May 23-24

Next I'm on to the very cool, and never before visited by me, Canyon de Chelly. See that sign? Now you know you're on the res. There is one every few miles.
I arrived near sundown on the 23rd in time to drive around a little and say ahhh ahhh a bunch.

Click here for the .gov site for Canyon de Chelly.
The shadows are so deep.
So I decided to get myself up early enough to do a tour if the tour wasn't going to be too crowded. It worked out great as the guests were me and a retired couple from Mesa Arizona. That's our transport.

The canyon bottom was all about a foot deep of soft powdery dirt making only four wheel drive vehicles able to pass, and even they were working like crazy, whining and bouncing so aggressively my pedometer registered about 6,000 steps!
Here we are! That couple cracked me up. The man did not speak more than four words the entire time. The woman was not quiet for more than four seconds. A classic accommodation for happily ever after. The guide's name is Timothy and he said he's been taking tourists in here for 18 years.
Note the truck in the lower middle, for scale. It's another flatbed full of tourists. The cliff dwelling is right in the middle of the picture.
I don't think these horses are wild since you could get quite close. There are about 100 Navajo families who live and farm on the canyon floor.

All the ruins are from the Anasazi (sounds like Anastasi) people who disappeared from here around 1200. The Navajo didn't come until 1300-1500. The guide said the Navajo people never go into the cliff dwellings because the spirits of the Anastasi are still there.
Another example of the cliff dwellings of the Anastasi.
There were many tours going on at the same time and no doubt all hitting the same spots. This is the only National Park on Native American lands so there is a lot of partnership projects regarding maintenance and visitor policy. All the guides and vendors are Navajo.
And to close with the giant kitty.
May 25

Flagstaff is pretty nice. It smells good from the 7,000 foot altitude and the pine forests. (Santa Fe is also at 7,000 feet and I like the air there too.) Flagstaff is into a revitalization of the Historic Old Downtown that reminds me of a 1/4 sized Long Beach downtown project when Long Beach was 1/4 done - still a little rough, but optimistic.
Down from Flagstaff into Oak Creek Canyon...
...and the legendary Oak Creek Canyon Slide Rock State Park.
Coming out of the canyon you are smacked upside the head by the GaGa-ness of Red Rock country in Sedona. Here's a little taste of a housing tract in Sedona.

The 'town' is one street now totally torn up for road improvements where you will find a collection of low rise buildings tricked out all Western-style like from the movies.
So very many pictures. Here was my chance, I thought, because I had the car, to take the tripod and get great razor sharp landscapes. Have I taken that tripod out of its bag? Good guess. No I have not.
It's Trixie the dog and her guy! Hi Trixie! Hi guy!
Awwww. Trixie.
I wish I knew a geologist who could do a nice compare and contrast discussion on Canyon de Chelly and Sedona's landscapes.
Magic all right.
Where you have red rocks it makes sense that you'd find red dirt. But the dirt in Canyon de Chelly was not red. Yes, we need a geologist.
On the way back to Flagstaff I stopped along the creek thinking to take a stroll and ran into this talkative fellow. Before long the light was gone and I had to get going since I avoid driving at night.
May 26

This is the town of Williams, the Amtrak kickoff point for the Grand Canyon. There were tons of motels around the several block Old Town. It was actually kind of cute.
Notice the Greyhound bus station behind the McDonald's, then the highway above, and what you can't see is the train tracks that run under the bridge. That McDonald's had a counter with 10 busy lines, maybe 20 workers behind the lines.

I want to acknowledge my appreciation to Mr and Mrs McDonald's. Your stores are everywhere, as we all know, meaning an at least decent restroom is always near at hand. Thank you.

Nasty as you might find a McBurger, you don't have to eat it, you don't even have to buy it. Just be grateful that you're not in some skanky old gas station begging for the key.
I took these next two pictures for my sisters. Sisters! Needles! Remember?

I was never more miserable, more unbearably intolerable than during those Augusts when we drove across country in 2 1/2 days in 104 degree heat with no air conditioning, Daddy smoking and not letting us open the window, and with Mom in the front seat making peanut butter and sweet pickle sandwiches and passing out lukewarm koolaid.
My skin was in terror of being touched. HOTHOTHOT. SOOOooo HOT.


I'm sorry you guys! Really!
An amusing food stop along I-15...
...especially when you think it's going to be a Denny's.
Too much in too short a time? Probably, but still I'm glad to have done it.

I did learn a big fat lesson though, and in less than 2 weeks, so that's good. What I would do much differently is this: I wouldn't take for granted that I'd figure it out along the way. I should have bought guidebooks. I should have studied up, the same as going to Cambodia or Peru. Study up! It makes for a richer experience.
HomeUSA the West • Arizona • '06 May: Canyon de Chelly, Sedona

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