Saturday, 8 August 2009
August 4th and 5th: Grand Canyon and Monument Valley
As I said, we tried to get up very early, run the gauntlet of the deer/coyotes (one crossed in front of us on the ET Highway)/cattle/bears/elkses (not sure what the plural of elk is; the collective noun is probably one of those strange ones like a murder of crows. A suicide of elk perhaps?)/bicyclists, and get to the Grand Canyon in time for the sunrise.
A slight incorrect assumption meant that we got up at 5am instead of 4am, and eventually arrived at the Grand Canyon after the sun was up! We arrived in the Park/Forest itself at about dawn, but then the approach road is about another 60 miles to the North Rim. You really don't go there for anything else; the drive to the South Rim (5 miles or so across the gorge as the chipmunk flies) is 220miles !
Never mind. With the best will in the world, the Grand Canyon is a very big hole in the ground. I must admit, having seen photos of it in the past, I was slightly underwhelmed. I think you probably need to go down into the canyon itself to really appreciate and enjoy the scale and grandeur. Nevertheless, these are our pictures from the North Rim:
And, much to our surprise, these monsters:
So Grand Canyon? Check mark. Time to move on. Which by the way, we have added another bit of science to. Now that we don't have the SoD, we have decided to supplement your advice with cloud-reading. This one is a bird, which is plainly flying East. We took the hint, and headed for Monument Valley on the Arizona border.
The drive to Monument Valley from the North Rim took us all the way through the Navajo lands, over the Colorado/Rio Grande, and around Vermillion rocks. A very pretty drive, probably more satisfying than the Grand Canyon itself.
We wound up at Monument Valley latish, and found an excellent campground within the reservation area. It is set up a bluff canyon, and it was hot!
The next day (5th), we booked ourselves onto a tour at sunset to watch the moonrise amongst the monuments and mesas of the Monument Valley. An amazing experience, as perhaps just a few pictures should show. We all really loved the Navajo (Dineh as they call themselves) area. Fascinating, and slightly sad history.
On the other hand, it wasn't all sombre and mystical. I did actually try to make a joke about one of the butte's, called Elephant Butte, refering to the size of it's trunk, and it's butt. Only to be met by a blank expression. 'Butte' pronounced 'but' in England, is apparently pronounced 'boot' in America, so any vaguely humourous references to trunks and buttes is wasted. Shame.
Earlier on, we had been trying to simulate a sandstorm for Lewis: this is one of my favourites!
We got back to the RV late, due to a serious accident on the road on the way in to the campground. Lots of police cars, ambulances, and even a helicopter. A sad way to end a great evening.
But that was the end; the next day we had decided to keep following the Cloud-Bird of Destiny, and make a long jump to Santa Fe.