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Unread 24 Oct 07, 08:50 PM  
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grantasmic
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Wild West Adventure - Cowboys and Canyons Day 6

Day 6, 29 September : Monument Valley yee ha!

... no, a good night's sleep has eluded us yet again! It was more of the same awake at 0340 and then thats it, although John obviously managed to get some more sleep as he was snoring fit to bust! Coffee made by 0500 and a yoghurt eaten!

Today were heading out to Monument Valley but so far Dana has heard nothing about the horse riding. She says she can only get their voice mail and has so far left them 2 messages. Oh well, what will be .

Cases packed and outside for collection and off to breakfast! Just time to nip back to the room to grab our hand luggage and then on to the coach and away!



We stopped off at the Glen Canyon Dam Visitor Centre and took some photos. Several wanted to go in and have a look round, but we decided that wed pass this by and walk across the bridge instead. The coach would pick us up on the other side. The views on either side of the road were incredible. On one side there was the dam itself and Lake Powell behind and on the other side was the river gorge. There were several letter box type slots in the chain link fencing, which gave us a chance to get photos without the mesh effect of the fence spoiling them.





Back on the coach again and, oh dear, Dana announced that the hotel, Gouldings Lodge, at Monument Valley is dry because its on Navajo land and they have a no alcohol policy. But, although alcohol is not sold anywhere on site, guests can still bring their own for drinking in their room. So, she said if required we would do a quick supermarket stop so that anyone wanting booze could stock up. I think there were only about half a dozen of us left on the coach!

Then we were off to Monument Valley and were travelling through the most incredible scenery. As we crossed the State Line into Utah, we had to put our clocks forward an hour as the Navajo nation do not operate daylight saving time. So we are now only 7 hours behind home!

We stopped off at Kayenta for lunch at Burger King and before you all go yuk, the reason was that there is an exhibition to the Navajo Codebreakers (the Windtalkers) inside. There is also a replica Hogan house, which is an amazing structure. It looks similar to an igloo, but its built of wood which is locked together without any nails or bolts, purely by interweaving the logs. The outside is then covered with mud and it is quite cosy inside! But, if it should rain (a pretty rare occurrence here!) they have to replace the mud covering.

As we drove in to our lunch stop, we could tell that the wind was really getting stronger. It was blowing red sand everywhere and before long we were all covered in a gritty red layer of dust! The nearer we got to our hotel, the worse the sandstorm became! But, what an unbelievable sight here is the very scenery that is so familiar from so many Westerns and we are right in it!





And an added bonus, Dana finally managed to organise our horse ride! This would take place later this afternoon after wed been on our jeep tour. We arrived at the hotel, which is literally at the bottom of a truly majestic butte. Our room is on the ground floor and when we went in and saw the view from our balcony well, it doesnt get much better than that!



We had no time to unpack, but headed straight out again and onto our jeeps and set off for the Navajo Territory. What a ride! There were dust devils everywhere and despite the roll-up clear plastic sides having been pulled down, the wind and sand got absolutely everywhere. Petes white hair has turned a very fetching shade of red! We made several stops, including one to a female Hogan house, where an elderly Navajo lady was sitting on the floor and would demonstrate the entire process of weaving, starting from carding the wool, spinning it, dyeing it and finally weaving the beautifully patterned rug. These traditional patterns are not written down anywhere, but are kept in their memory and handed down from mother to daughter through the generations. Rugs can take anything from a couple of months to a couple of years to complete, depending on the size and pattern. They are truly beautiful. Our guide explained about the female Hogan houses shape being a representation of the belly of a pregnant woman and the house itself can take up to 9 months to build. They sometimes have to bring wood from up to 90 miles away, although now they transport it by pick-up truck!

She also told us about the cradle-board, which consists of a board with a beautifully woven container and a carrying handle. The baby is swaddled and placed within the container and this can be used for about a year. Each aspect of the cradle-board represents different elements of family life; the foot of the container represents the earth and therefore the babys feet are touching the earth ready for its first steps.



We went from here past the inevitable jewellery sellers exquisite pieces, though! and all the other tourist bits and bobs and back into the jeeps for yet more fabulous panoramas. Our guide told us that when John Ford was approached by Henry Goulding and shown photographs of Monument Valley in an attempt to bring the film-maker there, Ford did not believe the photos were real! I can certainly believe that! The views here are so amazing it is indeed hard to believe any of this is real! Its utterly breathtaking and easy to understand why the Navajo consider it sacred ground.



As we continued our journey through this incredible place, we learnt about The Guardian, the Gateway to Monument Valley; the Coffee Pots; the Three Sisters; the Totem Pole and the Money Tree. Its almost sensory overload. And all the time we are being sand-blasted and becoming redder and redder! But, as Nathan explained to us yesterday, the sand is a wonderful exfoliant!



Our two hour tour over, we headed back to Gouldings Lodge and it was time to head straight back out for our ride! As the Navajo are not allowed onto Goulding Lodge land (although all the staff here are Navajo, so we couldnt quite figure this out!) we had to walk back down to the road. We were met by Tito and once we were all loaded us into his van, we set off back the way wed just come - to the Navajo Territory!

Continued ...
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Unread 24 Oct 07, 08:51 PM  
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grantasmic
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... part 2!

Although our ride was supposed to be at 1730, none of the horses were tacked up ready and our two young Navajo trail guides (Royden and Adrian whatever happened to Sitting Bull and Running Water? !) were unbelievably slow in getting the horses saddled and bridled. But at least the horses all looked in very good condition and were mostly traditional Indian colours and kitted out with Western tack.



Before we could ride, Royden brought round a disclaimer for us to sign! They werent too fussy on tightening girths or adjusting stirrups and, of course, no hats were provided. Oh well, lets hope the Guardian will watch over us all.

We were finally all mounted (my horses name is Hopi and Rose has Geronimo!) and we set off into Monument Valley with the wind and sand pounding us for a second time today! I dont think any of us had thought the trail (well, I guess they could see it we certainly couldnt!) would take us so close to the edge of a pretty steep drop. But, the trick was to relax into the comfy Western saddle, not look down and trust the horse to stay upright! I have to admit that some of the trail was pretty hairy scary, but it was the most incredible experience to be riding in this most breathtaking landscape.

By now it was getting on for sunset and we knew that John and Pete would be back at the hotel getting a bit twitchy as we were going to be horribly late getting back! Royden wanted to take us further down onto the valley floor and then return via a different route. But none of us really wanted to undertake any more of this perilous trail and we opted to return back the way wed come. Neither of the boys could understand why we were so timid and tried to reassure us that the path was safe and theyd brought a group out here just 2 hours ago! But, they gave in to our requests, took some photos for us and then led us back to the stables.



By now we were all cold and gritty, but elated that we had been able to do this ride. Tito collected us and ferried us back to the Lodge where the boys were walking down to meet us.

As it was now already 1915 and we were all starving hungry, Rose and I made a quick pit stop to wash off the worst of the dust and we headed to the restaurant for dinner. We all had a help yourself salad to start and then John had the John Wayne Southern fried steak with mash; Pete had lamb chops and Rose and I had vegetable stir fry with brown rice. I had mine with spicy chicken strips and Rose had shrimp.

Sadly we were too late to visit the John Wayne museum, although John did go while we were riding. It's housed in the cabin used in the film She Wore a Yellow Ribbon -





There's just time to visit the Trading Post to buy a few bits and then back to our room for a shower. Good grief, there must be half of Monument Valley in the bottom of the bath! But I'm clean again and my skin is so soft after its double dose of dermabrasion!

Crawled into the lovely comfy bed and sat and wrote up todays events. Had to set the alarm for our very early start tomorrow heading off to Canyon de Chelly, Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest.

Gotta go now and dry my hair. And whats the betting that because we have such a hideously early start well sleep through!
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Villas 2002, 2003, Buena Vista Palace Resort & Spa 2004, 2006, Arizona (& 2007) California, including Disneyland!, Nevada 2005, BCV, HRH & SSR 2008

Our 'Right Down the Middle of Main Street, USA' 2006 Visit
Wild West Adventure - Cowboys and Canyons 2007
We should have gone home years ago!

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Unread 24 Oct 07, 08:58 PM  
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JudyC
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Fantastic photo's. The horse ride looks brilliant, if a little scarey
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Unread 24 Oct 07, 09:53 PM  
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grantasmic
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Originally Posted by JudyC View Post
Fantastic photo's. The horse ride looks brilliant, if a little scarey
It's hard to make out, but if you look really hard at the ground behind the pony on the far right - you can just make out where the drop-off is! Not that far away from where we're lined up! The whole trail was like that But, I wouldn't have missed it for anything!
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Villas 2002, 2003, Buena Vista Palace Resort & Spa 2004, 2006, Arizona (& 2007) California, including Disneyland!, Nevada 2005, BCV, HRH & SSR 2008

Our 'Right Down the Middle of Main Street, USA' 2006 Visit
Wild West Adventure - Cowboys and Canyons 2007
We should have gone home years ago!

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Unread 25 Oct 07, 09:49 AM  
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Minniespal
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Fantastic photos.
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Unread 25 Oct 07, 09:57 AM  
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Scotsmomma
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Sounds like a fantastic trip... loving the photos
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Unread 25 Oct 07, 12:22 PM  
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highlander447
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Great pics, your horse ride sounds pretty good
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Unread 25 Oct 07, 01:43 PM  
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Iloveflorida
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Great pictures. I bet the horse ride was brilliant, me and my mum did a ride in Greece through olive groves and along the beach and it was great but the same as you they wern't very up on safety etc and there were no hats and it was a case of you ge chucked up by hand onto the horse and you just drop back off.
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Family trip back to see the mouse!
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