14 May 2006 Sunday

We can only tour Canyon de Chelly (de Shay) with a guide.  We have several choices; hiking, on horseback, by private jeep of on a large tour truck..  By hiking or horseback, we wouldn’t get very far into the canyon.  We can tour farther into the canyon by private jeep (beginning at $125.00) for a minimum of 3 hours, or on a big group tour (for $44.00 per person) for a half day, 4 hours.  We’re not typically the “Big Group Tour” types, but that’s what we chose.  We were at the Visitor’s Center getting info on tours at 8:30am and the morning tour leaves at 9am, so we rushed down to Thunderbird Lodge, just about a quarter mile away, to see if there was room on this morning’s tour We got in!!

We all got on the open air tour truck and we were short a couple of seats.  So we all got off that bus and onto a bigger bus, more seats.  We started down the pavement towards the canyon.  Our driver, Davidson, got a call on the radio.  The truck he received had a bad front axel and they were bringing ANOTHER truck out!  At least we found out before we hot all the soft sand.  So we finally got started on our tour with 23 others.  We saw several Anasazi ruins and petroglyphs.  We saw Navaho’s living in the canyon, farming, tending to sheep, goats and horses like their ancestors did/;  Oddly enough, even though this is a National Monument, areas are still privately owned and have been in the family for generations.  Because this is all Navajo land and these ruins are considered Navajo burial sites, the Navajo can dictate how things are operated.  While we were there, a section of the canyon was closed due to vandalism of an archeological site.  The Navajo do have special vending rights and can sell jewelry, weavings and other art objects.   The tours stopped for breaks at areas with other Navajos selling jewelry and such.  Well, our tour kept us out baking in the sun for about 4 hours.  We got back about 1pm. 

We drove the rim trail and checked out several of the overlooks.  We saw a few vendors on the rim too.  We headed out towards Capitol Reef National Monument.  I was feeling really tired and out of it… Andrew seemed to think I was dehydrated.  It happens very easily in the dry air, you don’t realize you’re sweating and loosing water.  I drank lots of water and ate an apple and started feeling better. 

We found ourselves in the middle of nowhere (imagine that happening to US?) and decided to splurge.  We were in Mexican Hat, Utah, in which we saw maybe 5 hotels, a couple of restaurants and gas stations.  It’s just outside the Navajo Indian Reservation and not far from Glen Canyon Recreational Area and several other parks.  It’s named for a rock formation shaped (you guessed it) like a Mexican Hat.  We stayed at a hotel that had a restaurant, known for it’s “swinging steak”.  They had their grill outside in the bar and the rack for the grill was set up on a pendulum that would “swing” over the coals while it cooked.  What a gimmick!  Rather than $30.00 for a steak dinner, we decided to use the microwave in the room to reheat some Chana Masala we made the day before.  (Chana Masala is an Indian dish of onions, tomatoes, chick peas and spices.)  

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