Category Archives: Navajo

If a picture paints a thousand words….

I don’t think I could begin to do justice to today’s scenery no matter how many photographs I took (and, believe me, there are a lot in the camera).  Nor will I be able to paint it in words either, so for those who love majestic scenery, painted in all colours of the rainbow (no pun intended), a trip to The Petrified Forest and The Painted Desert should be high on your ‘to do’ list.

We made a leisurely start from Gallup because I had wanted to wish my youngest grandson a very happy first birthday on FaceTime. I think Oliver was happy to let me interrupt his teatime and it was lovely to have a chat to Tilly too, who made sure I knew it was her brother’s birthday.

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We headed out towards our stopping place for tonight and I had persuaded Carolyn, who had no idea what to expect, that a 35 mile drive through a National Park would be perfect!!  We started off in the Information Centre and immediately ran into Mark and Linda… again! (You may need to go back a couple of posts to understand how far we are now stretching coincidence). As ever, we were happy to run into them for the third time.

Armed with maps and information, we set off to drive, but we’re both out of the car taking photographs as much as we were in it. The desert floor and the majestic bluffs in their multi colours were set off by the pure blue sky. We wandered around some of the trails and it was so easy to imagine the Native Americans living there in their tepees (or tipis), their pueblo houses and even before that in the multitude of caves. Their primitive drawings on the rock faces live on.

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Once again, and even our American friends commented, you simply cannot comprehend the magnificence of the 360 degree vista, because it is never a matter of merely looking forward but also remembering to look at the different panorama behind you.

The Petrified Forest was fascinating in a different way. Seeing huge logs which had crystallised long ago and become bejewelled rocks scattered liberally across the desert floor, was something I had never experienced.

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Just a few miles further and we arrived in Holbrook to stay the night at Wigwam Motel. Wot? Actually, the Tepees are made of concrete and house within them a very spacious room, complete with 2 double beds, and a very small shower room. Very sweet, a completely new experience and with the Santa Fe railroad behind us, we may well go rushing off to a ‘normal’ hotel tomorrow.

Carolyn’s Curios

Firstly, apologies that this is late in posting. The tipi was sufficient accommodation but the wifi wasn’t! In fact, the evening was punctuated with the railroad behind, the Route 66 in front and the intermittent, yet frequent, electronic buzz from something/somewhere within the tipi. Plus, one of us, who shall remain nameless but it wasn’t me, didn’t put her ‘phone to silent and had a spam call at 01.00! However, was it worth it? Yes! Great fun. And, I’ve lived in a caravan which was even smaller.

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Earlier in the day… American road signs etc. are different. We joke that everything in America is bigger. Certainly, the roads are wider and longer. But, they also seem to try to exceed us in speed limits. Very few speed limits are round numbers. Our 30 is 35; our 40 – 45;… our 70 is 75! And another thing… traffic light sequences omit the Red/Amber prior to Green. Here they go immediately from Red to Green and it is a test of reaction time to get away promptly.

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Kath has commented on the sheer size of the views. Prior to this trip, I didn’t have much of a clear idea of how far this country stretches. Obviously, I knew the mileage but seeing it on a map or flying it is nothing compared to driving it, seeing it and feeling it. It’s vast!

The Painted Desert National Park is quite superb and awe inspiring by its scale and contrasts. Added to that, the ‘authorities’ have provided signage and facilities which enhance the incredible natural beauty. Very well done!

We travelled, for part of the day, through Navajo Nation which is a semi-autonomous Native American territory covering 27425 square miles, occupying portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah and northwestern New Mexico. A consolation for losing their lands those years ago?

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Was this the way to Amarillo?

The temperature this afternoon crept up to 98 degrees Farenheit which, coupled with a strong wind, made the car journey in its air conditioned comfort a pleasure, despite the distance.  Of course, I did the Peter Kay walk and sang happily as we loaded up the car and it must have been the right way as we reached Amarillo late this afternoon.  Needless to say, there was an adventure along the way.

We both agreed that a visit to the highly recommended National Route 66 Museum in Elk City was a ‘must’. Our optimism was justified and the transportation element was great fun with the chance to sit in a Cadillac, climb aboard a fire engine and ogle the motorbikes provided many a giggle. The funniest moment might have been Carolyn’s determination to come down the firemen’s pole – which she did with aplomb!

The Old Town element showed us a two storey Victorian house, the top of which was devoted to early cowboy and rodeo way of life. There was an Opera House, a Livery stable, Railroad depot, drug store, a church and, of course, the jail.

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We had found some quirky 66 stuff shown in one of our books in a place called Erick. Oh boy, was that a story.  I will forever think of it as “Revenge of the Sat Nav” after we had decided to do our own thing in Oklahoma yesterday.  We thought we were being clever when we put in a rather obscure but very precise address.  After turning off onto  smaller and smaller roads, we realised we were really in the heart of nowhere. We came upon Erick Cemetery and reasoned we were not too far away, so reprogrammed and, at that point, you could almost sense, “You have to be kidding me”, from the sat nav.  We went from narrow country lanes (without a building or vehicle in sight), to narrower dirt lanes, to ones where the grass growing in the middle was rattling the car’s undercarriage.  All I could think was, “Please don’t let me break down”. Eventually we made it into “town” to find the exhibit which we were looking for was both delapidated and closed. Thinking about it, the town seemed closed too. Nowhere for a coffee, not that I was remotely interested in lingering longer and was just itching to get back to the highway.  We found said road in just about a mile, which is when I knew the sat nav had been having a laugh.  This was real redneck country and not for the faint  hearted!

Because we were in Texas, it had to be steak for lunch.  By this time, we were in Shamrock, saw more Route 66 antiquities but were seduced by Big Vern’s Steakhouse for a sirloin and a salad.  Time was moving on, so onwards to another hotel. Because it is a Holiday Inn and same chain as last night, we are instantly at home. We were invited to Happy Hour in the lobby with snacks, beer and wine, all free. Amazing.

Tired now and 300 miles tomorrow but still looking for “Sweet Marie who waits for me”. Come on, sing the song!!

Carolyn’s Curios

When we look at modern day America with Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric (and some in the UK!), we may forget that all Europeans in the US were immigrants. More than that, they were invaders! Recently, we’ve driven through ‘homelands’ of Cheyenne, Navajo and Shawnee. Deprived of their ancestral birthrights, I can only imagine how they may feel as Native Americans.

As we could needed the miles we’d set ourselves for today, we noticed that the land had changed. The brown and grey of the soil had given way to take on a red hue.

Reminding us of the flatness, likelihood of high winds and, of course, tornados, it was salutary to see roadside billboards broken but still advertising ‘Camping’ with clean rest rooms and… storm shelters

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A few interesting road signs have caused me to smile. Wrong way signs on one way streets, Yield, instead of Give Way, and, the best of all, for me, the speed sign in redneck mid-America pronouncing firmly ‘No tolerance’!

Wild life isn’t too evident here. Black Angus cattle, a few horses and a couple of squirrels but today I saw a coyote.

I’ve commented elsewhere about my experience of music -especially ‘popular’ – so the Roger Miller Museum prompted slightly off key versions of ‘King of the Road’ and, of course, ‘England Swings’.

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So, we hit Texas and the Purple Heart Trail. Suddenly, for me, we now seem a long way from the UK. However, the journey continues… more exploring, more sights, more music, more fun!

Again, to end, as Kath misses out in the main blog her part in the posing for photos, a few here…