanny and Bandido (and Tequila) got to meet for a short time.  Here's........ Fanny!


Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Amazing! Great pictures and tour. We hope to get there this fall.

Nancy and Bill said...

Amazing tour... Amazing Photos...

Thanks!!! Keep having fun;o)))

Margie and Roger said...

If we go back, we would get a guide also - you saw much more than we did on our own. Loved the Bandido video.

Pam and Wayne said...

Great shot of what I assume is the leaping Bighorn! I love petroglyphs!