Ancient history

Trip Start Jul 30, 2013
Trip End Aug 23, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The day began with another unexpected stop, courtesy of our Grommy: he took us on a detour to Mesa Verde, the home of the oldest surviving dwelling in the USA, dating back to 500AD. The settlement, built under a rocky overhang and carved into the ground below, was enough to change our perceptions of America: you never think of it as having a history so ancient.

We then made a quick stop at the Four Corners, where you can stand on a certain point and be in New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Arizona all at the same time.  John got a taste of karma when he split the back of his shorts in four states simultaneously – I guess that's what you get for abandoning Team C!

We then began the iconic drive towards Monument Valley, passing the Mexican Hat rock and the spot where Forest Gump famously stops running.  At this point we all clambered out of the van and took over the road for some disastrous 'jump up in the air in front of Monument Valley’ group shots.

We arrived a little late for our jeep tour of the valley, to find that the guide we were supposed to have – an old Navajo guy called Willy, who Graeme had spent about three days hyping up – had gone off with another Trek America group.  Instead we got a lady who told us about how her husband is really into traditional Native American customs yet she’s a devout Christian, and how her son is really into peyote.  Anyway.  She took us to see all the famous rock formations of Monument Valley, most of which seem to be named for the thing that they look like.  We saw the famous mittens, the sleeping dragon, the eye of the sun and the ear of the wind to name a few, while trying not to fall out of the back of the jeep or get red dust in any crevices.  Our first stop was bizarre, as we saw a Navajo man dressed as a cowboy and riding a horse practically knock tourists out of the way, all so that he could pose dramatically for photographs in an especially scenic spot.  At another stop - a huge cave-like formation - we were told to lie back against the sloping rock and see, above us, the shape of an eagle.  To be fair, it really did look like an eagle, and the atmosphere was actually kind of spiritual as we lay there, not wanting to break the calm silence.

At around 7pm, we were taken to the spot amongst the rocks where we’d be eating a meal of Navajo tacos.  We met Willy at last: it was a shame we didn’t get to hear him play his pipe at various locations around the valley and hear his supposedly terrible jokes.

Having already seen a meteorite shower for the first time during this trip, I was even more ecstatic to see shooting stars, also for the very first time, at our campsite that evening.
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