Day 9 - Monument Valley - Utah
Trip Start Oct 13, 2012
38Trip End Nov 19, 2012
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So bright and early this morning I arrived at the place that put John Wayne on the map, the beautiful Monument Valley, according to a sign on the way in it's the 8th natural wonder (hmmm going to have to look in to that, pretty sure there's only 7).
It's visual overload in this part of the world, first Zion, then the Grand Canyon and now Monument Valley
There's a lot of history here with the first known inhabitants being the Anasazi Indians over 1500 years ago. But the area didn't really become well known until Hollywood came to town in the 1930s.
In 1923 a couple called Harry and Mike Goulding moved here (no they weren't ahead of their time, Mike is a woman, her real name was Leone, but apparently her husband had trouble spelling that so gave her the nickname Mike). They set up a trading post and worked with the Navajo people by bringing in goods the Navajo people wanted and exchanging them for Navajo's artifacts such as jewellery, pottery and baskets. They were so well liked and trusted by the Navajo people that they were given Navajo names.
Then in the 1930s Harry headed to Hollywood and camped out in John Ford's office until he agreed to come and look at Monument Valley as location for a movie. The director finally succumbed and was in total agreement making "Stagecoach", featuring a young John Wayne, in 1939. He and John then went on to film "She wore a yellow ribbon" and "Fort Appache" here , along with plenty others. But it wasn't just John Wayne films filmed here. More recent films include Back to the Future III, National Lampoon's Vacation, Wild Wild West, Mission Impossible II, Wind Talkers, and Thelma & Louise (see Karen I knew it couldn't have been near the Grand Canyon, there's no way that there's a road straight enough around there for that final scene - now wait for it, somebody's bound to correct me on that). So if it wasn't filmed in Kanab it was filmed here. And you can really see it too, it's so distinctive
I did an afternoon tour (this time with a stable tour guide) and saw traditional wool spinning and rug making in a hogan (a traditional hut - some people here still live in these too), and all the rock formations. I'd love to say that I could name them correctly in the photos but there's not a chance.
They certainly are an enterprises bunch though, every time there was a photo stop in the Reservation there were half a dozen jewellery tables set up to entice you too. Good idea, you've got a captive market so why not try to capitalise on it. There was even one point where you could have your photo taken on a horse (too far off the ground for me) where the Navajo gag was that it was $2 to get on but $10 to be let back down.
It was a great afternoon and the view was simply stunning. I hope the pics do it some sort of justice, but just like the Grand Canyon there's no comparison to seeing it in person.
PS Just as a silly aside, it was a bit chilly here this morning so I had my hoodie on. After a couple of hours wandering around in Navajo land I remembered that the brand, which is pasted in large letters on the back, was "Running Bare" - oopsy daisy, possibly a bit of an inappropriate play on words for this neck of the woods, I hope the hood hanging down covered it.
PS again - I had my first diner burger today and it had both lettuce and tomato, and no fake cheese - yah! It really is the simple things in life isn't it.