Day Five – Monument Valley

I got a sweet mama, she ain’t long or tall She got the kind of lovin’, will make a panther squall. —Blind Blake, “Panther Squall Blues,” 1927

On the road early again today with a long trip ahead. First off we are heading to Winslow Arizona. Another beautiful Spring Day, blues skies. We turn onto the U.S. 180 East for the 52 miles drive to Winslow. The highway speed limit here is 75 miles P/H about 120 K. We are traveling through wide open plains and I would assume we would have seen Bison roaming the plains back in the day. As we come into Winslow we have cued up that song.

Well, I’m standing on a corner of Winslow Arizona,

And such a fine sight to see,

It’s a girl my Lord in a flatbed Ford,

Slowin’ down to take a look at me

I bet you are now singing those words in your head! For non-Eagles, fans click here

Also here is a link to why we have traveled to Winslow just to take some photos

Photo: Bernie, Rob, and Hoff – Standing On the Corner

I have finally learned how to import links so you do not need to copy and paste them into your browser.

Bernie asked the salesperson in the shop if she got sick of listening to the Eagles all day long, “no” she said but I did hear a quiver in her voice. We parked in the car park at City Hall. There is a work crew from the Arizona Corrections Facility tending to the surrounding garden. They must be under good supervision as Wendy had left the back door open. After a pit stop for coffee at Mojo Coffee House we are back in the car and before reaching the freeway a sign advertises an upcoming Gun Show at the Elks Club. About time they taught the Elks to shoot at those pesky hunters.

On the road again and we see a sign to turn off to view the Barringer Meteor Crater and Museum. Why not we said. It was a wise decision it is the largest fully preserved crater in the world. The crater was formed 50,000 years ago, hurtling at about 26,000 miles per hour. Another first for me viewing a Meteor Crater. An unexpected stop but what a bonus it was.

We are back on the road and heading toward Holsbrock. It is 11:25 and we turn off for our next planned stop, the Petrified Forest. The countryside is now pretty much desert with low-lying scrub. Hard to imagine that many, many years ago this was a lush ancient forest, with plenty of water and dinosaurs holding the fort. There are examples of some of the logs being cut and polished to incredible colors at the gift shop. They are for sale but at a large price. 6000USD. Before heading into the park I need a wee stop. Above the toilet bowl there is a warning sign, do not flush the toilet before using it, our water is yellow. The water is full of sulfur and iron and indeed everything is stained yellow. Oh yeah, you are also advised not to drink it. The temperature is around 25c but walking around without any shade makes it feel hotter. Amazing to see so many old trees just lying on their side now petrified for eternity. I thought to myself, what would this area have been like when those trees were standing tall. We then stopped off at Jasper Forest. Incredible to see. Bugger, Eagle Rock collapsed in 1940, sorry Mark Mackay I was going to take a photo for you. We had another stop at Agate Bridge. In fact, you could stop every couple of miles for an incredible sight.

The photo above is a tree!

The photo above – Three old fossils

Common sense tells you that what is in the park stays in the park. You can lift up a smaller piece of petrified wood and let me tell you there is a lot of weight in them.

The Photo Above – Don’t Steal the Wood

Another photo op along the road with a viewing area where you can view the San Francisco Peaks, the Pinnacles, Pilot Rock

It has been another very long day in the saddle. My head cold is giving me the irrates. And of course, we lost an hour once we came onto the Navajo Reservation (no daylight savings), the Nation itself spans three states. It is late mid-afternoon and we realize we have not eaten since breakfast and there are no cafes out this way. We stop at a dodgy Gas Station and buy a sandwich out of the refrigerator and Bernie heats up a Burrito. Suprise to all of us the food was very acceptable.

We are now heading toward Kayenta, with Monument Valley a little further down the road. We will be staying there for two nights. Driving past some amazing rock formations which are all worth stopping for but we continue on. As I said this is all Navajo land, horses roaming in paddocks, some homes are a little run-down others well kept but all are at some distance from each other. We turn left onto U.S 160West Bound most of the roads we have traveled have been gun-barrel straight. We stopped at another gas station for some snacks. Upon entering at least 50% of the people in the station were still wearing face masks (more on that later). I’d say there were 20 people in there including staff with me being the only non-Native American.

What a fantastic sight as we came into the Valley, straight out of a Western movie or T.V. show. I would bet my last American Dollar (they are worth more than ours) that all of you would have seen some of these monuments on a small or large screen. But to see them looming imposingly and sacredly for the Native Americans is another thing indeed. We cross over the State Line into Utah and before you know it we are checking into our accommodation at Goulding’s Lodge. And who was Goulding you may ask, does not sound like a Native name. A little back story that we all found very interesting:

Harry Goulding was a sheep trader looking for a new business opportunity and a place to call home. In the early 1920s, Harry and his wife Leone, whose nickname was “Mike,” visited Monument Valley and were enamored with the area. Although Monument Valley had once been part of the Paiute Indian Reservation, the reservation relocated and areas of land opened up for sale. The Gouldings jumped at the chance to purchase a substantial plot of land in Monument Valley and quickly set up a Trading Post.

Starting out in tents, the Gouldings conducted business with the local Navajo people, trading food and other goods for handcrafted items like rugs and jewelry. After several years of living and working in tents, Harry and Mike constructed a permanent building, now the Goulding’s Trading Post Museum.

When the Great Depression hit in the 1930s, the Navajo Reservation suffered immensely. Harry heard of a movie production company scouting out locations in the Southwest to use in films. He believed that bringing movie production to Monument Valley would help the local Navajos with much-needed income.

So Harry and Mike set out on a journey to Hollywood, California with their last $60. By luck and perseverance, Harry met the famous director John Ford. When Ford saw Harry’s photos of Monument Valley, he knew it was the perfect location for his next movie. The Gouldings received an advanced payment, and in a few days, John Ford and his crew began filming Stagecoach starring John Wayne.

A John Wayne movie is shown every night at our Lodge. There is a John Wayne cabin on sight which has a lot of photos of the artists resting between shots of the filming of Stagecoach.

We had dinner at the restaurant. Good food indeed. Wendy’s open Indian Fry Bread taco could have fed the for of us, even Bernie could not make any inroads after Wendy had been eating for half an hour.

Google Maps

Now I ain’t no milkman, no milkman’s son I can pull your titties ’till the milkman comes ’Cause I’m an all-around man . . . I mean I’m all-around man I can do ’most anything that come to hand. —Bo Carter, “All Around Man,” 1936

As an added bonus I have worked out how to show you the route of our daily travels. These four maps will catch you up. Day one of Last Hurrah U.S.A road trip LAX to Joshua Tree Town

Day Two – Joshua Tree to Flagstaff

Day Three- Flagstaff to Grand Canyon and Return

Day Four – Flagstaff to Monument Valley

Day Four – Grand Canyon

I drink so much jake, it have settled down in my knee I retched for my lovin’, my baby turned her back on me. —Ishmon Bracey, “Jake Liquor Blues,” 1930

Neither Wendy nor I had a good sleep. We are both suffering from a bit of a head cold. Keeping up with the blog is a little difficult as we are cramming a lot into each day. I know I had two typos in the last upload.

Today is helicopter day and my palms are already sweating. This will be my first flight in a helicopter and what a scary start it will be flying over the Grand Canyon. We get on the road at 7:30. I mentioned in the last blog that there is still some snow around Flagstaff. Also noticed today that some homes still have sandbag protection around the fence line. Another beautiful day is in store for us, bright blue sky and still a bit of a chill in the air. We will be seeing a lot more snow shortly as we head out of Flagstaff and head up the mountain to a height of 7000 feet. Flagstaff is one of the snowiest cities in the country with up to 100 inches annually. By the way, this is only the second time I have seen snow! Once we leave the mountain we head into the open plains. We take a left off the highway and are now only 23 miles for the Grand Canyon.

We arrive at the airport just after 9. Plenty of time to confirm our booking. We are flying with Maverick Helicopters. It is still perfect weather for flying but my apprehension is rising. We get called to meet our pilot (I wish I could remember his name). There are four flights taking off at 10-minute intervals. We are flying with a German couple and a Dutch couple. Safety procedure done we are strapped in with a small life jacket around our waists (we will be flying over the Colorado River) and each of us has our own headset and microphone. Nice touch, as we wait to take off with music playing through the headphones it is the Star Wars theme. The egg beater is getting faster and just like that we are a few inches above the ground. I can feel a little sway from side to side but no big deal. We gain height and fly over a large forested area. Some snow on the ground. The pilot relays lots of information. I have to say I am pretty relaxed. It hardly feels like you are moving. We bank to our left and are told we are approaching the rim. The pilot lets us know that if you are scared of heights then look away to the side. Once we pass the rim the majesty and size of the Canyon take your breath away. Simply the most amazing thing I have ever seen or most likely will ever see again. We are provided with so much historical and statistical information that it is hard to keep taking notes. Best just to forgo the writing and sit and enjoy the spectacle. Here is a link about the Canyon

The Colorado River is below us and from this height does not look so big. We are told it is in parts 100 meters wide and 14 meters deep. You can just see some rafters down below. The Canyon itself in parts is blue, green, and red. Old Lava flows can be seen. We stay over the Canyon for a good 30 minutes, so many things to see and learn about. This is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Looming right in front of us now is Point Imperial which is the highest point. The Point gets 10 Meters of snow per year. I feel that we are very close to banging straight into it. Our pilot tells us that we are going over the top. The first time my heart beat a little fast. Due to the scale of the Canyon, we were not really that close, and over the top, we went. We then did a big turnback over some forest. It was bumpier over the forest than over the open Canyon. In this area they can record up to 1000 lightning strikes a year and the strikes have been known to start fires. Bison come into the area when the snow has melted and elk are here all year long. Another statistic that blew my mind is that in some places the North and South rims are 30 kilometers apart with the average being 15 kilometers. All in all the flight was 45 minutes. I said to Wendy I would do it again!

Hoff and Bernie come to pick us up. They have already had a quick look at the park itself. Why you may ask did they not come on the flight. SCARDY CATS. We drove back into the park and joined many other tourists looking over the rim from various vantage points. The elk in the park have no fear of people and a few are wandering around. We caught a free shuttle bus back to the Market Village for lunch. Back in the car we drove around the rim road and stopped off at other viewing platforms. Around 4 PM we left the park and headed back to Flagstaff. Taking a different route home we went through the town of Cameron. we are on Navajo land. The Navajo Reservation is some 25,000 square miles! What is interesting and confusing is that the Navajos do not observe daylight savings time. So when we leave the Reservation we gain back an hour.

We are back in Flagstaff just after 5. Bernie has read about a Cornish Pasty (correct spelling) that has 70 different varieties. The pasties are also BIG. Bernie and I go for a Tiddly Ogie, Hoff the Cajun, and Wendy a Shepard’s Cornish Pasty. Oh, and Bernie also orders a Scotch Egg.

Another fantastic day was had, Early to bed as we leave early tomorrow on another long drive.