Sunday, May 22, 2011

Navajo Day

On paper, today was probably the least exciting day of the Kristie segment. It involved over 8 hours of driving. However it did not turn out terribly. Before heading into the Navajo Reservation, I stopped to pick up some seltzer for Kristie at the gas station just outside of the reservation. The reservation is dry – they don’t sell alcohol. Well this place was not. It was 9:00 AM. I hate stereotypes but, there were 3 people in front of me and their orders went like this: 30 rack of coors, 30 rack of bud, and 12 pack of Mikes Hard. Stereotypes are generally bad, but this was like a walking stereotype.

Back on the road we wound up a steep road that challenged my Prius battery again and we climbed up the Vermillion Cliffs. After about an hour we found food. Kristie was starving and thanks to the odd time zones in Arizona we were able to get her to a Burger King just in time to catch the last of the French toast sticks. Then we stopped by the Glen Canyon Dam. This is one of the most controversial projects since the rising waters destroyed renowned beautiful canyon with a ton of archeology when the cam was completed. However, the dam is impressive. They had a neat visitor’s center. One of the rangers was operating a telescope so we could view sun spots. Sadly the sun went away when we realized this but it was still fun to talk to her about them!
Our big destination for the day was Monument Valley. We drove north on the reservation and even briefly re-entered Utah before arriving. Monument Valley is where many of the Western movies of the mid-20th Century were filmed. It’s a cool looking place with huge red spires surrounded by pretty much nothing. There was an option to drive a 17 mile dirt loop road to check out all of the spires close up but we decided against it since the Prius has a low clearance. We took some pretty nice pictures, including one from Ansel Adam’s famed photography site. There was also an interesting Navajo history museum. This park is considered a sacred site for them. One of the funnier signs we saw instructed us to ask permission to photograph a native person and to be sure to provide gratuity to them. As you can guess, we did not take part in either of these activities. There was a gigantic gift shop in the museum and I found peace pipes which I thought Kristie might want to get as a gift for Richie. She did and even got 40% off – which I think is a continuously running sale. Then we hit the road again towards Ship Rock, New Mexico.

On the way we encountered something crazy… a huge dump truck being transported in pieces on the road. There were lead and chase vehicles which pushed all of the traffic (including us) off the road. This thing was gigantic and the whole process just seemed dangerous. I took a picture. When we arrived at ship rock, it looked kind of cool but nothing like a ship. After a while of gazing, Kristie pointed out that it did look like a sinking ship. That actually made visual sense to me as well. Perhaps that’s why it is called ship rock. After a brief stop at Taco Bell, we headed north toward Colorado. This was the ugliest crossing sign I’ve seen since it was tagged with gang graffiti. It also was brown and white but exclaimed “Welcome to Colorful Colorado.” A bit of an oxymoron for sure. On the other side there was a very nice sign welcoming travelers to the Navajo reservation. We also got a picture with that sign for the X-Files theme segment of the trip.

Approaching dark, we arrived at Mesa Verde National Park. The campground had availability – thank God! We also were able to purchase our tickets for the Cliff Palace tour for tomorrow morning. This was one of the few things on the whole trip so far that required cash. I had to scrounge up change from the car to pay for it. This was the first night that Kristie camped on this trip – excluding that terrible night of sleeping in the car at Great Basin National Park. We set up the tent, built a campfire, and tried some local beers. I must admit that Corona would have been a better choice as this micro brew was not so good. The winds were whipping which made me a bit nervous as I used the park newspapers to start the wood on fire. They were blowing everywhere, half lit, and into the dry grass which had not seen rain in over 2 weeks. We actually watched an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm by the campfire. Not many people can say they’ve done that! Then we headed to bed.

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