Friday, September 16, 2011

Canyon de Chelly

A Roadside Attraction on the Road to Canyon de Chelly

Today we had a 3.5 hour drive from Mesa Verde, CO, to Canyon de Chelly (duh Shay) in
AZ. It was mostly uneventful, except for continuing scenic beauty.

Chinle Wash from an unmarked pullout. It was so beautiful we had to stop and get a photo.

We stopped to get gas at the same station, in Mexican Water, we used on the way up to Mesa Verde. I don't mean to imply there is more than one, mind you; in fact, I think the gas station-store IS Mexican Water, if you discount the sparse population. Claire decided to get a bag of ice there, too, and was delighted to find it was cheaper than any ice we had purchased in days: $1.69.

We saw a Safeway and debated whether to purchase our produce there: We were afraid that the AZ agricultural inspection might apply to passenger vehicles and we did not want to risk forfeiting $20 worth of groceries purchased only minutes before. Our worries were in vain--only commercial vehicles were required to stop.

We finally found a small grocery store in Chinle. We felt like foreigners in there--we saw only one other Anglo couple. I noted that people spoke to each other in what I took to be their native tongue. This is definitely Navajo Nation land. We did manage to find grapes, strawberries, blueberries and bananas; we even purchased turkey breast at the deli; however, we later discovered that this delicacy had many of the attributes of spam. Claire was unwilling to eat hers. I needed both bulk and protein, so I grimaced and commenced to chow down. I used the grapes to wash it down.

We were delighted to learn that Canyon de Chelly has no admission fee! I did not sleep well, again, last night. This factored into my input on how to split our two days in Canyon de Chelly. We drove the North Rim today and will drive the South Rim tomorrow; since it has the only hike you can take without a guide and will make our day longer, it seemed the best option.

Approaching Antelope House

Antelope Canyon. Notice the green at the bottom.

Navajo Fortress. This is not a building but a natural protection--Navajos would climb this island of rock to escape pursuing US soldiers.

Lichen and Rock. Claire loves the contrasts of colors and patterns we sometimes encounter.

Antelope House Ruin. There are several "layers" of construction, here. The most recent is reminiscent of Mesa Verde style architecture because this is where those people moved when they left Mesa Verde.

Ancient Ritual Site. We were taken by the remoteness, small size and isolation of this cave. I assume it had some spiritual significance; it could not house more than one person, I think.

Our first room at the Holiday Inn was unsatisfactory: Claire smelled stale smoke and I found a strong odor of cleaning product. They relocated us into a second floor room that is quite nice. But, we did have trouble accessing the building--we were pulling out our key cards too slowly: An Australian couple clued us in on that. International diplomacy at its best.

View from our balcony at the Chinle Holiday Inn.

We immediately headed for the laundry room with our roll of quarters to replenish our supply of clean clothes--they sure smell good! It cost only $2 for washing and $1.25 for drying, using their commercial grade equipment.

Bed in our room with choice of soft and firm pillows. However, Claire found no perceptible difference!

The Holiday Inn restaurant, Garcia's, was recommended by our guidebook as the best in town. We tried the fajitas and loved them.


Fajita Condiments

Treat the Earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children. ~ Ancient American Indian Proverb