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Old 24 Oct 07, 09:15 PM  
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grantasmic
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Wild West Adventure - Cowboys and Canyons Day 7

Day 7, 30 September : Canyon de Chelly, Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest.

Well, dear readers, that theory went straight out of the window! Although we did manage to sleep til 0430! So, coffee made I decided to download yesterday’s photos. Luggage had to be outside by 0645, so while we waited we sat out on the balcony watching sunrise over Monument Valley – oh my, what a sight!



Then it was back up to the restaurant for a quick breakfast before setting off at 0730. It was really chilly this early!

On the coach and what a result! We’ve got the front seats! However, we are heading straight into the sun so there probably won’t be much of a chance to get photos through the front window. Oh yes, the windscreen also has several stone chips – one looks more like a bullet hole! – so no doubt any pics I do manage to take will have these marks on them! Yep, they do!

We say goodbye to Monument Valley (or so we thought!) and head away from Navajo Territory. By the time we’d been on the road for some 30 minutes, one of the Titans told Dana that she’d left 4 rings and a bracelet in her room at Gouldings Lodge! Dana said she’d try and ring them and get them to FedEx them out, but she had no signal on her cell phone so the only other option was to turn round and go back. Well Paul, our driver, was most definitely not impressed! With much noisy huffing and puffing he turned the coach round and we headed back the way we’d come. Oh well, another chance to see those incredible sights! Fortunately, the jewellery had already been found and was waiting at Reception so we were able to get back on the road fairly quickly. We were now an hour behind schedule, but Paul did really well to make up the time and we arrived at our first coffee stop in Chinle (another Burger King!) at 0940 – right on schedule. We only had a loo stop and a coffee here and John went over to the supermarket. He came back with a pack of cinnamon rolls! Chinle is a real ‘one horse’ town! There are cows, ponies, dogs and children all wandering about at the side of the road – we even saw a couple of dogs herding a bull along! Sadly, there is also a lot of road kill out here in the wilderness – including several dogs.



Back on the coach for the short journey to Canyon de Chelly. What a beautiful place this is and it’s vast. We drove out to the furthest viewpoint, or ‘overlook’ as they’re called here. It was quite a walk down to Spider Rock but well worth it. As the sign-board says – ‘Listen! Smell the pungent juniper’!



Breathe in and take in the sight of Spider Rock - a massive double-pillar formation. Navajo legend is that the Spider Woman taught the People how to weave. The valley floor is so green against the browns of the cliffs. There are several trails through the valley and we could see people walking far down below.





Then it was back onto the coach for the drive back to the ‘White House in Between’ – ancient ruins that the Puebloan people built and occupied over 1,000 years ago. How did they build it? If they were ‘ancient’ people, what technology did they use to create their dwellings in the side of a cliff?





Once again, the views are breathtaking and it would be great to have the time to visit each and every one of the amazingly named places. Names like Antelope House Ruin; Navajo Fortress; Mummy Cave; Massacre Cave; Sliding House. Or to have the time to take a guided tour or a horseback ride through the valley and listen to the stories of the Canyon. But, we don’t and before long we are back on the bus heading to Thunderbird Lodge for our lunch stop. Once at the Lodge, there is the inevitable gift shop but at least it has some quite nice stuff! A lot of the items here are at least genuine Navajo jewellery or rugs, but that makes them expensive! The small restaurant serves quite a varied choice, but we settle on a cheeseburger and fries with a bowl of fruit for pudding! The walls are covered with Navajo rugs ranging in size and price – one of them is over $5,000! But they are works of art really – considering what we learnt when we visited the Hogan house in Monument Valley.

Lunch over, it’s time to head off to the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. Wow! It does look as though it’s been painted. The colours are incredible, ranging from the greys and greens, reds and purples, browns and blacks. Stunning! One area here is known as the ‘Badlands’, because with the wind and rainfall the landscape is re-modelled, making it harder to negotiate because it’s constantly changing. Badlands it may be, but beautiful nonetheless.



We went to the Painted Desert Inn, which again has a gift shop but also lots of information and artefacts. From here there are trails to walk and enjoy this incredible landscape.

Our next stop was Puerco Pueblo (Village of the Pigs) where we could walk the trail amongst the ruins of a hundred-room village occupied by the Puebloan people. What must it have been like to live in a tiny stone hut in this vast desert area? There are the remains of petroglyphs on the rocks – what looks like a stork with a baby in its mouth, but it’s probably some bird of prey eating a person! There are reindeer, faces, patterns and symbols. I wonder what they all mean. What was the significance of them all? It seems that petroglyphs don’t represent sounds or letters but rather ‘ideas’. Researchers working with current American Indian groups theorise that they could be ceremonial, territorial or commemorative but the exact meaning has been lost in time.





continued ...
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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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Old 24 Oct 07, 09:15 PM  
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grantasmic
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Excited about Disney
 
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... part 2

Back on the coach for the drive to our last stop – Rainbow Forest Museum and the Giant Logs. Here is the Petrified Forest! There are dinosaurs in them thar hills! The museum has exhibits of petrified wood (these are quite exquisite when the logs have been sliced and polished – beautiful colours), fossils and displays of some of the dinosaurs and prehistoric animals that roamed the land.

Outside there’s a chance to walk the trails among these giant logs. They are everywhere and range from quite small chunks right through to what looks like whole trees laying just where they fell.





It's illegal, and carries a hefty penalty, to remove anything from the National Park, but it’s easy to see why people are tempted! However, we were all good citizens and took nothing away from here but our photos and our memories.

Time to leave this amazing place and head off to our hotel in Holbrook, the Best Western Arizonian Inn. Dana has warned us that this is a bit ‘grotty’ with limited facilities and tired décor! There is no restaurant at the hotel but there is a Denny’s on site. The poor girl on duty at the hotel was in a right fluster because she didn’t seem to know anything about a tour group arriving. This didn’t quite ring true, because Dana had called twice for directions to the hotel and we all seemed to have our names in her computer! There were no keys ready and nobody here to help with our luggage! Once we’d reached our room we discovered it’s not that bad! The only downside is that the water is foul and even trying to make coffee with bottled water is undrinkable! It’s either the coffee maker itself not being very clean or the vile polystyrene cups! And the phone cards don’t work from the rooms because the phones are ‘locked’ – despite the receptionist telling me she’s unlocked it! And I’ve given up on the mobile phone – it’s still telling me I have an unregistered sim! But, despite all that Dana said the rooms aren’t bad for a one night stop-over. They have everything we need – apart from decent coffee making facilities!

We wandered over to Denny’s and the smell of chip fat was pretty overpowering! Just as we were about to be seated, John came back and said we were going! Turns out he had been speaking with another couple from our tour who said the food was dreadful! So we strolled down the road and decided on the Italian restaurant. What a good decision – the meal was lovely! Finally done and full of dinner and Tiramisu! we strolled back to our rooms for what we were hoping would be a decent (I’d even settle for half decent!) night’s sleep! And so to bed …………..
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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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Old 25 Oct 07, 10:34 AM  
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Another amazing report with fantastic photos.
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Old 25 Oct 07, 12:28 PM  
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Really good pics
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Old 25 Oct 07, 01:35 PM  
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Great pictures, i'm really enjoying reading your reports
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Old 25 Oct 07, 04:10 PM  
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I am really enjoying your reports and your brilliant photos.
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Old 26 Oct 07, 09:02 AM  
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You were busy today!
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Old 26 Oct 07, 09:02 AM  
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