Every day of the week, I goes to Midtown Drug An’ get me a bottle o’ snuff, an’ a bottle o’ Alcorub. —Son House, “Clarksdale Moan,” 1930
We are up at 5:15 AM to prepare for our Navajo Indian guided 3-hour sunrise tour of Monument Valley. I am feeling crappy with this head cold and after showering I have decided to stay at the apartment and take it easy (you know that is an Eagles song, right). It is a pain to miss the tour but I don’t think it is right to be coughing and spluttering over other tourists. So today you will have a guest blogger. Bernie will be taking notes to keep y’all up to date. I did manage to see the sunrise over the monuments and it was epic. I went back to sleep and awoke just as Wendy was coming in the door. We all went for breakfast and then checked out the gift shop. Some cool stuff in there I can tell you.
So here is our guest Blogger’s account of the Sunrise Tour which I unfortunately missed. Thank You Bernie Bicknell
Map showing Monument Valley – We stayed at Goulding
“Damn, another early start” We are up at 5 AM to make it to our sunrise tour. We received a text telling us that Rob is a non-starter and has succumbed to Wendy’s flu. She is the official tour photographer and has to soldier on. No man-flu for her. We drive out to our meeting place in the dark. The “monuments” still provide a glorious picture in the approaching light. We are the only people in the car park and John, our Navajo guide finds us easily. We are the only three members of the tour and spread ourselves out in a twelve-seater open truck – more f*****g dust! Daylight is just starting to break as we drive for a half hour into the park. There are magnificent rock formations at every turn. Even in the half-light, it is difficult to take in all the beauty that surrounds us.
Our first stop is for the sunrise and. of course it is a beauty. The stillness and silence just add to the experience. John is not very talkative but warms as the tour progresses. He is an interesting guy. John is his “tour name” but he cannot say his tribal name to outsiders. Fair enough. The subject wanders to the Covoid pandemic. The Navajo Nation was locked down like we were. There is a Navajo Nation Legislation Council, President and Vice President. The President declared, “No one in and non one out” of the Nation’s territory. That meant approximately 300,000 people with similar restrictions to Melbourne. Trips to the grocery store only. Despite this 2000, Navajos died from the dreaded virus.
John tells us that he relies on natural native remedies and regularly visits his shaman. He also tells us that his Grandfather was a famous Shaman and that he has some of the powers. “If I have a vision of a coyote crossing in front of me, it is bad luck coming. So I change my plans for the day. The use of Shamans is dying out with successive generations.
We visit a couple of canyons with large holes pointing to the blue sky. Hogan Canyon is so-called due to its spherical shape, resembling a hogan, the traditional adobe home of the Navajo. In this Canyon, there are the remains of ancient tribes. John warns us not to take any fragments of broken pottery on the ground. Disturbing relics of departed ones can bring illness. We aren’t about to test that one!
What can you say about the scenery: Words cannot do it justice. Even Wendy’s photos will not accurately depict the beauty that we experienced. Stark monoliths jut out of the desert sands. There are dozens of shades of red and terracotta. It is too early for the wildflowers, which bloom in June and July, after the “monsoon” rains, which also create temporary lakes. But they would only be a support act for the Monuments. A once in a lifetime experience.
Many thanks, Bernie. I think you have lifted the standard of the Blog!
To finish off today’s adventure I have listed just a few of the movies that have been filmed in this area: Forrest Gump, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Mission Impossible II, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Easy Rider, How The West Was Won, Wild Wild West, Stagecoach, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon. In fact, imdb.com lists 104 moves filmed in and around Monument Valley.