September 14-15, 2015
We had a wonderful two nights staying with my Uncle and Aunt in Cottonwood. We went through some Baker/Seese family letters one night; that prompted me to finally write my memory of my Grandpa Hazle Howard Baker.
On our way back north we joined Uncle Jake and Aunt Sally in attending a Winslow Kiwanis reunion picnic (which I also wrote about in that family memory). After enjoying some steaks and picnic standards Carla and I headed north on Highway 87 to …. (any guesses?) …. Winslow and La Posada hotel. Believe it or not, I didn’t take any train pictures; I just sat on a chair trackside and enjoyed the comings and goings. Mosquitos were abundant and it was imperative to lather up with repellant before going outside.
The next morning, Monday September 14 we headed north and east of Winslow to Canyon De Chelly (pronounced “Shay”). This is up in the heart of the Navajo Reservation. near the Four Corners area (where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah coverge).
I’d heard about this place but didn’t really know too much about it so I was looking forward to seeing it. In 2009 this was the most visited National Monument. Here is a Google Maps earth view of the Canyon. This is an optical illusion to me; the fingers look like they are raising up above the surrounding earth, whereas in reality they are deep canyons.
We stayed on the reservation at Sacred Canyon Lodge at 2:30. At least I think it was 2:30: Arizona doesn’t recognize Mountain Daylight Time, but the Navajo Nation does. I was never quite sure what time it was.
Because this is the Navajo Nation you can’t drive through the canyon on your own – not that I’d want to. Our tour guide, Irene, a Navajo woman, met us at the front office at 4:00. Carla and I were joined in Irene’s comfortably appointed Suburban by a couple of amateur geologists from the midwest.
I took a LOT of pictures; and I’m going to include even more that I normally do here with a minimum of description. Canyon De Chelly has residents today; but they also have cliff dwellings and petroglyphs from the days of the Ancient Pueblo People (Anasazi).
In the next few pictures I try to capture the scale of this place; the cliff sides are enormous.
To get a sense of the scale, notice Carla in the bottom right corner of this photo. The bank of the dry river bed is nearly as high as she is tall.
As I mentioned, some Navajo still live in the canyon.
The tour was very reasonably priced and we got value for money. Irene had us out for over three and a half hours. That gave us a chance to capture some stunning views in the golden hour.
We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the cafeteria when we returned. We split a Navajo taco or tostada – which is pinto beans and what-not served on top of a big piece of fry bread. We also shared a bowl of posolé – oh this was good: a rich red chile broth with pork and hominy. I may go back to Canyon De Chelley just for that.
My Uncle Jake told us to be sure to see Spider Rock when we visited the Canyon. He saw it when he was a boy when he traveled the reservation with his dad once. Legend is that if Navajo children misbehaved Spider Grandmother who lived on the rock would take them up to her home. It was too far back in the Canyon for Irene to take us so we headed along the rim the next morning before heading up to Monument Valley.
If the Spider Grandmother grabbed you up to the top of the rock, you’d be stuck for sure.
If you enjoy touring the American Southwest, put Canyon De Chelly on your must see list.
We pointed the car north and headed to Monument Valley – more on that in my next post.