Monday, May 12, 2008

Saturday and Sunday

Saturday May 10, 2008

Sunny and warm here. Stayed in the Red Feather hotel which is like a Holiday Inn, Quality Inn, etc, so it was really nice after our $79 special….(did I mention the door to that motel was a sliding door, and when we pulled the ‘curtain’ across, all we saw was light coming through all the holes, rips, etc. Sink didn’t drain that well, toilet was ‘temperamental’, Bev said there was mildew growing somewhere…but no smell, thank goodness….that room gave us a chuckle).

Stopped at an espresso place, got our ‘usuals’ and headed to the Park Visitor Center. The Park Ranger said the top of the Grand Canyon was 7000 feet, and the bottom was about a 3600 foot drop. Whoa. AND, let’s say the top of the canyon is 80 degrees, for every 1000 feet down, it is 5 to 8 degrees hotter, so that by the time you get to the bottom it’s 100 to 120 degrees. It is recommended to hike before 9am or after 4pm due to the heat. Unless you are just hiking along the Rim, but again, you wouldn’t want to do this in the heat of the day. The Rangers do not want anyone hiking below the Rim between the hours of 9am to 4pm. They say you must be an experienced desert hiker, carry enough water for drink ½ to 1 quart of water for every hour or 2 hours (?) you hike, and to eat salty snacks every time you drink water. The body needs salt as well as water to keep your inner temperature in balance. There are places to stop and wait out the heat below the Rim. Becky Evans could provide us with details on this because for one of her birthdays, she went down to Phantom Ranch from the Rim on a mule!
There is haze in the morning and late afternoon, so the best viewing time from the Rim is about 11am to 2 / 2:15pm. But even with the haze, the Grand Canyon is, well, Grand.

So, for all you budding geologists, as far as the rock / dirt goes: the top of Grand Canyon is the bottom at Zion; the top of Zion is the bottom at Bryce Canyon. This little fandango is called the Grand Staircase. The rock at the Grand Canyon is a million and a half years old, but the canyon itself is much younger than that. Well, you all can “Live Search” at MSN, the Grand Canyon and read all about it. J

We stopped at our Holiday Inn in Kayenta, had lunch, then headed out to Monument Valley where we paid $68 each for a jeep drive out into the valley with a Navajo Guide. This is WELL WORTH THE MONEY. You can drive yourself around Monument Valley, 17 miles, but it’s a circle going around one of the huge mesas. You do have a little pamphlet to read, but all the tales, stories, how the valley monuments got their names, where Stagecoach was actually filmed, and going onto the private parts of Monument Valley, is what you get if you go out with a Native American tour. Also, the road is unpaved, deep red sand, pot holes, rough going.
We left our purses in the car and so could not purchase anything at this one woman’s Hogan (she is Susie something or other, was in all the westerns made out here, and is 96 now), we got to stop at her Hogan (oh, yes, there are some families that still live in Monument Valley, they have no running water, no electricity) and see her weave, she had some beautiful jewelry, both Bev and I were cursing the fact our wallets were somewhere else! Sorry Melissa and Andi, you missed out on some lovely trinkets. BOO HOO! ‘cuz I would have gotten something for myself as well. L

We stopped at one place in the private area, our guide did a war whoop or a yell, and the sound echoed off of 4 different mesas and a pinnacle so the sound seemed to come from somewhere else. He said the sound was his ‘brothers’. Then he laughed. It was pretty cool. Then he took us to the Sun’s Eye. Picture yourself in a large cave like rock indentation (made by wind and water), but very open on one side with a hole up at the ‘ceiling’ (the Sun’s Eye). We lay on the sandstone (cold to the touch – like marble) and our guide played his flute: a traditional Navajo song, then he sang another traditional song, and then for his ‘finale’, he played his own composition on his flute. The sandstone was terracotta colored, the desert sand the same, the sky was brilliant blue, the sun beating down on the desert outside of the Sun’s Eye, and nothing else but perhaps the sound of the wind gently blowing in. Oh gosh, it was really cool! (Of course I had red hair, a red face and my clothes were all reddish too when we got back…).. we were sure glad we didn’t drive our car into this place….

Someone is currently building a 300 + room hotel / motel right at the Visitor Center, to be open sometime at the end of this year or maybe early 2009. It looks like a Holiday Inn or something. Our guide said most of the Native Americans did not want the motel but apparently there are some political disagreements going on between the Clans, and the motel is being built. So you could book yourself right there and have the most photographed view of Monument Valley right at out your window.

You don’t feel a lot of ‘hope’ coming up out of the ground when you drive through the reservation. They do look poor. Bev and I went to the Laundromat last night, and my, wasn’t that an experience. All the Native American women were there washing the week’s clothes. Children, 2 men, mostly women. Eventually, a young boy and then an older woman came in with jewelry to sell to Bev and I because we were the only non-Native Americans in the place. Several washers and dryers were out of order, 4 or 5 of the dryers had no doors. But most everyone smiled at us, and were helpful. They all had turquoise on and one Ancient One had some honkin’ big turquoise bracelets on. Geez, makes you think, there for the grace of God, or chance, go I. And I don’t mean having big turquoise bracelets, but the poverty.

Sunday, May 11, 2008
We are taking a side trip to Canyon de Chelly, and then up to Mesa Verde in Colorado. Canyon de Chelly is, well, go check it out. . This canyon is free. We were surprised because they could charge and people would pay. So Canyon de Chelly and Canyon de Muerto are very cool and worth the side trip we took. There is only one hike you can take without a Native American guide, it is the White House trail. About 3 miles (1.5 down) and supposed to take 2 hours at a leisure pace. You will drop down 600 – 700 feet in 1.5 miles. As you go to these overlooks, the canyon is beautiful, quiet; although we did hear cattle bawling at Spider Rock. But not much else at any of the other overlooks. There are Navajo living down in the canyon, looks like crops growing, some cattle, and the Chinle Wash running through the canyon is absolutely lovely. Green and fertile. There are guided jeep tours into the canyons and would be well worth the cost. We shall return!

We are heading to Mesa Verde now, for 2 nights, then onto Angel Fire (near Taos) to our friend Gay’s home. Seems strange to be halfway through out trip, we can hardly believe we have seen so many Canyon Nat’l Parks, and done so much already.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mommy’s out there!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mesa Verde – wow. Our little car climbed higher and higher, and yet higher. We are on top of the world. The known world from 550 to 1300 AD. It is amazing up here. This is where the Cliff Dwellings are – the Rangers say is a misnomer. These cliffs are really cliff storage places. Yes. The Ancestral Publeoans could live in the cliff dwellings and did at times, but they mainly lived up on the Mesa. They grew their corn, squash, and beans up on the mesa too.
Our dinner was very good, the drinks great, we slept like logs. Breakfast was very good as well. We had purchased a ranger guided tour when we booked ourselves into the Far View Lodge, so we met the Ranger at 8am for our tour of several sites, views of cliff dwellings, and then the climb down to Cliff Palace. You must take a Ranger guided tour, it costs $49 and is well worth it. You get so much information that you would not get if you visited it on your own. (you can pay $3 and a Ranger will take people down through Cliff Palace, but you do not get all the info, all the history of the Ancestral Publeoans (from 550 to 1300) that we did. At each stop, there is so much info only the Ranger can provide, that one would definitely miss out on what they were actually seeing. After our tour, we had lunch and then walked down to Spruce House (no fee) just behind the Museum, is the only cliff house you can ‘tour’ on your own. There is a Ranger at the site to answer any questions. And you do get to go down in a Kiva. BUT. The piece de resistance is Balcony House (we think). This is $3, you drive your car out to the parking place by Balcony House, meet the Ranger, and they take you down into Balcony House. It is breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking. You climb up a steep 32 foot ladder (3 stories high), you listen to the Ranger, you walk around inside Balcony House, you climb up a small ladder, walk in carved out footsteps on a small slope, continue with your history lesson from the Ranger, then you crawl through a tunnel (about 12 feet long, and it even had a light source from above coming in) it was not bad at all. More history, then you go up 3 ladders, walk in carved out footsteps holding onto metal chains, up up up up up. Finally you are at the top. The Ranger said they have specialists test the safety (?) of the ladders, so they know when to build new ones.

We are waiting to get into the dining room (which has an incredible view by the way). Tomorrow we leave for Gay’s house in Angel Fire.
Til Later!

1 comment:

crack said...

HA! Your description of your $79 dollar special hotel room reminds me of the "cabin" we stayed in at yellowstone. Awesome stuff.

No worries on the phone call mom. Tried calling you back, but you musta been deep into the Pueblo houses by then 8^) I got off a Happy Mothers day so I was good.

I will mention though, that I kept talking to you for about a minute and thought I did something wrong because you were not responding... pretty funny stuff.