Los Angeles, California
I’m slowly catching up to the present of our vacation. Monument Valley, that site of all those great Westerns, is actually on Navajo land. The tribe has a different approach to showing off its national monuments than the U.S.A. does. First of all, the valley is clearly an income center. While national parks drain America’s coffers due to the expense of preservation, at Monument valley, they charge admission. They also allow vendors at nearly all the points of interest, and $40 jeep tours can be arranged from the visitor center. We chose the $10 self-drive option. You take a rough dirt road on a ten-mile loop through all the monuments, and then stop at various pre-marked points to take photos. If we’d paid for the jeep tour, we’d have gotten a closer look at the monuments by riding on “restricted” jeep roads. However, we got plenty close on the cheap tour. Take a look at this monument that Jim and Nora thought should be named after our current president — the “Dubya.” For some reason, that logic didn’t impress the Navajo nation, who chose to call it the “Three Sisters.”
Nora had a lively interest in the monuments, even taking some photos herself, and hopping out of the car at every stop:
Jim had a different approach, preferring to enjoy our expensive vacation from inside the dusty tinted windows of our rental car:
After our day in Monument Valley, we needed to head toward Southern California and our appointment with Mr. Disney. We did have time for a quick stop in Zion National Park. The main attraction of Zion is its narrow central canyon, with steep walls that are at sufficient elevation to support a different sort of plant life from what we’d seen during the remainder of our trip. We hiked up a 1-mile trail to a “hanging canyon”: a small side canyon that empties into the main canyon 800 feet above its bottom. Fascinating geology here:
Hiking in about a quarter-mile, we found a small arch, which Nora decided to climb:
On the way out, at the end of the hanging canyon, I finally managed to get a picture that adequately demonstrates the verticality of Zion:
A beautiful place, so different from what we had seen before. This was to be our last breath of wilderness for about two weeks. Next stop, Disney.