Wake in Albuqureque 8am
Drive 2 hours to Gallup
New Mexico 9am
Drive 2 hours to Shiprock
New Mexico 11am
Drive 2 hours to Monument Valley 1pm
tour booked 5 pm start tour guide
sun set tour 3 1/2 hrs call to book 4357273340 or 9282091364 full moon tour 2 1/2 hrs
Goulding's Lodge & Campground
We left Alberquerqie at 7:30am to get a good head start also so as we had a little more time to do some stops along the way
. We were due at Gouldings Campground at 4:30 for a
full moon sunset tour of Monument Valley - this was going to be very good.The drive was nice and easy and we kept good time the whole way with a few stops along the way. First stop was Laguana in New Mexico, we filled up on fuel and got some souvenirs - Lillia bought a little indian doll and Jack got an Indian Arrow, both were really nice unique gifts.A few hours later we stopped on the way to the Arizona border at a very old trading post store, they had the most amazing traditional gifts so naturally we bought some things, Wendy got some beautiful opal and silver earnings - 2 lots as they were so cheap, Jack got a really nice set of small arrows which will go with a little crossbow he bought in Fort Worth, Lilia got a little dream catcher and I got a couple of little books on the areas we were visiting, as well a few snack and other bit.This was the best stop for souvenirs so far, just excellent and the lady was just so helpful. We were much happier spending money here as opposed to a government run tourism store so we felt good despite spending quite a bit.It was now about 3:00pm and only about 30 more minutes to get to our destination - I was in a hurry as my camera battery was very low and i needed it charged for the otur later so there was no messing about, full speed ahead. We arrived at 3:30pm which had been the plan since we left so we did very well despite some pretty poor roads which caused us to reduce speed.Driving through and onto the Monument Valley was just mind blowing, none of us had ever seen anything like the changing landscapes, the colors of nature and the awesomeness of the various stone monuments around us, we took lots of photos on the way only to be totally awestruck when we saw where we were staying
. It is just the most amazing place and it has to be on everyone's bucket list. The surrounding landscape has so much to offer and i was so keen to get the tour underway, but when we had checked in and parked the RV Wendy read up on the tour to ensure we could pay by credit as we didn't have enough cash to cover it, we noticed that they were expecting a phone call the day before which we obviously just couldn't do due to not have a mobile not access to public phones ( there are no public phones in the US anymore as they have either been broken or just do not exist. We got a little worried and emailed them straight away hoping we would still get the tour. Luckily they did see the email and arrived at 5:00pm to pick us up.Our guides name was Bobby and was of Navajo decent so was authorised to take us on this special tour which only allows a navaho guide to access the areas of the tour, otherwise you cannot enter the park - this is purely to preserve the traditions of the land owners. The tour was to be 2.5 hours long and we were all very excited. He was driving a big 4 wheel drive and later we learn't why you needed it.The entry to the Navajo reserve was about 10 minutes drive and no sooner were we on our way the questions i had been thinking of started pouring out, but to no surprise Bobby had all the answers. He had some good experience so knew which positions were optimum for taking photos and advised me as such when preparing to take shots.The first monuments we saw were called Sentinel Mesa ( Mesa means table top or flats ) and this was a huge rock formation which basically was totally flat on top, you could see the timeline in the various layers of rock and sediment which was pretty amazing, all of the area goes back some 160 million years when the area was covered in water, the water subsided over the millennia and acids in the water carved out certain distinct features
. but to be able to see the layers and the colors just shows how incredible nature is. The next stop was to see 2 famous monuments called the Mittens, they truly look like a pair of mittens referred to east and west mittens. The day was a little cloudy so we didn't get any sunlight which would have highlighted the colors even more and allowed some shadows play as well but the benefit was having neutral light cover which was good for exposure.Next was Camel Butte - 3 large spires which did look like a camels humps. Then we saw the three sister, the totem pole and then we went to an amaznig area with holes in the rocks, not little holes but massive holes, all around the holes were natural rock with the most amazing colors.Bobby asked if we would like to see and hear some traditional entertainment, we accepted his offer and he hooked up with another guide who would sing a couple of traditional Navajo songs and Bobby would play the wooden flute, directly under a huge arch which had the most incredible acoustics. The singing was just incredible and the young man told us that he and most Navajo children are raised by their grandparents, they have such faith in their traditional beliefs and up bring he chose to sing about his grandparents, He was just amazing and we found out he has a CD to buy which we plan to do. After this short performance which was done just for us whilst we lay back looking up to the ceiling of the archway we headed off for some more amazing sights. So far we had been gone about 1.5 hours and seen a lot of sights, gone over some really rough sand dunes, hence the 4WD, incidentally whilst we were taking photos t one spot he got a call from another guide who had gotten him self bogged - so Bobby asked if we would mind taking a quick detour to help out - naturally we were happy to help him, but when we arrived to help the guide had managed to free himself.We saw some more amazing areas where there were again holes in the ceiling of the massive structures, then saw some original petroglphys dating back to about 1200AD as well the remains of some pottery and a small structure which would have been a residence for the people of the time.We we planning to head back just as the sun started to peek through the clouds and shone onto many of the monuments, so there was time for one last stop to capture the lighting, the colors were just amazing, I just cannot imagine that my photos will do it justice, despite taking about 600 photos just on this tour.Well the time was up as it was nearly 7:30pm and Bobby drove us back to our camp ground, we gave him a nice decent tip and said we would give a good review on Trip Adviser which i will do at the earliest chance.This was the most spectacular afternoon and i felt a strange connection the to place.Back to the RV for some dinner.
I also bought this beautiful Indian Wooden flute - there were $260 at the campsite but as a small trading post we found one for $100, it's still a lot of money but the instrument sounds so nice and I'm sure i can belt out a tune after some practice.
We are off to the grand canyon tomorrow. It's a 3.5 hour drive this time which is good as I have done some very big drives and it will be nice not to spend so much time driving.