Navajo Nation

Trip Start May 11, 2012
Trip End Jun 08, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Saturday, May 19, 2012

5/19/12 – Oh my gosh. I don’t know how to begin. The truth is, I just do not have the skills to describe what we saw today. Even if I wrote for a week, I could not do it justice. 

I will begin with the word for the day. The word is  WOW!!!! I can’t say how many times I said that word today. As incredible as the sights were in the Rockies, the sights of the Colorado and Arizona deserts were just as amazing, but in a different way. Replace tall, rocky, majestic mountains with mesas of ever-changing hues, towering out of the ground, surrounded by nature-made monuments of every shape and form. Wow! So beautiful. There is no human level of imagination that could ever have conceived such a design of form, color, and fantasy. Unfortunately I was not able to photograph some of the most incredible sights, as we were on a 2 lane highway and could not safely stop to take pictures. Not that a camera could have captured what the eye could see…it never does. 

 We left Cortez, CO around 8 AM this morning headed for Flagstaff, AZ by way of route 160 through the Navajo Nation, which is a huge piece of land extending out into Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. It seems ironic, when you consider that the US Government gave the Navajo this vast “wasteland” of desert that is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Would it
be an oxymoron to say “beautiful wasteland”?  But, what is a wasteland to one is a veritable
feast to the eye of another. 

 We saw little evidence of productive use of this land along our route, although my research says they mine coal in some areas. But the land does not appear to be suitable for farming and we saw no cattle grazing, only some wild horses from time to time.  Most of the drive was through vacant, uninhabited areas, with occasional houses  and an oasis here and there where you could buy gas and shop at the Trading Post. Only Kayenta had restaurants and a community of homes. And it was in this area where I was able to put my camera to work.

The drive began through rolling hills of golden colored sand, which turned to terra cotta and rust and was dotted with silver-green sage. Soon the hills gave way to massive mesas,  with  bases of sand falling away from their headstones, exposing  horizontal stripes in variegated shades of orange, pink, violet, and gray. Many of them reminded me of the ruined buildings of civilizations gone by. And others had statuesque brick-colored extensions that looked like carved pieces on a chessboard. One might think they had been created by man. 

And as angular as these mesas appeared, sharing the same space were large round, smooth golden rocks with swirls on top resembling the patterns on clam shells and snail shells. And one of these rocks was gray and had a pattern resembling that of a turtle on its back.

There were areas where the sand formed large mounds that looked like sand dunes on the beach and other areas where the ground was eroded, with deep craters of rutted gray walls where, it appeared, that rivers run, but not today.  As we got closer to the Flagstaff area, we saw more black lava rock scattered about the landscape and I wondered where the volcano had been. About 10 miles down the road we saw a sign directing visitors to that volcano. Apparently there had been a massive explosion at some point, that had blown rock an unbelievable distance away.

We arrived in Flagstaff early. Most of Arizona does not use Daylight Savings Time, so we gained an hour. But we decided to stay with our current clock, because we will be gaining  yet another hour tomorrow when we arrive in California. One more day before we make it all the way to Paso Robles. And they said we would never last.

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Scott on

I would love to know the geological history of this area. Ridiculous.

noelle on

I am sure the pictures do not do this justice! What a great trip!

sheflysx on

Thant is so true. You really have to be there to appreciate it.

Art on

We went through Monument Valley in 2000 and it blew us away, too. Just amazing. Your photos brought back some good memories for me.

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