Monumental Tsé Bii’ Ndzisgaii

Travel 24/10/2012: Las Vegas, NV – Kingman, AZ – Flagstaff, AZ
Travel 25/10/2012: Flagstaff, AZ – Grand Canyon National Park, AZ – Kayenta, AZ

Travel 26/10/2012: Kayenta, AZ – Monument Valley – Gallup, NM

Having left Las Vegas to join Route 66 at Kingman, AZ, it is Pookaver’s intention to drive 1261 miles to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma along this historic highway. Not without a couple of detours on the way of course.

The Left and Right Mittens hold Merrick Butte in their grasp…Monument Valley, UT

Important detours and additional miles to be covered – 395 of them. To the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Pookaverse then, in the fading light of Thursday (25/10) driving the 154 miles to Kayenta, AZ.  and a trip deep into the Navajo Nation as well as a valuable staging area to explore Monument Valley on Friday morning (26/10).

This area, under the jurisdiction of the Navajo people but under supreme authority of the United States government covers  27,425 square miles (71,000 km2), occupying portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico.

Staying overnight at the Hampton Inn Kayenta, AZ  – which was the most expensive stay undertaken on the trip so far at $159 . Then getting up the next day at 9am to leave, watched by a number of stray dogs, Pookaverse drove the 26.7 miles to the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and the Visitor Centre owned and operated by Navajo Nation representatives.

The Pookaverse chariot and Alison face off against Camel Butte…I don’t think we won that one

Even before you arrive at the outskirts of the Park, the first of the fantastic buttes are visible on an rolling, flat, red landscape of siltstone and scrub – dotted with single-story huts adjacent to older and contemporarily fashioned hogans either singular or in small settlements.

Like the blind men and an elephant…it is sometime difficult to know which end of Elephant Butte you actually are looking at…

To enter Monument Valley also means to cross into the state of Utah and to leave this area also involves crossing into the State of New Mexico. Three states in one day – a Pookaverse record.

The entry fee is a modest $5 per person which provides access to the sympathetically (fast becoming Pookaverses favourite go-to word) constructed Visitor Centre with all amenities and entry onto a 17- mile self-guided tour on an unpaved road that takes you through the park with an excellent level of access to the different sites.

The captivating Three Sisters as seen from John Ford point….

Small fenced encampments marked “Private Property” and a corral of ponies with foals  for horseback tours are encountered in this eerie, inspiring and all too familiar landscape. At least for those of us who have watched at least one John Ford film. The backdrops are all there to see: West and East Mitten Buttes; the Three Sisters at John Ford point where the epic denouement of ‘The Searchers’ takes place; Totem pole; as well as the spectacular North Window.

An all-seeing eye at Rain God Mesa…

Pookaverse imagined what it would be like to camp here – watch the sunset and see the stars come out. Given the timescales, we had to settle for the self-guided tour each stop with a Navajo stall selling artefacts. There was nothing pushy about this situation. They were just there.  Distant.

The Seven Totem Poles…

It would be worth hiring a 4×4 for this drive or perhaps taking a drive tour on the back of a converted Nissan flatbed offered at the Visitor Centre. Else you may struggle over the uneven and wild surface.

Despite the presence of the Visitor Centre, your fellow tourists of which there were only a handful at 10am in the morning and the jet contrails, this place still feels wild. As if it will never be tamed. Which hopefully under the stewardship of the Navajo people – the rightful heirs to this stunningly beautiful area – will remain. In perpetuity.

The Thumb…part of Camel Butte…also referred to as the Cowboy Boot.

Pookaverse had rehearsed a sentence or two in case we spoke to a Navajo. Should the subject of the shameful seizure of territory, near genocide and ransacking of Native American culture that took place as these lands were gradually ‘settled’ in the century before last.

View through the North Window Overlook

It went something like: “This is not the end. This is just another chapter of this story that is not yet completed”.

Agreed. It would sound patronising wouldn’t it?  Pookaverse didn’t take the opportunity like most of the tourists to engage.

The Pookaverse hooms assemble at Artists point to explore the brushstrokes on the canvas

Scant words of comfort for a people struggling to make sense of their past losses in light of their recent gains in territory and national recognition. Being restored to lands that were part of them.  Theirs to hunt and wander across for thousands of generations. Something undone.

Perhaps in the end when the rest of civilisation faces the coming crisis over land, water and food. The Navajo will have the last word.

A cup of coffee…in Monument Valley…on a Friday lunchtime…bliss

What are the Navajo words for “I told you so?”


3 Responses to “Monumental Tsé Bii’ Ndzisgaii”

  1. Rach Says:

    Hi Guys, the scenery is almost unearthly!!! Don’t envy you the long drive to Oklahoma City so make sure you break it up enough and don’t get too tired out.
    Everything is fine here = Mum gets back from here cruise to Madeira today so can’t wait to hear all about it.
    Love you both
    Rach and Bri xxxxx

  2. Terri and Andrew Says:

    Wow, loved the Hoover Dam, you will never hoover in the same way again, Rohan!! This scenery is stunning and makes you think about the native Indians too.
    Thanks for keeping us up dated, happy travels.
    Andrew and Terri

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: