I had not made advance reservations but was pleased to find a room right next door to the Navajo interactive museum. The hotel had a restaurant as.well so I enjoyed one of my favorites, BLT on sourdough toast. In the lobby of the hotel they had free fry bread!
After another night of resting my poor ankle – obviously doomed to be swollen until I get home and can leave it up – I spent several hours at the two museums next door – one about Navajo history and the second dedicated to the Navajo code talkers. Both were very interesting as was the Trading Post next door.
I eventually got back in my car and headed back to Flagstaff. Like all the roads I had been on there was some pretty scenery.
I took a short break at the Cameron Trading Post which is also now a quite lovely Inn.
Following the rules of the road and serendipity, I turned off the highway for the Wupatki ruins. These were not cliff dwellings but more houses .
And this second one which is in better condtion.
It is sort of leaning into a wash so I don’t know how long it will last but it has been there quite a while so I guess it is good for quite a bit longer. You can actually go inside this one, which made for a good spot to get a picture of the landscape.
After hobbling along in the ruins, I headed into Flag and back to the same motel where I had my bout with the flu. Feeli g much better than my last visit a week earlier, I headed back to the Lumberyard for a burger and a raspberry ale.
The next day I just ambled around Old Town Flagstaff. The main street there is old rte 66 so there is a hodge podge of rte 66 souveniers and just old Flagstaff buildings – oh yes and a brew pub on almost every corner. I had lunch at the Flagstaff Brewpub where I thoroughly enjoyed a BLT and an IPA on cask with a grapefruit infusion. The weather was in the mid sixties which made ambling perfect.
I haven’t made a.study of it, but are gargoyles common on churches?
I suppose if Notre Dame can do it, so can a church in Flag.
That night,still in Flag, I had Indian food for dinner – as in India, not native american. Chicken tikka masala and naan. Another gustatory delight!
And so ended my road trip …. well not quite, I still had to get to Tucson and serendipity might yet prevail.
After leaving Canyon de Chelly I went briefly into the town of Chinle to figure out where to next. I spent some time with my map – an actual paper one! – and a chocolate milkshake and decided Monument Valley should be next if I could find a resting place. Checking my Navajo Country guide I was able to find a spot in Kayenta and after going online was able to book a room, so off I went further North and West. The motel room was excellant and there was an attached restaurant. Dinner was excellant and my appetite had finally returned so I had an awesome steak salad with fry bread for desert. Boy is that stuff good – served with honey and confectioners sugar! mmmm.
Once again packed up the car and headed North.
It wasn’t far to the Utah border and Monument Valley. First I stopped at the visitor center and looked at the exhibits and talked with one of employees there, who asked if I had been there before. I told him it had been 25 years which prompted him to say that a lot had changed since then. This of course caused.me to laugh and to get a strange look from him. He was thinking about the relatively new visitor center and the huge resort up the hill. On the other hand, I was laughing at the thought that the monument itself had changed much in 25 years – rock monuments don’t change quickly.
I paid my fees and went in.
It was as I remembered it, but inspiring none the less.
This photo is of the “mittens”. The cars down on the road may help define the scale. Any fan of John Wayne and westerns is familiar with scenes of the area.
I spent a long time on the patio of the resort soaking it in.
Of course it helped that it was another beautiful AZ day (even if I had crossed over to UT). High was around 68 with a lovely breeze.
During my contemplation on the patio I had decided it was time to start heading South again – so I set my sites on Tuba City.
Once turned back around and headed in the right direction (NW towards Chinle) back through more of the beautiful high desert.
I had been to Canyon de Chelly – almost exactly 25 years ago. The timing I can be positve about as my strongest memory of the trip was morning sickness. I desperately wanted a return trip with better memories. I felt doomed to some disapppointment as I knew today my ankle was not going to let me hike, but I would at least get some views without looking hopefully for a bucket.
I arrived at Chinle without any issues and went into the vistor center and collected my map and headed off to the overlooks.
The canyon is gorgeous and it is easy to see why people would settle here. From this view I moved forward to the most famous of the ruins, the White House. OMG deja vu, deja vu!!!
From the moment I got out of the car at this overlook, the memory came flooding back. Up until then, I couldn’t remember doing any hiking here but yes I did! I remember the overlook and much of the hike! How could I have forgotten?
This may end up making my son smug – that all my thoughts centered around him from that early on….
This is a beautiful hike but there are slippery rocks and some pretty steep areas as.I recall. Definitely not one to take on a bad ankle..
This photo gives a view, pretty much from the top of the trail – the white house cliff dwelling is in that dark spot on the far side of the canyon floor.
I spent quite a.bit of time at this overlook just soaking it up and reliving a hike from.25 years ago. This little fellow helped entertain me, as he couldn’t figure out what we were looking at over the wall.
I went on to some other overlooks but none fired my memory like the White House ruin did.
After the ruins I went and indulged in a milkshake while I determined my next port-of-call. I decided that although Monument Valley is in Utah, it is very barely N of the border and as long as I stayed in AZ it could count for my AZ road trip. So off I went to the NW again towards Zayenta – still in AZ, still on the Navajo res.
Window Rock is the home of the Navajo tribal government. I started my day decadently late at the Navajo museum next door to my hotel. As well as artifacts, there was some beautiful artwork to enjoy. My ankle appreciated solid flooring for a change. Outside a traditional hogan had been built for visitors to see.
After the museum, I drove over to the Window Rock war memorial park which also is in the middle of most of the govt buildings. This one is their justice department.
The town’s namesake is the visual focus of the park, of course.
But running a close second is the statue in remembrance of the Navajo code talkers of WWII fame.
I know that I am grateful to them as they were instrumental in the battle of Iwo Jima and my dad was pretty much right there as well. And so, if that battle had gone differently I might not have been at all!
It was time to head on my way off to chinle and Canyon de Chelly (pronounced shay). I took off following what I thought was Indian rte 7 contemplating Navajo code talkers until the road narrowed yet again and I ran out of paved road with only a dirt driveway ahead. While I enjoy serendipitious adventures, sometimes one must just admit to an oops. Siri could not help as Verizon had no bars in this area. It was time to give in and ask directions. The gentlemen that I asked conferred on the best route to offer me and settled on the most traveled route with the admonition that it was better to be safe than sorry. I thanked them and decided to go along as one directional mishap a day was perhaps enough. So back on the road again! (Willie Nelson, get out of my head!!!)
Stretching across most of northern Az into NW NM and diving into Utah is the Navajo reservation. Over 27,000 sq miles. Although, I had been through parts of it before, an Az road trip wouldn’t be complete without further exploration. I kept up with my attempts to stay on Rte 66, managing the final stretch from Joseph’s city into Holbrook where I needed to restock my cooler. I was out of snacks and, as a total non sequitor, the Navajo reservation is dry. Oh yes I got another gallon of water, too.
Holbrook manages to blend the traditions of Rte 66 and Az tourism nicely with such places as a Wigwam motel! Yes, you can actually sleep in one.
No, they are not made of bison-hide. And if you ever wondered where old VW bugs went to die?
I might have found the spot. Well my cooler was stocked, I had a full tank of gas and another gallon of water so I turned north onto az rte 77.
Did I mention that Sedona was beautiful? There was a stretch of this road that left me breathless. I look at the pictures I took, and don’t see it but it was magnificent.
Maybe it is just too grand…. a panoramic view would help, but it was just something that got into me.
After a while I thought I must be approaching a convention center or similar structure … in the middle of no where, but the scale was.all wrong. A quick look at a map assured me that I was approaching the town of White Cone, and sure enough
Not long after that I headed eastbound on rte 264 heading for Window Rock – the seat of the tribal government. Of course, all Tony Hillerman fans would know that detail. I attempted.to stop at the historic Hubbel trading post but they were just closing for the day. My ankle was throbbing again so I just pushed on to window rock so I could once again get my ankle elevated!
Along the Little Colorado just NE of Winslow are.the ruins at Homolovi State Park. This is the site of an ancient Hopi village. After the obligatory stop at the visitor center to get a day.pass, I headed up to the premier dig site – where they estimate there were between 1200 – 2000 rooms.
The conservationists have left actual pottery shards out in small groupings in there area where they were dug for the visitor to view. This seemed much more impactful than viewing in a museum later.
It is a fascinating site and so very peaceful. I was able to sit on a bench by myself and just “be”. It wasn’t but a few miles from I-40 but due to rolling hills no traffic could be seen or heard!
After Walnut Canyon, I alternated between I-40 and Rte 66 until reaching Winslow, AZ. I’ve already sent the below to nearly all my friends and family, but here it is again…. Standing on a corner in Winslow AZ….
The flatbed Ford is not very visible so here it is again without me to distract
The statue is called the balladeer.. my ankle was screaming from the hike in Walnut Canyon and I was up only a day since the flu so I called it quits early on.