A Travellerspoint blog

Oct 4 Canyon du Chelly (pronounced d'SHAY) National Monument

Navajo History Lessons, Red Walled Canyons,

sunny 29 °C

The canyon is located near Chinle, AZ, about 100 miles north of where we were staying in Holbrook. We knew little about what we would be coming to other than it was a spectacular view and that is was situated in the heart of a Navajo Reservation. We started our tour at the Visitor Centre. There is no fee for entrance at this monument.

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The young Navajo working the desk suggested we start with the Antelope House Lookout, on the North Rim Drive. This lookout requires a 1/4 mile walk from the parking area, so when you arrive it is breath-taking. The northern Canyon del Muerto, so named by the Mexicans because of mummified bodies found there.

There are no guardrails, and the drop is 700 feet to the canyon bottom at this point. In both these photos you can see the rock called the Navajo Fortress, where they could hide in safety from invaders to their home.

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Kit Carson, then a Col. in the US Army, led the 1863-65 campaign to subdue the Navajo, ultimately leading to the bitter and humiliating trail. The captured Navajo were forced to walk 300 miles to Fort Sumner where they were imprisoned until 1868, when the few remaining Navajo were allowed to return to their homeland in the canyon. This period is remembered by the Navajo as "The Long Walk"

The history of the canyon far predates the Navajo. As far as 2500 BC the canyon was inhabited by nomadic natives. The Pueblos built the magnificent structures in the canyon during the time they lived here, from about 700 to 1300 AD. No one knows why they left. Hopi moved in to the area from 1300 to 1600 AD, and the time of the Navajo began around 1700.

The ruins at Antelope House, so named because of the petroglyphs of antelope along the wall next to the structure:

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This is a close up of the structure, from a web photo:

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We only have one day to visit on this trip, but even early in our day, we have put this place on our list of places to re-visit when we plan a more focused trip in the future. Our limited travel budget on this long journey does not give us the leeway to spend either time or $$ here. A canyon tour, which gives you a close-up of the canyon bottom costs $200 at a minimum. There is a hike down into the canyon at the White House Lookout, but we don't even have time for that on our one-day visit.

We then headed off on the South Rim drive. We started at the far end, at Spider Rock Lookout, where the depth of the canyon is 1000 feet. The spider rock is 800 feet tall and stands on the canyon bottom. Navajo legend says there is a spider woman at the top of the spire, and she takes children who behave badly. I guess it must have kept the little ones in line :)

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Ruins dot the canyon walls throughout the valley:

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We stopped at the White House Lookout, where the 2.5 mile return trail winds down to the valley floor. At this lookout we got a good view of how the Navajo collected water. They let the rocks do it. When rain falls infrequently, it gathers in these depressions in the rock, and this water sustains until the next rainfall. Down in the valley floor there is a dry wash that fills with water during the rainy season and provides water for the crops they grow there.

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This is a close up of the White House ruin, from a web photo:

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We got a couple of shots of us along the cliff rim before departing back to Holbrook:

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The Navajo still use the canyon floor for farming, living down there in modern, or more traditional houses, like this example:

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The only guides that can take you into the canyon are Navajo. This is their land, and it is only fitting that they should be the ones to profit from taking tourists to see the ruins up close.

We will put this on our 2019 trip schedule when we hope to be able to spend 3-4 days here and hike down to the White House Ruin as well as immerse ourselves a bit more in the Navajo history and culture.

I hope this blog entry inspires people to visit this area. It is a rich piece of North American culture that needs to be seen.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 06:38 Archived in USA Tagged navajo_history canyon_du_chelly canyon_del_muerto Comments (2)

Oct 3 - Petrified Forest National Park (& Painted Desert)

217 million yr old trees, great scenery, hiking.

sunny 30 °C

The Petrified Forest National Park is about 20 miles from Holbrook and we started our tour at the Rainbow Forest Museum and Visitor Centre, where we got information on how to visit the park.

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There is a one mile long loop right there at the visitor centre which has some of the biggest petrified trees. These trees were in a forest near the equator when they were alive 217 million years ago. The trees fell into a river which was subsequently buried and reburied, eventually flooded and over time the wood fiber was replaced by quartz and other minerals. Erosion has exposed them, We hiked the Crystal Forest trail:

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We stopped at the Agate Bridge, where 100 years ago the park service tried to save this petrified tree by building a support underneath. Nowadays they would just let this structure collapse as erosion does its job.

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The big event of the day was the hike at the Blue Mesa, where you descend to the bottom and get a glimpse of what erosion does here. The soil is remarkably dense clay, which holds the rocks and petrified wood and only releases it when enough rain falls to erode the hills. The descent to the bottom was steep, and it was hot and windy. We really enjoyed seeing this up close:

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When we had lunch we were visited by these two Edgars (Ravens, we named all of them after Edgar Alan Poe) They were very entertaining.

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Our next stop was at a pueblo village, which was occupied from 1250 to 1380. It is being reconstructed. There are several spots in the park with pictographs and this in one of them.

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We stopped at the location of Route 66, which passed through the park. The road has been obliterated, with the exception of lines of old telephone poles, marching off into the distance along the roads route. At the junction where the road passed there is a 1932 Studebaker to mark the spot.

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The last part of our visit was to the Painted Desert and the historical Painted Desert Inn, which served as a road house along Route 66. The desert looks much better at dawn and dusk when the angle of the sun creates shadows. We'd hiked about 4 miles over the day, in strong winds and fairly warm temperatures and were pretty beat by this time and decided it was time to head back to our campground.

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Our sole wildlife sighting was this little guy:

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If you are planning to go to the Grand Canyon, you are going to be just down the road from this beautiful natural park. It is well worth a visit.

Tomorrow, we are off to another local attraction...the Canyon de Chelly National Monument, about 100 miles north of here.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 18:00 Archived in USA Tagged petrified_forest painted_desert Comments (1)

Oct 2 - Sedona to Winslow to Holbrook, AZ

Route 66, The Eagles, Winslow

sunny 25 °C

At dusk last night in Sedona Jenny got this picture of the setting sun on one of the monoliths that dot the valley.

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We had a really leisurely start to the day, French Toast and Bacon, and then a slow prep to depart. It usually takes us 45 minutes to get ready to hit the road. We have a very solid routine that we go through to make sure everything is secured, and that TaJ is properly hooked-up. Today we took almost 90 minutes to do the job. We departed Sedona at 11:00am

Our day consisted of a 150 mile drive to Holbrook, AZ, mostly along I-40, with a stop in Winslow, which the Eagles made famous with a line from Take it Easy:

"Standing on a corner, in Winslow, Arizona, what a pretty sight to see, its a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowing down to take a look at me"

Winslow has made a park out of this line, with statues of Eagle Band Members Glenn Fry and Don Henley, and a flatbed Ford.

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Winslow is a sleepy town of about 10,000, with an original strip of Route 66 intact through downtown.

We arrived in Holbrook, which is a sleepy little town of about 5,000, with an original strip of Route 66 intact through downtown. We stocked up at the local Safeway and settled in at the KOA for two, possibly three nights.

We will go to Petrified Forest and Painted Desert National Parks tomorrow, and had planned to head south towards Tucson on Wednesday. However the temperatures are expected to soar over 100 degrees F in the south for the next 5 days. There is little point in our heading into that kind of heat without air conditioning. So far we have been fine without A/C and we are happy with our decision not to get it, as we would not have used it in the last 124 days.

Our thinking is that we will stretch our time in the north half of the state until next Sunday when temperatures are expected to drop back into the 80's F. There are things to do up here in central/northern Arizona that we had not planned on doing, so they will likely get moved up the list. We do want to get to the Tucson area, like the Saguaro National Park, Tombstone, etc. so that will move to next week.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 18:15 Archived in USA Tagged winslow the_eagles holbrook Comments (2)

Oct 1 - Sedona, Arizona

Burma Shave Road Signs, Sedona: New Age, Left Wing Community, 5 separate vortices (vortexes) where earth's magnetic field has special properties. Notwithstanding, they will sell you anything here including timeshares

sunny 32 °C

We left Seligman after filling our propane tank and emptying the black and grey water tanks on TaJ and took a 16 mile seldom used portion of old Route 66. They have recreated Burma Shave signs along this segment of road. When I was young and we traveled in the US we always looked for the Burma Shave signs...fun, fun, fun.

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Our drive into Sedona was spectacular. You come down Highway 89A from Flagstaff, via the Oak Creek Canyon dropping from 7300 feet above sea level to about 4500 feet at Sedona, over a distance of 28 miles.

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We arrived at the RV park exactly at Noon, check in time:

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That allowed us the afternoon to see what we could see. The town centre of Sedona is dedicated to extracting every single dollar it can from tourists, and is really off-putting. Reminds of us being in Banff. Everything is for sale, at pretty high prices. There are tours to be purchased, and the t-shirt shops seem never ending. Of course the T-shirts are all made off-shore somewhere.

We strolled the shopping district, came upon a shop with Jenny's name on it:

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This is a Javelina...a kind of wild swine. This one, of course, is a street decoration, we expect to meet up with a real javelina, or two in the coming weeks.

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We found that cowboys and Indians, played a big part in this town's past. Really, it was a major site for cowboy movies back in the 1940's and 50's:

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But, nowadays, downtown is all about commerce and traffic:

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We took a scenic drive and this is what this valley is all about: red rock formations...great scenery:

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And the photographer:

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In an earlier blog I had mentioned hiking sticks made from flower stems of Yucca plants. Here is what they look like, and they really do work as hiking poles, very light and strong.

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We offer this about Sedona. It is a lovely place, with a permanent population of 10,000, and a seasonal population much in excess of that. The season runs most of the year, so there is a lot going on. You can buy a Himalayan Salt Candle here, you can get your aura read, you can buy healing crystals here. All around town there are wind chimes, that people can play if they so desire. It is a new age, left wing community and we do not think Donald Trump politics play well here.

Jenny and I left Nova Scotia with one firm vow...we would not buy anything to take home, we would not pick up rocks, or driftwood, or any silly little knick-knacks, with the single exception of craft brewery coasters :) during our entire trip. We would take home memories, and pictures, and this blog which will going to be our scrapbook. So, shopping is not something we do and we found the crass commercialism of the town core off-putting, but that does not detract from its beauty, which is spectacular.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 18:32 Archived in USA Tagged sedona rock_formations oak_creek_canyon new_age Comments (2)

Sep 29, 30 - Day off in Seligman/Grand Canyon South Rim

Flagstones, Grand Canyon South Rim

sunny 24 °C

Sep 29: We woke to a beautiful morning at the KOA in Seligman, Arizona. It is not the best campground we have ever stayed in, but is OK. Our plan for the day was go to the Grand Canyon, but neither of us relished any more time in the car. We've come a long way in the past few days and a day of doing nothing really appealed.

We did do a short drive to the town of Ash Fork, which turns out to be the flagstone capital of the world. If you want flagstones, they got 'em, or know where to get 'em! :)

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We got the blog up to date, did our laundry, sat around and read and ended the day with a pork chop and a salad for supper. Enough said!

Sep 30 - We were up and on the road by 7:30am ready to see the Grand Canyon South Rim. We know it will be crazy busy there, as this is a Saturday. We arrived at the visitor center at 9:30am and immediately got to walking along the rim. Our goal was to walk 4-5 miles from the Visitor Centre all the way over to the Bright Angel Trailhead, where people ride mules down into the Canyon. Along much of the walk you can see the trail a couple of thousand feet below, and what looks like ants walking on it.

This was another beautiful day, with temperature of about 21 C and a good breeze blowing which made walking comfortable. We took lots of pictures of the scenery and truly enjoyed being there early enough to beat the crowds. We stopped for lunch at the El Tovar Hotel on the edge of the Village. Jenny had a beef and bean taco and I had the steak sandwich. With a beer each our bill, with tip came to $48. Not bad, and the food was delicious.

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By the time we finished lunch the crowd along the rim trail had exploded. It was a veritable United Nations up there...every language you could imagine. We quickly figured out that it was time for us to begin the departure. There was no room to move and we aren't particularly fond of crowds.

The Hopi House, built in 1905, is a replica of the kind of structure the Hopi Indians lived in. It is a sales centre for Hopi Art.

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On the bus back to the Visitor Center we were packed in like sardines and the half hour bus ride was uncomfortable to say the least. But the bus deposited us a hundred yards from our car and we were soon on our way back to Seligman. On our way back we passed through the town of Williams, which is cute as a button. It was the last town on Route 66 bypassed by I-40 when it was built back in the 60's.

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In 2014 we spent 5 nights at the North Rim of the Canyon and both of us agreed we enjoyed that experience more than this one. However, the South Rim has amazing views and is certainly a worthwhile destination. Its biggest drawback is its own popularity: over 5 million visitors a year. By mid afternoon it is crammed and uncomfortable.

Our stop here was just a short one, and there is so much more to see if you spend 3-4 days here, using the early and late hours of the day to get to more remote points of view, and getting photos of sunrise and sunset. But that kind of trip require advance planning as accommodations are full most of the spring summer fall. There are plenty of RV parks, and again, even at the end of September there were no reservable sites...a few first come first served but towing TaJ up 80 miles of road on speculation that we could find a site was not something we wanted to do.

But the views, ahh, the views!

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 07:35 Archived in USA Tagged route_66 grand_canyon_south_rim Comments (1)

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