At least the day Saturday, April 14) started out well. Still reveling in our high from yesterday’s trip to Antelope Canyon, we were anxious to pack up and get on the road. Fully caffeinated and ready to roll by 8am, we headed toward Utah via Monument Valley.
While rolling down the road, we saw signs for the Navajo National Monument. Only an 18 mile detour, round-trip, so we decided to veer off and see what that was all about. What a great decision! From the Visitor Center, it was a short hike to an overlook of the Betatakin Village. This cliff dwelling housed 100-125 natives for about 50 years, from 1250-1300. Although hundreds of yards away from the ruin, we had a great view of the dwellings. The area was high off the canyon floor, and high several hundred feet below the canyon rim. We were unable to see the dwelling close-up, as guided tours don’t start for another month. Bummer. We also investigated a sweathouse exhibit. Such a tiny space – hot rocks were placed inside, than the inhabitant crawled in, and a hide was placed over the doorway. The heat/sweat must have been intense.
OK, so we’re still smiling, and rolling on down the road. Next up? Monument Valley Navaho Tribal Park. $5 each to get in? We’re happy to pay and roll on in. We’re at the northernmost border of AZ, just a mile or two off the Utah border. The deep red sandstone monuments thrust up from the desert floor in amazing shapes. The Visitor Center there was terrific. Not only were there great views of the monuments nearby, but a wonderful gift shop with authentic Navaho pottery and weavings. It’s kind of a John Wayne area, and there was a complete John Wayne gallery of stuff. We had a picnic lunch, wandered around for a bit, then pushed on.
Still good. Trouble came when we made the turnoff to County Road 441 in Utah, on the way (supposedly) to Sand Island Campground, a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) campground. This is the kind of spot we love – secluded and near some natural beauty area – great for hiking, and just for enjoying the outdoors. Our Google Map-lady Voice instructed us to go left, right, straight, left, left….but we didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, and the road became progressively narrower, sand-filled and scary. We saw tracks, and passed by herds of wild horses. Awesome. But, the sand is getting deeper, the wind is howling, and things just seem to be deteriorating. There comes a point where you have to decide…..go on or go back. We elected to turn around, a feat in inself. We may never know if Sand Island Campground exists, or if it’s just some kind of cruel Government/Google joke on us.
So……we decide to drive another 100 miles L, and head for Canyon De Chelly (De SHAY), with several Navaho pueblo ruins and exhibits. The wind is howling!!! We can barely see over the hood of the truck because the dust is blowing so badly. We finally arrive at the Visitor Center (CLOSED!) and crawl into a campsite. We’re hunkered down out of the wind as best we can be. Everything in the back of the truck is covered with a layer of red dust. (My nose is also crusty. Too much information?) Hoping tomorrow will be better so that we can bicycle through the Scenic Drive (37 or 34 miles) and explore. However, the winds are forecasted to be nearly 40mph. All I know is that I’m NOT getting back in the truck for a day. Enough is enough!
Will post photos when we get decent bandwidth somewhere. Posting this Monday. We’re headed to NM – the wind is still awful. Everything we own is gritty. It’s very unpleasant to be outside.