Tuesday, April 11, 2017
A Navajo, Yoko Ono Cover Band
When I flew into Phoenix I was surprised by snow-capped mountains as we approached the airport. However, I also knew that the Grand Canyon is sometimes closed because of snow. So a cold Flagstaff morning didn’t surprise me, but what did was the gale force winds. True, I’m not sure what a gale force wind is, but neither are you.
“Blow hat off your head and kiss it goodbye” winds.
I wasn’t sure of my route for the day, but I knew I’d pass through Tuba City. It was on the way, but even if not, who among us isn’t imaging a city named after the often mistaken musical instrument. People, you’re mistaking a tuba for the sousaphone. Leaving it at that. Tuba City also reminds me of something I’d see on a 1990 Late Night with David Letterman. Dave asking the clerk if they sells trumpets and the clerk saying, “No, just tubas.”
The drive would be all Navajo or Hopi Indian Reservations. Rather excited for Hopi, because if we all remember 6th grade, the Hopi Indian lived in Adobe huts. I learned maybe four things in my entire school career and that’s one of them.
1. Hopi Indians….
2. “Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” - Lord Acton
3. Iconoclast translated means “image breaker”
4. Brittania est insula.
Navajo country is rough on the radio stations. I found one. It was Navajo Public Radio and, when in Rome…they played Navajo music. Drums and chanting. Nothing against it, but I think it does better when included as part of tribal dancing. God bless the Native American. Seriously. We Europeans have screwed the shit out of them, but their music…it rivals Yoko Ono.
Hell is a Navajo, Yoko Ono cover band.
A signpost up ahead. Grand Canyon South Rim 79 miles. Never been, but I hadn’t planned on going there this trip. Just didn’t think a busy road full of tourists and a Uhaul would mix, but when I did the math a little bit later…30 miles from the Grand Canyon and not stopping? Just silly. The Brady’s would be very disappointed. Yes, referring to the episode where they road donkeys to the bottom of the canyon.
The Grand Canyon can best be described as grand. Like really, really grand. Best obvious decision I’ve ever made. I asked the Park Ranger where to stop if I only planned on spending an hour and he hooked me up. If you’re in Arizona or Las Vegas and don’t go to the GC, shame on you. Just shame. I wish I would’ve poked it with my finger because I’m pretty sure it’s just a painting. A masterpiece.
I should add that on the way I saw the greatest advertisement ever. A hand painted sign that read “Navajo handmade jewelry. Stop and say hello.” One of a few dozen roadside stands I’d see that day, but I had to say hello, right? The ad wasn’t a request. It was an order. For $5 I got a bracelet and talked to two very nice Navajo women. I told them I stopped to say hello. One said the sign was her late husband’s idea. The man knew his advertising.
I still haven’t checked a map, but I think I passed through the Painted Desert. I looked painted, but I was distracted by the still very strong winds that were now a sandstorm. My next option for really cool destination was Monument Valley.
Monument Valley is every cowboy movie every made and the jogging in the desert scene from Forrest Gump (I’ll include a link to a picture). The problem with this stop was timing. Burning daylight. A lot of this on the road.
Crunch time. Decided on Highway 163 to MV. Knowing I had a hotel booked for Durango, CO, if I skipped MV I wasn’t sure I’d want to backtrack the next day to MV. This was all very complicated map stuff, so just go with me.
Monument Valley at dusk is like being on Mars. Maybe cell service is better on Mars, but both places had the same number of humans. So cool. Intimidating. A lot of 90 degree angle geography that gets pretty creepy looking as the sun goes down. Reminds me of a first grader cutting out around the teeth of a construction paper pumpkin. They might want it to look smooth, with sloping foothills, but it ends up being a lot of jagged, random cuts that just don’t look like something nature would create. Nature created MV, but God only knows how.
I felt like the only vehicle on the road for the hours I had left. It doesn’t bother me. It’s kind of cool. It’s the time when I’m sure half of my face is going to get sunburned (movie reference you should know) or I’ll see Bigfoot.
I reached Durango just in time to enjoy all restaurants being closed, but the grocery was open. Just gave me that much more naked hotel time. Don‘t worry, I haven’t forgotten. We still have to discuss NHT. When I get to Kansas.
Forrest Gump in Monument Valley video